Top

The Ultimate iPod Accessory

December 31, 2004

iPod

Like everybody else, I’ve been hearing all of the talk for the last few days about the “iCheap”—a rumored sub-$500 Mac (ThinkSecret) that will supposedly be announced at MacWorld Expo next month.

“With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499.”

This obviously seems like a good idea (and long overdue), but I didn’t really think about the positioning of this until last night.

I was having a conversation with my oldest, who was getting ready to go, notebook in hand, to help one of his friends who had a new Xmas-gift 20gb iPod.

It turns out that the only access the kid had to a computer was his mother’s ancient Windows laptop.  Which had about 2 gig of space on it, and couldn’t even run iTunes.

Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.  An entry level Mac, priced down in the iPod pricing range.  While a lot of us may think this is a great way to get Macs into the hands of the windows-benighted, that wasn’t the point.

This thing is designed to be another piece of consumer electronics gear, to sell iPods to those who have had no interest in acquiring computers otherwise.  It’s 2005 (in a few hours), and in a still fairly large demographic, owning a computer is boring.  Owning an iPod is cool, however.  But it doesn’t do much good without something to load it, and buy music off of iTunes Music Store.

We’ll know in a few weeks whether this thing really exists, and how it’s actually packaged. My bet is that it’s attractively designed to be parked right close to the stereo, where it can be hooked up to play music in addition to docking the iPod (well, maybe not—but $125 for an Airport Extreme cures that, too). 

The real kicker would be TV output (built-in or a reasonably priced accessory).  This would let the TV be used as a makeshift display for the iTunes user, but it would also position Apple to cut loose with their own PVR / media center, which would make a lot of sense given their ever-increasing consumer electronics presence… Put a Mac on the electronic hearth, and it’s going to get a lot more natural to find them around the rest of the house, too…

Hmmm….

Class Notes: New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer

December 28, 2004

I’d like to thank everyone who joined me for today’s free teleclass, New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer. If you missed this one, be sure to catch next week’s free teleclass — Your Website & The 30 Second Sale.

Here are the notes from this afternoon’s teleclass:

On a successful small business web site, the primary source of traffic will tend to be search engine traffic. There’s a lot of advice out there on search engine optimization, some good and some not so good, but virtually all of it agrees on a few basic concepts:

  • Search engines like fresh content.
  • Relevant links to your site improve your traffic
  • The more unique, original material you have, the higher the odds that some of it will get traffic.

As a bonus, the more fresh and unique content you add, the more people will tend to browse and return to your site, giving you more opportunities to sell your products or services. Likewise, the more links you have to your site from relevant pages, the more people will find your site — even without search engines.

Search engine results change slowly and subtly. It might take two or three months to notice a difference, but the longer it takes you to start, and the slower you go, the longer it will be before you see the results.

  • Doing these things every day is 7 times better than doing them once a week.
  • Doing them once a week is 4 – 5 times better than doing them once a month.
  • Doing them once a month is better than not doing them at all.

Read more

Free Teleclass – Your Website & The 30 Second Sale

December 28, 2004

Did you know that the average web site visitor only stays on a page from 10 to 30 seconds? This means you have a maximum of 30 seconds to convince the user to stay, otherwise he’s gone – probably for good. In this free teleclass, you will learn the 7 key things that every page in your site must do if you want to turn that visitor into a customer.

Please join Chuck Lawson of Insanely Great Sites for this exciting and informative 1 hour Free Teleclass, Tuesday, January 4th at 4pm Eastern!

Click here to sign up for this free teleclass!

Maintaining your SSL Certificate

December 26, 2004

From the “do as I say, not as I do” department…

One certain kiss of death for an e-commerce site is to have a broken or expired SSL Certificate.

If your certificate is allowed to expire, or if for some reason it does not match the name of your domain (perhaps you’ve changed domain names), or if it is installed incorrectly, the user’s browser will put up a large dialog warning that the site may be insecure, that they should use caution, etc.

As you can imagine, warnings that a site “may be insecure” go along with asking for sensitive information about like seeing a group of people with ski masks and handguns go along with wanting to make a bank deposit.

While I was setting up the shopping cart for next week’s free teleclass*, I had used a temporary SSL certificate to test with, and I thought that I had correctly installed the permanent one when I was done. Unfortunately, at some point in time I told my web browser to ignore the warning that the certificate was wrong “until the end of the session”, and I never restarted my browser to check it, and I had left it wrong. As a result, looking at the logs, a lot of people went to the shopping cart, saw the “insecure” warning, and never logged in so that they could sign up for the free class. Duh, me.

(* Why do I use a shopping cart for a free teleclass? Because a limited number of people can be on the teleconference bridge at the same time; this way, I set the “stock level” to the number of seats, and the price to free, and it will quit taking signups when the bridge is full. So be sure to sign up early!)

While most site owners probably won’t be messing with a temporary certificate, certificates DO expire (typically annually), and other things can happen — your web host might be having a bad day, for example.

As part of your routine site maintenance (you do routinely check your site to make sure everything is operating correctly, don’t you?), it’s good practice to quit and restart your browser (or to be certain, just reboot your machine) beforehand, and be sure that the secure portions of your site are operating without errors.

What is SSL (the “little padlock”)?

December 25, 2004

SSL (“Secured Socket Layer”) is a protocol used to encrypt the communication between the user’s browser and the web server. When SSL is active, a “little padlock” appears on the user’s browser, usually in the status line at the bottom (at the top for Mac/Safari users.)

This assures the user that sensitive data (such as credit card numbers) can’t be viewed by anyone “sniffing” the network connection (which is an increasing risk as more people use wireless networking).

Common web site owner questions about SSL:

Read more

The Merry Xmas Help Desk

December 25, 2004

Out in the blogosphere, there are those dedicated souls (or at least ‘acutely aware of the traffic potential souls’) who are posting helpful hints for the more geek-laden booty… Me, I’m just reblogging ‘em. 

PVRblog has helpful hints for people who got a PVR for XMAS.  They’ve covered critical items for Tivo, ReplyTV, and Windows Media Center.

For those lucky enough to have received an iPod for Xmas, Hack a day has pointers on jHymn, the latest incarnation of the Hymn Project, which will make your purchases from iTunes Music Store a little less.. um.. restrictive.  (Note – if you’re in the US, or another country with the equivalent of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, move along—nothing to see here, as you wouldn’t want to break the law.)

Did you get a new component for your computer?  A new drive, sound card, video card?  ExtremeTech will walk you through installing it.

Merry Xmas, and don’t forget to check out =my= holiday offering, a free teleclass for those of you who’d like a little more traffic on your website in the New Year…

Read more

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Vacation)

December 24, 2004

Who says lawyers can’t have a sense of humor? Not the folks down in Whoville…

Apparently last Friday, a lawyer in Dallas found that the counselor on the opposing bench had filed a vacation request with the court, and in a snit, demanded that the trial proceed at noon on Christmas eve.  The judge ignored him and granted the vacation request, after the opposing firm filed a detailed response with the court in the form of a parody of Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“The Grinch hated Christmas!

The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why.  No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that his arguments weren’t going quite right.

It could be, perhaps that his clients’ wallets were too light.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his briefs were two sizes too small.”

And it goes on like that for about five or six pages… heh…

You can find the whole scoop, including a PDF of the actual document submitted to the court, over at the incomparable Snopes (who guarantees that it’s true, natch.)

Enjoy!

Read more

New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer

December 24, 2004

Here’s a free holiday gift to help you start your New Year off with a bang!

Please join Chuck Lawson, of Insanely Great Sites! on Tuesday, December 28th, at 4PM EST for “New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer”. During this free, fun and informal 1 hour session, you’ll learn 5 simple and powerful steps you can take next year to dramatically increase your web site traffic and profitability!

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Click here now to sign up for this free teleclass!

Read more

New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer

December 24, 2004

Here’s a free holiday gift to help you start your New Year off with a bang!

Please join Chuck Lawson, of Insanely Great Sites! on Tuesday, December 28th, at 4PM EST for “New Year’s Resolutions for the Internet Marketer”. During this free, fun and informal 1 hour session, you’ll learn 5 simple and powerful steps you can take next year to dramatically increase your web site traffic and profitability!

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Click here now to sign up for this free teleclass!

Google Search Ranking Algorithm

December 23, 2004

A great breakdown of how (in theory) the Google Search Ranking Algorithm works — how the relationship between pages causes a page (or the pages it links to) to rank higher in Google’s results.

Next Page »

Bottom