Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blogger templates and Google Analytics

Quick note to myself: when updating Blogger templates, don't forget to re-insert your Google Analytics code...otherwise it looks like nobody visits you. Ever.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In the wild: NYT Opinion Online

Some of my cues have made it to the NYT's Opinion section on their website.

I'm still quite fond of the novelty of seeing/hearing my work 'in the wild', as it were...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wanted: DIY WiFi soil meter

I'm trying to put together a basic soil sensor: moisture and pH, that will report it's data via wifi/twitter. There are some commercial options, but I want a DIY version (for the sake of experimentation.)

Basically, I want to install a probe in my garden soil that periodically measures temperature, moisture, and pH, then sends that data via wifi to either an email, twitter, or some electronic means, where I can do historical collection/analysis.

Adding a GPS later down the line would be neat if the system were to be distributed.

Big picture: a Google Maps mashup with probe locations and realtime soil data, as well as trending (ala Google Finance.)

Any ideas?

update: Botanicalls has a great kit, but how can I make it solar/wifi?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brain Dump: BizAdSplash Pyramid Scam

This is a general research brain-dump, and otherwise completely unrelated to my normal blogging topics.

This is regarding a company (currently) known as "". BAS is an 'auto surf' scam, and should be avoided by everyone. Same goes for any company who's 'business model' involves 'click for cash' schemes.

First, let's understand what we're talking about. A Ponzi scheme (or pyramid scheme) is defined thusly:

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit. The term "Ponzi scheme" is used primarily in the United States , while other English-speaking countries do not distinguish colloquially between this scheme and other pyramid schemes.[1]

The Ponzi scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The perpetuation of the high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going.

The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments. Usually, the scheme is interrupted by legal authorities before it collapses because a Ponzi scheme is suspected or because the promoter is selling unregistered securities. As more investors become involved, the likelihood of the scheme coming to the attention of authorities increases.

The US DOJ has already determined the following businesses were Ponzi schemes, and has successfully convicted at least one of the operators, Andy Bowdoin.

AdSurfDaily/ASDCashgenerator/Golden Panda

You can view the DOJ's website here. The DOJ is offering remuneration to victims of these companies.

The "business model" for these companies was essentially the same: promises of high payouts for buying into an advert system. As with most Ponzi's, the first people "in" were paid, spoke highly of the program to recruit others, then fell apart months later as the operation scaled beyond a crash point.

The connection to catch here is Golden Panda. From the Georgia Secretary of State, we find out Golden Panda was closed in September 08, and had been registered to a Mr. Clarence Busby.

Clarence Busby is believed to be the founder of Golden Panda and Biz Ad Splash. (Update: A BAS rep has indicated Busby is not a founder, but an "advisor.")

Biz Ad Splash has been in business for exactly two months (their system went live 12/25 according to several internet forums.) (Note: Yes, I recognize the difference between being incorporated (Sept 08?) and 'operational', which is what I mean in this case.)

The company is allegedly incorporated in PANAMA, but as I cannot locate a SINGLE email address, phone number, or article of incorporation, I cannot verify this.

This lawfirm is handling a class-action lawsuit against Mr. Busby, his associate Andy Bowdoin, and their (former) companies. (Specifically, attorney Lisa Fialco is handling the case.)

This group has been tracking the case(s) against Andy Bowdoin's companies. The history of these men is just unbelievable. (Patrick Pretty's work is pretty thorough, IMHO.)

It seems they target church groups with pretty startling regularity.

Bottom line: if anything even sounding remotely like this "business model" comes your way, do not get involved with it.

The First Twenty

Catching up with an acquaintance today, the conversation turned to productivity, specifically talking about email. I'd lamented that I have a somewhat low retention for information during busy spells. Then he shares with me something he learned from one of his mentors. He calls it "The First Twenty."

"The First Twenty" describes the first twenty minutes of your day after waking up. Many of us impulsively check our email/Twitter/Facebook within minutes of waking, and this is actually a pretty dumb thing to do. It's better, says my friend, to wait at least 20 minutes before beginning mental tasks. It gives your brain time to wash out the 'sleep serum' in your head, and become completely awake before having to deal with memory or process.

I'm told it's really one of the easiest habits to get into, and he swears by it.

What say ye, faithful reader(s)?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reliable Hard Drive? No such thing.

Hitsville asks: "..I need a reliable 1TB ext drive..Anyone have a recommendation?"

I have the Western Digital MyBooks around my studio...I like the eSATA connections.

In my experience, hard drives suffer about the same failure rate across the board. The difference in impact to your life has to do with your backup plan. For a TB of data, the only really economic plan is to duplicate. Simply stated, buy two.

My techie friends are welcome to chime in.