Monday, January 25, 2010

Guerilla tree planting: the proof

End of June last year (2009), I planted 2 trees behind my building, and I promised to post pictures of the work; so here we go.

The goal is for me to keep track of the development of the trees. The second one (the east one, the one that is taller in the pictures) has already grown a lot actually. The first one (the west one, the shorter one) didn't grow that much. Maybe it's because of the earth it is; but when it was still in its pot it already looked weaker than the other tree.

The trees are of the Cornus alternifolia species, and are supposed to be able to cope with lower sunlight and higher humidity in the soil, which is exactly the environment behind my building.

1st tree (west one), the smaller one:

2nd tree (east one) the taller one:

I also attempted to plant Aesculus hippocastanum, commonly known as Chestnut tree. I picked-up some chestnuts from a tree that is right near the fence of the Cimetière Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges, on the corner of Avenue Troie and Avenue Decelles, but the nuts haven't sprouted trees yet. I think it's because the nuts might need a cold period before they can germinate. The nuts are still in my apartment, in pots of earth and I still water them. Hopefully it will work at some point.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The ice melting: views from space.

Wired just published an amazing set of space-taken pictures of the polar regions of the Earth where there have been changes in the ice coverage or structure.

Looking at the magnitude of the pieces of ice that break-off or disappear, I think it's clear that climate change is occurring.

And the pictures themselves are breath-taking:

Friday, January 15, 2010

About Demand Media

I just published a quite lengthy post about Demand Media, on the pages of a forum I like to participate in.

Here is the text:

The mantra of content-oriented webmasters is often: create new content regularly, look for high paying keywords and topics, optimize your content to target these keywords.

I just read an artcile on Wired about Demand Media, and it seems these people have pushed this strategy its limits, but what was really interesting is that the company has distilled the knowledge we discuss on [...] into an automated computer algorithm:

To determine what articles to assign, his formula analyzes three chunks of information. First, to find out what terms users are searching for, it parses bulk data purchased from search engines, ISPs, and Internet marketing firms (as well as Demand’s own traffic logs). Then the algorithm crunches keyword rates to calculate how much advertisers will pay to appear on pages that include those terms. [...] Third, the formula checks to see how many Web pages already include those terms. It doesn’t make sense to commission an article that will be buried on the fifth page of Google results. Finally, the algorithm, like a drunken prophet, starts spitting out phrase after phrase: “butterfly cake,” “shin splints,” “Harley-Davidson belt buckles.”

I am a bit skeptical about the 2nd step, about determining the price a keyword will fetch for an ad. I thought that the only way to do this is to actually analyze your AdSense/AdWord for that keyword. Am I wrong here?

I am not too sure about the analysis of the potential SERP position either. I think all you need to do is a quick search for the keyword: if the top spots seems crammed with bang-on results, chances are you wont make it up.

But the strength of their approach is that they don't need humans and can thus do these checks and test and all other steps much much quicker at almost no cost.

What really irks me tough is the crowd-sourcing of the content creation. 15$ for an article is semi-OK (if it is 300 words for example) But 20$ for a video? That seems excessively low to me. I don't know why anyone would waste their time to give video content basically for free to these guys. I understand they control the means of publication, but darn that seems low.

Basically these people have made a huge crowd-sources MFAS operation.

The internet has its beautiful sides, but I think crowd-sourcing isn't one of them. It's good to give jobs to as many people as possible but it's wrong to use this openness and size to put employees against other employees with the goal of getting the lowest prize for human labor. If everyone did that, world economies would actually collapse.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A great video

I like this video: I like how she yells, gets angry, smiles and laughs and swears all at the same time.

And the driver is so funny, pushing his wife to the limits.

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