Friday, February 29, 2008

All searches should smell fresh

I really don't get why Ask, Yahoo and MSN are scratching their heads when they see the market share numbers on search. When I am searching, I want results (seems fairly obvious right?) and by results, I mean results that mean something. Am I confusing you yet?

I'm confused, when I go to MSN or Ask, they don't have any reference to my blog and they have old very out of date references to DigitalChalk pages but when I go to Google I get my stuff displayed with my latest updates within hours. I understand that I'm not the biggest traffic draw on the web but when we did a redesign of the DigitalChalk website in DECEMBER and Yahoo still has stale references on this last day of FEBRUARY to our old site design, one begins to question the quality of ALL of the content in a search.

Ok, I'm calmer now. sorry for shouting. Here's the Crux, it really doesn't matter how good your search result relevancy algorithm is if you are applying it to stale, out-dated data in the index. I was watching the TV ads that Ask! (or is it just Ask?) ran last year that showed a better user experience. My first reaction was wow, nice but as I thought about it, I realized that all the cool visuals and AJAX driven layers that pop up are enjoyable but don't get me closer to results unless there is a relevant result in the search.

Google keeps it simple. We all know their search view is simple to view but what I am really getting at is that they keep the their goals in search simple and focused; give the user the very best quality search result. Nice. I am sure they spend a tremendous amount of time and money creating a search crawler and index that keeps ever-vigilant for new and relevant content. The value for me is priceless. I love finding my blog indexed the next day. I rest better knowing that someone pays attention to what I am saying, even if it is a robot.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you are reading this post, click on this link to visit DigitalChalk! (and make google think I'm driving lots of traffic)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Growing up on Amazon

We recently had a very nice success story written about us at Amazon and Jeff Barr just blogged about that on his AWS blog. Thanks Jeff!

After being on AWS for the past 18 months and having run thousands of server hours without a single minute of lost time on EC2 or S3 Amazon, we had a short interruption of service on S3 due to an overload of authentication request last Friday. What was very ironic was that on the prior Wednesday Amazon posted the before mentioned success story so in my haste to make hay on that, we had a press release that went out on, you guessed it... Friday.

The service outage on S3 didn't take us down per-se but we couldn't stream videos so it effectively shut down our deliver for two hours. Because of the press release and the traffic from Amazon's success story, I received a note from the tech beat reporter at the AP asking to confirm the outage on AWS and our reaction. After debating about it for about 10 seconds, I sent a statement confirming and also describing our pleasure with the service overall. To my delight and horror... the AP article contained my quote. You can see it here on Forbes

Our web traffic was up 300% last Saturday and we landed two sales (including one in Australia) directly from the press we got from the problems at AWS. Thanks guys, sorry it had to come that way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ok, we have been playing on Amazon...

Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) released a success story about DigitalChalk. For some time now we have been running our systems on the Amazon Cloud Computing environment known as EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud) and their virtual storage system S3 (Simple Storage System).

Running our business on Amazon's cloud computing environment had it's initial uncertianties, not the least of which was the concern that customers might find that risky. We found the opposite to be the case, most customers who insisted on knowing more about our back end infrastructure were relieved to know we had their content on a system managed by one of the top Websites worldwide.

Now that we are "out" about Amazon, be looking for some interesting new offerings such as unlimited use accounts and privately hosted AWS accounts running DigitalChalk software.

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