Posts from January, 2009

Spoiler Alert: Super Bowl XLIII Commercials

Jan 30

Adweek released some previews of the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday commercials. With ads going for upwards of 3 million dollars for a 30 second clip, you be the judge if it was worth it for the big hitters of business.

The ads can be viewed on their website at

http://www.adweek.com/aw/custom-reports/superbowl/video.html

Also, check out the classics tabs for some oldies but goodies. After all aren’t the commercials the best part most of the time?

View Source not working in IE7

Jan 27

Today I ran into a problem with IE7 where I could view the source of a webpage. It was not working when I would right click the page > View Source, or by going to Page > View Source.

After doing a couple of google searches, it turns out you have to delete your cache by going to Tools > Delete Browsing History > Delete All. You must then refresh your page in order to view the source. I really didn’t spend much time researching how or why this happens, but hopefully this will save someone a few minutes and a headache.

Yet another reason to stay as far away from this browser as possible…

Even Google Can’t Save The Newspapers

Jan 21

Things aren’t looking good for newspapers. Despite making a valiant (or ironic?) effort to save the newspapers, this week Google announced that it will discontinue the Google Print Ads program on February 28th, 2009, allowing advertisers who have already purchased ad space to see their ads run through March 31st. 

Spencer Spinnell, Director of Google Print Ads comments in the blog post announcement, “While we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we — or our partners — wanted.”

The program was designed to allow the hundreds of thousands of Google Adwords advertisers to conveniently buy excess ad inventory from daily newspapers, in theory giving the newspapers a big revenue boost. Ironically, the newspapers are desperately in need of a revenue boost because most of their advertisers have moved thier ad dollars online, realizing that their newspaper ads were less effective than their online ads. So really, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this program failed.

Will they bailout the newspapers and just buy them? According to a Fortune magazine interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, no:

“The good news is we could purchase them. We have the cash. But I don’t think our purchasing a newspaper would solve the business problems. It would help solidify the ownership structure, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem in the business.”

Well folks, at least we know they could do it, if they wanted to.  And as usual, there is a funnier version of this story at Valleywag.

The power and genius of mouseChildren and mouseEnabled.

Jan 20

I admit, this post will be useless for most readers of this blog. But if you happen to be an Actionscript programmer… I had a minor epiphany today from which you might benefit.

Since I started writing AS3 code, I’ve generally viewed the mouseChildren and mouseEnabled properties of the InteractiveObject class (and by extension the Sprite class) as relatively superfluous. They existed as little more than a recourse for when something accidentally got ‘in between’ the mouse and a button that needed to be pressed. And in a sense that is true. But I realized today that those crafty AS3 creators had bestowed upon me a much more substantial tool than I’d first realized.

Fundamentally, these two properties are straightforward. Setting a Sprite’s mouseEnabled property to false tells that Sprite to not bother interacting with the mouse. In other words, to stop dispatching MouseEvents such as MouseEvent.CLICK. Likewise, setting a Sprite’s mouseChildren property to false tells the children of that Sprite to stop dispatching MouseEvents. By default, both properties are set to true.

The magic comes by virtue of the fact that these two properties work independently of each other. If a Sprite has children, setting that Sprite’s mouseEnabled to false does not prevent the Sprite’s children from dispatching MouseEvents. Similarly, setting the Sprite’s mouseChildren to false doesn’t prevent the sprite itself from dispatching MouseEvents. Why is this cool? Let me count the reasons:

  • Sprite ‘flattening’. It used to drive me nuts that that a button made of multiple sub-elements (label, hilight, border, icon, etc) would have an indeterminate MouseEvent ‘originator’. That is, the target property of the MouseEvent would be ‘label’ or ‘highlight’ or whatever depending on the exact pixel over which the mouse rested, rather than simply ‘myButton’. I found myself putting invisible ‘mousetrap’ layers in my buttons to sit on top of everything to fix this. It turns out I don’t need to. By setting myButton.mouseChildren = false all the button parts become a single unit, collectively dispatching MouseEvents with a target of ‘myButton’.
  • Group disabling. Need to disable a whole group of buttons? Make them siblings and set the parent Sprite’s mouseChildren to false.
  • Event-bubbling simplification. By setting a container Sprite’s mouseEnabled = false but leaving mouseChildren = true, you prevent the ‘middleman’ from sending unnecessary MouseEvents to high-level MouseEvent handlers. Imagine a calculator, with multiple keys, a display screen, a surrounding ‘case’, a nice little Texas Instruments logo, whatever. If I add a MouseEvent.CLICK listener to the high-level calculator object, I will receive all of the various key clicks, but I will also receive events from the other child elements… the display, the case, the logo. Even if I set those elements to mouseEnabled = false, the calculator Sprite itself will still trigger its own MouseEvents when I roll over them. By following up with calculator.mouseEnabled = false, the high-level listener will now only receive events from the children that matter, and will not be encumbered with ‘false positives’.

Given this greater understanding, I almost wonder why the AS3 creators chose to set the default of mouseEnabled to true. After all… aren’t there generally far more ‘passive’ display objects on the stage than interactive ones? I’m sure they had a reason, and it’s probably one that I could find by Googling around a bit… but enough is enough. Hardcore geek session over.

Yahoo Reserves Godlike Superpowers Over Your Account

Jan 07

Yahoo search advertisers be warned. The Yahoo TOS states that Yahoo can create ads, add, edit or delete keywords, and “optimize” your account as they see fit at any time, without your consent. Um, we would hope they would only do this in the advertisers best interest, but WOW. Don’t expect the Yahoo bashing to stop anytime soon…

Google makes big claims about Google Checkout

Jan 07

Google has recently made some big claims about how Google Checkout impacts clickthrough rates on Adwords ads and overall conversion rates.  Google claims that conversion rates can increase by 40% (!) and click through rates on Adwords ads can increase by 10% for merchants who offers Google Checkout. For those who haven’t noticed, merchants who offer Google checkout get enhanced Google Checkout ads when they advertise with Google.

Of course, there is a catch to those claims. Those amazing CTR and conversion numbers are for “Google Checkout users” not for every person who sees your ad. Still, those numbera are impressive, and merchants who are looking for new ways to increase conversion rates may want to give Google Checkout some consideration.

Some Basics for Effective Email Communication

Jan 06

A friend of mine was tweeting today about this post on the B.L.U.F (Big Lead Up Front) method of email communciation. In three simple steps you can make your emails more effective, more succinct, and more appreciated by anyone who receives more than 5 emails a day. Bad email communication is an epidemic in the working world, and I personally think more businesses should teach email best practices to their employees. That would then have a trickle down effect on B2B email communication, and everyone would win. And of course, any violators of the email golden rules should be publicly humiliated.

1) Use the subject line in your e-mail for initial clarity and add as much information as you can without making it too long.

2) Consistently use the “To” line for all those who you require a response from, and put those who need the information but don’t need to respond, in the “CC” line.

3) State the main point in the first sentence of the e-mail so folks don’t have to guess what you’re trying to say.

I had to chuckle while reading the post because I think most of us are all too familiar with poor email communication. The Jedi Mind trick email surfaces quite a bit, or my personal favorite, the “pass the buck” email, in which one person forwards an email to 20 other unwilling CC recipients with a simple vague message such as “please advise.”

What’s your six-word resume?

Jan 06

I like to peruse the blogs over at U.S. News & World Report from time to time, and I came across something today that I think is really interesting and directly related to what we’re often trying to communicate to our clients. In a post today, one of USN’s career bloggers, GL Hoffman, says that HR departments generally give your resume 20 seconds to grab their attention. He follows up with some advice on how to be sure yours stands out, but what is really interesting is the little bit of info he tacked on to the bottom:

I did an experiment over at WhatWouldDadSay.com, where I asked readers to create a SIX-WORD résumé for themselves. Given the widespread fascination with Twitter and its 140-character limitation, I thought it would showcase good writing discipline. Not that you have to make your own six-word résumé, but notice how effective some of the (personal or otherwise) entries were:

  • “As I live, so does Apple.”—Steve Jobs
  • “Solving complex problems efficiently and elegantly.”—A personal entry
  • Another personal entry: “I stand alone, next to me.”
  • “Fire it up. Ready to go.”—Barack Obama
  • From a real estate staging person: “Staging it better. Selling it faster.”
  • Here is one of my favorites that combines two movie characters: “Now reverse in aging am I.”—Yoda Button

This may seem to be a worthless exercise—and it is certainly silly—but it’s not worthless if it only makes you realize that a lot can be said in a few well-chosen words.

That last paragraph there really hits it on the head. In my opinion, in the majority of instances- and almost always when you’re talking about web or ad copy- quality trumps quantity.

That said, anybody want to take a crack at their own six word resume?

Google Timeline Showing in Main Search Results

Jan 06

I was just reading that Google Timeline is making it out of Google Labs and into some mainstream search results. I think it’s a pretty cool feature that could prove very useful for certain searches, particularly those that are research-oriented. School must be getting way too easy these days…

You can see an example if you search for “book of revelations” in google. Once you see the search results, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on the “timeline results.”

After that you’re taken to a page with the complete timeline results:

When Big Brother is really Mom or Dad

Jan 05

I’ve got two kids, and while they’re not quite Facebooking it just yet, I’m sure they will be soon enough. CNN recently had an article about teenage usage of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Nothing most of us don’t know, but they make one point that I rather liked:

Beyond keeping a watchful eye on risky interests and pictures, parents should also use social networking sites such as MySpace — which had about 120 million users as of this summer — as an opportunity to learn about their childrens’ favorite movies and hobbies, as well as their top friends, she said.

“You so often hear parents say ‘I don’t even know my kid anymore.’ Here’s a very easy tool to get to know your kid again,” she said.

Here’s the whole article: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/05/myspace.teens/index.html