Only 2% of Americans Read Blogs?

August 5th, 2005

According to a Boston Herald article, only 2% of Americans read blogs. This sure makes it seem like blogs are over-hyped.

There are a couple of things to consider, however. As mentioned in a blog entry by Steve Rubel, this probably underestimates the influence of blogs. The people reading blogs, like the press for instance, are probably more influential than the average person.

Another factor to consider is that a lot of people are probably reading blogs, but they don’t realize it. Whenever someone searches on Google, MSN or Yahoo, the search results are always full of blog pages. People click on them and read them without realizing that they are reading a blog. A more accurate accurate count of the people who are really reading blog could be done by some company, like Alexa for example, who keeps track of surfer stats.


Best Pad Thai Recipe

August 5th, 2005

This is the dish that I make better then anything else. Ever since I had the Pad Thai at the Queen Mum in Toronto, Pad Thai has been my favorite dish. Every time I go to a new Thai restaurant (and that’s pretty often), I try the Pad Thai. Queen Mum’s is still the best and this recipe is the closest I have found. And now you can have the recipe too.

I recently showed EAnimal how to make this, so I thought I’d share it with everybody.

This is a vegetarian version. You can, of course, substitute some carnivorous substance like shrimp or chicken for the tofu. You can also use 1/4 cup fish sauce in place of the soy sauces if you want.

Pad Thai

½ lb dry rice noodles 1/8 inch wide

½ lb extra firm tofu

1/8 cup sweet soy sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 ½ tsp sambal olek (chili paste)
(or 1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste and 1 tsp paprika)

4 green onions

½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

2 eggs

¾ lb bean sprouts
¾ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly ground (you can use a plastic baggie and a hammer to do this)
Lime wedges

1. Put noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Soak 20 – 30 minutes. (Or follow the directions on the noodle package.) They should be flexible and soft, but not soft enough to be mashed with your fingers. You are going to cook them some more. Drain them in a Colander.
2. Meanwhile, place the tofu on top of several layers of paper towel on a cutting board and cover with several more layers of paper towel. Cover the the paper towel with saran wrap and place a heavy book (or anything else that weighs a pound or so) on top of that. This presses the excess water out of the tofu. Press this for 20-30 minutes.
3. Mix the sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sambal olek in a bowl. Stir until well blended.
4. Slice the green onions (white and green parts) into 1 inch pieces.
5. Cube the tofu.
6. Heat about ½ the oil in a wok.
7. Put the tofu and garlic in the wok and fry until golden brown. Throw in some sambal or your favorite sauce if you want to flavor the tofu. Remove from pan.
8. Add the rest of the oil into the wok.
9. Put the noodle in the wok and coat with oil.
10. Add the soy sauce mixture into the wok and bring to a boil, while gently folding the noodles. Lower the heat a bit and keep the liquid boiling while frequently folding the noodles. Try not to break the noodles.
11. When almost all the liquid has been absorbed by the noodles, use a spatula to lift the noodles and pour some oil under them, break an egg and slip it into the oil. Repeat this process with the other egg on the other side of the wok.
12. Allow the eggs to cook until they are set.
13. Fold the eggs into the noodles by placing a spatula under the eggs and lifting gently. Again, try not to break the noodles.
14. Put in the tofu and stir.
15. Put the green onions into the wok and cook for 2 minutes while still gently folding the noodles.
16. Put the noodles into a serving dish, garnish with bean sprouts, peanuts and lime, or serve them separately.



Spam Blogs Ruining Search

August 4th, 2005

Spam blogs are blogs that are RSS feeds full of useless content. This could range from simply re-directing other feeds or keyword stuffing the entries. The spam bloggers put advertising like AdSense on the websites and collect money from people who go to their site, find no valuable content so click on the ads to try to find what they were looking for.

These blogs make it very difficult to search with Technorati. The search results are full of useless entries. I sent them a suggestion to allow users to report spam blogs. This would allow them to remove spam blogs from their database. Of course this would require some human intervention, and I’m sure it would be costly.

Bloglines search seems to fare a little better. With Bloglines you can order the search by blog popularity (the number of subscribers). Spam blogs do not get subscribers, so they do not show up near the top of the search.

As long as blog search engines like Technorati link to these blogs, the spam blogs will be profitable to run. Search engines like Google go to great lengths to get rid of spammy sites from their indexes. Blog search engines need to start doing the same thing.


Fantastic Four: Movie Review

August 4th, 2005

Fantastic Bore! This was one movie I did not enjoy at all. I didn’t find the story interesting at all. My mind kept wandering and I found myself thinking about other things. This rarely happens to me during movies.

I really don’t have much more to say about it, the plot, characters, action and effects all left me unimpressed.

If you have a choice I’d see The Island instead as a good summer action flick.

Rating: 2 out of 5


The Island: Movie Review

August 4th, 2005

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi
Directed By: Michael Bay

I found this movie very entertaining. It won’t win any Oscars, but it was a good summer action flick. The story moved along well and the action sequences were fun too, although some of them were a little over the top. Some of the stunts didn’t seem to be in the realm of even action movie possibilities.

I think my favorite scene in the movie was when Lincoln Six-Echo (McGregor) saw a motorcycle speed by and says “I don’t know what that was, but I want one”. McGregor is a big fan of motorcycling so this was a funny kinda-inside joke.

The performances were good enough for an action movie, and as usual Steve Buscemi was brilliant and funny.

Grab some popcorn and have some fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Getting Traffic to your Blog

September 20th, 2004

There has been a lot written recently about getting traffic to your blog. Recent posters on this subject include Biz Stone, Robert Scoble and Shelley Powers.

What I’m surprised none of them mentioned is the number one rule of getting traffic to any site: Content. Even if you manage to get people to click on your site or blog, they won’t return if the content is lousy. If the content is good people will start finding your blog and passing on links to it in their own blog. All of the recent blog entries point out why it is easier to get links to your blog than to a traditional site. This is because the blog world is so interconnected. People love passing on good links in their blogs. On a traditional site people have to beg for links. But even though blogs make it easier to get links, you still need good content to get good quality links and repeat visitors.

Content is still king on the Web, whether it is a traditional site or a blog.


Incrementalists & Completionists

September 19th, 2004

Rands has an interesting (but over a month old) blog entry about Incrementalists & Completionists. The basic idea is that there are two types of people, the Incrementalists like to get things done quickly, but not always in the best way. The Completionsists like to do the the right way and like to do things the right way, but its not always quick.

I like the basic idea but, like usual trying to divide the world into two doesn’t really work. Most people are somewhere in the middle and switch back and forth depending on the circumstances. Whats important is when you are operating an an Incrementalist way that you keep in mind the Completionist picture. Make sure that the incremental changes you are doing are leading to some complete solution. When you are thinking as a Completionist make sure you can implement the solution in an incremental way.

Seek the Middle Way.


NetFlix has RSS!

September 10th, 2004

I’ve been waiting for this one. You can now get RSS feed of your rental queue and new releases. Very cool.

Found via a post in The RSS Weblog.


Bottle Opener/Fridge Magnet

September 7th, 2004

I want this Bottle Opener/Fridge Magnet. It looks good and it’s very functional. Never again would I have to fight with the gadget drawer when looking for the bottle opener.


What is SOA?

September 3rd, 2004

There is an interesting thread going on in the service-orientated-architecture group.

Based on this thread I’m going to stop using the term “SOA” Everybody seems to have their own definitions for it. Here are some sample quotes:

From Patrick May:

If a distributed system uses a
standard means of registering services, looking up services, and
accessing services and it decouples clients of a service from details
about the implementation and location of that service, then it is
using an SOA.

From Sean McGrath

SOA (if it is worth anything at all) is a paradigm shift EAI-done-right
as opposed to EAI-V1.5. The paradigm
shift involves embracing asynchrony and reliable messaging substrates,
embracing protocol-oriented integration
patterns, embracing homogeneous message-passing “APIs”, embracing
event-oriented programming, embracing
the notion of explicit transaction boundaries, embracing the notion of
semantic interoperability, embracing
the notion of business-oriented system design in terms of data flows,
data transformations and service

From Anne Thomas Manes:

I recall using the term “service-oriented architecture” back in the early
1990’s to describe DCE and CORBA-based application architectures. And if you
look at all the documentation about DCE, CORBA, and other RPC-based systems,
the name given to the object/procedure that serves RPCs is “service”. Even
database systems are service-oriented.

With all these varied views of what SOA means, i think the term has lost its usefulness.

This has also been recently blogged about by Rich Turner.

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