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Showing posts from April, 2007

First AJAX steps implemented

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I got the first step of the checkout process Ajaxified today on the live site. Because of all the issues I could cause by installing Norton, disabling JavaScript, etc. that I'm actually just giving "Helpful hints" if some input is wrong. For example, an invalid postal code or an invalid email address.

Now I get to start checking for valid postal addresses and trying the same thing. A bit trickier, and a lot more possible instances. For example, is it valid, not valid, valid with multiple matches or invalid with multiple matches? Now, how do I convey all those messages? Should prove interesting.

Woot makes me feel empty

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I've been watching closely for that BOC on Woot for the past 2 days. Now, the woot-off is done, and all I have to show for it is an airplane (that'll be fun with my boys) and a monkey.

Yes, I got a monkey. No, you can't have it. But I still haven't been able to buy a BOC, and having a woot-off without a BOC didn't feel as fulfilling. Sure, it was still fun seeing all sorts of junk flying by on my screen, but c'mon, where's the BOC?

What's up with that, woot? :(

Triple Mini

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Now that we're going to put our current back-end into a new site, it turned out to be the perfect time to buy another mini. We'll have two v2 minis running for ToolBarn and a v1 mini on the new site. That'll make load balancing much less of a headache.

Also interesting is that they no longer include the print books with the machine, instead giving a CD with the instructions. Seems much smarter to me. Oh, and they now have a 30 day trial. Excellent.

I look forward to experimenting with the price range search on the v2, so overall this should be a great upgrade. I'm pretty happy with the $2k we spent this week.

What is this?

A .gov.cn with parasite hosting? And it is ranking for our name? Huh? Actually, this isn't even that complicated to be considered parasite... or is it?

I really don't get why this is here, but it was in the SERPs for the ToolBarn name and seems to be an open proxy via CGI. Why do people leave these things lying around? Are they that clueless?

All Hail Brian

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Bow to me, like Epiar.

Their comments just made me laugh on this image. Thanks, Ken and company. :)

Hitwise got sold...

Hmmm... I'm familiar with Experian, but I had no idea they were looking at Hitwise. The full announcement can be read here.

It sounds like most of the people that have been there are staying. It should be interesting to see if this improves the service at all (more backing to get more data) or if it'll stay where it's at. I can always dream, can't I?

Yet another SERP look?

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Ok, so I don't usually pay that much attention to the look of the SERPs on Google. I've noticed the yellow, noticed the 50 results earlier today, but I got a funky new look tonight. Blue lines and no background color for the ads. I wish they'd pick a look already and get on with it. Oh, and clicking on the image will give a clearer view.



This one just seemed creepy to me. I didn't like it at all, mostly because it's so chopped up. Oh, well... it's their site to mess up I guess.

One other change that was noticed on this version: No links for the other Google services above the search box, and it doesn't show me as logged in (or able to log in).

Final thing I just noticed... on the "Standard" results, I show 294M results for the two word phrase power tools. With this new look, I only get 20M results. What happened to the other 274M?

Google is messing with my mind...

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Google started showing 50 results today on search result pages for me. I've never changed it from default, as I want to see what a "typical" searcher sees, so when it kept scrolling and scrolling I was confused. Is this another UI test? If so, I give it a thumbs down. I know how to change it to show 50 or 100, but I choose 10. Showing me 50 with the yellow ads is too many changes for me. Baaahh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

500 Internal Server Error? Nice.

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I tried going to twitter's homepage today and got a 500 Internal Server Error. For a moment, I wasn't sure what I was looking at (it was one of the many tabs that started with my browser), but it was sure a lot more entertaining than the traditional 500 error.



On a side note, it looks like my blog post yesterday got the attention of Hitwise. My account got unlocked. I think it was probably through a google alert or similar, because I don't think they normally read my blog. Thanks for the responsiveness, guys.

Thanks, Hitwise

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I was doing some work today and was trying to pull some stuff up, planning on side-by-side of us vs. our competitors in Hitwise. I got to the point of logging in on one screen, and got the following error message (you may need to click to read the larger image).



What happened? I was using Internet Explorer. Normally, I log in under FireFox. Since I've logged in on our CEO's PC during a meeting once, from our conference room during a few meetings and my own PC, I'm not allowed to log in on more machines. To top that off, IE and FF on the same machine is considered 2 machines as well.

Ok, so now what happens if I clear my cookies? Does that mean I won't be able to log in on my PC at all? Doesn't seem like a real friendly way to let me use the service we paid quite a bit for.

EDIT: After coming back later, I found that I can't log in via FireFox, either. I guess we paid for a service I can't use any more. Time to make a phone call.

RE-EDIT: The next morning, the a…

ToolBarn.com - We've got fans!

I've been a fan of many things in the past, but we now have a fan of our own. You can see it in the video below.

New Yawk

I'm heading out to New York next week. I'll be speaking on two panels now, both on Thursday. Shopping Search Tactics and the Retailer Forum. Should be a fun time, and I'm looking forward to catching up with some friends. I'm also anticipating having some business deals worked out while I'm there, making for some interesting weeks when I return. :)

I guess I'll see how it goes, but boy do I enjoy SES.

What happens when...

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What happens when you let a few computer geek types loose to run the marketing department? Well, that's what we've been doing at ToolBarn for a while, so it's been interesting. For example, the homepage now has some rotating buttons on it, which you can see here.

First off, the very boring, I'm a geek look:



Second, a little medical humor:



Third, the off-colored humor approach:



Fourth, the "We need lightning" button:



And finally, the "Get a bigger tool" button:



I'm not saying they're all terrible, but I think this is maybe why we need a graphic artist's help in doing some marketing materials. After all, we're just a bunch of geeks.

Why not to do April Fools pranks online

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Those of you who enjoy a good joke, remember that there may be repercussions from your actions. Not only in terms of reputation, but also in terms of links / SERPs / business.

Take, for example, a couple days ago. We didn't do anything special for ToolBarn. A couple of our competitors did "Funny" things. We saw one of our best Sunday sales totals ever. For that, I've got to thank them.

But sometimes the joke bites back at you for days afterwards. For example, today's #1 result for "seo blog" on google.


Yes, Mr. Cutts did a nice "Hacked" theme for the day, and two days later we're seeing the Hacked SERPs. You'd think he would have known enough to cloak that so his SERP description didn't lessen his credibility. All in all, not the best planning I've seen.

AuctionAds - Great concept, needs some work

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First off, I love the idea behind AuctionAds. I have talked to Jeremy a bit and know more than I probably should about how their system works. At this point, however, I'm discontinuing my use of the service.

For some sites, it's not a big deal to display whatever shows up. For a commercial site, that's not the case.

Our theory was simple. If someone searches on ToolBarn.com for a phrase where we have zero results, show them AuctionAds results to try monetizing that traffic. On the surface, it sounded great.

When we started getting complaints on some of the results, we started digging a little deeper. The tests I had done last week were all fairly decent. Talking with Jeremy, I understand that queries that don't get done too often won't have decent results. But when results like pictured below started to show up, I had to pull the plug.



Since it's tough to see, here's a zoom on the block in question.



Now, I don't know how many sites have had a similar idea, o…