Monday, November 24, 2008
Today, it was announced that Akamai would be laying off 7% of it's workforce. Now, they didn't exactly say that the layoffs were related to Amazon's S3, however, I can't think of a good reason that Akamai would be down sizing it's business. Sure the economy has been affecting many companies, but Akamai's main business customers are the large companies who continue to use Akamai's cdn services regardless of what the economy is doing. That said, Akamai's business should really be recession proof.
My educated guess is that Akamai is using the economy as an opportunity to dump their employees while trying to save face. The same way many companies did during 911. I think that the reality has finally hit them, that Amazon S3, is making their over priced service irrelevant. I know, it's a bold statement, however, it's just my own educated guess (which most of the times turn out to be true).
Sunday, November 23, 2008
One of the more popular affiliate programs available on the internet today is the Amazon Associates program. Associates can earn great commissions for helping Amazon sell any of the millions of items in it's product catalog. Remember what the Avon Lady used to do, when she came around with her brochure to sell the latest schwag of the day. The Avon Lady would get a commission each time someone purchased an Avon product from here. Take the same concept, fast forward to present day, and replace the catalog with a website and you've got the Amazon Associates program today.
If you've ever had a job as a sales person, then you might feel right at home selling items for Amazon. Lets compare working a traditional sales job to the Amazon Associates program.
Traditional Sales Job:
- You have a minimum quota you have to make just to keep your job.
- You have a boss breathing down your back to get stuff done.
- You've got to be at the store during certain business hours in order to make your sales.
- You can only sell what is instock at your store.
- You have to deal with problem customers, returns, customer service
- Might have to train on a product just to be able to sell it.
- Takes long to move up in the company even though you've been outperforming everyone else.
- You may not feel like selling the items the store you work for offers.
- Your entire market might be just a small town
- So much non-sales related work, like taking inventory, loss prevention, cleaning the store, etc.
- There is no minimum amount you need to sell.
- You don't have to hard sell anyone to make a purchase.
- You are free to work on sales when it's the right time for you. No clocks to punch in or out of.
- You are the boss, no one breathing down your neck, making sure you got the job done.
- You are not limited to selling only what you have in your store, instead you have access to Amazon's million plus product catalog.
- You don't need to train to sell Amazon products. You can use your existing knowledge to focus on what you can sell well. For example if you've ever worked in a hardware store like home depot, then you'll find it easier to sell tools and hardware from Amazon's hardware department, making good use of your current experience.
- Amazon Associates who perform well, easily move up to the next commission tier. You don't have to worry about seniority or politics holding you back from earning more. If you produce sales, then you can enjoy higher amounts of commission per sale.
- Because of Amazon's huge selection of brand name products in every sales category, it will be easy for you to find a niche market for you to focus your sales campaign on. You can sell the products that you feel comfortable with offering, and feel good about selling such a quality product.
- Because Amazon is a global retailer, you are not limited in your geographic areas. You will be able to setup a website selling quality Amazon products to customers around the world. With the internet as your global marketplace, you can showcase your website to millions of online shoppers.
- The Amazon Associates program is free and easy to use. Amazon handles all of the logistics as far as order processing, order fulfillment and customer service, so you can spend your efforts in the areas that really pay off like establishing your brand, and marketing your website.
Amazon Associates Resources:
- Amazon Associates Central
- Amazon Forums
- Amazon Video Tutorials
- Amazon Associates Blog
- E-commerce For Everyone
Here are a few example Amazon Associate websites that are earning money on a daily basis as a result of doing some simple branding and marketing:
Amazon recently announced a new web service called CloudFront, here's what they have to say about it:
I think making these services available to small businesses is going to level out the playing field when it comes to delivering content using the kind of bandwidth necessary for a pleasurable site interaction. Fast load times have been a hallmark of larger websites that have been using traditional content delivery network services such as Akamai. It will interesting to see the new face of cdn's in the next five years. We might seen a significant amount of consolidation, and value added resellers similar to the existing Amazon Associates program.
Amazon CloudFront is a web service for content delivery. It integrates with other Amazon Web Services to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments.
Amazon CloudFront delivers your content using a global network of edge locations. Requests for your objects are automatically routed to the nearest edge location, so content is delivered with the best possible performance. Amazon CloudFront works seamlessly with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) which durably stores the original, definitive versions of your files. Like other Amazon Web Services, there are no contracts or monthly commitments for using Amazon CloudFront – you pay only for as much or as little content as you actually deliver through the service.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Silver Hawks at Amazon
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors at Amazon
Centurions at Amazon
BRAVESTAR at Amazon
Captain Power at Amazon
Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers
Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers at Amazon
Real Ghostbusters at Amazon
Inspector Gadget at Amazon
M.A.S.K at Amazon
He Man at Amazon
Voltron at Amazon
Thundercats at Amazon
Transformers at Amazon
G.I. Joe at Amazon
She-Ra at Amazon
Jem at Amazon
The Snorks at Amazon
Gummi Bears at Amazon
The Smurfs at Amazon
Fraggle Rock at Amazon
Care Bears at Amazon
Rainbow Brite at Amazon
Strawberry Shortcake at Amazon
The Monchhichis at Amazon
Alvin and The Chipmunks
Alvin and The Chipmunks at Amazon
Ducktales at Amazon
Tale Spin at Amazon
PUNKY BREWSTER at Amazon
Shirt Tales at Amazon
Scooby Doo at Amazon
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For one thing, that's where you'll be able to submit a Google sitemap file. If you don't know what a sitemap file is, you might have just woken up from a 10,000 year old sleep, so, as a basic refresher, a sitemap file is typically an xml based file that contains listings of your page urls, along with a timestamp of when that file was created and last modified. This way, Google not only knows the page exists, but it will know when it was created, and also how frequently its updated.
Inside of Google Webmaster Tools, you'll also be able to set the crawl rate for your website. The crawl rate is basically how slow or fast the Googlebot requests pages from your site. Typically you can set it faster, but only for 90 days at a time, which should be good enough for Google to rip through your site and grab the content for indexing. If you have several million pages of content to get indexed, you should start off with several large sitemap files. The sitemap files should not exceed 50,000 urls or 10MB, so compress your files with gzip compression if they are larger then 10MB. Link directly to pages on your site that are several clicks away from the homepage, by doing that, you foce Google to take a look at that page, and the ones it's linking to.
Another method to get the deeper pages of your site indexed, would simply be to re-arrange your link structure, similar to what Amazon did, making the category pages link to sub-categories and even deeper pages in the heirarchy.
If you're like me, then you understand that a computer is useful for a whole lot more then actual work stuff, a computer is a great replacement for a television. I gave up regular television a while ago, kind of like when people started realizing that they could enjoy cd's or satellite versus radio broadcast. I stopped watching regular television, and cable television for that matter, once I realized that I could watch all of my favorite shows online, on demand (sorry Tivo), in high-def, and for free.
First you've got to start off with the right gear. For me, it's an HP laptop with built in wireless and a high-def screen and (optionally) a desktop with a 22 inch wide screen flat panel display. On my desktop, I've got a Logitech 5.1 THX surround sound system, so that the sound you get from your computer can be heard at the neighbors house, lol. Now that your audio and video are in check, you'll need to make sure you've got a broadband connection, matter of fact, if you don't have broadband, leave this page now (chump). Assuming you've got a decent connection, you can start retiring your Television, or better yet, put it up on ebay for some other fool to purchase, you won't need yours anymore.
There are several ways that you can do this, and I'll just list a few.
- Use iTunes. Subscibe to various video podcasts, and download shows of all kinds. This is probably the preferred method for those on a laptop, as your connection might not always be available.
- Do the same as number 1, but use a program like Miro. It's free and does the same thing iTunes does (except support mobile devices).
- Go directly to the broadcast networks that are already offering your same Television programs you like. NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN you get the picture. All of them have video available on their websites, that you can watch when you like, not when they schedule you to. Some have already content in HD. Another nice thing about going to the website is that you might be able to subscibe to a video podcast, or just catch up on an older episode in the online archives.
- Visit sites like Hulu. Hulu is actually a collection of legal content provided by broadcast networks. If you ask me, Hulu is one of the best online video sites mainly because it puts everything together in an easy to browse fashion. They have deals with alot of the cable network providers as well, so you'll find all sorts of content on there.
- Everything I've mentioned so far, is for enjoying video totally for free, however, if you live on the internation space station and are not governed by the laws here on Earth, then you might want to check out a site called Watch-Movies.net. Yes, the videos are pirated, but where else are you going to see the Quantum of Solace in divx format before the actual theatrical release, lol. Lots of great movies listed on the site, and typically what will happen is that you don't need to download the movie, as they've uploaded them to places with high bandwidth and little oversight like Google video. This means a fast download for you, and nothing to delete on your computer afterwards, and no peer-to-peer ad/spyware downloading crap.
- Lastly, you could actually buy video access from various video vendors.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm still thinking that the time looks right for Microsoft to stop messing around and purchase Yahoo. Yahoo is a great company to be honest with you, and it's a tough situation they seem to be in. You'd think after all the great service Yahoo has given to millions of users, that they'd have a user base ready to back them up, and prevent a hostile take over from Microsoft. Doesn't appear to be the case. Why no love for Yahoo? I mean if there was a threat to Google, I'm sure a community of users would be having a fit.
Yahoo, I really like you the way you are, but if you sellout to Microsoft, it's over between us. Mr. Yang, I know it's difficult when you have a baby that you created, and it's growing and changing, but, sometimes the best thing you can do is let nature take its course. Hopefully, the company you created will be intact throughout the rest of the recession, and then hopefully your stocks will pick up and you won't look like such a mark to your larger competitors. Good luck.
Monday, November 17, 2008
First is my tools and hardware feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ToolsandHardware
Second is my Solar Panel Reviews feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SolarPanelReviews
Third is my Photography and Camera reviews feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalCameraShopping
And last but not least is my Office Supplies feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/stockmyoffice
I've already got a few subscribers per feed. I love making use of feedburner, does a great job of getting content out there. It's also pretty slick for affiliate programs like Google adsense, and other contextual advertising programs.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
At first glance, most visitors hardly recognize that sites such as StockMyOffice.com , EcoFriendlyShoppingOnline.com or OnlineToolsandHardware.com are all websites designed and developed specifically for use with the Amazon Associates program. The website owner pays a small fee for the hosting and development of the design, then the they spend the next few months marketing the newly branding sites. With Amazon offering anywhere from 4-15% commissions for each item sold, website owners can quickly realize what making money while they sleep feels like.
Amazon Associates can earn any thing from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands per month. Large shopping comparison engines like Yahoo! Shopping, become.com, mysimon.com, pricegrabber.com, and others are rumored to be some of the highest volume associates. The Amazon Associates program has evolved from it's modest beginnings, associates can do anything from link to products, or consume vast amounts of xml product data via the Amazon Associates E-commerce Service.
Amazon recently completed a new Site Stripe feature and cleaner redesign of the Amazon Associates Central. They have essentially made it easier to link to various products and to access reporting. Amazon's vast number of Assocaites have helped Amazon stay #1 in online retail and become the original molding from which all other retail affiliate programs are based.
It will be interesting to watch what happens to the online retail market place as the old establishment of brick and motar retailers compete directly against affiliate marketers. I believe that affiliate marketing will allow a site like marketer branded site like WeKnowPhoto.com to compete against a brick and mortar brand ritzcamera.com. It will be interesting to say the least.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The speed improvement on the website I tested (WeKnowPhoto) was immediately noticable. Offsetting the regular Apache web requests by serving images and other static content on S3 means more capacity on my existing data center servers. Essentially more bang and less bucks to provide a much faster loading website. Speed is such a critical component to the enjoyment of a web visit. Everyone hates a slow loading website. If you're anything like me, then you can remember the days of dial up modems, and the excruitiating pain that was requesting a web page.
I'm considering moving the entire E4E platform to S3. This way, clients can enjoy the benefits of having their content on a cdn. Might be an additional option for some clients, or just a value added service, haven't come to a conclusion on that yet.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
By uploading those page objects to Amazon's S3, my web server can simply focus on rendering php pages, and not worry about serving images and other static content. I expect the modest expense to pay for itself in the additional capacity that each single server can offer. This will reduce datacenter equipment expenses, and administration time, so I'm all for it.
I like the idea that I can manage an S3 account via a plugin in my browser. I've been using Amazon's Ec2 and I manage it the same way, right from my browser.
I would think for a company like SysteMax, the Circuit City database of customers and the brand itself would be a very attractive aquisition. The Circuit City brand is very well established, and to be honest, has a deeper market penetration with regards to general consumer electronics then any of the other SysteMax brands. Most of the SysteMax brands are focused on the geeks, who regularly build their own computers.
In either case, Circuit City's main competitor Best Buy is sure to be happy that it will finally be dominant in it's market. Circuit City claims that it will continue to operate, however, I wouldn't be buying an extended warranty from them anytime soon, lol.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Once I saved money by switching my light bulbs, it got me thinking that I should take it a step further, and possibly add solar panels, or a wind turbine. I don't know how to attach a power inverter to my electric box, so I'll need an electrician for that, but I think spending a few hundred dollars, just under a thousand, should start saving me another $30 to $50 off my electric bill. That monthly savings would mean that the solar panel would pay for itself within 2-3 years.
When you thinking of going green as saving some green, then it gives you a whole new reason to be just a little more environmentally conscious.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
One notable site this season is babyage.com . They have steamlined their look, and included a healthy dose of ajax. I like the quick info function they made, it's an easy way to get some product information, while still browsing through the category. Target.com has been using that feature for a little while now. I did my own version of that feature a little while back on one of my older (2yrs) sites.
I hope this holiday season brings in the kind of sales that retailers are looking for. I'd be very bad for business for the holidays to be a sales bust. Times are hard right now, just ask Circuit City, lol. While I've been working hard to crank out some new features, I think that just some basic site improvements, will improve convertion rates, and really thats all any retailer could ask for. If you focus on pleasing your customer, you'll do well any time of the year.
While Yahoo is still a giant in it's own right, right about now, it's looking like a Microsoft lunch and goody basket. I don't know what the aftermath of such a purchase would be, other then I'd probably go ahead and close out my old Yahoo mail account. I'd probably close out my mybloglog account too. I don't really like using any of Microsoft's web services. It's bad enough I use their operating system on my laptop (for the wireless nic drivers that is).
I don't see Yahoo coming out of this economic recession fully intact. I think Microsoft is going to put the squeeze on the old Yahoo. Shame too, cause I really liked their commercials, lol. Yahoooooooo!
During my normal website marketing activities, I typically will build a very large Google Site maps, XML files with 40,000 urls, and anywhere from 5-22 per site. To do this, I run a website crawling application which pulls 15 urls every 4 seconds. Now my server is a dual quad core processor, capable of serving hundreds of pages per second.
1. Building my site maps quickly to get my new websites indexed quickly, and to let Google know some of the deeper pages of site content.
2. Making use of my server's capability.
3. Not run the crawling application on my desktop
1. Run multiple instances of my crawler on various Windows via Amazon Ec2.
2. Launched 5 instances, quickly and easily right from my browser.
What I discovered? The new cloud computing model is going to make another revolution in computing that I don't yet believe has been fully appreciated. I envision that companies such as Adobe may offer their applications more affordably via Amazon Ec2 amis or computer images (think Norton Ghost). This will create new sales channels for software vendors, and possibly bring more of a user base for their applications.
So anyway I've been thinking about buying my own little home brew system so I can save the time and expense of running out to grab a cut, plus there's nothing better then waking up knowing that you don't have to go anywhere, but to the computer desk and kitchen.
If it wasn't for programming, I don't know what I'd be doing, cause I'm so lazy when it comes to doing any kind of labor. I hate working so much, that I even dislike preparing food, taking being a slacker to a whole other level, but that's another blog post. I was checking out this stainless steel coffee maker.I might buy it. I have one now, but haven't used it in a bit because the coffee just hasn't really tasted as great. Not sure if it's the water. Florida water sucks by the way. You've got to purchase your own water. I usually get mine in the form of some caffeinated drink anyways.
So anyways, this week after going from forever, I actually realized that Dunkin Donuts has a sandwich I like, a BLT on a poppy seed bagel. Pretty decent.
I mainly discuss topics like website marketing, Amazon.com , Google and web development.
I'd like to recommend everyone who wants to learn more about the associates program, or just to hangout, please feel free to stop by our associate forum. You don't need to be a customer of ours to enjoy our forum. We're going to be moderating it, so if you post a question, you'll receive a prompt knowledgeable response.
WordPress seems to have more features and gadgets, which makes it more useful. Both are very clean and easy to use, but I still think WordPress is a hotter bloggin platform.
My wordpress blog is at PuReWebDev.com, check it out. I use it to do a little promotion of my e-commerce sites.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
For a good amount of time, development was at a near stand still simply dealing with customer service and support issues. That quickly got old, and I realized that the problem with our development cycle was that I was on the phone helping people do simple things that a flash video should do.
I've recently taken the last month to change our business model slightly. Most businesses that I've created in the past have been phone heavy, with lots of customer hand holding. This obviously creates a scalability problem for small start-ups. Putting in the features that customers need to make changes on their own, is one of the major new directions we've decided to take.
No more phones : ) , feels good.
I've been thinking about buying Zend Encoder to protect my application. I like the fact that it has a license system and you can protect your intellectual property, even remotely. Maybe I'll continue with my SaaS business model and forget all about this download and software distribution non-sense.
November sales appear to be up already. Hopefully the sales volume can be sustained even after the holidays. This years economic meltdown has really affected everyone, although I'd say that alot of online stores have been recession proof.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
So here are some sites currently being worked on:
1. EcoFriendlyShoppingOnline.com - Currently focuses on Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, Power Inverters, Rechargeable Batteries and eco-friendly lightbulbs.
2. WeKnowPhoto.com - Currently focuses on Digital Cameras, Film Cameras, Flashes, Lenses, Tripods, Drives and Memory.
3. AllPhoneDeals.com - Currently focuses on Cell Phones, Office Phones, Voip Phones and Cellular Accessories.
4. InsideAndOutHomeDecor.com - Currently focuses on kitchen furniture, housewares, small appliances and outdoor decor.
5. StockMyOffice.com - Currently focuses on office electronics, office and school supplies, computers and office furniture.
6. 75Direct.com - Currently focuses on skateboarding, surfing, skiing and paintballing.
7. ParadiseBeautySupply.com - Currently focuses on makeup, skincare, haircair and fragrances.
8. DvdSmartReviews.com - focuses on well... dvds.
9. Consoles-Stores.co.uk - focuses on the ps3, xbox 360 and the nintendo wii.
10. OurColony.net - focuses on pc games, sony psp and nintendo ds.
Wow, that's quite a few new sites and categories. I didn't exactly link as deeply as I would like, just basically did one link away from the homepage. Link building typically takes some time in anycase, but hopefully these new links will pass on just a touch of pr.