THN-Mouse Inventor Douglas Engelbart Passes Away

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(The Hosting News) – Do you know who invented the computer mouse? If you answered yes, congratulations; though you’re probably in the minority.

But for those who did not know, the answer is computer scientist Douglas C. Engelbart. Sadly, the inventor behind the important device has passed away. He was 88. The cause was said to be kidney failure.

Engelbart’s initial design for the mouse in 1967 consisted of two metal wheels encased in a wooden shell. At the time, he was an employee of SRI International, currently a nonprofit research institute. SRI patented the design.

The patent was later licensed to Apple, Inc where it evolved into what we know today. Engelbart actually didn’t collect any money from the device’s success, however.

He did receive quite a bit of recognition. In 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton honored him with the National Medal of Technology. In recent years, he served on numerous advisory boards.

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“Engelbart’s work is the very foundation of personal computing and the Internet. His vision was to solve humanity’s most important problems by using computers to improve communication and collaboration. He was world famous for his invention of the computer mouse and the origins of interactive computing,” stated SRI International via a press release.

And while the mouse may be somewhat dwindling in popularity due to ever increasing touchscreen devices – it’s safe to say we’ll still rely on it for some time to come.

Source: Mouse Inventor Douglas Engelbart Passes Away

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RSS Feed: Are You Contented Giving Away Your Content?

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“Thank you!” said a client of mine. “You really turned my site around.” It wasn’t hard to take a small, relatively unknown site and increase its ranking and bring in traffic. All that had to be done was create original, interesting content, make a few small changes to the site share functions and a little patience while the SEO did its thing. The client is happy with the results, I’m happy having a client who appreciates my work and the readership is happy with the content they get. That’s called a win-win… and win, I guess, situation.

Everyone agrees that regular insertions of original content on a site improves SEO, creates traffic and will raise a site ranking overall. As a content creator, I take a certain amount of pride from watching articles and images go viral across the web. When I hit a record high of 72.4 million for an article, I felt like I owned part of the world, until it hit me that millions of site were using MY content for their own SEO and even just one dollar from each site for that usage would mean my grand retirement for just that article. The problem was, the RSS feed was the instrument that screamed, “FREE CONTENT!”

One of the changes the previously mentioned client made was to install and promote an RSS feed on her site. Sharing is caring? Aside from that Hallmark Cards sentiment, the use of the name “Hallmark Cards” for SEO purposes and other keywords thrown in for traffic-baiting, is RSS a good idea for your site?

What is RSS?

Social media cell phone communication

RSS Rich Site Summary (often dubbed Really Simple Syndication), are web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed” or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favorite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place (read more on the late Aaron Swartz, a moving force in RSS technology).

RSS is also the bratty little sibling who runs and tells everyone what you did behind the garage with the neighbor girl. Sometimes you want mom and dad to send RSS to military school or just give it up to adoption!

The Good and the Bad of RSS

Damaging effects of computers

It’s exciting to see your content spread all over the world. I see my articles published on every continent except Antarctica. For me, it brings in more clients from around the world but I lose what may be considered reprint fees. For my clients, it means the aforementioned rise in site ranking and traffic. A proper RSS feed will trackback to the original site and content and that’s a good thing for any site but some argue it also waters down the content and the SEO as well.

Original content: Search engines rank your website according to the relevance of content put on your site. That’s why it is so important to put original content in your web pages. If you do not update your content, users will lose interest in your site. If you change, adapt or improve your content on a regular base, the search engine spiders will crawl through your content more often and place you among the top search results.

Formatting: The way you format your content is as important as writing it. When you put a lot of content on your web page, you make it more difficult for the readers to find the information for which they are searching. If you are known for tutorials, it’s best to get to the point right away so people know they have found the right information. The title may do that and then you can use my writing method in which I punch people in the face, get them emotional about the subject and then finish with valuable lessons, all wrapped up in an entertaining way. Storytelling is, after all, what makes an article, even those of supreme technological jargon. If you can keep the visitor on your web page, you will increase your pagerank, which helps you improve your rank in the search engines.

One way to keep the visitors on your website is to highlight the most important words or keywords by making them bold, underlined or italicized (but not too much or it will count against you in SEO). Another way to improve the readability for humans as well as search engines, is by using titles, subtitles and by dividing your text into divisions and paragraphs.

Duplicating content: In Nick Papagiannis’ article, “SEO for PR: Republishing content can hurt your search rank,” he points out the virtue of keeping to original content:

Google’s algorithm ultimately aims to rank results in the order it believes will be most meaningful to a user. Specifically, the following questions are asked in determining if content is worthy of a high search ranking.

  • Is this content unique or authentic? Google rewards the original webpage that houses a particular piece of content or article.
  • Do users like this content? This helps determine popularity of the site or source.
  • Is it coming from a trusted source? This is measured primarily in the way of links pointing to it, +1s, as well as the age, and history of the website’s domain.

A lot of websites duplicate their content to get a higher results in the search engines—they lift the content of another article in great part or its entirety and list it as their own, original content. To resolve this problem, Google built in a duplicating filter. These filters removes these web pages from the search engines. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work all of the time and personally, I’ve found some incredible duplicates of my own content.

Quality, Not Quantity

Illuminated One

New content is great but if no one wants to read it, then it’s a waste of cyber space. One client of mine insists on a high word minimum for articles, larger than what most readers will bear. Despite comments such as “great article but a bit too long” or “I’ll need to put on another tea kettle to finish this article” the client insists in quantity. I keep insisting that I can only use so many words to create a quality article, that makes a point, even in an entertaining way, without its being very, very, very, very, very, very, very lengthy and losing the reader. This also doesn’t mean it should be dry and without personality. A following will expect a certain “voice” from a writer or site and that must be maintained. In the end, that popularity will lead not only to a higher pagerank and better SEO, it will also  create a desire for your content on other sites and whether it’s through RSS feeds, Twitter links or readers reposting through share functions, the more your content is out there, the better for your popularity, trust and reputation.

Further suggested reading:

Why FeedBurner Is Killing Your SEO Strategy

The SEO Importance of Original Content

How Content Creators Benefit From The New SEO

How to Prevent Your WordPress Site Content from Being Scraped

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How will we blow you away, exactly? Or: Please help us transform our company and build a second-to-none IX customer experience (Parts 2 and 3)

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In my last post a few days ago, I told you a little bit about our history of service issues and what we have and are doing to improve it.

I wanted to thank everyone for your outstanding feedback on my last post. We are working on all mentioned issues and I will reply in detail (as a comment to this post) what we are doing about all of it.

It’s exciting to discuss all the opportunities we have to do better for you and on that note, I want to share our idea on what kind of customer service you can expect from us in the future.

Create a “Wow!” Customer Service Experience for you. Always. By the end of the year, we will transform our customer service team into delivering “Wow!” every time you call, email or chat with us. In detail, we will give you…

Your Own Personal Hero!

One Of Our Personal Heroes

1. Your own ‘Personal Hero’. A personal and fully accountable contact at our company who will be responsible to ensure your satisfaction at all times. You’ll know him/her by name. Your Hero will know everything about you and your objectives for your website. He or she will be heroically interested in what you are trying to achieve and what obstacles you’re facing so that he or she can blow them away. And every one of them will do everything in their Hero Special-Power to make your website successful (and we are making sure they have plenty of manna to do so).

2. You can help replenishing your Hero’s manna by sending in raving testimonials. I believe they also accept candy of all kinds. In fact, they prefer the latter, but I personally prefer the first. To be on the safe side, you could also do both.*

3. You’ll be able to talk to your Hero in all fashionable, not-so fashionable and even unfathomable ways: On the phone (they feel special if you call them on their hero (cell) phone), via chat, twitter,  facebook (MySpace is against our Heroes’ core values), any instant messenger (including google wave logo) and if you really have to, via email (totally unhero-ish). Or if you prefer skype, that works too. Webcam? No problem, your Hero is very personal and loves talking face-to-face. Or in person – visit us for a local get together.

4. By the way, don’t be freaked out. Occasionally, your Hero will call you just to ask how you’re doing and if there is anything they could iron-out or make go-away for you. And maybe if he or she can make your day brighter today. We promise there are no other intentions. (There is also no ulterior motive for making this a separate point for no reason at all.)

5. A company blog (you’re reading it). This place will soon be filled with stuff that you can really use to grow your website, Increase Traffic and eXplode Sales. You really can use a website to make a lot of money. That’s what I did with IX Web Hosting. I’ll show you how you can, too.

6. A status blog, featuring posts and your comments about any current and past service issues that warrant special attention. This is already online but not yet at its fullest capacity. We’re still working out the quirks.

7. A customer forum and comm-YOU-nity. This will be a place of vivid discussion among all of you and all of our Heroes. Participate, experience and learn about how to use your website to its fullest capacity (= how to Increase Traffic for your personal site, or how to eXplode Sales and impact your business).

8. A customer-wiki that your Heroes and you will co-create. Any content you think is worthwhile mentioning can published here and shared among our entire customer base. All of the Internet, even.

9. A presence on twitter (up and running!)facebook and all the other places you’d expect us to be but we’ve failed to appear so far. Our Army of Heroes will soon appear e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e…

I’m hopeful that these upcoming changes will, umm… I don’t know! Create some kind of excitement for you? :)

Please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and let us know what you think. Criticism, suggestions, new ideas – anything that’s on your mind, please share it with us! Your feedback will allow us to change our plans and make sure we do less of what you don’t need, and a lot more of what you do! So what do you think about our heroic ideas? Did we miss something?

And now that you know there will be Heroes who will teach your site how to fly, let me share the most significant change that is coming:

We would like to make your success our only focus. Specifically, this means…

Customer Advisory Board - Your Round Table

Customer Advisory Board (a.k.a Round Table)

  1. A Customer Advisory Board. We’d like to hear from you often, in fact, we can’t hear from you often enough. Sometimes, even with our new Heroic and Wow! customer service approach, we may still miss what’s important to you. This could be a new feature that we should offer, a whole new kind of product or just supporting you in a different way. I’d like to establish a method that will allow us to always stay in touch with you and listen to your feedback. I’ll follow up soon with several ideas how this could work exactly.In the meantime, do you have any ideas on how best we can make this happen?
  2. Frequent face-to-face meetings, between you and anyone of our staff. Anytime one of our managers, Heroes or Technologists travels (and some of our staff practically live on the plane!), they would love to meet you in person. To talk about your business or work situation, how an improved website and more traffic can lead to advancements for your business and career (and how to do that!), and of course to get your feedback about how we’re doing and what we could be doing better… or we can just hang out! Atlanta and Chicago are coming up next on our travel schedule. Anyone interested?
  3. Show you how to Increase Traffic and eXplode Sales, or IX, for short. We know exactly how powerful a website can be. After all, we’ve built our entire company – a hundreds of employees strong organization – on just that. How interested are you in a course, or possibly a monthly digital and printed newsletter, that teaches you how to use your website to your advantage for both your business and you personally, in easy-to-understand language?

A few ideas that come to my mind: how to build a website that sells, how to get your website listed on popular search engines (mostly: Google), how to successfully advertise online, what an affiliate program is and how to use it to your benefit? How to use your website to find a better paying job or advance your career? How to make your website more popular by means of Social Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing, and integrate core functionality such as forums, wikis, blogs and other interactive community elements? This list could go on forever…

But what are you most interested in? Please let us know.

We have a very full plate in front of us, but we will never be too busy to listen to your feedback. It is golden. Please keep it coming.

Thank you for being our customer.

Fathi Said, CEO
IX Web Hosting

PS: This blog post contains several ideas that you could try out in your business or at your workplace to improve your company’s service and relevance. Feel free to quote any part of this blog in your own publication. If you mention us in your quote, we’ll appreciate it all the more. Ideas for this blog came from Seth Godin, one of the most remarkable entrepreneurs I know of, and Andy Sernovitz, and their respective books “The Big Moo” and “Word of Mouth Marketing.” I highly recommend both of them.

*Disclaimer: Your Hero will be nice to you, so please be nice to him or her: do not overfeed your Hero.

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