Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Want to Buy a Pixel?

This story really does not need any more publicity. However, it is one of those Internet "build it and he will come" or you never know what people will pay for stories.

Late last year British student Alex Tew decided to raise $1 million to pay for college by selling 1 million pixels worth of advertising space on his Web site for $1 each. Tew's plan started off by getting friends and relatives to buy 100-pixel blocks on his site.

According to his blog, he was quickly overwhelmed with requests and had to enlist help to process the requests. As of today he has 999,000 pixels sold and is auctioning off the final 1,000 pixels on eBay , scheduled to end later today (1/11/2006). Advertisers can not resell their pixels and the site will be maintained online for five years.

In a bit of irony, Tew has decided to defer his studies. The terms and conditions of purchasing pixels does not indicate that the money received would be used on college. So, I guess he just came up with a pretty good money making scheme. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 09, 2006

Why I Pay for Radio

My wife and I spend a lot of time traveling by car and all too often we spend our travel time scanning for radio stations. Sure, we have a CD changer but there is also a need for news, information, and sports. Trying to find such channels in remote or mountain regions is a particular challenge. That is why I have been a subscriber to XM Radio for four years now.

Finding radio stations in remote areas is only one of the reasons I pay for radio. Over the air radio stations must sell commercial time in order to operate. From my perspective the commericals and disc jockey banter are dead air. (at least I am consistant in my desire to ignore commericals - I am also a Tivo user) . So, instead of supporting commerical radio by buying products advertised on the air, I support satellite radio by spending money to the XM service.

So why XM and not Sirius? First, the choice was easy since Sirius wasn't on the air when I first subscribed. In the end it comes down to listening and car model preferences. Technically the two services are identical. They both provide high quality audio (audiophiles would disagree, but they also hear the sawtooth sound in audio CDs). Both provide ample variety of commerical free music.

Here is a list of some of the basic differences in the two services:

XM is for those who are NPR fans that like Bob Edwards and are fans of major league baseball. XM hardware is factory installed in all General Motors (including Saab and Saturn), Honda/Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Izuzu, Lexus, Nissan, Porsche, VW, and HarleyDavidson vehicles.

Sirius is for those that like the NFL or NBA, and of course starting today, fans of Howard Stern. Sirius hardware is factory installed in Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Audi, BMW, and Lexus vehicles.

The real challenge is for listeners like the fans of Howard Stern that drive GM cars. They will need to by an aftermarket radio or a portable unit that plugs into an auxillary input or through an FM modulator. The choice for me was obvious since I drive GM vechicles and am not a Stern fan. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If an RSS Feed is Out There, It's is a metasearch engine for RSS feeds that allows users to search for feeds on a topic and have them delivered to a desktop or mobile device. The name (pronounced "gotta be") was selected because the number 4232.2233 spells out on most handsets and requires few key presses on a 10-key keypad.

The service works by allowing search terms to be defined via subdomains. Subdomains, also known as a fully qualified domain names or canonical names, are used by many sites for various functions. users simply type a URL instead of loading a search page, navigating to an input box and wait for a results page.

For example, users can search for RSS feeds on the phrase "emerging technologies" by typing the following into a web browser:

Hyphens instead of periods are used to search emerging technologies as keywords:

However, this approach was very problematic for Google, which removed pages from their index for about three weeks in December 2005.

Since Google weighs more heavily those web sites that have a search term somewhere in the name, some web operators create junk sites (called "search engine spam" by Google). These sites contain little or no content but have various search terms sprinkled throughout their canonical names, meta tags, visible text, and elsewhere to grab some free traffic from Google and, in some cases, revenue from Google ads. changed their approach by converting searches into a more normal URL structure and has reappeared in Google's index. A search for emerging technologies using's default setting results in the web browser being redirected to the following address:

Users can use indexed feeds integrate their own RSS aggregators. To do this users add /opml to any search address:

This produces a screenful of OPML -- Outline Processor Markup Language. OPML generates XML formatted lists so they can be used in different operating environments. The OPML text is imported into an RSS aggregator in order to get topic updates. Sphere: Related Content