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Thursday, February 14, 2002

well, so what’s wrong here?

Man convicted of shooting girlfriend who he thought was about to say `New Jersey'
posted by lee on 02/14/02 at 09:56 AM

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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Now this is just a total crock of guano

No matter the cost, Afghan hounds pay the price.

Lou Guerrero had no problem spending whatever it cost to show off his champion dog and bring it from California to Westminster this year.

He had more trouble dealing with the backlash caused by the name of its breed: Afghan hound.

"Now that 9-11 happened, I'm very careful where I go with my dog," Guerrero said Tuesday. "When people ask what kind she is, I just say, 'She's a hound dog.'

"The only reason I do this is for fear of possible retaliation."

Is stupid a gene or is it something in the water?
posted by lee on 02/13/02 at 10:02 AM

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More useful usability stuff

developerWorks: Usability : Seven tricks that Web users don't know. This was pretty interesting - as a developer, I really do forget that I had to learn this stuff at one time.
posted by lee on 02/13/02 at 06:54 AM

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WSJ Spent $28 mil on overhaul

From ComputerWorld: Completes Web Site Overhaul

It cost $28 million over two years! Twenty-eight million smackeroos! Revenue is just $36 million/year. They switched to Vignette for content management - planning to spin off customized newsletters. The sites run on IBM's apache-esque servers. The figured personalization is the way to go, so that's why they spent the big bucks. That works out to be about $45 per existing subscriber - seems like a pretty steep retention cost.

One would think a financial newspaper would know what it was doing. We'll see. I've been a subscriber (to the interactive edition - not print) for years - since day one as a matter of fact - and frankly, I didn't have any problems with the old version and see nothing special about the new version - at what, $6 a month, it's not something that's preying on my mind to cancel - I think it's a good deal. It's one of those monthly charges you don't really notice - under-the-radar charges are what content sites should aspire to - so I have a hunch their churn rate isn't particularly high. I dunno - I guess I'm just awestruck that $28 million can even be SPENT building a website (or series of websites, as in the case of WSJ). Least they could've made it PRETTY!
posted by lee on 02/13/02 at 06:43 AM

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Tuesday, February 12, 2002

states threaten micromerchants with paypal attacks

PayPal Booted Out of State, Under Legal Siege. " ... the state of Louisiana ordered PayPal to stop doing business with its residents without a license.

"Although the company faces the threat of regulation from several other states, Louisiana was the first state to order the company to stop transferring money to and from residents until it obtains a money transmission license.

"If PayPal fails to abide by that order, it could be fined US$1,000 per day by the state.

"PayPal said it will 'comply promptly and suspend the ability of Louisiana residents to make payments through our service,' although it reserves the right to contest the order."

The article in eCommerce Times continues, stating PayPal is facing legal challenges in other states, including New York.

Let's see, PayPal has been around how many years now? And states are only NOW looking at it? Is subject to these same complaints, or any other net-based money-transfer services?

I don't know the legal ins and outs of the way PayPal is supposed to conduct business. I do know that this should've been resolved long ago - before thousands and thousands of small online businesses came to depend on PayPal for ecommerce functions. Including the thousands on eBay alone.

PayPal isn't a cheap service for a micromerchant to use, but it sure is cheaper than most bank merchant accounts and it is absolutely easier to set up than every single other shopping cart program out there. It may not be the best service out there for the microbusiness, but as far as I've seen, it's the only one out there that makes sense. It's flawed, but works well enough to have generated $40 million in revenue in 2001 and more than 2 million business acounts.

What I want to know is what micromerchants are supposed to do if PayPal sinks under the weight of regulatory cinderblocks in 50 states. Are banks going to step in an offer comparable services that are comparably easy to use? I doubt it.

If PayPal falls, it will be the death knell for thousands of micromerchants who cannot afford the expense of merchant accounts or hiring programmers to set up expensive shopping cart programs for their sites. Even sites proclaiming to be easy-to-use and cheap are not - witness Yahoo.

So what's going to happen? I don't know. Is eBay going to step in to the fray? If they want their success to continue, they'll have to.
posted by lee on 02/12/02 at 12:08 PM

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Jared’s wombat??

Just received Jared Spool's latest UIEtips enewsletter: "Determining How Design Affects Branding." Lately Jared has been annoying me with his spam all about attending some conference on the west coast (once is okay. Three times is NOT okay). But aside from that, methinks he should start selecting more substantial stuff for his newsletter if he has any hopes whatsoever of selling my company reports on his research. These examples just won't do it:

"The more shoppers could purchase their desired products, the more their positive attitudes about the site's brand increased."

"The usage of certain design elements correlated very strongly with people's brand attitude changes. For example, shoppers who used size charts while buying apparel were more likely to show brand strength increases on those sites. While shoppers who used Search correlated strongly with decreases in brand strength."
Correlations do not a conclusion make. How strongly correlated? Was it a statistically significant correlation or just a line moving on a chart? What were they searching for? Why were they searching? What's a brand-strength increase, anyway? And the only reason to use a size chart is if you're already committed to buying - otherwise, it's a pain in the ass to figure them out. So if someone IS ALREADY committed to buying, of course his or her brand awareness is going to be higher.

"These two findings tell us that when we create designs that focus on ensuring users accomplish their goals, we are likely having a long-term positive effect on the strength of the brand."
As opposed to what, deliberately designing sites to be user unfriendly and to thwart user goals? How much money was spent on this study? Time?

If you want USEFUL web-building information, go here: Criteria for optimal web design (designing for usability) from the Software Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State University.
posted by lee on 02/12/02 at 07:01 AM

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A design journal - interesting

the dcn
posted by lee on 02/12/02 at 06:50 AM

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Monday, February 11, 2002

Why, yes i am

Are you Addicted to the Internet?

Hardcore Junkie (61% - 80%)
While you do get a bit of sleep every night and sometimes leave the house, you spend as much time as you can online. You usually have a browser, chat clients, server consoles, and your email on auto check open at all times. Phone? What's that? You plan your social events by contacting your friends online. Just be careful you don't get a repetitive wrist injury ...

The Are you Addicted to the Internet? Quiz at!

Founds this via thanks Adam, I think ...
posted by lee on 02/11/02 at 08:37 PM

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Laura bush sends a message to enron victims

Reaching Out: The First Lady's Message to Victims of the Enron Collapse. From the White House.
posted by lee on 02/11/02 at 10:05 AM

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Oh Just write your own like everyone else does ...

Gerry McGovern writes in his Feb. 11 newlsetter:

If you have, Gerry McGovern would like to hear about it.
(Constructive criticism is welcome too!) If you have a minute,
please send a brief accolade (max: 100 words), describing what
you like about the publication. This may then be published on
Gerry's website, or in other promotional material for Gerry
McGovern. Please also include your name, title and organization
(if appropriate)."

I don't know why this made me laugh, but it did. Reminded me of a bad TV commercial. I like Gerry's columns when he has something to say. Usually he's very good at pointing out the obvious (in an Emporer's new clothes kinda way), and usually he's right on the money especially if you agree with him on what constitutes content, what the web is about, and why people use the web (oh, I mean "Web" per Gerry's style guide). His conclusions are usually sound, but his solutions sometimes leave me breathless (this is not a Good Thing). Not necessarily breakaway stuff, though - Jakob Nielsen has been saying pretty much the same thing for a lot longer, albeit Jakob is even dryer than Gerry.
posted by lee on 02/11/02 at 08:44 AM

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