b5media’s Changes to Blogger Pay: Right, Fair and Still a Sweet Deal

b5media logoOver at TechCrunch, Mike Arrington posted an article titled Big Blogger Pay Cuts At b5Media. As a recent ex-b5er (I’m the former Technical Project Manager), I thought I’d provide a former insider’s perspective:

  • b5media paid bloggers based on pageview statistics drawn from AWStats, which produces its results by analyzing the the server log files.
  • In b5’s experience, AWStats reported pageview counts that were significantly inflated — I’m talking numbers that were sometimes two-thirds higher than reality — and this was confirmed when AWStats’ results were compared with those reported by SiteMeter, a package we believe is far more accurate.
  • b5 recently made the switch to Omniture’s web analytics package, which delivers more accurate pageview statistics and can do the kinds of detailed analysis that the company needs.
  • As a trusted third party, Omniture provides results that can be trusted by:
    • The bloggers. Unlike AWStats, which is run by b5 and based on data on b5’s servers, Omniture’s data is collected and processes by a neutral third party with a solid industry reputation.
    • Advertisers. Just as TV ad buyers look at ratings and newspaper and magazine ad buyers look at circulation, blog advertisers look at pageview stats, and they need to be able to trust the numbers we provide them.
    • b5’s investors. They use the size of the readership as a metric for the company’s performance, and like advertisers, they need to be able to trust the stats.

Simply put, up till now, b5 has been paying bloggers based on inaccurate, inflated pageview counts. If you’re a b5 blogger and your pay drops as a result of the switch to Omniture, you’re not getting ripped off; it just means that the system no longer makes errors in your favour. It was a nice ride, but it had to end sometime.

Even under the new pay structure, blogging under the b5 umbrella is a pretty sweet deal. A guaranteed minimum CPM of $4? That’s awesome compared to the alternatives out there. Consider my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century, which has been averaging about 200,000 pageviews a month (outperforming most of b5’s blogs) and has had over 2 million pageviews this year according to StatCounter. I do a big happy dance when my CPM makes that rare climb over $1.10. $4? Sign me up!

To summarize, I believe that b5media’s new pay system for bloggers is both the right thing for the company and fair to its bloggers. I stand behind CEO Jeremy Wright and the rest of the b5 team in their decision.

Recommended Reading

For more details, I recommend you read Jeremy Wright’s blog post in response to the TechCrunch story.


Techmeme, Google Blog Search and How to Put Both to Work for Your Blog

Techmeme and the New Google Blog Search

A number of tech blogs have already covered the news: Google Blog Search now has a meme-tracking feature similar to Techmeme’s. For those of you not familiar with Techmeme, take a look at the screenshot below:

Screenshot showing a Techmeme story

Techmeme takes blog posts from top tech blogs and features them on the site. Each featured posts appears as a headline followed by a short blurb; the headline links to the featured post. Posts on other blogs that link to the featured post are listed below the featured post; these posts can “graduate” to featured posts if other tech blogs start linking to them. Featured posts that get a lot of links “bubble up” to the top of the page.

Techmeme’s arrangement makes it easy for readers to track the top stories in the tech world and follow the blogospheric conversation about a specific story as blogger write about it, all while minimizing the link chasing you have to do to follow a meme. If tech isn’t your thing, there are a handful of sites built on the same engine, but focusing on different topics:

Google Blog Search has been relaunched with meme tracking — if you visit its main page now, it should give you a strong feeling of Techmeme deja vu. Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot showing a Google Blog Search story

Google Blog Search does Techmeme-ish meme tracking of blogs along 11 categories:

  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Movies
  • Politics
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Television
  • US
  • Video Games
  • World

How to Put Both to Work for Your Blog

A number of the posts written about Google Blog Search’s new Techmeme-like functionality have asked the question “Is Google Blog Search a Techmeme killer?” If you’re Techmeme creator Gabe Rivera, Google or someone who makes money off either, it’s an important question.

However, if like most of us, you’re not one of those, the real question is “How can I put both to work to get more people to read my blog?”

The answer is simple, and it’s an idea I had when I first launched Global Nerdy. Since that thought-stealing rat-bastard Jason Calacanis has secret Mahalo-powered mind-reading technology and put forth the same idea at the Blog Business Summit back in 2006, the world thinks he came up with it.

It’s a simple five-step plan originally for using Techmeme; the same trick should work with Google Blog Search:

  1. Go to Techmeme and Google Blog Search.
  2. Blog something intelligent about their topmost stories.
  3. Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent.
  4. Repeat for 30 days.
  5. Go to a couple of conferences a month.

You can skip the conferences step if it’s too rich for your blood; the first four steps, which I haven’t been following as often as I should — have boosted this blog’s readership from the hundreds to the thousands.

Special Message to That Rat-Bastard Thought-Stealing (but probably nice guy to work for) Jason Calacanis:

I’m looking for work. Do you need an accordion-playing tech evangelist?


Apple Drops iPhone NDA

Woman wearing ball gag with Apple logo
Image from Wikimedia Commons.

On the off-chance you hadn’t yet heard, Apple has finally dropped its much-reviled NDA for iPhone developers for released software. It was so restrictive that developers were forbidden from discussing or writing documentation on iPhone development, even with or for other iPhone developers.

In the announcement on Apple Developer Connection, they explain why they put developers under the excessively-restrictive NDA:

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

This sort of behaviour harkens back to the 1990s, when Apple behaved as if all third-party developers who weren’t Adobe existed on a spectrum ranging from “unwanted houseguest” to “the enemy”. Speaking as a guy with a strong technical evangelist background (note to employers: hint, hint!), this is not the way you foster developer love nor build a developer community.

Expect iPhone development tutorials and tips to start popping up all over the web and for the Pragmatic Programmers’ book iPhone SDK Development to finally see the light of day.


Terminated, Part 4: The Great Computer Give-Away (Umax C600/240 PowerMac Clone, circa 1996) [Updated]

Update: The machine has been claimed!

My sudden surplus of free time has given me some time to do some thing I’d been meaning to do but never got around to doing. One of those things is doing a little decluttering, and as a result, I have a number of computers that I don’t need anymore.

Rather than put them up for sale, I’ve decided to give the computers away to people who need them. I could put them up for sale on eBay or Craigslist, but I’ve decided to use this opportunity to do a good deed and put some goodwill out there. Some of these machines might be a bit old for everyday use and are probably of interest to collectors, but giving you an old computer makes your day better and frees up my space, that’s a good thing.

The First Free Machine

Umax C600/240 computer, AppleVision 17" monitor, keyboard and mouse

This is an oldie, but if you pine for the days of pre-Return-of-Jobs Apple, you’ll love this machine. It’s a Umax C600/240 PowerMac clone from about a dozen years ago. Some of its specs:

  • 240Mhz PowerPC 603e processor
  • 96 MB Ram
  • 2GB hard drive
  • Two video cards — the standard Mac one from that era, plus an ATI card. You can dual-monitor this baby!
  • Ethernet card

It comes with an AppleVision 17″ CRT monitor, SuperMac ADB keyboard and Apple ADB mouse. It’s got a whole bunch of old Mac software too.

How Do You Get This Machine? [Update]

You can’t anymore — it’s been claimed!

How About the Other Machines?

I’ve got an appointment right now, so I’ll have to write about them later. Watch this space!


Terminated, Part 3: Need Suggestions for Where to Have the Last Supper

[This article also appears in Global Nerdy.]

"The Last SUpper" painting, but with Disney characters

Because I was laid off and not fired from my former place of employment, they’re taking me out for a farewell dinner on Tuesday night. It’s a nice gesture on their part, and I appreciate it greatly.

I’m allowed to choose the restaurant, and I must let them know my choice by Monday, October 6th. The problem is that I’ve just got too much on the brain and need help picking a place. If you’ve got suggestions, I’d like to hear them!

Some parameters:

  • It should be within easy walking/transit travel of Queen and Spadina (that’s where the office is)
  • My guess is that there will be about 10 people total.
  • There will be drinking. A lot of it. At least 2 two rounds of “Irish Car Bombs”, too.
  • It can’t be terribly expensive (which means that Nota Bene is off the list).
  • The usual office after-work hangouts are Wayne Gretzky’s and Jack Astor’s. While perfectly serviceable, I’m looking for alternatives.
  • The Pickle Barrel is not eligible.

Terminated, Part 2: How I’ll Ride Out the Layoff and the Credit Crunch: Friends

[This article was also published in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.]

Friends: "Amber's being immature again, isn't she?"

Technology, media and pop culture writer Douglas Rushkoff, who’s got a guest writing slot at the uber-blog Boing Boing, points to an essay titled Riding Out the Credit Collapse. Published in the spring 2008 edition of Arthur magazine, it:

  • Provides a layperson-friendly, non-drowsy explanation of how the credit crisis came about
  • Suggests the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your interests during the credit crisis (and in fact, any crisis, including being laid off during a credit crisis)

Don’t let the article’s apparent length scare you off — read it! Yes, it’s ten screens, but it’s set in a narrow column. If you’re still skittish about reading that much, shame on you, and here’s the part on which I want to focus:

Whatever the case, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your interests is to make friends. The more we are willing to do for each other on our own terms and for compensation that doesn’t necessarily involve the until-recently-almighty dollar, the less vulnerable we are to the movements of markets that, quite frankly, have nothing to do with us.

If you’re sourcing your garlic from your neighbor over the hill instead of the Big Ag conglomerate over the ocean, then shifts in the exchange rate won’t matter much. If you’re using a local currency to pay your mechanic to adjust your brakes, or your chiropractor to adjust your back, then a global liquidity crisis won’t affect your ability to pay for either. If you move to a place because you’re looking for smart people instead of a smart real estate investment, you’re less likely to be suckered by high costs of a “hot” city or neighborhood, and more likely to find the kinds of people willing to serve as a social network, if for no other reason than they’re less busy servicing their mortgages.

I think Rushkoff’s got the right idea, and I’d like to torque it a little further. Forget for a moment the more fanciful ideas of printing your own “Canadian Tire Money”; when he says “local currency”, I want you think of these things:

  • Reputation,
  • Goodwill,
  • and most importantly, Luck.

Among the many things that I’m churning in my brain right now — along with updating the resume, finding a place to put all the stuff that I used to keep at the office and getting that eye appointment with Dr. Heeney before my work-provided insurance coverage expires — is real-world testing an idea and writing about it here. That idea rests on two principles, namely:

  1. Having friends and being friendly makes you lucky. I’ve always suspected it, and Marc Myers wrote a book on the topic.
  2. I’d rather be lucky than smart. It’s the mantra of my all-time favourite financial planner, whom I shall refer to as “P. Kizzy”. If I get even a tenth of P. Kizzy’s business acumen, I will be a very happy man.

Watch this space, ’cause I’m going to expand on those ideas!