Richi'Blog
Stuff 'n' nonsense about email, spam, travel, and life in the UK.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Explaining SPLOGs

Spammy blogs: some call them “zombie blogs,” some prefer “spamblogs” or “SPLOGs.” Whatever you call them, it’s clear that unsavoury characters are committing widespread misuse of free blog hosting services. They’re doing this to increase the ranking of other commercial sites on search engines, such as Google. This is the dark side of SEO (or Search Engine Optimization).

For example, imagine I wanted to “optimize” the ranking of my commercial widget site, buy-my-widgets.example.com. If I was of low moral fibre, I might set up one or more blogs at free hosting services such as Blogspot.com or Spaces.MSN.com. I’d populate these fake blogs with text content that seems relevant to widgets, each post linking back to my commercial site. I can quite easily find relevant content using a search engine, which I can cut and paste into my blogs.

I estimate that 75% of the blogs hosted at Blogspot.com are spam. This is a similar proportion to the level of spam in email today. Spammy blogs are just as irritating as spammy email: when searching for information with Google, it’s very easy to find several SPLOGS intermingled with legitimate search results.


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Worrying privacy problem with hotel room keys (NOT)

Worrying, this. IAG reckon that those innocuous plastic room keycards contain all sorts of private information about you. Their recommendation?
Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them NEVER leave them behind in the room or room waste basket, and NEVER turn them in to the front desk when you check out of a room.
Clicky for more (hat tip: A Sabre Geek)

Update: nuts, it’s an urban legend. As you were. Still, at least it gave me an opportunity to try out the new Blogger toolbar for MS-Word.

Update 2: Blogger toolbar sucks.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bastardcast August 18 - GHP - Uptight Killer

GHP - Uptight Killer

I've been a fan of Go Home Productions (aka Mark Vidler) for aaages. Mostly because he's actually got a good musical ear. Shocking, I know.

This is one of his more recent offerings. As he puts it:
Stevie Wonder's 'Uptight' (acapella thanx to Corporation) with all manner of parts from The Killers 'Somebody Told Me' / the riff from the Rolling Stones 'Jumping Jack Flash' and a whole load of breaks / bleeps / fills and aural candy from myself. Apologies for the ending but it had to be done. Most, if not all, of the Killers bootlegs that I've heard have completely missed that vocal chord change on the 'had it with this game' section.....
There's some Bowie in there too.

Categories: , , , , , , , , . My Odeo Channel (odeo/d3ddc2a176243581)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

HP's Q3 results

The following is from our favourite guest blogger f(Richard). It's his Q3 summary, produced by combining the "consolidated condensed statement of earnings" and the "segment information". Enjoy...

Given the exceptionally low [net] earnings this quarter - see next para - it's pretty meaningless to try to derive even a very rough valuation from the 3 (sic) cents diluted EPS for the quarter. (If you were to try, you'd probably value HP shares at less than $3 (sic) dollars each.)

Of course, it's that horrible $960 million tax charge that's screwing things up. $788 million of it is "a tax adjustment resulting from HP's decision in the third quarter to repatriate, in the third and fourth quarters, $14.5 billion in cash from foreign earnings". (As I understand it, HP is taking advantage of the American Jobs Creation Act to bring into the US, money made by foreign subsidiaries, without having to pay the normally high US rates of tax on it.)

Segment Net revenue Earnings from
operations

Imaging and printing 5,913 771
Personal systems 6,386 163
Enterprise storage and servers 3,999 150
Software 249 (40)
HP Services 3,837 256
Financing 489 58

Restructuring (112)
Acquisition related
Amortization (168)
Eliminations/other (233) (45)
Net interest and other 119
Taxes (960)

Total 20,759 73
In the past, repatriated earnings were taxed quite heavily by the US tax authorities. But under the provisions contained in the American Jobs Creation Act, repatriated earnings are taxed at a much lower rate - provided they are used in certain "approved" ways. This reduced tax rate has prompted HP to repatriate more earnings than it would otherwise have done. (And while the tax rate has been reduced, HP has repatriated such a humungous amount, that the tax due is itself a very large amount: $788 million.)

I thought the following is a good example of the assumption that a change in a company's fortunes is always necessarily a direct consequence of a change in the company's senior management. What we can't know for sure is what HP's results would have been if Carly had still been in charge, so it's risky to assume that Mark Hurd was responsible for the improved results. It's excepted from this AP story:
In the first full quarter under CEO Mark Hurd, the company reported higher sales in all its major businesses -- computers, printers and services. It also predicted the momentum would continue in the current quarter as a corporate restructuring continues. "I expected to see improvements out of HP under the new management, but this is more and sooner," said Cindy Shaw, an analyst at Moors & Cabot Capital Markets. "I thought it would take Mark Hurd a lot longer to show tangible improvements like this."
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Is this the first ever blog?

On corporate blogs: HP's Yale Tankus takes me to task

I got email from Yale Tankus, the HP OpenView Veep of Partnerships. I think he objected to my dig at his blog last month, on Computerworld's IT Blogwatch. In a report on HP's latest layoffs, I said:
Yale Tankus—an HP exec with a "blog" that has all the hallmarks of being written by a PR flak...
Let's be clear: my "PR flak" line was not directed at the specific post to which I linked, but as a general dig at "corporate blogs"—a phrase that you could see as a contradiction in terms.

It seems to me that execs. of large corporations who blog need to be extra-extra-careful not to have their writing perceived as PR-ghosted. Naturally, HP has a business aim for blogging; nothing wrong with that. However, it's important for a blog to be participatory. It should also have a distinctive "voice."

As it happens, I am advising several of my clients on these issues at present. It's a new world. I won't aggrandize it by describing it as a "paradigm shift," but traditional PR certainly doesn't have all the answers.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

I'm in the NYT (again)

I'm quoted in today's New York Times in a nicely written article by Tom Zeller. He also repeats Craig Cook's hysterical "Red-hot Garden Weasel" quote, which I put in one of last week's Computerworld IT Blogwatch posts.

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