This was just brought to my attention by one of my clients looking for SEO. They were curious whether they should implement a technique they saw on a competitors site. When I followed the link they sent me, I tried not to laugh.
It appears that Patagonia has gotten some bad advice. If you visit their homepage and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see what they are calling a “Search Index Page Description”. However, this looks remarkably like one of those cheap attempts at SEO manipulation you saw back in the early web days when sites would list tons of key words and links at the bottom of the index page in a font color the same as their background color. This would make the jumbled mess of words invisible. Now search engines can look for that- so it seems that Patagonia has tried failed to go about it in a more clever way.
It’s interesting to see a reputable company and essentially a company with enough money to hire good, knowledgeable web/SEO people stoop to such a low level and implement such a low brow, brute force SEO tactic.
It’s possible that this could help them get a quick ranking spike. However, in the long run, this will only hurt them. Especially if their site is flagged for manual review. This would no doubt be seen as an active attempt at SEO manipulation. Their lame excuse of providing the customer with an index page description or whatever wouldn’t hold any water.
On top of that, even without manual review, with that amount of link and keyword density, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Googlebot/algorithms haven’t already discounted that section of their page. You can definitely tell they are trying the way they’ve placed and phrased the anchor text of all these links. Then they attempted to make it look less like mumbled garbage by tying the links together with regular words in order to form a loose paragraph. The result however, is only somewhat intelligible.
My favorite part is their lame (but the most creative of the whole deal) way of including misspellings in this hunk of garbage. At the very end of the “description” appears:
If the whiskey bottle gets passed around the campfire too many times, folks might try and spell Patagonia like patigonia, pategonia, padagonia and pantagonia.
I mean, its possible that the one liner about whiskey would be more than acceptable and even outright clever ON ITS OWN, as a way to get misspellings on the page- however, any merit it had is completely canceled out by the rest of this catastrophe.
I think the Patagonia web team were ones passing around the whiskey bottle on this time.
And of course, on top of all the technical stuff- not only is ineffective and possibly detrimental, but it looks ugly.
You have a very messy, unprofessional, garbled mess sitting at the bottom of your home page that causes unnecessary scrolling for the user. Total Fail.
However, in order for this to be an Epic Fail, they need to get caught or penalized by google. If only I could get a hold of their analytics reports…
Get past the shameless excuse to push the iTunes music store on you, asking you to download related music you’ll probably like and tracks you may be missing from a particular album or artists discography- the actual playlist creator is pretty decent. I imagine it uses the category/genre, artist, featured artists, producer, label information combined with related purchase history of customers and ratings of that song. UPDATE: I found an entry by Ryan Faas who seems to have more detailed information about how the Genius feature works- basically inline with what I previously thought. One interesting thing I found is that it seems to evaluate each track individually. I found this with the Steel Pulse playlist (viewable at that bottom of page), all the tracks looked legit except you got Mims in there… But, if you listen to the track, that specific track actually is a remix that features Reggae style artists Cham and Junior Reid.
Here’s an example of the first one I tried. Built off the Postal Service – Nothing Better
And here’s one for Portugal. The Man – Gold Fronts – not too bad either…
And One for Saves the Day – Jesse And My Whetstone
So How Smart is a “Genius”?
Now, it’s not perfect, as repeating artists in a playlist is typically a no-no. Especially repeating artists twice in a row. Unfortunately I could not find an option to keep it from repeating artists, however you can use the “refresh” button to regenerate a playlist until one you are happy with is created. All the ones I’ve posted here are the initial playlist generated for each track, I did not press refresh.
Also, in terms of goal, it is definitely a success, although you may do things slightly differently when manually trying to create that “perfect playlist”, part of the stated purpose of Genius Playlists is to
help you discover songs in your library you never knew you had — and rediscover forgotten favorites.
Being a music horder/packrat/scavenger I have a relatively massive library with many tracks I’ve never even listened too yet, it definitely has assisted me in that aspect so far. It also helps me discover specific tracks from artist they did in a style not typical to their own (just a raw example, Mims). It’s great for artists like Broken Social Scene who have a huge variety of styles.
You can also regenerate a playlist anytime along the line- so for example say you started with everything based off of RATM – Bulls On Parade and it gets to Incubus – Wish You Were Here, and you think, hey, that’s a decent mood change, just make sure Incubus is highlighted and click the little atom/genius button again and it will recreate a playlist based on Incubus – WYWH. Pretty cool. You can also do that with any track within the playlist without it actually playing, just select it- but note, pressing the genius button will switch to the selected track (and create a new playlist).
So What’s the catch?
Now remember, for the actual playlists (not the suggestions) you actually have to have the music in YOUR library (I was unable to get it to pull in music from any shared libraries I was connected to). So the accuracy, variety and general decency of your generated playlist will probably be related someone directly to your music library size.
Another catch, to generate a playlist off a song- that song needs to be available in the iTunes store- so tough luck for all you fans of The Beatles and AC/DC. I also imagine that for a song to be indexed by Genius and thus included in a generated playlist it needs to be available in the iTunes music store as well.
When saving the playlists it creates, they remain dynamic- this is good and bad. Good, meaning you can still refresh it and use the dynamic genius options- Bad because, unfortunately, once you refresh it, you cannot revert back to the one you originally saved/generated.
Do you have a good playlist Genius generated? Post it in the comments! Or, have a track you want to see a playlist generated for, let me know, I’ll do my best to get it up.
The IQ Tests
Here are some more playlists I generated for additional examples/reference. I tried to show a variety of music genres.
NOTE: I believe the queries I ran to be pretty fair representations as it was pulling the songs from a library of 21,011 tracks, over 105 Gigs of music.
PS- on the topic of new iTunes 8 features, I’d just like to say, that although an improvement, the “New” iTunes visualizer, is not that visually impressive. I’ll still take Leopard’s Jelly any day.
UPDATE: I partially take that back. Although Jelly, appears “smoother”- it seems I was using the wrong music to truly see the new improved responsives and upgrades. I put on the new visualize to some chiptune (Stu – chiprape) and it was actually pretty sweet. Really cool.
Alright so I’ve been playing around with a lot of cool stuff lately and I just wanted to fill you in on some cool programs you should all definitely check out. Some apps you may know, some, not. Some items in this post have to do with GTD (Getting Things Done). I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it from the hipster PDA to the best note taking tools, and my copy of GTD by David Allen FINALLY came from Amazon after I had to reorder it, so I’m reading that too. Needless to say, I’ve been a little gung-ho about this whole GTD thing. Anyways, all of these programs here could be called utilities and thus be said help you get things done in some sense- so check it out:
Ok, first off, Jott is pretty sweet to start. It’s basically a free call in memo service, but it goes a step further. Not only can you call a free 800 number (technically 866) and leave a voicemail for you to listen to later, it transcribes the message and sends it to your inbox, or your friends inbox, or a group of inboxes. And with the help of an OmniFocus mail actions script edited by Dr. Drang, you can go straight from Jott to OF. (See the bottom of this post for the file). It’s got enough to it, that, if you so choose, you can use it as a action management too all by itself.
Now just image all those late night drunk dials to your buddies voicemail. What if instead you Jott’d them. Not only would you have a sweet message to listen to later (the audio from all memos is also archived for you to listen to, incase the transcription is wrong or jumbled) but you could also be slightly amused by what a computer thinks you are trying to say when your too sloshed to talk straight. As an added bonus, if it’s brilliant enough, you can choose to share the memo (audio/transcription) as a public link from Jott! Marvelous!
UPDATE: Unfortunately/Fortunately, Jott is out of beta now- so although the basic phone jotting is still supported for free, to get the notes transcribed and sent to your email now only comes as part of a paid membership.
So, I haven’t extensively tested evernote yet, but just by watching the video, I’m hooked. I’m most curious however about the OCR technology present in the software, that evidently can index text from images for search purposes, even handwriting. Like I said, I haven’t given it a full hands on go yet, but I’m sure to soon and I’ll let you know- for now though, take a look at the Youtube vid of it in action.
I’m also really digging the OS integration with comp to web synchronization. Especially the phone camera to evernote capture. I’m a big fan of none phone app phone functions, like updating twitter from your phone, Twitpic, Jott and Text to Omnifocus by texting to [email]+omnifocus@[isp.com].
Now Dropbox is really cool. I found out about it from, I think Mashable, a long time ago when they promoted DB as the next big thing. All the link took me to was getdropbox.com with a simple movie and a beta sign up. I signed up for the beta, but forgot to bookmark the page, then for some reason could never remember what it was called and always ended up on box.net, which I knew was not it. Then I felt stupid every time I tried to tell people about it but couldn’t…(It would always go… “oh yea this online thing with windows and mac client thats like iDisk and media fire but better, some kids from MIT… yada yada…no, I forget what its called… :(“) Until about 2.5-3 weeks ago when I got a glorious letter to my inbox. It was an invite to the beta of DropBox. I recognized the name immediately and had a little Eureka moment. Needless to say, DropBox is pretty dope.
Two gigs of space
seemless integration with os x, including right click options and task bar icons- Dropbox shows up and behaves exactly like a regular folder system on my comp
Great web side application and menus
Version tracking and folder invites, plus a public folder with sharing links (no more need for mediafire, yousendit, zshare or the dreaded SendSpace, ew.) [However, Mediafire will still be my top choice for the quick and dirty stuff when I'm on a borrowed computer and don't want to bother logging into DropBox for some reason....which probably won't happen]
Image management/editing, which, I have not tested first hand but looks sweet in the video
Version management/backup which is like built in, automatic Apple “Time Machine”
Smart updating which only changes the delta of the file, not overwrite the entire file- very quick and saves bandwidth
Virtual shared folders for that act like network shared folders when two people have dropbox
Just watch the video for the full taste. But I do suggest you sign up for the beta and try it out. It’s sweet.
@DropBox, just watch your back with that “just works” stuff. You might earn yourself an email from Mr. Jobs legal staff.
Imagine replacing your iDisk, Mediafire, Flashdrive and Shared folder with one application/web solution. Get things done quicker with less mess. Word.
- After signing up for the beta then chickening out and not doing anything with it because I was really skeptical with entering every last digit of all my account numbers, financial passwords and etc into a brand new beta web app. So I waited it out a few months for some giant news break about an internet startup found committing identity theft and financial fraud on a mass scale. This never happened, in fact, some blogs started raving about Mint, so I finally sat down and got “Minty” by setting up my accounts. I gotta say, it’s pretty sweet. It’s helped me visualize and better track my spending. It also saves me a ton of time by allowing me to see all my info at once instead of opening 4 tabs, each with my different bank statement open and logged in on. Additionally, I’m in love because it allows you to send custom alerts and statements to your email. Now, this seems pretty standard, but since Bank Of America has always and STILL lacks the most elementary alert of sending me a daily balance of my credit card statement (it will do your checking account, but cannot do your credit card), the fact that I could now do this (and more) with a free web app makes me smile. I don’t hve to waste time in a browser logging into BoA.com with the multiple password, security checks, instead I just look in my inbox. The way it makes money, I’m assuming, is through the “Ways to Save” tab, where it analyzes your spending habits and financial situation and recommends things you can change to save money. Like switching to a CitiBank Credit Card with 10.49% APR and a better points reward system instead of my BoA card with the 30.9% APR (I never carry a balance, so I don’t care). It’s definitely a nifty and useful tool. Certainly worth checking out. As a bonus, it’s pretty and nicely designed. Check out the demo video.
Just out of Beta
Recently out of beta (at least there no more mention of beta on the site) is CurdBee. I’ve been playing around with Curdbee but haven’t really gotten a chance to use it because I’m already pretty good with my Excel/OmniFocus method, but it could use improvement, so when I get a chance to actually use it, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you’re in need of a cool FREE online invoicing system- take a peek!
Well that’s all for now. I’ll continue to keep updating as more becomes available, new features arrive and new sweet betas surface. Until next time
If you’re hear looking for the iCarousel files, just skip to the bottom
Today I had the day off work. So I went to implementing some things to my site that needed to be done. A new (for that matter, the first) Current Works and projects section. I thought of the idea of doing it as browsing an iPhone in multiple pages. This came to me after I visited Uniqueblogdesigns.com when they were featured in a Smashing Mag article on communicating design. I saw the carousel they used and thought it was nifty. So I wanted one. The iPhone was my spin on it. I figured out they were using jCarousel (i think).
So I went about downloading and installing it on my page to find that the jQuery, Prototype and Mootools libraries DO NOT play nicely together. Either mootools effects work or the carousel did or nothing at all… After tons of fiddling, even with an launching the jCarousel in an iFrame so the libraries were not on the same page, I had no luck. I then discovered iCarousel- the Mootools built carousel. Necessary for AJAX library harmony… shortly after, however, I discovered it a) iCarousel was no longer supported anymore. b) the source files were no longer on the web, or so it seemed as the developers legacy page no longer existed.
So I got at some digging…
I found that Ajaxdaddy.com had a working demo of the module (really interested because EVERY OTHER Ajax tutorial SITE only had images that linked back to the now dead developers site). So props to Ajaxdaddy for actually having a workin demo of their own. However, it wasn’t that easy. The site linked to the dev site for download. So instead, I used DeepVacuum to grab all the files and libraries from that demo. The second hurdle was the that this particular demo only showed you how to make vertical carousels… with no documentation on the script itself, I was stuck momentarily.
Back to Google.
I went back to Google and search iCarousel then viewed the cached pages of the once was iCarousel website. From there I copied the link location to the horizontal demo page, plugged that into Google, went to the cached page and ripped source code. After about 30 more minutes of fiddling with libraries, includes and various versions of Mootools I had a working horizontal carousel, that did not conflict with script.aculo.us or prototype!
So check it out- my iPhone carousel
But really, it took me all day but it was worth it. What do you think?
Also, incase you stumbled upon this article looking for iCarousel, you don’t have to bend over backwards for the source files, I have re-uploaded them, complete with working horizontal module code, for your convenience- here.
[UPDATE Aug 6th]The other day while writing this, I sent an email to Zendhi Nagao, the developer of iCarousel, saying his page was down and just a day later (yesterday) he relaunched it and sent me the link “http://zendold.lojcomm.com.br is back.” Thanks Zendhi! You should check out his mooCanvas experiments, the fractals one is pretty cool.
Unless noted otherwise, all media and content copyright 2014 Adam Dexter. All rights reserved.