Category Archives: Watching Google

Quick Gmail Trick

There are a lot of fun tricks that you can do with your gmail. Here’s a quick one for starters.

Your gmail address can have dots anywhere in the address and it will still make it to your account! So, say that your email is firstname.lastname@gmail.com, sending emails to the following will still make it to you inbox:

first.name.last.name@gmail.com
f.irstname.l.astname@gmail.com
firstname.lastnam.e@gmail.com
firstname.lastname@gmail.com
f.i.r.s.t.n.a.m.e.l.a.s.t.n.a.m.e@gmail.com

Why is this cool? Because you can freely give a variation of your email address and not worry about getting a ton of junk mail. If you begin getting junk, then set up a filter to skip your inbox and delete it.

Another trick is that you can add a tag to the end of your name as well.

firstname.lastname+nospam@gmail.com
firstname.lastname+jobfair@gmail.com

That way, you can filter mail coming in, and you can put some context to it. Only downside is that some forms will incorrectly block these addresses as invalid email addresses.

Also, you might need to remember which email address you gave away if you are required to use the email address for sign-in purposes.

Google Analytics’ Customizable Dashboard

Google has opened up a beta release of their New Google Analytics interface. At first I was pretty disappointed because I couldn’t see what new real value the interface provided other than flashier graphics and better styled reporting. However, after a more thorough use of the tool, I discovered that there are a few new killer features that do add value to the product. My favorite of the new features is Google Analytics’ Customizable Dashboard.

The Customizable Dashboard

The new Google Analytics customizable dashboard provides much more value to the customer because you can get a quick glimpse at the information that you deem important. For example, say that I’ve targeted the key-phrase “making money in second life” in one of my posts, and I want to know how much traffic that phrase is bringing me from Google. I can watch that right on my dashboard.

Google traffic - making money in second life

To get this report, I clicked “Traffic Sources” => “Search Engines” to bring up the search engine report. Then I clicked on the “google” link, which automatically cross-segments Google visits with the keywords that brought them here. I further clicked on the phrase “making money in second life,” which gives me more detailed statistics of that key-phrase and trends those visits over time. I narrowed the time frame to the last week, and clicked the “Add to Dashboard” button towards the top.

Now I can follow this keyword performance right from the dashboard. I can even jump back to that report by clicking the view report link. This seems to be the only way of bookmarking favorite reports.

How does this feature compare with Omniture Site Catalyst’s customizable dashboard? The main difference here is the ability to customize the actual reports. Site Catalyst gives much more flexibility in the reporting itself, so you can really tailor the reports to your needs. This is where the real value of Site Catalyst lies.
I don’t think Google Analytics will ever match reporting flexibility of Site Catalyst because Google is serving a different segment of the market. Site Catalyst is so expensive, that only the big boys can afford it. It is also so complex that the average user needs training to learn the tool. Google Analytics is targeted towards the average website owner and fulfills most of their needs.

I’m excited to see that Google is continually improving this tool. Thanks Google.

Yahoo! Promoting IE7?

Yahoo's IE7 banner ad

Yahoo! is sporting a new banner at the bottom of its search results urging its users to upgrade to a Yahoo! optimized version of Internet Explorer 7. The ad appears for both Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox users. Eric Friedman of Searchviews.com believes that the ad “is clearly targeted towards FireFox users.” I’m not convinced that it’s a direct attack against Firefox. Internet Explorer 6 is still the most popular browser on the planet and Yahoo! wants to be the default search bar when users upgrade to IE7.

Why has Yahoo! not chosen a Yahoo! optimized Firefox? I believe it is because people have a hard time dealing with change. The majority of web surfers are familiar with the blue e and are more likely to install a Yahoo! optimized Internet Explorer than to install a Yahoo! optimized Firefox.

Google has already buddied up with Firefox by promoting the Google-Firefox tool bar with their Adsense campaigns, including Firefox in their Google Pack, and developing several extensions for the Firefox browser. Firefox returns the love by making Google the default search bar when installing from Mozilla.com. So, trying to convert Firefox users back to Yahoo! isn’t going to be an easy task.

Yahoo! is much more likely to gain or retain users through its Yahoo! optimized Internet Explorer efforts than it will trying to convert people to Firefox.

New Blogger Beta Offers Tagging

Blogger has released a new beta for their blogging platform! One of the cool things about it is that the New Blogger Beta Offers Tagging! There are a bunch of other new features that are pretty cool with this new Blogger platform. The guys at Google have been working hard.
New Features:

  • Tagging, or “labels” as they call it
  • Blog comment feeds (per site or per post)
  • A new template editor, lets you drag-n-drop elements on the page, add lots of new sidebar elements to your blog, and choose font styles without knowing any css.

The new platform looks almost idential to the old Blogger platform, so Bloggers won’t be confused when they use the new Beta. However, there isn’t yet any support for publishing your blog to your own domain via ftp.

Will this influence me to switch back to Blogger? No, but I might try it out for a while if I decide to create a new blog.

New – Google Offers SVN Project Repository

Today, at the Open Source Convention (OSCON), Google made a big announcement that they would be providing a project repository similar to that of SourceForge. The service will use Subversion (SVN) for version control.

When creating your project you can specify the license that you would like to apply to your Open Source Project.

The service also includes issue tracking (similar to trac), and uses your Google account to check-out the code.

It will be interesting to see if the Open Source community embraces this new service.

Disappearing From Google

Disappearing From GoogleAbout a month ago, I made a switch from Blogger to WordPress, and imported my php blog and tech blog into Jimmy’z Blog. In the process I set up 301 permanent moves to my /blog/ address, which worked pretty slick. About a month later, I’ve noticed that my pages are Disappearing From Google. After I had made the switch, I read Paul Allen’s post on Changing domain names “learning the hard way.

I feel like Marty McFly on Back to the Future when he looked at his family picture and one by one his siblings began to fade away. That is what’s happening to me on Google.

The strange thing is that my journal (http://jimmyzimmerman.com/journal/) has also disappeared, and I haven’t messed with that at all. In checking my analytics, I only get about one referral from Google per day, and that is on the search term “Jimmy Zimmerman.”

Lots of my pages are also coming up as “Supplemental Results” as well. I have read a few sites on what that means, but nobody has a clear and official answer yet.
Does anyone have any advice? What can I do?