BlogAid

What is [BlogAid?](http://www.blogaid.org.uk)

blogaid-button.gif

>You can help the victims of this terrible natural disaster by pledging the proceeds of any advertising or affiliate schemes you have on your site for the month of January to your country’s Tsunami Earthquake appeal.

Fantastic idea. I’m in. [Make your pledge here.](http://www.blogaid.org.uk/pledge.php)

The Skweezer controversy

The other night, I was Googling something and I found myself on a strange looking site. It was a blog, but instead of the standard graphics it was all text with some green symbols at the top. I noticed that the URL began with `http://www.skweezer.net/s.aspx/2/www.domain.com/` which was kind of strange but I didn’t think that much about it. I just thought it was a low-key, understyled blog.

Turns out, the site was “skweezed” by [Skweezer.net](http://www.skweezer.net) which takes the content and strips out the graphics, javascript, flash, etc. reformatting the site so it views well in a phone or PDA. Hmmmm… as someone who has occasion to visit websites on a PDA, I think it’s a great idea. I can also see how it’s an easy way to view a more accessible (and safer) version of a site since the javascript, styles and constraining margins are stripped out.

The controversy is in how Skweezer pays for itself with small ads below their “borrowed” content. Catch is, if a site (like this one) already has javascript-generated ads, those ads don’t come along for the ride. That affects the revenue of the sites whose content is reused, without permission to boot. A site like mine is not going to see a difference, but it can take quite a chunk out of a site with much larger revenue. I know I found a Skweezer site via Google before I found the original before I was sure what I found, so it’s a legitimate concern.

The issue is laid out [on this site](http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com/entry/1234000450025233) and expanded in the comments. Commenters are quick on the attack, which seems like overkill. I don’t sense that this is something slimey, just not completely thought-out. We’re redefining how we do these things as we go along.

The developer of Skweezer [addresses the concerns in his blog](http://greenlightwireless.net/blog/archive/2004/12/29/146.aspx). For me, it all came down to the search engine issue with the ads. If someone is using a browser that can’t display the site’s content or has accessibility issues, I’m happy for a site like Skweezer that does the reformatting so I don’t have to for those folks who *specifically request* that the content be reformatted. I don’t write to my ads like some sites do, But I want to be sure my site comes up in a Google search and not another site using my content.

>Although some of the attacking this week was mean-spirited, some very useful perspectives were shared by other content publishers. I contacted and discussed this with Darren Rowse, who publishes the LivingRoom, and he clued me in to an unintentional harm of an open Skweezer. He said that “you are duplicating my content – unfortunately Google does not look upon this well and has been downgrading the page ranking of pages whose content appears on multiple pages.” Sure enough, he was right: as of today, Google had indexed 28,000 pages through Skweezer. As a conduit, we have no interest in being the destination for search queries. We took immediate action. We updated our robots.txt file to disallow robots, and we sent an emergency request to Google to remove Skweezer from their index.

Works for me.

Jumping on Dvorak

Ah, it’s any Macfan’s joy…[John Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) goes off on Apple in [a column](http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1745930,00.asp) and the community springs into action. Sites like [MacDailyNews](http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/4588/) are quick to break the column down, line by line, anxious to show why the guy doesn’t have a clue.

Two years ago, that may have been me too. I’m not saying that I agree with Dvorak’s article. He comes on strong, too strong. He paints some absolutes that aren’t necessary. And I definitely disagree with him here:

>This is the dilemma Apple faces, and there is no way around it. The long-term consequences are obvious. Apple is the easy-to-use, less complex platform. Thus it should be cheaper, not more expensive. It’s that simple.

Put an Apple product (any Apple product) in one hand and a PC product in the other. You see the difference and you see why Apple products are more expensive. Apple’s products feel luxurious and solid. The interface is simple and less complex on first glance, but there is complexity in that design. If you are willing to immerse yourself in the world that Apple wants you to live, there is no reason to go anywhere else. PCs feel like toys in comparison, and kitchen-sink features do not automatically mean that something is more complex or worth more.

There’s a sweet spot where technology goes beyond the buttons. You can’t predict it. Something you see in the store and think, “I gotta have that” turns out to be so not worth it in the end. Like Dad coming home with a new fangled cooking gadget that had all these dials and features, and you sit around for 2 hours while he figures out how to use it. Meanwhile, you could have had dinner done in 15 minutes the “old fashioned” way. Technology is not always right, not always the way to go. But sometimes technology is so dead-on-balls-accurate, we can’t imagine doing it any other way. Nerds and techies are always looking for that magic alignment between ease of use, features, value, convenience. The microwave, the answering machine, VCR. Apple hit it with the iPod. The DVR. Personally, I found it with my PocketPC. To the point that yes, I’m making other decisions based around what will and will not work with my PDA. It’s that important to me. To a music lover, the iPod is that kind of device.

So Dvorak coming down on Apple for not being yet another PC manufacturer is incredibly short sighted. He doesn’t get it, he likely never will. Apple is rumored to be coming out with a headless iMac, but that doesn’t appear to be to compete with the Dell $499 PC. It appears (and should, IMO) be a way for the PC owner to get the benefits of a Mac for their digital hub without having to give up their investment in their current home PC setup. Maybe for the entry level “I just want to go online and write letters” crowd that doesn’t already have a PC that Apple has a chance of getting. It’s more competition to the Media Center PC than the standard sub $700 PC. But we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see where this goes.

Dvorak says:

>CEO Steve Jobs’ star persona makes the situation worse. His attention to the Apple flagship has been eroded by the success of Pixar, and more recently, by the iPod and iTunes initiatives. None of these has anything to do with the Macintosh. Keeping it on track is a full-time task—Jobs cannot be in the computer business, the movie business, and the music business and make them all successful. You see the results. Market share for the Mac is crap.

Nothing like looking at a company in early 2005 with 1995 eyes. I don’t think he’s entirely wrong, but he assumes that Apple *wants* to grow the Macintosh now with the same focus that it did 10 years ago. I don’t think that assumption can be made. Apple is a different company now, and it seems silly to act like Apple didn’t mean for that to happen. This was a calculated evolution.

>The company figures it has certain market niches locked down. This includes computer users in advertising agencies, news bureaus, and various professional organizations as well as creative artists and writers. I also count an odd, die-hard faction of true believers, but these people are inconsequential except in online forums, where they make a fuss whenever anyone discusses the Mac. They probably hurt the Mac community more than anyone by creating an unfair crackpot image that gets associated with the machine.

Nice generalization, but unfair. There are websites out there who organize these campaigns to attack journalists who dare to criticize Sir Steve. They are the ones that make a lot of noise, but are in fact are a minority of the user population. They don’t speak for all of us in the “niche market,” John. Most people that I talk to stick with Apple because the machines do what they need to do to get their jobs done. They’re too busy to make fusses in forums.