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The CD Was Nearly Called The Compact Rack

The Compact Disc is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary today. The BBC has run an article looking at the history of the CD from development to the present day decline as new media takes over. Some interesting facts about the CD…

  • The original disc was going to be 11.5cm in diameter but Sony insisted that the disc should be able to hold the full 74 minute recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony so it was increased to 12cm to accomodate it
  • Abba released the first commercial CD with their song The Visitor
  • Research on using lasers to read the data on the CD began as far back as 1969
  • Proof of concept using lasers was completed 12 years earlier
  • Record sales of CD’s peaked in 2000 with 2.455 billion. In 2006 that figure was down to 1.755 billion.

Now that new digital mediums are taking over, the CD could become as obsolete as the 3.5″ diskette. With software companies turning to digital delivery of their products over the internet there could be a time when there is no need for CD’s. Even now, with music being downloaded by more and more people, could buying albums on a CD become a niche market like buying albums on vinyl?

The full BBC article can be found here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6950933.stm

Top 5 On-Page Optimization Tips

When most people think of search engine optimization (well ok, only those that are actually nerdy enough to know what it is of course!) they immediately think about meta tags, keyword density and doorway pages.

Like many things when it comes to SEO, what once worked no longer does.

Take meta-tags for example. Way back when the internet was still a baby, meta tags were introduced to help search engines (at the time the big search engine was AltaVista…Google hadn’t even been invented) work out what the site was about. It wasn’t long before people started abusing the Meta Tags and when the next generation of search engines came about the importance of the meta tags diminished forever.

There are some self styled gurus that will tell you that you need the optimum keyword density to rank well in the search engines. The truth is, if there were an optimium density then it would be very easy to rank in the search engines. The best thing to do is to keep your writing natural and focus on the reader first, search engine second.

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Are You Making These Top 5 SEO Mistakes?

To the average internet user the acronym SEO is just yet another bit of gobbledegook internet jargon tossed around by web geeks and nerds. To some of us web geeks and nerds SEO is the be all and end all of internet promotion. The holy grail of appearing at number one spot on Google is a dream many of us aspire to bring in to reality…but often fall dismally short in Supplemental Hell.

So often the different between getting a good ranking and a bad ranking is down to how you approach the optimization of your site. As with most things in life there’s a right way and a wrong way. Do it the wrong way and you’re looking at a life in Supplementalville, do it right and you get to live on the converted home page bringing in so many visitors you won’t know what to do.

Sidenote: Google’s Supplemental Index are results that it gives when it can’t find anything definite that you are searching for. Web pages in the supplemental index are pages that don’t have enough inbound links for Google to ‘trust’ the page enough to serve it up as a main result.

If you want to get good rankings, then make sure you avoid these top 5 SEO mistakes:

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Let’s Go Galaxy Hunting

Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a galaxy hunter? Ever looked up at the stars and wondered if you are alone out there? Well, never mind the second question, but if you want to help classify over a million galaxies, then Galaxy Zoo could probably use your help.

They have taken photo’s of around a million galaxies (each one contains billions and billions of stars like our own sun…do the maths, it’s not hard to realize there is going to be at least one other ‘Earth’ out there capable of supporting life) and need help classifying them all.

You have to take a short tutorial explaining the different types of galaxies (Eliptical or Spiral) and then have to take a nerve racking test to find out if your galaxy hunting skills are good enough for what they need. If you pass then you are allowed to start classifying real galaxies.

The whole concept of letting people around the world help out with scientific studies is growing in popularity. Classifying the galaxies has been difficult to do with computers because they are not adept at spotting patterns, and getting a few people to so the classification would take time and resources. By letting hundreds, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people around the world help out they can complete their study in months rather than years.

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What Sort of Facebooker Are You?!

It seems that if you are a 20 something in the UK you can’t have a conversation with someone for more than 5 minutes without the dreaded words Facebook being mentioned.

Since it opened it’s doors to the general public in September 2006 it has seen a wild fire like growth in the UK. I don’t feel as if MySpace ever really cracked the 2nd generation of internet users (people that came online around 1995 – 2000), certainly amongst my circle of friends MySpace was never mentioned. With the garish profile pages, unreadable fonts and eyewatering backgrounds it was something that I feel appealed more to the teenagers than us college grads (being the sophisticated grownups dontcherknow).

Now here we are, July 2007, not even a year after Facebook opened it’s doors to the general public and I think 70% of my year group from high school is registered and a fair amount of people from my university. Most of my mates from back home have a profile and it’s growing day by day. Considering that there are were an estimated 1.3 million UK users in March 2007, I reckon there must be 2 million or more now.

So, with the meteoric rise of Facebook, certain types of users have emerged, which one are you?

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Windows Vista & The Memory Monster

My friend bought a new laptop the other day after his old died on him (shows a blank white screen on startup – anyone have any ideas?). So he toddled off to the local PC World to have a look at the laptops. I seem to remember a time a few years ago where desktop PC’s took up the floor space and laptops were confined to one or two rows. Now laptops dominate the floorspace.

While browsing the laptops, I came across a Compaq Presario with the following spec:

1. 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor
2. 2 GB RAM
3. 120 GB HDD
4. 256 MB Shared Graphics
5. 15.4″ Widescreen LCD
6. Dual Layer DVD +/- ReWriter
7. Vista Home Premium

All that for just £599 – an absolute bargain. Since I’m still using a beat up old Compaq with a PIII & 256MB RAM I knew that they make good sturdy laptops; which is more than can be said for the Toshiba my friend was using. So eventually after a bit of umming and ahing he took the plunge and bought the new Compaq (and I don’t know how I walked out without one, I was this close | | to getting one myself). He got a right touch on it too, getting £20 knocked off for signing up to their ‘care’ plan – which was free and can be cancelled at any time.

So he gets it home and spends the necessary hour or two installing and setting it up (I want to know, can you really take a Apple Mac out of it’s box and be on the internet in 5 minutes? Is it really that easy?!) we both noticed that it seemed a little…sluggish.

He had installed the latest version of Zone Alarm and Webroot’s Spy Sweeper and removed a lot of the none essential components and software. Even with 2 GB of RAM the system just seemed a little slow – like 1/2 second too slow, just enough to notice it. We timed the start up time and it came to 2 minutes to start up Vista with the ZA and SS installed. By contrast, my crappy old laptop which runs XP professional on a mere 256 MB RAM and hasn’t been tuned up, scanned or defragged in centuries, started up in 1 1/2 minutes.

The situation was even worse for shutting Windows Vista Premium down, it seems to go on for an eternity. This is for a brand new machine with Core 2 Duo and 2 GB RAM remember.

I called up another friend who had just bought a top of the range desktop PC and he said that just running Vista and Norton AV his computer takes up 1 GB of RAM…and that’s when it’s idle! I can’t see how you can buy a machine and run Vista normally with less than 2 GB.

I’ve been seriously considering buying a new laptop, and as I said earlier I was so close to getting one the other day. But after seeing the (non) performance of Vista…I think I’m gonna pass. If I do get one, I will have to find a company that still ships a machine with Windows XP or else I might have to be forced to uninstall Vista and get a copy of XP myself.

Update: I’ve done some further reading and research. It seems that start up and shut down times on Windows Vista that can be timed in milleniums is a common complaint amongst users. Some point to driver problems or software incompatibility.

Goodbye, I’m Going Home…

Good bye India, I’m leaving you for a smaller, richer country 🙂 It’s certainly been fun while it lasted, and we’ve had some good times and we’ve had some bad times.

Remember the time I ate the dodgy food at the street seller and couldn’t leave the bathroom for three days? Stomach cramps, hot and cold sweats, unable to move. Yeah.

And let’s not deny, there’s been some bad times too…

So hello England, roll out the red carpet, break out the fine china and chill some bubbly, Peter is homeward bound!

Looking forward to all the Western vices, beer, football, more beer, pizza, burgers, more beer.

Gonna miss the healthy food of India, having food cooked, clothes washed and ironed, and maybe a few people too 🙂

Just kidding! I’m going to miss everyone I’ve met in India. It’s a really great country, the people are really friendly and welcoming and you can feel it’s (the country) about to explode and if there is ever a moment to be in the right place at the right time, then the time is now and the place is definitely India!

Damn, I hope the airline knows I changed my departure date…

Christmas Shopping!

So here I am in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim country and Christmas is coming (and the geese are apparently getting fat), so I thought it would be pretty cool to go around the local market and do my Christmas shopping.

I think the traders got forwarning that a naive white Englishman was coming to spend rupees and hiked their prices 200% 🙂

9000 Rupees (about £100 – yeah, I know, last of the big spenders!) and some extremely happy traders later and I was about done with the Christmas shopping.

In the car on the way home, the radio station was playing Christmas songs like Drummer Boy, Stop the Cavalry and All I Want For Christmas (Is You).

Feeling kinda Christmasy now…which is unusual!

Bored of the Rings? Not me!

Just read an article where the author fiendishly attacks the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars and various Steven Spielburg films.

You can read the article here

While the article is quite humourous, the part I like the most is this bit…

“What Jackson is essentially pandering to…is his audience’s adolescent reluctance to engage with the real world. A grand quest to save Middle-earth from the forces of evil is an ideal escape from the more prosaic realities of finding a job and paying the rent, while forming a cosy boy’s club with your hairy-toed mates can’t help but appeal compared to the thorny practicalities of flesh-and-blood relationships”

Man! I love LOTR and other escapist stuff like Star Wars, Back to the Future and the cool Discworld novels. There’s nothing like escaping the real world for a few hours and become immersed in a battle between good and evil.

I’m not sure how I’m going to pay the rent this month though…oh, and I don’t have a ‘proper’ job. Looks like the author hit the nail on the head 😀

Speaking & Learning Tamil

I know it’s everyone’s life mission to learn to speak Tamil, a language spoken in the south eastern part of India, Sri Lanka and parts of Singapore and Malaysia.

Since everyone I know is wanting to learn this language (particularly Aravind!), I’ve created a quick cheat sheet on some of the most common words and phrases that I’ve picked up and are useful.

vanakkam – welcome

nandri – thanks

ama – yes

po – go

sikiram vanga – come soon

ponga – go (formal version)

toppie – tummy

pasi – hunger

pasikidu- i am hungry

naan sapida pooren ayya – I am going to eat, sir

thanni – water

aravind yendhiri – Aravind, Get Up!!!

vanga – Come

siri – smile,laugh

sapadu – Meals

kaalai(morining) vanakkam

Thappu – wrong

edhu thappu – this is wrong

kollathe – don’t kill me!

naan alugirean – Iam crying!

The words in bold are my most used phrases as I have to tell the freshers what’s going wrong and wake Aravind up in the morning.

Hope this helps you on your way to becoming fluent in Tamil like me 😀

Nothing Much Going On

I hate posts about not much. But this is what this post is about…nothing much.

At the moment I’ve got my Freshers writing a new content management script which could lay the framework for a script that I’ve been wanting for a while now.

I was also looking at developing a ‘paid to read’ script but after doing some market research I found that the ‘PTR’ industry is a dying industry so that plan got shelved.

Instead, on the advice of my good friend, Aravind I’ve decided to develop a Yahoo Answers clone script. For those of you that don’t know, Yahoo Answers allows you to ask any question you want on virtually any subject you want and loads of people will attempt to provide the best answers for you.

Loads of people are looking for a script to put on their site – it’s particularly useful for building niche communities rather than aiming it at the mass market.

Since it’s a relatively simple script, I hope to have it developed within three weeks or so. Should be pretty good and I can add a new product to my catalogue.

Back to School

This week feels like I’ve gone back to school and am in a Business Studies class.

My Indian cold has finally cleared up, and fingers crossed it won’t come back, so it’s been back to business.

So how is it that I’m back in a business studies class?

Well a few weeks ago I alluded to a new online/offline business that I was working on with Aravind and Anand.

It turns out that we had massively underestimated the cost of gathering a certain type of data. An underestimate that was ‘out’ by about £60,000! The only alternative is to look for outside investors who are willing to inject the cash into the business upfront so that we can really begin.

Unfortunately, investors need graphs, forecasts, profit & loss accounts, SWOT analysis, expenditure break downs, marketing strategies and a whole host of other things before they’ll even give you the time of day.

So my job for the week has been to create a substantial business proposal with all the above information collated into one report.

I’ve been using all the old skills learnt during my business studies courses when I was 18, but had to go back and research it and brush up my skills (and remember what the difference is between a profit and loss sheet and a balance sheet).

I’m pretty sure it’s going to be worth it though because this type of business exists in the UK and the leading company makes £100m+ per year, but the business model doesn’t exist anywhere, in any form, in India. Crazy!