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You may know of the Avengers or Fantastic Four, but how well versed are you in the ZigBee Alliance and HTML5? When you stop to think about technological labels a bit objectively, our chosen lingo can be pretty bizarre. (Roku, Vudu, Hulu, oh my.) At grad school, in the mid 90s, I ran with a pretty geeky crowd (as you might imagine). And we came up with super hero names based on various jargon and gear. My alter-ego was the SCSI (“scuzzy”) Adapter. But it’s time to refresh our lineup given the mass extinctions and frantic pace of evolution. Feel free to play along in the comments, where we’ll be joined by The Cloud, Hyper Miler, and Super Amoled. Just beware any blu-rays emanating from active shutter glasses.

We can’t say Zatz Not Funny really needs custom link shortening. But it’s kinda cool in a vanity plate sort of way. And at only $35/year (for .tv Tuvalu domain registration), why not?

I’ve been a long time bit.ly proponent as a way to shorten links for sharing on Twitter, given their high availability and pretty analytics. Now, due to the recent .ly domain dust up, I’ve learned that bit.ly also white labels their shortening services for others – which is how sites like the Washington Post, Amazon, and TechCrunch provide unique and concise links. Fortunately, in addition to their enterprise class solution (~$1k/mo), there’s a free Bit.ly Pro tier available to those of us working with smaller budgets.

At our level, the customized bit.ly service provides two ways to leverage our new zatz.tv domain. First, anyone who uses bit.ly to share a ZNF link will end up presenting a zatz.tv string. Second, any link from any site that I choose to share will also feature our brand:

Setting up Bit.ly Pro was a pretty simple affair. I updated the zatz.tv A DNS record to point to bit.ly and uploaded a HTML file to ZNF to prove it belongs to us. Going with a .tv domain over .it (Italy) or .me (Montenegro) cost us double or triple, but it’s in line with our blog personality and these are relatively small sums of money. Lastly, bit.ly Pro isn’t the only game in town if you’re interested – I did uncover a few roll-your-own scripts and other hosted services, like Stumble Upon, that offer similar custom link shortening. Although I can’t imagine anything simpler to implement than bit.ly.

ZNF: The Year in Stats

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2010

znf-2009-browser-stats

Following in Brent’s GeekTonic footsteps, I’d like to point out a few fun facts from 2009 ZNF blogging as we enter our 6th year rocking the suburbs.

Despite my earlier assumption, given our evolving strategy of fewer but more meaningful posts, blog traffic was actually up about 30%. We averaged 66 posts a month in 2007, 48/mo in 2008, and hit an all-time low of 42 in 2009. I’ve yet to crunch the numbers, but suspect revenue growth was flat year over year as the global economic situation negatively and significantly impacted advertising during the first half of ’09. ZNF is a largely labor of love, so we’re not really sweating it.

In terms of visitors, as you can see from the Google Analytics query up top, nearly 70% ran Windows (at least some of the time) in 2009 and were pretty evenly split between Internet Explorer and Firefox. And there’s still too many on IE 6 – 18% of total ZNF traffic to be exact. I imagine a portion of those also account for the 1.32% who visited via dialup. Dialup?! Which brings us to source referrals. Like most websites, a vast amount of our traffic comes in via search engines. Well just one in particular:

znf-search-traffic

Continue Reading…

PVRBlog.com eBayed for $12,110.00

Dave Zatz —  December 21, 2009

pvrblog

Matt Haughey recently unloaded his PVRBlog.com domain and content on ebay for $12,110.00 at the conclusion of a 7 day auction. As with most items that attract seasoned bidders, the reality was closer to a 20 minute event — during which time we saw PVRBlog‘s price more than double. However, the week-long listing provided plenty of time to mull over a purchase. And to be approached by a variety of folks looking to team.

But how do you value a website? In it’s heyday, PVRBlog held an amazing 9/10 Google PageRank. And despite hardly any new content (8 posts in 2009), the site still sees several hundred visitors a day. Perhaps most impressively, PVRBlog may have over 180,000 RSS subscribers thanks to some early Google promotion. Yet Matt says his revenue maxed out at $3,000 a month (and currently brings in about $100/mo). Given those top flight numbers, I would have expected significantly higher cashflow. I’m not entirely sure where the disconnect is, but it did give me pause. Continue Reading…

Being Efficient With RSS

Dave Zatz —  February 19, 2009

yahoo-pipes

As most of us probably know, RSS is set of XML-based protocols intended to make web content a bit more portable. The most common usage is aggregating blog/news content into feed readers. While RSS itself has made me more efficient in consuming information, it hasn’t been enough. And as I ponder a return to time consuming highway commute, I’m looking for ways to get things done (GTD) faster. (Which, ironically, is time consuming.)

A few months back, I migrated away from Google Reader when they refreshed the UI. I’m not quite sure what all the problems are, but the very white/bright look isn’t pleasant. Since then, I’ve been pleased with NewsGator’s free NetNewsWire (OS X) desktop software. Two features in particular are very useful, when used together: full screen mode and the built-in web rendering engine. The typical folders, post flagging, and keyboard shortcuts are present and appreciated. Subscription status is also synced back to m.NewsGator.com for mobile access, although my experience hasn’t been flawless. (There’s also a NetNewsWire iPhone app… which I don’t care for.) Continue Reading…

I know we’ve gotten a bit Twitter crazy here on ZNF lately, so I promise this will be our last post… for a little awhile, at least. With that in mind, I cramming several Twitter topics into this one article: software, tools, and etiquette.

twitter_logo

As a quick refresher: Twitter is a web service, born from a brainstorm, to provide and peruse real-time updates. How you use it is up to you. I’ve found it valuable as a “micro blogging” tool. 140 characters is often sufficient to issue a brief opinion and/or link to an interesting tech-related story. It’s also been handy as a means of communicating both privately and publicly with readers, blogging peers, and PR professionals. In fact, Twitter replaced SMS for me at CES this year. Twitter’s usage is rapidly accelerating and they’ve just landed $35 million in Series C financing.

Desktop Twitter Software
While Twitter may have humble beginnings as a simple web page, their open API has led to all sorts of clever clients and integration. What actually inspired this topic was Scoble’s Twhirl versus TweetDeck desktop application showdown. He prefers the screen-encompassing nature of TweetDeck to follow and interact with over 64,000 people. I don’t follow nearly as many and prefer something with a smaller visual footprint. For many like me, the IM-esque client Twhirl is the answer. But I’ve even found that to be inefficient and a distraction. I’ve pretty much settled on running Twitter.com in a dedicated Firefox tab when I want to fully engage, and use the TwitterFox Firefox plugin to check in while preoccupied with other tasks – it’s ever-present, yet remains inconspicuous until called.

twitter-fox

Continue Reading…

Yup, This TiVo Tweets

Dave Zatz —  February 3, 2009

While we haven’t yet arrived at Todd’s (cybernetic) activity stream vision, mere days after our post, Darren Cloutier has answered the call:

I saw the post about this on Friday night and thought it would make a great weekend project! From my old PC in the basement, a PHP script logs into the web server on each TiVo box and grabs the XML file with everything that is currently on the box. This part was written by somebody on the community forums back when TiVo2Go was first released as a way to translate your now playing list to an HTML document. Since I already run this script every hour to update my website, I simply added some more code which looks for recordings that have a start time greater than one hour ago, format the text as a nice Tweet and then redirect these to Twitter via the Twitter API which is easily accessible in PHP.

A little imagination and some PHP elbow grease is all it took to give Darren’s TiVos a voice. Again, not quite as interactive as what Todd envisions. But a cool project, nonetheless. And, if you’re feeling voyeuristic, those TiVo recording tweets can be found here: http://twitter.com/TwiVo

In other Twitter automation news, Macworld’s Jason Snell documents a variety of ways to script or filter tweets. But, wait. There’s more! The Twitter team recently documented the incubation and evolution of their 140 character service. Plus, yours truly has been anointed as a top tech tweeter by Jason Hiner of ZDNet.