Friday, February 29, 2008

How can I specify a channel for an AdSense widget in Blogger?

Blogger now has a simple blog custom layout editor that lets you add widgets and move them around. One of those widgets is an AdSense widget. Blogger lets you log into your AdSense account to specify the publisher id to be credited for clicks in the ad. That's fine, but there doesn't seem to be any way to set the AdSense channel for the AdSense ads in Blogger so that you can track which blogs and which ad units are getting clicks. I looked and looked and looked, but I could find no option in Blogger to specify the AdSense channel id.


Deep sigh.

That was a few days ago. Finally, this evening, I started doing some Web searching to see if anybody else had run into this problem and found a solution, and the answer is a resounding Yes!

I found a blog post dated September 20, 2007 on the My Digital Life blog entitled "Workaround to Add Custom Channels into Blogger AdSense Page Element Widget" which has the step by instructions for how to workaround the design limitation of Blogger.

In short, delete the AdSense widgets in the Blogger layout editor and replace them with HTML/JavaScript widgets usiing the ad script code you get from logging into AdSense and creating a new ad unit and specifying the channel id directly in AdSense.

Seems to work as far as displaying one of the ads properly, but I'll have to check tomorrow to see if the other ads are displaying properly and that I am getting page views and clicks for my new Semantic Abyss blog that uses the Blogger layout editor.

This should solve my problem, but does show that the new AdSense feature in Blogger is not as easy to use as I had hoped.

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Google Web Search has spotted the domain name for my new blog

Although Google Blog Search has still not spotted my new blog on Blogger, Semantic Abyss, Google Web Search has in fact spotted the new domain name,, that I associated with my blog. Alas, Google has not spotted the actual blog site,, and is unable to report anything about the domain name other than the name itself. But, this is at least one step of progress. No sign yet in the other major search engines.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogger catches up after stumbling

I think my "rush hour" conjecture was correct. My three failed email post attempts from an hour ago all just posted. No lost posts, but just a delay of an hour. Oddly, my previous post to this blog actually got through in the middle of that "rush." That may have just been chance, or maybe my other blogs are marked as "possible spam" and their inbound posts had to be quarantined for a while. Difficult to say.

Alas, now I will be more cautious about posting via email in the middle of the afternoon.

BTW, Blogger does show the proper message times, so it does not look as if there was any delay of transmission of the email to Blogger.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogger stumbles again

Strange. For a second time in two days I have run into a case of Blogger refusing to promptly post  an emailed post. I suspect that it may simply be a case of "rush hour" traffic during the middle of the day. I have not email posted during the middle of the day during the week for almost two years while I had a full-time job, but now that I work part-time, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Oh well. I'll send the post again later in the afternoon and see what happens.

-- Jack Krupansky

My new blog is STILL not showing up in Google Blog Search

I know I may have to wait another day or two, but I am getting annoyed and anxious that my new Blogger blog,, is still not showing up in Google Blog Search or in Google Web Search or in any other search engines as well. What is the hold up?? Maybe there is some kind of "sandbox" delay to deter spam. Still, this is really annoying.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blogger bounces back

After stumbling this afternoon, Blogger has bounced back and handled my last post perfectly and promptly.

-- Jack Krupansky

Blogger finally stumbles in the new year

Blogger was doing so fine as 2007 closed and we began a new year, posting my emailed posts quite promptly. But, then this afternoon Blogger stumbled. I emailed a post twice and Blogger completely ignored me both times. After waiting two hours, I finally created the post manually in Blogger's web-based post editor. Sigh. I know Blogger can do better than that.

-- Jack Krupansky

Are people clicking fewer Google ads?

An article in The New York Times by Miguel Helft entitled "A Highflier Loses Altitude as Google's Clicks Go Flat" raises the question "Are Internet users clicking on fewer Google ads and putting the company's growth prospects at risk?" The article highlights number of conflicting views as to what is really going on in the paid-click advertising business. But one thing I can confirm is that Google AdSense ads on my own blogs and webs sites also received fewer clicks in the same period when Google was supposedly seeing a slowing of growth.

Also, I did encounter a period where Google made some changes which resulted in a loss of both page views and clicks for my pages. I made some changes and page views bounced back, although clicks only partially bounced back.

As the article says, much of the recent weakness may have been self-inflicted by Google.

-- Jack Krupansky

My new blog still not showing up in Google Blog Search

My new Blogger blog,, is still not showing up in Google Blog Search. One possibility is that there might be some waiting period before a new blog is included in search results to try to filter out splogs that will eventually be caught and removed by Blogger.

I do have a link to the new blog from one of my non-blog web sites which is already indexed by the major search engines, so eventually my new blog will show up in the main Web search engines.

I am a little disappointed. My recollection is that the last time I created a new blog in Blogger it showed up in Google Blog Search fairly quickly. Maybe they are simply filtering in a more methodical (and slower) manner these days.

I was hoping that I would not have to manually submit the new blog since it is linked from a non-blog web site.

I'll wait another two or three days and then ping Blogger support if necessary.

I have also noticed that Google Blog Search is not giving expected results for queries I have made recently. It seems as if they have some bugs or index corruption, or something fishy going on.

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Claiming my new blog in Technorati

Now that I have posted a couple of times to my new blog,, I wanted to start monitoring it from the Technorati blog search engine. To do this you need to "claim" your blog in Technorati. You log into your account on Technorati, go to the Blogs tab and click to begin claiming your blog. After entering the URL for your new blog, Technorati gives you an HTML snippet to post on your blog and then you click to have Technorati scan your blog for that snippet to confirm that it is in fact your blog. This is certainly an annoyance, but not terribly painful.

In theory, you can then delete the post used for the claim, but I chose to leave it there as a form of blog birthmark. An alternative would have been to simply insert the snippet in an existing post on the blog and then edit it out after Technorati has finsihed the claim process.

You can also choose to have Technorati directly log into Blogger on your behalf to do the claim, but I find that option too scary. I do not want Technorati having my Blogger account and password, no matter how emphatic their privacy assurances.

-- Jack Krupansky

First post for my new blog

Finally it is done. I made my first post to my new blog that will explore the Semantic Web, Semantic Abyss ( or It wasn't anything fancy, but I did spend a lot of time formulating something that should give a solid and clear sense of the foundation for this new blog.

I will let that initial post sit for awhile and then reread it and compare it to my original intentions as well as the current blog title and description, and then make adjustments as needed.

I will then try to put just as much care into the second post.

Meanwhile, I will try as hard as I can to avoid thinking about the template and style for this new blog. I will get back to that stuff soon enough.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Research for my new blog

A good first step when contemplating a new blog is to use Google Blog Search to find out what blogs are currently active on your chosen topic. Once you see how much activity there currently is, you might change your mind and decide not to blog about that topic or maybe simply narrow the topic so that you have a greater chance of being heard within a specific niche.

As I look at existing Semantic Web blogs, one thing that really stands out is how remote, abstract, and esoteric Semantic Web topics are relative to the interests of average consumers. In other words, there is a yawning gap or even a great chasm between the level of discussion by Semantic Web professionals and even advanced users.

That chasm or gap suggests one possible name for my new blog: "The Semantic Gap". That could work, but the phrase has been used traditionally in a semi-precise manner, as detailed in the Wikipedia article for "Semantic Gap":

The semantic gap characterizes the difference between two descriptions of an object by different linguistic representations, for instance languages or symbols. In computer science, the concept is relevant whenever ordinary human activities, observations, and tasks are transferred into a computational representation [1] [2].

More precisely the gap means the difference between ambiguous formulation of contextual knowledge in a powerful language (e.g. natural language) and its sound, reproducible and computational representation in a formal language (e.g. programming language).

Actually, maybe that cuts right to the heart of my core focus which is not to revel in the gory details of the Semantic Web per se, but to try to bridge the gap between formal representations in computer software and databases and the language of consumers in the real world.

My immediate thought is that maybe I need two distinct blogs, one to explore the depths and gory details of the Semantic Web and another to explore bridging the gap and applying the Semantic Web in a way that consumers can relate to. Maybe, maybe not.

Still, "semantic gap" is a relatively simple term and does give me some focus, which is something that I really need. Besides, I can stray a fair distance from that core focus as long as I always do it in the name of bringing an esoteric topic back to my core relevance of meaning to the consumer. That may introduce some needed discipline in my Semantic Web explorations.

That sounded fine, but as I did some "due diligence" searching on the Web, the first thing I found was that the domain name was already taken and it just seemed like too common a phrase. It just didn't feel like a true brand.

Next, I went to the dictionary and then the thesaurus looking for synonyms for gap. One stood out clearly: abyss. Even better it perfectly captured the sense of the gap being very large and very deep. The phrase semantic abyss just seemed to resonate with deep meaning. It felt a little more like a brand.

Even better, I found that the domain name was available, so I quickly registered it in Fatcow for $20.

The blog name semanticabyss was available in Blogger as well, so I went ahead and created my new blog:

I assigned a dummy title and subtitle, "Plumbing the Semantic Abyss" and "Exploring the depths of the semantic gap between the Semantic Web and the real world", which should work for now and can be tuned as I get more experience with this blog.

I enabled AdSense for my blog by adding a vertical banner on the right side and a leaderboard on the bottom. I'll tweak it later.

Finally, I used Fatcow's Domain Pointing Manager to redirect to in "stealth" mode so that visiting will take you directly to my blog without showing the Blogger URL in your browser address box.

Originally, I intended this post to only be about my initial research, but I decided that I should not advertise that I was interested in a given blog and domain name, lest some interloper grab it first.

Now, my next task is to compose my first blog post, but to do that I need to think a little about my initial focus and tone and voice. Don't hold your breath. I want this initial post to be rock-solid and not a lame "Hey, dude, this is my new blog. Check it out!"

-- Jack Krupansky

Starting a new blog on Semantic Web technology

Although I have not yet decided where to focus my excess energy once I transition from being full-time at The Evil Empire to part-time work with a stealth startup, I have mostly decided that going deeper into Semantic Web technology will very likely be one of my personal sidelines. A great place to start that effort, a step 0, is to start a blog dedicated to that effort. Since blogging has evolved a bit over the past year, I also intend to chronicle the back story of my efforts on this new blog.

The initial issues that come to my mind when starting a new blog are:

  1. What the overall focus will be
  2. What the initial focus will be
  3. What the audience will be
  4. What the name will be, both title and subtitle, as well as the domain name
  5. What infrastructure technology to use
  6. Whether it will be standalone or embedded in a larger web site or portal
  7. Whether to run ads or not
  8. The general tone and qualities of voice for postings
  9. Level of effort to invest in overall template and peripheral features
  10. Level of effort for professional graphic design

I actually do not have great, laser-focused answers to all of those questions. In fact, I am not so sure that I can get answers that really satisfy me in the near-term. For example, I do know the general focus, namely Semantic Web technology, but that is a very broad field which I cannot cover fully in any great depth. Similarly, I do know that the audience will be people interested in Semantic Web technology, but once again that is a very broad audience, most of whom may have little interest in whatever aspects of Semantic Web technology I happen to blog about on any given day.

I have no idea where my Semantic Web journey will lead me, so the idea of coming up with a crisply targeted brand is out of the question. At best, I will come up with a fairly lame and provisional blog name, title, and subtitle. My intention is to refine my brand as my journey begins to settle into a path with a little bit more clarity about its destination or goal(s).

Although my initial efforts will take on more of the character of a hobby and be somewhat amateurish, my clear intention is to transition to a profitable business opportunity ASAP. Although I may make a little money off the blog via AdSense, my stronger intention will be to become enough of an expert on niches of Semantic Web technology that my knowledge and expertise begins to open doors for consulting opportunities.

As far as blogging infrastructure, I already have a fair amount of experience with Blogger, so that is my default choice. OTOH, WordPress certainly has a lot of appeal. I am tempted by WordPress, but I am concerned that it might require too much additional effort compared to the mindless point and click mentality of Blogger. Still, I would welcome input about WordPress compared to Blogger in terms of setup and ongoing management. Also, AdSense is now integrated with Blogger, so I wonder whether WordPress can even come close in that area.

As far as AdSense, to me that seems a no-brainer. I am in this for the money, period. I have been using AdSense in Blogger for over two years, so I have a bit of experience with it, although its financial value has been very modest. When I started, you had to manually insert the script code in your template. Now, it is a clickable option in Blogger. I did look at it some months ago and could not figure out how to specify the AdSense tracking channel id, but I'll give it another try.

Blogger also has some new layout customization features so that you are not completely constrained by the pre-built template library. These features may simplify my task, although I do not intend to get fancy.

As far as professional graphic design, that is simply outside of both my budget and my personal ability, at least for now. So, my graphic design will be as basic as can be imagined, no better than whatever Blogger gives my by default. OTOH, I will be open to anyone who wants to volunteer to offer graphic design work in exchange from a linkable credit on the bottom of my blog.

Although ultimately I may choose to have a dedicated domain name and possibly even a portal, I will most likely initially simply use a blog name on Blogger's In a couple of months I will revisit this decision and consider a dedicated domain name.

I already have a portal dedicated to software agent technology that I might utilize for my new Semantic Web efforts, but it may make sense to keep the two distinct, at least for now.

My initial blogging efforts will probably focus on general Semantic Web background and maybe making a valiant effort to explain in as simple English prose as possible what the Semantic Web is really all about. I have never been satisifed by any of the descriptions that I have ever seen. Yes, the Semantic Web has a lot of deep, conceptual power. Yes, the Semantic Web has wide-ranging applications. But none of this really explains what the Semantic Web is really all about and how it differs from traditional software technologies that have been able to enable applications from Amazon to eBay to Yahoo to Google to YouTube without relying on the full power of the concepts of the Semantic Web.

Now, my immediate problems are focused on:

  1. Name in Blogger (
  2. Title
  3. Subtitle
  4. Pick the initial layout and enable AdSense
  5. First post

Stay tuned. And feel free to chime in if you see me do or say anything really stupid or even if you think I should be aware of any options that I have not mentioned.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Escape from The Evil Empire

I have decided to resign from my position at The Evil Empire effective Monday and to begin some part-time work for a stealth startup, so I may have enough spare time to be free to do a fair amount more blogging than I have for the past 21 months. We will see.

The big questions are how the blogosphere has evolved over the past year and what forms of blogging are more effective and more profitable.

After all, with all that has been said over the past year on every conceivable topic, is there really anything left to say that has not already been said many times before?

I will do my best to try to add some real value.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 03, 2008

TechCrunch also notes that Google looks as if it is running scared

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has a post entitled "Can Google Still Claim To Be David To Microsoft's Goliath? No." in which he argues that Google is no longer an innocent little company. He notes that:

... 2008 may be the year Google can no longer hide behind the "David v. Goliath" defense with Microsoft. Google is the reason that Yahoo has stumbled so badly, and may be Microsoft's last hope to be a meaningful player on the Internet over the long run. To put it bluntly, the roles are reversed. Google is now the Goliath, and they're [sic:their] public whimpering on the acquisition makes them look petty and scared.

... when the[y] complain about the formation of a new entity that can provide them real competition in the search and online advertising space, I'm not feeling the love.

Meanwhile, I am waiting to hear what impact anybody thinks the Microsoft/Yahoo deal might have on the Blogosphere, if any at all.

-- Jack Krupansky

Why is Google running so scared of the Microsoft/Yahoo acquisition?

A lot of people who should know better are taking an "It's a train wreck!" (it will fail) attitude towards the Microsoft/Yahoo acquisition. Fair enough. But if that is the case, why is Google running so scared? The top item on Techmeme is now a Google Blog post by David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer or Google entitled "Yahoo! and the future of the Internet" in which he opines that:

...Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers.

I fully expected that Google "legal" would raise "regulatory" and market share issues, so this is no real surprise at all. The sad thing is that it really highlights how big and bloated and lacking in innovation Google itself has become.

Another thing that this highlights is that maybe Google is really not so big and dominant and scary as a lot of its proponents continuously trumpet.

And on the flip side, with so many of the anti-Microsoft crowd continuously crowing about how Microsoft doesn't really understand the Internet and cannot compete against Google, it is actually amusing to read the Google guard-dog lamenting that Microsoft has one of the "most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet." Give me a break! If Microsoft really sucks, why are they getting so much traffic?

As far as the assertion by Google and others that the bid is hostile, people are making too much of a modest statement in the letter from Microsoft to Yahoo in which Microsoft "reminded" Yahoo's board that they need to act in the best interests of shareholders ("Depending on the nature of your response, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!'s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal."). All Microsoft realy did is state that it would be serious and persistent in pursuing the deal. So far, there have been abolutely *no* hostile acts on the part of Microsoft towards Yahoo. Not a single one.

Here's the good news: Even if the deal were to be scuttled, everyone, including Microsoft's fiercest critics will have to privately acknowledge that they have been dead wrong in their continued assertions over the years that Microsoft does not have any chance of successfuly competing on the Internet.

But back to my headline question, why exactly is Google running so scared? After all, even combined, the Microsoft plus Yahoo search share is a distant second to Google.

Or, is the Google response simply yet another mindless example or the bickering that goes on in Silicon Valley whenever anybody from outside The Valley tries to crash their party?

Geez. What next? LOL... What will "The Next Big Thing" be on the blogosphere debating circuit?

-- Jack Krupansky


Although people had been chattering about the possibility of Yahoo hooking up with Microsoft for quite some time and it did seem inevitable, it nonetheless came as quite a surprise on Friday morning. Overall, I personally think it is a great idea. Sure, there are plenty of "integration" (assimilation??) issues, but I do think that there are plenty of opportunities for both synergy and side-by-side operation. These are all my own personal thoughts and not necessarily representative of the intentions of my employer.

One simple note: The acquisition is not a done deal and any number of factors could scuttle it, but for now it feels does feel like a fait accompli.

Even today, the acquisition is still by far the top story on Techmeme.

Microsoft has always been a marketing and brand-oriented company. Yahoo is both a company and a brand, and in fact multiple brands. For example, Flickr is a very distinct brand even though Yahoo is the owner. I have no idea what Microsoft intends, but continuing to permit valuable brands to thrive is certainly the kind of thing they tend to do. Sure, sometimes they make mistakes, (like trying to re-brand Hotmail), but reality appears to be a respected factor in marketing decisions at Microsoft.

Integration of data centers is an obvious benefit. Although the apps and OSes may differ, blades are blades, racks are racks, web services are web services, IP is IP, routers are routers, electrons are electrons, electricity is electricity, HVAC is HVAC, bricks and mortar are bricks and mortar, so the data centers are almost a slam dunk for integration at least as far as planning, construction, and running new data centers.

I would imagine that quite a number of pieces of Yahoo will continue to operate the same even after the acquisition, with the caveat that unprofitable and inefficient operations will be ripe for reorganization, assimilation, and even pruning.

I would imagine that Yahoo mail and Hotmail will operate side-by-side (independently) for the foreseeable future. Once again, belief in the value of brands is a core value at Microsoft. Over time, I suspect that the underlying technology will become shared, but the independent brands can continue to survive to the degree that they continue to thrive in the marketplace.

Search is an interesting question. Longer term I imagine that the underlying technologies will merge (or be superceded with new technology) and benefit from scale. Shorter-term, I imagine that allowing the separate brands to operate on their own will be the likely scenario. Medium term, I imagine some sharing of technology and talent between the teams with an emphasis on enhancing which technology is deemed to have the best long-term potential. The primary difference in the very short-term would be that Microsoft as the parent corporation would own the revenue streams and advertising space from Yahoo.

Combining MSN content and Yahoo content is an obvious area of synergy at least in terms of offering a single, combined advertising pool for scaling ad revenue. Sure, there is plenty of overlap in content, and I am sure that over time the less profitable content will die off, but there will probably continue to be significant benefit to maintaining distinct brands. 

Defections? I am sure there will be some, but I doubt that they will be substantial enough to damage the core value of the combined enterprise. Sure, there will probably be some subset of the anti-Microsoft crowd in Silicon Valley who will try to convince people to abandon Yahoo, but most people do not care about such ideological passions. A bigger concern might be the Unix versus Windows technical issue since there are probably some number of Unix-saavy engineers within Yahoo who won't feel that their expertise will be highly valued in a "Windows shop." OTOH, much of the engineering work these days is at the network and Web and web services level that is agnostic about operating systems. In the short to medium run I imagine that Unix will continue to thrive in much of Yahoo. The upside of any defections might be a new wave of start-ups.

One remaining issue is what attitude the Yahoo founders and key architects will have towards their new "owner." I don't imagine these guys willingly committing to long-term employment at Microsoft. Maybe they will go independent and "advise" the company. Will they remain stockholders or immediately turn around and dump their MSFT stock?

In short, I think the acquisition is a triple win: 1) Yahoo is "saved" from being adrift, struggling, and decaying, 2) Micrsoft gains scale and valuable brands, 3) Microsoft investments can be leveraged to provide greater benefits to consumers.

Meanwhile, us MSFT shareholders have to grin and bear it for a while longer (two months or so?) as we patiently wait for Wall Street to finally come around to reflecting reality and fundamentals rather to treat this as simply a short-term trading opportunity ("Sell short the acquiring company and buy long the acquired company... acquisitions rarely work...") That said, I would prefer to take this hit now and get it over with and go forward with the knowledge that the company will be poised for a continuous stream of improvements.

The real point of this post is that this one business decision has provided such tremendous fodder for debates in the blogosphere (and MSM) and will quite literally drive debates for many months to come. Call it another Microsoft "innovation." There are probably at least a thousand key decisions that Microsoft will make about Yahoo, each of which will kick off its own wave of blogosphere traffic.

-- Jack Krupansky