Friday, February 27, 2009

Judgment: hunches and suspicions

One of the qualities of being a professional is your judgment. Sometimes facts are precisely black and white, but frequently we have little choice but to deal with shades of gray. That is where our judgment comes into play. I try very hard to be very clear about whether I know something is a demonstrable fact or not. Sometimes I simply do not have facts sufficient to prove that a claim is definitively true or false, but I do have enough sense and experience to judge whether a claim is more likely to be true or more likely to be false. The question is how to indicate that I am making such a judgment call. In the past, I have commonly said that I "suspect" that a claim is true or false, but now I am wondering if "suspicion" has the right tone for professional judgment. Maybe the word "hunch" conveys essentially the same meaning, but with more of a professional tone. I suspect that to be the case. Oops! Make that I have a hunch that is the case. The dictionary definition of suspicion suggests doubt and "suspecting something wrong", with an implication of negativity, while hunch means "a strong intuitive meaning." The last thing I want to do to encourage people to read my writing is to come across with a negative tone.

So, I have a hunch that I should go with hunch.

We'll see how that sounds.

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How do I find the public timeline in Twitter?

Okay, you are using Twitter and everything is great. But, you keep hearing mention of the term "public timeline" (or, less properly, "public time line"), but where is it? How do you find it?

Easy: Click on "Everyone" on the menu on the right side of the Twitter page. Done. Now you are seeing all of the tweets made by every Twitter user, in real-time. Yeah, that is a lot, but it is a great way to get a feel for what is going on.

Then, once you are totally overloaded by the public timeline, get back to your own "personal timeline", click on "Home". It is all that simple.

Sometimes, people mistakenly refer to their personal timeline as being their public timeline, but there is only one public timeline and it is for everyone.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Should you host your professional blog somewhere other than Blogger?

Everybody knows that only "amateur" bloggers use Blogger and host their blogs on Google's, or so I thought that everybody knew. But is it really true? Honestly, I have no idea. Nonetheless, Dharmesh Shah has a Hubspot blog post entitled "Why Your Business Blog Shouldn't Be On" which offers four top reasons why your business should not be on

  1. Google Doesn't Need The Help
  2. Domain Lock-In
  3. Transferring Data Is Unreasonably Hard
  4. Mediocre Feature-Set

Read his post for the details.

Meanwhile, all of my blogs are hosted on Blogger, Most of them are strictly "business" in terms of content and purpose, but with none of them getting more than 50 page views a day or 300 page views total across all of my blogs and Web sites, I cannot honestly say that they constitute a real, thriving business. So, there is no pressing need for me or anybody else in a similar position to contemplate a move to other than Blogger and

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bug in Google Maps - wrong location for Catherine Slip in NYC

How annoying. You expect Google Maps to be accurate, but then one of the few times where I know exactly what's where, Google has it wrong. I typed in "map 22 James St., New York, NY", the location of a fire in Chinatown. I was curious if it was anywhere near any place I had walked. It turns out it was. It was just two blocks from Catherine Street, which I tend to walk down on my Saturday walks around lower Manhattan. Catherine Street ends at South Street near the East River. Actually, where really happens is that Catherine Street technically ends at Cherry Street and the last two blocks are called Catherine Slip, because in "the old days" there was a slip for sailing ships to dock there. Yahoo Maps in fact has Catherine Slip labeled correctly. Google Maps does not, and instead labels the driveway through an adjacent housing complex as being Catherine Slip. I do not think that driveway has a name. I suppose I should not be surprised that the kids at Google are clueless as to why a street would be called a slip. There are a number of "slip" streets on the East River of Lower Manhattan, and Google does have a bunch of them properly labeled.

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, February 23, 2009

Do links frighten you?

TinyURL is nice because it shortens long, unreadable, untypeable URLs to short, readable, URLs that can easily be retyped (if necessary) or pasted into an application such as email or Twitter or blog posts. Twitter especially needs them since tweets are limited to 140 characters. The downside of  tiny URLs is that you, the user, cannot tell where they are going to take you and many people are hesitant to click on any link unless they know exactly where it will take them.

For example, how comfortable are you at clicking on the following link?

It sure looks scary. In fact, that link merely goes directly to this blog, but you would never know it. That sucks.

Unless... you know about the preview mode feature of which you can enable to automatically catch any attempt to open a tiny URL and displays the TinyURL preview Web page that shows the user exactly where the tiny URL wants to take them. The user can then opt to actually go to where the tiny URL wants to go or ignore it and go on to whatever else they wish to do.

Note, preview mode is a setting that the user will have to set. You, the author of the email, tweet, or blog post cannot force preview mode to be enabled for your reader, the user.

So, here is what your users (or you as a user) need to do...

To enable preview mode, go to the Web site, click on the "Preview Feature" link in the menu on the left side of the page. This will display the Preview page which will tell you the current setting for the preview mode flag (which is stored as a browser cookie.) This page will initially say "You currently have the preview feature disabled." That means preview mode is turned off. There will be a link below that message that says "Click here to enable previews." Go ahead and click that link, either on the Web site, or right here in this blog post. The Web page will refresh and display the message "You currently have the preview feature enabled." That means preview mode is now turned on.

Then, whenever you click on a tiny URL, in email or Twitter or a blog post or any other app that can follow a Web link, you will be taken to the Preview page that will display the messages "Preview of" and "This TinyURL redirects to:" followed by the full URL associated with the tiny URL. Below those messages you will see a link that says "Proceed to this site." Click on that link and then you will be taken directly to the Web page for that full-length URL. Or, you can go back to what you were doing or go on to something else.

TinyURL preview mode keeps you safe and worry-free about where tiny URLs might take you.

-- Jack Krupansky

LinkedIn bug - delay of connection updating

I just ran into a LinkedIn bug. I sent out a connection invitation this morning and soon received the email message that says "Congratulations! You and so-and-so are now connected. ... View so-and-so's profile to..." So, I clinked the link to view so-and-so's profile and I immediately notice that there is a "How you're connected to so-and-so" panel on the right side of the page that says that I have to go through other connections to get to so-and-so and that I am a 3rd-degree connection. In other words, the Web portion of LinkedIn does not know what the email side just told me. Obviously they have a database update synchronization problem. Sigh. Silly me, I thought we were in the 21st century. I wonder how I got that crazy idea!

Now, this could simply be some sort of operational "service" disruption, but even then it suggests a design flaw: the email should not have gone out or at least not said that you "are now connected" when that was not exactly true. Maybe they simply need to add some text to say that the connection will be made in "a few minutes." Or, beef up their computing "cloud" and fix the logic error.

I just refreshed the profile page for so-and-so and it still said that I was am only a 3rd-degree connection. I then went to my own page, clicked on connections, saw that so-and-so was now on my list, clicked on so-and-so's name and I still saw the same profile page suggesting I was still only a 3rd-degree connection. I hit refresh again, and now finally LinkedIn shows that we are connected.

That may have taken about five minutes or more. LinkedIn may be experiencing load issues, but that is no excuse for invalid logic (stating that something is a fact when it is not yet a fact.)

Another possibility is that Google Chrome was not refeshing the page properly when requested, but I would say that is much less likely.

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, February 16, 2009

Me, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor??

Believe it or not, I was once quoted in The Christian Science Monitor. I was just doing a search (using Microsoft Live Search) for references to my name and "global warming" and one of the results was a 2002 article about the Microsoft antitrust trial in Washington, D.C., which I attended. Old memories. Nothing to do with global warming though. There was probably a link to an article on global warming in a sidebar of "Most Viewed" articles the last time that page was crawled by Microsoft's search engine.

Oddly, Google will not find that CSM page with a similar search. Yahoo finds in fine.

The problem may be that the CSM site does not have a valid robot.txt file. Microsoft and Yahoo probably continue to crawl, but maybe Google is being conservative and assuming that an invalid robot.txt file should be considered an exclusion. But, Google does index other pages on the CSM Web site. Interesting problem.

-- Jack Krupansky

What is a paradigm shift?

I was just doing a little reading and stumbled across a document that discussed paradigm shifts of technology. Not that the concept is new or mysterious, but I was curious what the technical definition really is. More importantly, I was interested in the application of the concept to technology, commerce, and society in the context of the Internet, Web, Web x.0/social-computing, and how people will earn a living in the future (or even next week) in the New Economy.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary does not define the term paradigm shift, but does offer a reasonable definition for paradigm:

a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated ; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

The Wikipedia was far less useful than it usually is. It does have a reasonable explanation for paradigm shifts in science or even social science, but was not so helpful regarding technology and money in the New Economy. The lead for Paradigm shift merely says:

Paradigm shift (sometimes known as extraordinary science or revolutionary science) is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. It is in contrast to his idea of normal science.

It has since become widely applied to many other realms of human experience as well even though Kuhn himself restricted the use of the term to the hard sciences. According to Kuhn, "A paradigm is what members of a scientific community, and they alone, share." (The Essential Tension, 1997). Unlike a normal scientist, Kuhn held, "a student in the humanities has constantly before him a number of competing and incommensurable solutions to these problems, solutions that he must ultimately examine for himself." (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). Once a paradigm shift is complete, a scientist cannot, for example, posit the possibility that miasma causes disease or that ether carries light. In contrast, a critic in Humanities can choose to adopt a 19th century theory of poetics, for instance, or interpret economic behaviour from a Marxist perspective.

Thus, paradigms, in the sense that Kuhn used them, do not exist in Humanities or social sciences. Nonetheless, the term has been adopted since the 1960s and applied in non-scientific contexts.

There is very little mention of technology paradigms. The closest is an odd section entitled "As marketing speak":

In the later part of the 1990s, 'paradigm shift' emerged as a buzzword, popularized as marketing speak and appearing more frequently in print and publication. In his book, Mind The Gaffe, author Larry Trask advises readers to refrain from using it, and to use caution when reading anything that contains the phrase. It is referred to in several articles and books as abused and overused to the point of becoming meaningless.

Granted, I agree that the term is overused, but I find it is still applicable and in that original scientific sense.

I find it amusingly noteworthy that the Wikipedia article does not even mention the paradigm shift from books, encyclopedias, and libaries to the Wikipedia itself. Missed that one.

I will offer my own brief definition:

A paradigm is a combination of a worldview and a collection of rules for operating in the context of that worldview. Opportunities are available and success can be achieved when individuals and organizations acknowledge the worldview and follow its rules.

A paradigm shift is a relatively abrupt change that brings about a relatively radically new worldview with new rules, such that opportunities are accessible and success can be achieved only to the extent that individuals and organizations adapt their thinking to the new worldview and adapt their behavior to follow its new rules.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bored? Try Twitter search

It is not immediately obvious, but Twitter does have a search feature. It is hidden down at the bottom of the page:

(c) 2009 Twitter About Us Contact Blog Status Apps API Search Help Jobs Terms Privacy

You can also go directly to

In addition to searching all Twitter messages for keywords, it also tells you what search keywords are currently most popular. For example, at this moment the hottest topic is the O'Reilly Tools of Change (for Publishing) conference, right here in New York City.

-- Jack Krupansky

Why does Google Chrome sometimes have trouble loading Web pages?

Every once in a while I notice that the Google Chrome Web browser is suddenly unable to load some, but not all, Web pages. The status line says "Waiting..." but never comes back. Hitting Refresh (repeatedly) does not resolve the problem.

Here is what fixes the problem (for me):

  1. Start Microsoft Internet Explorer. I know, I know, this is very painful for some people!!
  2. Visit (using IE) the Web site which was not loading in Chrome. This should work fine.
  3. Close all Chrome browser windows. This is necessary. Hitting Refresh again, even after IE is able to view the Web site, will still not work in Chrome.
  4. Restart Chrome.
  5. Visit the Web site in Chrome. This should work fine now.

Another solution is to disable DNS prefetching in Chrome. I have not tried that, mostly since I suspect it will slow Chrome down and speed is one of my main reasons for using Chrome as my preferred browser.

The root of the problem is DNS caching. DNS is the Internet technology infrastructure that figures out where domain names (Web sites and email) are really located (so-called IP addresses.)

The real root of the problem is that the Internet has a rather dysfunctional infrastructure which works much of the time but has intermittent failures a fair percentage of the time, probably mostly due to fluctuations in traffic intensity. Usually, all the application has to do is simply retry a failed network access one or more times and eventually it will succeed after the intermittent traffic disruption passes.

A traditional problem is that DNS lookups are relatively expensive and can occur dozens of times even for what appears to be a single Web page (images located on other domains, advertising scripts, etc.), so the Web browser seeks to optimize and "cache" information about whether domain names are accessible.

IE has a dumb, and slower, approach to this issue, but it has the benefit of being more reliable.

Chrome has a fancy new feature, called DNS Prefetching (or Pre-Resolving), which results in fast loading of Web sites - most of the time, but which apparently has some bug which causes Chrome to improperly negatively cache domain names when one of this intermittent access problems occurs.

There are already two Google "chromium" (the open source project for Chrome) bugs filed on this issue:

  1. Issue 3819: Errant "domain not found" cached when DNS Prefetching is enabled. Status: WontFix!
  2. Issue 3041: DNS pre-fetching causes frequent internet loss. Status: Unconfirmed.

In terms of frequency, I have seen it at least half a dozen times over the past few months, but rarely more than once a week.

It may in fact be caused by some difficulty with a router (e.g., that prevents access to the DNS server), so that Googlers with great Internet access (as opposed to us consumers) may never see the problem at all.

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oops... definition of social agent

The good news is that somehow, I have managed to be result #1 in Google for the term social agent. The bad news is that my Web page that purports to define that term simply said "A social agent is ... TBD." How lame! DOH! That page has gotten a fair number of hits, probably mostly by academic researchers in software agent technology and their students. One finally sent me an email sarcastically complimenting me for saving him so much effort and that my mother should be proud of me. Well, I fixed the problem. I did some research and derived my own definition for the term social agent. Actually, there are two somewhat distinct uses:

  • (1) A social agent is a software agent which exhibits a significant degree of interdependence with other software agents which results in or from the formation of communities of software agents within the full population of software agents to which the social agents belong, where each community has rules for behavior within the community.

  • (2) A social agent is a software agent or robot which is capable of social communication with human beings.


What is frustrating about this is that by failing to have a reasonable definition on that Web page I have been losing out on opportunities to be cited as a source for definition of that term. There is not even a Wikipedia article for it.

-- Jack Krupansky

Why is Google having trouble counting to 10?

Several times recently I have gotten Google search results where the result count is completely absurd. I am not talking about the typical search where clearly Google is estimating the result count, but for simple cases where the entire result count is clearly known since all results fit on a single results page. Last week I saw a result page that said "Results 1 - 6 of about 3 for ..." Huh? If Google fetched and displayed all of the results, why not display the actual count rather than some clearly absurd estimate.

I just did a search that comes back with "Results 1 - 8 of about 0 for ..." You would think that if a non-empty collection of results were found, the reported count should be anything but zero. Actually, when I do the initial search it reports "Results 1 - 5 of about 3 for ..." with five results displayed. Then I click on the "repeat the search with the omitted results included" link and I get the "Results 1 - 8 of about 0 for ..."

Oh, and if I hit Refresh a bunch of times, sometimes it actually does report the correct, actual result count, and sometimes it reports zero. Maybe a bug was introduced (or found) and the various Google mirror servers are not in sync in terms of code. The same results seems to be returned in either case, although there is some slight difference in display (no indentation for results from the same Web site.)

My latest test search:

"social agent" krupansky

I was attempting to find all of my own documents that refered to social agents.

-- Jack Krupansky

Samsung: Satisfying emotional desires

I noticed and actually read a display for Samsung in the Time-Warner building on Columbus Circle here in Manhattan that claimed that Samsung was "Satisfying emotional desires." Is that where we are at here in this society/economy, focusing on desires and emotion, rather than real needs and sensibility? Apparently, the answer is "Yes."

Given that "reality" (perspective, perception), what are the implications for how to fully exploit blogging and other forms of social media, other than the superficial tasks of identifying user desires and appealing to them emotionally or at an emotional level or in a way to appeals to emotion?

Catering to emotional whimsy is not exactly my strong suit.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Removed AdSense display ads as an experiment

As an experiment I have disabled AdSense display ads. Besides being visually annoying, especially the ones that are dynamic and flash, the concern is that readers are less likely to click on display ads. I'll see if my click-through-rate (CTR) improves over the next month.

I am still reserving the option to have sponsored display ads, but they would have to meet criteria that I can define and control so as to assure that they add value and do not annoy readers. But, given my low readership, not to mention the crappy economy, it is not likely that I will be likely to attract much in the way of sponsors in the near future.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Snark author about to launch into Maureen Dowd, but then...

It was good while it lasted, all of half an hour. David Denby, the author of Snark - It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation was finally ready to give us his snarky take on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, but all he got to say was her name and then C-SPAN switched back to "live" Senate coverage of the stimulus debates. Grrr!!... They call it "live" coverage, but there are no Senators there and the clerk is not even doing the usual quorum call. Sigh. Even if they do debate anything tonight, all they are really going to do is "formally file" the big $780 billion compromise deal amendment, which they won't vote on until late Monday afternoon, and even then they won't vote on the final Senate bill until Tuesday. Right now, all C-SPAN2 is doing is playing classical music. Maybe somebody at C-SPAN simply did not want to hear Denby savage Saint Maureen. Some people have no sense of humor.

-- Jack Krupansky

Beware of little brother with a smart phone

David Denby, the author of Snark - It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation says that he is not worried so much about Big Brother but he is worried about "little brother with a smart phone" putting unexpected pictures and quotes on the Internet and that "they are there forever."

-- Jack Krupansky

Snark author on C-SPAN2 right now

I just noticed that David Denby, the author of Snark - It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation is speaking on C-SPAN2 right now.

Is his appearance an improvement or negative relative to C-SPAN coverage of the Senate stimulus debates?

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, February 02, 2009

Is Reboubt the first volcano to be followed on Twitter?

You can follow the updates on the Redoubt volcano from the Alaska Volcano Observatory on Twitter.

Is this the first volcano to be "followed" on Twitter? Interesting.

There are plenty of reports, data, images, and even webcams for Redoubt and the other Alaska volcanoes (yes, there are more that are active) on the Alaska Volcano Observatory Web site.

Still no eruption. Kind of like the Obama stimulus plan in Washington. Lots of rumblings, a little smoke and steam. Which one will burst out first?

-- Jack Krupansky

Top Google searches

To be honest, I have no clue as to what users are really interested in these days. So, I went to Google Zeitgeist. I navigated to Insights for Search and requested the top searches of the past 7 days in the U.S. Those top searches were:

  1. lyrics
  2. yahoo
  3. myspace
  4. youtube
  5. facebook
  6. games
  7. weather
  8. news
  9. my
  10. google

How lame. Using Google to search for "google" or to find Yahoo?? Actually, I suspect that list is the initial term of the search, so that "lyrics" is probably followed by the name of a song or singer or band, and "google" is followed by the actual search. And obviously "my" is probably followed by "space".

That Google page also gives the fastest rising searches in the U.S. over that same 7 days:

  1. octuplets
  2. jessica simpson
  3. superbowl
  4. super bowl
  5. superbowl 2009
  6. super bowl 2009
  7. ufc
  8. australian open
  9. weather channel
  10. taken

At least that list is a little more interesting.

Then I went back to the main Zeitgeist page and navigated to Hot Trends which lists the top 100 fastest-rising search queries in the U.S., updated continuously. Here are the top 25:

  1. turbo tax
  3. no stimulus
  4. jay electronica
  5. turbotax 2008
  6. groundhog day 2009 results
  7. maria elena holly
  8. super bowl porn
  9. the institute for human continuity
  10. macy s layoffs
  11. torn mcl
  12. michael phelps bong hit
  13. go daddy commercials
  14. superbowl porn clip
  15. turbo tax freedom edition
  16. martha washington
  17. lattie mcgee
  18. did the groundhog see his shadow
  19. turbotax 2009
  20. macy s press release
  21. video of punxsutawney phil
  22. redbox codes
  23. clint ritchie
  24. turbotax online
  25. watch super bowl commercials

Interesting list.

I am always curious about the stuff that is fairly popular, but not at the top, so here are the last 10 of that Top 100:

  1. career builder commercial
  2. punksatony phil
  3. blackberry outage
  4. national shopping service
  5. groundhog video
  6. erykah badu
  7. punxsutawney pa
  8. phelps photo
  9. phoenix newspaper
  10. enoki mushrooms

Nothing terribly interesting here, but maybe that's a statement about where consumers are at in the U.S. these days.

Actually, what I would really like to see is "new" searches, queries that have never been seen by Google before today.

-- Jack Krupansky

Is that snarky enough for you?

Are you suffering from snarkiness envy? Have you ever read a "snarky post" or a "snarky comment" and wondered how they did it? Are you curious to find out whether you have what it takes to be "snarky"? Well, guess what... there is actually an entire book on snarkiness, by David Denby entitled Snark - It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation.

To be honest, I am not so sure it is worth paying real money for this book, but at least it was fun to leaf through at the bookstore. OTOH, for only $11 (for a hardcover!), it may be worthwhile merely for entertainment -- it's actually cheaper than buying a ticket in a movie theater here in New York City. If you are suspicious about its amusement value, let me give you just one example: it has an entire chapter on... Maureen Dowd (NY Times columnist.) Not to be missed!

From the book description on Amazon:

What is snark? You recognize it when you see it -- a tone of teasing, snide, undermining abuse, nasty and knowing, that is spreading like pinkeye through the media and threatening to take over how Americans converse with each other and what they can count on as true. Snark attempts to steal someone's mojo, erase her cool, annihilate her effectiveness.


In this highly entertaining essay, Denby traces the history of snark through the ages, starting with its invention as personal insult in the drinking clubs of ancient Athens, tracking its development all the way to the age of the Internet, where it has become the sole purpose and style of many media, political, and celebrity Web sites. Snark releases the anguish of the dispossessed, envious, and frightened; it flows when a dying class of the powerful struggles to keep the barbarians outside the gates, or, alternately, when those outsiders want to take over the halls of the powerful and expel the office-holders.

Disclaimer: I will (or at least should) receive a very modest commission if you buy this book after clicking on the Amazon link above.

Oh, and one other thing... I do not want to see even a single snarky comment on this blog post. Snarky comments will be deleted! Just kidding. Who in there right mind would be commenting on a post like this anyway!

-- Jack Krupansky

Test an Amazon book link

I suspect that my old Amazon book links may not be working properly, so I am testing a new one here.

I have no idea who the author, Robert Fulghum, is, or what the book Third Wish, is all about, but here is a link that will take the reader to Amazon to review the description for the book and possibly even purchase it, and maybe even provide me with a tiny commission:

The brief description of the book from Amazon is:

First published in the Czech Republic (where it quickly became a bestseller), Third Wish is a sweeping, lavishly plotted novel in five parts, bound together by a profound love story that spans the globe. It is at once a classic quest novel and a rich parable for our times, inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, Milan Kundera, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others. Presented in a boxed set as two richly illustrated paperback volumes with an accompanying CD musical soundtrack, this is a true one-of-a-kind novel.

Let me know if you try that link and it does not take you to the description of that book on Amazon.

Amazon book links have gotten somewhat more complicated over the years. Sure, they are more functional, but that is not necessarily a free lunch.

-- Jack Krupansky