Logo So my buddy Mike, who is a certifiable freak when it comes to SQL Server, finally did something he's been threatening to do for the last couple years. He launched a site with top quality videos (screencasts) showing how to use Microsoft SQL Server Database Software.

He's only got about an hour's worth of content so far (starting with a great series on SQL Server Backups), but what's there is better quality than anything I've seen elsewhere in the tech community.

Give it a whirl and see for yourself. This is one to keep an eye on.


orangebulb front

I should have bought my camera before I bought my new TV. I might have saved myself the latter expense.

Some attempts at photos that aren't completely lame

If you'd like to watch, stay tuned here.

Holiday Lights

The War on PBS

If you aren't watching this, you're seriously missing out. Start tonight.

Watch Dave Ramsey's 90-Minute Dumping Debt Presentation For Free

Dave Ramsey's constant self-promotion gags me, but the dude has some good ideas, this one chief among them.

Watch Dave Ramsey's 90-Minute Dumping Debt Presentation For Free

Home prices drop for fourth straight quarter

Link: Home prices drop for fourth straight quarter - Aug. 15, 2007.

Pockets of strength included Salt Lake City, where prices rose 21.9 percent, the most of any metro area, to $233,100. In the Pacific Northwest, Salem, Ore. prices rose 16.7 percent to $227,900, and Spokane, Wash. prices went up 10.4 percent to $197,700.

(Now, someone buy my house!)

Great advice for landing pages from Jakob Nielson (shocker!)

Fancy Formatting, Fancy Words = Looks Like a Promotion = Ignored

Retort to "Stuff"

My Mom's response to my "stuff" post:

From Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

If I seem to be over-interested in junk, it is because I am, and I have a lot of it too - half a garage full of bits and broken pieces. Recently I stopped my car in front of the display of a junk dealer near Sag Harbor. As I was  looking courteously  at the stock, it suddenly occured to me that I had more than he had. But it can be seen that I do have a genuine and mostly miserly interest in worthless objects. My excuse is that in this era of planned obsolescence, when a thing breaks down I can usually find something in my collection  to repair it... a toilet, or a motor, or a lawn mower. But I guess the truth is that I simply like junk.


Stuff by Paul Graham.

"Companies that sell stuff have spent huge sums training us to think stuff is still valuable.  But it would be closer to the truth to treat stuff as worthless."

This is so good. We've got fully half of our possessions in storage (readying for a move) and it's been there for almost 2 months. I haven't missed a single thing. I don't even know what's in there. Maybe I'll just haul it all to Goodwill instead into the new house.

Google changes how it digests robots.txt files

An improvement really.

It'll now properly read relative url designations. (e.g. /archives).

And there's a new directive
"sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml"

So you can tell Google where to find your sitemap. That's nice.

Also - news of a new meta tag where you can tell Googlebot to ignore a page after a certain date and time.

Link: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: New robots.txt feature and REP Meta Tags.

Cloudmark crashes Outlook around the world

Yesterday afternoon it looks like Cloudmark pushed a patch down that crashed scads of users on Outlook. However, because it crashed Outlook proper, unless you're clever, you'd never know it was Cloudmark's fault. Around the world calls were made to Microsoft, curse words were uttered, Outlook files were needlessly discarded, deleted, renamed. Un-installation and re-installations were made. Turns out that Cloudmark is the culprit.

I'm a huge fan of Cloudmark. Huge. But someone in QA needs to pack up their stuff and go home. This is a monstrous screw up.

To fix it (from the forum link above):

Uninstall Cloudmark

Rename the folder c:\documents and settings\yourusername\Local Settings\Application Data\Cloudmark


c:\documents and settings\yourusername\Local Settings\Application Data\Cloudmark.bad.

Reinstall Cloudmark

Learn How to Put a Flag on Your Credit File

Placing a fraud alert on your credit file with the main credit bureaus is a great way to protect yourself from identity theft. It makes it so anyone trying to open new credit in your name must call you at the number you provide to approve it. It's not perfect, but it's a great step in the right direction to protecting yourself.  Combine this with checking your credit report annually, shredding identifying documents, and common sense and you're on the right path. More here.

Additionally, outfits like this one will do all that for you and even guarantee your protection.

Carson gets a new computer (not that you really care).

For years I've advocated buying a Dell (slightly dated post) if you need a new computer. And I stand by that recommendation. They're cheap, and solid, and while far from perfect, they're as good as it gets for a PC. Their support for a while was so abysmal that I just about revoked my recommendation, but recently they've improved dramatically. I'd give then a C+ now instead of an F-.

And a Dell is like a Honda Accord. Solid, reliable, fast enough for what 98% of people do with their computers.

But I'm a bit of a freak, and I wanted a Ferarri. I spend roughly 10hrs/day in front of my computer, and still, lo these 34 years young, I'm a moderately serious gamer (lunch break!). And things have changed dramatically with hardware in the last few years. There's a whole insane high-performance DIY industry that has become mainstream. It's a very fun world for a nerdy boy like me.

Case So last Friday morning it started. Ready to buy a new machine, I swallowed my Mac envy and embarked on a quest to hand pick the very highest performing PC I could for the money. I researched mercilessly for 4 days. My poor wife (and clients). I was a man obsessed, researching every intricate detail down to the chipsets on stuff. Together with my bud Mike we researched and researched. Seriously, it was insane. And an absolute unrestrained blast. I can't think of the last time I've had that much fun. For some, seeing Tiger Woods play the best Tennis game of his career, or Joe Montana hit another home run would be the pinnacle of excitement. For me, this was it.

And on Friday, she'll arrive. A big box full of the wickedest parts imaginable. Next weekend, (hopefully with a bit more balance), I'll start putting everything together.

Here she is in all her garish exorbitant PC glory (as soon as the price drops a bit, I'll slap another 8800GTS 640 in SLI in there).

And for roughly $1,500. I priced out the same machine with some premium computer builders out there and they all come in north of twice that. So at this high end, it was cost effective too.

This is going to be the longest week of my life (and I pity the UPS package tracking web server).

If Outlook 2007 is a pig for you

This is supposed to help performance.

Super Juicy New Google AdWords Feature

Google is constantly innovating and improving their AdWords administration tools. Most enhancements are very nice to have - the one they added last week is extremely helpful.

As we know, part of Google's magic is providing relevant results. This extends to the advertising that appears on the search results pages (i.e. AdWords). They work very hard to reward relevant ads and penalize irrelevant ads so that only the most relevant show up for their visitors.

Guessing the right formula for appearing to Google like you have the most relevant ads can be tricky. The first (and most important) step of course is to choose relevant keywords, write relevant ads, and have a relevant site on the other end. 

But that's not always enough. And even when it does work you're often left with a nagging feeling that you're overpaying for clicks because you haven't convinced the Google algorithm that you're as relevant as you really are.

Additionally -- with increasing frequency, Google is cranking up the difficulty of getting a good Quality Score (Quality Score determines how much you pay for clicks and (indirectly) where you appear on the search results page).

So the trick becomes -- how do you read Google's mind about how relevant your keywords + ads are?

Well, they just gave us a huge help: They now reveal the Quality Score for each keyword.

Here's how it works:

First - you need to enable the reporting. It's not on by default, but you can easily turn it on.

  1. Go to an Ad Group page
  2. At the top look for this link:


  3. Click the link and select Show Quality Score



Once enabled, you'll see a new column added to your report. "Quality Score"
There are 3 Quality Score status possibilities.







As you can see from the screen capture examples here, Quality Score has a tremendous impact on your bid price.

Of course knowing what your Quality Score is is only part of the battle. However, with this new intel, tweaking your keywords, ads, and site to get that score up just got much easier.

p.s. remember, I'm available for hire if you need some specific help.