Archive for the 'Discoveries' Category

I just noticed something…

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Web Owls has a Google PageRank of 5.0! That’s pretty impressive…

A little too impressive, perhaps. Are others seeing the same thing?


eHow. An interesting community, that pays for content.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I’ve been playing around with for about a month now, and I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised and possibly, mildly addicted. They invite user-submitted content on “How to” topics. This can be pretty much any topic of your choosing (no matter how much of a stretch), as long as you can present it in Step 1, Step 2-style format.

It may come as a surprise to some to find out that there are sites out there…tons of them actually…that will pay you to post content. The usual model works like this: we’ll build a site, you fill it with content — writing, photos, video — and we’ll split the ad revenue.

That’s fine, in theory, but many such sites suffer from two key failings. One, they just don’t (yet) drive enough traffic to generate much views on your content, much less clicks on ads, and Two, they’re not particularly generous in their sharing arrangements.

eHow may well be the rare exception. They’re a long established site, and pretty visible in search results. And while they don’t provide details on how they split the take on ad revenue, I’m already making more per day from eHow than I do from my two personal websites that I’ve been working on for years now.

It’s hard to generalize eHow earnings. Some articles sit and do nothing…no views, no earnings. Others get lots of views, lots of earnings. And there’s a few oddballs with a ton of views, but zero revenue, and vice versa.

Overall, though, a typical article pulls in about two to four cents a day…let’s say three cents, for the sake of discussion. It takes me about a half hour of work to write and post an article to eHow. So, you say, why bother, just to get three pennies for a half hours work?

Once you post to eHow, that article is up there. Presumably, forever! Three cents a day become ten dollars a year, and $100 in ten years. Which is not bad for a half hour of work. Post a hundred articles, and the figure becomes $10,000 in ten years. A thousand articles and….you get the picture.

I’m up to 60 or 70 articles so far (and I’m not proud of all of them, but so far, I’m leaving them there).

Of course, there’s no knowing if the model will hold for ten years. Things may go bust for a variety of reasons. But then again, they may improve. I’ve already gotten much faster at posting new items, and I feel like I’m learning how to target good themes, match up with the ad language, and drive a bit of traffic to the articles.

The money part is intriguing, no doubt. There’s also quite a nice community over at eHow, who I’m coming to enjoy. For anyone looking for a place to spend some time, earn some spare change, and tell the world how to do things, eHow is probably the place for you.

Cheers, all.


May auld acquaintance

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone!

Here’s how they ushered in the new year of 1795, according to the Times of London.

London tims

Happy New Year

Vive la Bagatelle, indeed. A new year and a merry one, to one and all.


Times HeaderHappy New Year

Information please!

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

How could we obtain information in the days before the internet? Well, apart from the library there was always the telephone operator.

Officially, their role was to help customers make calls and find numbers, but they would often be willing to go beyond that.


Uclue Researcher sublime1 brought to my attention a delightful and touching story of a young boy who made use of this “Information service” in unconventional ways.

Sadly, the friendly and caring telephone operator seems to be an endangered species.

Free website, anyone?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

For about a year now, I’ve been making use of the free web-hosting service offered by Microsoft called Office Live Basic.

Most people have probably stopped reading already, as soon as they saw the name Microsoft. Truth be told, I can’t really blame you. Their free website tools, all ASP-based (don’t ask me what that means) are cumbersome, and definitely have a learning curve.

But, you can register a domain name for nothing flat, build a site pretty quickly using their template construction methods, and — in time — pick up enough tricks to make the site look and function reasonably well.

I’ve used Office Live Basic to build to build two sites which are both doing nicely in terms of steadily-increasing traffic. My latest is where I indulge a peculiar fascination I have with word and phrase origins. If you visit the site, you’ll see several features of the ASP-based sites, including:

  • Pages work okay when viewed in Internet Explorer, but there are some problems with Firefox and other browswers. I’m just beginning to work out how to fix these.
  • It’s possible (but not easy) to incorporate Adsense. Text ads work well, but image ads, for some reason, seem particularly non-relevant to the pages, and I’m eliminating their use bit by bit.
  • There are limits to page formatting options with the free service. For instance, there are only a handful of fonts available.

Anyway, just wanted to mention this, in case anyone feels like exploring a useful-but-not-perfect freebie for registering a domain name and quickly building a site.



Victor Hugo tells poet: “Keep your day job”

Monday, October 15th, 2007

A handwritten note from Victor Hugo was found in a French edition of his book “Hunchback of Notre Dame”. Uclue customer binder123 wondered what Victor Hugo was writing about, but the author’s scrawl was hard to make out, and he had used antiquated spellings and letterforms.

Researcher scriptor managed to decipher most of the text, and uncovered a touching letter written by Hugo to an aspiring poet who had sent a sample of his work and sought his advice. Hugo replied that the hopeful should not give up his day job, because “success sometimes avoids the talent and goes to the mediocrity”.

Here is scriptor’s English translation:

Hauteville house. – 3 November [1862]

I read your poem, Monsieur, you asked me for advice, I sense a noble heart in your ___ plea, I strive to answer you.

No, do not sacrifice your profession, do not hazard your peace; the priest lives on the altar, but the poet does not live on poetry.

That literature requires the literate, ___ without exception. Success is capricious. I add this: success sometimes avoids the talent and goes to the mediocrity; thus it is impossible to predict anything.

After having read a very beautiful poem, one must neither encourage nor discourage the poet.

That is my disposition, Monsieur.

Recieve my cordial sentiment of ___.

— Victor Hugo

It’s amazing (and fabulous) that something like this can come to the public eye for the first time, 145 years later. It’s a lovely insight into Victor Hugo the person.

For further details, see Victor Hugo Note Translation at Uclue. If you don’t know the poet and author Victor Hugo, see his entry at Wikipedia.

A paid Q&A service from 1997

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Long before Google existed, there was an answers service along the lines of Google Answers. From the April 1997 issue of Gigabyte GrapeVine Magazine:

You can ask them anything on any subject, and the odds are they will come up with the correct answer within 24 hours… but it will cost you., on the World Wide Web, is affectionately called the human-powered search engine by its CEO, Clem Izzi because unlike other search engines on the Web, employs a global network of human “answer advisors” that field questions 24 hours a day, and will typically come up with a correct answer within 24 hours. Along with the summary to your questions, their people will point out other sites that will have more info on your chosen topic or topics.

The amount you pay for your answer is directly related to the complexity of the question and the depth of research involved to provide the answer. A simple question such as … “What is the fastest airplane in the world?” … would cost about two dollars. If someone would ask for … “a list of all the components required to connect a local area network for 12 computers” … that would cost them close to $6. A question involving multiple computations or several avenues of research would cost somewhat more ie … “What is the amount of money spent each year in the automotive industry on the maintenance of their sales offices as compared to that of the home appliance industry”.

If you have the need for a fresh and original answer on any topic, and you think it’s worth a few bucks, you might want to point your browser to: []

Researcher laare-ga filled me in on what happened after that. was ahead of its time, and became unprofitable after the first dot-com bust. It sold for a small amount around the time that Google Answers began.

Clem Izzi then became a researcher at Google Answers, under the screen name of seedy-ga. He enjoyed his contributions to the service, where he is fondly remembered by many.

According to Rutgers Alumni Magazine’s Class of 62, Clem “retired as a business executive in 2000. Sadly, he developed a nasty medical condition that led to paraplegia. He’s worked hard to adjust, and uses a converted Dodge Grand Caravan and wheelchair for mobility. He has been back to NJ frequently and is an avid sports fan. He credits his dedicated wife and others for keeping him feisty and active”.

I understand that since then his condition has further deteriorated. We wish you well, seedy, and miss you. in its modern form launched in March of 2005 as a reference source with, according to Wikipedia, over four million entries collected from multiple sources.

1910 in glorious colour

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Our perception of the early 1900s may be prejudiced by the fact that we may have seen it only in black-and-white photos. We have a mental picture of a dark, dismal world of greys and blacks.

From 1909 to 1915, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii took photos through a triplet of tinted filters. The U.S. Library of Congress restored these photos and exhibited them in 2001, enabling us to see life from almost a hundred years ago as we had never seen it before.


Here were blue skies, where previously we’d only seen grey. Here were green hillsides dotted with bright flowers, where previously we’d only seen mottled grey. Here were shiny marble walls and golden sandstone buildings where previously we’d only seen light and dark grey.

The story behind these photos is summarised at, whilst the Prokudin-Gorskii photos are exhibited online at the Library of Congress.


A warning or a promise?

Friday, August 11th, 2006

Digshotep and his extended family will be returning along with the school year. Around the US Labor Day holiday.

My wine shop is doing well. The stinky emperor has gone back to Rome after winning all the Olympic Games and ‘wowed’ ’em in the theaters. ( I wish I could put some kind of symbol here to indicate a smirk – but smilies have not been invented yet )

But – Since I, Phillip Digsopter, am supposed to be the one writting the rest of these histories, both past ‘and’ future, I am going to have to do something about that :) – I’ll just borrow from the ‘future’ part ;p – – more fun than hieroglyphs ;]

There will be stories from here in Greece, and from contemporary locations elsewhere. There will also be flashbacks to earlier days in Egypt, which will help explain just how we got here.

We will be sending our own merchandizing agents to Babylon, India, China, the far off Philippines, and even someplace that will someday be called “The Americas,” to explore future markets for our good Egyptian wines and learn a bit about ancient lifestyles there.

Listen to me. I’m already writting of my contemporaries as though I lived a couple of thousand years in the future. “Ancient lifestyles,” indeed!

Might make an interesting mix of viewpoints though?

If you want to catch this story from the beginning again, you can do so here:

Or if you want to begin with Phillip Digsopter’s arrival in Athens, go here:

Or if you want to ignore it completely, you can go here

Till then

Phillip Digsopter

How many Google products do you use?

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Google has a raft of products and services available. How many of them do you use? or even know about?

Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped has put together a survey. For each service, click whether you use it hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, basically never, or you haven’t even heard of it. Then view the results.


It probably won’t surprise anyone to see that Google Answers is not at the top. But it’s ahead of Google Sets, a service that I really like and use occasionally.