Archive for August, 2007

Two Upcoming eCommerce Platforms Worth Watching: Magento & StoreSuite

eCommerce logosThere are two upcoming eCommerce platforms that I’ve been closely watching development of, and you should be too. Their names are Magento and StoreSuite Shopping Cart Software. Both are currently in development, and not available for download yet. There is a major difference between the two, Magento is a free open-source solution while StoreSuite will have to be purchased. There are obviously pros and cons to each option, some of those being the following:

  • Open source allows it to be further enhanced by the community
  • Open source is free
  • A paid solution comes with personalized technical support, therefore more likely being a more stable solution

Both solutions look very promising as possible options to replace my open source osCommerce solution that I’m running on ActiveTuning. Both StoreSuite and Magento have blogs where you can actively track the latest updates, screencasts, sneak peeks, and news. You can even post your feedback to help point the development in the right direction:

User feedback and company experience has been critical to the development of both applications! Magento has been in development since April, and StoreSuite since July. Since Magento has been in the works for a while longer, there is normally a ton of comments on each blog post they make with opinions, suggestions, feedback, and more. Magento is built by a company named Varien, which is a web development/design firm based out of Los Angeles. The benefit of this is they have a ton of experience in development, a team of good people, and they are also designers. This is great because it seems like other platforms are built be people that only develop, but can’t design. StoreSuite also has a strong background. It is built by a software development firm by the name of Interspire based out of Australia. They’ve built a few different successful online applications and sold millions of dollars worth of them.

I’m not sure yet when we can expect StoreSuite, but Magento will be releasing a beta 1 (preview) any day now (promised by August 31st). Since neither have a version yet for download, I have to base my opinions on what is posted on their sites and blogs.

From initial opinion, StoreSuite looks to be a great install and use right out of the box solution. Mitch created a real-time drag and drop “design mode” which allows you to make all of your design changes through the actual site interface. The best way to explain this is to have you watch the screencast. This is great for people that don’t want to get down and dirty in code just to make simple design changes. StoreSuite also promises a lot of features which help cross-promote markets and generate more sales, such as a smart list of recommended products in a customers shopping cart.

Screenshot of Interspire

Magento is the eCommerce platform I’m the most excited about to be honest. It looks to be a very very powerful solution with a great team backing it. There are a plethora of features, with a roadmap that gets better and better all the way through Q1 2008. Varien is ensuring to build this with all around goodness, from a powerful backend powered by Zend, to a slick design/easy to use interface, to the highest SEO optimizations and standards. There are so many details that they looked at and are offering solutions for, that you really need to go to their blog and read through all of the posts and feedback to get the best idea of what you can expect. One of the cool features I like is the ability to have a category be a landing page, where you can make it anything you want. This essentially allows you to break out of the eCommerce platform and build the look and feel how you want it.

Screenshot of Magento

As I mentioned before, we can expect to see a Magento preview any day now…which I will then make another post with my comments and opinions. I’ll be installing a copy of StoreSuite when it comes out as well, so look for further opinions in the near future. In the meantime, check out the websites for both companies, read their blogs, subscribe to their RSS feeds, and let me know your opinions!

My Dodge Viper Is Up For Sale!

The summer is coming to an end, and now I must sell my Dodge Viper. The money I used to purchase the car is money that I’m saving for a house downpayment, but I knew I would not be ready to buy anytime this summer. I decided to buy a 1st generation Dodge Viper because it was a dream car of mine to have, and because the car is so rare they really do not depreciate anymore. It’s one of the best investments in car you can buy! Many people don’t realize, but they are fairly affordable as well. Now is your chance to get the the Viper that took me months to find exactly what I was looking for.

Dodge Viper

So on to some specs so you know what you could be getting:

  • 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 Convertible with 400hp
  • Just over 16,000 original miles. I purchased it with a little under 15,000 miles, so I have only put on less than 2,000 miles since I got it…and most of that is from two trips to Ocean City, MD
  • The tires have about 40-50% tread left on the rears, and the fronts have a good amount left. They are not the original tires, so they are ok to use (You don’t want to drive around on 13 year old tires!)
  • The wheels are all pristine, no curb rash or anything
  • Brake pads look good
  • The car has the A/C option, but I think it just needs to be recharged (should be real cheap)
  • Original paint with no accidents, clean title, etc
  • The paint looks absolutely awesome considering it’s from 1994! There is only one tiny chip in the hood. There are some scrapes under the front bumper, but as you can tell in the above pic, they are mostly under the car, and very common on Vipers due to it being so low. You have to be extremely careful going over speed bumps
  • The car has always been garage kept under a car cover, freshly waxed
  • The interior looks good, the glove box has the common wear due to the soft dash that Dodge put in the 1st generation Vipers. There are also two scratches above the center gauges, again due to the soft dash material
  • The seats look great and really aren’t worn at all
  • A short shifter is installed as well as a Simpson 5-point harness on the drivers side. Everything else on the car is factory
  • I just installed a brand new battery just a few weeks ago
  • I have an aftermarket Autoform dubble bubble hard top with glass windows. This costs almost $4,000 new! I’m offering it for $1,750 over the asking price of the car, otherwise it will not be included
  • A door popper was installed in the inner drivers side fender in order to open the door when the windows/hardtop is on the car
  • Included are all the factory removable windows, soft top, rear glass window, and bra

I’m asking $34,500 OBO for the car, and $36,250 OBO with the hard top/glass windows. I had it listed at the beginning of the summer for close to $40,000, so I’m drastically coming down on the price in order to sell it quickly.

If you or anybody you know is interested, please have them get in touch with me. I can provide full pictures upon request and answer any questions. Here’s a couple other pictures. You can find more pictures in a higher resolution here.

Dodge Viper engine

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper


Drive a truck? Trick it out with the hottest truck accessories like nerf bars and tonneau covers. Make it into the best truck you can and read some truck information.

What Is Up With Text Link Ads Not Updating My Posts?

I am running Text Link Ads on this blog in order to earn a little more income. That’s what the “Featured Links” section is on the sidebar, as well as one sold out post right now. My problem is that TLA maintains a list under my account of sellable posts on my blog in order for me to make more money. I guess those pages come up in searches for publishers, or however that works. The problem is back when my account was setup in June (3-4 months ago) they made a list of posts. I have been posting content almost every single weekday, and there has been a great amount of good content that has gone up on here since I originally started with TLA.

When I login to my TLA account, I see a list of 38 posts. ? My blog now has over 160 posts. My thought is that offer more inventory, increase the chances of selling a campaign, make more money, right?? So I contacted TLA multiple times now letting them know that I don’t think their system is working correctly. I keep getting e-mails back from them saying there is nothing wrong with the system, the posts should update automatically. They say that not all posts are approved, it has to be good caliber content. Now I know for sure based on the 38 posts in my inventory, that there is definitely some good caliber content in the 120+ other posts that aren’t on the list…but it has no chance of being sold, and it doesn’t look like TLA wants to do anything about it.

When was the last time your TLA posts have been updated?? Is it just me having this problem?? To check, login to your account, click “edit listings”, then click “manage posts”. You’ll then see a list of posts that are sold in TLA inventory.

Let me know what you find, help me figure out if this is really how long it takes for an update in posts, or if there is something wrong with TLA’s system here. It’s been bugging me for months now.

Wow, Nobody On This Keyword? Can You Say Opportunity?

I’m looking for somebody to do some custom coding to integrate a couple basic features into WordPress for my new design. After stumbling with a couple word-of-mouth options, I looked to Google. My obvious first search was “custom wordpress coding“. The only sponsored link here is from eLance! I can’t believe there is nobody else that has sponsored links on this keyword! I’d say that a plethora of new business can be made if it is wanted.

Update: Even “wordpress development” doesn’t have much in it. Sounds like it’s time for a development/design firm to step in and own this niche.

SEO Intern Wanted – Here’s Your Chance

I noticed that QuadsZilla from SEO Black Hat is looking for an unpaid intern. Expect to work 25 hours a week, put up with all his crap, and do mostly boring work, all while making nothing. Sounds great, right?? Keep reading:

However, you will get hands on experience and training on how to:

  • run extremely profitable web businesses
  • build sites from scratch to profitability
  • grow web communities
  • network and develop a digital rolodex of successful web entrepreneurs

Most Good SEOs are taking home more than $350k per year and doing it on their own terms. Look at me ?? I basically work when I want, where I want, and with whom I want.

All you gotta do is convince QuadsZilla why you should get the job. Good luck!

Ravens Redskins Game This Past Weekend

I got a call Saturday afternoon that a friend had an extra ticket to the Baltimore Ravens/Washington Redskins pre-season game this past week. I went to college close to Baltimore, so I’m a Ravens fan, but I also live near DC now, so I’m a Redskins fan by the locality rule….This game I had to go to! The game wasn’t until 8:00pm, but after driving around for 45 minutes try to find somebody scalping parking passes, we got there at 5:00 to do some tailgating. Our group of people had a nice mix of Ravens and Redskins fans.

Washington Redskins stadium

I stopped at Modell’s before the game to pick up a Jersey. I went in planning to get a Ravens jersey, but they were all sold out, so I picked up a Skins one instead. By default, I was a Redskins fan for the night lol.

Me tailgating at the Redskins game

Here’s the whole crew ready for some Football!

All of us at the Redskins game

You can see in the background of the above picture that the sky isn’t looking that great, take a look at this. Here’s a picture of the sky on the right side of stadium:

Lighter sky

Now this picture was taken at the same time, but on the left side of the stadium:

Darker sky

Least to say, a pretty wild thunderstorm starting brewing right before kickoff was about to happen. They wouldn’t let anybody in the stands until it passed by, so it was about 30-45 minutes after the scheduled kickoff time that the game actually started. Speaking of kickoff, here it was:

Kickoff

At halftime the score was 7-6 Ravens, but I started to feel really sick. I decided to go back to the car and lay down. After about 10 minutes of that it started thunderstorming big time again, and a few minutes later everybody was back at the car. It turned out that the game got canceled, the final score was 13-7 Redskins.

Finally Hit 100 RSS Subscribers

I finally hit 100 RSS subscribers without anything out of the ordinary happening (ex: getting Dugg). I have been over 100 before, but that was after a spike of traffic, and the RSS numbers came back down. This month the number of RSS subscribers have been teasing the 100 mark by staying in the 90′s, but finally today it hit 100. Here’s this months subscribers:

RSS August subscribers

Check out how the number of subscribers have been since I started blogging:

RSS All-Time subscribers

We can see that there was a lot of growth in the beginning, and it has been growing over the past months, just slower. The important thing though is that it is in fact growing, and it goes to show you that if you keep at it, your numbers will keep going up.

If you haven’t subscribed to my RSS feed yet, you can do so here.

A History Of Advertising On Internet Video and Where It Is Going

Everybody knows that video advertising is going to be the next big thing. Google can’t spend $1.65 billion dollars and not expect any sort of kickback. I’m going to take a look at where advertising on video started, and show you where it’s heading.

At first we saw standard 15 and 30 second spots…basically TV commercials ported over to the internet. On top of that, sites like AOL include a synced banner that expands while the preroll is playing:

Example of video ad with synced banner on AOL

The problem with that is the upbringing of YouTube. Users were watching a bunch of video clips, and many of them were short. As a user, I don’t want to watch a 30 second ad just to watch a 25 second video clip on every other video play. How do you solve that problem? Make the pre-roll 10 seconds or under!

This was a better solution, but there is still a problem. According to Shiva Rajaraman, a project manager at YouTube, internal tests showed that 70 percent of users closed the video when they saw any sort of pre-roll. That’s a major concern.

Now comes another format into the mainstream, the overlay. The overlay is a lot like what you’ll see on TV. Say you’re watching Seinfeld on TBS, you may see a mini Bill Engval come accross your screen to promote his new show. I’ve even seen this on TBS where they will pause the actual show while the mini Bill comes to the bottom of the screen and starts talking for a few seconds.

The overlay ad works on the same concept. Show an ad over a small percentage of the bottom of the video. When a user clicks the ad another video displays in the same player, overlaying the original. Genius! The user doesn’t lose any time watching the video, and the site can still make money with effective advertising. On top of that, if you click as a user, the advertisers video does not have to be set to play only 10-30 seconds. For example an ad for a movie trailer can display, a user will click, and can then watch the full 2-minute trailer if desired. At any point in time the user can close the ad, and it will go back to their video which was automatically paused. Double genius! YouTube’s internal studies showed that only 10% of users closed the overlay ad. Here’s an example of the format from the VideoEgg Ad Network:

Also notice that the advertisers video also plays at the end of the video automatically, and clicking the menu button will also display the advertisers message.

While this new format is majorly hyped right now because YouTube will be offering it soon, VideoEgg is a little bitter because they say they invented the format about a year ago. TechCrunch has a great story on this. They also have a great followup story based on feedback they received from other companies that they too had overlay video ads over a year ago. You’ve gotta love internet drama…even going as far as VideoEgg’s homepage having this image:

VideoEgg message to YouTube

YouTube will be offering the video overlay ads at a $20 CPM ($20 per 1,000 viewers, regardless of clicks or actions). On top of that…one of the coolest parts about it is that they will be offering a revenue split with the video creators. There are no details of how much it will be or how it will work, but obviously there are many concerns such as making sure somebody is the video owner, copyright, etc. It will be interesting to see how Google/YouTube positions themselves on this.

I’ve also seen a couple other video overlay formats, one being PreRollr that I had tested on Video Experiment. I had found the ads to be very annoying to users in two ways:

  1. On a blog like VE where you show a bunch of videos, a user would have to close the ad on every video they wanted to watch.
  2. Since the ad is overlayed on the video from the get go, it’s hard for a user to differentiate between an ad and a video. The overlay method that VideoEgg does is much better because the ad comes in after playing the video for a few seconds, and goes away on its own after 10 seconds.

This is what PreRollr would look like on a video:

PreRollr example

They must have realized there were issues because going to their homepage now shows this message:

Revlayer’s down for the moment due to new developments we’re adding to our ad serving technology. We’ll be back up soon!

One competition (or should I say a parallel format) with the overlay format is contextual overlay. It’s offered by a few different companies, and I’ve seen it implemented on MetaCafe before. Contextual overlay is like a mix of Google AdSense with video overlay ads. They are ads that appear in relevant websites and videos to offer a more targeted solution for advertisers. Here’s an example of this from AdBrite’s InVideo solution:

Know of any other cool technologies? Post your comments and let me know.

Completely Revamping The Blog Design…That Was Already Revamped

Back in May I made the decision to undergo a custom design for this blog. I even went about pretty much doing the entire design and getting it to a coder. I had some communication issues with the company/person I had hired to do the coding and WordPress integration, but I sure am glad that nothing came out of that. While I liked the design I had done, I have been working on a couple new websites for Tri Megatech clients (more on that in upcoming posts as those come along), and have been more inspired to do something even better. My inspirations come mainly from some magazines and other prominent blogs out there, and I can’t wait to show you guys what I have in mind….I think it’s going to look amazing.

At this point I have two main concerns:

1) It’s not going to be your standard blog layout, but I still want everything integrated through WordPress. What I have in mind is probably pretty easy to do, but not something that I want to do :)

2) My other concern is who I will get to help me do the coding and WordPress integration. While I’m sure I can do it on my own, I don’t like to. It takes me much too long, and I hate dealing with all of the inter-browser compatibility issues. I also want to ensure that everything is coded with the best SEO standards in place. I’d still love to work with the original guys I was working with (you know who you are, contact me and let me know what’s up!!), but if that cannot happen, I need to look at other alternatives. If you know of anybody that may be capable of this, let me know…Keep in mind, all of the design is being done by me.

Stay tuned, I’ll be providing sneak peaks as I continue to find some time to design in-between all the other stuff going on!? In the meantime, check out the new redesign at ProBlogger, and John Chow will be launching his new design tomorrow or tonight (at the time of writing this).

New Wheels On The G35 Are On!

Last week I told you guys that I got new 19″ Volk SF Challenge wheels for my daily driver, a 2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe. The wheels were supposed to arrive on Friday, which would have been perfect as I would have the weekend to put them on and also make sure I had time to learn how to change front brake pads since I had never done that before. DHL dropped the ball, and weren’t able to get them in on Friday. After speaking with them on the phone they were going try and do a Saturday delivery…unfortunately that did not happen either.

Today I tracked the packages, and saw they were delivered to the house. I decided to work remotely from home for my day job because I didn’t want $3,500 worth of wheels and tires just sitting outside of my house.

I got home and during whatever free time I had from working I worked on swapping the wheels. I also took on changing the front brake pads. A quick call to my good friend Alex for a fast explanation of what to do, and him assuring that it was pretty easy, and I was ready to go. It turned out to be really easy (a lot better than the 50 hours it took 3 of us to install a twin turbo on my old 350Z!) , and once the wheels were off the car the new pads were in within 10-15 minutes.

Now my car will pass state inspection, which I’ll do tomorrow so I can get rid of the rejection sticker on my windshield! The new wheels look great (would be even better if I lowered the car slightly), what do you think?

19?? Volk SF Challenge wheels on my G35 coupe

19?? Volk SF Challenge wheels on my G35 coupe


If you like truck mods, look at the newest truck accessories to hit the market. Nerf bars are the latest craze in truck accessories and chrome accessories always look great on Dodge trucks!