Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spend Your Vote Wisely

Current elections in America allow new government to enact short or long term fiscal policies to fix the budget in a contracting economy.  Politicians are tempted to run budget deficits instead of surpluses because it allows them to cater to voters, either by cutting taxes without cutting spending or increasing spending without increasing taxes.  In 2002, France and Germany raised taxes and cut spending to lower their budget deficits which were in excess of 3% of GDP.  The debt to GDP ratio helps assess the ability of the government to pay it's debt.

Typically, American politicians don't believe government should be forced to run a balanced budget every year because it undermines the role of taxes and transfers as automatic stabilizers.  When tax revenue falls, transfers rise so when the economy contracts it helps limit the size of recessions.  However, falling tax and rising transfer payments push a budget toward a deficit.   In a balanced budget, government contractionary fiscal policy deepens recessions.

A problem with rising government debt is that it crowds out private investment spending, therefore increasing interest rates and deceasing the long run rate of growth.  Also the deficits today increase the governments debts putting a financial burden on the future budgets.  Interest payments on accumulated debt can be substantial.

When household credit card bills get out of control from the interest payments, it often results in bankruptcy.  When a government goes bankrupt it has the option to default on it's loans.  Countries that default have difficulty getting loans because of their poor track record with their financial responsibilities.  Argentina defaulted on their loans in 2001 causing a crisis in their banking system which led to a very deep recession.  Governments try to avoid default by cutting spending or raising taxes but both choices are politically unpopular.  Their currency has also been devalued by their economic difficulties.  Hopefully, American's politicians learn from other countries mistakes by choosing the long term economic solution for their country above their own career interests.


Deficit: the difference between the amount of money spent and the amount received in a year.  e.g. the US budget deficit in fiscal 2011 was $1,302,000,000

Debt: the sum of money owed at a particular point in time. e.g. US public debt at the end of fiscal 2011 was $15,158,000,000,000.



Krugman and Wells, (2008) Macroeconomics Second Edition, Worth Publishers. 

The US Debt Clock. http://www.usdebtclock.org

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/

US Department of the Treasury. https://www.pay.gov/paygov/homepage.html

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hide Your Email Addresses List

If you've ever sent an email to a group of people you probably wondered how to hide email addresses or lists.  Maybe you've been hit by a lot of spam and you may wonder which of your friends or services are distributing your email address.   Used correctly, Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) is the field used for email addresses which are hidden from other recipients.

To: This is where to leave the address field blank.

CC: Carbon Copy is where to leave the address field blank. Adding addresses here is the most common way your email gets shared.

BCC: Blind Carbon Copy is where you enter the individual email addresses or the list of your email addresses.

It is email etiquette to hide a friend's or client's email addresses when sending an email. Ignoring common courtesy can lead to devastating consequences for you or your lists.  Email addresses can be used for profit and for malice. They can be sold to data lists for direct mail marketing thus increasing spam in your email box and anyone else's email that was listed. Some of your friends or clients may be upset at you (quite rightly they will!). An email address can be used as a disguise for a spammer's redirected email address.

In conclusion, only the BCC hides email addresses so use other address fields appropriately.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

iAmErika Blog: The Deep Web

iAmErika Blog: The Deep Web: The Deep Web or Invisible Web are untapped resources that are not typically indexed by search engines. Elements of the invisible web are: ...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Evaluating the Credibility of Search Results

To assess web page credibility, look at the authority of the source, the objectivity of the text, the scope and quality of the content and the site's design and functionality.

Questions to ask when evaluating the credibility of web pages.

  • Is this a primary source document
  • Is the web page's sponsoring organization or author a noted authority? 
  • Are the web pages up-to-date? 
  • Is the page objective?
  • Is any bias clearly stated? 
  • What is the intended audience for this site?
  • How does the information on the Web page compare with others on the same topic? 
Design and Functionality
  • Does the page have a professional appearance?
  • Do all parts of the page work correctly?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Three Rules Of Work

“Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord make harmony
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Albert Einstein’s Three Rules Of Work

Friday, July 22, 2011

Exposing a Facebook Failure

The Facebook system is failing small businesses.

Facebook Policy
"Only the official representative of an organization, business, celebrity, or band is permitted to create a Facebook Page."
The Facebook system does not allow you to create new pages for large brands. For example, creating the following Company page for Coca-Cola returns this message ...

However, as a small business you can create multiple Facebook pages using the same brand name.

Although it is not supposed to be possible, Facebook does allow multiple pages of the same name within a given category.  The system also allows users to create a page with the same name in all categories.  As malicious users register pages to rank higher for social media keywords, the potential to become a big PR nightmare increases.   

There are more bugs in the Create a Page system, but this is the main issue I found with small businesses brand names.   In my opinion, this is a disaster waiting to happen with Facebook.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fluid vs. Fixed Layouts

There's no right or wrong choice.  Typically, if you have a site that uses a lot of Web 2.0 or contains short blocks of text then implement a fluid design.   If you have a site with a long blocks of text, like a blog site, then go toward a fixed width design.

Fixed designs define the width on the page, regardless of the browser window size.   A normal fixed layout has containers, images and other elements defined in pixel widths.  Some popular sites using fixed designs are Yahoo!, CNN and BBC News.

The advantage of fixed layouts is it gives the designer complete control over the design including the use of background images.  The faults of fixed design is that the design will look different depending on the user's platform.   Fixed layouts can create white space, or wasted space, for users with large screens and resolutions.  For users with smaller screens and resolutions the design will spill out of the window creating thus creating a bad user experience with the dreaded scroll bar.

#doc {
    margin:auto; /* center in window */
    width: 970px; /* fixed page width */

Fluid design allows the user to decide how the page looks based upon the size of their browser window and display settings.  The page fills up the entire available space.  Examples of fluid designs are Google, Wikipedia and Delicious.  A fluid layout has a container that fills 100% of the entire available space.  Within the layout widths of containers, images and other elements are defined in ems or percentages.

The advantage of using a fluid layout is the layout is adaptive and all the space on the page is used.  The disadvantage of using a fluid layout is it requires increased testing and not being able to use background images can limit the creativity of the website.

<div class="container" id="layout">
    <div class="container" id="column1"></div>
    <div class="container" id="MainColumn"></div>
    <div class="container" id="column2"></div>

#layout {
    padding-left:300px; /* "left col" width */
    padding-right:150px; /* "right col" width */

#column1 {
    margin-left:-300px; /* "left col" width */

#column2 {
    margin-right:-150px; /* "right col" width */

#MainColumn {

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Expression Online

Never get mad, but get even? Maybe you should think twice about that.   Do you really have a valid reason to hate someone? Knowing that to express these feelings online could destroy them publicly and privately?  Hate is a strong a feeling, especially when fuming on the internet occurs.  If you have the opportunity to act differently, like legally, then you should explore that option first.

How you would like to define yourself on the internet if faced with the choice- are you mean spirited or are you good natured? Recently an English plumber decided to take the choice to publicly humiliate and shame the person that hurt them.

"Plumber Ian Puddick has been cleared of internet harassment after tweeting and blogging details of his wife's affair.

He had tweeted, blogged and posted videos online after being enraged by his wife's 10-year relationship with company director Timothy Haynes."


What are the limits of free expression online? Apparently in England it's free as long as you express yourself truthfully. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

B2C Revenues

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

The B2C e-business model generates revenues from several sources.


Retail sales directly to consumers are often called e-tail or e-retail.  Many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and catalog merchants are combining websites to become brick-and-click businesses, or e-retailers.  These websites are generating leads (sales) and improving customer services.  For example, Best Buy (electronics), JCPenney (retail) and PETCO (pet supplies).

B2C starting with no existing brick-and-mortar store are called pure-play e-retailers. There has been mixed success for pure-play e-retailers, the most famous example is Amazon.

Niche markets, a smaller targeted market within a larger market, have succeeded by avoiding competition with larger e-businesses.

Advertising Revenues

Some B2C e-businesses offer free content - information, links, games, and so on, and generate revenues by selling advertising on their web sites.   Ads are usually linked to the advertisers web site, therefore clicking an ad is a process called a click-through. The effectiveness of a web site is often measured by the number of visitors who use it to click-through to the advertised web site.

Subscription Fees

Another way to make money is to charge subscription fees for premium content and services.  Premium services such as posting personal ads, job search, and online communities.  Yahoo! Premium, AngiesList and Match.com are examples of subscription content.

Non-profit organizations also follow the B2C subscription e-business model.  For example,  the Consumers Union is an independent consumer product testing organization that publishes the Consumer reports magazine at its' online version, Consumer Reports.org.

Social Media

Social Media includes social networking, social opinion, social tagging, micro blogging, etc and has had an impact on personal communication.  Businesses are exploring the benefits of social media, including the network effect, to promote business and specific industry, to sell products and services to their customers, or to generate revenues by selling advertising space.  For example, Facebook is selling advertising space, businesses solicit reviews of their sites by members at StumbleUpon and other social bookmarking or tagging sites in order to build traffic to their sites and Twitter is being used to broadcast a variety of Tweets, from specials to new offerings to CEO business status updates.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't Hate Twitter

Using social networking tools to get information quickly to the people is empowering government.   Microblogging also allows governments to interact directly with constituents.  This is why Twitter is currently one of the most effective social tools for instigating political change.

The United States government uses microblogging to achieve various goals.  They broadcast status updates about current events, distribute surveys to monitor public sentiment and provide information to promote active dialogue with constituents.   Some politicians keep their tweets similar to a press releases, like Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, whom tweets with statements like "Record Unemployment Claims Show Need for Action Now".  On the other hand, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a Democrat Other politicians keeps her tweets unfiltered.  Regardless of how information is presented, the ability to explain government decision making and improve communication is increasingly popular with politicians and the public.

The pace of Short Message Service (SMS) technology cannot be controlled or stopped.    This makes it a perfect platform for moving small amounts of information very quickly.   In China, Twitter is blocked by government, yet local and  government approved microblogging companies like Tencent and Sina Weibo are attracting new followers.  The Chinese government tries to regulate posts with censorship tools, like blocking related keywords or posts that could lead others to join in.  However, users are continually finding ways to evade them as well, from using roman letters to spell Chinese words out phonetically, or substituting sensitive characters for similar-sounding innocuous characters.  Microblogging is proving difficult to control and thus effective in getting messages to recipients.

Cyber freedom fighters of North Africa and the Middle East are using microblogging to change political dictatorships.   Recently, the US government released Arab and Farsi-language tweets during the political unrest in Egypt.   Egyptians were able to successfully oust Husni Mubarak after using microblogging to create a democratic protest in Tahrir Square.  The White House has seen this as a opportunity to spread the word of freedom to the people of political rivalries. 

Nowadays, microblogs play a key role in dissolving social discontent, interacting with constituents on current issues and governing smarter.  In my opinion, microblogs will greatly promote good governance.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kid Friendly Searches

Objectionable content like offensive language, sexually explicit or violent material, gambling, or hate propaganda can be avoided by allowing children to only use kid-friendly searches.   Results from searches are filtered by bots and some sites retain an editorial staff that reviews the content from each site.

Children's Search Engines:

Ask Kids
Google SafeSearch for Kids
Yahoo! Kids
CyberSleuth Kids
Awesome Library
Fact Monster

Online Safety for Kids:

FBI: A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety
National Crime Prevention Council
FEMA for Kids
FTC: Kidz Privacy

Search Tools

Web search tools help users find information, including web pages, businesses people, multimedia files, document databases, and more. These tools can be broadly classified into directories, search engines, and metasearch engines.


Google Directory
Yahoo! Directory
DMOZ Open Directory Project

A human compiled hierarchical list of web pages organized by categories. One of the first directories, Jerry's Guide (created by Jerry Yang and David Filo) became the original Yahoo Directory. The process of drilling down into subcategories can assist in logical organization of the subject matter. However, using human editors is a weakness because the review process is lengthy and biased. Breadcrumb trails are common links between subcategories, categories and the home page.

Most directories have strategic partnerships with search engines to enable users to search the directory index by keywords.  For example, Google directory combines Google search with the DMOZ directory pages.

Search Engines 

Yahoo! Search
AOL Search

Search engines include general-purpose search engines such as Google, Ask.com and Bing and others such as AltaVista, Gigablast and Cuil.  Additionally, speciality search engines such as BizRate (shopping), Technorati (blogs) and Fact Monster (kid friendly searches).  Some search engines contain Web page indexes of other search engines. For example AOL Search results are "enhanced" by Google.  AltaVista is owned by Yahoo! which provides it's indexes.

Search engines use a spider/ bot (robot) or Web crawler to browse the web and add information to their index.  Yahoo! Slurp, Googlebot, and MSNbot (Bing) are examples of Web crawlers.

The search engines scan for information like the following to create their indexes:
  • Page title - the title on the top of the browser bar
  • URL - specifically the domain name 
  • Meta tag keywords - descriptive keywords coded into the web page's HTML that is readable by the web crawler but invisible to the reader
  • Occurrence of keywords - the frequency of use and where words appear on the page
  • Full text searching - all the words on a page
  • Internal links within the page to the other pages oat the site, for example a site map
  • Number and relevancy of other pages that link to a page
The web page information is stored in a database on a server creating an index.   Web crawlers continuously crawl the web for new and updated information.

Search engines try to present the most relevant and useful results at the top of their indexes to attract more users.  On most search engines, advertisers pay for their ads to appear for relevant keywords.  The ads are usually labeled and on the right side of the web page.

Metasearch Engines


When a user submits a query into a metasearch engine's text box, the metasearch engine submits the search query to a number of search engines at one time and then compiles the results from all of them into a single list. A good metasearch result will have no duplicate entries, categorize the hits based on topic, order the hits by relevance, and indicate which search engines provided the results . Some metaserch engines mix paid and sponsored hits together in the same search results list; therefore, the source must be carefully reviewed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Deep Web

The Deep Web or Invisible Web are untapped resources that are not typically indexed by search engines. Elements of the invisible web are:
  • unindexed pages
  • electronic books
  • product catalogs
  • library catalogs
  • online newsletters
  • government records and 
  • other databases

Typically information must be accessed directly from a specialized search engine within the resource. 

Crawling and indexing are processes which can take some time and which rely on many factors. In general, we cannot make predictions or guarantees about when or if your URLs will be crawled or indexed.

Google Webmaster Central. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=559f12c1e8e243cf&hl=en (Nov 11, 2011)

Citing Web Sources

Citing a Paper

In research papers, quoting another's writing or ideas is acceptable as long as certain rules are followed. The quotation must be set apart, either with quotation marks (short quotes) or by indentation (long quotes).  Additionally, you must cite  the author and source of the quote.   Using a few lines or more of a person's writing or not crediting the source is plagiarism and is wrong.

According to the strictest rules, it's me is wrong. (Turn the sentence around.  You would never say "me am it" or "her is it." You would say "I am it" and "she is it."  However, it's me is so commonly used that it is gaining acceptance as an idiom....In informal speech or writing, it's okay, but in formal writing or public speaking, use it's I

Elliott, Rebecca (2006).  Painless Grammar. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., p.21 

Citing Internet Sources

For Internet sources, the same quotation and citation rules apply.   In citing web references, use a DOI and in lieu cite the URL.  The only exception is if you use information based on common knowledge or facts that are in numerous sources.

Using a URL
The 10 largest occupations accounted for more than 20 percent of total employment in May 2010. In addition to retail salespersons and cashiers, the largest occupations included general office clerks; combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; registered nurses; and waiters and waitresses.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ocwage.nr0.htm (May17, 2011)

Using a DOI

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a permanent digital identifier given to an object.  Its most common application is identifying electronic documents. 

The International DOI Foundatin (IDF) defines DOI name as "a digital identifier of any object of intellectual property."

DOI used as a link in an HTML page would be:
  • <A HREF="http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/rwei.1999%22.0001">10.1006/rwei.1999%22.0001</A>
DOI for an article from JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association:
  • 10.1001/PUBS.JAMA(278)3,JOC7055-ABSY:


Internet Public Library: Citing Electronic Information, IPL2
APA Style.org
The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Purdue: Works Cited: Electronic Sources (MLA style)
Ohio State: Cite Resources: Council of Science Editors (CSE style)
ONLINE! Citation Styles
Handle System

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Semantic Networks

A  knowledge representation technique that focuses on the relationships between objects. A directed graph (below) is used to represent a semantic network or the net. The nodes of the graph represent the objects, and the arrows between nodes represent relationships. The arrows are labeled to indicate the types of relationships that exist.

Semantic Web = Linked Data

The Semantec web formed of data, like service reviews and type of relationships between people.  Web developers help add structure to social data by using rich snippets in web pages to support markup formats called microformats and RDFa.  

Microformats categorize elements with the rel and class attributes. Some popular microformats:
  • hCard
  • contact data
  • hCalendar
  • calendars or individual events
  • XFN
  • personal relations
  • rel-license
  • hAtom
  • news feed
  • geo
  • latitude/longitude
<p class=geo>The Hot Spot at
 <span class=latitude>56.216718</span>
 <span class=longitude>29.305995</span></p>


RDFa syntax:
  • noun isa noun
  • noun verb
  • noun verb object
  • noun’s noun verb object

Example without RDFa:
My name is Erika and I am the original iAmErika. Here is my home page:
<a href="http://www.iamerika.com">www.iamerika.com</a>.
I live in San Diego, CA and work as a Web Developer and Online Marketing Strategist at iAmErika.com.

Example with RDFa:
<div xmlns:v="http://rdf.iamerika.com/#" typeof="v:Person">
  My name is <span property="v:name">Erika</span>,
  and I am the original <span property="v:nickname"> iAmErika </span>.
  Here is my homepage:
  <a href="http://www.iamerika.com" rel="v:url">www.iamerika.com</a>.
  I live in San Diego, CA and work as a  <span property="v:title">Web Developer and Online Marketing Strategist</span> at
  at <span property="v:affiliation">iAmErika.com</span>.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dreamer's Inspiration

Never underestimate the power of vision seen through the eyes of your soul.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taxonomy vs. Folksonomy

Taxonomy is a consistent way of classifying and describing content and information that allows people to think about information in the same way. This type of system ensures that content is stored and managed in a manner that is consistent with that type of content. 

On the other hand, folksonomies have no classification restrictions.  They are user generated tags which provide meaning to the users.  The sharing of knowledge is greater since tagging generates communication.  The easier to understand tags also assist search and retrieval of information.

MSN Forced Logins

Your MSN account may be compromised if MSN continuously logs you out and forces you to log back in.  If you notice a pop up that announces your login to your account this is proof that someone is accessing your account.  Immediately change your password for your account and determine what information has been compromised.  If there is an issue, report identity theft to your local law enforcement, your email host, credit reporting agencies and file a Complaint and Affidavit form with the FTC.

Deter, Detect and Defend guidelines can be found at OnGuard Online

HiJacked Listings; Problem and Solution

Your Google Places has been hijacked when search engine results give your competitors phone number or website address under your Google Places listing.

In Google Places set up a new profile using a new business name, claim the physical address and verify it by Phone.   Verification ensures that the listing is correct therefore merging the two business listings.  Sit back and relax while you enjoy free phone leads from your competitors listing. 

To reclaim your hijacked listing just go into your Google Places and delete the Listing with your merged address.  This does mean you are going to lose your reviews for that listing, but it's insignificant compared to how many leads you are currently losing.  Don't worry if you are a great business because your clients will continue to sing your praises!  It may take a couple weeks before the system is reset with your listing.   I advise you do not report the problem to Google because your account can be suspended or inadvertently given to your competitor.

Top Tips: 
    1.    Review your Local Listings frequently
    2.    Follow the Google Guidelines
    3.    Use one primary Local Listing per Service type and localize using Service Areas.

Google Places Policies - Quality guidelines

Google Merged Listings - Quality guidelines

Google Known Issues

An example of a common hijacking problem