Archive for the ‘Internet & Technology’ Category

June 22, 2018

No Partner Requests

Guys, things are getting a little ridiculous. Today I received a request to pitch a fashion line on my blog. I think I have been pretty candid in the past about my wardrobe basically consisting of free conference t-shirts, and wearing maternity pants with the legs rolled up rather than bothering to hem them. I will be the first to admit I have no fashion sense, nor any meaningful blog readership to speak of. Even a cursory glance at my blog should have revealed this ad would have had terrible ROI (Return on Investment.)

Unless…. Unless the advertiser was less interested in using my blog as an advertising medium and more interested in me as a customer. I’ve had a theory about advertisers who pitch on small to medium blogs.

Often social media product pitches include free merchandise without, or with very little, monetary compensation in exchange for a “candid” reviews from “influences”. Psychology tells us that it isn’t truly candid, though, even if the advertiser doesn’t dictate any of the terms of the review. In fact, it may be more advantageous to the advertiser to dictate as little about the review as possible.

Cognitive dissonance, the mental discomfort that occurs when one has two different points of view, works in the advertiser’s favor. When we agree to review a product we’re agreeing to spend mental effort. Subconsciously we want that mental effort to pay off. We want to like the the product. Not only are we less likely to be critical, but since this is happening on a subconscious level we’re less likely to even be aware we’re not being critical. Additionally, advertisers often include a list of positive product features in their pitch, which can prime our opinions prior to even receiving the product. Cognitive dissonance won’t make you love a product you’d otherwise loath, but it can tip the scale in the advertiser’s favor. For little more than a free sample, you may have created a customer – out of the blogger him/herself!

Had I agreed to the “partnership” and liked the free sample, I may have decided to fill out the rest of my missing wardrobe.

To be fair, I doubt the advertiser knew this when I was sent the request. I don’t think I was being targeted because of how badly I need new clothes. The request was generic, only including easily scrap-able pieces of information like my name and blog title. It was the email equivalent of a cold call.

I’ve been getting more and more cold calls lately. I used to respond, but I’m oversubscribed and something’s gotta give. I’m adopting a similar email policy to my comment policy: if I can’t tell if you’re human, I’m ignoring you.

(And for the record, no, I’m not open to any advertising partnerships on my blog.)

April 17, 2018

Embrassing Technology

You can’t build a cancer simulator in high school if you’ve not comfortable with a computer keyboard. That’s always been Domingo and my philosophy when it comes to technology. Technology is a tool that you need practice with in order to master. But up until recently, I haven’t really been putting my money where my mouth is.

A few weeks ago Nicole asked us if we had a 3D printer. They had a guest visit to their kindergarten class who gave a presentation on animal conservation. He recounted the story of helping a bald eagle with a broken beak by 3D printing a new one. If it was possible to print beaks, she thought, maybe we could also print toys.

My little maker in the making.

We spent the weekend designing “Nicole Coins” since she’s been really into counting lately. She wanted to print a 100, but at $5 a pop we decided to go with 4.

She’s not the only one making connections when it comes to technology. Alexis figured out before I did that my new camera’s LCD screen is a touch screen. In fact, I had no idea until I saw her scrolling through the photos with a finger swipe. I use my camera nearly daily. She has never once taken a picture, and only looked at the images a handful of times. Yet she had thought to try something I hadn’t, and as a result figured out functionality I never knew existed.

I love that they’re becoming familiar with how these things work enough to make connections and inferences.

Despite our philosophy the kids’ exposure our kids have had to technology, and not just screen time, has been somewhat unintentionally limited. We occasionally use my phone to experiment with face masks and augmented reality, and had a weekly skype date with my parents. We have echos scattered about the house to play music and work as an intercom system. That’s been the extent of it.

This weekend Domingo and I got the kids each their own tablets. We preloaded them with logic games and site word lists, as well as a few episodes of their favorite TV shows. Part of me thinks we must be crazy, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that some local elementary schools have the kids do homework on ipads. I want the girls to be familiar with the tool when the time comes!

October 16, 2017

Deciding to Sell

Lately I’ve been thinking about what’s all on my plate workwise. My to do list has gotten so long I’ve forgotten what some of the items are. (Seriously, what was I thinking when I wrote down “improve text for mobile”?) Even in the best of situations, it’s exceedingly unlikely that I will find the time to see all my projects to fruition, and that’s before the arrival of the new addition.

It may be time to start considering letting go of some of the projects I’ve been kicking around.

I have roughly twenty domain names registered to my name. Roughly half are personal in nature, the rest are for germinating business ideas, some from as far back as my college days. I’ve been paying the nominal fee of the domain registration each year to help keep the possibility alive that those projects will one day see the light of day.

As much as I’d love to give each one the attention it deserves, I know the odds are very low. At the same time, I remember how hard it was coming up with the name I spent months agonizing over the name options. There was no doubt in my mind that a lack of a strong domain name was holding me back. I don’t want to be someone else’s hurdle. I especially don’t want to be paying $15 a year to be said hurdle.

With that in mind, I decided to put some of my domain names for sale. These are the names I am still using, or could see myself using some time in the future (if time was no option.) I’m also experimenting with selling them through namecheaps’ marketplace, so if I have registered a domain you want, and you don’t want to negotiate directly with me, you can wait for it to appear there.

Given that one of my reasons for doing this is lack of time, you’re probably better off contacting me than waiting. I’d like to get back at least the registration fee for all the years I’ve owned them. Each year of history helps a domain rank better, so there’s value there from a buyer’s prospective. Beyond that, it depends on the domain. I assure you, I’m not looking to haggle for every possible penny. I don’t have the time.

September 12, 2017

Going Private

The bigger the growth I have with, the more I start thinking about privacy, and my current lack thereof. ICANN rules require domain contact information be public and accurate. Failure to abide by these rules could result in forfeiture of your domain which is not ideal for someone whose sole revenue is ad dollars generated from their website! But the bigger an audience my site draws, the greater the probability that it will draw someone who is a little too interested in me, personally, or my family. Do I really want my address and all my contact information public?

To combat this problem most registrars provide a proxy service for registration*, usually referred to as whois protection. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s a nominal fee. Basically, the proxy acts as an intermediary. Instead of listing your personal contact information, you list the proxy service and they forward any communications they receive on your behalf to you. The contact information is still considered accurate, because inquires can reach you, but your specific details are never listed.

(*Side note, some top-level domains disallow the use of whois proxy services.)

There’s a bit of an online debate about whether whois protection is worth it.

A corporate address in the contact information is often viewed as more legitimate than a non-corporate address. For some, a proxy address is the least legitimate of all. A P.O. box could substitute for a corporate address, but then I’d have to remember and exert the physical energy to check it. There are some online services that will convert a physical address to an email one by scanning mail into PDFs and mailing it to you. That would be a preferred option, but the price is currently a bit high for me.

I use a google voice to hide my phone number, which is like a proxy, but does nothing to help obscure my physical address which I’m most concerned about. Datayze has used the services of a whois proxy since it was first registered. If it’s negatively affecting me, it’s not enough to prohibit growth. I decided I’m earning enough now that the nominal price of the whois protection across all my sites is a reasonable price to pay for the peace of mind it brings.

Maybe someday I’ll grow large enough to warrant an actual office space. Until then, this will do.

July 3, 2017

Forgotten Memories

Confession time: I Facebook for me. It’s wonderful to connect with friends and family separated by distance, but I primarily use Facebook as a means of keeping track of moments I’d rather not forget. I’m carefully choosing a handful of photos to represent the year, the funniest quips from my kids, the details that make my days special. It’s to the point now where my favorite activity to do first thing in the morning is visiting “on this day” facebook feature and rediscovering things I had long forgotten about.

Second confession time: Sometimes I stay up just a little longer than I know I should in order be awake at midnight and able to get another batch of “on this day” memories.

Some moments I have long since forgotten. I recently rediscovered a story about Nicki insisting on sleeping with her nasal aspirator. Even re-reading my facebook post I still cannot recall that night. Most, though, are memories that just need a little nudge to come rushing back to mind. Rereading my own words, and seeing my past photos I not only remember those specific details I shared, but I get to relieve those surrounding experiences and emotions. The trials and tribulations. I remember how difficult sleep training was how it feels to have a baby snuggled in the crook of my neck. I feel connected.

Science shows “even simple interventions (e.g., taking a few minutes to document the present) could generate unexpected value in the future…. Mundane or not, these memories were still part of their identities.” That’s not all science shows. Since our facebook profiles are often a carefully cultivated highlight reel, revisiting them can boost self esteem. Perhaps my facebook obsession isn’t as bad for me as I think it is?

I guess, as with all things, it’s about the balance struck. Taking a moment to reminisce is probably not that bad for me. Staying up to late and missing out on sleep might be a different story. For now, I’ll keep cultivating.

May 22, 2017

A Not Me

I’ve been having a growing problem over the past couple of years that stems from having a highly common name, and using a highly common email platform. Back when gmail was invite only I created an account based off of my name. Occasionally since then I’d get email that was clearly never intended for me, but for some other S Tyler. A Sharon Tyler might sign up for veterinarian’s news letters accidentally fat fingering my email address instead of hers. Steve Tyler might book tickets to Disney world making a similar mistake sending me a confirmation of his itinerary.

For news letters I unsubscribe myself. Important documents (I once reserved someone’s loan closing docs) I emailed the sender and informed them of their mistake. Usually they’re grateful for being made aware of the mistake. But what do you do when someone creates an account using your contact information? In this increasingly politicized and hostile online world, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that my email address could be associated with a social media account I have no control over. Such is one of the cases I’m dealing with lately. Someone created a snap chat account with my email address and despite my continued attempts to have it removed through customer service, the email address keeps getting associated with the snap chat account!

A common approach I’m seeing online is to lock the other person out of the account and delete it. Technically the account is not mine, even if they signed up using my name. One could interpret this as a violation Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Its doubtful I’d face any serious consequences since there’s no financial ramifications for SnapChat if I were to do this, but I’m too much of a rule follower to risk it. I’d also feel bad if this was some poor kid making an honest mistake (repeatedly). I love my social media accounts. Going over my facebook time line to see all my old favorite photos and read the comments always brightens my day.

I could log in to the account, look up the phone number and send a text asking them to use their email address instead of mine. That wouldn’t destroy the kids’ account, but could still be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Also, it would then expose my phone number to a complete stranger which I’m not sure I want to do. The account is private so I have no idea who is there and how receptive they’d be to being contacted anyway.

For now I keep contacting customer support, and keep asking them to disassociate my email address. Some day I’ll come up with a better strategy for dealing with Not Mes.

February 15, 2017

Soft Focus Phone Troubles

While artistic, that soft focus in the above photo was not intentional. That’s what the front camera on my phone was able to capture of my standing still child.

I started noticing problems with my front camera back around Thanksgiving. I waited downstairs for the girls to come see the trees all lit up the morning after Thanksgiving, eager to capture the expressions on their faces when they first caught sight of the trees. Most of the photos turned out blurry, as though there was a film on the camera lens. I chalked it up to poor lighting. Since then, the photos on my front camera continue to be hit or miss. Even in full daylight. Even when the subject is standing still.

I’m currently using an iPhone 6, which is a couple months older than Alexis. I went with an upgraded memory hoping to get more than the standard two years out of my phone. (Or at least, not have to delete stuff in a mad panic because I wanted to take more photos with my phone and was out of space.) It may have been optimistic on my part to think the memory limitations was the only thing holding me back.

In any case, I now find myself with a dilemma. To upgrade, or not to upgrade?

I’m about half way though the upgrade cycle. On the one hand, the iPhone 8 will likely be one heck of an upgrade, to mark the 10 year anniversary, and that includes a substantial upgrade to the camera equipment. If I replace my iphone now, it’ll already be outdated in just 7ish short months. On the other, do I really need a $1,000 phone? And that would mean another 7ish months of bury kid photos.

My inclination is to wait. Maybe they’ll be a good sale on a 7 if the 8 does prove to be $1,000, and too rich for my blood. In the mean time, I’ll have to use my big girl camera a little more. It’s also overdue for an upgrade, as I’m 170,985 shutter actions on a body that’s only rated for 100,000 shutter actions. So far though, no loss in image quality that I can detect.

Same outfit as above. Background photo on my phone taken with my big girl camera.
December 6, 2016

Let’s Talk Metrics

The monthly progress and income reports have proven to be a great motivational tool over the past year. There have been times that I get too focused in the minutia, and minor dips can feel like major back steps. By keeping monthly totals it’s been easier to see the true progress I’ve been making. Not all metrics are created equal, and some are better at showing the current progress and potential growth.

By far, the best metric I’ve found for tracking growth is Weekly Search Result Clicks, the number of times someone has found my website by clicking on a search result. One of the advantages to Search Results Clicks is that it’s largely independent. What one user clicks on has minimal effect on what another will do1. That makes it easier to see trends. Referral and Social Media Traffic can spike depending on who is sharing the URL and when. I’ve found that if Weekly Search Result Clicks is on the rise, referral and social media traffic will likely follow suit, but that spikes in Social or Referral Traffic generally don’t lead to changes in Weekly Search Result Clicks.

In general I favor tracking users over revenue as revenue is highly dependent on revenue strategy. For example, in November I had twice as many mobile users as desktop users. Almost no mobile users used an ad blocker, where 20% of desktop users did. Despite that, mobile users accounted for 53% of my monthly revenue. Said another way, mobile users are generating approximately 40% less than comparable desktop users. My mobile ad strategy is not working! Changing ad networks could, in theory at least, generate vastly different amounts of revenue. No users means no revenue regardless of strategy.

The other drawback to relying on the revenue metric, especially if you rely on advertising dollars, is that revenue is likely influenced by macro factors that may not be visible to you. Advertisers tend to pay more in the the final quarter of the year then they do initially. They pay more when the economy is strong and consumer spending is high, than when the economy is weak and consumer spending is low. If you’re using an ad network, the cut and quality of the network can fluctuate. If you’re relying on revenue as an indicator of success it may be hard to see the signal in the noise.

Revenue is still an important metric, to be sure. I wish I had had more insight into how much revenue I could realistically expect to make before taking the self-employment plunge. I probably would devoted a little more of my free time, slept a little less, and neglected my household chores a little more than I already do.

Here’s hoping revenue increases before I run out of revenue. The search result click metric is strong, so hopeful a new mobile revenue model will give me a much needed revenue jolt.

1. User behavior can influence search result rankings. If more users click on your website in the search results the search engine may view their behavior that your website is a good result and may boost it’s ranking for future queries.

July 20, 2016

SEO Initial Steps

Once or twice a week for the past several years I get the same spam email. They usually start out with a bit of flattery “We found that you have excellent services and products and your business has a great potential” before diving into the point “The issue on which I would like to bring your attention to is, the inadequate traffic and visitors on your website which is affecting your ranking and in turn the revenue.” They then list a couple of reasons why my site might not be ranking well in the search engine.

Being a believer in focusing on good content first (if you build it they will come), I’ve never really been on board with the whole search engine optimization concept. To me, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) always felt like a shady short cut. I realize now that that’s a pre-2000s way of thinking about it. Content is still king, but with trillions of pages out there, there’s a lot of good content out there to get lost in. (And really, the importance of SEO should have been obvious to me given my issues with search result descriptions, but I digress.) Here’s what I’ve been working on.


The easy first step was HTML Validation which probably doesn’t matter much, but is a good practice anyway.

To WWW or not to WWW

Some search engine experts recommending choosing to express all your links with the www (e.g. “”) or without (e.g. “”). The theory goes that using both forms of the URL can make a domain appear to have twice as many pages, and consequently, half as many backlinks to any one page. I am not sure how much I buy this argument. While it’s true that “” and “” page contents could be different, it’s standard practice that they are the same, and an easy enough for a search engine to verify. Anything that is common practice really shouldn’t hurt you much when it comes to ranking. Google’s stated goal is to serve you the best content, after all, not the most technically correct sites.

Then again, what do I know? I’m the one with the site not ranking well. It’s a simple fix, and “” looks cleaner and more modern to me.


This one ended up being a non-necessary headache. I expected Google to find the new pages relatively quickly since there was a 1-to-1 correspondence with the pages on the previous domain that google already knew about. When google didn’t index the new pages after a week, I decided a site map couldn’t hurt. Only I forgot about my ‘www’ prefix choice. My site map included the ‘www’ prefix on all URLs, which meant it was including only URLs that were 301 redirecting.

It appears that as google detects a 301 redirects it removed the redirected URLs from its index in favor of the new target URL. On the webmaster portal it showed me the ratio of indexed pages from the site map to the number submitted. As the URLs with the ‘www’ prefix got pulled from the index, that ratio of submitted to indexed pages grew more and more unbalanced. It wasn’t until the sitemap view showed 0 pages indexed that I finally realized the error of my ways, adjusted my sitemap to include the non-www URLs instead and everything returned to normal.

At least This mistake doesn’t appear to have negatively impact my rankings.

As I checking the google index for my domain, I noticed that google had opted to index more than just the pages I had requested. It was also indexing some paramaterized URLs.


The above search results are for the paramatertized Name Uniqueness Analyzer where the name is set to Carolynn and Lydiah. Most likely google discovered those paramatertized URLs through the Name Generator, which, when generating rare names, creates a link to the Name Uniqueness Analyzer. Carolynn and Lydiah were given to 46 and 16 babies respectively.

Google can’t discover a URL it’s never seen. Thus google does not know Carolyn is also a valid parameter to the Name Uniqueness Analyzer, because there is no link to it anywhere on my site.

I updated my sitemap to include common parameters to the more popular apps. Maybe this will generate some more traffic for me.

Next Steps

One of the things I need to work on is a responsive, mobile friendly design. It’s good timing. Along with my viewpoint on SEO, I think my splash page is also looking a bit dated.

Well that didn’t take too long. After dwelling on it, and dwelling on it, and dwelling on it, I think I’ve finally found the a name and it’s perfect.

Actually I came up with a few. Over the past month whenever I came up with a name I thought would be a possible solution I went ahead and registered it. I didn’t want to get burned like I did when I wanted to purchase my own name as a dotcom. Back in 2004 “” was the only form of my name that wasn’t available. Since I was so used to using my middle initial I decided to go with “”. By the time I realized I wanted “” someone had already registered it. Lesson learned: grab a possible domain name when it’s available!

Now that I’ve picked which name I’m going to go with, it’s time to release the others.

The first name I came up with was My niche right now is all about data, and data munging to get interesting results. “Data Ticks” to me invokes an image of processing and graphing data. It fit well. The name was registered only last November but currently points no where. All things being equal I would have gone with if it were available. Lemma is a mathematical term and linguistics term so it appealed to both my Math Geek and Word Nerd sides. In Math it’s a intermediate theorem or “helping” theorem. The phrase invokes to me the image of mathematical “helping” apps. The only drawback I see to this name is it’s highly geeky and not very approachable for every day users.

Since I’m not currently planning on using those names I decided to put them up on the NameCheap marketplace for $20 and $50 respectively. The price reflects what I think the name is worth. (Hey, it took me a ridiculous number of hours to come up with those! I am saving someone that time.) If by the time you’re reading this the auction is over but you still want the name and it’s still avaliable, message me and I’ll put it back up.

The third name I registered but never intended to make my company name is One of the names I fell in love with was, the combination of Data + Analyze. The DotCom was already registered, as was the Org, Net and the British spelling variants Datalize. The only name available was the .cc. I strongly considered it, but when test marketing it to none technical people they kept hearing “data lies”. I was shocked that DataLies was still available. This is an excellent blog name for disputing pseudo science people! I’m not sure when I’ll have time for another blog, but I couldn’t resist and snapped it up.

As for the name I did go with, that will be revealed soon. It’s probably a safe bet that it has the word “Data” in it though.

Older Posts »