Friday, May 22, 2009

The Fully Automated Website

There are many strategies to monetize websites (making money out of websites). However, the most effective way is to make the website do all the work. Namely, automation.

Websites the likes of and similar shopping and delivery websites are a good way to make profits. But you must provide services, maintenance and delivery operations, which are costly. This is not what I want. I want to make a website and totally leave it for years, while it continues to make profits. I can do that with scam websites, like registering the domain (notice the missing 'o') and fill it with ads for all those who mistype the word google. But I don't want to do that also. I want people to benefit from it and that will make them come again and tell their friends about it. So it must be also useful.

Also, the last thing I need is a running cost for the website. Hosting the website and registering domains can be very expensive if I don't shop around for best deals. Never go to a local company for web hosting and design. They will charge huge amounts of money for few man hours of work with free open-source web applications, pre-made templates, and slow locally hosted servers. You can find online retailers who charge $20 for the whole thing but you have to do it yourself.

So the website must be automatic, useful, and cheap. Add to that some paid non-intrusive ads and a nice design and you're set to go.

We use automated website everyday without knowing. Fully automated websites require minimal intervention once its off and running. I strive to come up with ideas to develop such website. The kind of websites where you "set it and forget it." My first inspiration to this idea was Google News and then came Techmeme, a technology news aggregation website. The owners of these sites rarely even look at them once in a while. Techmeme recently hired the site's first editor, three years after launch! The editor's job is to visit the website once a day (from home) and promote news stories to the top of the page if he thinks they're important.

Techmeme attracts adds from companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Adobe. The owners have three more similar websites aggregating politics, baseball and celebrity news, and I imagine more websites coming very soon. Because once you create an automatic website for a specific topic, you can copy it for other topics and attract even more people and serve more ads.

Step 3: profit!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Vague Google Searchs Improve Your Results

You can ask Google to search for synonyms very easily by adding a (~). For example, I was searching for a problem with my phone after upgrading its software. So I searched for: nokia 5800 firmware screen problem which gave me good results. However, changing the search query to: nokia 5800 ~firmware ~screen ~problem gave me a better result.

Why is this a better search? Google searches for the words in the query but also searches for their synonyms. Meaning that if someone wrote a very nice article on nokia 5800 software monitor issue, it wont show up in my first search and will show in the second search.

So help Google help you by using (~).

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A Weekend Trip With Only Ubuntu 9.04

I took a leap of faith bringing only a fresh install of Ubuntu Linux with me on this non-business trip. It made sense as all I needed from my computer was email and web browsing.

I put this shiny new Ubuntu on my old IBM ThinkPad T43 laptop. It ran as if my laptop was this year's model. It is very fast and responsive. Actually it was faster than my brother's new Dell laptop running Windows Vista. I turned it off as soon as the installation and update process finished and packed my bags to leave for the airport.

Later that evening, in the hotel room, I turned my laptop on to read my email and some blogs. The desktop was clean, Firefox pre-installed and ready, it already connected to the hotel wireless internet, all that without me touching anything but the power button. If I remember correctly, windows required so much tweaking to reach this point! I read my email and was able to view PDF and docx attachments without installing additional software.

I couldn't sleep, so it was time to play some Counter-Strike on Steam. All I did was install wine and download Steam. With the fast connection in the hotel, I downloaded the entire game and was playing in 30 minutes. This game was not playable on the same laptop when it was running Windows XP. How ironic is that?

This experience amazed me because I was able to to do every I can do with Windows, without Windows. Even do things I couldn't do with Windows, like running games on old computers. What this means is that we, the people, have the option to work/play on the platform that we choose. This concept is strange to us now because we are used to accept the fact that all computers run Windows. Well, not anymore.