The 'building a business' scrapbook.

Monday, April 22, 2002  

This article at Salon discusses how "player-created additions to computer games aren't a hobby anymore -- they're the lifeblood of the industry". Titled "Triumph of the mod" it details how fan made mofidications to existing PC games are reshaping the gaming industry. And now Valve Software have unveiled Steam, a for-profit (optionally) broadband distribution network for game mods.

The article draws a nice contrast between the openness and inclusiveness of the thriving gaming industry, and the exclusive paranoia of the music industry. In many cases, the hobbyist 'modders' have become employees of the original game publishers, such is the degree to which games companies have embrace the 'information wants to be free' mantra.

There are opportunities here. While the days of a garage software writer publishing a world beating game are dead, game mod tools divorce the creative process from the technical process and free the arty types among us (no, not me!) to make an impact in the world of 3D computer entertainment without having to understand the nuts and bolts of polygon clipping! Any Irish modders already in this space?

posted by James | 6:15 PM

Saturday, April 20, 2002  

Highlight Word Bookmarklet is one of those ingeneous little freebie utilities that send a surge to the lightbulb in your head! -

"Highlight Word is a bookmarklet that let's you look up the definition of a word that's in a Web page. To use, drag the appropriate link for your browser to your favorites/bookmarks in your browser. Select a word using your mouse on a Web page you want to find its definition, then click the Highlight Word link in your bookmarks/favorites. A new window will pop open and the word you selected will be sent to Dictionary.com."


posted by James | 11:25 AM

Tuesday, April 16, 2002  

While 'flicking' through the Innovations website last night I noticed a fantastic new gadget I wasn't previously aware of - a USB mobile phone charging cable. So imagine, you're on the train, furiously poking away at your laptop keyboard when suddenly the mobile rings, the beeps.... low battery! So you whip out the USB charging cable, plug one end into the laptop and the other into the phone to siphon a little energy over. Beautiful. It's like a jump lead for your phone.

posted by James | 10:09 PM

Monday, April 15, 2002  

Excellent - I've just realised that the gadget lovers catalog - Innovations - has a website. Put this in your bookmarks along with www.IWantOneOfThose.com and www.Firebox.com. Toys for the boys :-)

posted by James | 8:11 PM

Sunday, April 14, 2002  

Now thisis what Ireland.com should be using for their email. OddPost is one of the most amazing things I've seen on the net in years! People are raving about it, and the creators justifiably IMHO call it, "indubitably the most astounding Web-based e-mail application on earth." More in this wired.com article. And Julian Harris said, "Oddpost is the first practical online web application with a desktop-quality user experience."

By the way, I've signed up for the free trial of their USD$30 per year service and can verify that all the hype is justified. The OddPost interface loads lightening fast and you really do forget you're using an in-browser application! Superb!!

posted by James | 7:43 PM

Friday, April 12, 2002  

Wow, I'd heard that Google is constantly spidering sites and will get back to each one frequently but I did NOT expect to see www.GlobalGreyhounds.com blazing up the charts like this :) For a "greyhound racing" search we've gone from 26th place (on page 3) to 15th (on page 2)!! That's an amazing climb in only a few days. I'm going to study our stats at the end of the week to see if it's made much of a difference

posted by James | 9:20 PM

Wednesday, April 10, 2002  

When I was a software tester with Apple Computer in Cork we used to get the odd spell of games testing (tough work but someone had to do it!). I used to joke with friends that I played games for a living. Well you know it looks like this kind of a living may become more accessible to the general poplulation if plans of Swedish company MindArk are realised.

They plan to expand upon the success of such classics as EverQuest and actually encourage trade in game characters and items (unlike Sony who tried to ban it for EverQuest). This is mindblowing stuff! This CNN report suggests that the top level of players will be able to make a living from playing games like this. Not only that but these huge online virtual worlds create their own markets where the GDP is equivalent to that of a small country!

posted by James | 9:44 PM

Another excellent newsletter I subscribe to is Andy Bourland's Bourland.com, which is, "dedicated to Developing Profitable Online Publishing Business Models". Together with the The End of Free blog this is a wonderful resource for anyone trying to move from a fRee to a fee content model. A contributor reported some particular pearls of wisdom from Fred Davis, CEO of Lumeria, Inc, "If you can only lure customers to your site by squeezing your margins down to the basement, you'll be out of business sooner or later. Even worse are those who follow the cult of the free. In this Internet paradise, everything is free! But these Utopians have forgotten that free is anti-value. If free is your best selling point, don't be surprised when you only attract freeloaders."

posted by James | 9:34 PM

Saturday, April 06, 2002  

Following on, the inward linkage to www.IrishInSpain.com is quite miserable, with only 1 link coming from www.123propertynews.com with whom I did a link exchange. Not to worry, I'm going to work on improving that. That's the real hard draft - just takes time looking up other high ranking sites and soliciting them for reciprocal links. Why worry about reciprocal links when my rankings are already respectable on Google? Well, because there are 3 prongs to successful Search Engine (SE) rankings - keyword density, inward linkage from 'authorative' sites, and relevant content. Apparently Google is a real stickler for the inward linkage bit and rates link popularity fairly highly in its ranking algorithm.

posted by James | 11:06 AM

Ok, we're getting somewhere now! Early this week I installed an excellent (and FREE!) ExtremeTracker tracker. I've tried quiet a few of these little gizmos (including TheCounter, Stats4All, etc) but none compare to ExtremeTracker. Allready I'm seeing some eye-opening results. For instance, I expected that having two important keywords in the domain name - "Irish" and "Spain" - would improve my ranking, but not by THIS much and not so SOON!!

I also find it extraordinary that for a generic seach term such as "BUYING PROPERTY IN SPAIN", www.IrishInSpain.com is already appearing on the first page of Google in a very respectable 7th position. For goodness sakes there are sponsored links appearing on the page! Are the website marketers for those sites sooooo lazy that they can't do what I've done to save themselves some cash in these post boom days? All it takes is a little work folks!

posted by James | 10:55 AM

Tuesday, April 02, 2002  

The challenge: To raise the profile of www.IrishInSpain.com significantly over the next few months. Right now I'm going to go and research the current position, with regard to Search Engine (SE) ranking, backward/inward links (links from other sites to IrishInSpain.com which improve its SE ranking by virtue of being deemed relevant!), etc, etc.

I'm bootstrapping (or more precisely Netstrapping") so its going to be a zero budget, geurilla marketing effort. Not to worry, that's what we've been doing on GlobalGreyhounds.com for 16 months and its working great! How do I know? Because Alexa.com tells me so! This is a terrific resource for getting a measure of how your site compares to your competitors.

posted by James | 8:03 PM