What happened to all my old clever ranting blog stuff?

I sure miss blogging here at JoeDuck, where I used to rant, rave, or just observe the world.  That’s what makes blogging so much fun but I’ve let other things get in the way of that too much lately.

What could I be doing that’s more important than personal blogging? We are remodelling a large old house for my son that we bought together and that’s taking a lot of time, plus I have other real estate projects that I can’t seem to keep in good order.   A large colony of bees took over a vacant house I had and getting them boxed up has  been an interesting adventure – not even sure my bee guy is still paying attention after 3 weeks though the bees seem to be slowly making their way into his box.

The big new online project is RETIRE USA, an excellent site about retirement with a super retirement blog .  That project took a long time to launch but I think we are doing something few others have done, which is create a large group of dedicated retirement bloggers who have expertise in many retirement related areas.   We recently qualified to be considered for a very substantial grant from Chase / Livingsocial and if we get that I think the site could take off quickly.   We are seeing some good traffic growth now as we slowly rise in the ranks for retirement related searches, and I’m hoping my “white hat” SEO skills are up to the task of making that work.

Speaking of SEO, I’ll be reporting LIVE in August from SES San Francisco, one of the world’s top Search Engine Marketing conferences.   Most of that coverage will be over at Technology Report where we used to cover SES but have not for several years.  It’ll be fun to get back into the Search Engine Optimization scene and see what folks are talking about now.   Social media has shaken things up a bit, and in my view Google has become much more conservative ranking websites, assuming (correctly) that almost all new websites are spam and therefore looking for “big signals” to allow new sites to rank well for valuable terms.   This adds yet another burden to new websites, especially those that seek valuable niche markets.   I think it helps old established sites such as our US History site which has been enjoying substantial traffic for some time.   That site was established many years ago and remains one of the top resources for US history information.    There’s a US History blog there although I have not been updating it regularly enough, working instead on other blogs like Travel and History  and a bit on my QuickAid Airport Directory site and blog.   Another project that needs attention is the AirportCityCodes.com website which has an old Airport Codes database.   That one’s acting up a bit and not showing Google ads for some reason – perhaps a fluke or perhaps it is too similar to QuickAid Airport Directory.

Another old site I want to restore to former glory (well, just restore to some level of coherence) is Highways.TV.   The concept there was really neat – assemble highway camera and road report information all over the world into one “easy to navigate” site.    I think that function has in some ways been replaced by mobile applications, Google Traffic, etc, but there’s got to be some room for a site that helps users navigate the many rats nests of state travel sites, few of which are well integrated into other information sources or easy to navigate.   State highway departments have enormous access to information and resources and put some of this information online but the bureaucracy prevents the levels of cooperation needed to do the obvious and link all these together so travelers don’t have to switch sites and navigation when they cross state lines.

Some would say I should stop trying to manage my huge online menagerie of growing, dying, and partly developed sites, but for those folks I have this to say:

“I cannot BELIEVE you actually read this post to the end – I owe you a cup of coffee and much shorter blog posts in the future” 

History of the Democrats – part deux. The SEO edition.

Well, my “history of the democratic party” experiment has been very interesting to say the least.   The original article at Travel and History is ranking pretty well at Google – currently 15th.  However the previous post here at JoeDuck, which is really mostly just referencing that superior treatment of the topic, is ranking 12th.    I’ve been doing enough experiments sloppily that I can’t be sure, but I think Google had this “right” last week when the Travel and History post was higher than the JoeDuck reference.   Not clear to me why the JoeDuck would rank higher but perhaps it’s part of the algorithm shaking out the “right answer” for how to rank an excellent article on the history of the democrats.

So, in the interest of SEO excellence we bring you THIS post, which is referencing the correct one yet again and hopefully prompting Google to get it right and rank that one higher than this one.

Although clearly most users would want a real article about the history of the democratic party rather than the JoeDuck reference and rant, I can’t really suggest how high in the rankings that one should appear.  It’s a good article but not great, based mostly on info gleaned from Wikipedia’s superior treatment of the Dems history.

The End…..

Europe versus USA

One of the things that always strikes me during travel is how insulated we are in the USA from the rest of the world. Some of this is geographical – ie the USA is a huge country and folks don’t often move across national borders unless you are in the handful of cities that border Mexico or Canada. But even then the interactions are not like those in Europe where folks seem to maintain a sense of national identity as well as a mutual European identity. Not to suggest Europe does not have it’s share of problems, rather I just think it’s interesting to see a group of countries interacting so effectively and cooperatively with respect to so many things (Currency, trains, trade, border controls, etc, etc). However I think our isolation in the USA is more cultural and historical than geographical. As the key global power since WWII, it’s been far too easy to ignore how interconnected the world has become, and how impossible it is to isolate ourselves economically, militarily, and culturally. Finding the best (and free) Wifi at the Burger King in Munich, we sat watching Musit TV clips which were about half German rock stars and half USA. All over we’d hear the radios playing US pop and rock, and I was struck by how despite all the US economic and military presence all over the world, arguably the most powerful part of globalization is … US pop culture.

 …. to be continued …

(the Europe trip coverage will mostly be here:  www.TravelandHistory.com

Setup Flickr to Blog in 30 seconds or less

Flickr remains my favorite “Web 2.0” thingie and I think it is one of the best applications ever done for a computer.   I’m always thrilled with the simplicity of making simple changes to bring dramatic results.  

For example you can post your flickr pictures to your blog, which is great.    Also great is that the setup routine for doing this is as simple as you can get.    I just added photo capabilities to the new blog I’m writing for the big Travel and History site we are creating from two previous efforts at Online Highways and US History:     blog.u-s-history.com 

This took me about 30 seconds as follows:

1) Log in to Flickr Account

2) Go to “Extend Flickr” section on your Flickr Accounts page
3) Add blog
4) Pick from the list they’ll have of your blogger blogs if you’ve already signed one up.   


If you are signing up a blog for the first time you’ll need to give some access permission, but that is not very complicated.

The cool think is that then you can go to flickr and click “blog this” and post pictures at the blog quickly and easily.

And, just like the song says:   If a picture paints a thousand words, then why bother writing 1000 words, which takes a lot more time!