k. b. skobac 2007 in Review

Lets take a second to review the year statistics for k. b. skobac, the blog you (probably don't) read very often.  Here are the visitor statistics:

  • 29,666 visits
  • 25,190 unique visitors
  • 47,018 pageviews
  • 1.58 average pave views
  • 1 min 30 sec avg time on site
  • 15.21% return rate

Here are the traffic referral statistics:

  • 88.73% (26,322 visits) from google
  • 4.22% (1,252) direct to the site
  • 1.36% (403) from yahoo
  • and perhaps more interestingly: 104 visits from facebook, and 76 visits from Benn's website.

Now the top content:

  • Watch the office for free online
  • Every episode of Simpsons free online
  • k. b. skobac homepage
  • 30 highest NBA salaries for 2006-2007
  • Gary Matthews Jr. and his ridiculous catch
  • AT&T "see how they live" campaign
  • Search for songs by singing
  • Watch TNT NBA games online
  • ESPN Sports Conspiracy Theory Rumors

The top two articles alone generated over 37,000 page views, and I'm not even sure the links work anymore - I've just updated additional sources for The Office episodes, which you can check here.

Top visits by country:

  • United States (22,570 visits)
  • Canada (2988 visits)
  • UK (1,475 visits)
  • Australia (317 visits)
  • Netherlands (252 visits)
  • France (164 visits)
  • Germany (141 visits)
  • Ireland (101 visits)
  • Spain (93 visits - all Jeremy probably)

Saying Goodbye To Web Services that Died in 2008

It looks like some services I love are closing shop Today.  Yottamusic, the web service that provided a better interface for Rhapsody (most importantly it connected Last.FM to Rhapsody, why has Rhapsody itself not done that) has a goodbye letter up on its website.  Also as of midnight I can no longer access Riya, the photo website with facial recognition that I was such a fan of.  How many services that I truly liked and used will I realize have gone under as we hit the new year all over the world?

I had written the founder of Yottamusic a week ago asking about the future of the product and hadn't heard back - but he provided one-touch access to an XML file of your library and playlists if you saved music on the service, and also provided 24 hour turn around to syncing your Yottamusic library with your Rhapsody library, which is at the very least a very thoughtful and respectable addition to the service on the way out its door.

I have written the founder of Riya as well, but I've done this before and heard no response, so we'll see if it's different this time.  He is currently developing Like.com on the same technology, but for shopping, which is significantly less interesting and less valuable to me (although may be more lucrative).


My First Woot Purchase - Slingbox


I just purchased my first item off of Woot - a refurbished Slingbox AV single input unit for $70 plus $5 shipping (the new item is around $130 in stores).  In a few months I'll comment on the value of the product sold through Woot, and how well the Slingbox works - hopefully in a week I'll have it at my house in Cherry Hill and then I can watch Philadelphia sports games and HBO on demand over the internet!


RememberTheMilk makes up for Google's deficiencies


RememberTheMilk, a task-management tool that's held it's ground now for years, has slowly been rolling out add-ons to Google products in order to make task-management a fully integrated feature in the Google suite of products.  Their latest release loads a full task-management dashboard directly into Gmail via a Firefox extension, in such a well designed fashion that you can't tell it isn't part of the original product once it's implemented.  It uses the same intelligent contextual typing recognition as Google products, attaches tasks to emails, fits the style perfectly, and works easily.  In addition,  you can implement a Google Calendar add-on that will display your tasks on the day they're due.  When you add a task via Google Calendar, Gmail, or even RememberTheMilk itself, the update shows up everywhere, and can be edited anywhere.  It's all incredibly impressive, and makes you wonder why Google hasn't done this itself, or purchased RememberTheMilk for this purpose.  The company also uses Google Gears for off-line support, so they're fully leveraging Google API's for added value to their own product.

RememberTheMilk full suite of application extensions

international communication or keeping in touch with friends abroad

I have friends in India (indefinitely), Barcelona (recently), and Korea (temporarily) - but lately I'm noticing more and more web applications make it easier and easier for me to stay connected and feel like my friends are part of my life and my day.

I am using Twitter to route text messages to India and receive them back just as quickly. It costs no more than a usual text message.

The other night I used AOL IM to include Bruce in a game of Scategories while he sat at an apartment in Korea. It was rudimentary but it brought him into a game with 6 of his friends back at my apartment on New York.

A few of us used Skype to hold a conference call for the fraternity Housing Corporation while we were in Barcelona talking to undergrads back in Boston.

This isn't even getting into how simple it is to email, facebook, and more. I remember back in high school when a close friend went to France for the summer and it took 3 weeks to get a letter to her - now I communicate with friends in several different ways throughout the day and it's completely seemless.


The Sixers are better than everyone thought

The Sixers were picked by some to be the only team in the East guaranteed not to make the playoffs.  a few months later they're 12-16, which actually makes them on the verge of a playoff spot (number 8 is Cleveland is 13-16), and they're 7-3 in the last 10.  The new GM hasn't made any moves but maybe it's enough to raise spirits and motivate, which is what I'd like to see - there are a lot of young talented guys on the Sixers and letting them develop this year is just what we need.  Above is a shot of Iguodala's game winning shot from the other night.


2nd Avenue Deli Opens and I'm There

Ari, Angela, and I made it out to the Second Avenue Deli Grand (re) Opening tonight - there was a line out the door when we arrived at 8PM, but after a short wait we were seated. We ordered the sampler - all the major meats and spreads - and bowls of matzoh ball soup. Everything from start to finish was fantastic amazing and this is likely my defacto "order in" spot now when I get stuck working late (as well as where I'm sure I'll be bringing every relative the next time they come).


2nd Avenue Deli Opens Tomorrow and I'll Be There

View Larger Map

The Second Avenue Deli re-opens tomorrow after a long hiatus. Instead of it's old spot on 2nd avenue and 12th street, it will now live on 33rd between 3rd Ave and Lex - right around the corner from me!  I love good deli, and will be one of probably many showing up tomorrow in anticipation of a delicious corned beef sandwich for dinner - welcome back and welcome to the neighborhood.

Google's ulterior motive of collecting more information, and Google profiles

There's an interesting interview with Marissa Mayer, Google's VP, where she discusses how Google sometimes makes moves for ulterior motives - her example being 1-800-GOOG-411.  Engineers were really looking for data to analyze in working on speech recognition modeling:

"The speech recognition experts that we have say: If you want us to build a really robust speech model, we need a lot of phonemes, which is a syllable as spoken by a particular voice with a particular intonation. So we need a lot of people talking, saying things so that we can ultimately train off of that. ... So 1-800-GOOG-411 is about that: Getting a bunch of different speech samples so that when you call up or we're trying to get the voice out of video, we can do it with high accuracy."

It's an interesting point and makes you think of Google products and Google decisions in a different light.

Seperately, Google has started integrating social features into more of their tools, and are beginning to develop the Google profile, which will follow you across their products.  Right now you can see it in Google Shared Stuff, in Google Maps, in Google Reader, and more.  In Google Reader, you can now see your gmail and chat contacts' shared feeds in a separate dashboard.  Soon you will hopefully begin to receive information flow about more actions directly within the same contact dashboard, just like the newsfeed in facebook (these same contacts are updating shared documents, adding photos to Picasa, building maps, etc).

View and subscribe to my shared items feed here (visible on the right of this page) - and let me know if you use Google Reader.

Watch TNT NBA Games Online

  Apparently you can watch TNT's Thursday night NBA game broadcast directly online - I haven't confirmed this but if I can remember I'll try to check it out this week.  ESPN is already doing it if you already have the right carrier, so I'm basically just live streaming sports-center away from not needing a cable TV subscription.


Free TV Online with OpenHulu

If you weren't lucky enough to get into the Hulu beta, the NBC/Fox Corp joint venture which will host free ad-supported television content from the two networks, as well as other partners, check out OpenHulu - you can watch high quality streaming video of all of the shows you can find inside Hulu - a simple alphabetic menu of all of the shows starts you off.  Not all of the shows are there but you can find free episodes of 24, 30 Rock, Family Guy, Heroes, The Office, The Simpsons, and more.



My iGoogle Dektop is getting better and better

Some great gadgets have made my iGoogle homepage really cool and helpful:

1. Netvibes universal widgets ecosystem - the widgets developers are building for Netvibes are stronger, cleaner, and more interesting usually than what has come out on iGoogle itself. Now most of those widgets can be ported to iGoogle for use on your homepage, (they also work for just about every other widget platform around).
The most impressive widget might be the Facebook iPhone widget, which lets you navigate through the slick, compact iPhone interface for Facebook directly embeded in your iGoogle homepage.
The second is Twitter King, which is a comprehensive and clean twitter widget that lets you see twitter updates and send your own, as well as direct message, right within the interface.

2. Compound gadget built in the iGoogle interface lets you combine several gadgets that you use little but want available often. In my case I have gMail, Google docs, and Google Calendar all at in one gadget - I leave gMail live so I can see when I have new email, but then I have easy access to my calendar and my documents when I need to use one or the other (this is the type of combined interface that gMail should possibly have at some point).

All in all I have 11 widgets on the page in some fashion. I can read blog posts, listen to music, browse social networks, manage my communication, read the news, and more without leaving the iGoogle homepage at all.

Google set to release a Wikipedia contender



Tonight Google announced on their official blog that they are launching a Wikipedia competitor, which they will label "knol".  It's worth reading the press release yourself because Wikipedia is one of the cornerstones of the web, and the symbiotic relationship between Wikipedia and Google could be in jeapordy.  What do I mean by that - Wikipedia is often in the top results for Google, as it is often the most reliable and valuable content on the web; at the same time, Google is the number one referrer to Wikipedia, driving a significant number of its millions of users monthly.  Now Google is potentially creating a resource that will want priority over Wikipedia in search engines.  There are HUGE questions here:

  • How will Knol  maintain quality control, without editors or a wikipedia-style self-policing community
    • Will author and page ratings be enough
    • Will they rely on search algorithms
      • What will be the value factors
    • How will they fight 'gaming' of the system, link farming, etc, that will draw heavy attention due to the connection to Google
  • Is there a concern that Google will slowly own all of the content that is prioritized in all of its search engines
    • It has most of the video between YouTube and Google Video, what if it has most of the content pages
  • Does the world need another Wikipedia, what is this going to do that Wikipedia doesn't already do so well?
  • If this is done wrong, will it jeopardize the value of the search engine or fill it with spam?

For myself, I'm skeptical that we need Knol, and whether Google as an impartial search engine should be providing it.  Wikipedia is one of the great success stories of the web - a near perfect example of global utility, global scale, global teamwork and policing.  It's one of the single most useful resources on the web and many people's day wouldn't be the same without it.  It has an unusual levle of trust that has not disappeared with it's success, all of which is to be admired.  So there are a lot of questions about Google's intent, and whether they will succeed, and there will be a lot of people watching.

Meanwhile, donate money to Wikipedia HERE - you all use it all of the time, and it's not ad supported, so it needs the donations.

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Seeqpod looks like a really good free music search engine

SeeqPod Music beta, Playable Search (tm)

Seeqpod is a music search engine that scours the web for mp3's hosted by various sites, embedded in articles, linked to in blogs, etc.  It's at its at its core a vertical search engine for the web, purely focused on music.   Built around the search engine, though, is a fully functioning media center - you can play the mp3's, make playlists, save files, and more.  And if you follow the URL's, you can download the mp3's direct from the sources.  In a few random search tests, I found all of the songs I was looking for - this one seems like a great resource for free music mp3 files on the web!


My Concert List in 2007

Now that the year is pretty much over, and I have no more tickets to shows, I thought I'd look back to see my concert list since last year.

I also saw small acoustic sets of

and sat outside of the stage in central park for

Many of the shows were great in some way - Matisyahu being the most unique performance, Muse being the most intense live band, but I would see most of these groups again, depending on the price and the venue.  I saw Gym Class Heroes receive their gold album on stage, learned about Back Door Slam in the back of a bar, discovered Difibulators at a restaurant, revisited high school with Alice in Chains, Velvet Revolver, Counting Crows, Live, and Collective Soul.  Each concert was an an experience and I am looking forward to more next year.

23AndMe Lets You Learn About Your DNA

23andMe, founded by the wife of one of the Google guys, is basically a comprehensive personal DNA test.  There are other services that do this, but this is expected to be the most comprehensive (I believe).  If your curious what type of information you will get from it, Mark Fletcher (the founder of GoDaddy) describes his results here.  The process isn't cheap, $1,000, and it brings up the question of how much do you really want to know about your future (are you going to live life shattered if you know you have a high likelihood to become sick later on in a certain way), but it's the information could be really interesting.  Some of the sample questions that might be answered are:

  • Do your genes help you sprint faster?
  • How well can you taste bitter foods?
  • Do you share maternal ancestry with outlaw Jesse James?
  • Are you more similar to Mayans or Basques?


Matisyahu Channukah Concert at Roseland Ballroom in New York City


Ari and I went to see Matisyahu during Channukah for the second straight year.  The opener was a supposedly well known Reggae band The Whalers, who played mostly covers of groups I didn't know but songs I recognized, which made them entertaining The Wailers, who were Bob Marley's original band - it turns out we recognized most of what they played, which made it really easy to get into (I just learned this after writing the original post).  Matisyahu himself was great - he's an engaging performer, and its amazing to watch Jews & non-Jews a like get immersed into his music, which is all heavily religious.  He jumped around the stage despite walking with a cane due to injury, he brought out guest performers (that I didn't recognize), and he lit brought audience members on stage to light the Menorah.  We met some Israelis, and then a Venezuelan kid who supposedly came to New York from Venezuela for the show (he spoke fractured English so we didn't quite connect on everything), an amazing fact.  One ridiculous thing - at the end of the show a security guard grabbed his camera and took out his memory card, screaming at him, claiming that he was video taping, which was heavily illegal.  The security guard walked right by myself and numerous other audience members who were doing the same thing, with possibly less impressive cameras (he later talked to another guard, who got his card back unharmed).  The videos I took don't do justice to the performance Matisyahu put on - check him out yourself, and if you want an album my recommendation is Live at Stubs.  Also his single on the following album, Jerusalem, is great (listen below).   There are also a few pretty interesting videos of Chassidic dancing by Matisyahu and others that was done on stage.

My photos

My videos



Back from Florence Italy

I'm finally back from all of my vacations - this last to Florence.  The trip itself was fantastic and I well documented it.  I have to thank Melissa, Emily, Katie, and others who gave me such thorough advice on what to do and where to eat, all of which lead me to having a great experience.  In return for their time I've written an extensive itinerary on Yahoo! Travel so I can contribute on my own to other people's future journeys.  You can check out the photo album here, or see the slide show.