Sunday 17 February 2013

I predicted a Google shop a year ago

About a year ago, a bit less, I suggested that Google should open a shop.  At that time I hadn't read a single bit of information about the possibility of a Google shop. Well, this is the purpose of this short post: to boast that I got it right. I don't know if I was the first to suggest a shop, but I believe I was.

The new Google shops were announced in the Sunday Times today. The Times says that Google is "taking the fight to Apple" and plan to open a chain a shops across America. It is just a matter of time before they come to the UK.

At one time Apple had no shops but was still a highly successful company. Their shops are now iconic and always packed out. It you see one on a British high street or in a shopping mall,  it is humming while all the other shops have dribs and drabs of customers meandering through. The contrast is stark.

I presume that Google want a piece of that action. Google has become far more aggressive over the past year or so after they got rid of their sensible chief exec. Or was he the Chairman? Doesn't matter. Google are very aggressively competitive these days - too much actually. Sorry Google but you are going a bit too far in abusing (using I guess is a better word) small websites (for example the new image search).

Google have gradually built up some products, an inventory, to sell. Real hardware. This was always going to be a slow process. I guess they think they have enough items to sell in a shop now such as Chrombooks and Nexus tablets etc.

Did anyone else outperform my prediction? Did Google follow my suggestion?

Thursday 31 January 2013

Stop Estimating Wildlife Killed by Cats!

We have another shocking report that has been hyped up in the press today (31st Jan 2012).  This time Nature Communications have published estimates animal kills by domestic and feral cats in the USA over a year. The figures come from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Photo by Kai Hendry
They say that 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion small mammals are killed yearly by cats. However, they constantly refer to "estimates"or "thoughts"...

  • "far exceeds all prior estimates..."
  • "The researchers estimated..."
  • "There are thought to be ....."
We don't know how many feral cats there are the in the USA and by far the biggest "estimated" impact on wildlife comes from feral cats.

How can scientists produce accurate figures if they really don't have any idea about the number of feral cats in the USA? No one has ever done a proper count of feral cat numbers. And what about the benefits of feral cats?

The researchers say that cats kill "mice, voles, rabbits and shrews". They also kill rats. How many rats are killed by feral cats in one year in the USA? No one has addressed that point.

The scientific community and the online newspaper work together in a most disagreeable way to distort the image of the cat and create adverse publicity that encourages the nastier sort of person to up the rate at which they shoot feral cats. It also encourages a devaluing of the domestic cat in the eyes of non-cat owners and irresponsible cat owners.

It really is time that scientists stopped estimating things as important as cat kill rates. It is careless science. The people who write up these reports cannot place any value on the cat. If they did they would not be so careless.

They say, "There are thought to be 30-80million such cats living wild in the US...." One figure is less than half the other! Neither could be anywhere near correct. This is not science. It is journalist nonsense.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

How Long Should an Internet Article Be?

Keep it short and to the point. I believe the Internet has changed because the world has changed; because of the Internet. People have developed speed reading skills. I sense that most people do their reading on the Internet and on the go; in caf├ęs, pubs and restaurants etc. They want information now and on target. It has to be without waffle. The tablet computer is the reason for this, and Wi Fi.

All newspaper articles - the hard copy version - are embroidered with verbosity. Newspapers are far too big. There are far too many pages and far too many words written. You can often crystallise down a conventional newspaper article to about one tenth or less of its length. The reason: papers have to have some bulk in order to sell them. People are used to that, but years ago they were much thinner. Bring it back, please.

On the Internet articles should be about half of their previous length. What length is that?

Well, my experience tells me that about 300 - 750 words is the right area to target.

If you can say it in 300 words, then say it but that is an absolute minimum. Add a picture, too, because you should not forget SEO in respect of images. A lot of web pages are found and accessed through Google Images. Never forget that SEO angle. But don't SEO the text. It doesn't work in my opinion these days.

In conclusion:
  1. Keep sentences short. It makes them easier to understand.
  2. Use subheadings, if suitable, as this breaks up long text making it look more readable.
  3. Make the point succinctly.
  4. Get to the point quickly.
  5. Make the point in the opening line as Google lists this under their search result link.
  6. Add a picture but make it good and relevant. Caption it with the title of the article.
  7. Write about 500 words.
The quality has to be there, though, time and time again. This is just a bit over 300 words.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

How Important Are Facebook Likes?

Huge numbers of Facebook likes is no guarantee of getting more visitors to your website. I have seen sites with hundreds of thousands of Facebook (FB) likes and rather average visitor numbers. Conversely I have seen websites with absolutely no connection with FB with good unique visitor numbers. It is much more about how good your site is rather than FB likes. I don't like them because we are far too beholden to the big websites. Let's be more independent and stop leaning on FB.

There was, and still is, an almost manic need to link up with FB because everyone else is and because FB indoctrinated people into believing that you had to put an FB like button on your site.

There is something odd about FB likes as well. On my main site I had 1,500 likes (yes I have a like button on the home page but no where else) yet onvernight, recently, it lost about 150 likes. Weird. Do people unlike your site? And do they do it en masse overnight?

You can't rely on FB to get traffic to your site. Also the more you integrate with FB the more you lose visitors to FB which is exactly what FB wants.

If you have a forum for your site on FB, beware. Anyone can visit it and make critical comments.  You don't have the same control over submissions as you do on your own forum. Also, you are moving customers from your site to FB.

The FB like button has almost become a habit for web designers. You place a series of social media buttons on each page in the hope it spreads the word. I don't think it makes any difference. If it does, it is slight. And of course, it slows up page load times. Page load speed is important these days as Google likes fast loading pages. It is part of the algorithm.

I don't believe anyone has done any proper research into the benefits of the FB like button. If someone did they'd probably conclude what I have written here.

There is another point. People who click on the FB like button are "used" by FB to promote advertised products that are associated with the webpage that they have said they like. FB does this without notifying the person. These people are presented by FB as sponsoring certain products. I find this unsatisfactory at the very least. FB are desperate to make more money.  They want to prove that FB is very commercial and can make good profits to boost the share value that dived after the recent float. FB was overvalued at the time of the float. In fact, it was valued at twice its true value, which is why the share value dived so dramatically. FB are keen to rectify that. They are trying all manner of things to make money and some of the strategies are near the bone.

The FB like button is overvalued. It is a habit that at one time we did not have. We were fine without it. Perhaps we were better off without out. Remember the FB like button is for the benefit of Facebook and its profit margins. It is not a public service.


Wednesday 9 January 2013

Catmoji, Cat Lovers Pinterest Must Fail

The people at Catmoji say "“Catmoji is on a mission to make the Internet a better and happier place with cats. Join and help us distrupt (this is verbatim but is not a word!) the Internet with cats and happiness,” Rubbish. You are on a mission to squeeze what the hell you can out of the internet while disregarding intellectual property rights.

I really hope that this new, Catmoji. website fails. We have enough copyright violations with Pinterest. Catmoji pretty much copies Pinterest but the photos are of cats.  Boring. There are enough cat photos on the internet and enough people gawping at stupid cat photos and making stupid childish remarks.

Yes, I have a website called Pictures-of-cats.org but there is hardly one silly cat photo. They are sensible and they support the article that makes a real point.

But just to recirculate cat photos and to steal them from bona fide cat sites and put them on Catmoji seems a backward step to me.

It is time to move forward and refine the internet. It is time to make it fairer and to eradicate the sloppy intellectual property rights abuses that abound without regulations. There is no regulation on the internet other than Google and their complaints procedure - hardly inspiring.

I despair with the sloppiness of the internet. To let Catmoji grow is akin to the dumbing down of society, the new laziness of the youth and the rampant acquisition of debt by nearly everyone.  Catmoji is a negative influence. It achieves nothing other than cheap laughs and amusement at the expense of others.

People are running out of ideas about what to put on the internet so all they do is just regurgitate and recycle what is already there and then make some money out of it. It is diluting the internet and dumbing it down.

No doubt some ars*hole will steal something from my site without even realising they have done something that is immoral and illegal and put the image on bloody Catmoji. People are ignorant.

I have read that horrible Catmoji is an Asian idea. In general Asians have a very low regard for intellectual property rights in my experience.

Please can someone bring on some sort of sensible low level regulation of the internet so proactive steps can be taken to curb rampant copyright violation?





Bizarre Pinterest Terms of Service?

Pinterest terms of service

Pinterest's terms of service have recently changed (on November 14th 2012). The terms are a contract between Pinterest and the people who are account holders (members). I suspect the change is because a lot of disgruntled people were chatting in a critical way about the terms on blogs and social media sites.

in this post, I am addressing the new and improved terms and they seem bizarre to me. It seems they are struggling to get the contract correct, which does not surprise me because the basic model upon which the website is built is flawed in my opinion. It does not respect intellectual property rights sufficiently or hardly at all. Pinterest depends on a certain amount of copyright violation.

We know that a lot or most of the photos on Pinterest are pinned there - uploaded and posted - by people who neither created the photos nor have any rights in them. This activity is facilitated by Pinterest because it provides code that a website owner can use on his site which allows visitors to lift photos off the site and pin them on Pinterest. Then Pinterest allows people to re-pin these photos.



Note: website owners can put some code on their site which blocks the use of the Pin It button but do website owners know about it or do they know how to use it? Also this code does not stop people downloading images from a site and uploading them from their computer's desktop.



In summary, the company expects that a photo created and owned by Mr. A will be uploaded to Pinterest by Mr B and copied and moved around Pinterest by Mr C and embedded on another website by Mr D.

Mr B, Mr C and Mr D have no rights in the photo and it is not their content. The content (the photo) belongs to Mr A. And Mr A has no idea what is happening and has not granted any rights to B, C and D.

Yet bizarrely at Pinterest's Terms of Serivice clause 2, which is headed "Your Content" it states that...
If you post your content on Pinterest, it still belongs to you but we can show it to people and others can re-pin it.
So Pinterest is saying in the terms of service that the content that is posted on their site belongs to the person who uploaded it. But we know this often does not happen. And, as mentioned, Pinterest encourages people who have no rights in the content to post it on Pinterest.

Clause 2 goes on to say that a person who posts content (usually photos) on Pinterest grants to Pinterest and other users total freedom to do as they please with the photos. Once they are on the site you can kiss copyright protection goodbye unless you complain and get the content deleted. That is very troublesome for the copyright holder. So, when they say the content "still belongs to you" it is meaningless because you have no control over it.

The terms completely annihilate intellectual property rights. Pinterest encourages and expects people who have no right in a photo to post it on their site where it becomes public property. They say "We respect copyrights. You should, too."

Notice the word "should". They should have used "must".

The company limits its liability to $100 under any circumstances. "IN NO EVENT SHALL PINTEREST'S AGGREGATE LIABILITY EXCEED ONE HUNDRED U.S. DOLLARS (U.S. $100.00)."

There you have it. Some bizarre Pinterest Terms of Service that simply do not stack up and bear no relation to what actually happens and which Pinterest expects to happen.

People with websites who have photographic content on their site that they want to be protected by copyright must not put the pin it button on their site. If they do they are, without knowing it, potentially putting their protected images into the public domain and they'll never get them back.

The big boys of the internet don't like copyright because it gets in the way of the use of social media sites. It is also a barrier to the viral-like spreading and expansion of the internet that these big companies want to happen as it expands their business. Copyright is under huge pressure at the moment from the internet. Pinterest erodes it.

Although Google do have a decent complaint service. I expect that Google receives millions of complaints regarding intellectual property violations and are probably drowning in them. Something needs to happen that stops it (i.e. proactive action) as opposed to removing it (reactive action).


Note 2: My apologies to cat lovers who want to see and read about cat stuff. However, sometimes website owners have to stand up against the big sites because they tend to walk all over the smaller sites run by individuals.


Saturday 16 June 2012

The Big Cat Scratching Post

The more I think about it, the more I realise that a cat scratching post needs to be large and well sited. There are a lot on them on the market which are not large enough. They don't work because a cat won't use it or is reluctant to use it. This has ramifications.

Kitten climbing a 'tree' - a large scratching post.

One consequence that comes to mind is that people who have thought about declawing their cat but resisted and bought a cat scratching post instead might then decide to have their cat declawed thinking that it is impossible to get their cat to scratch in the right place.

I hope people who have decided against declawing try again and purchase a large scratching post and put it where cats might mark territory as if they were wild cats. These places are normally in prominent locations within the cat's home range. An example might be near the back door if the cat is allowed to go out. When my cat goes outside he scratches trees. These are solid objects that don't move. Of course cats also scratch horizontally but in this post I am referring to the classic scratching post.

My opinion is that:
  • a large scratching post that replicates to a certain extent a tree (see picture), placed
  • in a prominent location that would be the cat's boundary of his or her home range or on a "trail" and
  • to start the process of encouraging to scratch a scratching post while the cat is a kitten...
will result in success. Or at least there will be a good chance of success if these three guidelines are put into place. Patience, gentle encouragement and the judicious use of catnip will also help.

I am grateful for Dorothy for showing me the picture. I don't know who took the picture. If you see this and want a credit please leave a comment.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Manx and Sphynx Cat Breeds Becoming More Popular?

The Manx and Sphynx have entered the top ten of most popular cat breeds. This is interesting to people like me who get involved with the popularity of cat breeds. Perhaps they were always there but not on my reckoning. They are not one of the core mainstream cat breeds. But a survey by Vetstreet.com tells us that the Manx and Sphynx are the 8th and 10th most popular cat breeds for 2011.


There are various ways to measure cat breed popularity. Each is likely to produce a different result. I cover that in more detail on this page which is a similar but extended article to this one.

Vetstreet used the number of births on their database for 2011 to come to the conclusion that the Siamese was streets ahead for popularity. I can believe them but - there is always a but, isn't there - who are Vetstreet? They seem to be a general content website about pets. They have disclaimers about their advice. I don't know why they have a database of purebred cats especially one that contains '623,000 cats born in 2011'.

The number of births is a pretty good guideline as to popularity but were these all purebred cats? The number quoted is large and it should include random bred cats. In fact I would say it must include moggies because it would seem unlikely to me that they have 623,000 purebred cats on their database.

This is what they came up with:

Vetstreet.com Most Popular Cat Breeds in America (based on 2011 data)
  1. Siamese
  2. Persian
  3. Maine Coon
  4. Ragdoll
  5. Bengal
  6. Himalayan
  7. American Shorthair
  8. Manx
  9. Russian Blue
  10. Sphynx
Comment on the result: One thing you can say for sure is that all ten are popular. Eight of them nearly always feature in the top ten. The odd two are the Manx and the Sphynx.  That is the reason for the header. It is not that the Manx and Sphynx are 'odd', they are not but they usually fall in the mid-range of popularity amongst about 70 cat breeds. The CFA register about 40 and TICA about 70 so the Manx and Sphynx usually rank around the 20 mark and not in the top 10. Both are quite specialist. The Sphynx requires some specialist care being nude and the Manx has at least some potential health problems associated with the shortened or missing tail.

As to the Siamese cat. There are 3 or 4 versions of this breed. Which one are Vetstreet talking about?

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Ohio Restrictions on Private Captive Wildlife Programs

Ohian legislators have responded to the horrifying carnage of wild animals, including large wild cats, at Zanesville, Ohio. It is referred to as the Zanesville massacre. It occurred on October 19, 2011. It was the classic, private zoo disaster waiting to happen and it could happen again. Neither do I believe it was a freak event.

The silver lining to come out of this very sad story is that legislation backed by HSUS was introduced into Ohio's state legislature and has been passed and become law. It was a speedy bit of law making prompted by the shock of the event.

Of course, keepers of exotic cats etc. were against it. It is one more piece of legislation that erodes the freedoms of Americans to indulge their passion for interacting with exotic animals. The trouble is that ultimately it is an indulgent hobby (it does not pay). And to be brutally honest I don't think it does anything or hardly anything for conservation although the benefits to conservation is the argument used by keepers of exotic animals for doing it. Personally, I don't go with that argument which is why I support more legislation that restricts people's freedoms. This is unfortunate but sadly people do need to be managed to a certain extent because not everyone acts responsibly.

Since the 1980s there has been an explosion in wildlife breeding. That is one reason why it became a risk to both public and the animals. Ohio had some of the weakest laws on the keeping of exotic 'pets'. This is how some so called 'conservationists' relate to their dangerous wild animals.

What sort of restrictions will soon be in place? And how will this impact privately owned captive wildlife programs?

Legislation

I will summarize because people involved in keeping captive wildlife will read the legislation carefully, while those outside it don't want boring legal details.

The new restrictions appear to be concerned with 'dangerous exotic animals'. People who already keep them can still do so. But they will have to apply for a permit by January 1st 2014 and their application is not going to be a walkover. The cost of permits range from $250-$1,000. Insurance cover might have to be in the region of a quarter of a million dollars to one million with the premiums that that brings to the owner.

On September 3rd 2012, when the law comes into effect, the trade in exotic animals will be banned with a few exceptions. Approximately 640 species are wild animal fall under the new law.

Wild animals classified as dangerous include: lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs. There are exemptions for genuine sanctuaries, zoos and research institutions for instance.

Impact

I'll have to refer to what Lynn Culver the Executive Director of the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) says, which is that privately owned captive wildlife in Ohio will be extremely rare in the future. People who want to get into wildlife ownership and breeding will now be critically scrutinised, or should be, by the USDA. They will need proven skills and knowledge. The FCF run courses that will help. There is no doubt that the laissez-faire days of letting people buy lions for peanuts are over. People should consider applying for ZAA (Zoological Association of America)  accreditation as they register breeders and apparently they have an exemption.

People's energies and love of wild cats etc. should be channeled into true wildlife conservation in the wild as practiced by people like Jim Sanderson PhD (Andean Mountain Cat and other species) and the Snow Leopard Trust. They both run fantastic conservation programmes.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Pets Are Not Animals

I have stolen the title from Craig McFarlane's site. I think he makes an interesting but very refined point. He also refers to an article from one of those Homes and Gardens type magazines. This one is called, 'Fresh Home Magazine".

They had a page which was on the subject of "Decorating Mantras to Live By". That is a big statement for one of these magazines. The author lists five points to live by. One of them is: Every room needs something living, flowers, goldfish, a pet. Fair point. A good point. But, it is the way the point is made that indicates that pets are not animals.

You can see what Craig is getting at. It is something I have mentioned before myself. It is unfashionable mind you; very unfashionable with a large section of society but it is true and therefore worth mentioning again.

When you write about decorating your home and refer to 'a pet' - any pet ('a' pet), as part of the decorating process you are on dangerous ground. This is because you are treating the 'pet' as a item of decoration and not as a living, breathing animal with all that that imparts. It is this mentality that can lead to incorrect expectations regarding caring for a cat and that unfortunately is part of the mentality that can lead to deciding to declaw one's cat because claws tend to spoil the decor.

Sorry to keep going on about declawing but it seems I have to because it still goes on when it should have stopped.

Craig emphasizes the point that pets are not treated as animals because goldfish and 'pets' are separated by the author. It is like separating curtains from sofa coverings.

The reference to 'a pet' is worrying too. Any pet (and 'pet' is a bad word) will do. Just add it into the mix and make your home better. No; this is not the way to adopt a cat.

Adopting a domestic cat is far more profound because a cat is a living animal with feelings. And animals are like us. Jean Cocteau got it right when he said:

"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."

In this cat quote Cocteau is referring to cats as part of making the home better, more pleasant and it goes much deeper than decoration. A cat's presence goes to the soul of the home. A domestic cat does add a dimension to the home that inanimate objects cannot.

That is why the cat should not be treated as an inanimate object. Finally, the other points 1,2, 4 and 5 are good points. He or she just has the wrong mentality on pets or (s)he did not express herself as well as she might have.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Doctors are no more that specialist veterinarians

To those of us who love cats and are aware of our cat's needs and behavior I think we knew this all along . What do I mean? I mean that animals suffer from the same or similar psychological and physical health problems that we do. They are more like us than billions of people realize. This is gradually dawning on the human race, rather late in the day, and it may put some resistance into worldwide animal abuse and misuse.

The title is a reference to the fact that doctors (General Practitioners let's say) treat the human animal, one species of animal amongst all animals on the planet and are, therefore, specialist vets because vets treat all animals.

Vets should be funded better through a state subsidy perhaps. They are paid less than doctors. Although in America they call themselves doctors. Being paid less can create distortions and anomalies such as declawing cats, a highly profitable process for vets. Some never declaw.

I would like, as well, to refer to the book, Zoobuity, that is out on the 14th June 2012. You can pre-book on Amazon. It is the book that gave me the idea for this post.

Here is an example of how close we are to animals. God, that statement will upset some people, sorry. Take people who self-harm. This could be a distortion of preening in birds. When birds are upset because they have been left alone they peck themselves. A similar form of self-harm. When horses are left alone they gnaw themselves.

In general doctors keep a distance from veterinarians and vice versa. There is a call for these two professions to collaborate much more to the benefit of both, particularly the human animal. Of course, we are far more important than animals aren't we?

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts