Wednesday, November 15, 2006


It seems that the clever guys at Flickr have come up with a new concept to help solve the problem of ambiguous tag naming.

That concept is called clustering.

I'm guessing that what they are doing is requesting base tag (for example "ultralight") and then searching for any images with this tag. They are then looking for other tags that are common amongst those images and separating the clusters based on any other common tags.

For example check out the ultralight cluster.

This is a very clever solution to the problem of ambiguous tags as it looks at each tag in the context of the other tags given to an image, and no further information needs to be provided by the user.

Monday, November 13, 2006

95% Theory

Most of the people that you meet in your life will be through someone you know. Whether they are a friends partner that you meet at a party, or a new colleague interviewed by your boss.

95% theory basically says this: 95% of the time you will immediately like the person you are being introduced to.

Your friend/colleague obviously likes/gets on with/tolerates the person that they are introducing to you, otherwise they wouldn't have brought them to the party, or offered them the job. If you friend or workmate gets on with them, there is a good chance that you will too, a 95% chance.

Disclaimer: the figure, 95%, has been pretty much plucked out of the air but it's roughly based on people I have met. Sorry if you are in the 5%.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why Phone Interviews are not always a Good Idea

Phone interviews are great if you want a developer that's just going to sit in their little bubble, coding away. They are impartial, fair and you aren't influenced by anything woolly like appearance or first impressions.

But the problem is: the rest of the world will be.

If the developer has to go out to meet clients, these clients are going to judge the developer based on these woolly things. It has been said that you form extremely strong opinions of someone in the first 10 seconds of meeting them. So why shouldn't you form the same opinions as your customers?

By meeting an interviewee face to face you will be putting yourself in the same position as a client. If you are immediately impressed, there is a good chance your client will be too. And if you are immediately put off, chances are your customers will be.

"But I just want them to code!" I hear you cry. However, will you in a year's time? In two?

In this age of versatility and Total Business (the business equivalent of total football, where colleagues are expected to take on each other's roles) having a more rounded individual that can liaise with customers might just be the better option.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Do what you Love!

"I don't live to work, I work to live, and live at the weekend." Say the Stereophonics in their track Last of the Big Time Drinkers. And I agree with them. But only whilst doing jobs that I’ve not enjoyed.

Since I was youngster I’ve wanted to make computer games, it's been my dream since I was about 10 years old. 11 years, 3½ A levels and a 2:1 later and I finally got to live out that dream by working for a company called Blitz Games. I started as a junior programmer and 4 years later I was Technical Manager on their flagship next-generation project, Possession. Life was all good.

At that time, I was offered a job working on some business software. I was promised all sorts of perks including a stake in the company after a year, profit related bonuses and a 30% pay increase! I put my new management training to use and drew up a list of weighted pros and cons, and the job offer scored fractionally higher than my current job. So I went for it.

I've been in this job for several months now, working from home. And I don't enjoy working alone, I need to be around other people.

Ok, so what am I going to do about it? I could sit here and moan to the World Wide Weblog but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to get a new job. Something were people are around me to bounce ideas off. Something I enjoy.

When you do a job you love – a job like making computer games – you are more motivated and committed to achieving great things. You'll work hard and you'll accomplish far more than you could ever imagine in a job you dislike. Getting up in the morning is not a chore as it means you'll soon be able to crack on with that challenging problem.

So you don't have to work to live, working can be living if you really love what you do.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Using Google Trends to help with SEO

Google Trends is a fairly new bit of software from those clever technology people at Google labs. What it does is take a snapshot of how people are searching the web, and then allows you to view the results as a graph over time.

It also allows you to enter multiple terms and see how they compare, for example try Easter and Christmas.

"But how can it be used to help with Search Engine Optimisation?" I hear you cry.

Well, by knowing the more common search terms and understanding how trends are changing with time, you can make sure that you have the correct key words on your pages.

As a case study, this blog is called "Software, Technology and Leadership" but let's see how those words compare to some similes:
Software Vs Code
Technology Vs Tech
Management Vs Leadership

So it would seem that I’ve managed to pick three terms that are searched for far less than other terms!

There is a flip-side however; SEO is inherently competitive. What I mean by that is, there are hundreds of thousands of websites all trying to achieve a Google rank (or GRank as it will now be known). So the number of websites that you are trying to beat also comes into the equation, and obviously the fewer the better.

Finding the number of websites that contain a certain term is trivially simple; just google the term and see how many results come back (it's there, near the top: "Results 1 – 10 of about 1,700,000,000 for management")

So here's how the previously mentioned terms compare:

WordNumber of Pages

So, although less people are searching for the word Leadership (compared to the word Management) there are 1/6th the number of pages containing Leadership. Therefore, the chances are better of getting a higher GRank.

In conclusion, Google Trends provides SEOs with another tool for their box as knowing the phrases for which to optimise is half the battle.