Archive for the ‘off topic’ Category

The Story of UTube

Friday, June 15th, 2007

This is the story of UTube… not to be confused with YouTube…

The domain is the home of the Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corporation. Notice the letters in bold. Phonetically speaking, sounds eerily similar to, the wildly popular video-sharing site. For this reason, has been experiencing unprecedented amounts of traffic.

Here is a company profile pulled from the UTube site:

“Since 1985 Universal Tube & Rollform has been committed to being the number one supplier of used Tube, Pipe and Rollform Machinery in the world. Our presence in this industry has always been strong and honorable, working with companies locally and all over the world.”

Not exactly the typical profile of a wildly successful web 2.0 start-up, but let’s look at the numbers just to put the situation in perspective. The site had an Alexa rank that was off the charts before 2006. Today, UTube is ranked in the 9,000 range! Remarkable. It has peaked higher than 5,000 at one point. Here is a 3-year Alexa chart, showcasing the traffic growth of - phenomenal to say the least. According to the company, unique visitors surpasses 120,000 per day.

The high traffic and exposure are obviously not due to the products and offerings of this industrial firm. Growth is placed squarely on the success of YouTube - and the most obvious misspelling that accompanies it. UTube did launch a lawsuit against YouTube, looking for monetary compensation for brand degradation and technology costs. The actual complaint is a hilarious document. I highly suggest you take the time to give it a thorough read.

More recently, UTube has decided to try to profit from the traffic. If you visit, the top of the page is riddled with ads for ringtones, dating sites, toolbars, and loans to name a few. This is a definite new direction and revenue stream for a tangible, industrial product firm! Resourceful to say the least. I am very curious as to how much the site is making from these ads. Also, it would be interesting to know whether the ad revenue exceeds the bandwidth and hosting costs…

In any case, I thought this was a fascinating story. I’m sure there are many other popular misspelled sites out there. I wonder how they deal with the traffic onslaught…

Is AJAX all It is Hyped to be?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

The coming of the new-web brought with it a bucket of buzz words and terms. Among them: podcast, RSS, wikis, VOIP, blog, widgets, and of course, AJAX. Some are relevant, while others are simply fads with no long-term potential. AJAX, for one, has been a term buzzing around the development community. The combination of asynchronous JavaScript and XML forms a powerful, interactive experience by increasing usability and saving time.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not an expert in the area. Programming is definitely not my schtick. But from a non-techie perspective, I see a definite problem. A large majority of websites nowadays generate revenues via advertising. In other words, they are looking to maximize their number of page views. In the case of AJAX, a page load is not needed to perform a given action or task. Do you see what is missing here?

Why would Internet Company A want to use AJAX if it is going to decrease page views, thus decreasing revenues? It doesn’t make sense. So Internet Company A may want to stay away from this web development technique. This may mean that the user is unable to experience the site at its utmost potential.

Furthermore, another problem often overlooked is around browsing and navigation. If I alter, edit, or modify an AJAX-driven page, then hit the “Back” button on my browser, I jump back to a previous page - not my previous edit or change. This causes some anxiety among users. One could also argue that issues regarding URLs may pose problems as well.

Nonetheless, the technique does have its positive as mentioned above. The decrease in bandwidth utilization, increased interactivity, and more fulfilling user experience create an environment that is perfect for some web applications.

I guess what I am saying is that every company should assess whether or not AJAX is a good fit with their experience before deciding to implement it. 

Do you think AJAX has long term sustainability or is it simply a fad?

“Getting Real” with 37signals

Monday, June 11th, 2007

37signals logo37signals has solified itself among the elite providers of simple, clean, web-based apps on the Internet. I have spoken very highly of the company in the past and many have expressed the same views. Not only is the firm popular for its products, but also many other things including:

In addition, many may also be aware that 37signals has launched a popular book about how to build a successful web-based application. This book is $19 for the PDF version, $29 for the paperback edition, or best of all - FREE if you want to read the online version.

If you are currently working on a web-based start-up or plan on doing so in the near future, this read is a MUST. I cannot recommend it enough. The outline, as well as the principles and concepts, are easy-to-understand and simple to implement, although many fail to do so. By carefully reading this wonderful bit of text, you will no doubt better position yourself (and company) for success.

Here is a break-down of the book:

  • 16 chapters
  • 91 essays
  • Under 200 pages

The book walks you step-by-step through pre-launch, launch, promotion, support, and even post-launch, ensuring successful progression along the way. It is available in numerous languages and is a very easy read. I will leave you with Seth Godin comments about the book:

“Every once in a while, a book comes out of left field that changes just about everything. This is one of those books. Ignore it at your peril.”

Web 3.0 is Web 1.0 (I Hope)

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I’m hoping web 3.0 goes back to the basics, although I’m not convinced that will be the case. Let me also backtrack and re-iterate that I hate buzzwords, so excuse my use of the terms web 3.0 and web 1.0. I am simply referring to the coming of the new-web. Wow, even that sounds wishy-washy…

Simply put, I am hoping that the next big step for the web is actually two steps backward. My aspiration is that we return to the original vision of Tim Berners-Lee of a semantic web, full of wonderful things such as directories and meaningful links. Sounds boring and lame, but it’s a lot more useful and relevant. The Internet, as we know it now, is riddled with interactivity, video, Flash, AJAX, and many other features. Now don’t get me wrong - these can all be useful, relevant, and sometimes entertaining, but in many cases they simply add clutter and confuse the user experience.

The world of search engine optimization (SEO), in essence, attempts to convert ambiguous, equivocal web pages to relevant, content-rich websites. By altering title tags, META tags, URL structure, headers, linking structure, and content, one is not only optimizing for search engines, but also creating a more usable, people-friendly site. Yes, this is what the web was meant to be.

I can’t say enough good things about sites that attempt to simplify the experience and provide a very focused, clean-cut offering. I’m referring to sites such as Craigslist, Wikipedia, and Their interfaces aren’t cluttered or crammed with images. Pages are legible and usability is tremendous. Add to that such things as clean URLs and a innate linking structure, and we are talking about a whole new type of experience - or an old one that we forgot about.

Domain Investing is Virtual Real Estate

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Individuals who partake in the buying and selling of domain names are called “domainers”. These individuals can also create revenues by generating traffic to the given properties, then maxizing the ad revenue per page view. By producing tailored landing pages and optimizing for search engines, the influx of traffic can be constant and ongoing, creating a flow of income.

The former tactic sounds very similar to the real world and real estate investing. Essentially, they are the same thing. In either case, the investor is purchasing some ‘property’ in hopes that it will increase in value. Subsequently, a sale will produce a capital gain. 

Many of these investors possess comprehensive portfolios of domain names, containing tens of thousands of names or more. The names range from high-end .com properties to smaller, more niche, long tail offerings. As mentioned above, these fortune-seekers can generate revenue not only via a sale, but also via traffic.

World famous domainers include:

  • Yun Ye - probably the most famous domainer; Vancouver man who sold this 100,000+ domain portfolio to Marchex for $164 million in 2004
  • Frank Schilling - his sites apparently generate 1% of all Yahoo ad revenues, or over $30 million a year
  • Rick Schwartz - multi-millionaire who turned $1,800 into over $20 million; has owned such domains as and

The domain investing world is a very interesting space that I would like to learn more about. It is a very underground, low profile industry due to its (sometimes) unethical and shifty nature. In any case, it is captivating and opens your mind to a whole new world of business on the Internet.

Note: I would highly recommend reading this article on domain investing. It is not only entertaining, but very educating.