Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seven Million Hit Mark

The offcials stats page shows the Community Color directory page just passed the seven million hit mark. In actuality, I crossed this line a month ago. The program deletes the stats for a page when I delete the page.

Hitwise, we find Salt Lake City is approaching the 3 million hit mark. Provo is near the three quarter of a million hit mark. The newer Colorado directories are moving along as well. Denver approaches the half million hit mark with both Colorado Springs and Boulder at the 100,000 hit mark.

Internal pages are hopping along. There's been 180,000 views on the venue pages, and 1.5 million hits on the review pages. These figures are low as I delete the hit counters when I delete the pages.

Currently there's 20,000 links in the directory. I have deleted 6,000 old and broken links. About a quarter of the web sites listed have gone dark since starting the directory.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Regulating the Internet

It looks like the heady days of the Internet is coming to an end. The new adminstration plans for regulating the web. The first target of the FTC is "Internet Endorsements."

Apparently, one of the dirty practices of the Internet is that tech firm developing a new product might do something underhanded like give bloggers a beta copy of the product. The blogger will then test the product and write a blog about the test. The blog post might include a link to the manufacturer.

A site writing book reviews might receive a free copy of a book from an author or publisher. The reviewer will read the book and write the review ... benefitting from having a free copy of a book.

Dirty practices, like beta testing products, are done by evil corporations in a concerted effort to build hype for a product.

The new regulatory regime wishes to stop this evil practice by demanding that bloggers clearly state any benefit they might receive for writing a blog post or otherwise listing a link.

The FTC plans to go after corporations engaged in dark practices (like beta testing) and slap them with a hefty $10,000 fine.

According to the FTC, bloggers can be safe if they simply write in each of their blog posts any benefit they receive from the post.

This new regulatory regime makes me sad, as I think bloggers should benefit from their actions. Personally, I never faulted anyone for being paid for their writing.

I have not received any free products for blogging. However, I am engaged in another dark practice of the internet called Affiliate Marketing.


The goal of the Community Color project project is to promote community-centric web development. What I do is list all of the web sites I can find find for a community in the Mountain West. For example, Boulder Color lists web sites and blogs from Boulder, Colorado.

Whenever I find a site with an affiliate program, I join the affiliate program and list the affiliate link. An affiliate program pays commissions on sales.

This evil practice means that there is a possibility of my benefitting from sending traffic to the site. I don't benefit much ... I barely cover the cost of hosting, but it is a benefit, and (if you follow leftist thought) any benefit received for work is evil.

Several of the sites in the Community Color program have a web browsing blog. These programs will periodically highlight a site. The Salt Lake Site has 925 such reviews. About 35 of the sites reviewed have evil affiliate programs.

I always had multiple disclaimers on the site to help people differentiate from affiliate listings and free listings. I spent the day strengthening the disclaimer and thinking dark thoughts about the FTC and the stupidity of their new ruling.

Looking through the book reviews in the newspaper ... they don't say if they received a free copy of the book. The restaurant reviews don't say if the reviewer received a free meal or extra treat for being a reviewer ... when we know perfectly well that companies send free products to media outlets for review.

I have not received any free products for review, but I have purchased CDs and books from other media concerns that did receive free products.

I've watched the video from Mary Engel several times trying to figure out how to stay in compliance with the regulatory regime, and feeling absolutely sick to my stomach that the administrations is going to start going after bloggers for engaging in practices that are common among the newspaper and publishing industry.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Black Friday

I've been working myself ragged tossing up coupons and sale notices for Black Friday. I usually don't have much web traffic on Black Friday. The biggest time for online sales is December 10th, which is pretty much the latest you can order stuff and expect it by Christmas.

You can find the sales links on the page: aFountainOfBargains.com. The sales support the site CommunityColor.com. CC is stuck in a rut, to add more functionality, I need to move to a different server which is currently out of my budget. Strong Xmas sales might turn that around.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Links

I spent several hours updating the Salt Lake Halloween page and the Denver Halloween page.

Realizing the people will travel for a good maze or haunted house, the Salt Lake page lists attractions all along the Wasatch Front. The Denver Page lists attractions along the Front Range.

The directories are the most complete source for Halloween in these markets ... because I unabashedly included all the links I could find on the other Halloween directories.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Twitter Tip

I just did an experiement: The site Bit.ly makes short urls. For example, the string http://bit.ly/mcSRz leads straight back here.

You can paste the stort string in a twitter post. Twitter will make the shortened URL hot.

Twitter makes any string beginning with www. hot. If you replace the "http://" with "www."


The new link seems to work and you save three characters ... which is important in a world limited to 140 characters.

PS: I am not with bit.ly and can not guarantee that this hack will work forever. (Back to twitter (twitter links).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sharing Videos

I discovered a fun site called UtahBizTube.com which hosts YouTube style videos from Utah. The site allows videographers and production studios from the area to upload their work.

The site is focusing on creating business and product profiles for Utab businesses. They have a few personal videos in the mix.

UtahBizTube is the type of site that can truly ignite the local design community as it provides both an opportunity for the local design community to show their works and for businesses to introduce their wares. I am hoping that this business proves a success.

Needless to say, I will be taking full advantage of this site and have taken to posting their videos on the sites in the CommunityColor.com family. I made a page to index the videos as I embed them in my site.

Friday, July 31, 2009

On Being a Twit

I just opened a new twitter account with the name CommunityColor. This twitter account is for the CommunityColor family of sites. I will use this account to promote things in the communities served by CommunityColor directories (Colorado, Utah and Western Montana).

I have personal twitter account (yintercept) that I started a few years back. I was using the account to follow local sites.

Well, during the current health care debate, I thought I would take a stab at promoting an idea called a Medical Savings and Loan. This reform adds a guaranteed loan to a Medical Savings Account. The guaranteed loan makes the system a viable option for lower income folks.

Replacing health insurance programs with a Medical Savings and Loan would give people equity in their health care. This would eliminate the problem that occurs when people change jobs.

If one defines "progressive" as something that creates big benefits for lower and middle class workers, the Medical Savings and Loan is the most progressive form of medical reform.

I started using my personal account to promote this idea.

My observation is that engaging in national debates detracts from my efforts to promote local communities. Having two accounts will help me keep a separation of these two efforts.

NOTE, I will be going through my following and followers list and refollowing people with the new account.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Domain -- MS&L

There is a new site in the CommunityColor.com family of sites. The domain is www.MedicalSavingsAndLoan.com. This site introduces an exciting approach to free market health care reform called The Medical Savings and Loan (more).

A medical savings and loan adds a guaranteed interest free loan to a medical savings account.

An interest free loan you ask? How can a company provide an interest free loan?

The answer is simple. In a standard loan, one charges the premium for the loan in the form of interest. This does not work in the case of medical loans as injury and illness reduce the capacity to pay back the loan.

Rather than charging the premium on the loan, the system charges a premium to access a guaranteed interest free loan.

I opened a disqus thread on the topic. If you would like to comment please use that thread as it will be more robust.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finding Local Sites on Twitter

The Community Color directories had reaced a plateau as I was finding it increasingly difficult to find new local sites.

I am simply amazed at the number of small local stores that forget the most important detail that needs to be conveyed in their web site: Their Location! The thing that I find rediculus is the online merchant who puts privacy contols on their DNS record.

Anyway, I started trolling through Twitter. As a fair number of twitters include their city and state in their profile, I've been able to find dozens of new sites to the local directories.

When I started trolling twitter, my knee jerk reaction was to check out people's "following" list. I realized that I would find more interesting sites by following people's "followers" list.

My guess is that if a person wanted to build a huge twitter following, one would troll the followers list. Based on the premise that followers are more likely to reciprocate a following, I assume a person wanting to build a following would have better luck following the followers to following those with a large following.

Ofcourse, I am not sure if there is any value in having a following list of thousands as it would make the list unreadable.

BTW, I started Twitter in March 2007. I have 91 followers. It is strange, I have almost zero desire to invest effort in building a following.

I like that I can find local sites for my directories. So, I will be hitting Twitter with a vengeance until I stop finding interesting local sites.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recession Taking It's Toll

Tallying up the Q2 2009. The take for Q2 had fallen from $1,463 to $766. That is is fell from about a quarter of a minimum wage job to about an eigth of a minimum wage job. Costs are about $300 a quarter. So really the take is about a 1/16th of a minimum wage job.

The lack of a funding source has kept me from adding features.

To make matters worse, many of the links in the directory have gone dark and the directories are showing signs of excessive link rot.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Protophoto Blog

There is a small number of nice photos in the ProtoPhoto.com web site. The goal of ProtoPhoto was simply to create a browsable structure of photos of town. I was concentrating on showing what a town looked like ... opposed to the idea of showing what a deep and artistic person I am.

I decided to add a blog to the site. The blog would show pictures which I like. The goal is to show one photo a day. This way the site will have regularly changing quality content.

The photos will drive traffic into the Community Color directories. For that matter, it turns out that most of the traffic in the Community Color family of sites comes from the photo site.

The first picture is of the columbine pictured to the right.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My Account Update

I've updated the "My Account" page on the Community Color web sites. There is a myAccount.html page on each of the community directories, e.g. gjct.com/myAccount.html. The page is the same for all of the communities as the community sites are really nothing more than different entry points into the same program.

The my account page now lists all of the user's links on the many account page. I've also added some advanced features for super users.

I removed a few broken links from the myAccount page.

I apologize for leaving the broken links up for so long.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deleting Photos

I finally got around to adding a "delete" button to the photo gallery on ProtoPhoto.com. Many of the photos were taken with a circa 1999 camera that had a maximum display size of 640px. I decided to move up to a standard picture size of 1024px for all new photos.

The delete button will help me clean up lower resolution photos and those with broken links.

My goal is to replace all of the photos that are easy to replace. My first camera had a maximum display size of 300MB. With my second camera, I was taking pictures at a 2MB size. Now, I am up to 6MB size.

I've been thinking about adding a new site where I sell the 6MB pictures as Stock Photography. I am still looking into all the legal ramifications of stock.

I had hesitated to create a delete button in the past because the pages were indexed in Google. To reduce problems with broken links in search engines, the delete button simply replaces the photo page with a URL forward command and marks the picture file for deletion at a later date.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Index Page

One problem with the current design of the community color directories is that they concentrate the traffic in the top tiers of the directoris. So, you will see more traffic on the music page than the bands page.

For this reason. I decided to experiment with a new index page that diverts more traffic to the third tiered categories in the directories. So the index page for missoula now lists randomly selected categories, while the dir.html page still just shows the top level of the directory.

The other advantage of this design is that it will allow me to develop the sites as something other than just a directory.

So far I've changed Missoula, provo and Denver.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prev, Next ... Cool

I spent the day adding Pevious / Next buttons to the cool site features of the CommunityColor.com directories. The buttons just use the characters <== and ==> in the title. Some one wanting to see all the reviews can easily click through the pages.

This review feature started as an afterthought. I wanted some way to give an extra link to notable sites. The reviews were an ugly block of text with a link. While reading all of the negative political blogs, I decided to morph the reviews into more of a blog about the local web community. So, I started putting stock photos on the reviews and what not.

The page for the Boulder Youth Symphony shows the direction I am currently headed. It has a picture of violin, a dark background and just looks a littler nicer. If you follow the arrows back in time, you will find the older reviews are just shabby text pages.

I also just figured out how to get CSS positioning to work. I had been putting the credit for Microstock photos under the picture. In other cases I made the whole picture hot with a link to the credit. With CSS positioning, I can put the credits in the lower left hand corner of the picture.

The picture on this post has a hot link going to the International links. There is a link on the lower part of the image that goes to the image credits.

The previous/next buttons make the site reviews a bit more blog-like as it is now possible to navigate through all of the reviews just by clicking the arrows.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dex Now Knows More

This little project took about 12 hours.

I put a DexKnows.com ad at the bottom of the Community Color web sites. The goal of my site is to list all of the web sites from towns. DexKnows lists businesses.

There is a nice symbiotic relation here. If you can find a local web site, perhaps you can still find what you are looking for in the yellow pages.

DexKnows.com just did a major upgrade of their site, which required that I change all of the links on my site.

To add functionality, I spent the day matching all of my categories to the DexKnow keywords. The DexKnows.com box is now prepopulated with both the town name and the DexKnows search term that best matches my category name.

If you choose a page in the directory (say Moab Art). The DexKnows Box at the bottom of the page is populated with the keyword "artists" and the town name Moab. Simply clicking the DexKnows.com logo in the box will execute the search.

If you went to Boulder Cycling you will find the box prepoplated with the term "bicycling" and Boulder, Co for the town.

It took about 18 hours to match the category and keywords. Hopefully this little bit of functionality will improve the directory experience. If not, I killed two days for nothing.

Being a good programmer, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to roll out the change into production.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Widget Dex

© Robot Cam PictureIn internet lingo, a widget is a small piece of code hosted by one web site made available for display on other web sites. YouTube videos are a great example of such a widget. Anyone can grab the object code for a video and paste on their blog.

My first experiment with widgets was a total disaster. The widgets were a bait and switch. I put the widgets on my site. One day I fould my web site was spewing forth popups and other internet nasties. Really evil people made fun widgets, then had them install browser helper objects or parasiteware.

Because of this, I wrote off widgets for a half decade.

This last year, I started playing with widgets again.

Yesterday, I was thinking about ways to improve my sites. I decided to dramatically increase the number of widgets on display. My hope is to create a index of widgets from the area served by Community Color (the mountain west).

To keep track of the widgets, I made a little widget index program. This will help me track down and remove widgets if the widget host turns to the dark side of the net. The summary report shows widgets by community. It will take me awhile to find them all.

Anyway, if you are from the Mountain West and have a youtube video or other widget that you would like me to list; please reply to this post or send me the link with my contact form.

Creating widget is a great way to build web traffic.

When building widgets, please don't become evil. There is enough evil in the world.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blogger Features

I was playing with bloger features today. On the settings page, there is an Import/Export feature that allows people to back up their site. I am not sure when that appreared. I looked for such a feature in the past and did not find one.

The layout manager has a feature for adding RSS feeds in the side bar. Not knowing which community site to favor, I added the feed for the main CommunityColor.com site.

If only I could coax a few people into adding the feed for their town on their blog; it might be enough to salvage the community directory project.

Adding the feed is simple. One simply selects the RSS Feed gadget in the blogger layout manager. The wizard asks for the address of the feed. If you wanted to add the Boulder feed to your site, you would use the site URL followed by "/rss.php" as follows:


The Provo Link would be:



The RSS feeds simply highlight a site from a given town each week. The goal is to create community awareness. The selection of sites is basically random. If there was someone who was eager to promote businesses in their town, I would be happy to set them up so that they got to choose the reviews.

After adding the RSS feed to this site, I decided to shorten the titles of the feed items.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Re-inforcing Pages with Microstock

One interesting use of MicroStock is add images to older web pages that are central to your site or your site's message.

For example, the Community Color blog index is important to my work building community directories. So, today I spent a Microstock credit and slapped an image to the page. All of the different programs that crawl the web will note the addition of content.

After adding the image, I used the LinksAlive Microstock crediting program. The image on the page links to a page with the graphic design credit and back to the index.

With this trick of re-inforcing content, I am now tempted to go back through my blog and add relevant stock images to pages of import. Assuming, I can find some.