Friday, September 11, 2020

Link Beggers...

 It's amazing to me that link beggars are still out there begging...

I get a few of these every week despite all the spam tools that should screen them out.


From: ****<****> 

Sent: Friday, September 11, 2020 1:44 PM
To: T
Subject: Guest Post Request on :https://www.*****.com

  Hello dear
Sir/ Madam

I Need Guest post at Your  Site: 
With do-follow back link Permanent
Post and Insert link let me Know how much
price for each post
Waiting your good Reply

Sometimes I answer saying that a million dollars in bitcoins would do it.

Since I work for a legit corporation, this bit of humor will probably get me in trouble some day. Still, I think it's funny.

I was in an SEO meeting this week where we discussed link building and a suggestion was made to start asking for links. I was in disbelief but it turns out, they were talking primarily about contacting people who had written articles about us or were mentioning us. In these cases, you can sometimes turn the mentions into links, even sculpt them a little. And legit press will actually treat that as a profit opportunity and sell those links.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What's with all the links?

 To manage the process of optimizing our sites for the search engines (SEO), we license a tool called Conductor which helps us with tracking, ranking, and all sorts of the nitty gritty of SEO.

Mostly, the relationship is pretty minimal. We send them money, they let us use their tool (which is great).

This week we heard from them. Apparently, an unusual and alarming number of links were appearing aimed at our site and they worried that we were spamming or being made to look like we were spamming and were we aware of it?

Our answer:

"It is back-to-school season during a major pandemic and many parents are trying to figure out what to do for their children's education. Homeschooling is a school choice option that is now of interest not just to the ~1 million families that were doing it at this time last year, but all ~30 million families of kids with school age kids. The press as well as the public have picked up on this. Time4Learning is the leading homeschool online service. Yes. WE ARE TRENDING"

Nothing nefarious or devious about it. We're just getting a great deal of attention.

Thanks for checking. Oh, you too have children and have some questions? Well, check our website and look at the demos and videos, visit our facebook groups and ask some questions, download our free guide to starting to homeschool, and good luck to you."

Here's today's joker. It commemorates the 1934 World's Fair. It's part of the Americana collection of jokers. 

Monday, July 06, 2020

The Business Case for Podcasting

Lets assume that you are a business who runs an information site that makes its revenue on selling advertising to a specialized niche of people interested in that information.

For our purposes, the info could be anything. It could be about poodles. It could be about coffee mugs. It could be about business education for dentists. Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that the site is about poodles.

So assume there is an info website in place with people who visit it, people who write for it, people who sell ads on it, and people who buy ads on it.

Not Poodles but poodles is easier to spell!

As a growth and brand strategy, the info site would like to grow into all the places that people might want this info since people like to grow. But that is a lot of places. In some places, it might not make commercial sense. Overall, it would make more sense if the content could be created once, used everywhere. It would make less sense if the articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts, and so on were each an independent creation effort so there is no leverage and synergy.

In addition to a website full of articles info about poodles, the business might:
- syndicate its best content onto other platforms related to dogs, pets, families, and parenting.
- solicit other content writers about poodles and get their content onto the poodle website
- create videos about poodles and put them on Youtube
- create emails and newsletters about poodles
- hold conferences about poodles
- create social media accounts about poodles and fill them full of poodle info. This could include Facebook, Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, and more.
- create ebooks about poodles and put them on kindle, iTunes, Google Play, and other channels
- create podcasts about poodles
- create new content on the new platforms as they emerge such as tiktok and interactive speakers (Alexa) and others that have not yet emerged

Is more always better? No, there is an optimal amount of expansion and content creation. You can  overspend on content creation.  You can over extend and put too much effort into too many media. You can create content around topics where there is no real advertising or business opportunity. Novels, for instance, are a powerful media but with NO opportunity for advertising. The color gray has a lot that can be said about it but virtually none of it attracts any advertising.   You can accumulate an audience but not monetize it.

What does, given all these possibilities, a business case for a podcast look like?

  1. Envisage success. If all goes well, in 12 months:
    1. What is the size of the audience that is following the podcast?
    2. What is the value, in terms of advertising, of this audience?
    3. These are easily answerable questions since we are buyers of ads on these platforms and we know what the revenue opportunity looks like. To think about it, a monthly advertising revenue estimate should be made.
    4. In 12 months, to maintain this audience, what are the monthly costs of producing and publishing this podcast?
  2. Measure progress.  Find some comparable successful podcasts and look at their history.
    1. How big was their audience after the first quarter, the second quarter, etc.
    2. Compare that growth pattern with the growth pattern that our podcast is showing.
    3. Are we going slower or faster than our model of success?
    4. Any adjustments we can make?
    5. What is the current expense to maintain the current growth rate?
  3. Create a spreadsheet and add it all up.  Does the business case make sense?  Is it a high ROI?  Is it a money pit?  
    1. What's the alternative? Could we for a certain amount of money sponsor some other podcast creator?
    2. Could the postcasts be published at the same time as videos on youtube and elsewhere?

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Hotwire Fision TV: Worst User Interface Ever?

I believe that when professors put together courses on designing user interfaces, the current Fision Hotwire remote interface should be used as an example of how awful an interface can be.

They obviously spent a lot of money on their slick remote gadget as it is thin and has a huge light up high res screen. But it is a nightmare to use each and every day.  It's so bad that you can spend hours arguing about what is the worst aspect of it and in the meantime, figure out that things are worse than you think.  
Hotwire Fision Remote: Worst Ever?

Problem 1.  The hardwired buttons are vital to using it. But they have this tiny tiny print on them. Plus, they are awkwardly placed and hard to remember. So whenever you use the remote, you have to turn all bright lights on in the room to see the tiny print.  Since the remote is often required to turn on the lights, this results in people taking out their phones to use the flashlight to see the remote. 

Problem two, for anyone over their mid 40s, using the remote with that tiny print means having your reading glasses on.

Problem three The touch screen on the remote starts out being pretty interesting. The icons are large and bright and clear. They are so bright that once your eyes get use to seeing the icons, you can't see the lightly printed physical buttons.

Using the remote means shifting your eyes constantly between three areas: 
- the big TV screen where much of the navigation happens
- the small screen on the remote which is also vital to the navigation
- the tiny buttons on the remove which is also vital to the navigation

I know that sounds stupid but it's true. Here for instance are the steps to go thru to watch a program on Amazon prime.

1.    Locate the Power On button. It's a physical button on the remote to turn something on.

2.    Now the little screen on the remote lights up. In my case, it is asking if I should "Turn off Room"?  No, I want to turn on the TV. Does it always light up to a different place depending on who was using the remote last and for what?  Does it reset after some amount of time or does it just keep whatever arbitrary state the last person who used it left it in.   So I touch the little touch screen to "Cancel". But now what? This turned off the little screen again. So now I've gone around this with the power button and this screen about 5 times when I decided to write this piece.

3.    I now see that after I hit cancel, the screen lights up with four icons: Watch, Lighting, Shades, comfort. But it only stays on for a bit and I need to act quick.   I'll click on Watch. Good, I now have a choice between Hotwire Fision TV and SmartHub.  Since they know that I'm going to the TV, why isn't this choice on the Big TV Screen instead of making me stare down at the little touchscreen? duhh? So I'll pick Smart Hub.  SHIT, I took too long. How to get the options back?

4.   I picked power again but this time, it gave me the choices that I want:  Hotwire Fision TV and SmartHub. Hurray!  After a year with this remote, I still don't know how to control  what choices the power button will give me when I use it to turn it on. I'm now guessing that it has to do with whomever used the remote most recently. So sometimes I hit the power button and all I see is some controls for the AC. Sometimes it only shows other stuff which I have no idea what they are about. I have not figured out how to get it to go from where ever it is back to the choices about TV.  On the remote, there are a Back and a Home and Menu (three buttons) as hard small little buttons on the remote but, when it's in AC and other modes, these buttons do really weird things.

5.    I hit power again, then Smart Hub. But the TV did not go on. I don't know why. Usually it does. So I hit power off again and tried again.

Again, I'm sick of this. I'll do what I usually do which is either switch rooms and see if one of the other TVs can be coaxed into showing me what I want to watch. Or I just go read.

If I get around to it, I'll write about the incredibly finicky process of trying to pick either Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.  While it appears for a second to be a simple choice, the problem is that it keeps kicking into some sort of universal app and I have no idea how to use it or how to get out of there. Sometimes the Back button (the hard button on the remote) will get me out of the univeral app. Then, if I'm careful, while staring at the big screen, I can coax the indicator to get out of the default pick-a-video menu that it is in, down to the pick-an-application mode, pick it, and then go. 

Mind you, neither the Home nor the Back button are of any use in these areas, they just do weird things. Often, the screen has four big colored rectangles across the top and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how they work. I've recently decided that they are just distracting decorations that some idiot added thinking that while people puzzled out how to use things, a few colored useless buttons might help.  

Saturday, March 28, 2020

How Facebook Decides What to Show You

Sometimes when I'm on Facebook, I see these posts about the secret to seeing more of your friends posts.  They seem silly to me but many bright people repeat these things. So, hmmmm.

So I thought I'd share what I think I know about how Facebook decides what to show you.

My hope is that people will stop believing in what sounds to me like superstition and magic and start thinking rationally about it. Maybe, this breakthrough will light a fuse and all of the public discussion about tech and algorithms work will start getting more sensible.

Let's start with how Facebook decides what to you show you.

If you only had six friends on Facebook, Facebook would probably show you all their posts.  But, once you have sixty or six hundred or six thousand friends, Facebook must make lots of systematic decisions on what to show.  A good starting point to think about this is to ask yourself, how should Facebook decide what to show you. I'll start with three questions.

One, how does Facebook decide which of your friends you are interested in hearing about? Let's assume that  you obsessively visit one of your friend's Facebook pages, do you think Facebook should take this as a signal that you are interested in that person and show you more of their posts? Of course, the answer is yes. Similarly, what if you like, comment, and share a large number of a certain friend's  posts? Again, Facebook will take that as a signal of your interest in seeing more from that person.

What about the opposite, ie some friends whose pages you never visit and whose posts you ignore? Should Facebook take this as an indication that you're not interested in those people and show you less of their materials? And of course, the answer is that FB does note your indifference and tend not to show you their stuff.

Second question: do you think Facebook should show a preference to show you the most recent posts over ones that are a week or a month or a year old?  Are you interested in "last week's news?" Probably not.  So there's a time decay concept that FB follows and they are more likely to show you posts by your friend if you are online exactly when they post them than posts that the same friend made two days ago.

Thirdly,  if a post by someone seems to get a lot of engagement in the form of people commenting on it, liking it, and sharing it, do you think they should show that post to more people?  AgainL YES.

As far as I know, those are Facebook's big three foundation policies in their algorithm of what posts to show.

1.  Who do you appear interested in, they'll show that to you more. This is called affinity.

2.   If you are online at 3 am and one of your friends posts at that unholy hour, FB is very likely to show it to you and the other handful of people who are on FB at that time.  This has two reasons. One, immediacy is preferred by most people.  This is the principle of Time decay. However,  FB also uses the first handfuls of people who see a post to decide how interesting that post is. If none of the first viewers engage, FB might conclude that this post is a bit of a dud of a post so it'll be shown to less people. But, if lots of people in those first handfuls engage with that post by commenting and sharing, FB now has the signal that this post is hot and the showing of it will trend upwards.
3.  So the third big rule is the appeal of each post: The Weight.

So those are the basics (I think) of the Facebook decision making.  I suspect the next set of issues that FB considers are:

1.  Ads. FB sells ads, Much of what you see is paid advertising. People pay to show you ads.  Also, on pages of businesses, FB could extract more advertising dollars by only showing it to a few percent and charging money to get it shown more broadly.
2.   Pages and groups. FB has special policies around different affinities you've shown by signing up with pages (not of people but of companies an things) and groups.
3.  Look-alikes.  FB will for many decisions reason that you are behaving and have demographics like some group and will make decisions based not just on your shown preferences but by thinking that you like what other people similar to you (family, friends, look-alike groups) have been shown to like.  I think they are particularly prone to show you what your friends are seeing since that seems to create a special type of back and forth
4. Types of posts.  FB probably does not like posts with links to other sites that leads people to leave FB.  So they prefer posts with videos that are uploaded to FB, they probably don't much like posts that include links to videos on Youtube.  Probably, FB likes original graphics on FB and other internal to FB links.  Does FB prefer long or short answer posts? This is a trick question because of what we know: FB will take its cues on whether to show you graphics or long posts probably based on your personal history of engaging more or less with long posts or with images.  Again, this is what I think. Unlike the big three at the top, I haven't really researched these questions.
5.  Outrageous stuff. There is a lot of news about how FB prefers to show you views that are slightly more extreme than yours or the total opposite since both seem to produce a certain type of reaction which results in higher engagement. But this is an advanced question that we'll leave aside for now despite it probably being the reason that the world is not getting along and why WWIII is just around the corner. It's so FB could make a little more money and incidentally, build a hateful unstable world. But let's not get into that now.

Does this help you understand Facebook's decision-making?

If you are interested in learning more, this subject is called the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm.  Many businesses and social media people obscess over trying to understand and manipulate this algorithm and there is a lot written on it.

Other interesting algorithms to think about to help understand the daily experience:

- How does Google decide what to answer your query with?
- How does Youtube decide what videos to suggest?
- What about Instagram and Twitter? How is Facebook different than Twitter in showing?
- What will the stock market do tomorrow?
- And what mood will my wife be in tonight?

BTW - if this article helped you, would you leave a comment? I see that there are about 100 visitors a day of this site but I don't hear much from you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

SEO Issues - Jan 2019

Your Money, Your Life - This principle is being used by Google to crack down on spammy industries in which predatory practices are rampant in the consumer world. These industries have been facilitated by the web and aggregators on the web. Examples: credit counselling, pay day loans, rehab centers, etc

Google is tightening them up by adding a manual review of sites using a Quality Rating Guide in these challenging industries in which Google screens and manually evaluates sites based on EAT:
  • Expertise - does the content have meaningful additions and direction. Are there quality links out to quality sites?
  • Authority of writers and staff. Are they listed? Can they be found on LinkedIn or other sites? Do they have expertise relevant to what they are writing on? Obviously, the first step is that writing needs a listed author or authors. Maybe also a board of advisers.
  • Trustworthyness - 
IS T4L team a good enough author? I don't think so...

Tools he uses:  SEMRush, MAZPro, and Spyfu.  He likes BrightEdge but it's expensive!!!

Newer schema. BING API. - datachecker in chrome.  Other ways of checking all the cookies and trackers on your computer?

For us, Tandem does dynamic google ads, remarketing, and critero display ads.

Data Studio set up. What is it?

Here's the Google Rating Guide.

Friday, January 24, 2020

SEO History

I aspire to writing a better SEO history than I have yet read.

Here's a good source one: Search Engine Journal on Search History.

More later...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Self Taught Engineers

I thought this article on being a self taught engineer was great. It's by Amina Adewusi who wanted to get a career going as a coder.  She learned about it through the marketing of the bootcamp people who promote the idea that people can change careers. For this she is grateful to them.

However, as a single mom, the logistics and finances of a boot camp were daunting. So while attending a conference, she was introduced to the idea that a person can learn to code on their own.

The article is excellent addressing such things as how to find mentors, when to start interviewing, how to use the "tech tests" from interviews as an opportunity, and how to hold oneself accountable.

My experience in the tech industry confirms Ms. Adewusi's view of how possible it is. As a 62 year who has been in the tech industry since the late 1980s, I have rubbed elbows with self taught engineers hundreds of times.

Sometimes I worked for them. At Silicon Graphics in the early 90s, I worked for Carol (something) who had gone to work as a secretary after high school. I don't really remember her career story (or her last name) but she was running a big engineering organization at a premier Silicon Valley company and I think her tech skills were all acquired independently by her.

More often, I have employed self taught engineers. I ran a video game development company in London in the late 90s with about a 100 people, often more, and perhaps half of the of the tech staff were self taught "hackers",  a term we used back then to distinguish between the self-taught and the formally trained.

I've run an educational software for the last 15 years and the engineers that have most helped with the actual coding were...yup... totally self taught. We also have plenty of comp sci and software engineering graduates and many with masters degrees.  And we have some bootcamp graduates. One of our clerical staff just left us to go to a bootcamp.

Many ways to get there....

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Seth Godin on Learning: Response

Usually, Seth is pithy and insightful.  Today, he sounded naive to me. Although it post was brief. Seth said

The difference between memorization and learning

In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.
Rote memorization can be done in some fields, and you can even recite what you’ve memorized to someone else who can memorize it.
For example: You can’t learn alphabetical order, you can only memorize it.
On the other hand, memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.

This is, to my mind, a very naive discussion of learning. There are some very different types of learning.  There's the building of skills such riding a bike, reading a book, or telling a story.

But, to be a successful reader, a kid must master many skills and lessons.  One skill is recognizing the different sounds, learning to connect them with the letters, and to learn to decode successfully.  However, many students fail to comprehend what they learn, on major reason is the lack of mastery of the vocabulary required to understand the book.  And while it would be great if exposure to vocabulary was enough for most people to learn the vocabulary, the fact is that most people need to encounter a word fourteen times in many different contexts over a period of weeks for the word to enter long term memory.

Stay tuned, more later.

There are two very important types of fluency or memorization that should happen in elementary school.

1. Learn your time tables - I recommend Time4MathFacts as Gamified and Effective.  See this math facts educational article

2. Retain your vocabulary. While learning vocabulary has a number of clever techniques, there's a different question of how to retain. Research says that for most of us, 12-15 touches with a word, different contexts, different ways over 3-5 weeks provides a very high probability of long term retention.  Read about vocabulary retention.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Designing a Multitouch Attribution Model for Online Marketing

Multitouch attribution models are replacing first-touch and last-touch methods of attribution.
Multitouch attribution is used to figure out how the different marketing touches contributed to a customer sale. Multitouch is growing despite the complexity since it both maps to the reality of:

  • the customer shopping experience 
  •  the vendor’s activities and expenses such as PPC, SEO, email marketing, retargeting, website materials and demos, and social media interactions. 

Multitouch is complicated and there are a choice of models. The choice should be based on what you believe best maps to the customer shopping experience and what decision the company is trying to make.

At the end of the day, each company needs to figure out how to handle attribution.

At the start of the process, a key step is a strategic think on what type of analysis or decisions is being made.

For example, a company might build the attribution model to consider increasing or decreasing the investment in different methods of making contact with customers such as PPC ads on search, PPC on social, banner ads, buying lists, or retargeting. In this analysis, the company’s marketing automation system website with demos and white papers is a fixed cost that is not really up for review.

Here's a quick overview of attribution models, thanks to Jimmy Shang

1.Linear attribution is the simplest. Each touchpoint gets an equal percent of credit. So in a simple example, if the customer, a) clicked on an ad, b) clicked on a retargeted ad, and c) clicked on an email and then bought, each of these three would get1/3 credit for the win. Of course, it’s a little more complicated than this since the interactions on the website could also be included.

2. Time decay gives more credit to the touchpoints closest in time to the conversion. For example, the last email before a purchase/conversion is given more credit than the first organic search*.

3. Position-based / U-Shaped is a hybrid between first- and last-touch attribution. This method puts more weight on the first and last touchpoints, assigning 40% credit to each, and splitting the remaining 20% between the touchpoints in the middle*.

4. W-Shaped credits the first touch, the point where a visitor becomes a lead, and the final touch each at 30%. It divides the remaining 10% among any additional touchpoints. Some advanced multi-touch attribution models leverage machine learning to assign partial or incremental credit to predict the value that each touchpoint added*.

*Thanks to Jimmy Shang of Ad-Roll for his  spectacular article on attribution models. The second through fourth models are directly quoted from him.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

BAD Customer Feedback Survey Design

I just had a frustrating experience with a chat window with a vendor.
At the end, they popped up a survey and in a fit of good naturedness, I thought I would take the time to give them some useful feedback.

It was a long survey with 10 questions and a place at the bottom to write in the box. I scrolled to the bottom and filled in the box with this:

I was distracted for a few minutes and your agent disconnected me. Very frustrating.

When  I hit submit, I found that it listed all the unswered questions in red and that the survey was incomplete.  The  survey wouldn't accept the comment unless I clicked on all the  questions.

so I had a choice, fill out the rest of it or just click out.  Since I had started to give them feedback, I decided to quickly fill out the 10 questions (I picked NA for most of them, 5 if there wasn't a NA choice).

At the next submit, it turned out that my answers had opened new follow up questions which were also mandatory so I blindly clicked on them too.

What a frustrating counter productive experience that survey was.

 If they really wanted feedback, they'd accept incomplete surveys when people are trying to communicate with them.

Instead, it pissed me off and filled up their system with lots of bad random data.

Generally, I find that this is the norm. Efforts at feedback are so poorly designed, they neither give the impression that the company actually cares nor gathers meaningful data.


Friday, September 20, 2019

United Airlines Communications Policy: What?

Dear United Airlines,

We had a trip that went horribly awry yesterday due to bad weather.  My wife got separated from her suitcase.  She had a first class cross country ticket.

Let me digress for a second and say that over the last few days, I have been receiving updates from Amazon (and others) about some items that we ordered. These are items cost mostly between $10 and $50. They give us text and email updates as they ship, progress, and get delivered. It's a pretty simple IT operation which provides customers with great service so they know what's going on.

So here's what happened.  She had a flight from Ft Lauderdale to Houston (UA 2148 on 9-19). And then a connection to Albuquerque. Houston was having a huge tropical storm but United took off from Ft Lauderdale anyway. Sure, they could have rerouted her before she left but United didn't.

The plane circled Houston for an hour or so and then went to San Antonio where they kept the passengers in the plane with no food or meaningful updates for over three hours. Finally, they let the passengers deplane but gave them no instructions about what to do next.

No text updates about what to do, no email updates, no phone calls. Doesn't United have a system? They must have disruptions and weather problems of significance weekly but they seem to react to them as if they are surprised.

The United counters were mobbed, hours of waiting if they went that way. United wasn't taking phone calls, ie there were 90 minute waits.  So my wife got herself to her destination by taking a 5 hour Uber ride to Dallas and booking a flight on American to her destination.

Meanwhile, what happened to her bag?  We've called in many times and each person has been agreeable and helpful. No complaints really about the staff.  And, the United staff have been able to login and tell us where the bag is. So last night at midnight, the lady at the United baggage claim said the bag was still in San Antonio and tried to tell us to file a claim with the other airline that she finished her trip on.  Apparently, that's policy. We disagreed saying that United should get us the bag. It was a first class ticket, they provided no way for her to continue her journey, they provided no info on how she could get her back etc. In any case, we filled out paperwork on the bag and where we wanted it delivered.

We called again this morning and found out where the bag was.  We called just a few minute ago and found out where the bag is. We provided all the same information over the phone and they agreed to send the bag over.  Very nice people.

But really, should we be calling in to get information that should be sent to us?  Shouldn't the app and website have a "trace my bag" feature built in for their travelers? This sort of IT infrastructure for convenient communications seems so simple to build in this day and age. United knows their travelers, has their cell phones, and knows where the bag is and what the plan is.  Why do they believe in having people call in to get information instead of pushing it out?

What's really astounding is not just the lack of communication about the bag but what about helping the travelers? They ditched her halfway through the trip, on a first class ticket, and never followed up in any way to see if she was taken care of or needed help.  Really?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Long Form Forums

I believe that the rise of the short form and visual social media came at a high cost: the destruction of the long form special interest forums where people had interesting threaded conversations.

The conversations and communities were real and very important. Mothers learned about the basics from other mothers and shared their concerns and anxieties.

Collectors met and shared. Mommy bloggers reigned!

Now, every community is overseen and controlled by FB and Twitter etc. The hundreds of thousands of private forums on ning, vbulletin, and all the other systems were destroyed by the freight train express massive fall out from FB et al. #sad

No more big holiday parties for  forum groups.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Blogger: What should I do?

I have a number of blogs, such as this one and Amused by Jokers, and a Black Belt at 50, that I have maintained for years using the simplest quickest way to get started which was Google's Blogger.

I've noticed that they have been kept up technically and am wondering what the smart people think I should do.

I am not technical and do not have much interest in switching but I think I have to make a decision soon. Here's my choices that I see and I'd love some feedback on them.

1. Switch to Wordpress. How and when? Host at That means moving domain DNS's around. Uhg!
2. Upgrade my Blogger theme and all the plug-ins. How would I know what to switch to? What's current?
3. Make no changes and hope that everything keeps working

Blogger: What Should I do?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Apple: "Want Privacy, Choose an iPhone" - Huh?

This morning, I was greeted on Twitter by a sponsored tweet from Apple that said "The iPhone is built for privacy". As I clicked through and tried to see if Apple was actually making an announcement about some new privacy initiative, it felt Orwellian to me.

Apple, having tracked (probably) that I'm concerned about privacy and tracking, targeted an advertisement at me. This is a form of behavioral advertising which is that creepy thing that allows advertisers to track what you are interested in and advertise to you everywhere.

Googled info on St Louis?  Hotels, car rental companies, and airlines are now in your Twitter and FB feeds plus with banner ads on every site urging you to save money and time with their offering. But act now!

Having trouble with your ding dong? Turns out there's ads everywhere about polishing, fixing, upgrading, and trouble-shooting your ding dong. Even Youtube starts suggesting ding dong videos.

Back to Apple. So after reading Apple's hyping of their respect and concern for my privacy, I opened my phone to look at my privacy settings. After I clicked in, I scrolled to the bottom and clicked on Advertising and then on About Advertising and Privacy.

There's a lot to learn. I copy / pasted it below. BTW, there's no way do that easily. Apple's iPhone somehow doesn't allow a select all option when looking at the privacy text. Nor does it have a built-in way to get it emailed to myself. So I had to to that weird thing where I am selecting the text with one finger while scrolling with another to get to select all the text).

Advertising and Privacy

Apple’s ad platform is designed to protect your information and enable you to choose what you share.

Apple’s advertising platform is designed to protect your information and enable you to choose what you share.

Ads that are delivered by Apple’s advertising platform may appear in the App Store on iOS, Apple News, and Stocks.

The following contextual information may be used to serve ads to you:

Device Information: Your keyboard language settings, device type, OS version, mobile carrier, and connection type.

Device Location: If the Location-Based Apple Ads system service is enabled, then your location may be used to serve you geographically relevant ads. Your device location is not stored by Apple’s advertising platform and profiles are not constructed from this information.

Searches in the App Store on iOS: When you search in the App Store on iOS, your query may be used to serve you a relevant Search Ad.

Apple News and Stocks: The type of article you read is used to select appropriate ads.

Additionally, to ensure ads are relevant, Apple’s advertising platform creates groups of people, called segments, who share similar characteristics and uses these groups for delivering targeted ads. Information about you is used to determine which segments you are assigned to, and thus, which ads you receive. To protect your privacy, your information is used to place you into segments of at least 5,000 people.

In Apple News and Stocks, the topics and publications associated with your News identifier, and the publications you allow to send you notifications are used to assign you to segments. No segments are created from search terms in the App Store.

In the App Store on iOS, Apple News, and Stocks, the following information may also be used to assign you to segments:

Account Information: Your name, address, age, and devices registered to your account. Information such as your first name in your Apple ID registration page, or salutation in your iTunes Account may be used to derive your gender.

Downloads & Activity: The music, movies, books, TV shows, and apps you download as well as any in-app purchases.

Activities in Other Apps: App developers, subject to their own privacy policies and applicable laws, may provide information regarding your in-app purchases and activities such as game level completion.

Advertising: Your interaction with advertising delivered by Apple’s advertising platform.

Other Segments: For specific advertising campaigns, advertisers may match information they have about users with Apple’s information to create segments, which must contain at least 5,000 people. Advertisers can use an Advertising Identifier, or other information they have about users, such as a phone number or email to match users to segments on Apple’s advertising platform. During the match process, these identifiers are obscured to limit personally identifiable information being disclosed. To choose which segments they match users to, Advertisers may use information they have from interactions with users. This information is acquired and used subject to the Advertisers’ own privacy policies.

Apple does not know or make available to advertisers information regarding your sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or political affiliations. No Apple Pay transactions or Health app data is accessible to Apple’s advertising platform, or is used for advertising purposes.

Apple does not sell or otherwise transmit any personally identifiable information to third parties.

Information collected by Apple is treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy, which can be found at

View Your Advertising Preferences

About this Ad

To understand why a specific ad was shown to you in the  App Store on iOS, Apple News, or Stocks, tap the “Ad” button on the ad. This will present the segments and other data, such as demographic information, that resulted in you receiving the ad.

Ad Information

To see information about you that may be used to deliver targeted ads via Apple's advertising platform, including the segments that you are in, on your iOS device open “Settings”, select “Privacy”, then select “Advertising”, and tap “View Ad Information.”

To see this information on macOS, open “System Preferences”, select “Security & Privacy”, open the “Privacy” tab, then select “Advertising”, and click on “View Ad Information”.

If you have Limit Ad Tracking enabled, Apple’s advertising platform does not have Ad Preferences data for you.

If you believe information about you is inaccurate, please update your Apple ID and iTunes account information.

Choose Your Advertising Preferences

Opt-out of ads targeted based on your location

You may choose to opt out of receiving location-based advertising on your iOS device by opening “Settings”, tapping “Privacy”, tapping “Location Services”, tapping “System Services”, and sliding the “Location-Based Apple Ads” switch to “off”.

On macOS, you may opt out of receiving location-based advertising by opening “System Preferences”, selecting “Security & Privacy”, opening the “Privacy” tab, selecting “Location Services” and unchecking the “Location-Based Apple Ads” box.

Apple’s advertising platform does not receive location-based information when you turn off Location Services on your device.

Opt-out of targeted advertising

You may choose to enable Limit Ad Tracking on iOS by opening “Settings,” then tapping on “Privacy,” then “Advertising”, and sliding the Limit Ad Tracking switch to “On”. To enable Limit Ad Tracking on Apple TV open “Settings”, select “General” then “Privacy”, and set “Limit Ad Tracking” to “On.” On macOS, you may enable Limit Ad Tracking by opening “System Preferences,” selecting “Security & Privacy”, opening the “Privacy” tab, selecting “Advertising”, and checking the “Limit Ad Tracking” box.

If you choose to enable Limit Ad Tracking, Apple’s advertising platform will opt your Apple ID out of receiving ads targeted to your interests regardless of what device you are using. Apps or advertisers that do not use Apple’s advertising platform but do use Apple’s Advertising Identifier are required to check the Limit Ad Tracking setting and are not permitted by Apple’s guidelines to serve you targeted ads if you have Limit Ad Tracking enabled. When Limit Ad Tracking is enabled on iOS 10 or greater, this Advertising Identifier will be replaced with a non-unique value of all zeros to prevent the serving of targeted ads. It is automatically reset to a new random identifier if you disable Limit Ad Tracking.

Whenever you want to clear the data associated with your Advertising Identifier, you can simply reset it. To reset your Advertising Identifier on iOS, open “Settings”, tap “Privacy”, tap “Advertising”, and tap “Reset Advertising Identifier”. To reset your Advertising Identifier on Apple TV, open “Settings”, then select “General”, select “Privacy”, and click “Reset Advertising Identifier.” To reset your Advertising Identifier on macOS, open “System Preferences,” select “Security & Privacy”, open the “Privacy” tab, choose “Advertising”, and  click the “Reset Advertising Identifier” button.

If you enable Limit Ad Tracking, you may still receive the same number of ads, but the ads may be less relevant to you.