All posts by Dan Nedelko

Canadian Artist Tom Thomson

I’ve been working too much. Time to reflect and rediscover Tom Thomson

There’s been a “meme” floating around on Facebook lately:

Someone posts the work of an artist. Comment or Like and you will have a new artist selected for you. You then post their work and talk about it.

It’s a good idea, there is after all more to social networks than the last sandwich update or newest trending YouTube video (I jest!).

I love the idea of sharing Art. Art is important. The artists who create are also very important.

I’m thinking I am going to start with my own favourites and branch into new territory.

It’s one part self-exploration, re-visiting artwork that may have slipped my mind.

It’s also another part discovery I’m excited to go on this journey, if you pay even a little bit of attention to it maybe we can all learn something new.

Canadian Artist Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson – Summer Shore Georgian Bay

Beautiful sunsets in Algonquin Park

Is your brand communication strategy back asswards?

When we think about brand and communications messaging often the tactical “feature” message wins out over the motivation a consumer might have when making a decision about where to align their loyalties. In reality, the most effective brands in the world start from the motivation and move into the tactical “features” the deeper you dig. Some brands that do it right? Apple & Tesla. Food for thought.

Communications and brand marketing communication direction.

How to exclude Digg Digg from WordPress pages & posts

I’ve had this issue myself and there is a simple way to do this, although it’s not well documented. Simply add the following comment to the HTML of your page, post or custom post type to hide the Digg Digg floating share bar:

[html]<!– Digg Digg Disabled –>[/html]

Nick Bilton: I don’t feel sorry for business paying to promote.

This weekend a colleague of mine and I began discussing the topic covered by Nick Bilton in his: Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost article at the New York Times.

Nick Bilton and Facebook pay per postThis is not a new topic, Facebook charging for post promotion, it has been going on for well over a year. Similar to Mark Cuban bitching about having to pay $3000 to reach 1 million fans in a post, and yet he profited by selling last minute Mavericks tickets.

Facebooks pricing model feels out of whack, paying to promote a post in certain circumstances (i.e. I am selling something) makes sense and feels fair but not for the amounts being asked.

Individuals with feeds? I have not seen the ability for an individual to promote a post but that could possibly kick in when you have enough subscribers.

In one way – it’s a new distribution model that began life for “free” but in order to sustain it’s business, Facebook has added a pay model for elements like “fans” and “subscriptions” – Facebook (as far as I know) does not apply the same costing to personal Facebook accounts.

Is $50 – $3000 to promote a post to “fans” who explicitly subscribe to a feed unreasonable? Nick Bilton (indirectly) and the New York Times are directly profiting from that traffic as well, so crying foul over paying to visit Canadian Pharmacy site: https://www.topcanadianpharmacy.org/.

I’m not 100% sure what the answer is, but I would say if you make money on it, then you should pay to use the service, simply calculate your ROI and stop your bitching. That’s fair. The cost structure doesn’t feel baked right now though, feels arbitrary and fairly pricey given I may post 6-7 times per day. Professional post promotion subscriptions or something?

Maybe, but I still don’t feel much compassion for the professional journalist at the New York Times complaining that he cannot tout his article at no cost. Unless of course I can get my online and print New York Times subscriptions for free.

Why Facebook will fail at Search

Facebook released their search strategy today, the so called “third pillar” of Facebook’s future.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Search

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook don’t get unstructured data.

Search is hard, very hard. It’s why I have always been fascinated by search, it is also one of the reasons I have a massive amount of respect for Google, beyond their annoying marketing strategy of “do no evil”, 0-10 PageRank and Android, which is a half baked mobile OS IMHO, is the fact that they have engineering cohones.

Their UX is horrible, their products are scattered (Google+, Wave).

But their search is amazing.

And search as I mentioned before fascinates me.

“Index the entire web, then, for whatever term I type into the search engine, return to me the most relevant sources of information and make sure it is trusted, timely, and relevant. Infer what I mean when I type into that little box. Make it go.”

That is an exceedingly difficult problem which, by all rights they’ve done an amazing job delivering upon.

The World Wide Web is made up of unstructured data: blogs here, websites there, forums, reviews, images, comments, stuff stuff and more stuff. When data and information is not structured it is difficult, very difficult to filter, sort and rank. Again, all things in life being imperfect, Google has delivered on that claim and passed with flying colours.

That’s why you and I use Google everyday. It’s important because it’s very very useful.

Now to circle back to my original thesis: Facebook will fail at search and here is why:

Facebook is avoiding the very real and very tough problem Google tackled head on from day one: unstructured data. Google is attempting to infer the meaning and create structure behind unstructured data.

Do I like something simply because I mention it? How does the content reflect my actual point of view? Am I an expert regarding the topic I am commenting upon?

Facebook’s solution to search is the “Like” and the Open Graph. Their structured database,which holds stores, categorizes and makes accessible everything you do on Facebook and by extension using “Login in using Facebook” through a subset of the Word Wide Web.

Facebook has structured data about our lives, all of our posts, images, comments etc in their Open Graph, a structured data set that makes claims to knowing who people *really* are, their real connections and their social lives.

These are the claims that Facebook has promised are their technological “secret sauce” on both pre-IPO and post-IPO. But there’s an issue, which gets us back back to my points about Google earlier and the challenging issues they tackled head on from day one.

However, they cannot distinguish when someone although they “Like” McDonald’s doesn’t really like McDonald’s through their unstructured sentiment, my comments about them are not indicating a positive sentiment even though I hit the “Like” button.

Using sentiment to express an outcome versus a structured data set element such as a “Like”. Google has done this from day one via Hilltop and the hundreds of iterations to their PageRank algorithm (not the 0-10 scale, the algorithmic PageRank that is Google’s IP). It’s how they rank and sort the unstructured web.

Anyhow, this blog post is already too poorly written and too long, but I find this conversation fascinating because these are the claim of amazing technologies (Facebook) versus the reality of execution (Google).

Facebook cannot, or will not, attempt to address the tough problem: finding meaning through unstructured data.

Rather they want to force a structured data set (read: Open Graph) onto our lives but will not get into the sentiment problem.

This spurred an interesting conversation about structured data and sentiment on Google+ with a long time colleague of mine Aaron Bradley who is a search marketing expert who legitimately knows his shit. Here is the thread:

Interesting case Dan. In short, however much Open Graph’s “intelligent structured data” can be leveraged for advertising and other purposes, one cannot infer the presence of negative sentiment based soley on the absence of positive sentiment.

Put another way, this is where the absence of a “Dislike” button is something of Achilles’ heel for Facebook (and, by extension, the absence of a “-1” button in Google).

Open Graph can’t speak to what you and your friends don’t like, because there’s no mechanism for this. Both built-in Open Graph actions and built-in Open Graph objects are, at best, neutral when it comes to sentiment. Facebook may be able to see that a friend “Liked” (action) Catcher in the Rye (object) – a positive sentiment – or just “Read” (action) Catcher in the Rye – a possibly neutral sentiment, but one I’ll bet is processed (like the built-in actions “Watch”, “Listen” and “Follow”) like a “Like” by Facebook’s algorithms. It’s perhaps (unintentionally) telling that theplaceholders for built-in objects all contain content like this:

I don’t know that Google – even outside the Google+ environment and its lack of a -1 – that Google is better suited to make sentiment decisions for advertising delivery based on structured data. The exception here is review data, which is really a sentiment scale. But in order to throttle the display of a McDonald’s ad based on structured data, Google would have to know that you disliked McDonald’s – regardless of the general sentiment surrounding the restaurant – because you gave it one out of five on a review. (Of course your friends’ reviews might count if Google knew as much about you and your relationships based on Google+ as Facebook does based on … well, Facebook. In reality? Ha.)

So is Facebook delivering McDonald’s ads to you a sign of failure? As much as I’m not particularly a FB fanboy I’d have to say no: Facebook’s algorithm can’t read your mind. It might even be reasonable targeting using structured data, based on the fact that a certain proportion of your Facebook friends “Like” McDonald’s Page – which would be the equivalent of me being targeted with a Tim Horton’s ad (I don’t despise them and their deceptive advertising – I just find their coffee appalling).

Of course one could also infer from positive sentiment things it’s likely I am neutral or negative toward. If I “Like” Hitchens’ God is not Greatand Dawkins’ The God Delusion you’re probably not going to get far showing me an ad for Jesus Calling (evangelical bestseller – thanks Google). But that would take multiple levels of sentiment analysis and topical classification on top of other algorithmic gymnastics.

I recall a conversation you and I had on Facebook concerning why one should grind one’s beef, or (in my case) acquire it from cow-loving but non-vegetarian hippies. But we never expressed that in a formal way (clicked a “Like” button associated with the non-built-in object “Homemade Hamburgers”). So Facebook had the sentiment, but didn’t have structured data pertaining to it. And so you got asked about Mickey D’s.

And my thoughts:

Dan Nedelko
9:17 PM
Reply

Awesome points – however what Facebook needs to be able to do with their structured data goldmine is infer sentiment and semantics from the unstructured portions of their data set.

Indeed the convenient construct is an explicit dislike, however that is an intrusive model from a user perspective.

I would then have to (as a user) explicitly identify that I indeed do Like or Dislike something in order for Facebook’s algorithm to be able to understand my sentiment.

Sentiments are unstructured notions. How I “feel” about a given subject does not always have a structured data model which is convenient for the system to process.

So – is Facebook’s idea to enforce a structure and exclude a sentiment? It seems so. From a technological innovation perspective Google assumes lack of structure and provides benefits where possible. Facebook OTOH wants to impose structure and ignore the really difficult problem, inferring sentiment from unstructured data. That’s not fundamentally a problem except that Facebook makes claims to understanding our lives and how we interact. It’s a bit of a bait and switch of claims versus reality.

Lastly, some Facebook PR regarding their search technology with some translation from VentureBeat. I’m now summarizing my thoughts in sound bites, but:

“web search is designed to … return links that may have answers to the questions that you’re trying to ask. Graph Search is designed to return the answer, not links that might get you to the answer.”

Translation: We have structured data. That gives us the answer from our formal data set. Hilltop and Google suck, reference to link authority. Indexing the World Wide Web is hard. We want to make it easier by using our data not everyone else’s.

“We came up with something we think is a lot more natural,” he (Zuckerberg) said.

Translation: Natural to us is our definition of structured data. Figuring out what you mean online is hard work, we don’t want to do that. Natural means you Like something (or by extension in their Want, Listen notions etc in the open graph).

“It’s gonna take years and years to index everything,” Zuckerberg said. “There’s more content we haven’t gotten to than content we have.” Search for mobile, more languages, text posts, and Open Graph content will be coming soon. And, of course, an API is also on the roadmap, but perhaps a bit further down the line.”

Translation: Google has been indexing for years. What is open graph content? It’s your content on your site shoved into their database then made to conform so they can monetize easily while avoiding the work.

So you may wonder if Google isn’t worried about Facebook search why am I all a twitter (pun intended) about this?

It comes down to spin versus reality and frankly real technology talent versus crap.

Enough said.

Am I wrong? Is everything I’ve written complete nonsense? Has the world gone crazy by not observing this or am I just totally insane?

Addition: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8cKEmr5f_o[/youtube]

Mark Zuckerberg explaining Facebook Search (PR Video): [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U94DTrjAvuA[/youtube]

A Direct Reply to Chris Morlock

As I was getting settled into a busy Monday morning or work, I was informed of a post by Chris Morlock (contact and references: Chris Morlock on the PDGA, Chris Morlock on DiscGolfScene, Chris Morlock on Facebook) on Facebook (of all places where I am not personally connected to him, therefore cannot see or respond to his inquiries) regarding transparency and questions regarding the Dušan Nedelko Foundation. Which we have been running since my brother’s untimely passing. 

I was a taken off guard by the comment I could see, since we have http://dusansfoundation.org and I am always extremely easy to contact directly. It therefore does confuse me to see comments made to which I cannot respond to personally or on behalf of the Foundation. 

As this is my personal blog, I think it is most appropriate to post my email response which I sent directly to Mr.Morlock. This hopefully ensures complete transparency, if you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to contact me at dan@dannedelko.com

Thanks to everyone who has so generously supported our efforts to both continue my brothers efforts and to enable our youth through outdoor activity and education. I would also add that it is interesting to see such behaviour in response to a genuine effort on the part of many people to support our youth.

Best,

Dan Nedelko

Hello Chris,

I was brought to my attention today regarding your questions about the raising and allocation of funds with respect to the Dusan Nedelko Foundation. As I do not have access to your Facebook wall I have included a brief snippet as is viewable from my perspective:

The Dušan Nedelko Foundation 

I have a question or two. I keep seeing the fundraising we all do for this group and I do understand that it pushed on the disc golf community because of Dusan and his passion for helping kids learn the sport. My first question is, where are the tournaments or gatherings to teach these youngsters, that should be set up or at least funded by the foundation? We donat…See More

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  • Chris Morlock Sandra that’s a whole other topic… What’s wrong with open questions…Why the fear and the need for secret discretion. Dan is on Facebook and so is his mamma, so they can jump in anytime. Call it a blog then….7 minutes ago

 

  • Helen Heynen I do believe this page belongs to Chris, hence, he is able to post what he wishes. (If you don’t like it, don’t comment) Consider this personal page as one’s living room. You wouldn’t stroll into ones house and question their feng shui wou…See More2 minutes ago 

I would direct you to the attached document [Editorial addition: the document is available online at http://dusansfoundation.org/youth-2/financial-awards-summary-update.htmlwhich we are about to post on our blog and also as a newsletter to supporters of the Foundation. There are some misconceptions in what I can see from your public comments:

  • The Dušan Nedelko Foundation is a foundation and as such we do not directly manage or run events. We do so in support of and with our partners.
  • You somehow implied that there is an air of “secrecy” surrounding the Dušan Nedelko Foundation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would direct you to the following information pages: http://dusansfoundation.org/dusans-foundation/ and http://dusansfoundation.org/our-mission/ 
  • We are a registered Not For Profit Foundation, we also seek open applications for determining disbursements of funds at the Spring and Winter solctice. 
  • Additionally we provide for “emergency funding” up to $500.
  • Transparency is a core of our mission and we have distributed a summary of all disbursements at every event in which we are involved. The printed material is also available and I would be happy to mail them to you directly if you wish.
  • We devote a significant amount of our personal time as a board of directors and supporters of these efforts. We are always very open to discussion and would appreciate direct questions rather than forums in public venues which we do not have the ability to respond to (none of us are connected on Facebook and as such cannot see the full questions and have no ability to repond).
  • You may be confused by the Foundation mission. We are not directly routing all funds to disc golf efforts. The disc golf community has been a massive supporter of our mission which to summarize is:

Core Values and Culture

  • We contribute Dušan Nedelko Foundation resources, both financial and human, to help deliver redefining outdoor experiences for under-served or at-risk children within Ontario.
  • We are passionate about helping children develop life and leadership skill sets through outdoor activity, a strong sense of accomplishment and harmony with nature in order to engender a “power of one” confidence that will guide future life choices and ongoing connection and stewardship of the environment.
  • We display fairness, honesty, responsibility, diversity, generosity and foster mutual trust and care in our dealings with our local communities, volunteers, business partners and beneficiaries of our efforts.
  • We are guided by mutual respect, enthusiasm and shared creativity to support projects that provide positive, life-lasting outdoor experiences that build fun, teamwork, environmental stewardship and empowerment among participants.
  • We deal with others as we would want them to deal with us.

I would suggest that if you have any direct questions, comments, concerns or input that you are always welcome to contact us directly at:

shout@dusansfoundation.org or to me directly at dan@dusansfoundation.org

I thank you for your questions and look forward to hearing back from you. 

Best Regards,

Dan Nedelko

Chairman

The Dušan Nedelko Foundation

Conservative Americans and ObamaCare

American conservatives moving to Canada because of ObamaCare
 

Dear Conservative America,
 
We heard that you have issues with ObamaCare and were 
thinking of moving to Canada.
 
You would not like Canada at all.
 
We have National Health Insurance.
Our beer is horrible, it’s watery and tasteless.
We have communities of happily married homosexual couples.
We have very cold frigid winters.
We have government supported television and radio.
We just got electricity like last year.
Our banks are very unstable.
We have Sharks.
Sharks that can walk.
You’d hate it here. 
 
Our apologies in advance eh,
Canada

You are not special.

There’s a fantastic message in this commencement speech. You might want to scroll forward to 2m 57s which is where the real message begins in this commencement speech.

These are definitely words of wisdom and it reminds me of this quote which I have always loved and kept near to me.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

The above quote has been attributed to Calvin Coolidge but I’ve heard conflicting stories on that. Either way, it’s irrelevant. Watch the video and get down to it 🙂

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4[/youtube]

Linksys WRT54G – getting wired speeds on wireless

WRT54G increase wireless speedI’ve got a LinkSys WRT54G wireless router. It’s a little older and been great but lately I’ve been getting disconnected every few hours and had to reset the router. Annoying at best, then I ran a speed test and was sad to see my download speeds stank relative to sitting at my desk and wired right into the router.

I did some digging and after a little bit of work, my wireless speeds equal my wired speeds. Here’s how I did it:

Wired at Home: http://www.speedtest.net/result/1853602685.png
Wireless at Home: http://www.speedtest.net/result/1853606059.png

WRT54G Linksys 2.4 Ghz

  1. Upgraded firmware to 8.0.0.8 from the WRT54G Cisco product page. Make sure you check your hardware model number on the bottom of the router first.
  2. Prevented wireless channel switching (selected channel 11 as I was getting knocked offline by another router).
  3. Changed from wireless network mode to G-only from Mixed.

Next login to the setup page of the Router:

  1. Under Wireless tab change the Wireless channel to 11

Advanced wireless settings:

  1. Change the Beacon Interval from 75-100 (my optimal interval was 100)
  2. Change the Fragmentation Threshold to 2304 through 2375 (my optimal was 2375)
  3. Change the RTS Threshold to 2304 through 2375 (my optimal was 2375)
  4. Change “Basic Rate” from Default to All.
  5. Click on Save Settings.

Wireless speeds now equal wired speeds in 95% of my home.

The End.

Why I’m the Marketing Guy and That’s OK.

Marketing is Business

Image courtesy of GapingVoid

I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years, it’s chaotic, hectic, painful, stressful, fun and rewarding – if I’m lucky I might even make some money at it. That’s where I’m personally at today, and again it’s ok.

After one of those extremely hectic days recently, me and one of my partners decided to grab a drink in the local watering hole where we ran into a local business figurehead who will remain nameless.

It was an interesting exchange since I had met this individual no less than 5 times in past 6 months and was quite quickly forgotten. That’s OK as well 🙂 I’m busier on a daily basis than even I can imagine and spend a significant amount of time awake until 2am or 3am on what I like to call my night shift.

Back to the story. After re-introducing himself the light blub then came on and I was greeted with “Oh yeah, you’re the marketing guy”.

You could call it insecurity (I don’t) but I quickly replied that I’m not specifically a marketing guy, although I do believe marketing in new companies and start-ups as a critical element that is quite often overlooked.

Marketing is business, it’s how you sell your product and how your clients and prospects feel about you. It’s also a way to get the world to know who you are, what you are doing and to create a mindshare with the world-at-large.

It’s business, and it’s critical to the success or failure of any new venture.

Back to the story: apparently (according to our good friend) I was insecure about my abilities. Which I both found amusing and ridiculous at the same time.

So why tell the story?

I do a hell of a lot more in any given day than marketing. I’m working to make all of my ventures succeed just like any other entrepreneur. I’m doing it without investment, all of my companies are (currently) cash flow positive and growing.

I’m happy with that. Marketing is key to the success of all of the ventures, particularly at the early stages. Marketing is also a whole lot more than some perceived bolt-on that happens after you’ve figured out financing, an office, a product, a message and a team.

From day one think about your marketing, how the world will see you, what they say and what they will believe about you and your company.

Even more fundamentally it’s about who are you selling product to, will they purchase it, what are you saying to sell that product and how do we make these companies viable, profitable and long lasting.

Develop your business plan and execute with those elements front of mind. It will make a world of difference much more quickly than you may realize.

Yup. I’m the Marketing Guy. Hell, I’m the Twitter guy as well. I also get coffee, clean the office, don’t take a pay cheque when needed and stay up all night whenever needed. I love it. I’m an entrepreneur and I wouldn’t have it any other way (although my wife and family may sometimes disagree!).

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