On second thought about Adams’ new album

Like I suspected…the new Ryan Adams album “East Tiger” is starting to grow on me, and has moved up to a B. Its just not a good album to listen to while running and that’s ok, I’m sure he’s fine with that assertion.

After the re-inspection of the album, I dig the songs: “Goodnight Rose”, “Two”, “Halloweenhead”, and “Two Girls”. “Halloweenhead” is goofy but ultimately pretty fun, and even has a call for a guitar solo. Some of the songs had already popped up before in my ridiculous Ryan Adams collection of bootlegs, demos, and scrapped albums. I think “Off Broadway” and “Two Girls” are from like 4 years ago or so. Always wondered why they hadn’t made an album, and now all of a sudden they make it. Interestingly enough, Adams is supposed to release a box set later in the year with like 6 albums that never met a release. The dude is prolific if nothing else.

So its a better listen than originally thought. If I were ranking all of Adams’ albums (excluding albums with Whiskeytown) it would look like this:

1) Heartbreaker – the whole thing is amazing, reminds me of North Carolina and drinking

2) Jacksonville City Nights – more country than other albums, and maybe the most cohesive record he has.

3) Cold Roses – Adams introduces his Grateful Dead side and jams with some strong songs like “Let it Ride”,”If I am a Stranger”, and “Magnolia Mountain”

4) Gold – polished follow up to Heartbreaker and has some of his best songs like “When the Stars Go Blue” but ultimately drags in places and doesn’t seem to have the same kind of soul like Heartbreaker.

5) Easy Tiger – we know

6) Rock N Roll – Adams tries to get all punky with mixed results

7) Love is Hell – sort of Jeff Buckley-ish and moody, including a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”

8) Demolition – has one of my favorite Adams songs “Nuclear” but a lot of throw-aways too
9) 29 – not a good album at all, should have released one of his 10 or so unreleased albums


Omniture and Interwoven partner up

Oh, snap…its beginning. The utopian vision of the integration of analytics and Content Management is kicking into full swing. First it was the TouchClarity acquisition by Omniture, and now the announcement of a partnership with Interwoven and Omniture.

Article here: http://www.tmcnet.com/news/2007/06/27/2744560.htm

Having your web content respond based on analytics is going to be a wild ride. And probably expensive. But interesting nonetheless.

New music in the Hazen Memorial Library

I am a music freak. I spend about half my income buying music via iTunes and eMusic.

So here are my quasi-reviews of what I’ve been listening to over the last 2 weeks…

1) Queens of the Stone Age – “Era Vulgaris” I’ll give it a A-. Some hardcore Queens fans aren’t going to like it as there has been a slight style shift since they kicked out the bassist. This album is not as heavy as say “Songs for the Deaf” or “Lullabies to Paralyse”, but its good in its own way. My favs on the album are “Turnin on the Screw”, “Into the Hollow”, and “Misfit Love”. The album seems to favor more pyschedelic tunes than before, despite already having earned the ‘stoner-rock’ label. Josh Homme, who basically is the only consistent member of the band, is great on guitar as always. If you wanna rock, this is an album for you.

2) Battles – “Mirrored” I give it a C right now. I haven’t listened to it enough to understand it that well. Right now I use it for background sounds when I drive. I am not a huge fan of instrumental music, but this is some densely interesting music from time to time. My only beef is it starts to drone after a while. Churbuck is probably cursing the C rating.

3) The Traveling Wilburys – “Collection” I give it a C as well. I don’t remember the Wilbury’s too well, as I was only 11 or so when their first album came about. I find it amazing that Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison all hung out and did this. There are some decent songs here from Dylan which was rare for him at the time, but overall the album is somewhat cheesy. The 80’s production values are what really bother me. Way too over processed. Nothing really bad but just not that many songs that really grab me. Of course I got it cuz of Dylan.

4) David Bowie – “Lodger” and “Station to Station” – Both are B+/A- Good stuff from Bowie, more accessible than some of his other stuff around the time. Bowie was so ahead of his time that people still haven’t caught up.

5) White Stripes – “Icky Thump” Still can’t grade it yet, haven’t listened to enough. Some decent songs on there, in particular the title track.

6) Ryan Adams – “Easy Tiger” So far I rate it as a C, I got it this morning and listened to it while I was running this morning. I am a huge Ryan Adams fan, but find this album kinda boring. It sounds like he was trying to be more mature, but to me its just not as catchy or memorable. Last year’s “Cold Roses” and “Jacksonville City Lights” are much better. And its still sort of depressing he’s never been able to top “Heartbreaker” which might be in my top 5 albums of all time. I plan on listening a few more times to see if I like it more. It look a couple of times for me to get behind “Cold Roses” too.

7) Dinosaur Jr. – “Beyond” – Give it a B+. Always been a big Dinosaur Jr. fan. In fact, wore a purple Dinosaur Jr. cow t-shirt under my baseball uniform in high school (alternated with the Public Enemy shirt). J Mascis and the original Jr. lineup are back and rock out with long guitar solos and whiny Neil Youngish-vocals. 1992 sounds great again.

A Summer School perspective

Ok, avid Diary readers (all 3 of you)…I am on break from school. In fact, I have a full 6 days until the next summer session starts. Summer school is putting a serious drag on my summer, but a necessary evil if I want to graduate before my son is old enough to drive.

Finished up my business communications class last nite. Not exactly my favorite, but I did enjoy the consultant brought in to teach us how to communicate more effectively. We essentially had a 4 class bootcamp (and 2 Saturday labs) on how to talk in front of people. Comes down to a couple of simple concepts, that take practice:

1) Eye contact – you won’t believe this, but if you are looking people in the eye when speaking you won’t say ‘um’. Seriously. I didn’t believe it until I sat around in a room for 4 hours and watched it happen to classmates and myself. As soon as someone looks at floor or away, the ums starting rolling in.

2) The power of the pause. People talk way too fast and subconscious think everyone else is staying with them. But we aren’t. We need the pauses to absorb what was just spoken. Pauses also allow the speaker to think for a sec without rambling and losing the audience. Our consultant gave us something to think of when speaking…Your mouth is in the present, your brain is in the future (thinking of what to say next), and your audience is in the past. You need the pause for them to catch up.

3) Ditch the powerpoint slides. Its amazing to watch all the pointless slides people throw out that are just rows of text. It insults the audience as we all can read. I now spend my meetings picking apart presentations.

4) Incorporate a STAR. STAR is Stake, Actions, and Results. Stake – Tell your audience your view, such as “I personally believe we need to do XYZ” Actions – What you what your audience to do, like “I want you to be aware of ABC” Results – “If you do what I ask here are the benefits you will receive”

5) Forget about you…its all about the audience. Be listener focused. Know your audience and what interests them, and play to that.

As a part of the class, I had to give a 5 min speech for the final where we are graded on eye contact, content, movement, having a hook, etc. I did OK, not great but OK. The main thing is that I learned some parts about myself that aren’t that great, especially when I am trying to convey things in a presentation. The first step towards fixing things is being aware of them. As a result, I’ve been consciously trying to incorporate some of the teachings into my business life to get my points across and hopefully look somewhat coherent. For instance, eye contact and pauses are making their way into my repertoire.

The rest of the summer session for the course was on written communications, conflict resolton, negotiation, interviewing, and ettiquette (which was sort of funny). Spent an evening learning which fork is the fish fork and the silent ways to communicate with waiters at fine restaraunts. I’ll never get to use the waiter tricks as I only eat at places that don’t care if a baby is crying or not (like Chipotle or Lily’s). But the good thing is my resume is now revamped and I’ve got some bright ideas for the next time I negotiate for salary (cha-ching). So I guess it wasn’t all bad afterall.

The biggest beef is that the hours are brutal, 6pm to 10pm. Not a fun way to spend a nite after working for 8 to 9 hours. And as added fun, I had class 3 straight Saturdays. Now you might see why the Diary has suffered. Ugh.

Next up on the agenda…Accounting. Then a week off until Fall semester. Such is the life of a grad school student.

The dilemma of tracking the true success of all your online marketing

I was invited to spend the day with our Search Engine Marketing agency today (free lunch!), and got to hear about all the latest and greatest going on in the world of Search and on the web in general. I am fascinated by the whole thing, and energizes me to be involved with it. I also love that the whole thing runs on the back of analytics. Optimization, etc happens soley on metrics. But one key problem we’ve run into (and I’m told others have as well) is that most web analytics solutions have a limitation of picking up the full string of tracking codes visitors pick up along the way, making it hard to do true keyword analysis or even full scale marketing effectiveness across different media. Within Omniture for instance, there is a limitation of only picking up 2 tracking codes for linear attribution. Let me give you a scenario…

Visitor types in ‘laptop’ in Google and clicks on the link to go to Lenovo, doesn’t buy anything.

A week later types in ‘thinkpad’ in Google, clicks on link to Lenovo, still doesn’t buy anything.

A week after that visitor types in ‘t61’ in Google, clicks on link to Lenovo, and then buys something costing$1500.

With linear attribution (we have expiration set on 60 days), we can attribute credit to the keywords equally, since they were all vital in the final result, a purchase. The problem is Omniture (and I think other solutions) doesn’t capture the full string of keywords. In the example above, Omniture would only capture the last two, so $750 would be attributed to ‘thinkpad’ and $750 would go to ‘t61’. And the word ‘laptop’ would be left without anything. In the data it would look like it was an underperforming keyword and possibly get its allocation cut since it wasn’t providing any return on investment. However, we know without metrics that we need to buy that keyword as it plays some role in ultimately causing visitors to gravitate towards ‘branded’ keywords such as ‘thinkpad’. In fact, we’ve been told that a visitor usually searches 4.9 times on average before a purchase. So we’re missing 2.9 of the searches!

So what to do about it? As of now there isn’t much out of the box. I am hoping that the bright folks in Orem are dilligently working on a solution as this effects more than Search. I’d like to see the interactions between all online media and see the patterns of media that visitors encounter, and to see the true lifetime value of all of these media. For instance, being able to look at the progression of media (search, banners, email, affiliate, etc) until a success event occurs and beyond.

Internally, Esteban and I have been trying out some things that hold some promise, but involves quite a bit of javascript coding that would create an eVar within SiteCatalyst with all the tracking codes appended in a string. Problem is that it would be fairly useless inside SiteCatalyst, as there isn’t a good way to view it with all the various permutations. However, we could grab it out of DataWarehouse and then parse the tracking codes to look at the patterns. We think its possible, however, I’d love for this to be an out of the box function in Omniture to begin with, as it enchances a marketing manager’s knowledge of the true value of doing generic words in Google or banners that don’t have immediate impact.

Ok, that was my stream of consciousness. enjoy the ramble.

Anyone out there with more suggestions for solutions?

Happy Friday from D.Swad


Originally uploaded by mastasplinter2001

Dylan now has his own hip-hop name, D.Swad.
Why D.Swad?
D is for Dylan
Swad is for Swaddler, as in Pampers Swaddler diapers, which is his brand of choice.

So there you have it…D.Swad is in the house!

Honestly, he is going to have an identity crisis when he grows up as we call him a million different names. Before he was born, he had the code name of Bok Choy, which I still think rocks as a name. Being named after a cabbage is an excellent conversation starter.

So what does this have to do with web analytics? Absolutely nothing.

The Book Fairy

Hola amigos…not sure if I still actually have a readership these days, as life, school, and work have me pretty consumed to the point where the Diary has suffered mightily. I know I’ve promised in the past to write more, but we know how things go.

So as I am finishing up a few papers due tomorrow, I checked my mailbox and was stoked to find 2 new books to add to the Hazen Memorial Library. Got “Actionable Web Analytics” by Jason Berby and Shane Atchison and the highly anticipated copy of “Web Analytics An Hour a Day” by the web analytics macdaddy Avinash Kaushik. Go get Avinash’s book on Amazon. He even hooks you up with a CD-ROM full of podcasts, videos, and powerpoint presentations that reflect the contents of the book. I’ll be passing this book around my team and will be giving tests until absorbed.

Both books are next in the queue after I finish reading “Catch 22”, which I’ve started and stopped about 20 times in the last 8 years, and determined to finally finish. Very funny book. That and Faulkner’s “Sound and the Fury” are the 2 books I am making an effort to finish this summer.

In case anyone cared what other media I am absorbing in my down time:
Movies – been on an old Dustin Hoffman kick in Netflix with “All The President’s Men” and “The Graduate”. Also checked out “Half Nelson”, which makes me wonder if some of my former teachers were crack addicts as well. For the record, “Half Nelson” was pretty good.

I somehow need to escape and see “Knocked Up” and get ready for this summer’s sleeper hit “Superbad” (check out the previews on YouTube)

Music – Got the new Wilco album, not the best in their catalog. I’d give it a C+. I’ve only listened to it a few times as the songs didn’t really standout much, as opposed to their earlier works. Some folks have really liked it, and maybe I am missing something.

I am getting anxious waiting for the new Queens of the Stone Age “Era Vulgaris” and Ryan Adams’ new one “Easy Tiger”. If you ever have a few hours to kill, check out his website at http://www.ryan-adams.com. Ryan is one of the few recording artists who updates his site pretty regularly with whatever idea pops in his head (good or bad).

more to come? maybe something intelligent about Web Analytics? we shall see…