Archive for June, 2011
Here at Ai, we’re always down for a little competitive spirit. Our newest competitive release comes via NYC Social Sports Club’s Wednesday night kickball league. We’ve signed up to humble the competition under the moniker “Browser-Compatible Ball Busters”.
Our campaign for kickball world domination came out of the gates a bit inauspiciously last Wednesday though with a 17-6 drubbing at the hands of perennial powerhouse “All-Pro Un-Pro”.
The game was not without its highlights though. Offensively the team was intimidatingly strong at the top of the order with the first three kickers going a total of 6 for 7 on the day. Geoff “The Panther” Fellows started the game with a home run to deep center and ended up going 2 for 3 with 2 runs for the game. Jess “The Paleo Pulverizer” Levy went a perfect 2-2 from the dish and drove in one run. At third in the order, John Childers (hey, that’s me) launched 2 home runs in his 2 at bats, kicking in a total of 4 runs. Also netting hits were Marcie Quintana and Abbey Laufenberg.
The team struggled to get its bearings a bit defensively, but there were some impressive catches made by our outfielders.
Photos of the match can be found on our Flickr feed.
The team is looking for an inaugural win this Wednesday night in its 7:45 match at the field on Delancey and Attorney streets on the Lower East Side. Come on down and watch us mourn the end of the shuttle program by sending some (newly-)Unidentifiable Rubber Objects into lower earth orbit.
The war on low-quality content and content farming kicked into high gear last February when Google released “Panda”, an update to its complex ranking algorithm. According to Google’s official blog post “the update was designed to reduce ranking for low quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” But as anyone in the field would expect, SEO pros and website owners immediately began debating the merits.
This change brought back memories of the uproar over the 2003 update “Florida” that took some of the highly ranked sites by storm. With “Panda” there were websites that were highly ranked before February 24 that became endangered overnight, some witnessing up to a 40% drop in traffic.
So is Panda fair?
Theoretically, yes. According to a May 6 post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, “More guidance on building high-quality sites,” the algorithm mirrors Google’s mantra that website owners should focus on building great sites, not trying to fool the search algorithm. The post includes some examples that seem easy to measure, like spelling errors or duplicate content. Other quality definers are being introduced periodically and in scattered places like the page loading speed, which wasn’t mentioned in the guide but available in a Google Analytics update post. Another clue is the author tag, which was posted on Google Webmaster Central. But other examples for defining a quality website appear dubious or highly subjective. How could an algorithm reasonably measure, for example, if an article includes “both sides of a story,” or if you’d “expect to see this article in a printed magazine or book”?
Putting theory aside, what really happened is that some of the sites that re-publish content outranked the original source of the content. Google responded to this issue with an update, Panda 2.2, that has been approved but not yet released.
With the stir the Panda algorithm update had caused, Google officials stated that this is just one out of 500 algorithm updates they are intending to roll out through 2011. Let’s hope the next update won’t be called “Dodo”.
We are the Ai UX & Design crew and we’d like to wish you all a happy Wednesday! Right on.
The Ai UX & Design crew
June 8th means bring your kids to work day. They surveyed a few of us and the results are in…
We’ve certainly expanded our global footprint since the last survey.
Ebay today announced they are acquiring everyone’s favorite ecom platform Magento. They already owned 49% of the platform and have announced plans to roll Magento into some new X.Commerce initiative. This is a very smart move for EBay. Have recently acquired GSI to offer an enterprise solution at the very top of the online retail food chain, EBay can even more effectively compete at the entry- and mid-levels of ecommerce.
We’re huge fans of Magento here at Ai, and will be watching this development closely. On the one hand, the additional engineering resources, marketing, product stewardship, and enterprise support will be welcomed by ecom brands and developers alike. Graduating from a 49% strategic investment to a fully-blown integrated product suite should come with the commensurate level of attention from EBay execs.
On the other hand, all too often we’ve seen thriving software platforms gobbled up by larger companies primarily with the intent of folding the acquired company’s customers into the acquirer’s existing product suite. This may not be welcome news for us Magento devs out there that enjoy direct access to the source code of the product and significant engineering accumen and performance tuning experience on the platform.
We will certainly keep our eyes on this and report back to our friends and clients any important implications. In the meantime, congratulations to the folks at Magento and founder Roy Rubin.
When asked to write a blog post reflecting my first month as an employee at Ai, my first thought was how difficult it’d be to package all of my great experiences into one single blog post. It’s a good thing I’m always game for a challenge, so I was honored to step up to the plate!
Three things that come to mind when I reflect upon my inaugural month at Ai are: 1. The quirky company culture, 2. The great experiences and 3. The incredible work ethic among my colleagues.
The company culture at Ai is as smart as it is fun. The office is a bright open space with randomly dispersed trinkets that tend to spark up unexpected conversation – some of my favorites include an assortment of bobble heads, an infographic on the trustworthiness of beards, and the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
One of our conference rooms doubles as a grown-up playpen, aptly named “All Good Things”, and is home to the foosball table and funny pictures of every employee. Every Friday I look forward to our end-of-week happy hour, “Hamster Time” (still haven’t figured out that name yet) and I’m excited about the soon-to-be-dominant Ai kickball team. I really love how Ai makes it a priority to remind employees to have fun and enjoy work.
Another aspect I’ve loved about Ai is the incredible amount of experience to which I’ve already been exposed. My very first day of work was a whirlwind that ended with a lovely dinner with the internal team my new client who was swinging through town. By my third week, I was already on a southbound flight to experience our client’s mind-blowing headquarters. This allowed me to better understand their product, establish valuable relationships, and meet face-to-face to collaborate on with issues that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to contribute on.
I have to say though that my favorite thing about Ai is having the pleasure of working with such great people on a daily basis. Everyone here is at the top of their game talent-wise. It’s great to work with people who have such a strong work ethic and know how to make the best decisions for clients, but who also remember not to take themselves too seriously. Working with such exceptional and diligent colleagues makes the job so fulfilling, and it has truly been a blast working in such a fun environment.
My first month has been packed with so many great experiences and I am definitely looking forward to many more fun experiences with the Ai team. Now can someone please just explain to me why it’s called “Hamster Time”? There aren’t even any hamsters!
Everyone is jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon, and we at Ai are no exception! For a while I’ve been a little reluctant to introduce the new revision for our projects mainly due to the lack of solutions that would target cross-browser compatibility out of the box. As an ecommerce shop, browser compatibility means more users, means more revenue, means happy client.
For the past couple years I’ve been monitoring the development of HTML5 Boilerplate, a project created by Paul Irish and Divya Manian, aimed to seamlessly integrate HTML5 and modern CSS3 features into your site across all browsers (even back to IE6). The current 1.0 build was recently released with a bunch of goodies such as HTML and JS minification, image compression, cache management, updated CSS reset, custom build script, the option to choose modernizr or html5shiv, and so much more.
To learn more about the project visit html5boilerplate.com.