How Well Does Your Name Google?

So if you’re anything like me, from time to time you google your name. I like to see how many of the top 10 results are actually me. Since I started doing this a year or two ago, I simply cannot compete with Benjamin Robison the apparently famous violinist. Though my blog gets a fair amount of traffic, I can’t make any headway against him.

Next in line is Ben Robison the director of an aircraft carrier fleet and then third on the list is me. Then you’ll find a link to Ardesco’s site and find out that Benjamin Robison the violinist is also a director (no wonder I can’t top him).

Then there’s the Blue Dwarf’s blog talking about my visit to the Web Analytics class at BYU. Whoever the Blue Dwarf is, he must be an SEO expert, cause my name is only on that page one time, and I was surprised to see it ranked so high.

The there’s ISLand where my blog gets resyndicated, followed by a few more blogs mentioning Ben Robisons that aren’t me. And finally my LinkedIn profile rounds out the top 10.

So that gives me 40% of the top 10. Not too bad, I thought until I googled my neighbor’s name just for fun. Dang Him! All top 10 results are relevant to him. Sure he’s got his own photography business. Sure Apple has spotlighted his work. Sure he’s got movies about him on YouTube. Sure his photography rep links to him. But does that make him more special than me =)

Anybody want to make popular movies about me and post them on YouTube? No takers?!

Computers Only Do What You Tell Them To

I was just getting all my screenshots in order for a post on the Google Analytics conspiracy. I went into my GA account the other day and noticed that on November 15, all my tracking went to 0. No Page Views, no Visits, no Visitors, no Referring Traffic, no Nothing. Obviously I find this a little upsetting. I realize that my blog is not a major web crossroads, but I was averaging 30-ish Visits a day up to that point, so I found it a little disturbing.

Visit Stats

I wondered why Google would possibly bother to penalize a site as small as mine. I had them though. I visit the site to post, and people were leaving comments on the blog. Can’t have comments without visits, so I knew they were deliberately messing with me. So I got all my dates in order, took GA screenshots, and then had a stroke of brilliance. I remembered that I had flipped AWStats on for this site back in January. AWStats is a log-file based analytics tool for those who don’t know, but it meant that I had another source for the same data that was missing GA.

I had photographic evidence of the conspiracy now. I had all my screenshots lined up and ready to go, when I suddenly had one final stroke of brilliance. Back on November the 14th I upgraded to the latest WordPress, downloaded a new version of my theme compatible with the new version, and in the process, overwrote my GA collection code.

So I relearned the lesson that I’m always repeating to others when they’re mad at their computers. Computers only do what you tell them to.

Howto: Outlook Plays Nice With gCal Thanks to gSyncit

Being a Mac user at home is nice, but makes calendar compatibility with my work computer a little challenging. For awhile, I used my Blackberry and synced it to both computers, but it wasn’t made for this purpose and after a few syncs, it inevitably started crashing the Desktop Manager on my Windows machine at work while trying to sync calendars.

I got tired of completely clearing out the calendar to get it to sync again (I did it twice and couldn’t take it anymore). I first turned to Funambol and Schedule World with instructions from this article over at internetducttape.com.

I should have read the comments a little closer before trying it out, because this Funambol doesn’t work with Exception Dates. Exception dates occur when you have a recurring appointment and then change one occurence without changing the series. With my work, this happens all the time because I’ll have weekly recurring appointments with clients that often get bumped by an hour or a day. Whenever these exceptions occured, the sync process started adding appointments to my Outlook calendar even though I had said the sync should only go one direction. It also had an annoying habit of popping up the Outlook reminder dialog several times during the sync.

One of my colleagues pointed me in the direction of SyncMyCal. They make a $25 dollar product that he uses and said it handles exception dates very well. They also make a free version, but it will only sync a 7 day window which didn’t meet my needs. I’m willing to shell out $25 to save the aggravation, but a last ditch effort on Google revealed another possibility (I swear I performed the same search two days earlier).

gSyncit comes in here. Dave claims to offer the same functionality with a free version and a full that costs $10. The only limitation on the free version is no auto-sync and a popup when you load Outlook or sync. So far it works beautifully. I installed it this morning, and the first, second, and third sync went off without a hitch (or Outlook reminders popping all over my screen, or creating ghost appointments on my real calendar).

I figure I’ll give it a few days to see how it handles more new appointments and a few more exception dates, but I’m thinking that I’ll soon be paying Dave his $10 for a product well executed.

What I can now do is subscribe to my gCal work calendar with iCal on my Mac at home, and now I have a single source for everything happening in my life. And since iCal obviously plays nice with iTunes and iPods, my iPod is now the portable source of truth for my busy life. I guess I should here add my thanks to Google for supporting open standards and making my cross-platform life a little simpler as well. And thanks to Apple for doing that too.