John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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December 11th, 2013 by john andrews

Cloud Storage

A poet friend recently got upset about a bill he received for Google’s cloud storage. He wasn’t aware of his wife’s increased use of his online storage account, which incurred a fee on his credit card. He complained to Google, including a small rant:

“What the hell is a “Cloud Platform”?????? Do clouds need platforms? If they do (which i doubt) why should i have to pay for it? I’m already paying for those who can’t be bothered to work for a living! Does this have anything to do with global warming?

So I thought I’d help clear it up for him.

Dear Terry — Honestly I don’t know what the fuss is about. Clouds are huge, and are everywhere. They move around the earth… so when we have a cloudy day, they are HERE. When we have a sunny day, they are SOMEWHERE ELSE.

There is no need for cloud storage until… everyone wants a sunny day at the same time. And why can’t they? Why should someone have to have a cloudy day, every time YOU want to enjoy a sunny one?

For that matter, why should the Pacific Northwest suffer under clouds all year, just so the rest of America can have sunny summers? It’s hardly fair. So that’s why Amazon invented cloud storage, right here in Seattle.

Google jumped in because it wants to organize everything, which I presume includes the stored clouds, right?

So chill out and do your part. We’re all just trying to advance as a civilization, and get some sunshine back up here in the PNW.

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August 14th, 2013 by john andrews

When there are no Jobs

As in independent consultant and small business owner, I see how the markets and society impact productivity every day. One thing that need acknowledgement is that we are responsible for our own difficult situations. By we, I mean the tech sector companies, managers, workers, employees, investors, and consumers.

When we don’t respect education, we don’t get well-educated workers coming for jobs. When we have poorly-educated or not-very-smart employees in roles within a company (especially managers), we get inefficient and often error-prone execution of job functions, which leads to low quality products and services.

When we neglect education, we also isolate our independent personalities, “free thinkers”, highly-motivated and creative people, as they are most neglected by a lesser education system and lesser organizational function. Some say we “breed” mediocrity, but I don’t agree with that as much as I think we alienate those who do not fit into the “mediocre” group (perhaps pushing them out of view, leaving “mediocre” in sight).
At least two facets of this process lead to self-reinforcing mediocrity in our economy. As we manage companies that hire ill-prepared thinkers as employees, and manage the error-prone and lower quality production of products and services that results, we lower standards. At the same time, those free-thinkers and creatives and highly-motivated workers seek employment outside of that system.

This leads to our “Silicon Valley” experience on the one side (highly-motivated and creative thinkers seeking alternative systems of employment) with it’s exploitative labor arrangements distorting the purpose of labor away from production and towards servitude. It also feeds a lop-sided financial world driven by a winner-takes-all mentality with “go for the gold and invest” vs “hold back and try to hinder” behavior.

Like a sump, a community of lower-motivated and “entitled” workers makes up the largest remainder group. They accept work at mediocre dysfunctional organizations, and accept lower standards while seeking to make lives and find happiness.

But the consequences of this downward slide of economic civilization also include a perhaps less obvious “cheating society”, where workers who do not engage with the high climbers but who do not fit in with low-demand entitlement community of workers, do their best to “get ahead” within the system. These workers often ending up holding down multiple jobs or careers (e.g. job at the bank by day, real estate agent by night) or working as freelancers and contract workers. They “cheat” by exploiting “loopholes” in the system for personal gain. While “cheating” is a harsh word, if you look closely you might find a significant portion of their “earnings” come from exploitation of the overlaps between their endeavors, or their personal monetization of “slippage” that exists in the positions they hold.

Examples of “cheating” include personally selling excess office supplies from work on ebay (rationalized with “they were just going to throw it away”), spending company budget lines on training that is more relevant for the second job than the one that’s funding the purchase, calling in “sick” when there is an opportunity for better pay at a side job, etc. Sitting on multiple boards where there is conflict of interest or benefit derived from mutual considerations. Taking full benefits even when not needed (rationalized as “it’s mine, part of what I negotiated when I took the job”), deciding to execute a plan that is not truly needed by the company but would make your job much more fun, etc. The examples are so numerous and behavior so common we have come to accept them as “normal” or even “benedfits”, even though most of it technically is illegal or close to illegal. It often seems that the bigger the company, the more the cheating is considered “normal”. The government seems to be the biggest company of all, in that respect.

Psychologists have names for these behaviors (as do some lawyers) but for the purpose of this discussion I will simply note that when a person is underutilized and unhappy in a job, they tend to find ways to compensate and self-reward. Those “ways” are often at company expense, and this “cheating” mentality exists across the whole spectrum from worker through management and company behavior towards customers. One can even “see” how it could be extended to explain the nearly billion dollar pay of some CEOs, and the million dollar salaries of CEOs of so-called non-profit organizations. I think it stems from a lack of respect for education.

Of course “fixing our education system” is not a wholesale solution. I, personally, think our education system needs to be scrapped. I acknowledge however that I am not a qualified expert on fixing large dysfunctional systems.

But fixing “the education issue” is a solution. Fix education. Individual education, group education, societal education. Respect for enlightenment (and the process of “education”) is key to fixing the problems.

Perhaps the first step is to defend your own right to knowledge and enlightenment, an activity which will earn you access to “education”. You have a right to not be misinformed. You have a right to learn the truth (about whatever). You have a right (and perhaps a responsibility) to continually learn.

If you think about it (if you can.. meaning if you have any time to think, have any environment free from distractions such that you can think, have any way to defer the demands of everyday life such that you can freely “think”) then you may see that many of today’s “problem issues” stem from the failure of all of us to get educated and stay informed (educated):

We take too many prescription drugs
We drink to much alcohol
We take on too much risk in our leisure activities, or not enough (what happened to the middle ground?)
We “hate” too quickly
We “love” too little
We are “alone” too much, and our “community time” is too stressful/unfulfilling
We are either not busy or too busy (e.g. underemployed or overworked)
We have little peace and are becoming entrained by ambient noise - which brings us back to the top of this list

When there are no jobs, there is pain and trouble. But the solution is not “more jobs”. The lack of jobs is a symptom of the real problem, as is most of the above. The problem is what medical doctors commonly call “a failure to thrive”, in this case applied to the human spirit and humanity.

As individuals we thrive when we can fulfill our personal destinies, which were at one time the product of our unique personal combination of genetics, physical and mental abilities, and personalities, nurtured in a development environment (family, friends, society). But once we started to impose constraints, and developed them into a system of control, empowered by surveillance and authority, we started to kill “education”. Where our ultimate life paths were once determined by our individual natures, supported and influenced by our surroundings, our life paths today are determined by our ability to break free of constraints, “cheat”, or settle for a selection of entitlements within reach (using coping skills like alcohol and drugs to manage our internal discontent).

It wouldn’t seem so bad if we were “happy” with that, but clearly we are not. And whether or not we acknowledge it, when it comes to humanity, defined as “thriving in life as a human”, the status quo is not sustainable.

Education. Awareness. Enlightenment. Information. Knowledge. Satisfaction. Happiness. Fulfillment. Love. Humanity.

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February 10th, 2013 by john andrews

Aaron Von Frankenstein

I’ve seen plenty of blog posts lately about Aaron. What Aaron did. How What Aaron Did is not much different from “what we do” every day, where “we” refers to tech-savvy Internet users. Aaron was accused. Aaron was indicted. Aaron was attacked by the powers that be, captured, cornered, labeled a criminal and sentenced to prison. There are allegations of abuse, of misdeeds, of inhumanity and insensitivity.

What I’m not seeing is The Truth.

I see that Aaron was indicted for using the same identity obfuscation we routinely use to avoid getting spam. That Aaron used the same technology we use every day surfing the web. That Aaron was indicted for doing things his own accusers do in the normal course of daily operations. That Aaron broke a terms of service that most people never read and hundreds of thousands violate every week.

Oh sure I see “facts”, and truthful assertions of fact. No doubt. But I’m not seeing an acknowledgement that most of those facts don’t matter.  I’m not seeing recognition of the “higher truth” that governs our society in cases like Aaron’s (and yours in the future, if you are in fact doing the same things Aaron did).  Some say “the truth will set you free” but it rarely does. Recognition of The Truth, however, could keep you out of prison.

The Truth is that every pitchfork march against an accused starts with a quiet conversation between 2 people. Sometimes it ends there. The Truth is that a quiet conversation destined to advance further towards indictment, is followed by a private conversation between a small number of influential people. Many end there.

The accusations that end in pitchfork marches first continued beyond the small group private conversation to a dispersed debate amongst a still small but less connected “group” of individuals. Only when consent was established, did the pitchfork march planning begin. And consent, according to The Truth, can and does include uninformed consent, coerced consent, extorted consent, implied consent, and assumed consent.  Without consent from many, there is no pitchfork march. There is no righteous justice. There is no hanging. There is probably no suicide, either.

Often one can trace the unsavory aspects of  injustice back to those few people involved in the earliest conversations… the “two people” and those involved in the “small private conversation”.  They had an agenda, and “worked it” until they had adequate consent to rally authority and enforcement power. In the old days, when people cared about being held responsible for the ruin of another man, these few drove the issue hard. “She’s very odd, it starts as a whisper, which morphs into “there’s something un-natural about her” at a group meeting.  Soon the crowd is shouting ”she’s a witch” and everyone agrees she needs to burn.

I think the scariest part of all of this is when deals are being made to establish consent for prosecution. That’s when the paper value of a victim’s life increases in value beyond reason.  That’s when killing becomes justified. When your life stands between a man and millions of dollars in profit, or a man and tremendous political power, you don’t have much chance. But things didn’t start in that scary place. They started with a conversation between two people, and conversations between small groups of people.

And you were not part of that conversation. Not even one of you. The Truth is that “reason”, the kind of reason you techno-savvy Internet people exhibit and understand, was absent from the early conversations that manufactured consent to indict and prosecute Aaron.

The Truth is that while you rant online about the people in the system who don’t “get it”, it is you who does not “get it”. You don’t “get” that men pursuing agendas make rules that other men enforce out of duty or fear. Our society is ruled by laws. Laws are made by men and women who rarely use technology more sophisticated than a vanilla smart phone, ipad, or Windows PC.

The seeds of action are sown not in technology, but in basic human nature at the local level. As long as you choose to not participate in offline, non-tech, uninteresting local conversations that sometimes lead to pitch fork parades, you will be helpless to stop the ultimate parade that destroys Aaron, or your co-worker, or you.

Frankenstein was a monster.  It’s simple, really. He had to be killed.

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

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Recent Posts: ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude ★ Seeing the Trees, but Missing the Forest ★ Search is a Task; Discovery is Fun ★ Why “dot everything” is a Good Idea (and ahead of its time) 

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