Hi folks,

it is 12:15 on Friday the 19th. As of 15 minutes ago, the holiday season started for StepForth staff. Here is our holiday schedule in case folks want to get a hold of us:

StepForth will be closed for holidays during the week of Dec. 22 – Dec 29. We will be operating with a reduced staff from Dec. 29 to January 5th. We will be closed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

From all of us at StepForth, have a happy and safe holiday season and thanks for an excellent 2003.

Please understand that this poem is tongue-in-cheek and that our staff is working harder than elves on a deadline. I needed to take some liberties with reality to make the poem work. It’s Christmas and my friends got together and bought me an artistic license. I thought I’d use it… :) Happy Yule y’all!

Read more…

Thursday, December 18th, 2003

Follow Fed-Ex on Google

As far as an easy to use tool goes, Google has just given itself and the massive courier firm Fed-Ex a wonderful Christmas present with the introduction of Fed-Ex package tracking features from Google’s front page. Within two easy clicks, we were able to trace a CD-Rom being shipped to us from a client in Iowa. The same trace on the actual Fed-Ex site took four steps, cutting a significant amount time.

Try it yourself. If you have a package currently in transit through FED-Ex, go to Google and type “fedex (and your tracking number)” into the keyword window. The results are extraordinary and fast.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

AOL Aims at Spyware

AOL is taking aim at one of the underbelly areas of the Internet, SPYWARE. Also known as scumware, spyware is often unknowingly downloaded piggybacking on other pieces of software such as file sharing software, Kazaa. Machines infected with Spyware transmit their every move to the maker of the spyware which often uses the information to serve pop-up advertising based on the topic being looked at. Bundled in AOL’s new “9.0 Optimized” package is a feature that will allow users to identify and eliminate advertising and other forms of spyware. This indicates a growing awareness among computer users and programmers who are demanding to be free from an unscrupulous industry that according to industry watchers has grown by 13% over the past 12 months.

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in the United States. American Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the end of the previous year and the start of the holiday season. It is the perfect time to kick back, visit family and friends and reminisce about the year gone past. It is also a great time to look forward to the coming year and have a little fun. That’s what our staff wanted to do today so here is our predictions for the State of Search, 2004.

* Google will issue an IPO in March (odds = 99%) via the Dutch Auction format. (odds = 50%) Google will make billions on the IPO and will purchase the financially strapped Calgary Flames Hockey club, move them to the Silicone Valley and rename them the Silicone Flameouts. (odds = 5%)

* We will see a continuance of large mergers, takeovers and buyouts until the end of the first quarter of 2004. More of the smaller players will be absorbed by the larger ones including at least a portion of ASK.Com. (odds = 60%). Jeeves himself will be found drunk in an alley behind the Stardust Lounge on Rodeo Dr. slumped over his friend, that other unemployed mascot from Pets.Com (odds = 5%)

* Yahoo will become the dominant search service in China (odds = 85%) and will become known as the “Portal to the World’s Largest Marketplace” (odds = 65%)

* Terra Lycos will surprise the search world with successful innovations and services. (odds = 99%) Furthermore, Lycos will become one of the top international search tools with a strong focus on European and Spanish Language search technologies. (odds = 55%)

* Contextual Advertising opportunities will expand, allowing more opportunities for the advertiser to become the advertising medium for other ads. (odds = 85%)

* Asian language SEOs will be a driving force of the SEO industry as the focus of the international economy continues to move from North America to Asia. (odds = 75%)

* The Toronto Maple Leafs will finally win the Stanley Cup. (odds = .05%)

* Google will be officially labeled a weapon of mass destruction based on the recent Florida update. (odds = 99%)

* Non-Spammy results will be found at Google very soon. (odds = 10%)

* Every major search engine will introduce their own tool-bars. (odds = 90%)

* MSN will make a major purchase, possibly ASK.Com’s TEOMA (odds = 50%)

* StepForth Placement will expand to double it’s current size and staff (odds = 80%+)

* StepForth Placement will add a new division (details pending, odds = 100%)

LycosUK has introduced an extraordinary tracking service allowing users to shop between various financial services in a partnership with MoneySuperMarket.Com. The service promises savings of up to 10% of a users annual salary, if used properly. Users can check different rates, move money between credit cards, see different loan and credit opportunities and track bonus offers such as loyalty points and programs. This looks like an excellent tool for individual users and small businesses. If successful in the UK, Lycos will expand the program to Europe and North America sometime in 2004.

Spam makes lots of people angry. Lots of spam makes certain people too angry to control themselves as was found by a Victoria company earlier this week. Douglas Mackay, president of DM Contact Management was repeatedly threatened by a man in southern California who had received one too many penis enlargement spam emails, and mistakenly targeted DM Contact Management as the senders. Since the spring time, Douglas Mackay has received strange and threatening emails from Charles Booher, a 44 year old computer programmer in Sunnyvale California. Booher was frustrated by the same level of spam we are all frustrated by except Booher foolishly decided to try to scare Mackay’s company into making the spam stop. Problem is, Mackay’s company never sent the offending emails in the first place. Booher said he would, torture Mackay with an ice pick, deliver an envelope full of anthrax spores to his office and disable him with a bullet to the knee-caps. He was arrested earlier this week and could face up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, “…News accounts say that Mr. Booker is a survivor of testicular cancer, and therefore found repeated messages dealing with penile extension ‘frustrating.'”.

Friday, September 12th, 2003

Johhny Cash Died Last Night

While this news has little to do with the world of search it does strike a chord deep in my soul… The original man in black, Johnny Cash died last night. Cash, who was both a country legend and, oddly enough, a punk rock legend, was among the first to combine rockabilly and country and pioneered what has become known and loved as cow-punk. The world will be a bit quiter but a bit sadder at his passing.

Bye Johnny.