Friday, September 30, 2005

Moluv Check-In: Featured Site Archive and Google

It's been a year since I started using Blogger to keep track of stuff. I initially began using it so that I could benchmark Blogger's admin utilities, for a newer version of Moluv. Since then I've done a bunch of back-end work, changed hosts, and began using Google as a source of income.

Over the past year the two biggest additions to the site have occurred within the past three months. The first is the latest addition, the Featured Site Archive. Since way back in 2000, the 6 currently Featured Sites have been an integral part of And for the past 2 years I've been [inconsistently] emailing Featured Site Awards. However, not even our administrative area provided an easy way to access the old Featured Site thumbnails.

With all of the new activity on going on with the site, and now that I'm finally updating the Featured Sites again regularly, being able to reference those old thumbnails was starting to become a necessity. Initially, I was just going to have it be a members only benefit, which meant the member sign-up section I've been planning on finishing would actually have to be completed. Then we got a new admin, Jory Kruspe, who thought it would be a good idea to make it easily accessible to everyone, which was really the right thing to do.

Now I can finally look back a couple of years at the sites we've linked (if they're still up). They're presented in a gridded thumbnail format that's probably familiar to most adult males (You know what I'm talking about). It's a lot of fun looking back at all the great work we've covered, and seeing the timelessness of what the world's best web designers have had to offer over the past few years.

The next addition, which has been at least as important are the Google Adsense ads. To date, they've contributed over $600 to over a three month period. The ads currently there have a click through rate of 2.8 percent and the average eCPM (cost per thousand impressions) is $6.49. With an average of over 40,000 impressions/month the Google ads are paying about $260/month. The first direct deposit from the Google adsense account arrived just yesterday.

What this will do for is allow it to pay for itself. Additionally, we'll be able to increase traffic on the site with paid sponsor banners on other up and coming sites. Also, there's finally some capital to pay for some Moluv tshirts, tanks, boxers and other clothing to sell at the site. All in due time.

What I don't like about the Google Adsense program, though, is the randomness of their pay rates and the monthly pay period. For example, one day there could be 50 click-throughs that pay a total of US$9.00. The very next day there might be the same number of clicks, but they'll only pay US$4.00. Google explicitly states that they have no intention of explaining the differing rates, which doesn't help optimization. In any case, it's still passive income, so I can't complain too much.

That is, if they actually paid the amount within a reasonable amount of time. You don't actually get anything until the end of the month following the month in which the money was earned. Again, it's passive income. Also, it's income that would not exist otherwise, so I'm not too upset about it. Just a tiny bit irirtated.

Hopefully this post will help anyone else out there looking to use the Google Adsense program set appropriate expectations. It can be lucrative, but it has it's weaknesses. It pays much better than Amazon's associate program, though.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chuck Is Back

As a former "Schwabbie" (that's insider lingo for a Charles Schwab employee) and a Schwab account holder, having Chuck Schwab return as CEO last summer was good news. I was able to see him speak live once and it became abundantly clear why he was so successful. He really, truly, and honestly cares about his employees and his customers.

When I was there, there was another guy acting as a co-CEO with Chuck. His name was Dave Pottruck. I got to hear Dave speak up close and personal at a gathering of African-American employees. It was nice of him to show up, but I can't say that I got the same feeling of support that I got when I heard Chuck speak.

In fact, as time went on, while I was there, the atmosphere became more and more adversarial towards smaller clients (assets under $100,000). In other words, there was a negative perception focused towards almost everybody I knew. When I first arrived, the customer was always important and even thinking about a co-worker in a bad way was grounds for discipline. Diversity had been the company's strength for years, and intolerance of any kind was heavily frowned upon. That is until the end of Dave's tenure.

All of a sudden there was this atmosphere of treating smaller customers like a burden. Fees were introduced on their accounts, and all manner of nitpicking and penny-pinching were focused toward this group of people. In the company's defense, it was going through a severe slump that resulted in many rounds of layoffs. I went voluntarily in the fourth round when I found out about the great severance packages that were being offered. It should be noted that a good portion of the severance packages came from Chuck's own pocket. I'm telling you, the guy is a class act.

The reason I'm saying this is because when I checked my account today there was a huge message saying that fees have been completeley eliminated. I won't lie. My first reaction was to wonder how I could get my old job back. My next reaction was to look into buying SCH again. It looks like I was a little late to the game, because the stock shot up 4 months ago. About the time it probably took from conception of fee removals to its public announcement.

Well, I'm not too disappointed that I missed out on the price gain. I don't have any money to invest with anyway, and now that the fees are gone, my account balance won't continue to get hacked away. Chuck's return was a very good thing. He's a great guy by all accounts, and I wish the very best to the company and all my former co-workers. NO MORE FEES!!!! HOORAY! YAHOO! Whoops. Wrong company. It looks like they could use their own "Chuck" right about now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Genie of the Lamp

Most people have heard the story of Aladdin's genie of the the lamp and the three wishes. I have, more so than others, because I've watched Disney's version with my daughter umpteen times. One day, for no particular reason that I can recall, I wanted to find out what the Bible had to say about wishing. For those who are not aware, my father was at one time a minister, and I've probably followed biblical tenets as closely as anyone else I know for most of my life.

So, it came as a shock to me to find out that Jesus made a specific statement about wishing that for some reason no one had ever cared to bring up in my 30+ years. His words were, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it will be done." [John 15:7].

In hindsight, I actually have received everything that I've prayed for. Even things that I'd specifically prayed for "knowing" full well that it would be impossible to achieve. This has happened on many, many occasions. So often, in fact, that I no longer question the validity of what Jesus called the two greatest commandments, or how to "abide" in Him.

The first and greatest commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul and mind." The second is "You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself." From these passages, it seems reasonable to assume that if you follow (abide in) just these two commandments, your wishes will come true.

A specific example of a wish coming true is the house I purchased one year ago. 2 years ago, in my little apartment, I took down a flyer for a home being sold around the corner for $450,000 that I had posted on my office corkboard for a year. An amount that under no circumstances I could see myself paying on my own. Last year I bought a house for exactly that much. Granted, I took a lot of action to help make that happen, but I have no doubt that living right, and obeying those two commandments contributed heavily.

The one common thread between these two commandments is love. Jesus was kind enough to provide a lengthy definition of Love in Corinthians chapter 13, which makes it easier to know if you're screwing up your chances of having your wishes fulfilled. Of the virtues faith, hope, love, and charity, Love is the greatest of these, Jesus says. Which makes sense considering it's necessity in the two greatest commandments.

I have a website called Moluv (it uses a phonetic spelling of the word love). The license plates on my Corvette and my Civic both have the phrase in them. This isn't so I can ensure that I get all my wishes, although that seems to have been a nice side effect, but so that I could fulfill the two greatest commandments. Acknowledge God, by acknowledging the importance of love, His greatest virtue, and having consideration for the people I encounter by sharing "mo luv" both literally and figuratively.

Of course there's more to my devotion than just sharing a phrase. To shamelessly borrow an overused saying, action speaks much louder than words. Oddly enough, regardless of religion, I've found that people I've encountered who act out the two greatest commandments, I have a great admiration for, and am always willing to help. These behaviours can be found in people who have other religions, or have no religion at all, or from people from every background and nationality. This led me to define the greatest commandments in simpler terms for myself. Believe in what is greater than you, and be considerate of those around you.

What this allows me to do is not pass judgement on people who have different religious philosophies, or no philosophy at ll. This goes for people within christianity in all its different flavors, and without. If you're humble enough to know that we are not the center of the universe, and you treat others with respect, you are a friend of mine, and you can count on me to contribute my two cents to making your wishes come true.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nancy's Funeral

This was the first funeral I've been to where I had actually been in relatively close contact with the person of honor. Part of me didn't like being there because of the discomfort of having to deal with my own emotions, but another part was extremely grateful to witness, and be part of, the celebration of the passing of a great person.

Nancy was a wonderful woman. Always full of great stories and advice, and always going out of her way to make you feel at home in her house. Although her passing was a sad event, I actually felt a little relieved in knowing that she wouldn't have to feel sick anymore. What really choked me up, though, was seeing how much she touched the lives of her friends, family, and coworkers. She was the best salesperson at her place of employment up until her death and the owner of the company she worked for showed so much support for her that it lead one of the ministers presiding over the ceremony to say that he'd never seen that type of admiration from an employer in his many years of participating in funerals.

The event wasn't all sad though. I was able to meet members of her family that seemed to be on the same good path that Nancy walked. There was Jimmy and Joe and their beautiful wives Lorena and Lorraine, Melanie and her sisters Melissa and Maureen, and cousin Nicholas. I met a lot of great people, but these folks really stood out because of their talent and dedication to their own families as well as their extended families. Great, great people.

Then there was Pastor Tab. A former collegiate all-start in Basketball, now in his eighties, but easily confused for someone at least 20 years younger. After Nancy's burial, he went over to console another grieving family standing nearby. I think to some it looked like he could have been simply taking advantage of an opportunity to "market" his church, but I assure you that to that family he was quite literally a godsend. And to me, I still get choked up thinking about that unselfish act. In the short time I had to meet him, I developed a strong respect for Pastor Tab. It was fitting that it was people like this that surrounded Nancy in her life. It explains a lot.

Her son, and my good friend, Eric has posted a photo tribute to his mom. Click the image below to visit.