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Alexa Rankings

June 2nd, 2013  · stk

A practical guide to your website Alexa ranking. What it is, what are its pitfalls, why it's important and what you can do to increase your Alexa ranking. Written as a result of questions fielded by a web client, concerned that their ranking was substantially lower than those of his competitors.

What are Alexa Rakings & Should I Care?

Alexa is to website owners as Klout is to Twitter or Nielsen ratings are to television. It's a way to see how your website traffic compares to your competitors (or any other website in the world for that matter).

Founded in 1996 by two entrepreneurs, the name Alexa gives props to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the Internet - today's largest body of knowledge (pornography notwithstanding).

In addition to offering a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, Alexa also offers statistical information for each website one visits. Originally, Alexa archived the websites it crawled and this database served as the basis for the creation of the "Internet Archive", which can now be accessed through the Wayback Machine.

Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999 for about $250MM (USD) and has been through much, though analytic Alexa rankings remains a core function of this Amazon subsidiary.

For anyone owning or managing a website, Alexa rankings can offer valuable insight. If you advertise on your website, know that advertisers use Alexa rankings to determine rate-of-pay and other factors - your Alexa ranking becomes very important. For most website owners, Alexa rankings are another one of those "devil-in-the-details" things. You should know about it, how it works (and about its inherent flaws) and the small changes and improvements you can make to your website to increase its Alexa ranking. This article will cover all of this, in a practical way.

Understanding & Improving Your Alexa Ranking

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Updated: 4-Jun-2013
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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more. Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor ( for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Updated: 1-Nov-2012
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Pickled Tongue Recipe

May 28th, 2012  · stk

Growing up in Bakersfield, California meant eating Basque food. Why? Because the Basque followed the sheep at the turn of the 20th century and Basque boardinghouses were clustered down by the old Bakersfield train station. One of the things we ate was pickled cow tongue. Not tried it? Just head down to your local grocer (or butcher), buy a tongue and use the easy "Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe" herein! You'll either love it or hate it, but either way ... it'll be a culinary conversation piece!

Basque Pickled Cow Tongue Recipe

Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe

When you think of appetizers, most don't think of pickled cow tongue. Heck, if you've spent any time around cows, you know what they use that long tongue of theirs for - picking their nose! Eating that nose-picking thing doesn't sound very appetizing at all!

But it is! Pickled cow tongue may be an acquired flavor, but because I grew up in Bakersfield, California - it's a dish I've learned to love!

If you too, love pickled tongue, or are a brave soul eager to try a new Basque delicacy, I'm happy to say, "You've come to the right place!" We have an authentic (and easy) Basque Pickled Tongue recipe for you to try.

Make Your Own Basque Pickled Tongue

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Updated: 30-Dec-2013
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1.flag Geovannie Comment
Thanks for sharing your recipe and awesome story. I'm originally from Bakersfield too. I currently reside in Hawaii and definitely in severe withdrawals for pickled tongue! I can't find beef tongue on Oahu. I'll be visiting Bakersfield next month and definitely plan on having dinner at Noriegas, woo hoo!
One of my biggest goals is to make pickled tongue at my mom's and I'll be using your recipe. It's going to be one of my hi-lites of my trip. Looking forward to going home! Many Mahalos for your insight~~ Aloha!
2.flag stk Comment
Aloha Geovannie,

I was just back in Bako for the first time in ages (1999) this last November (for a HS reunion). I had some pickled tongue at Luigis. (To be honest, mine was better! ... tasted very vinegar-y)

Let me know how it turns out for you! (Still looking for a supply of cheap tongue meat here in Nanaimo).
3.flag Cyndy Comment
How do you store the pickled tongue? How long can you store it? Can you freeze it? I'm not sure one person can eat a whole tongue!
4.flag stk Comment
Cyndy - You must not be a pickled tongue lover. My problem isn't storing it, it's refraining from eating it! LOL (I keep mine in the fridge and nibble on it for a week or so ... I *try* to make it last longer, but it just keeps disappearing!) :p
5.flag Tom Comment
I used to live in Quebec and it's a common bar food. I've never known a supermarket there not to stock pickled tongue in jars. Now I live in California and have never seen it. I'm going to try your recipie and see if it is what I remember. Cheers.
6.flag Billk Comment
Since I grew up in Taft, 30 miles away, and Noriega's is my favorite restaurant in the world, I'm really glad to see this recipe.

Sometimes the farmers at the Farmer's Market have cheap offal, including my favorite tongue, liver, and oxtails.
7.flag Billk Comment
Well, my daughter bought 1/8 cow and gave me the tongue. Yippee, skippee! A big tongue, I pickled the tip part and put the rest into a basque tongue stew (google it). It's really good, too!,1502281

It was just as good as I remember from Noriega's although I didn't slice as thinly.

I put it and the pickle into a gallon freezer bag and flop it from time to time, keeping the sealed end folded up.

It's about two weeks now, (we're eatinging sparingly) and it's good as ever. (Remeber, it's pickled; how long does your jar of pickled turkey gizzards last?)
8.flag Rob Comment
I bought a tongue today for dinner tonight. Things got in the way. Now it's too late in the day to cook it, so I put it away, and thought I'd look up pickled tongue.

Up popped your site, and this tongue will be pickled!

When I was a kid we had friends in Shafter, near Bakersfield, and we often went to Noriegas or The Wool Growers for dinner.

This was 50 years ago and the pickled tongue always started things off.

This is what is on the agenda for tomorrow. The batch of homebrew just got bumped!

I can't wait!
9.flag stk Comment
Rob - Lucky you! (I'm still trying to find a source for tongue here in Nanaimo, Canada!) LOL

You just made my mouth water, thinking about eating some pickled tongue!
Filed in:Penn State

The "Toilet Bowl"

February 8th, 2012  · stk
Joe Paterno legend coach of Penn State football team


Douglas Robb hasn't written much since Joe Paterno passed away on January 22nd, 2012. He wrote a fitting tribute to Joe Paterno yesterday. He called it "The Joe I Know". Here is his story (which I feel honored that he allowed me to reprint here). Thanks Doug. ;)

For me, growing up in State College, Pennsylvania was a great experience. Those who come to live and work in "Happy Valley" generally have a sense of loyalty about the place that endears itself to people who have lived there - even long after they move away. For those of us who are "Townies," this is especially true. Part and parcel of this is the atmosphere that revolves around Penn State.

After all, State College probably wouldn't be much of a town without Penn State. There is no major employer other than the University, save for the businesses that support State College and it's surrounding community. Many come to State College to attend Penn State, only to find employment there after they graduate. Some start businesses and stake their claim to their little piece of "Happy Valley".

That's how my family arrived at State College. After serving with the U.S. Navy, my dad - "Big Lou" - attended Penn State, as thousands of others had, through their G.I. Bill. Many veterans came from the cities, towns and rural communities around the state, to the school whose mission was "to educate the working class sons and daughters of the Commonwealth."

And so my Dad and my Mom came from their childhood home in Johnstown and began their life in "Happy Valley". Like so many before them, my Dad attended Penn State and my Mom raised our family. When my Dad graduated, he began working for Penn State and our family "took root" in State College.

Penn State Autumn Rituals

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Updated: 9-Feb-2012
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1.flag Andy Wernham Comment
Got this off the Penn State Alumni FB page and enjoyed the article. Is your dad the Lou who was a Patton Township supervisor and at one time responsible for the University Park Airport? Who later moved to Penn State in Fogelsville, PA?
2.flag Doug Robb Comment
Yes, that is "Big Lou!"
3.flag Andy Wernham Comment
I knew him in State College, at the airport and here in Fogelsville. He lived just a couple of doors down.

Visits in the Night

January 8th, 2012  · stk

A ClustrMap|NASA Mashup

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except Scott, who was playing with PhotoShop! Sorry, but "Visits in the Night" isn't about Santa Claus coming down our chimney. It's about creating a "night-time" display using a satellite image from NASA, merged with our worldwide website visitors tracked on ClustrMaps.

Ever since November 2005, we've been tracking the locations of many of our visitors by using an application developed by Marc Eisenstadt, called "ClustrMaps". (Hover the globe in "Site Tools" section of the sidebar, for the regular map thumbnail - like the one that also shows here). Since that time, we've logged over 2 million visitors!

When you click the globe in the sidebar (or the thumbnail above) you'll be directed to the ClustrMap website, which shows a much larger visitor map for our website (clicking on country regions shows even greater detail). Since inception, Marc and the ClustrMap team have been continually adding features to their service and they recently won "Best Free Web Tool" in the 2011 Edublog Awards.

Not long ago, when I clicked on the globe and went to the larger, world-wide map, I noticed that the dots showed first and that it took a few seconds for the underlying "map" to reveal itself. I thought, "The dots by themselves, make an interesting display." They reminded me of a NASA image I once saw, showing urban lights across the world at night. (The image below. Click it for an even larger version).

NASA Composite Satellite Image of World Lights at Night

Earth at Night: Lights from urbanized areas show up clearly on this NASA image (a composite of hundreds of images taken by orbiting DMSP satellites).

Our ClustrMap at Night

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Updated: 8-Jan-2012
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1.flag Francois Comment
Scott, you might like a little app called EarthDesk that shows cities at night but also moonlighting, sunlighting/daylight and clouds in real time on your desktop... It won't show live website visitors... but now you got me thinking about that, I wish it did.

Anyways, happy new year! ;)
2.flag stk Comment
You've made me curious and I'll have to give it EarthDesk a play!

ClustrMaps now does "live" posting of visitors, but since I coded our "# of visitors" bit in the sidebar (ages ago) ... I get a rough idea of who's on the site and from where (free country-level IP mapping from maxmind).

Best to you for 2012 too!