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I migrated everything to a new PC this week, and have used the migration to switch a lot of the services I’ve been using. One service which I couldn’t live without was  ReaditLater . Basically its a browser extension that does exactly what it says – 1 click and the current page is saved to your list for later reading. Quite honestly, I don’t know how people operate without such a service these days. The amount of interesting blog articles that cross my desk every day (courtesy of Twitter, Facebook and a zillion RSS feeds) is frightening. A lot of the links are off-topic junk, but now and then there is a “long-form” piece which is really worth reading. You can usually tell this by a quick scan of the page. But, if you actually work at your computer, as I try to, and your work doesnt take well to constant interruptions – then reading the article There-and-Then is just plain destructive. So what I do throughout my day is add about 3 to 5 articles to my Readitlater list and then when I need a break or in the evening I… you guessed it : Read it Later.

Recently I purchased an entry level Kindle – no 3G, no net connection and no touch or keyboard. Although I prefer real-paper books wherever I have the choice (and there is still a choice after you’ve purchased your kindle, something a lot of commentators, in their Either/Or thinking, completely forget), getting a kindle was inevitable. I buy a lot of books from Amazon and besides the extra cost, they take ages to get to me. I specifically chose Kindle over reading on an iPad, because I actually find it a huge advantage to read without the ability to click somewhere and disappear down a rabbit-hole. Reading books requires “Staying on the Same Page”.

Enter Instapaper (which I recently switched to): Instapaper is very similar to ReaditLater – a 1 click bookmark list for reading stuff at a later stage when you not so busy. What made me switch though is that Instapaper has awesome integration with Kindle. Here’s what I’ve done: I’ve set up Instapaper so that every day at 4pm it sends my Kindle a digest of all of the articles/blog posts I have bookmarked since last time. They are perfectly formmated for the Kindle – crisp clear text minus all the adverts and boiler plate. Then, every evening, I can escape my monitor and, in a place of my choosing, I can “curl up” and read all my long-form stuff. OK, so if there’s a juicy link in an article I can’t follow it – but, hey, that’s the whole point!  I end up actually reading the full articles right ’til the end of the page. And then, even with the keyboardless Kindle, I have an option to “Like” the article which automagically sends it to my evernote account if I want to snip some stuff from it or follow some links. (you can set the “Like” action to tweet or Facebook too)

Try it out, I’m tellin’ ya, Kindle + Instapaper has been one of the smarter enhancements to my digital lifestyle sanity.



Managing over 14 000 keywords on Google Adwords as I do, is a formidable task. So formidable that I kind of gave up on it for a while, but have recently dived back in.  All of Google’s products are becoming increasingly complicated – Adwords, Analytics and Webmaster Tools. There is just too much information and not enough time.  Here’s some lessons I’ve learnt:

You are NEVER going to a be able to monitor and analyse everything that you should be. And its just going to get more impossible as time goes on. Analytics is a bottomless pit – with all the tools Google now provides, you could spend a month analysing a single days traffic.

As a webmaster or SEO person, Traffic stats can be quite beguiling (especially if your traffic is going in the right direction). But, given the scarcity of time and resources,  a lot of stats, at bottom, are a nice-to-have not a must-have. Nowadays before looking at any Adwords or Analytics report I ask myself what action can I take that will boost my bottom line from this information. Its surprising how much stuff fails this test.

Be careful of the “I need to monitor my competitors rankings to see if I need to step up my game-plan” trap. A lot of useless statistics and reports can be justified with this lame reasoning. If you are in business it is a given that you will have competitors, it is a given that you must always put forward your best game-plan, it is a given that you should do effective things to rank the best you can. If these aren’t givens then you aren’t really an entreprenuer. As Matt Cutt’s once quipped: wasting time on the givens is “like telling a boxer to punch harder”.

This is particularly relevant when you’re managing 14 000 keywords. Just about every Google report has filtering options. Use them continually! Concentrate your effort on tweaking only those adwords which have had more than 20 impressions for the month.  By doing this I cut my list from 14 000 to 400.  But the cost of the adwords accounted by that top 400 was 90%.  Put the other way around: Why waste time analysing 13 500 keywords in order to tweak 10% of your costs?

Being maths and stats based, the nature of analytics suggests precision, process and routine. Something like, say, 10 standard reports analysed every Friday, another 10 monthly, etc. Taking this stereotype approach can lead to a very one-dimensional marketing strategy (not to mention leading to a very rote, soulless task in the process). But sometimes, when you’re in a playful mood a lot can be gained by just “surfing” your analytics and stats. Exploring new reports and views that google has come up with. Seeing things from new angles. Bucking the usual rules.

Ongoing monitoring of Google Adwords and Analytics is definitely about Efficieny – doing things right. But in your focus on total efficiency, don’t overlook the other big E – Effectiveness – doing the right things.








Evernote – first impressions

2 December 2010

Actually first impressions is not accurate, I opened an Evernote account when Google Notebook closed. I was impressed at the the time, but with all these services you have to put an effort in to consciously change the way you work and USE the service for at least 2 weeks. Which I didn’t do, so […]

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Remember the milk – Review

22 April 2010

WEBAPP:  To Do list and task manager HOW LONG I’VE USED IT: 3 years HOW MUCH I USE IT: All day, every working day (power user) PROS: Slick, clean interface Online & offline (G Gears) enabled (and apps for every device you can think of including Google Calendar integration) Superb task tagging Excellent keyboard shortcuts […]

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