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Ramblings from the Marginalized » Internet


Internet April 24th, 2008 by HMTKSteve

I have been a long time reader of Ms. Q's writing over at QMusings and in that time I have gotten to know Ms. Q fairly well. As well as you can get to know anyone on the Internet one would suppose.

While checking my email this morning I found a message from Ms. Q wherein she asks me what to do with her blog. She's not looking at stopping but she does want to fix the place up a bit. She wants to update her version of WordPress and possibly change her theme. she also wants to move the blog directory from the subdirectory (/blog) where it currently resides to the root of her domain.

She told me that she went back and read my posts on this topic from when I moved to WordPress from Serendipity and also moved from the /blog subdirectory to my root. After reading those posts she felt a bit intimidated by the idea of constructing the htaccess file full of redirects. I don't blame her! She has about 382 posts on her blog right now and that's a lot of typing!

In an attempt at humor (I hope) she mentioned just deleting everything and starting fresh! Please don't go there.

In this post I'm going to tackle the question of moving the blog from the subdirectory to the root.

Step 1: Backup

That's right. The first thing that should be done is a complete backup of the site. Not just the databases but make a local copy of your entire WordPress installation.

If possible you should be running backups nightly with a minimum of a seven day rotating schedule. You can go longer but I do not recommend going any shorter.

Once all of your backups are complete we move on to...

Step 2: Create the Redirects

The best form of redirect is to create them and post them in an .htaccess file in the root directory of your domain. We use what are known as 301 redirects.

When you are only redirecting a few pages you need to create a new line in your /htaccess file for each page but, in this case we are moving all of the contents of the /blog directory to the root domain.

www.qmusings.com/blog/awesome-article.html -> www.qmusings.com/awesome-article.html

That is the redirect we want and this can easily be done by putting this in your .htaccess file:

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^qmusings.com/blog [nc]
rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.qmusings.com/$1 [r=301,nc]

That should correctly send all requests to pages that were in her /blog directory to her root directory. I have not tested this code out myself but I see no reason why it should not work. The code snippet is based on the code used to redirect all traffic from example.com to www.example.com.

When I moved my blog the problem I had was that my pages looked like this:


Everything after index.php? was ignored and all pages redirected to my root. Ms. Q should not have this problem.

If this fails she can simply dump a listing of all of her URLs and import the data into a spreadsheet program (to maintain the format). Make a duplicate column of data and use a find/replace command to quickly remove the /blog from each URL. She can then add some extra columns to facilitate mass writing of the per URL redirects.

Or she can just write up some quick PHP to go into the database, pull all of the URLs and spit out a proper .htaccess file.

Step 3: Upload

Now that we have everything backed-up and our redirects are ready we can safely upload our /blog directory into our root directory. Once everything is uploaded we have to go in and change the settings in WordPress so that it knows to use the root directory from here on out. This is also the time when we add all the redirect information to the .htaccess file in the root directory.

If everything works (it should) the move will be complete.

Before deleting the old /blog directory you want to rename it and see if anything breaks. If something breaks than there is a mistake somewhere.

Step 4: Write a Post

The last thing you do is write a long post telling your readers how you just spent hours reconfiguring your blog and that it now lies at the root of the domain.

I hope this helps!

Internet March 24th, 2008 by Stephen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --(Business Wire)-- Mar. 21, 2008 On March 20, 2008, Gibson Guitar Corp. filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Harmonix, MTV Networks (a division of Viacom) and Electronic Arts (EA Games) in the Federal District Court in Tennessee. This new lawsuit relates to the same U.S. Patent involved in the lawsuit filed by Gibson Guitar recently against various retailers in the same court. Gibson Guitar had made good faith efforts to enter into a patent license agreement with the defendants in this case. The defendants have not responded in a timely manner with an intent to enter into negotiations for a patent license agreement. Gibson Guitar had no alternative but to bring the suit, and it will continue to protect its intellectual property rights against any and all infringing persons.

Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. Gibson's HD.6X-PRO Digital Guitar and the Gibson Robot Guitar represent the biggest advances in electric guitar design in over 70 years. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and headquartered in Nashville since 1984, Gibson Guitar Corp.'s family of brands now includes Epiphone, Dobro, Maestro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Gibson Baldwin Music Education, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, Baldwin, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, and Wurlitzer. Visit Gibson's website at http://www.gibson.com.

Steve's Notes

Perhaps I might be missing something very obvious here but the guitars used in Guitar Hero are not real guitars. They are just a video game controller made to look like a guitar. Playing guitar Hero will in no way help you learn how to play a real guitar.

Since when does a couple of colored buttons and a strum area a guitar make? Is Gibson trying to say that the thousand dollar guitars they make are somehow in danger because a plastic video game controller was made to look like them for use in a game where players do nothing more than play an over-glamorized version of air guitar to impress their friends?

Give me a break Gibson. I know you have some patents on guitars but the only Guitar in Guitar Hero is in the name. The controller is not even a close facsimile of how a guitar works.

Internet March 19th, 2008 by Stephen

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced the completion of its acquisition of Audible, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBL).

Audible is the leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Through its websites in the US and UK and alliances in Germany and France, Audible offers over 80,000 programs, including audiobooks and other spoken word content from more than 520 content partners that include leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Content from Audible is downloaded and played back on personal computers, CDs, or AudibleReady computer-based and wireless mobile devices.

Upon the closing of the acquisition, all remaining outstanding Audible shares, other than those held by stockholders who properly perfect appraisal rights under Delaware law, were converted into the right to receive $11.50 per share in cash. As a result of the transaction, Audible has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.

Internet February 29th, 2008 by Stephen

A lot has been said recently about the "Record Profits" of the oil industry. Words like "Price Gauging" and "Insane Profits" fall from the lips of would be pundits all over the Internet. what I would like to do today is show you that Exxon Mobil is not the big bad profiteering company many people think they are. In fact I am going to tell you about five companies in the Tech sector with larger profit margins than Exxon Mobil.

Exxon Mobil

Gross Profit Margin1: 43.3%
EBIT Margin2: 18.7%
EBITDA Margin3: 18.5%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin4: 18.6%
52 week Range on stock price: 69.02 - 95.27
Market Cap: 481.04B

Those numbers look very, very good, don't they? With profit margins like those Exxon Mobil has been able to pull down record profits like no other public company in the world! Are those numbers insane? Should Exxon Mobil be punished for having such massive profits?

If you think Exxon Mobil should have its "insane" profits taxed by the government than you should also want these five tech companies taxed for their record profits too.

Apple Inc

Gross Profit Margin: 38.1%
EBIT Margin: 18.7%
EBITDA Margin: 17.7%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin: 18.7%
52 week Range on stock price: 83.75 - 202.96
Market Cap: 114.17B

Apple's Gross Profit Margin is a little bit lower than that of Exxon Mobil but its Pre-Tax Profit Margin is better than that of Exxon Mobil. Let's not forget that the stock price of AAPL took an amazing roller coaster ride over the past 13 months. Just before MacWorld 2007 APPL was trading in the $80 range. It passed $200 a share in 2007 before crashing down to its current $130 range today.


Gross Profit Margin: 69.3%
EBIT Margin: 32.2%
EBITDA Margin: 33.9%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin: 32.2%
52 week Range on stock price: 437.00 - 747.24
Market Cap: 148.98B

Look at those number. If anyone is guilty of profiteering should it not be Google? This Internet advertising juggernaut is blowing everyone away. Or, it was, last year. Google stock peaked a few months before Apple did and recent news has not helped it one bit. Still, look at those margins!


Gross Profit Margin: 66.6%
EBIT Margin: 16.7%
EBITDA Margin: 21.4%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin: 16.7%
52 week Range on stock price: 18.58 - 34.08
Market Cap: 39.26B

Even though Yahoo has suffered since Google began eating their lunch (breakfast, dinner, brunch, snacks, etc...) it is still a very profitable company. Its Pre-Tax Profit Margin is not looking so hot these days and they are suffering under a number of shareholder lawsuits (some tied to their declining Microsoft's buy out offer). Yahoo also has problems with spending large amounts of money buying up web companies and then letting them die.

Intel Corp

Gross Profit Margin: 62.5%
EBIT Margin: 21.6%
EBITDA Margin: 32.8%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin: 21.5%
52 week Range on stock price: 18.05 - 27.99
Market Cap: 118.60B

Intel is old school tech. They have been a big player in the microchip industry for a long time. Fighting off competition from AMD and Texas Instruments is what this company does well. They have been around for a long time and likely will be around for even longer.


Gross Profit Margin: 81.4%
EBIT Margin: 39.3%
EBITDA Margin: 39.9%
Pre-Tax Profit Margin: 39.3%
52 week Range on stock price: 26.60 - 37.50
Market Cap: 259.94B

Microsoft, everyone seems to forget just how big this company is. Their Market Cap is a little over half of that of Exxon Mobil and their margins are even higher than that of Google! Even with the lukewarm reaction to the release of Windows Vista Microsoft has had no problem remaining profitable. This is due in part to the amazing Xbox line of video game consoles.


Now that you see the profit margins of these five tech companies compared to that of Exxon Mobil do you still think they are making insane profits? Do you think these five companies should suffer the same "windfall profit tax" that many in Congress want to befall the oil companies?

Exxon Mobil may be posting huge profits in regards to dollar amounts but, if they had the profit margins in place of any of these five tech companies they would be making even more money.

1Gross Profit Margin (Profit Margin After Cost of Goods Sold): Revenues minus cost of goods sold, divided by revenue, expressed as a percentage
2EBIT Margin: Earnings before interest and taxes, divided by revenue, expressed as a percentage.
3EBITDA Margin: Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, divided by revenues, expressed as a percentage.
4Pre-Tax Profit Margin: The pre-tax earnings from continuing operations (not including discontinued or extraordinary items) divided by revenue, expressed as a percentage.

* Disclaimer: The numbers used in this story are from the last quarter fully on record: 06/2007 and comes from data freely available via Forbes.com

Internet February 19th, 2008 by Stephen

SAN FRANCISCO --(Business Wire)-- Feb. 18, 2008 The Second Life(R) experience is coming to mobile. The 3D virtual world platform, created by Linden Lab(R) will soon be available on 3G handsets via Vollee's streaming mobile games service. Beta trials for Vollee's new mobile offering for the Second Life Grid platform (an inter-connected platform which extends beyond the mainland of Second Life itself) will be open to those who pre-register by visiting http://www.vollee.com/secondlife.

Vollee's Second Life mobile service will enable access to the virtual world of Second Life for Residents to explore, interact and communicate on-line. The Second Life mobile experience reformats the online world to fit on mobile phone screens while mapping the keys on handsets to commands in-world. Existing Residents can simply log-in and people new to Second Life can also try out the online world for the first time through the mobile service. With a simple download to their 3G mobile handset, anyone can enjoy their online Second Life session while on the move.

"What we have developed is a service which, for the first time, allows you to access a rich persistent virtual 3D world the way it is supposed to be experienced on your phone," said Martin Dunsby, CEO, Vollee. "This is a true 'before and after moment' in which mobile is living up to its potential in serving as an always on, connected platform."

"For Linden Lab, this represents an intuitive way to extend the reach and accessibility of the Second Life Grid platform," said Chris Mahoney, Business Development Manager, Linden Lab. "This is a great way for Second Life Residents to stay connected to their friends, business and experiences in-world, wherever they are."

Vollee's proprietary solution is the only one on the market that can stream any high-end PC title to mobile, including popular massively multiplayer online role playing games. The company's technology takes into account the screen size, the key layout and makes sure all the fun of playing the original game remains. Vollee's interactive video streaming platform optimizes compression to minimize bandwidth requirements and also leverages the 3G mobile networks in such a way that gamers can not only navigate virtual worlds but also play fast paced, high quality video games previously impossible on mobile. A single software download to a 3G handset provides access to Vollee streamed titles, enabling gamers to find and play mobile games more easily than ever.

Vollee's Second Life mobile beta trials will begin in May 2008, but fans can pre-register beginning today by visiting http://www.vollee.com/secondlife. More information about the Second Life Grid is available at http://secondlifegrid.net.

Internet January 28th, 2008 by HMTKSteve

I got a canned email from MyBlogLog telling me that I only have a few days left on my service and that I have to renew if I want to keep my historical data and tracking going forward. This got me to thinking...

I have never really liked MyblogLog all that much. The tracking data it provides is so-so and easily replaced by so many FREE tracking solutions that I also use.

The one thing that got me interested in paying for their service is the fact that they track AdSense clicks. I used this data in the past to try to audit Google's reporting. After seeing a large discrepancy I dropped AdSense for a few months. I added them back in and everything seems to be working fine again.

Right now they are saying I need to pay up or lose access to my historical data and this I have a problem with. The way I see it I have already paid for this historical data when i paid for my one year of tracking service last year. Just because I choose not to re-up with them should not mean that I lose access to data that I have already paid for. I can understand them cutting me back to the limited account format that my other blogs use (do you think I would pay $20 per blog for their service?) but why should I lose access to historical data?

I'm not even sure what the original intent of the MyBloglog service was. Was it meant to drive traffic? Generate new readers? What was it supposed to do?

I no longer know and I no longer care. Once I get a free minute I will be removing their tracking code from my various sites and be done with them.

Internet January 23rd, 2008 by Stephen

Now that 2007 has come to a close a lot of articles are popping up all over the Internet talking about video game sales and which games came out on top. There is but one problem with some of these articles.

Example 1: World of Warcraft Reaches New Milestone: 10 Million Subscribers [link]

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that subscribership for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has continued to climb, recently passing 10 million worldwide. Interest in the game has remained high in all regions, with thousands of new and returning players signing up through the holiday season. World of Warcraft now hosts more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America, and approximately 5.5 million in Asia.

Example 2: Halo 3 knocks Wii Play out of top selling spot for 2007 [link (one of many)]

Today's NPD sales numbers reveal that Bungie's Halo 3 was the best selling game in the United States in 2007, with a whopping 4.82 million copies sold. Nipping at Master Chief's heels was Nintendo's own Wii Play. It sold through a staggering 4.12 million units to the masses.

Which of the above two articles has the more accurate headline? The first one of course. The second article proudly proclaims one thing but, in the first line of the write-up they add in the qualifier that they are talking about video games sold in the USA. You could chalk this up to an editorial blunder but I see it happening far too often (in video game news) to see it as such.

The Numbers Game

If you massage numbers enough you can make the numbers say anything you want them to.

In more recent political news there was a US Presidential primary held in Nevada. On the Democrat side one candidate one the popular vote while another won more delegates (delegates count in primaries) yet the news reported the popular vote winner as the winner. Did the media learn nothing in 2000 when the popular vote winner (Al Gore) did not win the actual (Electoral College) Presidential vote?

The same thing goes on in video games news, it's all about the headline and many people in the industry do not care if the headline is wrong if it paints them in a good light.

Two Groups of Numbers

We currently have two major players in the video game sales number game; NPD Group and VGChartz. The NPD Group is often considered more credible while VGChartz is often painted as a bunch of kids sitting around a computer making up numbers. Both of these groups have good an bad qualities to them but we need both to get a good picture of what is going on.

The one chief failing of NPD is their limited market. They only release data for North America when talking about video game sales. This is fine when your audience is strictly from North America but, with many websites having global audiences you need to make it perfectly clear that the article you are writing is based on only a small portion of the gaming world. If we look at the success of World Of Warcraft we quickly see that only 25% of their paid members reside in North America. I know it is not scientific to use the data from one company to prove a trend but... Why is the reverse being done?

VGCgartz has this to say about their number tracking system:

Unlike many other websites (which use manufacturer shipment figures and reports to estimate current console sales), VG Chartz collects data directly from retailers all over the world. Retailer sample sizes are small compared to professional tracking services, but are large enough to provide very accurate projections of the latest console sell through figures worldwide. We are the only provider anywhere in the world of weekly American sales charts and are expanding our data collection and coverage all the time.

NPD says this:

We collect global point-of-sale (POS) information from more than 600 retail partners – representing about 140,000 stores worldwide that have agreed to provide us with their sales information. This retailer network spans all key distribution channels: department stores, distributors, national chains, specialty stores, mass merchants, and more.

The funny thing about NPD is that they routinely mention that they get worldwide data yet all we ever see is North American data in regards to video games. What's up with that? Further, what is the deal with reputable video game news sites making misleading headlines about video game sales?

Well, Kotaku may not be as reputable as they once were. They did have the tubgirl incident last year, not to mention what their sister blog Gizmodo did at CES this year with turning off monitors in vendor booths while vendors were doing presentations. Yeah, real professional there.

I try to pull data from as many sources as I can or, if I am pulling from only one source I try my best to make it clear what source I am pulling from and leave it up to you, the reader, to decide on how valid the data is. I also try my best to only use world wide data because I simply do not believe that the world ends at the border of the USA.

Games and Internet January 21st, 2008 by Stephen
Cloverfield Monster

PAWTUCKET, R.I.-Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS) brings to market the figure of one of the most tightly held secrets in recent Hollywood history: the “Cloverfield” Monster. Following the 1-18-08 theatrical release of Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot’s “Cloverfield,” fans will be able to order a highly detailed representation of the beast beginning today exclusively on www.hasbrotoyshop.com.

Standing at an imposing 14 inches tall, the creature that wreaks havoc on New York City in the film is immortalized as a super-articulated figure for fans and collectors alike. As with other beasts in the annals of great movie monsters, the creature in “Cloverfield” captures the imagination and tugs at the fears of thrill seeking moviegoers.

The party may be over when this beast comes to town, but the fright inducing look of the creature lives on from the creepy people-sucking underbelly to the swath of parasites the beast lets loose to hunt citizens of the ‘Big Apple.’ The figure also comes with two interchangeable heads, each depicting one of the Monster’s moods: calm or agitated. The head of the Statue of Liberty, the iconic image which made the film’s much buzzed about and analyzed trailer so eerie and intriguing, is also included.

“Hasbro is very excited to be working with Paramount and Bad Robot to bring to market a piece of the film for fans and collectors,” said Brian Goldner, COO of Hasbro, Inc. “The fan buzz on this film has been terrific and we are happy to take part in the excitement.”

The “Cloverfield” Monster from Hasbro is available now for pre-sale at www.hasbrotoyshop.com for an approximate retail price of $99.99.

    Cloverfield Monster Features:

  • 70 points of articulation and incredible life-like detail
  • Authentic sound
  • 14” tall
  • 10 parasites
  • Two interchangeable heads
  • Statue of Liberty head accessory
  • Special Cloverfield collector’s edition packaging

image from filmschoolrejects.com as Hasbro has not released an image of the toy.

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