S.S. Pumpkin

Newcastle Square Realty Blog

Cousin Tom, the Maniac, got these pictures of the next evolution in watercraft.

“Now admit it, when you first saw the phrase ” Pumpkin Race” you didn’t imagine that it meant grown men in hollowed out Atlantic Giant pumpkins? Well, the First Annual Pumpkin Regatta is over and nobody drowned! Last year was the first time these craft took to the water in front of an audience but this year drew quite a crowd.

Bill Green of WCSH Channel 6 TV (seen above) was a scratch from the race because he capsized, proving that the folks that race these giant gourds aren’t just pretty faces but are skilled sea persons in the great Maine tradition.”

Clam is over 400 years old

Clam is over 400 years old – Boing Boing

Thanks to Chris Murray for finding the world’s oldest clam to go along with the world’s oldest clambake.

“The mollusc, which is thought to have lurked beneath the waves until at least the age of 405, would have been a juvenile when Galileo picked up his first telescope, Hamlet was first staged and the gunpowder plot failed to blow up King James I.”

Whereabouts week of October 28

My wife needs to travel on business, so I am staying in Cotuit this week to watch our son and try to wrestle some big forthcoming projects to the ground. So, simple whereabouts – Cotuit through next weekend, when North Carolina is the most probable plan. This week’s journey to San Francisco has turned into a phone call to S.F. — which is fine by me.

Red Sox Hang Outs – Where I will be this evening

Red Sox Hang Outs – Bars, restaurants and fan clubs

In NYC tonight for some meetings. All activity ceases at 9 when I find a saloon to watch game one of the World Series. Thanks to Stephen O’Grady at Tecosystems for tagging this invaluable resource in del.icio.us.

So, following a dinner with a vendor, it is off to one of these establishments with my son and some other BoSox faithful for a late night.

Jim Forbes: in the So. Cal. Fire Zone

ForbesOnTech: Fire Blogging, A Refugee’s Observations and Why I Love my Ultra Portable and Verizon Broadband

“So right after the first notification came in, I fired up the tractor and cleared a 100by 75-foot safety spot away from my house. I cleared everything down to BME (bare mineral earth, then moved my SUV to the its separate safety spot and covered my boat’s 6 gallon gas tank and my two-gallon gas can in a potato mound I excavated this weekend. Then I covered it with a shake and bake fire blanket and soaked my garden, hastily picking up blown down palm fronds that have come off my 70 foot palm tree in the windstorm.”

Stunning post by Jim Forbes in Escondido about the wildfires ravaging Southern California. Very eerie to read one man’s experience as a refugee and long time observer of natural phenomena. I can’t recommend the click to the full post highly enough.

The answer is audits

Online advertising is 12 years old and the industry still can’t get its act together around standardized metrics and traffic measurement. This morning’s New York Times reopens the perennial wound with a lead story in the business section that features the requisite hand wringing by online publishers over the gulf between their server logs and the traffic reported by the rating agencies like Comscore and Nielsen/ NetRatings.

Begin by looking at the role of the rating agencies and why they persist. Rating agencies use panel-based reporting to sample internet traffic and extrapolate gross traffic scores for significant media. Why they exist is a mystery to me, a vestige of broadcast media when television and radio was essentially measured through statistical sampling as there was no machine connection between the device and the broadcaster. Is it laziness on the part of the media planners? The buyers who evaluate the traffic and demographic profiles of sites before building plans for their clients? A normalized, convenient view across all sites in one convenient, but ultimately inaccurate package?

“Other big media companies — including Time Warner, The Financial Times and The New York Times — are equally frustrated that their counts of Web visitors keep coming in vastly higher than those of the tracking companies. There are many reasons for the differences (such as how people who use the Web at home and at the office are counted), but the upshot is the same: the growth of online advertising is being stunted, industry executives say, because nobody can get the basic visitor counts straight.

“You’re hearing measurement as one of the reasons that buyers are not moving even more money online,” said Wenda Harris Millard, president for media at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and, until June, chief sales officer at Yahoo. “It’s hugely frustrating. It’s one of the barriers preventing us from really moving forward.”

Rating agencies may exist to provide some degree of third party verification to an industry marked by different server architectures with different traffic logging and measurement procedures. While Microsoft IIS and Apache based servers may log activity differently, the real measure comes from the traffic analysis packages deployed by the site owner. Log analysis – the old model of the mid-90s, has been replaced by beacon-based systems such as Hitbox and Omniture – however they are accurate only as far as those beacons/cookies are accepted by privacy paranoid users.

Publishers have made a sport of discrediting the rating agencies. They don’t accurately count at-work panelists, they don’t extend to international audiences, etc. The entire concept of panels – users recruited to install monitors on their browsers which report activity back to the rating agency – is very flawed and should be stopped. Take the best known public example of browser-based panels, Alexis, and look back to the last presidential campaign when site managers gamed the system by having their supporters download the Alexa client to overweight the statistical samples. While ComScore and Nielsen can control and pledge some normalization in their panel composition, the simple fact is this:

There is no place for a sample when the internet is precisely measured down to every call to a server.

The issue is how to get to an apples-to-apples basis for self-reported web traffic. Here is where the Internet Advertising Bureau could make an impact beyond its current role of establish technical standards. As I’ve blogged over and over – the magazine industry, the sloppiest reported medium there is, has two independent systems for verifying circulation – the Audit Bureau of Circulation and the Business Publishers Association. Publishers routinely get their circ lists scoured and scrubbed and the result is a standard reporting format. Why can’t the IAB bring the same to the web? I know I am hopelessly naïve on this – apologies to Randall Rothenberg in advance – but over a decade and this business is still being hobbled by a lack of transparent accountability. I only can assume the IAB has tried to get audits in place, but something – publisher resistance, technical hurdles, lack of expertise … something is holding the obvious from occurring.

So how can the IAB finally get audits established? 1) force participation 2) involve the Web Analytics Association and the metrics vendors and define the metric/analytics tool makers’ reporting standards and methodology 3) vigorously discipline anyone who is caught inflating reports 4) get the media buyers aboard 5) establish an advertiser sub-group to push for those standards, advertisers who will vote with their feet away from any site that refuses to participate or who is caught inflating 6) persuade ComScore and Nielsen to drop their panel process and morph into the role of auditors and demographic profilers, working to initiate third-party audience surveys with the publishers.

Here is the IAB congratulating ComScore for cooperating with an audit into ComScore’s measurement process. I have a proposal – get them to drop the measurement process and initiate an audit of the publisher’s web logs.

Update:

Randall Rothenberg at the IAB posts a great take on the Times article on his “clog” (column and blog) “I, A Bee” He, and Derek Slater at CSO point out the obvious which I overlooked — that it’s one thing to count, it’s another to profile the audience. On that, no server log will give an indication. However, to further diss the research model, every publisher is out there laying claim to the largest audience of “left-handed Latvians between the age of 18 to 23” based on their own survey research. I guess a media planner just wants to turn to the database and seek the right composition and go from there…..

Whereabouts week of September 22

10.22 – Monday – North Carolina

10.23 – Tuesday – North Carolina

10.24 – Wednesday – NYC

10.25 – Thursday – NYC maybe

10.26-28 Cotuit

Interactive workshops in Raleigh this week. Agency work in NYC the middle part, possibility of a dinner commitment on Thursday in NYC which I am trying to duck out of.

Flotsam and Jetsam

In the morning-after glow of a Red Sox victory, awakening to find bluebird skies and summer breezes, I suggested to my wife that our time was better invested on the beach than on the couch with the Sunday Times. So with leashed dogs, a pocket full of fishing lures, oars over my shoulder and surf casting rod in my free hand, we walked down the Old Shore Road and a fifteen-minute-boat-ride-later stood on the point of Dead Neck, the barrier island at the head of Cotuit Bay, a garbage bag in my back pocket because last weekend we wished we had one to clean up the beach.

Dead Neck looking towards Wianno

We talked as we walked, me stopping every so often to cast a bucktail jig high in an arc out into some suspicious looking waves, but the bluefish were focused on balls of juvenile menhaden or herring and wanted nothing to do with my hook. I spied a plastic bottle, high on the berm, lodged in the wrack of the high water line, that long brown thread of dried seaweed, slipper shells, whelk eggs, and trash. I reached for the bottle.

“Why don’t you pick that up on the way back, you numbskull?” my sensible wife asked. She was right. We were going to the Osterville end of the island and back. The trash could wait for the return trip; no use in giving a plastic bottle a trip to the Wianno Cut. I continued to cast, to reel, to jig, to fish. But I found no fish. Then I found a lure. The discovery of a fishing lure is always a thrill, a karmic giveback for all the lures I’ve lost, a present poking out of the wrack and flotsam, given away by the attached rat’s nest of mono filament. Found lures are Christmas presents from the beach. I like to think they contain the latent fight of a big fish doing battle for its life, a battle which it wins, the trophy below my feet, awaiting a new hook and a little polishing.

Into my pocket went the lure, out came the garbage bag, and for the next 45 minutes I cleaned up the Nantucket Sound-side beach of Dead Neck and Sampson’s Island. The process began with my wife asking: “How much do you think we’ll get?”

She needn’t have worried. By the end of the walk the bag was overstuffed, ripped, and leaking trash back onto the sand. I held the bag in both arms, with a lobster float tucked under my chin, exhausted from walking in the softer sand above the high water mark because that’s where the trash is.

I brought in 50 pounds of trash. I’d estimate 90% was plastic, the rest paper, aluminum or glass. I fear for the future of beach glass – those smooth, opaque gems which kids treasure. There just isn’t much glass on the beach.

  • A jar of Uncle Josh’s pork rind
  • Two plastic straws
  • 1 red plastic lid
  • 1 long Slim Jim wrapper
  • An insert sole for a Reebok shoe
  • A brittle empty plastic bottle of windshield wiper fluid (which shattered into a dozen pieces when I picked it up)
  • 7 plastic cups
  • 2 plastic Poland Springs water bottles
  • 1 plastic bottle of Propel
  • 1 Pabst can, two Bud light cans, one Bud, one Orange soda (Stop & Shop generic, unopened)
  • A brown glass bottle full of sand
  • A glass Nantucket Nectar’s bottle
  • 3 tennis balls (all Penns, one “4” one “2” one “coach”)
  • a large rubber softball
  • a hard hollow yellow plastic ball
  • 4 popped balloons with strings attached
  • 2 metallic Mylar balloons with strings attached
  • A bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Lotion
  • A plastic spoon
  • A plastic turtle
  • A plastic handle to a sand pail
  • 4 lobster trap floats
  • A polypropylene mesh bag
  • 20 feet of yellow polypropylene rope
  • 20+ snippets of green polypropylene netting
  • A lightbulb
  • 1 large ball of monofilament fishing line
  • 20 percent of a green plastic garbage can
  • A yellow plastic disc the size of a plate
  • About 10 plastic bags
  • A purple plastic tag that says “34813283” – 2006 DFO Lobster 34a/MPO HOMARD 34A
  • A Tyvek tag with the name of “Scott Rushnak”, Harvester permit #3396 for a bushel of Mussels which says: “This tag is required to be attached until the container is empty of retagged, and thereafter kept on file for 90 days.”

    What did I get out of the deal?

    My payoff was a 12″ pearl Bomber lure in very good shape with slightly rusted treble hooks, a nice Spofford Ballistic Missile in fluorescent orange with metal reflective tape, an Orange Ranger plug with no hooks, and another no-name orange plug with metal tape – the first one is a nice striper lure, the last three are classic bluefish popper plugs.

    There were no messages in a bottle – although the song by the Police was embedded in my head for the entire walk – and nothing like the tide float I found on the beach when I was ten and sent back to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute who wrote me back and told me it had been dropped from the Research Vessel Chain off of the Seychelles three years before.

    Flotsam is pretty cool stuff – unless it is plastic and chokes turtles or gets caught in the beaks of seagulls. Everyone is familiar with the lost container of running shoes that gave oceanographers a wealth of information about oceanic currents. Here is a link to an excellent article about flotsam.

    In late May of 1990, the container vessel Hansa Carrier encountered a severe storm in the north Pacific Ocean (~48°N, 161°W) on its passage from Korea to the United States. During the storm, a large wave washed twenty-one shipping containers overboard. Five of these 20-metre containers held a shipment of approximately 80,000 Nike shoes ranging from children’s shoes to large hiking boots. It has been estimated that four of the five containers opened into the stormy waters, releasing over 60,000 shoes into the north Pacific Ocean.

    The following winter, hundreds of these shoes washed ashore on the beaches of the Queen Charlotte Islands, western Vancouver Island, Washington and Oregon. With the help of beachcombers from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, Ebbesmeyer was able to determine that hundreds of shoes were recovered. When Oregon newspapers began running the story, the Associated Press picked it up, and the word spread. The publicity resulted in many additional reports of the finding of Nike shoes on Pacific beaches. Dubious about some of the reported finds, Ebbesmeyer decided to confine his study to only those shoes found in groups of 100 or more. Even with this restriction, he accounted for approximately 1300 shoes from the more than 60,000 released.”

    Before I go – here is Wikipedia on the definitions of “flotsam” and “jetsam”

    “Traditionally, flotsam and jetsam are words that describe goods of potential value that have been thrown into the ocean. There is a technical difference between the two: jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea (jettisoned) by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck. Traditionally spelled flotsom and jetsom, the “o” was replaced with “a” in the early twentieth century, and the former spellings have since been out of common usage.”