Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tardy blogging...

Blogging is a difficult thing. You need to have the time. And you need to have an audience. And generally speaking, for this blog, I don't usually have either.

That said, I don't like to let people down and a couple have asked recently if I could mention something that isn't about me drinking Mojitos in far-flung oriental places.

Always happy to oblige (and always happy to buy the Mojitos too ;-)

OK, first up as this is still bubbling away today, my buddy in air miles, Joe Morin is up to something. He's helping a young SEO guy who is very ambitiously trying to raise the cash online to pay for an ad in the middle of the Superbowl.

Now, I know about selling pixels online and people swapping paper clips for houses... But this is very different. Now I'd be very happy to make a donation, as long as the logo for my company is also included in the ad... :-)

Hang on... I don't have a company... I'm unemployed :-(

Actually, apart from anything else, I'm completely off online competitions and the like. Although this is a little different to the usual, dreary link bait scam, it seems. And if Mojoehito Morin is backing it, well it deserves some support.

Anyway, to find out more. Just pop over to Starwood Hotels number one guest to find out more.

I think Danny has blogged this (and many others) and that's good. I've always had a soft spot for training and education in the SEM industry. In fact, back in the dark ages I bought www.search-engine-academy.com to start on online education initiative... and then never got around to it!

So it's a good job that leading sheep shearer, agony aunt and SEO/SEM instructor Kalena Jordan has.

If you're looking for a jump start into the SEM industry, here's your qualified route.

Kal, nice to see you in my in box. It's been a while. I thought you'd gone walkabout or something :-)
Baz and Big Buddha (again).

So, for the sixth time this year, I headed off to the other side of the planet to China and wonderful Hong Kong. This time in the company of my long-time friend and colleague, Barry Lloyd.

Baz had been through Hong Kong airport going back-and-forth on his travels. But this was his first opportunity to stay in the city. And although he'd lived and worked in Taiwan at one point, this was his first trip to mainland China, when we popped into Xiamen for a couple of days.

So, finding that I can now navigate myself like a local inhabitant around Hong Kong; and Xiamen almost being a second home, I felt duty bound to act as tourist guide for Barry.

It was great to see my great friend Inway Ni and business partners RQ and Jon. They really are much like family now. Inway speaks fluent English and acts as interpreter for RQ and Jon. They can both understand a lot of English but don't speak a great deal. This is quite evident when I see them grimace at my frequently awful jokes.

Once again I stayed at the wonderful Sheraton Hotel in Xiamen, which really is a wonderful location. Here's Barry and I with Jon, Inway and RQ in the lobby of the hotel after we'd been out for a most splendid Chinese banquet. The guys are great hosts and always take me somewhere exceptional for traditional food.

Of course, although this was Barry's first trip into China, he already knew Inway, as the three of us spent some time together in new York a few months back. This is when Inway was given his Mojito initiation at a great place I know down at the seaport area. We sat in the sunshine and drank the place dry of Mojitos (reminds very much of a similar incident with Joe Morin when we ended up skipping through Knightsbridge together... ahem! Another time for that one ;-)

Anyway, back to Hong Kong we returned and slummed it at the JW Marriott. Yeah, yeah I'm joking. This is probably one of the plushest hotels on the island. And what could be more? It had a cigar bar! Baz was delighted... and within minutes I was back on 20 cigarettes a day (plus cigars). I know, I know, for a guy who had a throat cancer scare last year I should be shot. And when my wife found out... I almost was!

Once again, I met up with my close friend Eddie Choi and he and I and Barry enjoyed a night in a fabulous Thai restaurant. There's no picture of Eddie this time as he says his wife is beginning to track his movements just by viewing my blog :-)

Barry and I had some meetings on Saturday morning so we'd already decided to stay over the weekend. And so, after our little excursion to Xiamen (where Barry was close enough to wave to his old friends in Taiwan) I became tour guide for Hong Kong. Up to the Peak we went and gazed over the city and indulged in a wonderful lunch of Dim Sum. All manner of which ordered by Barry who is a Dim Sum addict.

And of course, come Sunday, we travelled out to Lantau Island to Po Lin monastery and another audience with the majestic Big Buddha.

About 230 islands belong to the territory of Hong Kong and Lantau is the largest (bigger than Hong Kong itself). You can take the MTR to Tung Chung at the end of the line and grab a cab to Po Lin. There are also buses ( a very bumpy ride). And now, the new tourist attraction which is the Ngong Ping cable car ride.

We took a cab again this time, which is about a 45 minute ride (on a good day). I heard that the cable car ride (spectacular as it is floating over the mountains) had long lines to wait and took a while to get to Gnong Ping. But recently I discovered that the cable car can actually get you there in about 20 minutes (but you still have to stand in a line).

The time before, when I was at Po Lin, Inway was with me. Yesterday he sent me a picture that he'd taken of me then, which I'd completely forgotten about. I have no doubt that, when I turned up again last week, Big Buddha was looking down thinking "not that idiot again!" :-)

Perhaps the highlight of the week for me was spending a little quality time with a new friend called Manny. Her English wasn't perfect but after a couple of attempts at explaining Kleinberg's hypertext induced topical search algorithm, she simply became emotionally overwhelmed with her new found knowledge... I think.

Okay, see you in Chicago next week?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Code 'n' stuff...

Just got back from Hong Kong and another flying visit into China to meet with my friends in Xiamen.

More about that in the next post. For this one, I thought I should just let the many who have complained about the buggy code that prevented the blog from being viewed in non IE browsers know - I've fixed it.

No, it wasn't a road to Damascus type thing. It was a forced into to it by Microsoft type thing. I had an issue with IE 6 and after a zillion attempts to rid myself of the problem, I was virtually frogmarched by Microsoft into installing IE 7.

Of course, it solved the browser issue, but the blog had that very buggy Firefox render to it. So after relentlessly ignoring all of the issues (my mother, who is the number one visitor to the blog never noticed any issues with IE 6) I pulled the template down, did a little editing and republished the entire blog.

I've had a quick peek at it in Firefox and it looks fine on this machine. And it's fine in both IE 6 and 7 now. As for the rest of the browser world, which has to be such a tiny percentage after IE and Firefox combined - sorry if it's not working for you.

But like I've said many times before, this is not a business blog, it's a personal thing purely for my family and close friends. And that being the case, I'm not even going to attempt to look at it in Opera or any other browser as it's just not worth it.

I spent most of last week in Hong Kong/China with my head stuck in UltraEdit trying to debug some perl scripts I'd cannibalised and hacked from others years ago. My ISP crashed and the back up servers went too. So I had to dig out my own file backups (cobwebs and all) and try and remember how I'd put them together in the first place.

Y'know, back in the day, I used to find the odd bit of coding quite therapeutic. But after last week and today, I realise it just puts me to sleep now (imagine 'thud of body landing on desk' sound effect).

What I need is access to a team of highly qualified Russian coders... and I think I know exactly where to find one ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

ad-tech, New York.

Went to ad-tech, New York last week. Did my solo session again. This time I was introduced by Barbara Coll, no less. Very nice!

I left my camera on my office desk in Newcastle, so no pics. The one above is a shot I took of the Chrysler Building from the top of the Empire State Building when I was in Noo Yawk last year with Tatiana. I just felt I had to put something there.

Met up with my great buddies Jim Sterne and Larry Chase. Hung around a lot with my long time pal Barry Lloyd...and had dinner three record breaking nights in a row with the one and only, the inimitable, Kevin Ryan.

Had dinner with my great friend and boss at ClickZ, Rebecca Lieb. And joined the permanently effervescent Susan Bratton (whom I absolutely adore) as she whisked me off to a couple of show parties for the odd free glass of vino.

Later that night, Barry Lloyd and I went to the gentlemen's repair known as the Carnegie Club. Here in the swish surroundings, waitresses in little black cocktail numbers, reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, pour drinks and serve cigars the size of bananas. Jazz is in the air... and smoke is everywhere. The following day, I took the clothes I was wearing the night before and burned them. No washing powder would ever get rid of the deep, dark cigar smoke embedded in them forever.

Still, all-in-all, it was smashing!

Actually, I thought I'd spend a little time sitting in my Newcastle office as there was a break in my travel schedule. But, instead, I'm heading off to Hong Kong and Xiamen in China again. So, looks like I'll miss Webmasterworld Conference, unfortunately.

Best of luck to Brett. I hope you have a fantastic show. And best to all the speakers...I hope you all have gallons to drink... nothing usually stops you :-)

Oh, and thank you to my dear friends, Inway, RQ and Jon in Xiamen, for giving me my Chinese name.
I'm most honoured. See you soon.