The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

March 30, 2004

Search engine optimisation

I was in a meeting recently at which the phrase “search engine optimisation” was used, prompting a (mercifully brief) discussion of useful techniques. I restrained myself from simply saying, “write decent content and don’t let anything get in its way”. However, I did think it, and of how entries on this blog are highly ranked in Google for such queries as “wellington bypass” (or just “bypass” on New Zealand pages), “adapting book to film”, “IQ statistics average”, “postgresql sequences”, and “New Zealand immigration language” (quotation marks were not used in the searches). This despite no optimisation, no overloading of key terms, and no one actually linking to those pages (a major factor in Google’s page ranking algorithm).

What does this tell me? Mostly, I think, that I do not understand what people do to make their web pages not be ranked higher — it’s not like I’ve gone on and on about any of the above topics. Alright, maybe one of them, but then I also have a PDF which is the top result for “gemealt”, one of the words in Beowulf. I mean, really, where are the academics?

Posted by jamie at 21:48+12:00 | Comments (4) | Permalink

March 17, 2004

Speed with purpose

Whilst clearing out my inbox (which is to say, making a minimal dent in the pile of old messages several thousand deep), I came across a copy of the KPMG Consulting values, and (after my last entry) I must share the description of one of them, “Speed with purpose”.

We act with a sense of speed and purpose in all that we do. If we are going to do something, then do it now, and do it right, and make sure it generates results we want. We must constantly increase our business velocity to stay ahead of our clients' needs and to be out in front of the market with our solutions. The speed of our execution and our ability to learn and improve allow us to create value for our clients and achieve market-leading results. Clients must see real return on their investments and they expect to see it quickly. Our ability to live up to these expectations is a strong differentiator. We must act with both urgency and common sense to get results. We make decisions, correct mistakes quickly, and embrace innovation, while insisting on results that bring real business value.

How anyone can flourish when half-yearly performance reviews ask one to evaluate one’s conformance to values such as this is beyond me. Perhaps I’m just not one of those “Leaders who serve” (that’s a value?).

Did I mention that I love my (current) job?

Posted by jamie at 21:58+13:00 | Comments (3) | Permalink

I love my job

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a while now. My job at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is fantastic. I work with smart, funny people in a university environment (yet isolated from students and administration) being a text geek. I, and everyone else there, am encouraged and trusted to make what we do and how we do it better. Soon after I joined I said that we needed to be using some sort of version control, so I was told to make a proposal and then implement it. Just like that. I am allowed to call a bug a bug (don’t get me started on having had to fill out timesheets with “resolved issues”), and I am listened to even when it’s not obvious I know what I’m talking about.

In short, I love my job.

Posted by jamie at 20:33+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

March 10, 2004

My ideal Old English class

I realised today that what I want my Old English class to be is a small group of really bright people sitting around talking knowledgeably about Beowulf, with me there contributing as I may and absorbing everything else. I want to sit at the feet of a teacher and learn.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t want to do research and so forth. There are, in any subject I am generally interested in, a lot of specific things that I might be curious about — it is simply not feasible to personally investigate all of these things; rather, I would investigate those that I already knew to be of great interest. Hence the benefit of having other people around, of whom I could ask questions and so learn enough about the curious bits to know whether I wished to pursue them further, or not at all, or whether there was a middle ground of wanting to listen to someone else tell me some stuff about it and then move on.

I have no practical idea of how to create such an ideal class for myself.

Posted by jamie at 20:29+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

March 04, 2004

PostgreSQL sequences

Would you, having read the documentation about sequence functions in the PostgreSQL, think that a call to nextval would return 1 if there were already rows in the database added via COPY table FROM stdin? Would you not expect that nextval would return, say, 3, if there were two such rows in the table using that sequence?

Before I move on from this, does anyone have an explanation for this unintuitive behaviour? I like things to make a certain amount of sense, you see.

Posted by jamie at 13:08+13:00 | Comments (2) | Permalink