Friday, March 23, 2012

Is the Afghan Massacre Case being prosecuted faster than that of the Fort Hood Shooter?

Within 2 years and 4 months, two Army soldiers opened fire on innocent unarmed people, killing numerous and wounding others. On November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan shot 43 people, killing 13 people and wounding 30. Now more recently, on March 11th 2012, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales assaulted innocent residents in 3 Afghan villages, killing 17 and wounding 6 others.

Because it is more recent, the news stories have filled their columns describing the rapid pace that justices have taken to move toward the speedy trial of Sgt. Bales.  After listening to many of these broadcasts, I wondered if Bales was being prosecuted  faster than Hasan.

Here we have Bales, thought to have committed these horrible Afghan murders, flown out of Afghanistan,  placed in confinement in Fort Leavenworth, and charged with the crimes within little more than a week.

While, Major Hasan, who committed his crime in November 2009, has yet to be tried. For him, it took 1 year just to be arraigned (Major Is Arraigned in Fort Hood Killings).

There are several similarities and differences between the two murderers:
  • Both have been in the Army a long time
  • Both were in their late 30s
  • Hasan is an Officer, Bales an enlisted man
  • Hasan is a Muslim, Bales a Christian
  • Hasan killed in an American Military base, Bales killed in a foreign war zone
  • Hasan has never been in war, Bales is on his 4th tour of combat duty
  • Hasan killed mostly US soldiers, Bales killed Afghan civilians
  • Hasan pursued radical beliefs, Bales seemed to have just cracked
  • Hasan is portrayed as the "Fort Hood Shooter", Bales the "Afghan Massacre Suspect" (emphasis on Shooter and Massacre)
While we do not know the ultimate fate of these two individuals, we can agree that the crimes that they committed are equally horrendous. It is unimaginable to conceive of the acts they committed, and both should be punished. But, justice should treat both individuals equally, and judgement should not proceed rapidly for one individual while the other (although paralized) sits back and enjoys the comforts of confinement, similar to those in Guantanamo who are still awaiting trial by a sympathizing US Attorney General.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Google Analytics adds Real-Time Page Views to help you monitor your visitor activity

One of the most interesting features of Google Analytics I discovered a few weeks ago was their new "Real-Time" page view functionality.  To access this, you will need to visit your Analytics account and select the "Home" page view. In the upper left corner of the menu, you will see the Real-Time selection. If you click on this, and then the "Overview" choice below, you will be shown a live view of the pages that visitors are accessing, similar to the image below.

The Overview page is divided 6 sections, broken into 3 rows.
  • The upper left contains the visitor count and indicates the breakdown between new and returning visitors. On the right of are indicators of the number of views per second.
  • The second row provides the Top Referrals and a listing of the Top Active Pages.
  • The third row summarizes the Top Keywords that were used to access your pages, and a map pinpointing the location of your visitors. 
If you site is relatively active, you will have a visitor count greater than zero and the page will come to life. It's really fun to sit and watch the activity!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Google's Blogger adds Gadgets to Dynamic Views

About a week ago, Blogger Buzz posted their 3rd update of the Blogger Dynamic Views. In this release notice, they announced that several Gadgets are now supported. These include:
  • Blog Archive
  • Followers
  • Labels
  • Profile
  • Subscribe
  • Link List
These are great additions, but for those who utilize AdSense, you may find that this is only supported in the Sidebar and Classic front screen modes.

While I like the dynamic view formats, I found that one must be very careful when experimenting with the various templates. For example, if you click on your Blogger "Template" choice on the blogger sidebar, you will see a snippet view of what your blog looks like at the top of the page. Below, you will see the series of Dynamic View templates.

If you  roll your mouse over the templates, you will see a "Apply to Blog | Customize" tool tip.

But be careful, if you click "Apply to Blog" your blog template will automatically be converted!  You can revert back to the older version, but certain functionality will be lost. In particular, your Google Analytics will be gone.

The better way to play with the alternate dynamic views while not changing your physical blog is to click on the " Customize " button under the "Live on Blog" view at the top.  If you do this, you can click on the alternate Dynamic View templates and see what your blog will look like. If you don't want to change it, then just click the "Back to Blogger" link at the top (not Apply to Blog).

Two problems I discovered with Dynamic Views is that you cannot edit your html page directly or move around the widgets.  A third problem is discovering how to add the above Gadgets to your blog. If you have an existing blog containing the gadgets and simply convert it to Dynamic View, then your gadgets will automatically be transferred. However, if you do not have these on your blog and want to add them to your dynamic view, I have not found how to do this. Cheers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Google Webmaster Tools adds URL parameters section

In the continuing improvement of its Webmaster Tools, Google has added a new "URL parameters" section under the "Site configuration" drop down menu.

This is an important feature in helping webmasters control the Google's crawl rate of sites where the displayed content can be modified or filtered based on URL calling parameters. For example, this can be particularly important to online merchants and stores.

As best as we have determined, Google follows nearly every hit on your site with their own mirrored hit. It records all the parameters and then has its Googlebot crawl your pages with the new parameters. By doing this, Google can index your various pages based on your content. For example, let's assume that you own an online furniture store, called

When someone visits your store at that url, they are shown a series of departments. Let's say Department 1 is bedding and Department 2 is carpets.  If your visitor clicks on the bedding link, they will access the page using the url: If they want to visit the carpet section, they click on the url

This is all well and good until someone tries to access your pages by typing the url themselves. If they make a mistake entering the dept parameter and type in "dpt" or "..." instead, then these parameters will be passed along to the Googlebot crawler. This means that your site will be crawled much more often than necessary and that the error pages you display become indexed as well.

By now enhancing Webmaster Tools and giving webmasters the ability to see the crawling parameters, one can now inform Google whether the parameters that they use for crawling are valid or not. For each parameter listed, you have a choice of letting Google decide if it is important, or if it does not affect your page content.

In our own website, we were shown 19 parameters. Of those, 7 were invalidly formed and resulted in errors. By indicating that these 7 parameters did not affect our content, approximately 400,000 urls were eliminated from the crawler.

So, if you have a website and rely on Google Webmaster Tools, we recommend that you visit your own URL parameters section and learn how Google sees your site.

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