MegaUpload Taken Down

The SOPA & PIPA legislation certainly was knocked down and political backing withered away once the public outcry was too much for even Washington to ignore. That didn’t stop the government from overstepping their bounds again.

A federal indictment and arrests occurred today and the sites were taken down. NY Times article.

It’s surprising the US government was able to coordinate in order to bring down a file sharing site actually based in elsewhere.

I’m having a hard time swallowing the idea of arresting people who run a company in one country based on, at best,  shaky laws from a different country. The US, again, acts like we are the World Police.

Unfortunately, we really are closer to the marionettes portrayed in the film. [NOTE- I am referring to SupePACs, big business, Hollywood, the Military Industrial Complex, etc really running the country].

MegaUpload supporters took down the DOJ site as well as some entertainment sites. Anonymous took credit for the DOS attacks. The sites were back up within a few hours as well.

But lets not get all into the conspiracy theories and anarchy talk. Lets talk about something closer to home.

The XBMC Icefilms plugin, which I use extensively, relies heavily on MegaUpload for many of its files. Taking the site down effectively makes the plugin useless. This makes me sad. This makes my family sad. We cut the cable many months ago and are having a hard time finding a way to get the entertainment we need. We are willing to pay for what we actually are interested in.

The fact that Icefilms is a legitimate way for people to share access to (mostly) media they own or resources that are community property makes it a great part of my home media setup. Others obviously feel the same.

The hacker community over at XBMC Hub had a new update to Icefilms for XBMC on iOS within hours (v 1.0.22) that uses 2Shared as an alternative.

I take two things from this:

  1. Big media companies are in their death throws and are stopping at nothing to try and hold on to the monopoly and current price structures they have
  2. How artists create and disseminate their works and how consumers want to access it is changing

I hope we are able to make the transition peacefully and that the new media consumption paradigms will allow for more & greater personal and collective expression, sharing and results in a richer human condition.

 

UPDATE:

MegaUpload already has a new IP. They don’t have a demain  name yet, but it proves my point that you cannot keep these changes from happening.

UPDATE 2:

The Megaupload site referred to previously is likely to be a DOS site. Don’t use it. In the meantime, there have been several updates to Icefilms for XBMC (now v 1.0.23) that now redirect users to 2Shared. This is another file sharing site that really is not up to par with others (hence it was used sparingly before).

Multivariate Testing Tools

I am always looking for ways to verify design changes and gather measurable, actionable data on live visitors. There are many online tools available, and Website Magazine‘s Allison H. posted a great list of some testing tools.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

Although this inspirational motto can be applied to many aspects of life, merchants should definitely apply it when optimizing their e-commerce sites. However, keep in mind that “trying and trying again” is simply guesswork unless there is data backing up the testing – this is where multivariate tools come into play.

By using testing tools, merchants can analyze elements of an e-commerce site, such as page layout, call-to-action buttons, product pages and more. And unlike A/B testing, multivariate testing allows many different elements to be combined and tested at the same time – so that websites can be optimized to best fit consumer needs and increase conversions.

Therefore, it is time to find a method to your madness – check out these ten top multivariate testing tools:

Adobe Test&Target

Part of the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite and powered by Omniture, this tool allows merchants to continually make their online content and offers more relevant to their customers – which increases conversions. In fact, Reader’s Digest had a 47-percent increase in conversions after conducting and evaluating testing using this solution. Furthermore, the Test&Target interface allows merchants to design and execute tests, create audience segments and target content.

Amadesa

This solution allows merchants to test several elements on a page and identify the winning combination within each element. Amadesa features “Pick the Winner” technology, which ensures that underperforming combinations are quickly eliminated. Amadesa also identifies the contribution that each element makes to the overall success of a particular combination, as well as helps determine which creative elements should be used across product or article pages.

Globalmaxer

The multivariate testing tool from GlobalMaxer allows merchants to test multiple variations of page elements in a live environment so that successful page combinations can be found. Testing helps merchants find combinations that provide greater uplift in conversions, better access to certain areas of a site, as well as better dwell time. Commonly tested elements include fonts, colors, logos, body copy, images and navigation. This solution also provides cultural multivariate testing, which isolates factors that have the biggest cultural impact on Web conversions.

Google Website Optimizer

With this free website testing and optimization tool, merchants can increase the value of existing Web traffic, which leads to the question – what doesn’t Google do? The Site Optimizer helps merchants test site content and design, while monitoring which combinations lead to the highest conversion rates. By taking advantage of this tool, merchants can increase ROI, visitor satisfaction and eliminate guesswork.

Maxymiser

Merchants can optimize customer experiences through A/B and multivariate testing from Maxymiser’s MaxTEST. Instead of “gut feelings” and guessing games, website optimization is based on data that is derived from online traffic feedback. With this customer feedback, merchants can increase their revenue and ROI through higher conversion rates, provide an enhanced site experience and decrease risks associated with design changes.

Monetate

Monetate automatically creates a control group for every campaign so that merchants can view the impact that a campaign has on key metrics such as conversion, average order value, cart abandonment and more. Merchants can gather data and run advanced tests through A/B and multivariate testing. Furthermore, the platform offers targeting options for making better connections with customers, which equals better conversion rates, more returning customers and higher average order values.

OfferMaxima

With OfferMaxima, merchants can test and optimize different website designs, email or direct marketing campaigns and printed ads. OfferMaxima’s technology can be used to target specific marketing offers, products and content to different segments of visitors. Benefits include reduced likelihood of false positives, validation results by audience and decisions that can be based on reliable samples.

Sitecore

Sitecore’s solution allows merchants to create A/B and multivariate tests from the in-line editing interface. Testing can include page components or entire site items. By optimizing everything from content on the homepage to call-to-action button appearance, merchants can increase conversion quantity and quality. Furthermore, Sitecore provides continuous feedback on site performance and customer engagement through Web-based reports.

SiteSpect

Test many changes simultaneously and evaluate the impact of combinations on conversion goals with multivariate testing from SiteSpect. This solution allows merchants to set up and test within minutes, as well as quickly determine the impact from each variation. Additionally, merchants can evaluate results during and after each test campaign.

Vertster

This solution provides merchants with fast results from Vertster’s multivariate testing algorithm. Merchants can stop guessing about site design because Vertster allows them to measure the effectiveness of thousands of page design possibilities simultaneously. Furthermore, the site testing is SEO safe and enables merchants to conduct anything from simple A/B testing to powerful Taguchi testing.

Webtrends

Webtrends Optimize combines testing and targeting platforms with optimization expertise. The solution’s recommended approach starts with general testing against all traffic, which is followed by testing optimal content against key segments (returning vs. new visitor, time of day, geo-targeting etc). After determining the optimals by segment, content can be used to target, which allows merchants to personalize content based on insights.

 

Aardvark Shutting Down

According to an email I got this morning:

Dear Aardvarker, 

This mail is to remind you we will be shutting down vark.com shortly, and you will no longer be able to access Aardvark.

We’re sad to say goodbye to Aardvark now, but pleased that this project has inspired so much related activity in this area.
(See http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/fall-spring-clean.html for the broader story.)
Thank you for your support for Aardvark along the way!

All our best,

– The Aardvark Team

(p.s. You can visit blog.vark.com for information about data portability after Aardvark shuts down.)

I am really bummed. I enjoyed being a part of this community for the last year and a half.

My only solace is the hope that with the fall-spring-clean, that Google can finally deliver on the projects they keep promising (I’m looking at you, Google TV!)

Here is the text of the post on blog.vark:

Goodbye Aardvark

By Max, Zoo Director | Published: September 2, 2011

As part of the shutdown of GoogleLabs, Aardvark will be shutting down at the end of September.

Aardvark began as a small experiment in a new kind of social search, and over a few years blossomed into a service that made millions of connections between people to answer each other’s questions.  It was a great experience in seeking to combine a broad vision for the future of technology with a rigorous user-centered design process.  Over this time, we learned a lot about creating and maintaining online communities, and how to facilitate sharing of knowledge between people.

We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+.  It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing — even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original vark.com! — and there is much more to come very soon.  In this and other projects at Google, the Aardvark team remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.

Of course, we’re also sad to say goodbye to the original Aardvark here at vark.com.  Who would have thought that a digital version of a nocturnal burrowing mammal would have engendered so much affection!  We’re very grateful to the whole Aardvark community for your support along the way.

Onwards,

Max and Damon

p.s.  In the spirit of data liberation, we want to make sure that any of you Aardvark users who would like to retrieve your past data from the service can do so.  Right now of course you can log in and manually copy anything you’d like to keep.  Or if you prefer, you can email us at support@vark.com and we’ll send you a bulk dump of your data (please allow time for us to process these).  After September 30, there will be no way to retrieve your data, as shortly after that we will delete everything permanently.