Spalding Smart Ball Commercial

July 17th, 2014
by Dustin Woodard

I had the pleasure of creating a commercial for Spalding featuring their amazing 94Fifty smart ball. The ball has built-in sensors that provide real-time data to your smart phone. You may have noticed it on the shelves of your local Apple store. The video features YouTube sensation Jashaun Agosto and several other talented future D1 athletes:


I originally shot a longer version that had a complete storyline, which I hope will be released some day. This basketball commercial was a fun change up from the stop motion videos I’ve been creating for LEGO and it was my first chance to shoot on my Canon C100.

Jashaun Agosto

Jashaun Agosto of Garfield High School in Seattle.


Special thanks to Jashaun’s dad Julio, for helping to round up some players for the shoot and Excel Sports Academy for use of their court. No player, parent or coach were compensated in any way for their participation in this video. It was important to myself and Spalding that they all retain full NCAA eligibility.

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My Foray Into Stop Motion Animation

August 13th, 2013
by Dustin Woodard

I’ve always been one to figure things out. It’s part of the reason I became a filmmaker even though web consulting is my primary profession. In fact, it is what got me into web consulting in the first place. One thing that always fascinated me was stop motion animation. As I kid, I tried to do it using a video camera, but back then the tape would randomly rewind a few seconds before filming, which made it nearly impossible to get the timing down (I’d usually record over the previous frame)

Now, with the advent of digital photography & software that allows you to control your camera, stop motion animation is much more accessible. After some experimentation, I landed a gig shooting a stop motion animated video for LEGO. Here is one of my first stop motion animation pieces:

Then I shot another stop motion, this time for the Duck Tape brand for their decorated shipping tape:

LEGO hired me back to shoot a video for their LEGO City line, which resulted in this video which has over a half a million views on various websites:

Then I was selected to create a pilot episode for Cleatus, the Fox Sports NFL mascot. Unfortunately, the pilot didn’t go past the pilot stage, but here’s a screenshot:


CLEATUS Stop Motion


Hopefully I’ll be able to share it some day (the problem w/ making videos for others is that you don’t always get to share your work).

For nearly all of my stop motion videos, my 8-year old son helps out. He always wanted to shoot a LEGO Star Wars stop motion, so I helped him plan out his story, shots, and with the camera setup. Here’s the fun video we created:

During this past year I also started teaching a stop motion animation class at an elementary school and even hosted a workshop at a conference. My latest gig was for LEGO’s new Castle line, where I shot part 5 of a 6-part series & was tasked with creating a toy-story like experience (hence the dog). Again, only can share a screenshot at this point, I assume it will be released in September:


LEGO Castle Stop Motion

Though stop motion is simply a series of pictures, there’s something fascinating about making inanimate objects come to life. For those who would like to try it out for themselves, I plan on creating some how-to videos as well as share my camera, lighting, software setup tips with you in a follow-up blog post. Below is some of the gear I used to make these videos:


As you can tell, I mostly use Canon equipment.

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SMX Advanced Linkbuilding Session

June 14th, 2013
by Dustin Woodard

linkbuildingYesterday I spoke at SMX Advanced for the first time (though I have attended all of them). My talk & our entire session’s presentations on link building/acquisition seemed to go really well. I was a little nervous as the room was full of 800+ of the world’s most advanced SEOs.

I assumed most of the audience knew about, or actively used, many of the tactics SEOs have been preaching for years–so I decided to focus on some things they may not have tried or even heard about, including gamification & the brain science behind of pitching. I also shared a case study of a client I took from blacklisted site with barely any links to > $1 million in revenue in just two months with no budget.

It may be a little confusing without my audio explanation to go with it, but I thought I’d share the slides with you below. I have three clients who use gamification and I’ve been going to gamification conferences for the past two years. I have an additional gamificiation experiment underway for a film I’m working on that I will be able to share at some point.

I really enjoyed speaking with Justin & Kaila and thought Elisabeth did a wonderful job of selecting panelists and coordinating the talks.

Posted in Search, User Generated Content | Comments (0)

Video Tour of Seattle’s Newest Colocation Facility

January 28th, 2013
by Dustin Woodard

In my 16 years of working on the web, I had never once visited what I think of as the heart of Internet: the actual datacenter facilities that host the websites we love so dearly. Sure I had seen servers before and have interacted with a couple Network Operation Centers (NOCs) in the past (via email), but I had never actually been inside a full fledged facility before.

So I gave my friends at DF Colo a call and asked them to give me a tour of their seattle-area colocation facilities. After a tour of their Tukwila datacenter, I asked if I could bring a camera along and tour their newest location, a datacenter in downtown Seattle that opened in September 2012.

I was able get great footage of most of the colocation facility and learned quite a bit from the highly knowledgeable COO, Tim Doherty (sorry, no close ups of customer servers). If you’ve never visited a datacenter before, here’s your opportunity:

Posted in Web | Comments (0)

Detailed Look At Google’s TLDs

June 14th, 2012
by Dustin Woodard

Google was very aggressive in applying for new TLDs. They applied for 102 different extensions at a cost of $18.87 million (their actual spend will be higher as explained later). Some where obvious (like .google and .search) and others were head-scratchers (like .lol and .soy). Below I break down all the different TLDs Google applied for.

Brand TLDs

These are the top-level domains that protect Google’s brand and give Google the ability to allow domain sales or personalization (www.dustin.youtube, for example).

  • AND (Android)
  • ANDROID
  • CHROME
  • DCLK (DoubleClick)
  • GOOG
  • GOOGLE
  • GMAIL
  • YOUTUBE

Generic TLDs Directly Related To Google’s Business

These are TLDs that are clearly of interest to Google due to current areas that Google operates in.

  • グーグル (Google in Japanese)
  • ADS (Google Adwords & Ads)
  • APP* (Android Apps)
  • BLOG* (Blogspot)
  • BOOK* (Google Books)
  • CAL (Google Calendar)
  • CLOUD* (Google Cloud Services or App Engine)
  • DRIVE* (Google Drive or Google Self-driving cars)
  • DOCS* (Google Docs)
  • EARTH* (Google Earth)
  • FILM* (YouTube, though this is a stretch)
  • GBIZ (Google Business)
  • HANGOUT (Google Hangout)
  • MAIL* (Gmail)
  • MAP* (Google Maps)
  • MOV (YouTube .mov files)
  • MOVIE* (YouTube)
  • MUSIC* (Google Music)
  • PAGE (Google Pages or Google+ pages)
  • PLUS* (Google Plus)
  • SHOP* (Google Shopping)
  • TALK (Google Talk)
  • TUBE (YouTube)
  • SEARCH* (Google Search)
  • SITE* (Google Sites)
  • STORE (Google shopping or stores)

Generic TLDs Not Related to Current Google Efforts

These are TLDs that Google doesn’t really have a clear business reason to be in. These are interesting to look at as potential markets where Google would like to expand into.

  • みんな (“Everyone” in Japanese)
  • 谷歌 (“Valley Song” in Japanese)
  • ARE
  • BABY*
  • BOO* (no idea why – Halloween sites?)
  • BUY* (perhaps Google checkout or shopping)
  • CAR
  • CHANNEL
  • CORP* (corporation)
  • CPA* (certified public accountant or cost-per-aquisition)
  • DAD
  • DAY
  • DDS
  • DEV*
  • DIY*
  • DOG*
  • DOT*
  • EAT
  • ESQ
  • EST
  • FAMILY*
  • FLY
  • FOO
  • FREE*
  • FUN*
  • FYI*
  • GAME*
  • GLE
  • GMBH* (German limited liability company)
  • GOO* (assume they were thinking another version of Google)
  • GUGE (Ancient Kingdom in Western Tibet)
  • HERE
  • HOME*
  • HOW
  • INC* (incorporated)
  • ING (attempt to grab present tense verbs)
  • KID
  • LIVE*
  • LLC* (limited liability company)
  • LLP* (limited liability parntership)
  • LOL (laugh out loud)
  • LOVE*
  • MBA* (Masters in Business Admin)
  • MED*
  • MEME
  • MOM*
  • MOTO*
  • NEW
  • NEXUS
  • PET*
  • PAGE
  • PHD*
  • PLAY*
  • PROD
  • PROF
  • RSVP
  • SHOW*
  • SOY
  • SPOT
  • SRL
  • TEAM
  • TECH
  • TOUR
  • VIP
  • WEB
  • WOW
  • YOU
  • ZIP

All the results with an asterix (*) are one’s Google will have to win an auction to own the TLD rights. Interestingly, Google applied for .car and was the only one, but several will be bidding on .cars. Same goes with .kid – the plural version was bidded on by two others.

There are some notable TLDs Google didn’t apply for: .art, .audio, .cam, .cash, .cat, .chat, .city, .cpm, .cpc, .data, .deal, .directions, .discount, .eco, .family, .forum, .forsale, .foundation, .green, .group, .guide, .happy, .hotel, .humor, .help, .laugh, .ltd, .news,, .online, ..photos, .pics, .places, .reviews, .sale, .serp, .spam, .shopping, .shop, .store, .restaurant, .tickets, .travel, .video, .vote, and .wiki, and .wikipedia (just kidding).

Posted in Domaining | Comments (1)

Beauty of Wireless Internet Access

October 19th, 2011
by Dustin Woodard

Clearly I spend a lot of time online. Most of it occurs in my home office or around the house. Occasionally I connect in coffee shops (usually free) or at the airport (usually for a fee). As part of the Clear Heros program, I have been blessed with a 4G wifi hotspot that I can use myself, and share with others. Having high speed internet access wherever I go has benefited me in a lot of ways. Here are a few situations where it has come in handy, so far:

  • Conference Connectivity: Like many conferences, people are on a tweeting & email checking rampage. The complimentary wi-fi is inevitably overloaded and slow. By having my own access point while at a conference I gained a client, and saved another attendee from losing one (she couldn’t email them the dinner plans). More recently at Startup Weekend EDU, I was able to read tweets just after our presentation to judges like Michael Arrington in a conference room where there was no internet AT&T connectivity on my iPhone. During break, I was able to meet up with a well-connected attendee who complimented our pitch, which may lead to our first source of revenue.
  • Traveling Flexibility: Over the summer, my family made a trip to Florida for vacation. I was able to sit on the beach and conduct a meeting with one of my clients on a site redesign. Without being able to see their live site, I never would have been able to conduct this meeting. One thing we forgot was our camera charger. I quickly hopped online and had a charger sent to us before we ran out of juice, allowing us to take capture important moments, like our first trip out to the Florida keys and our children’s first experience with dolphins in the wild. Later in the trip I was able to save $75 on my hotel stay since I didn’t need to pay for the daily $25 internet access fee.
  • Helping Others: I was with a filmmaker who had a hard deadline to upload a client’s video before the press release hit. Trouble was the coffee shops internet access was sporadic and slow, causing his video upload to fail over and over. Within 5 seconds I got him online and he was able to meet his deadline. Another time I was riding on a bus destined for Seattle and a lady was literally in tears because the bus was running late & she wouldn’t be able to give her boss the fixed powerpoint presentation in time for his big meeting. I asked her if she would like to give it to him right now & she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.
  • Information Anywhere: This has probably come in handy more times then I can remember, but one situation was a serious stress reliever for me. I bought an expensive new camera and was filming my child’s science presentation at a science fair. My camera’s LCD screen had several dull gray band floating across it and I thought for sure I had already broken my camera. Turns out the cheap florescent lighting in the building had a “cycle” that competed with the camera’s shutter rate. I would have stressed out until my next filming date if I didn’t have that information at my finger tips.

Posted in Web | Comments (2)

What is G.co?

July 18th, 2011
by Dustin Woodard

Soon many people may be wondering why they are seeing links with http://g.co/ in them are and whether they should be trusted. The short answer is that they are auto-generated by Google for URL shortening purposes, similar to how Twitter started using t.co.

what is g.coBackground on the g.co Domain
If you’ve been following the domain world this past year, you may recognize the .co TLD which actually stands for the country of Columbia, but has been marketed as a .com competitor. A few companies have paid big money to get their hands on very short .co URLs. In particular, Overstock bought o.co for $350k. Twitter bought t.co and Amazon bought a.co, z.co, and k.co. The .co authorities mentioned that one-letter .co domains are worth about $1.5 million now. Hard to say what Google paid for it, but I imagine it was in the $100k range due to the actual registration date (see below).

Though the news of g.co just hit the web, Google actually registered the domain back on April 26th, 2010 according to whois domain records. Strangely, Google only registered it for 2-years… it is set to expire on April 25th, 2012. I’m actually a little surprised Google doesn’t usually register its domain names for longer periods of time: Google.com is set to expire on September 13th – imagine picking up that domain on a domain drop!

Google’s Intended Use of G.CO
No one really knows how Google will use g.co at this point but Google has stated that it will be used just for Google websites, so anyone clicking on them can trust that they will be going to a Google website. I suspect Google might use it to send people to Google-plus and/or Google docs. Google assures us we will find out soon.

g.co vs goo.gl
goo.gl is Google’s public URL shortening service, similar to bit.ly and t.co. All three services intend to offer some level of protection against malware & affiliate scams, provide proper 301 redirects for SEO, and offer some level of reporting. However, g.co intends to be Google-only links, so all reporting will probably be just for Google’s eyes & I’d expect they will handle the redirects properly.

Are g.co Links Safe?
Considering Google intends them to be links to only Google properties, they should be very safe. However, if Google does end up using the links for Google+ or service where users are allowed to create their own content, then the link may not be completely safe (though I expect as with t.co and goo.gl links, Google will be monitoring them for abuse). I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

Posted in Domaining | Comments (0)

Clearly Seattle’s Hero

June 1st, 2011
by Dustin Woodard

Cue the dramatic music as I slip on my mask, tie on my cape, and pull on my gloves in preparation of finally living out my boyhood dreams as a REAL hero… kind of.

For the next six months, I now no longer represent just myself. I will be living a double life as myself and the CLEAR Hero for the Seattle area. I won’t be battling street crime (we’ll leave that to my wife, the forensic scientist), but I will be “rescuing” people who need Internet access in some of the toughest neighborhoods for obtaining 4G Internet Access.

As part of the hero assignment, CLEAR will be lending me a Spot Device with free service, which will allow me to connect up to 8 distressed victims at once. I’ll be incognito, secretly armed with the full power of Internet access, looking for opportunities to help people out in various coffee shops, airports and web conferences, all in the name of good Karma for CLEAR.

It’s a very cool program and I’m excited to be a part of it! Down the road I’ll post a recap of a few of my hero-esque moments.

Posted in General, Web | Comments (1)

Radiohead King of Limbs Online Execution

February 18th, 2011
by Dustin Woodard

Loss of Limb: What Radiohead could have done to improve their self-distributed King of Lambs Album web success.

Over three years ago I beat up Radiohead for the online execution of In Rainbows. I was frustrated because they had a great opportunity to prove the self-distribution model online, but made several simple mistakes that may have reduced their effectiveness. With their latest release, King of Limbs, which hit the web today, they made some similar mistakes.

Before I jump into the King of Limbs website improvement suggestions, I do want to applaud their music and alternative distribution experiments. They are still doing a great job changing the music industry–I just wish they partnered with a company that knew what they were doing online.

King of Limbs Site Improvement Suggestions:

King of Limbs

Radiohead King of Limbs Album Website

Here’s what I wish Radiohead would have done with their King of Limbs Album Website from different standpoints.

King of Limbs Album Cover

King of Limbs Album Cover

Usability:

  • Splash homepage. Relying on Image map for navigation with poor alt text. Glad I’m not blind.
  • But they want me to be blind. There is no description of what is on the album. How many tracks? What songs?
  • No opportunity to preview any of the music. I don’t need to hear the whole song, but I would love to hear a sneak peek before drop $9-48.00.
  • No help deciding what digital version to choose from.
  • Newspaper Album terminology confusing.
  • No links to any information about the band. No links to other sites about the band or other albums.
  • Navigation comes and goes. Homepage has no navigation other then image map. Some pages have Home link, Order Tracking, Help and Checkout. Other have only Home link and some have Home, Order Tracking and Help, but no checkout.
  • Checkout jumps to www.thekingoflimbs.com through strange transaction URL redirect. If you started on kingoflimbs.com, this may trip up some people, especially with higher levels of browser security.
  • Not brought into a secure form until you fill out your email address and password. Order form being non-secure until this step may scare some people.
  • No choice on the download options. Does it always come down as a zip file?
  • The zip file came with no instructions whatsoever. Some people might want help loading the MP3s into iTunes, etc.
  • The zip file included the album cover, but didn’t bother with a song list, lyrics, videos, art, or any information about the album

Social:

  • No images to be used as thumbnails on Facebook or other sharing platforms when linking to the site.
  • No sharing options on the site. Why not encourage people to brag about downloading the album?
  • Completely reliant upon news organizations to point to the URL and share the news. No information about the release.
  • No link or embed of the music video. The press felt it was worth sharing, why did Radiohead skip it?
  • No evidence of interaction with fans on release day – other then a Tweet that says you can download the album.

SEO:

  • A splash homepage with an image map. Seriously?
  • Title tag is: “The King of Limbs : Where are you?” No mention of Radiohead, music, album, etc. “Where are you” not helping anything.
  • The alt tags on the image map are not helping the site (The Americas, S.E.Asia, UK/Ireland, Europe, Rest of the World.
  • No meta description. Guess they don’t care what their listing looks like in the engines.
  • Used only an H2 and a H5. I’m scratching my head on why they chose those two.
  • Had the search engines crawl the correct URL before the album launch. A search for “King of Limbs” has the following URL #1 in Google: thekingoflimbs.com/CC.php?ID=2.
  • Both canonical version of the site resolve (thekingoflimbs.com and www.thekingoflimbs.com). Pick one!
  • KingofLimbs and www.kingoflimbs also resolve – I can’t tell which domain they want to use.
  • All the different domain variations clearly creates duplicate content problems, but each area of the map you click on generates the same content–only the price changes.
  • Most of the URLs seem to push through a php page that uses a javascript URL rewrite.
  • Passing a large amount of link equity to shop.sandbag.uk.com.
  • The various SEO mistakes make it so search spammers, music resellers and bit torrents can potentially outrank Radiohead for their own album. Since they are self-distributing this could result in lost sales or unnecessary commissions.

Maybe it doesn’t matter?
Despite all the issues I raise above (and many more I didn’t bother pointing out), I’m sure the King of Limbs album will be highly successful. This site is still executed better than the In Rainbows site was. Again, I’m frustrated that they didn’t put the web to full use, especially if it is their primary distribution method.

Unnecessary disclaimer: I listened to the album while writing the post and must say that I enjoyed it. So far Codex is my favorite song.

Posted in General, Search | Comments (6)

Google Engage For SEOs

February 2nd, 2011
by Dustin Woodard

Something caught my attention while in Gmail today. Google had an ad targeting SEOs to get them to use Google Adwords for their clients. Seemed reasonable, but I was a little surprised by what I found.

Here’s the Google Engage Ad I saw:

Google Enage Program for SEOs

Google Enage Program for SEOs

I clicked on the link and ended up on the homepage for Google Engage. Immediately you are greeted with the following message:

Are you a search engine optimization (SEO) professional that helps small businesses with their online presence?
The Google Engage program offers search engine optimization professionals like yourself the training and tools that will help you offer AdWords services to your clients.

Clearly there is no SEO engagement here, but that is fine. They simply want more Adwords clients. Reading further through the page, I was surprised to see the page was written by someone who used English as a 2nd language:

“As a member, you will get the following benefits: Trainings to build and enhance your AdWords skills”
“By enhancing your online skill set and knowledge of Google products, you’ll be more attractive to potential clients and more beneficial to your existing ones.”
“Register today and begin further growing your business with Google!”
“Google Engage has already helped thousands of businesses and individuals around the world establish great business opportunities.”

Do I want to be trained on bidding for English words by an organization that uses “trainings” on the most important page for their program? Reading through the entire page, the choice of words reminds me of some of the poor content creation attempts I see on the web that were written by agencies based in the Philippines who will write articles for $0.05 a piece.

To make matters worse, the only customer quote they could come up with was from WEBSEM based out of Israel. They didn’t even list his name, nor did they link to his site. A search for WEBSEM agency doesn’t work, but WEBSEM Israel gives me a LinkedIn page. The only person close to being a “Founder” attached to the company is Asaf P who lists himself as the Operating manager. His link goes to www.websem.co.il which, according to Google, is completely in Hebrew. Of course, translating it to English produces poor results.

There’s nothing wrong with using a customer quote out of Israel, but I found myself looking at the URL several times to see if I, in fact, am on Google.com because there were very few signals that made me feel like the Google Engage program was legitimate.

But I did find this video:

/End Rant – Okay, I know I’m picking on Google Engage, but I do think they could get better “engagement” if they ran their homepage text through a fluent English-speaking editor & marketer.

Some SEM agencies will be put off by the Google Engage program (Is Google Trying to Steal their customers?). I specialize in only Organic SEO Consulting and a couple of my customers already spend over a million dollars each month on AdWords, so my participation would in the program would primarily be motivated by the $100 credit I could give to some of my smaller customers.

Posted in Search | Comments (3)