Google, GoDaddy and the HTTPS Conundrum

I like to stay active on this blog, and I love the constant tinkering on WordPress (right from identifying which plugins to install to customizing the theme).

This is one of the main reasons I am able to blog on a regularish basis. Obviously, since it’s a content driven site, the bulk of my traffic comes from Google Search.

So what’s wrong with that

The over dependence on organic search means for the blog to have more visitors, user engagement and comments – I have to try and follow the diktats of the market leader in Search. That’s Google.

I am a fan of most of Google’s work. However, the kind of hold they have on the search market means that publishers who want to be found on search have to work towards being search friendly. Google is all about Do No Evil, and I respect them for that. However, with the recent HTTPS update to their search algorithm, small time publishers are forced to relook at their hosting solutions.

GoDaddy and shared hosting

My site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, 2k-3k visitors a month. For that kind of traffic, a shared hosting plan is perfect. I have been using GoDaddy for quite some time now. Primarily, because most of my domains are within this account.

For the past 8 years or so, I have been using this account, I cannot complain about the service. I know it’s a shared hosting, and it has managed to meet my expectations.

Until now.

GoDaddy and HTTPS

The hosting plan I have is a simple plan and it does not support me having to install a custom SSL certificate. So much so that, even if I wanted to purchase a certificate from GoDaddy – I am not able to do so. Perhaps its a glitch in their interface.

I could get a Lets Encrypt certificate, and that’s what I have done for the 13 Llama Interactive site and for Harshaja’s blog. The problem with this approach is that both these sites are hosted on a DO instance. Where I can easily control the installation of the SSL certificate.

There is no simple option for doing that. GoDaddy support is of no use, and that leads me to a dead end.

Cloudflare can help

This is where a reverse proxy like Cloudflare helped. Atleast all the requests that are going to the site can be sent to an HTTPS version of the site. The lookup itself is done via Cloudflare and I have updated the website settings in my WordPress to serve from the HTTPS endpoint.

However, this kind of kills the wp-admin section. Thankfully through the REST API and Jetpack’s connection to WordPress.com I can still manage to post content.

So what can a publisher do?

At this juncture, I could simply shift my hosting and be done with it. It’s the easiest option. However, what about all those publishers out there who may not have such an option available to them.

There has to be a simpler solution to this mess.

Correlation is not causation

Porn companies know their audience well. So they were braced when, on Friday 3rd March 2017, their traffic began to nosedive. That weekend, Nintendo released its new Switch console, a highly-anticipated event in the gaming world. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide had pre-ordered the Switch to arrive that day, and by the end of…

via A major porn site’s traffic sank the weekend Nintendo released its new console — Quartz

This article, the infographic it talks about and the implied causation is precisely why people need to understand and practice better data interpretation.

I’d assume that such a trend happens when any new retail brand launch happens. It’s not just Nintendo who would cause such ripples, but any other retail brand.

Logan and Wolverine

When the first X-Men released, it was more than 17 years back. It was not a major role since there were other heavy hitters in the movie as well.

Wolverine_from_X-men_2000
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

The character was rough around the edges and it always had a lone ranger kind of aura with it.

The one word description for this character has always been bad-ass.

The movie series is excellent at doing some base level course corrections – one of those being the horrible yellow spandex suits that Jackman never got to wear.

X-Men fans loved the first, and then Hugh Jackman became a regular feature in all the other movies. So much so that despite of the other X-Men being introduced (Nightcrawler, Iceman, Colossus, Gambit, etc) the one character that everyone yearned to see time and again was the Wolverine.

The Wolverine does not have an issue with aging, in fact that’s his mutant power, however, the creators of the series and the movie series knew that the character would have to be killed. This is where the adamantium that’s in his body came useful.

** Spoiler Alert **

Logan the movie is created in order to phase out Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine and bring in his daughter. The young and feral Dafne Keen.

In this movie, Logan is shown as a tired Wolverine who is slowly dying because of the adamantium in his body. We also have an Alzheimer ridden Professor X who bids adieu to the series as well.

Fans of the series will realize that Professor X is the only character in the movie series to have been killed twice on screen (thanks to the Days of Past storyline).

I won’t get into the plot any deeper. This movie is one of the most grittiest and goriest X-Men movies to be every released. Some of the signature movies of X-Men feature slick moves and awesome super powers … Logan and Wolverine are the two movies where there is a fair amount of gritty hand-to-hand fighting. If you want to see how those blades are put to use, then you definitely need to see this one!

After 17 years of hit movies, Hugh Jackman gets to hang the Wolverine claws at the back of his den and relax.

Owning a Car or taking an Uber

Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, built his cab-hailing startup with one ambitious goal: to stop people from buying cars. And while his ultimate goal could well be achieved globally, India would remain an exception. New research by Swiss investment bank UBS says that ride-on-demand (RoD) apps won’t stop Indians from buying their own…

via The simple reason why Uber and Ola can’t deter Indians from owning cars — Quartz

The investment bank UBS research might be saying that Indians still want a car, however, I still prefer taking an Uber ride over driving. Here’s why –

  • I can sit and read while the car is happily en route to my destination. Taking calls and thinking through things is a breeze.
  • Labor as well as Time & Material are saved
  • Dependency on cash is more or less removed. After demonetization, I have reduced my cash dependency completely, and I am loving it.
  • Whereas, its great to have a car and a driver handy to do on random jaunts like drop the kids to school, go for shopping, et al … however, an on the spot Uber is almost as good

Indians would treat the car as a status symbol, perhaps in the interiors they still do – however, with parking space coming at a premium (last I checked, a parking space in Nariman point as expensive as a 15 Lakh INR) taking an Uber is just more convenient.

यथा प्रजा तथा राजा?

Indians who considered Trump’s America a safe haven are in for a nasty wake up call. Like Muslims and Jews, Indians are not immune to racist attacks. On Thursday, a Kansas man open fired at a bar in the city of Olathe, killing 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injuring his colleague, 32-year-old Alok Madasani. Both men…

via Indians around the world are realizing the harsh reality of Trump’s “America First” policies — Quartz

This post is why people should learn to correctly attribute effects to the right cause. The way in which the article is attributing racism in the United States to Donald Trump is not fair. The article is glossing over the fact that there is racism in the country and most white citizens cannot identify the origin of a colored citizen based on his skin color.

Worse, the issue that needs to be discussed is gun control laws and not Trump.

On an off note – I have been using WordPress reader in the last couple of days and am liking the share mechanic that they have.

Stuttering Start-ups

Stayzilla, an Airbnb for homestays in India, is closing down its service. The company was founded six years ago and had raised $34 million from investors, including a $20 million Series B in 2015. Now is the time to pause and “reboot” however, CEO and co-founder Yogendra Vasupal explained in a blog post. The company reached a…

via Stayzilla, India’s Airbnb for homestays, closes its service — TechCrunch

Another one bites the dust, as start-ups and investors start rethinking their approach to creating unicorns. One of the largest ones being discussed (and also a poster child for Indian e-commerce) is Snapdeal, who in a recent email announced a lay-off of more than 1000 employees.

So why do it in the first place?

Well, it was good while it lasted, and at least the team that started it knows that they gave it their best and things did not work out – due to whichever reasons … be it a bad business model or unbalanced promotions, or whatever.

Over the years, investors have also become much more skeptical on which businesses would they put their money in.

Invest smart!

One of the things that peeves me off is that the investor success stories which have 1000% gains and great exits had the investors not just invest money, but also time and efforts in different capacities.

As someone who works with multiple ideas, one of the key components that I myself do not have much is time. Money is a transient thing, sometimes you are floating in it, sometimes you do not have much to spare. However, as time goes by … one of the key assets that people should look at is the time required to nurture that unicorn.

If that time is not there, then its best that you don’t put in the money – thinking that some smart people will grow that money and give you handsome returns. Somewhere in that dynamic, people are forgetting to create sustainable value.

What is Sustainable Value?

Any transaction happens because of both the parties seeing a certain economic value in that transaction. A buyer gets a good or a service for a price that he can afford. A seller gets a reasonable price for goods/services that he/she are providing.

For a time being, the buyer or seller can extract more value from the market. This could work due to information asymmetry (or third degree arbitrage). However, as information is made available to every user and as customer discovery becomes faster and smoother, this arbitrage is being worn down.

So, how does sustainable value come from … simple, it comes from fair play, it comes from co-operation and knowing that co-operation is the winning strategy when it comes to game theory.

How many start-ups get the sustainable value creation point is something that I am most interested in.

 

Using Data Studio to create beautiful Reports

In the month of November 2016, Data Studio was made available for all users in India. The product was launched quite some time back, however, it was only accessible in the US and for premium Google Analytics 360 users.

However, as of today, anyone can use Google Data Studio to create dazzling reports that can be shared with teams and clients.

So how does one go about creating awesome reports?

That’s where Data Studio shines, it allows users to create one template which can be utilized across multiple data sources. I tried to create a quick report using one of the default templates provided, here’s a step by step guide on using Data Studio to create reports.

An update: As of 2nd Feb 2017, Data Studio has been declared a free product for everyone to use.

Adding a Data Source

First, we need to add our data source (in this case my site’s Google Analytics account) to the Data Studio.

Choose the Data Source menu from the Dashboard
Choose the Data Source menu from the Dashboard

Once you click on the menu, you would be directed to a screen listing all the data sources that you have added to your account.

Note, by default Google keeps some data sources in your account, so that one can practice on the product before moving on to your own data sources.

List of Data Sources
List of Data Sources

As all Google products, you can see the clear use of Material Design in this interface. Use the blue floating action button at the bottom right of your screen to add your own custom data source.

Connecting GA as Data Source
Connecting GA as Data Source

As the screenshot above shows, that most of the Google products can easily be integrated to this product. What’s more you can even use a MySQL database or a Google Spreadsheet (Excel ahoy!).

So, I could do most of my number crunching in existing styles, and use this tool only as a slick presentation layer.

After I press connect, this GA property of my site is now added to Data Studio as a source of data.

The minute you choose the right property, you would see all the dimensions and metrics that Google Analytics has. This is a pretty exhaustive list and you can import most of these into Data Studio.

GA Fields Imported as Dimensions and Metrics
GA Fields Imported as Dimensions and Metrics

Now that the important fields are linked (do check the respective fields you want to pull), we can go on to using a report template.

List of my Data Sources
List of my Data Sources

The screenshot shows the recently added data source. Great! We are all set to creating awesome reports!

Using Report Templates

We would be using the Acme Marketing template that’s there in the account. It broadly shows basic user level data in one simple report.

Keep in mind that Data Studio reports can span across multiple pages, but for this guide we are sticking to a one-pager.

Go back to your dashboard and choose the Acme Report template.

Acme Data Studio Template
Acme Data Studio Template

Click on the Use Template button, and now this is the most important point when it comes to using Data Studio report templates, choose your own data source.

Selecting the right Data Source
Selecting the right Data Source

Something for beginners to keep in mind again, is that if you choose the wrong data source (for e.g. of the default ones provided), then the report would be generated, however the data won’t be yours!

If in case, you have done this, it’s easy to change the data source after you have created the report.

Let’s move on to customizing the report

 

Customizing the Report
Customizing the Report

What I did was choose the Acme logo, and change it to the Big Fat Geek logo! A small change in the header color, and I have a branded look for the template.

This is what the finished report now looks like –

Finished Report
Finished Report

Using Data Studio

The cool part of Data Studio now shines through. What I have is a report which talks to data in real time. So I can change my data range, and my report updates!

This report can now be shared with my team or my reporting manager or clients without worrying about giving access to all the dimensions and metrics.

Data Studio Working Report
Data Studio Working Report

That’s all for today folks! It’s your turn to go and try out this tool and churn out spectacular looking reports.