Re-Release of Rise of Nations

It’s a glorious end to a busy month of May here!

I logged on to Steam today to find that Microsoft (a company that I generally do not applaud), has bought the rights of the Rise of Nations game series.

The game which was stuck in a deadend for the past 10 years has suddenly a chance to revive itself. This game had a massive cult following and I have spent many an hour rushing, raiding and defending cities in the past years. Sadly the game was not getting any upgrades and the community was on the decline.

However with Steam and Twitch integration, the game would see another spurt of players, and thats what a dying game (which still has awesome gameplay) needed. Finally an RTS I can play instead of Starcraft or Total War series!

Just Completed the Google Analytics Digital Analytics Fundamentals


Google launched a course last month on Digital Analytics Fundamentals. It’s a great course for all people who are interested in learning the basics of Digital Analytics. If you are interested in web and love data analysis, then I would recommend that you sign up for this course and go through the simple set of videos.

The course also had a assessment test with a Certification of Completion (yes, I graduated .. yayy!). The test is fairly simple if you go through the course or have been working with Google Analytics. However when you have a busy work week, you often tend to procrastinate these things … such as I did for the last day!!

However, this is a great starting point for anyone who wants to learn Web Analytics.

And, here’s my certificate of clearing the course! Unfortunately, this is linked to the Google Account that gives the test, so it’s not available to view for the public!

Google Webmasters explains Search Appearance

Google Webmasters Explains Search Appearance

This month, Google rolled out a new help feature in their Webmasters tool. If you have been working on your site’s SEO, then probably you know most of this, however, its good to see how Google has nicely summarised this in one helpful page.

If you are not completely confident about your SEO fundamentals, then this is one thing that you should do immediately!

Google Plus banned my Profile

I am trying to develop a regular rapport with this Google+ since I believe that over a period of time, this will affect in a big way on how search results are displayed to users. I do not have definitive stats which indicate that a person in higher number of circles result in higher SERPs, but this is a gut feel and more on that later. Visiting Google+ and engaging on the social network is part of my daily agenda. If you are a blogger, you should try it out some time.

However, when I logged onto Google+, this is what I saw on the top of my screen

Google+ ban

So I did what any normal person would do.

I raged. Then I calmed down and tried to reason with the system as to why this could be the case. After reading through the myriad of support articles that were linked in the notifications, the only action one could do was delete all content that I had submitted and submit the profile for review.

Google Suspension

After submitting my profile and waiting for a day, the good folks at Google decided that my profile was still violating some of their policies.

As a user, it would have been great if they could clearly point that out, however much to my chagrin there has been no actionable point from Google. Big Brother wants to disable my profile and that’s the way it would stay. An automated system is a good thing, but an iron wall is bad … I cannot even question why my account was suspended … the two documents that suggest probable reasons are Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy and Name Policy.

The former suggests that I have uploaded some content which could be hate comment, spam, …. the later suggests that my name does not seem genuine. I don’t know which allegation is more disturbing. I would love to contest these allegations, but there is no committee with whom I can take this up with … there is simply a red notification about the ban.

I have always been a Google Fan-boy, perhaps I still am, but this system makes me question their approach at trying to launch a social network. If you are spurning away your active users, how do you propose to get more users to stick to your social network?

Are we that difficult?

This is a rhetoric question.

In the month of December, it was decided by us that the rate at which we are able to generate leads by SEM are not enough and we need to outsource this function. Obviously, my SEM team was a bit disheartened, however the demands of the business have to be met and I consider it that if someone can do a better job than me, then its better to learn from that instead of sit behind and sulk.

Come January, we initiated talks with different firms and decided on one very well known firm who is known to have automated campaign management and ergo large scale capabilities (this is the one point in our campaign management where we were facing problems). The entire month of January was sadly wasted in the sales person of the agency we contacted being in travel and not closing this deal. Finally, in the month of February we agreed upon a contract and we signed on the dotted line.

The eagerness to help our marketing campaign then suddenly seemed to vanish! Post that day, I haven’t even heard from the sales chap who followed up with us (or rather whom we followed up with!!). We were introduced to a technical wiz who would take care of all our campaigns. We waited for more than 20 days for him to completely take over our campaigns … but the only change done till that point of time was simply changing the landing page URLs so that they can track the campaign performances (our campaigns that my team had done) through their system.

When you are in the middle of a peak season, you want business and not inaction. We demanded faster turn around times and a strict schedule. We would follow-up with their team and get them to deliver on time. Over a period of time we realized that most of the work is still being done by us. At this point I could not stand it any longer … this firm apparently is the market leader … they have a team as large as us working solely on Adwords … I have 2 people (that’s including myself!).

Inspite of this, if this organization cannot deliver a better performance in campaigns … then it makes sense to tell them to take a hike … or even better, me to start a new organization!

What followed was a heartfelt email (though a bit harsh) to the co-founders of the organization (who were by this time involved in this account). One of the co-founders emailed back saying that we are being too demanding on this team and its dragging their team morale down.

At this point, it struck me … are we that difficult to work with? Or is the industry not able to deliver and working on castles in the air?

LinkedIn Passwords Leaked

Some of you might have read earlier this month about LinkedIn passwords being leaked. I did not think twice about such things dismissing the entire event as a minor leak and thinking that it would not have impacted my account.

Today, sitting there like a shining beacon of I-told-you-so, was a mail from LinkedIn –

We recently became aware that some LinkedIn passwords were compromised and posted on a hacker website. We immediately launched an investigation and we have reason to believe that your password was included in the post.

Imagine that! Finally something that has directly impacted you! Or did they just send a blanket email?

I remember that when I was working in eYantra, something as preposterous as this had happened during the first couple of months of our e-commerce platform deployment. A developer had accidentally reset the password database of users. I was forced to draft an email to be sent to the users to reset their passwords, I still remember the shame with which my face was red. Who at LinkedIn must be feeling like this?

This event, combined with the Blizzard fiasco of case-insensitive passwords brings end-user and customer account security back in the front-line media. A call for Personal Security 101. Rajat Swarup, where art thou?