Monthly Archives: May 2006

Free geocoding

I've had opertunities to work with a number of different GIS packages in the past (see my post comparing a few). Most of them are great but they all cost a lot of money to use. If you trying to get your feet wet and don't want to spend money on one of the real services there are a number of places where you can start like yahoo or ESRI. These free services however have strict rules about using them for any commercial venture. So if you wanted to do geocoding for something that you charge for you need something else.

That something else could be one of the few open source applications that have sprung up. The first one has been around for a good while: geocoder.us. geocoder.us is has a free web service you can use to do your geocoding and they also give away the software they use to do it for free. The code they use to do all the work is in perl so it should work on a number of platforms (they also have a blog with some PHP examples). The second choice would be a newer entry SRC Open Source Explorer Geocoder. The code for SRC Open Source Explorer Geocoder is windows only for now but maybe someone will come along and port it to Unix. Now for the bad new. Both of these applications need a source of data and the most likely source of data for the average joe would be the US TIGER data. The TIGER data isn't too bad but it isn't great and not nearly as good as a purchased dataset. But you can't get better than free so if you are interested in a way to do free geocoding without comercial use restrictions then geocoder.us or SRC Open Source Explorer Geocoder are good places to start.

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Search Engine Marketing and Google’s new trending tools

Now that google has anounced their new Google trends site I couldn't help but mention it. If you spend any type of money at all on SEM you need to check your keywords against this site.

There are a couple of intro articles about the new service at Micro Persuasion and TechCrunch.

To get a real feel for how important this information will be you should try out a few queries for yourself. Take a simple query like "motorcycle" and then look at the regions tab. A lot of the queries about motorcycles originated from the Philippines. Now look at "pizza", most of the queries there originated from the US. That should make it much easier to target your audience with your advertisments. The trending is nice as well and should give marketers a better idea of when to boost spending to maximize exposure.

This follows another tool Google just release for their AdWords service. You can read more about it at the adwords blog. That tool gives you a different view of the search trends and is more like what you get from Yahoo's advertising system.

Search Engine Optimization

Recently I've been collecting links on interesting SEO topics. I figured I would dump a few of them out with quick reasons why I think they are good to read.

A technical read on how search engines work in general. It focuses on google but has a lot of good general information in it.

This is a recent article on how to optimize your site. I like it because it has an acronym on how to do it "camelot".

SEO chat has a lot of information in its forums.

An article from a guy who works at Google and goes into what the search engines have to deal with to keep people on the up and up. It goes into some of the stuff you don't want to be doing to try to get your site at the top of a search. For some reason I found it interesting that this guy is from kentucky.

Another good article on the "SEO Code of Conduct" AKA what you should not be doing to get your site at the top of a search.

A nice tool to help you find words to go with your website: WordTracker

How to build the PHP rrdtool extension by hand

I think by now most sysadmin types know about rrdtool and the nice graphs it makes. I recently wanted to create some graphs by hand using PHP so I turned to the php-rrdtool extension. I found that it takes a little work to get it to compile but that could be because I'm not constantly recompiling PHP and just don't know better. You can get this module as an rpm for fedora (php-rrdtool) but I like to compile php by hand so I couldn't use it. I'm going to assume that you know how to compile PHP normally with whatever other items you want to include and that you have the rrdtool development libraries installed or have compiled and installed rrdtool from source.

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