Are Drones A Viable Delivery Method?

I am all for technological advancement and making life more efficient but there are some things about which I am deeply sceptical and one of them is delivery by drone. Amazon have announced their intension to deliver goods by drone in the near future and claim that they will be ready to go as soon as the necessary rules and regulations are in place. As the authorities expect to open airspace to civilian drones as early as 2015 we could be on the verge of a delivery revolution. There are, however, some potential issues with the service.

Busy Skies

On the face of it drones could relieve our busy roads of some traffic which would be a welcome development but one has to ask how busy the skies will get instead. I have visions of my horizon being blighted by hundreds of these little machines and as they as yet are not sophisticated enough to avoid hitting a person one wonders how they will manage to avoid each other. There could be mid-air collisions all over the places raining packages down on our heads and we might have to don safety equipment just to leave the house.

Getting Lost

I also have concerns about their navigation. Hopefully they will prove to be more proficient at finding their intended destination than a typical Sat Nav. Whilst my own Tom Tom usually directs me to roughly the right place and often exactly the right place it does have the occasional mare and sends me towards a quarry pit or into a field. I am usually astute enough to spot the problem and stop before I plunge over the precipice but a drone probably won’t realise a gross error and will just drop the package where it sees fit. One human error in entering an address could lead to disaster.

Delivery Advice

If the drone does manage to find the right location what happens then?

A video posted by Amazon shows a drone simply dropping a package outside of a domestic property. That is great if it is the right house and if the recipient is aware of the arrival but what happens if they don’t notice that they have had a visit? The drone can’t ring the doorbell so the parcel just sits around outside until someone notices. If it was my driveway the thing would probably get run over before anyone has noted its presence. Who is responsible for the goods after the drone has dropped them? If the delivery was to a busy company it could be squashed under the wheels of an articulated lorry and obliterated without anyone being any the wiser. You can’t sign for the packages so how do you prove or disprove a delivery?


Whilst an incoming drone may not be obvious to a householder who is indoors it will be rather on display to everyone else. Will these things not be intercepted by the unscrupulous and possibly even brought down deliberately? If their systems were hacked they could be redirected and it wouldn’t take much to bring them down. Most of the parcels will be relatively low value items but people are going to be seriously pissed if their valuable new watch or tablet is hijacked in mid-air.

I am sure that the likes of Amazon have considered these issues but I would love to know what they propose to do about them. Are we to have indestructible drones like Robocop that take defensive action when attacked? Will users of the service be equipped with a gadget to unlock a bullet proof box? I guess all issues can be over-come but at what price? After all the delivery cost has got to be proportionate to the value of the item. I wouldn’t pay a fortune to have a book delivered and I suspect no one else would either and so it seems to me that the service would only be justifiable for pricey goods making it all the more vulnerable to attack. Time will tell but this could all prove to be a false dawn.

Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business ower who divdes her time between writing and running her shop.

Panda, Penguin, Now Zebra? Here’s What You Need To Know…

On Beyond Zebra!

On Beyond Zebra! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is no secret that Google is releasing updates that are designed to return their search engine results to relevance. While many people in the SEO industry believe this is a plan by Google to completely thwart SEO as a marketing tool, this is not actually the truth. While SEO has definitely been impacted by Panda and the other updates, it is far from dead.

There are people who will still cry out the death knell of SEO, but more rational minds realize that Google needs SEO to remain the dominant force on the internet. However, while Google needs SEO it also still needs to provide relevant search results. For both the SEO industry and Google to survive both sides must work together.

Google Striving to Make SEO Better

The idea that Google needs SEO does not mean that updates such as Zebra don’t have an impact on SEO driven sites. The updates actually tend to have a very big impact. However what it does mean is that those who want to use SEO need to also be in line with Google’s recommended best practice guidelines. This does mean that SEO needs to change, although this was already happening before Google released Panda, Penguin or Zebra.

SEO had become so widely used that while it was a legitimate strategy for increasing a web site’s rankings, it had become almost detrimental to legitimate sites. Too many bogus sites were simply stacking keywords on top of each other and spreading false search results through not only Google, but Bing and Yahoo as well. This not only hurt Google but hurt the SEO industry as a whole.

Updates Level Playing Field

In fact rather than being upset by Google’s release of their updates, those of us in the SEO industry should be grateful. Those updates helped make the field level again. By making the field level again, it means that if your site is a good site and has real content that is relevant to the reader who finds it, you have just as good a chance of generating income as anyone else. Once again, SEO can be more than stacks of keywords and this is something that should excite those of us who are part of the SEO industry.

Rules Continue to Evolve for Better SEO

Have the rules changed? Yes, but they needed to. SEO had become too overused and too irrelevant. It was starting to turn off internet users in droves. This meant that unless you were a big time site like Amazon, most people refused to look at you. With the release of the various Google updates, we have a new opportunity to take advantage of what these updates offer.

If you want to remain relevant in Google search, you don’t have to give up SEO, you just have to know what Google wants. Read their best practice guidelines and you will learn exactly what you need to know to get a good search ranking from Google. In the end the updates like Zebra are not a bad thing, they are a very good thing for us all.

Rachel Fine is working to make sure that those who build a website know how to successfully market it and reach their goals. Her articles are found on many websites and publications dealing with marketing and SEO.

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SEO Test: Amazon is testing a new design – Usability or SEO?

UPDATE: Here is an article from the Sept. 5th LA Times,  looks like they have been working on it for a while.  This is the first time I’ve seen the new look.  Maybe they are officially rolling it out now?

More updates from last fall:  Amazon forums, NextWeb, Gerasini’s Posterous is seeing it

Is anyone else seeing the clear, sleek look?  This is the first I’m seeing it – maybe because I very rarely logout?

Original Post:

Imaging my surprise when I logged into Amazon tonight, it looks like Amazon may be getting ready to release a new design. The top bar is very sleek and smooth compared to the old clunky orange one.

Here is a screen shot I took with the old/clunky orange with the new sleek version over the top:

There are some very significant changes.  I tried to grab a shot of the all.

Here is a close up of the “top left” corner.  It is very clean and easy to read.  They have really went with the clean and simple look.

The “Shop by Department” is very easy to read and look like it belongs.

If you look at the “top right” you will see the account/wish list area.  Again, very clean, simple and elegant.

This is much easier to glance and understand than the old version – you can see the account drop down and also a great quick look at how many items are in the cart.

I’m not sure I understand the mid-section.  It may be a part of the beta, but when you click on these menus, they simple show you an other mini-ad.  Like the kindle one shown is an ad, then if you press the “Instant Video” button – it shifts to a screen for a particular show.

Essentially a fancy slider.

Same thing with the one down below – if you really think about it, they have stacked two content sliders on top of each other.

If you drop the “Departments” list down – it is cleaner, but familiar.  Notice how all the same items are there from before – they just get a simple “treatment”.

Inside has not changed – as of yet.  So we get a nice clean nav bar, with the same old stuff below.

Well – what do you think?  Is Amazon redesigning to push for more SEO or usability?  I guess time will tell – let me know if you see the changes too.  Please send me any screen shots and I can attach them here for comparison.


A Message (and lesson) to Old Media

For a while now I have been ranting within the company I work for that we throw away too much data – with particular emphasis on throwing away the data we have about our customers.

As I listened to the TWIST #38 (This Week In Start Ups with Jason Calacanis) Jason absolutely nailed this point to the wall.  He was warning publishers not to give apple complete control over their customer.  By using the Apple store to deliver the media product – you are giving the customer away to Apple to nurture and harvest for ever and ever more.  You have no idea who they are, where they live or other super important demographics.

Media companies have so many opportunities to harvest information about their customers – and many times i is just wasted.  I’m not speaking of the kind of creepy, stalker type way of getting information – but the smart, collective, long-term collection like Amazon does.

Amazon knows so much about me and what I have bought from them – it is crazy.  Crazy good!

Check out this screen shot of what Amazon has for me right now…all I did was go to

As you can see – it knows who I am right away and displays that at the top.  I have outline a few sections with numbers sowe cna look at the dffernt things Amazon is doing.

  1. Section 1 is called “Amazon Remembers” – this data is straight from my iPhone. Amazon’s iPhone app will allow you to take a picture of something and ‘remember’ it.  As you can see – it doesn’t want me to forgot – so it shows me when I came back to the site.Very cool.  Don’t get excited about the bottle of Miller Light.  It seems like I am always showing off my favorite apps and this time I happened to be at a bar with some people – but the tin beer sign is recommended for $15 isn’t a bad deal.
  2. Shameless promotion in my opinion.  This is where they push (way too much IMO)  the Kindle. This was OK when it first came out – but I’d like to say no-thanks now.
  3. Under the heading “More Items to Consider” we get helmets and tools.  Why?  I’ve searched for both recently.  I was simply looking for pictures of tools – but I “need” a new helmet before it gets warmed up.
  4. This is what Jason is ranting about – and me too.  Section 4 “it is” – this is why Amazon is the best.  They listen and look for you.  These are all things based on things I have looked at, reviewed and purchased in the past.
  5. Wow – #5 is great too.  I use Amazon’s wish lists because they are easy.  Oh – and Amazon doesn’t mind.  In fact – they help me remember what I want to buy.

That is pretty much it – but it explains exactly the point.  The more you know about your customer – the better. This goes for car sale people, it goes for laundry detergent and it goes for media – and media is WAY behind.

And customer service can benefit here too – customers do not want to have to tell you everything about them every time they call in.  They like that you know their information – as long as we’re not creepy about it.

It’s not too late.  Media companies have the data people in place, in fact the circulation departments of many media companies have been working with some of this kind of data for a long time…we just need to start collecting the new data and then do something with it.

Amazon CDN Grows Up, Adds Flash Streaming

We’ve been looking at CDN’s, there are lot of good choices.  But it is hard to bet against Amazon.

When Amazon introduced its CloudFront CDN last year, one of the biggest knocks against the service was that it wasn’t primed for the delivery of video. That changed today, with the addition of video streaming capabilities in the form of Adobe’s Flash Media Server.

From NewTeeVee