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Transplant Athlete
Thursday, September 29, 2005
  Google Adwords Click Fraud

I advertise on Google Adwords for the Cycling-Videos site. You've seen the ads alongside your search results on Google.com. But Bloggers or for that matter anyone with a website can place Google ads on their site. Any ads not on the google.com site are considered part of the "Content Network" and the site owners get paid to host these ads on their sites.

The Google CFO called "Click Fraud" the biggest threat to the Internet economy in December of 2004. "Click Fraud" is when someone creates a site to host these ads, and then uses humans or a program to click the ads that appear on the site to "Steal" revenue for the website. One expert cited in the CNN/Money Article estimated that 20 percent of clicks were fake. I don't think Google really cares about "Click Fraud". Here are some stats from one ad group in my Adwords Account.




NetworkClicksCostConversion rateConversions
Search885$52.631.24%11
Content1662$85.4000


Those content network "clicks" also generated more shopping carts on my site than the search results. I was expecting 20 sales from these clicks based on the conversion rate for the search results and I was hoping that more shopping carts actually meant a higher conversion rate. I was shocked to learn that not one sale came through the content network. Its important to note, that the exact same ad was used and they both went to the same page on my website.

The solution is obviously to disable the content network distribution. Google Tech support was not interested in dealing with the issue when I sent them e-mails. In fact, the first couple of responses were auto-generated.

I was surfing around the Adwords site today and found the problem. From the Google site:
"...Budget Optimizer will actively seek out the most clicks possible within that budget."
"The Budget Optimizer helps you reach your target spend every month without requiring a lot of work on your part."
"Please note that we don't recommend the Budget Optimizer for advertisers focused on measuring conversions or values of ad clicks."


They are more concerned with generating clicks and helping people spend their budget every month than they are about things that matter like making sales. Why would someone just want to randomly spend money without a return on it? I can understand how someone might want to get their name out there, but this is like tossing $50s out the window of your car while you're driving down the highway. I think if they were to come up with a solution to the problem, they would lose 50% to 60% of their revenue and what company wants to do that?
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005
  Weekly Training Regimen

With Gas Prices as high as they are, I've been using my bike with the PowerCranks to run most of my errands around town. I've been taking my daughter, Q, with me in her trailer and I've been keeping it in the big chain ring. Most of our trips have been short jaunts to grocery stores in the area. So, I've been averaging around 3 hours per week of incredibly intense workouts.

Yesterday was my weekly total in one ride. We rode from home in Herndon to Evolution Health & Fitness in Vienna. I don't usually have a problem when I'm passed on the trail, between the PowerCranks and the Parachute (I mean Trailer) I'm just struggling to get to my destination. I pulled up to a particularly bad intersection and a guy in full USPS kit passed me and blew through the intersection. I had to wait for some traffic and then I got my little choo-choo train rolling and a guy on a hybrid passed me. When I got up to speed, I found the hybrid guy was getting held up by the USPS kit guy. I followed for a little while and then attempted to pass them. The Hybrid guy let me pass, but the USPS kit guy got out of the saddle and picked up the pace. I was able to get out in front, but I had pushed pretty hard to get around him and he passed me a short time later. I didn't see hybrid guy again until I stopped at Evolution. Dude, you got smoked by a guy pulling a trailer.

Q had her lunch in Vienna and then we started home. On the way, I turned north on 7100 and then took a left on Wiehle and immediately jumped on a trail running parallel to Wiehle. We found a little playground and I let Q play for about 15 minutes. Then I spent about an hour working my way through the trails back there trying to find my way out. If I had stuck to the roads, I would have been home in 15 minutes. Several times, we crossed a stream that meandered through the area and while I know Q was enjoying herself, her patience was wearing thin. By the time we found our way out and found ourselves on Dranesville road, I could hear her asking, "Where's Mommy and Baby?"

That's my training secret in a nutshell, PowerCranks, Big Gears, and a trailer with a 32 pound toddler and sometimes 50 pounds of groceries.
 
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Monday, September 26, 2005
  I Double Dog Dare You...

Labrador: Let's haze the new bitch.


German Shepherd: Jane locked up all the liquor after the great fire of '03 when we hazed the St. Bernards.


Labrador: Go check the counter and see if there's anything we can get her to eat. You know candles, oven timers, keys, anything...


German Shepherd: Score! There's a bread knife up here.


Labrador: There's no way we can get her to eat that.


German Shepherd: Follow my lead, this is going to be so cool...


This is the article in the link above.

Puppy swallows 13-inch knife

Monday, September 26, 2005; Posted: 11:12 a.m. EDT (15:12 GMT)

PLANTATION, Florida (AP) -- The veterinarian thought the X-ray was a joke.

Jon-Paul Carew has seen strange items get into the stomachs of dogs before, things like kebab skewers and small utensils. But a 13-inch serrated knife in a 6-month-old puppy?

That was a new one.

"I was just flabbergasted," said Carew, of Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale.

The knife was removed this week from Elsie, a Saint Bernard puppy. The dog's owner, Jane Scarola, wrapped it in a towel and put it in a cabinet atop the refrigerator.

"I'm going to frame it and give it to Dr. Carew," Scarola said. "He should hang it. Everybody should know what puppies are capable of putting down their throats."

She thinks one of her six other dogs -- four Saint Bernards, a German shepherd and a Labrador -- somehow got the knife off a counter and it eventually made its way to Elsie.

"She wants to eat everything and anything," Scarola said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005
  Sirius About Team RAAM

I found this article written by Chris Kostman about Team RAAM. I wish I had read it prior to this years RAAM. I think if I did Team RAAM again, I would choose to do a four person rotation with 15 minute pulls across the country instead of the "two teams of two" approach we did this year. I don't really know which approach is best, but like I've said earlier, I felt like I got too much sleep this year and we ended up dead last.


Go to the link to read Chris' article.

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Friday, September 16, 2005
  Domain Registrar Blues

Its time to renew the domain names for this site and another one that I maintain. While researching alternatives to Network Solutions, I remembered seeing ads for Go Daddy.com. This is one of those upstarts trying to dethrone Network Solutions. For those who don't know, Network Solutions by hook or crook, had the Domain Name registration business all to itself in the old days. I spent a couple of hours surfing the Go Daddy site and I was impressed by the company, so I decided to switch to them. I started the process at their site and for a little over $30 I was able to switch the domain names and get them renewed for 4 years. In contrast, to stay with Network Solutions it would have cost me $35 just to renew for 1 year. So, from a financial standpoint its a no-brainer.


Then the jumping through hoops began. I originally bought the sites through my hosting provider, which means I need to go through them whenever I need to make a change to the contact information for the sites. In this case, they had an old email address for me. My hosting providers technical support sent me an email saying they would send instructions in a separate email that would arrive in 15 minutes. A day later (Are they on dial-up or something?), I asked them to resend the information and then immediately got that straightened out. When it still wouldn't transfer, I called Networks Solutions to find out why and I found out that Network Solutions puts a "Domain Lock" on all of the sites under its jurisdiction. This is meant to stop hackers from "hijacking" sites without their owners permission, but it is much more effective at blocking people from switching away from them. That meant a call to my hosting provider, who gave me the instructions to make the change on Network Solutions site. (Why Network Solutions couldn't give me these instructions I don't know...) After another hour or so of work on Network Solutions site, I was able to disable the Registrar Lock. However, WHOIS still thinks that the registrar lock is active, so I called Network Solutions again and found out that "it can take 24 hours for the change to propagate throughout the whole Internet." According to the Customer Service Rep...WTF...Are they using dial-up too?

I'll have to wait another day to see if the changes are made. If they aren't, I'm going down the street to Network Solutions and I'm going to speak with them in person. Yes, they also live in Herndon. In talking with the Tech Rep, she asked why I was switching and on hearing that I was going to Go Daddy, she promptly offered 1000 airline miles if I would stay with them. No thanks. Then she offered to drop their rate to about a dollar over the Go Daddy Rate. Again I told her no thanks. She actually apologized that it wasn't lower, then she started ticking off all the ways they are better than Go Daddy. I hate that. Several years ago, I had an AOL account(it was $20 or $30 per month), originally for dialup access. Then my wife went to work at UUNET and we got DSL. I went a year or two signing into AOL through the DSL line. When I called to cancel the service they said they saw that I was signing in through a DSL line and I could keep my email address for just $3 per month. If they had told me early on that they had a plan like that, I probably would have stayed with them, but to wait until I was leaving to tell me I could have been paying just $3 per month was just horrible. That's like walking out of a dealership with a new car and having the salesman taunt you, "ha ha you spent $6000 more than you had to."

 
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Thursday, September 15, 2005
  Rare 6 Organ Transplant

Greg Marshall (43) from Antwerp, NY went through a 14 hour operation at Georgetown University Hospital on August 25 to replace his Pancreas, Liver, Kidney, Stomach, small intestines, and colon. He just left the hospital yesterday. He hasn't been able to eat solid food in two years, his first thoughts were of sausage. My first food thought post transplant was for Peanut Butter.

The highest multiple organ transplant was a child in Miami, FL who received 8 organs in one operation last year. Recently, a Japanese toddler, Yosuke Ohashi, who received 6 organs in a 8.5 hour transplant operation was able to go home. This was nine months after his surgery here in the US. Greg Marshall can expect to be in a hotel near Georgetown for several months as doctors monitor him for signs of rejection and proper functioning of his digestive tract.

Apparently, the reason Yosuke had to come to the US was that it is illegal for children to donate organs in Japan, but not illegal to receive them. That means that the smallest deceased adults must be supplying organs for kids. I hope they change this soon. We have enough children on our waiting list, without importing them from Japan.

 
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Thursday, September 01, 2005
  Coach Jason's Ironman Canada Report

Thank you everyone for all the well wishes and luck you sent because I needed it out there on race day! Let me just start by saying thank you to my friends Amy Jo Clark and Colin Mcfayden for being wonderful hosts at their comfy ranch and vineyard in Penticton. It is a beautiful city and and area. I had no idea how many wineries, vineyards, apple orchards, and other fruit flourished the Okanangan Valley. The view on the bike and run was something I'll never forget. It is a beautiful, beautiful area. The town and Canadians are just so friendly. The residents of Penticton and those volunteers that traveled to assist with the race could not have done one more thing to make the athletes and their respective families feel at home. I can understand why people camp out in line the night before for next year's registration.

We fully expected rain on race day. Earlier in the week they were calling for 75% chance of rain on Ironman Sunday. You wouldn't have guessed it the days leading up to the race. Air temperature was in the low 80's all week with about ZERO humidity. I was absolutely glad to get out of the hundred degree heat index we've suffered in the DC area. As race day came closer the chance for rain diminished to 30% and come race day it was absolutely gorgeous outside.

2245 athletes toed the line at the crystal clear waters of Okanagan Lake. Water temperature, approximately a comfortable 69 degrees. The swim was an absolute melee. Canadians might be friendly on land but man was it brutal in the water. Everyone was knocking around into each other with arms and limbs flailing about you left and right. Even Hawaii, the World Championship, was not this brutal I thought. Most of the time, faster competitors will swim around you. That did not feel like the case at Canada where I had people constantly slapping my feet, legs, and arms. I was feeling good though and moving at a good pace. With two-thirds of the swim done, I was suddenly hit by an elbow or forearm on my left calf. My calf immediately seized up and cramped with the charlie horse. Damnit! I thought to myself. I swam with my head up for a few strokes and looked to see if I could pull off to the side a bit and try to get my muscle to relax. I started swimming at an angle to try and get to the side and suddenly people started running into me . Screw it, I said to myself and put my head down and just started to swim on with my leg still cramping. Little by little, it worked itself out as I flexed and pointed my toe as I swam. With all that chaos, I was still on target as I got out of the water in 1:08 by my count. I spent as little time as possible in transition as I mounted my bike for the 112 mile ride.

I immediately felt good on the bike and started hammering through the town. The streets of Penticton were littered with fans and families 2 to 3 people deep. It added to that initial surge of adrenaline following a transition. I saw my family and modestly large cheering section as I rode out of town. The first 1/4 of the ride was very fast. We had a little to no wind and I was constantly looking down to see speeds of 23-27 mph on the bike. I was reeling in a lot of people on the bike and feeling strong. The first major climb comes in the form of an 11 kilometer steady climb known as Richter Pass. The grade isn't overwhelming, it's the length. Fortunately, tons of fans lined the streets of Richter and cheered loudly as we rode by. For a moment, I get a glimpse of what it must feel like to ride in the Tour De France as fans stand close enough to touch. I manage to climb strong but feel a slight cramp coming on in my hamstrings. They subside though with a good dose of Endurolytes and a fast descent to recover the legs.

At about mile 50, my lower back starts to ache pretty bad from the swim and being tucked in on the bike for so long. I start to ask myself: "why the hell do I do this?" and "I should have done more swim/bike bricks." Then I look up to see signs of encouragement posted for all the athletes on the powerline posts, reading: "Dream big" and a funny one like "Ride Rasta, go Fasta." I also remember Ryan Bolton's advice to eat when you're feeling sorry for yourself during Ironman.

Despite the pain, I am moving at a good pace and averaging 21 mph over a series of flats, rollers and small climbs.

Then as if this race wasn't hard enough, I get overtaken on a short climb and the rider pulls in front of me. I keep my pace and look down for a second. I look up to see the rider and I on a collision course as he slows down his pace. We touch wheels and I go down on my left side. Then some knucklehead that was drafting me on the hill rams me from behind. It was a soft fall and I quickly get up off the ground, check my shifters and brakes really quick and immediately get going. My aerobars are now pointed inward much more than before. I can no longer wrap my hands around the aerobar extensions but I don't want to waste any more time getting off to adjust them. It doesn't bother me too much the rest of the ride. One more thing of note, I have never seen more flats than I have at Ironman Canada. I think I saw at least one person that had flatted at every mile of the bike. The road was rather smooth and the roads clean however, so go figure. The bike ride was so amazing and scenic. The 2nd place German pro joked later that he took a little more time on the bike than everyone else becausing he was enjoying the view.

The next challenge comes at Yellow Lake where the climb is shorter than Richter Pass but at 90 miles into the bike, brutal nonetheless. The comfort comes in knowing once at the top it is all downhill and flat back into Penticton and T3. Once again, the roads are line with fans and spectators. I see a big group of supporters cheering for one of their friends in red t-shirts. A bunch of guys are wearing grass skirts and coconut bikini tops rocking out to some AC/DC. I grin through the pain. At the top I tuck in for the long descent into town. I pass Amy Jo and Colin's Ranch in Kaleeden and see Colin with their renters, Tyler, Aleisha and my new favorite hound, Samson cheering. I give them a hoot as I fly by. We are flying down the mountain and I look at my speedometer hitting 40-43 mph on the way down. Back into town I see my family again cheering loudly. I have only one worry going into T3, I still have yet to go pee: (...more on that later. Bike time: 5:35, just under 21 mph even with my back brake rubbing, which I discovered later.

T3: I waste no time at all in transition and leave seeing the official time at 6:36? Holy crap I'm thinking! Is that right? All I have to do is run a 4:00 marathon and I'm at my goal time! In the end, that must have been the official time for the pros, who had a 15 min head start.

I feel solid at the start of the marathon. Legs a little rubbery but am moving at a good pace as I clock my first mile at 8:09. I am moving well as we head out of town and then I start to feel that headwind. Then nausea sets in. The food I ingested on the bike is not going down and sitting in the upper part of my stomach. Several times I stop because I feel I am about to puke. Approaching mile three, I finally feel I have to pee. I feel better but it burns the cut on my knee from the bike crash.

The headwind going south along Skaha Lake is brutal. It robs not only me but many of the other athletes of energy. I see a lot of athletes walking, throwing up, and simply not feeling well. My pace slowed down and my nausea was getting worse. I tried everything including skipping a few aid stations to get my food to digest. I see Chris Lieto in the lead at mile 5 for me and Simon Lessing in second place looking to be in bad shape. I make a few friends with some other athletes going my pace and share a smile through the pain. I see the female leader, Karen Holloway (from Richmond, VA) in the lead at about mile 9 for me. I recognize Lisa Bentley somewhere in the chase group. Then I see Desiree Ficker in 5th place somewhere along that stretch and cheer loudly for her. She doesn't look too good and fails to respond.

I hit the turn around at Okanagan Falls and am glad to have a tailwind behind me. Hold on...first, let me get over this big hill immediately after the turn-around. Finally, 13.1 miles left to go. I tell myself to start running through the aid stations and no more walking. Walking is like a cancerous disease during Ironman. At first you think you'll just walk a few seconds, then it turns to minutes, then you're walking whenever you feel like crap. You have to remind yourself that it's going to hurt. Everyone is hurting. You have to hurt if you want it bad. Despite my humbling half marathon, I pull myself up by the boot straps and lumber on. I see my friend, Cindy Carlisle, at about mile 15-16 and we both yell encouragement to each other.

I start moving with purpose and continue to make some friends along the course, cheering, and patting other athletes on the back as I pass them and make my way. Finally, the last hill. Written on chalk on the sidewalk is: "last hill! You call this a hill?!" I grin and tell myself to resist walking. Past the hill, I can see and hear the lights and sounds of town. The cheers are getting louder and the crowds thicken up once again. The last 4 miles feel long and I begin to wonder myself if Canadians know how to measure a mile accurately.

Finally, the last mile and I soak it in. I'm going to finish under 11.5 hours and I'll take it! I see my family at the finish chute and high five everyone on the right hand side, family or not. I hit the line, exhausted but happy to be an Ironman once again.

The Day After: What a fun day! We did two wine tasting tours, hit some fruit stands, saw some big horn sheep, and simply relished in the beauty of British Columbia.

My friend Amy Jo, even bought a wine that needs to age so I'd come back for another Ironman. 2007? Maybe: )

Talk to you all soon...it's miller time,

Jason
 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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