The great website traffic puzzle

I remember the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. At the time it happened, I was in People’s Music in Sebastopol and all of a sudden, the guitars were lightly swinging on the walls. I went outside, and the telephone pole wires were bouncing up and down. Aside from that, it was pretty mild and so I just went home. Then I turned on the news. Wow! San Francisco was on fire, the Bay Bridge had a big chunk missing and the freeway in Oakland had collapsed!

For many months after, the Bay Area slowly recovered, it’s infrastructure having been heavily disrupted by the quake. Merchants in the SF Embarcadero near the bridge found that one of their main sources of  traffic had dried up. Cars simply couldn’t exit the bridge. No traffic, no business.

And so it is with Google for websites. If one day, your site winds up on page four when it had been on page one, you’re going to wonder where all the traffic went. What’s worse, there’s not much you can do about it. So dominant is Google’s share of search, that there really isn’t anything close to turn to if for some reason your site takes a big drop. For some sites, that could be all it takes to put them out of business. For others, it just means getting used to the new position and working just that much harder on the quality of their site. With no eye towards Google, or being in any way reliant on its whims.

HBO Sucks

Like countless AppleTV owners, I too was pulled into the promise of great programming when it was announced that we were going to get HBO. So I signed up to the monthly $14.99. Sadly, it turns out HBO doesn’t change films much. Some movies have been there FOR YEARS! – taking up space and padding the catalog for the unsuspecting newbies. It’s only when you’ve been a subscriber for awhile that you begin to get wise that HBO is all about milking the same movies for as long as possible.

Bebop flute

Heard a track on Chuck Sher’s Jazz Radio show tonight that had a strong flute solo. Turns out it was Bob Sheppard, so no surprise there as to why the flute player sounded like he knew what he was doing. Bob is as good as it gets on sax and he’s no slouch on the flute either. Like most doublers, the ideas that come from guys like Bob on the flute might just as well be what they would play if they had a sax on their hands. The influence of Bird, Trane and all the other jazz giants they’ve absorbed (not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands of hours playing!) is what strikes me most about the doublers. They don’t sound like classically trained flutists at all. Generally the tone is not as focused, and the use of vibrato is minimal. Ideas and groove is where it’s at.

Instruments

Two highly influential muscians in my life were both pianists, Lester Henderson and my grandfather, T. Robert Bassett. Each said to me that they felt that the piano wasn’t an instrument (unlike the violin for example), because you didn’t have to have a sense of pitch and there wasn’t much in the way of tone production, press a key and that’s it.

In some ways I feel like that about the electric guitar. What once captivated me about the guitar as the height of instrumental expression now seems lacking. I’m not sure what it is, but in spite of all the effects and tone processing guitarists use, it just doesn’t reach me like it used to. Oh well.