Demand Media: Audience-driven Content Authorship

Demand MediaDemand Media is a company headquartered in Santa Monica, California, which uses algorithms to predict audience measurements for different search queries; it then pays freelancers to write web articles based on these trends with the purpose of attracting web readers and ultimately sell online advertisement based on this audience. As a secondary area of activity, Demand Media owns eNom, a domain name registrar which allows people to buy their desired domain names with the ultimate purpose of having a website at those specific domain name web addresses.

While traditional newspapers find difficulties in moving into the online space due to low advertisement income (and high costs in producing editorial content and attracting an online audience for it), Demand Media uses an algorithmic approach to make sure that it produces editorial content only for specific topics where there is pre-existing demand. In addition, the company produces content written primarily about time-irrelevant areas, which allows it to monetize the content indefinitely (or at least well into the future) via ads, as opposed to the newspaper industry where most articles could be considered obsolete in a couple of days after their publish date.

The main websites operated by the company are eHow, an online repository of human knowledge with more than 1 million articles of specific information about popular search topics, and, the most visited humor website in the world (over 300 million monthly page views).

The company has been criticized for offering low quotes (around $15 per article) to freelance writers and then using dubious accounting practices of amortization in order to recoup this expense across several years, therefore giving the appearance of profitability. A recent Google search quality update called Panda attempted to emphasize webpages containing expert quality knowledge, which caused an impact to Demand Media’s traffic and lead to comments about revenue losses.

New Relic – Webapp Performance Management

New Relic is an application performance management solution, implemented as SaaS (software as a service); it is able to monitor applications that are running in cloud, on-premise, or in hybrid environments, by measuring the right performance metrics and identifying the slow-performing components.

New Relic is a company based in San Francisco, California. Lew Cirne (known as the inventor of application performance management) founded New Relic in 2008 and currently acts as the company’s CEO.

Since being founded, the company received several rounds of investing, totaling up to date 34.5 million USD. Due to their focus on user acquisition, the company recently experienced a surge in its ability to attract user traffic and is trending towards 1 million unique visitors per month.

New Relic is multi-platform and supports today’s most popular languages and frameworks, including Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, .net and Python. Besides the free plan, prices start at $24/month/server for an annual commitment or $49 for month-to-month billing.

LastPass – The last password you’ll have to remember

LastPass is a tool launched in 2005 dedicated to the management of passwords for all the sites that a user might visit (and have an account with them).

The service includes a wide range of interesting security features; for example, users can choose to reject all login attempts to their LastPass account unless they come from a specific country. The site also features synchronization services which enable users to have their passwords available on a wide range of devices including laptops and mobile phones.

The company was founded in 2005 by four industry veterans. Nowadays it is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. On a regular month, the site attracts an average of 400’000 unique visitors.

In December 2010, LastPass announced the acquisition of Xmarks, a browser bookmark synchronization service. This allowed them to enhance their mission of providing the best data-syncing tools out there.

RainyMood – Listen to rain online is a web app that provides free online streaming for the sound of the rain, from within the browser, without requiring any download or plugin.

In addition to the sound of rain, the app suggests each day a different Youtube music video which can be played on top of the rain for a better immersion in the ‘virtual’ world of the nature.

The rain music is played in a loop, it’s 30 minutes long and it has a high level of quality, being on par with the type of recordings one could find on CDs with nature-sound themes.

The site belongs to Tailored Music, Inc and receives around 100’000 unique monthly visitors. Sites providing similar services include and

Dropbox: Share your files across devices

Share files across your devices Dropbox is a synchronization system available for free for up to 2 GB of disk space which enables you to keep important files synchronized across all your devices, such as PCs or mobile phones. By referring friends to the service, users can gain additional disk space up to a total of 16 GB. A paid subscription starts at 100 GB storage space for $9.99/month.

Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. Their current traffic levels revolve around 3 million unique monthly visitors.

Drew and Arash relocated in San Francisco in fall 2007 and secured seed funding from Y Combinator. In fall 2008, Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners invested $6M Series A funding in the project.

In an Youtube video recorded May 30, 2012 at Stanford, Drew shares his views on how to build a successful service startup, the importance of figuring out distribution, why hiring great people matters and how to keep the product simple and usable.

PadMapper – Rentals Search Tool

PadMapper: Appartments for RentPadMapper is a cool web-based tool to search appartments for rent in your favorite city location.

As opposed to traditional tools, PadMapper uses a geographical overlay that makes the listings easy to visualize by placing them on a real-world map. It also offers intuitive controls for restricting the results displayed based on common search criteria, such as number of bedrooms, monthly price or rental types. It can also display overlays with different characteristics of the neighborhood, or a “walk score” that informs you how easy it is to walk the area in order to find groceries or other convenience stores.

The site has around 300’000 unique monthly visitors. Auxiliary services are offered under related names, such as PadLister, a tool for apartment ad listings, or PadBlogger, the official blog of the site. The company was founded in 2009 by founder Eric DeMenthon, an MIT graduate.

On June 22nd, 2012, PadMapper announced that it will no longer feature rental ads retrieved via Craiglist, a popular renting service in major cities from US, as it received a cease-and-disease letter from them.

ICANN: New top level domain extensions

ICANNICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is the current regulatory authority that governs domain names and numerical addresses on the Internet. The organization has a mandate from the United States department of defense to govern these areas of the Internet.

A major change is about to happen regarding how webapps are addressed: until now, most of the domain names that hosted popular webapps had endings in .com, .net, .org or other less-popular endings, out of a total of 22 possible values. On June 20, 2011, ICANN voted to end those restrictions. As a result, a process was started under which individual corporations can apply to receive and maintain custom domain name endings, such as .google or .bing.

The limiting factor in generating new domain name endings is the cost involved. The one-time application fee is $185,000, and annual charges are, at a minimum, $75,000 per each ending. Nevertheless, for big corporations, these fees represent insignificant monetary levels. The new gTLD application window opened on 12 January 2012 and closed on 30 May 2012. During the application window, 1,930 domain name endings were submitted (and paid) in the ICANN system, with several entries belonging to well-known software and Internet companies.

The process met strong opposition from Internet activists and web technologists around the world. In a famous blog post, Ben Werdmuller argues that specific domain name endings such as .book or .blogs belong to communities around the world, which don’t have the material or legal resources to unite and protect their interests in front of big corporations with large amounts of cash. Others say that it will create more confusion and that the decline of DNS further strengthens the position of a few gatekeepers – Google on the web, Apple on the phone. “If it’s not searchable, it doesn’t exist”.

The application process was affected by a security bug, due to which some applicants were able to see information belonging to others. On 21th of June 2012, ICANN announced that Michael Salazar, New gTLD Program Director, resigned from his position.


Rotten Tomatoes – Comprehensive Movie Guide is a comprehensive movie guide that aims to gather reviews from official critics and the public at large in order to assign a percentage grade for every major movie currently running on the big screens. To reflect the site name’s theme, good movies get red fresh tomatoes while bad ones get rotten green tomatoes.

The website was founded by Senh Duong and launched to the public on August 12, 1999. In June 2004, the site was acquired by IGN Entertainment for an undisclosed sum.

After a series of acquisitions, the site is currently operated by Warner Bros, due to a sale that happened in May 2011. The site is currently visited by approximately 2 million users each month.

In order to compute the actual rating for each movie, the site’s staff determines manually for each review if it is positive (“fresh” – a red tomato icon) or negative (“rotten” – small icon of a green tomato). If the positive reviews are more than 60% of the total number of reviews, then the movie receives a fresh rating.

MacBook Pro Retina Display: Webmasters, get ready

Apple announced the immediate availability of new MacBook Pro models, some of which feature a retina display resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels, for prices starting at 2199 USD.

From a web-app perspective, this will change significantly the life of webmasters and website content creators. When Apple introduced the retina display in its iPad, iOs developers had to create and maintain two sets of images, one for devices with the smaller resolution and one for devices with the increased resolution. Users complained about the sudden increase in apps disk usage despite using an old device, and some ran out of disk space while updating their apps to the latest version.

With the introduction of the Retina display for MacBook Pro, every website owner will have to realize, sooner or later, that he can either adapt or be conquered: viewing a traditional site in 2880 x 1800 will probably be like watching an HDTV trailer on a 1990 TV set. The race is on: fixed, non-fluid, 960px-like layouts are dead, and different versions of graphical icons and logos (at a minimum) will be a must in the post-Retina world.

Despite their high price, the new laptops are expected to conquer significant market share in the near future: they have lower noise due to asymmetrical cooling fan blades, an incredible thinness of just 1.8 centimeters and 2.05 kilograms in weight.

Hetzner – The Hosting Company

Hetzner - Hosting SpecialistsHetzner is a company located in Germany (EU), that specializes in renting dedicated servers and related hosting products at affordable prices. Those that want to have a dedicated computer connected non-stop to the Internet for the purpose of hosting a website or a multi-player game can use Hetzner and know that they’re getting state of the art hardware at a very good price.

The company has made significant investments in automating its service as much as possible in order to be able to provide such low prices to its customers. Hetzner owns not only the data-center equipment but also the land underneath. In 2011 it received the GreenIT award for being eco-friendly and energy-efficient. There are no discount codes available during the order process which allows them to put the list price closer to the operational costs. A dedicated server’s depreciation is highest during its first month of operation; to cover this, Hetzner charges a one-time setup fee which is designed to offset this; therefore in subsequent months they are able to charge a lower monthly fee.

On 1st of March 2012, the company announced a new site dedicated to dedicated server auctions,, which uses the Dutch auction model – servers start with an initial price which is periodically lowered until someone is willing to enter into a contract for it.

Hetzner operates datacenters in two countries: Germany and Finland. They also announced a partnership via which they can provision cloud services in United States of America.


Discover hidden pictures based on digit clues for each row / column.

Play Futoshiki
An online game where the board must be filled by digits respecting inequalities.