Saturday, July 27, 2013

Google search engine changes. Again.

Catching up on the news in actual work:

Google is modifying their search algorithms.  Again.

Google has quietly updated the link schemes document under their Webmaster guidelines to add large-scale guest posting, advertorials and optimized anchor text in articles or press releases to the list of types of links that violate their guidelines.
The new guideline examples that were added to this document include:
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
The comments in this article are the best insights to the latest machinations.  Online press releases have been used as a "white hat" solution for more then 10 years to build links to websites and thus, improve page rank.  Some will allow keywords to be made into links - but as usual, too much of a good thing raises red flags at Google:  too many keywords in one article linked to the same website = spam.

Read the comments:  Google's attempts to force hand-crafted content and links may backfire and even the best-crafted, most well-intentioned content writing may end up in the abyss as collateral damage.  Clearly, the struggle isn't over and both Bing and Yahoo are emerging as major players.

Your best bet:  diversify your advertising.  Search engine results are still critical to a website's visibility but the most successful enterprises use everything from radio and TV to billboards (large and small), coupon offers (Groupon, etc) and real-life in-person promotions.  Make sure you have a QR or similar code to get visitors to your site via the exploding mobile use market.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UPDATED Now it's a race (three, actually)

From Reporter Newspapers:

Calling themselves the “clean sweep candidates,” three long-time Dunwoody residents declared their intention to run for seats on Dunwoody City Council.
Jim Riticher, Henly Shelton and Sam Eads said they plan to run as a slate of candidates. Riticher said he plans to run in District 2. Shelton said he will run in District 1 and Eads said he will file for election in District 3.

What makes these new entries interesting is that this is the first time an "official" self-proclaimed slate has run for city office.  In our first elections, the people who ran (or were asked to take an office) were already heavily involved in the formation of the city and had the background and tools readily available to step into their new roles as a startup.  It wasn't a surprise that they knew each other and had some history working together to some extent, especially since 46K is still considered a "small town".  You can't help but run across someone you know in politics or business.

Now that Dunwoody is better established and has some history behind it, the pool of candidates and approach to campaigns and offices is evolving.  There had to be some planning that went in to this to find candidates who qualified for each of the three districts and were like-thinking enough to run as a group.  These three gentlemen claim they are not involved in any of the major established organizations or recently-aggregated advocacy groups in Dunwoody, so time will tell what their connections really are.  

And with as many news outlets, mailing lists, and bloggers out there, we *will* find out, guys....  if there's anything in the closet, clean it out now.  Don't forget to behave yourselves.  Contenders who seem to be publicly getting involved with the city for the very first time will have every move under scrutiny and a moment's indiscretion can derail your plans.  Ask Ellen Fix if you doubt it.

First question asked by any interviewer is going to be:  what have you done as part of Dunwoody before now?  Which leads into qualifications for office, etc.  And if they are distancing themselves from the Chamber, from the DHA and other groups, how are they going to work with these and other advocacy groups if they are elected?

The current candidate list for November 2013  (Post a comment if there's a Facebook link I couldn't find)

District 1 (West)
Denny Shortal
Henly Shelton (individual FB profile)

District 2 (Central)
Jim Riticher
(Blog created with Riticher's name above, can't tell if it's real or a spoof)
Then we have this little gem.  Given the neighborhood I live in and what it looks like on October 31, as well as my past history of frequenting sci fi and comic cons, I'm not going to pass judgement on costumes in public.

District 3 (East)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dunwoody Observations?

Background -

I received the following letter this afternoon with a request to post it on the DWG blog.  It seems to address some of the methods behind the latest rounds of complaints and protests.

I didn't write this and there is nothing in the email to indicate who did.  But just for the sake of discussion, here it is, unedited.  If the author wants to chime in and claim this piece, the comments are open.


Dunwoody Observer
Dear Community,

There has been much conversation, press coverage and distribution of propaganda regarding the political happenings of the City of Dunwoody.

It seems time to open the kimono (so to say) and outline some rational information for thought.

1.) Tax Income Distribution: The important thing to keep top of mind is that tax proceeds funneled to the City is the primary income stream for the City to compensate crucial Community safety staff and provide improvements to the City and its residents. Previous similar tax increases & resultant tax income was diluted throughout the County of Dekalb and spread across the County geography to fund County service providers. (For which the origination and quality is under investigation, based on the recent indictment & suspension of Burrell Ellis.)

2.) Inflation Happens: Taxes will increase with inflation. Period. Whether the additional tax funds go to the County Services or the City Services, there will be an increase taxpayers will eventually be subject to.... When distributed among a larger population, a 2% tax increase may result in less than a 0.5% increase in focused support to Dunwoody residents. It seems noteworthy to highlight that our tax dollars currently being discussed are now 100% focused on Dunwoody.

3.) Demographic of Opposition: If we take time to closely observe the make-up of the vocal opposition of the City of Dunwoody's planned progress, it is quite interesting. The demographics are primarily made up of over 55+, maybe even best characterized as over 65+, citizens. Amazing people, who shaped this City and most likely are living on meticulously planned retirement incomes.

Quite frankly, inflation and additional costs are understandably scary and unwelcome to this segment of our population. After all, when their retirement years hit and they planned on enjoying Mai-Tai's in Hawaii...they instead watched the stock market crash, the real estate market crash and we have no idea what type of financial impact may have subsequently incurred.

However, this segment of the populations also has significant tax exemptions extended to them as Senior Citizens and therefore contribute a minimized amount of tax revenue.

4.) Furthering Education: Having witnessed the Accreditation issues and the School Board CEO ousted, the opposition group was interestingly not in attendance at large at the meetings key to shaping the education opportunities of our next generation. Why is the primary focus on their personal finance and tax situations with little regard to supporting the growth, sustainability and next generation of our beloved Dunwoody? What does this communicate to the community?

5.) Emotional Rhetoric: There is a self-demonstrated structure of the communication pieces of this "opposition" segment primarily focusing on emotion versus fact. The flyers distributed throughout Dunwoody regarding Charter Commission meetings and their stated "issues", were emotional, name-calling and without any statistics for the reasonable community to consider and evaluate. Unfortunate, self-imposed, characterization of anger and emotion was all this piece communicated, versus a legitimate communication piece.

6.) Respect: There is no known vocal resident or City Official who has an "agenda" to ignore the sage advice of our "forefathers". There is a lot of respect for our "forefathers.". Unfortunately, those so active in the "opposition camp" do not seem to be offering a lot of rational / fact-based advice to the community at large.

7.) Voting: We ALL had our times at the polls. We are all stakeholders. CEO's of publicly traded companies do not issue a vote for every spending decision made. Nor does the President of the United States. Its quite simply, the American way. Our "voice" is heard at the polls. "Shareholders" all have a right and structured platform in place to provide constructive / actionable feedback. It is crucial to not circumvent these channels and the feedback is presented in a structured, productive and fact-based manner.

8.) Cost: The result of emotional politics is cost: The cost of the community's time and money. Emotional approaches create additional costs the community must absorb as we watch the delays in the work committees. They are forced to manage non-fact based, emotional campaigns of Citizens who offer complaints rather than solutions. Is the rhetoric costing us more than the actual proposed tax?

9.) Balance: Free Speech? YES! Balanced Government? YES! If you want to contribute, it appears that contribution, accompanied with a balanced, fact-based discussion, is always welcome in Dunwoody. If you have a plan, share it! If you have a concern, outline it with facts and statistics.

If communications are not based in fact or intended to "educate" the reader, these communications distract from and stunt the focus and growth of the community. Take time to consider the economic impact on your neighboring Citizens and if they are to "educate and promote" a point of view or if they are simply "name-calling" communications.

10.) Legacy: The last point that I would ask the "opposition" camp and all those observing the actions of this camp to consider is this.... Would you want your children (or your grandchildren) to live in and invest in real estate, businesses and a community fraught with people who oppose progress? People who don't show up in droves to support the next-gnereation's education but instead show up in droves to air unproductive emotions? Would you advise your children to live among people fighting the building blocks key to continuing to grow an astute, independent, self-sustaining community? Would you call that "a good investment" for a community? Dunwoody was established by quality, intelligent, hard-working leaders. Don't distract from or destroy their legacy. Take time to consider the progress the next-generation is trying to fund is key to ensuring this community maintains its status of an elite Perimeter community to call home.

Times are changing all around us... As a community, we must thrive or we will wilt. If we do not embrace this change, we will have seen our bloom and best days in years long past.

To the Opposition camp, please consider your next moves wisely. If it is considered hard to be educational and factual about your issues without name-calling, then consider no longer distracting from your fellow citizens time and money and let our City do its work to continue the growth of Dunwoody.


A Dunwoody Observer & Resident

Friday, July 19, 2013

You Decide - One Big Party or Trail of Tears?

Dunwoody Parks & Rec is opening the first phase of the much-debated Brook Run Trail.

Dunwoody, GA – July 19, 2013 – The City of Dunwoody Department of Parks and Recreation celebrates the grand opening of Phase I of the Brook Run Park multi-use trail with a “Wheel-a-Palooza and Pedal Parade.” The special grand opening event and parade begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Brook Run Park trail entrance, between the playground and skate park, on Saturday, August 3, and includes a bike/vehicle decorating contest judged by local celebrities.

Entire Press Release

Lots of debate, yelling, screaming, red shirts, impromptu YouTube videos, hyperbole, shouts of praise, and "wait-and-see" surrounded this project. So which is it? Is the first phase of the trail a devastating blow to an "urban forest", or is it a necessary development that makes said "urban forest" usable and enjoyable by a wider range of citizenry?

Show up on August 3 and decide for yourself.
Comments are open.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

And They're Off...

Dunwoody elections will include local district council members in November.
That is, each of the three districts will elect a representative that is only voted on by residents of that district.

Here's the current lineup:

District 1 (West)
Denny Shortal

District 2 (Central)
Heyward Wescott

District 3 (East)
Doug Thompson

No one else (as far as my "IN" box is concerned) has declared their candidacy. So it's too early to speculate as to how heated the process will get.

I do predict that if the seats are contested there will be some arguments as to whether the merits of each candidate should be debated by those living in different districts, who will not be voting on them.

Any more hats flying in?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Zoning Rewrite - no more ice cream trucks!

The Zoning Rewrite has passed Community Council in June with some modifications.

Here are the full details

CC seemed to be satisfied with the boundaries defining home occupations, backyard gardening,  garage sales, subdivision redevelopment, and other stereotypical "hot button" issues that the usual suspects are afraid of.

But ice cream trucks are a nuisance.

You head that right, gang!  Because food trucks are "in" and required clear definitions to be allowed, traditional ice cream trucks with their little bells and calliope tunes are banned.

Quoted from the above memo at City Hall.  (emphases added)

It is important to note, the attached meeting minutes from the Community Council meeting
provide information on all the topics discussed. While the majority of topics received
clarification during the scheduled meeting, Staff was charged with looking into the
correlation between food trucks and ice cream trucks. The drafted ordinance, in Chapter 27,
Article 8, defines food trucks as “a licensed motor vehicle or other mobile food dispensation
unit that is temporarily parked outside of the right-of-way and in which food items are sold
to the general public.” Pursuant to Section 18-19(b)(16), ice cream trucks would fall under “sound trucks,” which are mechanical loudspeakers or amplifiers on trucks or other moving
or standing vehicles for advertising or other commercial purposes. Such vehicles are
declared to be loud, disturbing, and unnecessary noise in violation of the noise ordinance
regulations. Therefore, because of the noise they emit and the fact that retail sales are not
a permitted use in residential districts, ice cream trucks are prohibited. 

My kids want to start a riot.  Who's in?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy July 4

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dunwoody's 4th of July Always Goes Swimmingly

This year, probably more literally than others.

This is the official DHA parade rain policy, straight from

Rain Rain Go Away Come Again Another Day!
We will not cancel the night before.
We will setup and be ready to go even though there might be some drizzle – or even some claps of thunder – by parade time it could be gone.
Dunwoody Police will determine if a delay is required.
Dunwoody Police will make the decision at 9:00 AM if it looks like an electrical storm and we cannot proceed safely.
For the latest information, please like Dunwoody Homeowners Association on facebook.
Boy Scout Troop 266 BBQ Meals:
If the parade is cancelled and it is raining then anyone with meal pre-orders can pick up their meals at the Troop tent. If it is lightning, then please come to the back of Dunwoody United Methodist Church for pickup.

In other news, Chamblee has postponed their fireworks until Sunday, July 7 (same time, 5 - 10 PM)

If you're a parent like me who is seriously, if regretfully, reconsidering slogging the household through soggy ground, camping out in the usual spot and waiting til 9 AM to determine if the parade will happen, consider the following option:

Happy July 4th!