User involvements to organizing the web: re-rank Google search results

By , August 28, 2008 11:43 pm

You have been the one who create contents for the web.

You have been the one who teaches the web semantic meanings by tagging and linking information.

How much can You involve in organizing the web? The next step is You can change the order of Google search results.

Google Search started off one decade ago in 1998 with their search algorithm, and it’s been the core of their success till now. As the time grows, Google grew to be #1 search engine but has been facing a lot of challenges. Not only including Yahoo! and Live and Ask, the list of competitors is crowded with Wikia search, Cuil, Visual Search and many more. From this list, Mahalo and Wikia involve users in where they can provide feedbacks to the search results.

So what’s next from Google? An experiment to allow Google user to re-rank the search results. You can see the arrows in the screenshot below:

Google rerank button

This is, again, only their experiment. But ain’t it interesting to follow?

My wonder is: does this feature collaborative or simply personal? How will Google absorb this feedback channel – algorithmically or mass-manually?

What do you think of this feature from Google?

Read more on their experiments on Search

The topics I'd wish somebody would start blogging professionally for: Investment, Fund Management and Financial Analysis

By , August 28, 2008 2:36 pm

I just received a question from Darren Rowse from Twitter today.

Darren Rowse's question on Twitter

So to answer his question, I’d like to share what I’m thinking:

1. Investment in emerging markets

The reason is that emerging markets behave in a different way from those of developed countries. Theory of macro-economics or technical analysis cannot be applied without customization. I’d wish somebody would write about this topic, beside Nam Le at Cofieu

2. The career of a Financial Analyst, especially in Fund Management, Banking and Securities

…Because this is my chosen career path.

I do read Jason Vu‘s and Khoa Pham‘s blogs regularly though.

How about you? What is your answer to the question?

Check out these Visual Search Engines: Viewzi & Searchme

By , August 28, 2008 9:45 am

These alternative search engines are not just text. Visual is there to make a difference experience. Try them out:


Viewzi screenshot


Searchme screenshot

How TaiTran responses assertively and constructively to unsolicited PR on his blog

By , August 27, 2008 7:10 pm

Please read my message below the 2 screenshots.

Prudential spams blog

Prudential spams blog

Dear Prudential PR Representative,

First of all, please allow me to make it clear that my family and I have been using some Prudential’s products in the last few years decades and we have been happy with Prudential’s service quality so far.

I also appreciate your recent efforts to reach me and other bloggers on Yahoo! 360 platform.

However, I wonder if you would have more luck with me with some other approaches?

Some reasons why your approach is not very effective:

  1. Mass communication is not the way to go. Basically it’s like a job applicant who write one cover letter to multiple prospective employers without changing a single word.
  2. Some bloggers including me don’t expect comments just for the sake of words on the page.
  3. It looks like you’re just there to “take” what you can.
  4. It looks like you’re going after quantity rather than quality opportunities.

If you segment me a professional working in the foreign sector which I am, kindly arrange a business appointment after business hours.

If you segment me a blogger which I am, please accept my suggestion to read Darren Rowse’s 21 tips on PR campaigns on blogs.

I’m looking forward to another opportunity of collaboration.

Best Regards,

VCCorp's CafeF rolls out 3 online tools for Investors

By , August 27, 2008 2:11 pm

The 3 tools include:

1. Portfolio Management

2. Market Watch

3. Listed Stock Watch


TaiTran’s comments to come soon…

ThanhNien Online's New Design

By , August 27, 2008 9:47 am

Following VnExpress & VTC, ThanhNien Online – currently ranking 12th in Vietnam on Alexa – has rolled out a new design.

ThanhNien Online New Design screenshot

This new portal is built on Microsoft SharePoint 2007. Media is built on Microsoft Silverlight.

Overall, the blue theme is more pleasant to the eyes than VnExpress is. Since content is right on the left, it is easier to zoom in than with VTC.

Technically, the biggest issues with SharePoint is performance and scalability. Do you think ThanhNien would encounter any problems with these?

What do you think of this design?

Click here to update your life to those who you care about and receive updates from them in one flick with Plurk

By , August 26, 2008 11:29 am

Update quicker, more conveniently and more centralizedly

First of all, you want to stay updated with your family, friends and other networks. Conventionally, you can use phones, emails, IMs or face-to-face to communicate.

But there are 2 issues with the conventional channels:

  1. The updates are scattered through everywhere
  2. You only update significant events. How about other every little stuffs you do that matter to your beloved and make you an interesting person?

One solution has come: Plurk

And here comes Plurk

What is Plurk?

Plurk is a FREE web service that allows you to update your activities, receive updates from your connections on a timeline graph.

What is timeline?

Plurk Timeline

Plurk is not just text. There is the time flowing and the messages look like they float it is interesting and fun to follow.

For navigation, there are 4 ways to navigate through the timeline:

  1. drag with mouse
  2. scroll with mouse wheel
  3. use the arrow button graphics at both the right/left end of the timeline
  4. keyboard arrow keys <= =>

Updating your activities is one important way to increase your Karma.

What is Karma?

Karma is the point you receive when Plurking. You can see the short list of Karma in this picture:

Plurk Karma list

For more details, you can go to the help page for Karma at

Karma scores are calculated 3 times a day, 12:00 am, 8:00 am, and 4:00 pm Universal time.

What is Karma for?

With Karma, you can

  1. Customize your profile and change your mascot
  2. Use more emoticons
  3. Maybe more in future

How to increase Karma

  1. Plurk regularly, but not more than 30 plurks per day
  2. Invite friends
  3. Update your profile
  4. Plurk interesting stuffs to get responses
  5. Get more fans

Also, beware of actions that lower Karma

  1. Losing fans
  2. Friend request rejected
  3. Spam
  4. Inactivity

Other features

You can also share links on Plurk. Long URLs are shortened.

Clique is simply a group of friends. Maybe 5 of your friends play on the same soccer team, or maybe 3 of your friends work at the same company. Cliques help you manage your audience so that you can send plurks to only the friends who need to be notified.

Badges are included on your profile whenever you achieve certain milestones on Plurk like “Reached Plurk nirvana”, “Invited more than 10 users”, “Has more than 50 fans”, “Translator”…

You can view interesting Plurkers at

Why Plurk

So comes the big question: why do I have to use Plurk?

Firstly, it solves the problem: update and get updates. Plurk centralizes all your updates in one place. Plurk is quick. Plurk is fun. Plurk is real-time and is with an interesting interface.

Secondly, Plurk can be used as a micro-blog. Imagine you’re so busy to write a long blog post. With Plurk, you can note down quickly and easily.

Next, Plurk is a powerful tool to make announcements to your followers.

What’s more, Plurk is a place to make new friends who share the same interests as yours.

What are other reasons to use Plurk that I haven’t thought of?

Tools for Plurk

There are some handy tools that make Plurking more exciting.

  1. Firefox Sidebar gives you a Twitter-like interface in a sidebar.
  2. allows you send updates to Twitter and Plurk simultaneously as well as other social networking services like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster…
  3. Karma Trends shows your karma accumulation progress.
  4. Mobile Plurk is a version of Plurk on Mobiles.
  5. FriendFeed Tab adds a Plurk tab to your FriendFeed page.

What are other things I can look at?

The press page:

The blog of the team:

The Plurk team: . You can view amix, deniz, alvin, dima

So what’s next?

I won’t let you stop here wondering what to do. Just CLICK HERE and start Plurking with me.

"We-make-you-better" and "We-smack-you-on-the-face" marketing campaigns, Vietnam 2008

By , August 25, 2008 11:43 pm

Conventional Marketing: Product-Oriented

“Buy our product because it’s good!”

Now you want to it more creatively.

What Dove did: Emotion-Oriented

Starting from April 2008, Dove launched a campaign that invited ladies to share the photos of their beauties and their thoughts on beauty.


The collection is stored and displayed at along the duration of the program. The website was elegant, aesthetic and simple. The concluding event was organized in July.


Overall, the campaign was Emotional type and they chose to deliver a semi-direct message: “Buy our product because it makes YOU look good!”

What Cafe Việt did: Challenging

Cafe Viet’s market segment was clear: the strong males. Their slogan was “Are you strong enough to take this?”

Excuse me, did it automatically imply that anyone who didn’t use this product was lame?

Let me give my 2 cents.

First penny, psychologically, a man of a firm stuff does not take unnecessary (and possibly cheap) challenges that don’t bring any differentiating advantages.

Second penny, let’s take a look into one brand positioned itself in association with with heroism: Tiger beer. What they do with their advertisement is: their product either assists or acts as a reward when the man does his deeds. Tiger’s message can be read as “Be strong you will get this!”.

Cafe Viet’s slogan, on the other hand, was something like “We’re gonna smack you on the face. Got gut?!”

If I can give a word, I’d suggest something like: “Drinking Cafe Viet makes the man more attractive to ladies”.

Again, I never think it’s a good strategy to directly challenge your customers.

Google services officially in Vietnam, eventually. Why and how?

By , August 22, 2008 3:12 pm

“Within the next 5 years, Google Vietnam will have been Google Indochina.”

Read the article here: Google’s Advisor for Vietnam

That article was all the way back to early 2007.

We are now in August 2008 when we receive this big news: Google has officially set their foot in Vietnam.

Google Vietnam homepage

Where is Google currently?

Currently, Google has 3 web properties standing in top positions in Vietnam market:

  1. at #2, after
  2. at #7, after 4 local news portal
  3. at #10, after another 2 news site. Read more: Vietnamese bloggers go to YouTube chiefly looking for embed code

Source: Alexa August 2008

Google in Vietnam on Alexa

Gmail is second to Yahoo! Mail

Many Vietnamese also love spending time on Wikimapia.

A predictable and inevitable move…

No need to mention the localized version of the search portal, Google’s presence in Vietnam could be predicted since their AdSense for Vietnamese browsers has recently displayed contents in Vietnamese, and frequently with Gmail and Orkut.

Vietnamese Group on Orkut

An Orkut screenshot, click on the image to view the original version.

The 20-million-internet-user market is rich and potential to Google as well.

…getting over certain issues

It’s important to mention some issues with Vietnam market for Google

  1. Volume of frauds in AdSense from Vietnam
  2. Buyer habit
  3. Revenues the business expect to gain from selling advertisements to Google services
  4. e-Commerce law

(2) is changing dramatically and is driving (3).

We’ve seen signals to improvements to (4)

So I guess it is high time Google was here in this rapidly developing country.

News is just news, no news is bad news.
Or is it no news is good news?

What do you think when you know the news?

I’ve observed various reactions from people in the industry.

1. “Hitting the market first” is getting tighter it’s hard to breath.

Many service providers have aimed to push their products to the market before Google comes to Vietnam.

Now they do!

Any plan to pre-ampt Google would be extremely hard.

2. The non-technical users are not as excited as the technical communities

While most agree that Google search is powerful, many non-technical are happy with Yahoo! services including Messenger, Mail, 360, 360plus and other local service providers.

Another thing to look at is connection speed. Vietnamese users suffer from bottle-neck effect to international websites. However, even with that, Google search result load speed is surprisingly amazing with their distributed network.

So all in all, non-technical users have very few reason to celebrate

3. Technical communities are jumping up and down in joy now

Because they have established the habit of relying on many Google services.

Well I have two things to say

Firstly, I don’t want to be forced to use the localized version of Google without an option to revert to the international version. I have tested the result from Google international search and Google Vietnam search and they’re much different. I’d prefer the international version, thanks. And I appreciate that Google provides the URL for the international version.

Secondly, I have to ask this: does Google really love Vietnam?

No I’m not kidding. You may want to know that Coca-cola doesn’t invest too much on marketing and market penetration to compete with Pepsi in Vietnam. They’re here to make locals aware of their presence and not to let Pepsi equate cola to “Pepsi”. You may want to know that Honda introduced the Click and the Airblade with heavy subsidy in Vietnam not to head on directly with Yamaha’s Nouvo series, but not to let Yamaha dominates the whole market. This is important to keep in mind because in Vietnam, “the web” is equal to “Yahoo!” for many beginning users.

We want to see how strongly Google will push the Vietnam market…

What exactly is Wiki? Wiki is not a software, not a website, but a concept. And why Wiki is powerful a concept

By , August 22, 2008 9:43 am

Friend: “Hey Tai, what is wiki? Is it a software or a website?”

TaiTran: “Neither. Wiki is a concept. It refers to a content which everyone and anyone can edit.”

Friend: “What? You’re confusing me!”


OK, so let me go into details on Wiki.

“Wiki” is a concept

“A wiki” might be explained as a computer software or a website. “Wiki” is a concept.

What’s the difference?

You may want to notice this difference: “A Wiki is a software/website” and “Wiki (without ‘a’) is a concept”. “A wiki” refers to a specific instance of the concept “Wiki”.

To make it easier to understand. It’s like we talk about “a person” and “person”. “Person” is general, has body organs, has character and personalities – but doesn’t have specific character and personalities. “A person named X” is specific, has X’ body organs, has X” character and X”’ personality.

Back to Wiki. So I say “Wiki is a concept. It refers to contents which everyone and anyone can edit.”

Basing on this concept, people may build Wiki software that put this concept into practice. Wiki software allows users to create different wiki websites.

Wiki concept, software and website

Wiki is powerful

1. Collaboration

The major power of Wiki lies in its open nature to collaboration.

Anyone can edit Wikis, and it’s quick to do so. We have the power of the mass where every contribution is counted. That’s how within a short amount of time, the community has grown Wikipedia to be the world’s largest encyclopedia.

Does this work?

To some, the idea of “anyone can edit” is crazy. But it works!

You want to know that the edition doesn’t go away easily. All modifications are tracked and they are discussed by the whole community. If person A puts in an inaccurate or biased information, person B will point it out and the discussion will determine how to deal with that information.

While I agree that we can never have perfectly unbiased information, this open nature allows the whole community to reach a consensus that would benefit all.

“I’m a genius. They don’t understand what I wrote in the wiki so they removed it!” – Well if this is the case, I’d suggest you revert to your blog or your Knol whether you have full authority 🙂

2. High Linkage

Wiki pages within a wiki website link to one another through keywords. Therefore, when you read a wiki page, you are presented with information to other worth-knowing concepts.

Wiki management models

Power of the Mass

“No editor”, or “everyone is an editor”.

This is the original concept of Wiki. However, you may want to know that this is an idealism and no wiki is perfectly wiki.

People participation varies, people commitment varies, and people behavior varies. There may exist certain bias in many wiki pages.

Because of this “open” nature, many question the validity and authority of information on wiki. Researchers may need to cite from other sources accepted as “more authorized”.

Power of Authority… plus the Mass

To deal with the issue of validity and authority of wiki, Larry Sanger, former Wikipedia co-founder, has initiated a new model for Citizendium.

“Authorized editors are selected to be editors of Citizendium. The site is still open for everyone to edit.”

This model harmonizes the credentials from editors while still utilize the power of the mass.

Wiki in enterprise

Wiki is useful to teams within an enterprise to centralize their knowledge. Of course, people can write separate documents, but it will be hard to avoid duplication, hard to maintain and hard to search. Wiki solves all these 3 issues.

In Sum

Wiki is a powerful concept on which people in the last decade have built centralized massive amount of information.


5 ways to build effective Wikis

Wiki Software:

List of Wikis:

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