Google Referer String Changing

I predict this will break 95% of the web site analytic tools out there:

Starting this week, you may start seeing a new referring URL format for visitors coming from Google search result pages. Up to now, the usual referrer for clicks on search results for the term “flowers”, for example, would be something like this:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=flowers&btnG=Google+Search

Now you will start seeing some referrer strings that look like this:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=7&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.example.com%2Fmypage.htm&ei=0SjdSa-1N5O8M_qW8dQN&rct=j&q=flowers&usg=AFQjCNHJXSUh7Vw7oubPaO3tZOzz-F-u_w&sig2=X8uCFh6IoPtnwmvGMULQfw

The key difference between these two urls is that instead of “/search?” the URL contains a “/url?“. If you run your own analyses, be sure that you do not depend on the “/search?” portion of the URL to determine if a visit started with an organic search click. Google Analytics does not depend on the “/search?” string in the referrer, so users of Google Analytics will not notice a difference in their reports, but other analytics packages may need to adapt to this change in our referrer string to maintain accurate reports.

Stoicism

Tim Ferris (of the Four Hour Work Week) has another great post up – this time on Stoicism. How can a dusty old school of Philosophy have relevance to today’s Web 2.0 culture? Just read it.

“Choose not to be harmed and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”
-Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics had an exercise called Turning the Obstacle Upside Down. What they meant to do was make it impossible to not practice the art of philosophy. Because if you can properly turn a problem upside down, every “bad” becomes a new source of good.

Suppose for a second that you are trying to help someone and they respond by being surly or unwilling to cooperate. Instead of making your life more difficult, the exercise says, they’re actually directing you towards new virtues; for example, patience or understanding. Or, the death of someone close to you; a chance to show fortitude. Marcus Aurelius described it like this: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Cross-Browser Testing Made Easy

I am very excited about this new tool from MicroSoft: Expression Web SuperPreview (gawd the name is awful though). This new tool will let you easily load your web site in various browsers all from one simple interface. It sure beats having three or four separate browsers open at the same time, which is my typical practice.

expressionwebsuperpreview1

In addition, it supports a few tools such as a DOM or CSS inspector, and even an overlay mode. Download the beta here.

Photoshop

To any aspiring programmers out there: if your college offers a course in photoshop, computer graphics or design – take it! It never ceases to amaze me how often I need to pull up photoshop or some other graphics app. I’d expect it during the odd web design & programming gig, but it also comes in handy for interface mock-ups, proposals or reports.