Study: Half Of The Top 100 Blogs Now Use WordPress

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WordPress – both in its hosted and self-hosted forms – has long been among the most popular platforms for personal and professional blogs (and it’s what we use here at TechCrunch, too). Looking at the top 100 blogs in Technorati’s index, a new study by website monitoring firm Pingdom found that 49% of the top 100 blogs now use WordPress. That’s up from 32% in 2009. No other platform even comes close.

Typepad was still the second most popular platform in 2009, but now it has virtually disappeared from the rankings. Movable Type, which was still being used by 12 of top 100 blogs in 2009, is now down to 7.

Trend: Secrecy and Custom Platforms

Besides WordPress’ total domination in this space though, what’s most interesting about these new statistics is the rise of the custom blogging platforms. In the Technorati top 10 alone, four sites now use their own custom platforms. This is a good example of how competitive the professional blogging business has become. Most blogs, after all, look pretty similar and having a custom platform allows these sites to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Interestingly, this has also given rise to a new degree of secrecy. Pingdom, for example, was unable to determine which platforms some of the top 100 sites use and was even told by one site administrator that he “was under non-disclosure agreement to not reveal anything about the site.”

Antivirus Firms Release Free Tools for Cleaning Macs Infected by Flashback

Yesterday, Apple disclosed for the first time that it is working to develop a software tool to detect and remove the Flashback malware from infected machines. We also previously profiled Flashback Checker, a simple app designed to allow users to easily see if their Macs are infected but which provides no assistance with disinfection.

While Apple works on its own official solution, other parties have continued to develop their own increasingly user-friendly tools for dealing with the threat and cleaning infected machines, with some of those tools making their way into the public’s hands.

Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab, which has played a key role in monitoring and publicizing the threat of Flashback, yesterday announced the launch of a free web-based checker where users can simply input the hardware UUID of their Mac to see if it has registered on the firm’s servers as an infected machine. The company has also released Flashfake Removal Tool, a free app that quickly and easily detects and removes the malware.



Antivirus firm F-Secure has also announced its own free Flashback Removal app. The app generates a log file detailing whether it has found Flashback on a user’s system, and if so quarantines it inside an encrypted ZIP file for disposal.

F-Secure also points out that Apple has yet to offer any protection for users running systems earlier than Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Flashback uses a vulnerability in Java to install itself without user authorization, and Apple released software patches for Java on Lion and Snow Leopard last week to close that hole and prevent infection on updated systems. Machines running earlier versions of Mac OS X do, however, remain unprotected. Specifically, F-Secure notes that over 16% of Macs are still running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, marking a substantial user base that remains vulnerable to the threat.


U.S. accuses Apple, publishers of e-book price fixing

(Reuters) – The Justice Department took Apple Inc and two major publishers to court for conspiring to push up the prices of e-books, while three other publishers agreed to settle the government’s charges.

Madonna’s ‘MDNA’ is ‘DOA’ at 5 Bucks: Many Versions, But Few Are Selling

Madonna at the premiere of her movie W.E. @ Roy Thompson Hall Sept 12 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) UPDATE: Since the original version of this story took off on the Drudge Report–someone–Madonna fans? — got motivated. "MDNA" sales perked up quite a bit on amazon.com, sending the $5 download to number […]

Google view on mobile ads awaited at CEO’s 1-year anniversary

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc’s advertising rates will get extra scrutiny as Wall Street ponders whether the proliferation of Internet-connected smartphones helps or hinders the money-making search engine that drives the company’s profits.

Apple Online Store Updates Sales Chat Support, Testing Screen Sharing Virtual Tours in Brazil

As part of today’s Apple online store downtime, the company appears to have rolled out an enhancement of its sales chat support services for those looking to purchase an Apple product. While sales chat has been available for quite some time through individual product pages, the changes include a revamped chat window with a more modern appearance.



As has long been the case, sales chat support is available only during certain times of the day and dependent on availability of chat agents.

Even more interestingly, Apple appears to be using its Brazilian store as a test market for even further enhancements that allow sales specialists to share their screens with potential customers to help walk them through a product’s features. MacMagazine.com.br provides an overview the process [Google translation], showing how users can participate in a virtual tour with the chat appearing along the right side of the browser window while the specialist shares his or her screen to walk through the product’s features.



The report indicates that the screen sharing virtual tour feature is limited to the iPad 2 for the time being, but that the company has plans to extend it across its product lines.


Kathleen Gurney: Financial Institutions Have Not Changed Their Stripes and They’re After You

You’ve made meaning of your losses and have reintegrated realistic ways to live well with the money you have. You’re rebuilding your credit by staying on track and you are in the minority. Congratulations.

Read more: Psychology, Credit Cards, Wealth, Money, Personal Finance, Business News

Taming Email Overload With SaneBox

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Calling email overload “a crisis in communication”, TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington issued a challenge back in 2008: “Someone needs to create a new technology that allows us to enjoy our life but not miss important messages.” The entrepreneurs at SaneBox read this and other articles by Fred Wilson and Bijan Sabet, and set out to build a better inbox. After a month of testing, SaneBox has really helped control my inbox and risen to Mike’s challenge.

Many solutions to email overload have been proposed with limited success. Arrington wrote about a service called “Attention Auction”, since renamed attn.me, where people pay you to get their emails read. Some folks just quit email. Companies try to ban it. Others write short emails and use systems that force you to keep it brief. Some kill your email subscriptions and someone even tried moving their inbox to the bathroom.

Another method to tame the inbox has been to remove the non-important stuff. As the number of emails keeps increasing, the only real way to solve email overload is to prioritize. Arrington manually did this when he wrote how he would “scan the from and subject fields for high payoff messages. People I know who don’t waste my time, or who I have a genuine friendship with” he would open.

Google automated this when they introduced Gmail Priority Inbox. This feature helps, and has its fans, but to me it wasn’t good enough.

Before Priority Inbox launched, the team at SaneBox, founded by Stuart Roseman, was in private beta testing a similar concept. Gmail’s solution surprised them. SaneBox VP of Growth, Dmitri Leonov, recalls those were scary times for the company. Many of their users switched to Gmail, but most came back shortly after.

I tried Priority Inbox, but SaneBox works better for me. It’s not going to magically eliminate all your email or get your inbox instantly to zero. But, your inbox shrinks and you stay focused on the higher priority messages. SaneBox says its moves 58% of the average users email out of the inbox. Your mileage may vary.

When asked why the small self-funded team at SaneBox believes it can solve the problem better than giant Google, Leonov says “this is a very difficult and expensive problem to solve – one giant edge case. The kind of personalized analysis that we do requires a lot of infrastructure on a per-user level, which is cost prohibitive for a free service like Priority Inbox.” After a free trial, SaneBox users pay up to $5 a month for the service, which claims to save people an average of 2 hours per week.

Sanebox’s solution lets you train your inbox, but unlike Priority Inbox, you can see all your trainings and adjust them. It’s also easier, quicker, and more powerful than building your own custom filters or email rules.

By reducing your inbox to important emails, you have less mental attention switching costs. It takes time to switch from important to unimportant emails. So the less time spent switching, the more productive you are. And you can get to the lower importance emails when and if time permits.

SaneBox says it’s like having a very good executive assistant who stops unwanted visitors at the door, keeping you more productive during the day. SaneBox is also modeled on the excellent GTD (Getting Things Done) ideas of David Allen, such as focusing on the most important thing “now” and avoiding distractions.

Before explaining how it works, you need to understand what it is not. SaneBox is not a plugin or a download. SaneBox is not in the spam control business. It doesn’t read the body of your email, change any headers or store email on its servers. Even though most of SaneBox customers use Gmail, it works with almost any email service.

Once you set it up, it scans your inbox headers to determine if the message is important and should stay in your inbox. It moves unimportant messages to the @SaneLater folder (or label) using its own smart filtering algorithms combined with your personal trainings.

Right off the bat, SaneBox works pretty well. If you add your social networks, it will prioritize emails from people you follow on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If something comes into your inbox that’s not important, just move it to your @SaneLater folder. SaneBox’s algorithms recognize the difference between personal and corporate or bulk email coming from the same domain.

I find I only need to check my @SaneLater folder once or twice a day. It’s much quicker to go through these lower priority emails when they are all batched together. Your @SaneLater emails don’t get lost. You can always find them in their folder and they appear in searches.

SaneBox also sends a @SaneLater message digest list to your inbox at the time interval you set. You can always move an email from @SaneLater to the inbox, and these trainings can be remembered for that one email or all from the same address. Each contact training can be adjusted via the SaneBox settings page.

SaneBox has two other very useful features. Move an email to @SaneBlackHole and you won’t ever get email from that address again. It’s much quicker than building your own custom filter or unsubscribing.

There’s also a @SaneRemindMe folder for emails you want to make sure get followed up. When you send or reply to an email, add addresses to the to: cc: or bcc: like tomorrow@sanebox.com, Friday@sanebox.com, Dec31@sanebox.com, or 3h@sanebox.com (in 3 hours), and SaneBox will send you a reminder email at that future time. This feature is similar to what Nudgemail and followup.cc offers. But with SaneBox, if your email gets a reply, the reminder is cancelled.

SaneBox does have some competitors beyond Google’s free Priority Inbox. OtherInbox offers a free “Organizer” feature that sorts receipts, newsletters and social media emails into folders. OtherInBox was a TC 50 finalist in 2008. I found it took a long time to search through my emails and it didn’t do nearly as good a job as SaneBox. It also created more folders than I wanted. They were bought by email certification and reputation monitoring company Return Path, whose mission is to help marketers and publishers reach an audience. That’s quite different than a startup like SaneBox whose clients are its paying email overload sufferers.

Another player in the space is the paid service AwayFind. Its goal is to get only the 3% of super urgent emails to you even when you are not near your inbox. That’s a different solution than SaneBox which tries to get a majority of your emails out of your inbox.

Here’s a video overview to SaneBox: