My Cousin’s Death in Afghanistan

David was my cousin, but functioned more as a brother.  While growing up, there wasn’t a week that went by when we didn’t see each other.  We spent countless hours reading comics, drawing comics, watching Beavis and Butthead, playing with GI Joe’s and re-enacting our Transformers scenes in the backyards.  He was always Superman and I was always Batman.

My favorite memory of David?  The day we decided to walk to the comic shop a few miles from his house without telling anyone when we were 12 or so.  To make matters worse, he had just had surgery on his toe, so he was on crutches.  My dad finally found us walking the streets (we made it to the comic shop!) a few hours later and drove us home. 

I love you, David… can’t tell you how much we’ll miss you.

A Marion soldier serving in Afghanistan has died in action, his family confirmed Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. James David Bullard, 28, was serving with the Army National Guard 1st Battalion 263rd Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition) S.C. National Guard Unit B Company based in Dillon, his brother-in-law Harold Caldwell said.

Marion soldier killed in Afghanistan – News – South Carolina Now (

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GMail Changes?

I’m seeing a few subtle and not so subtle changes in GMail tonight.

1) Quicker message loading
2) New graphics (the yellow type found in Google Reader) at the top of the screen for loading messages
3) New contacts manager which is very slick and a great upgrade
4) The ability to add an event invitation when composing or replying to messages.

Nothing revolutionary, but pretty neat tweaks given last week’s big inclusion of IMAP in GMail. After a couple of years of stagnation, it’s nice to see a few new additions to the interface.

MORE: Evidently Google is rolling this out to all users (whew, I’m not crazy). Thanks to Andy Beal for the pointer!

ScratchBack: Blog Widget With a Sense of Fun

My pal Jim Kukral has just launched ScratchBack after a long period of development and testing. I’ve blogged about all of the specifics on ReveNews.

If you have a blog and are looking for a way to make a few extra bucks via a tipjar system (the links are “nofollow” which means Google won’t punish you for selling them), this is a easy way to do so. Plus, Jim has built in a little social flavor since you can encourage people to outbid each other for the top spot via snarky political messages or your momma jokes (ok, not really… but it could be done).

You can see an example (or tip me if you’d like!) over in the sidebar –>

SEO and the Cargo Cult of Google Watching

Merlin Mann lays down the smack on SEO.  Good stuff that I can’t agree with more (and a darn fine analogy to Cargo Cults):

Most SEOs are making headphones out of coconuts, hoping it brings traffic, and then wondering why the gods are so angry at them. They never get that the headphones probably aren’t hooked up to anything but their make-believe radio.

Kung Fu Grippe: Cargo Cult

Correction: So You Can Make Money With The Amazon Affiliate Program

Last Friday during my ConvergeSouth workshop on affiliate marketing for citizen media, I made the comment that it is very hard to make a ton of money with Amazon’s affiliate program. Looks like John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog found the sweet spot for making money with Amazon affiliate links…

Who ever said blogging doesn’t pay? Last Tuesday, Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber — one of Apple’s biggest cheerleaders — asked his readers to pre-order the newest version of Max OS X, “Leopard,” through his Amazon affiliate links. “If you pre-order through these links, Amazon will send me a 7.5 percent kickback,” he wrote. “I.e., you get a good price and free shipping, and I get about $10.”

Like any other type of affiliate program, the trick to Amazon is creating, sustaining and supporting a healthy community of readers and participants via blogging, etc then explaining to your readers what you’re doing with your affiliate links (especially if that community of readers is as passionate about something as the Mac fanboys/girls/squirrels are about Apple.

Silicon Alley Insider: John Gruber’s Leopard Windfall $5800 in 8 Days