Sarah Culberson Has a Blog, Too!

With all due credit to Preston Smalley, for officially outing Sarah’s new blog recently.

Sarah Culberson is an interaction designer at eBay.  Although she doesn’t hang out with me as much any more, now that we work in separate buildings, she has always been extremely patient as I walk her through my latest set of baby pictures of my two boys.

You learn a lot about people by reading their blogs… on Sarah’s I find immediately pointers to her online portfolio, and the more famous Sarah Culberson who shares her name.

When Sarah first joined eBay, she was assigned to a very difficult project called Flexible Categories where I was assigned as the product manager. She may not have realized it at the time, but that was a bad sign.  You see, in my first few years at eBay, I had a particular gift for taking on features and concepts that had been debated internally for years without resolution.  This was one of them, and I think she always blames me just a little for that project.

She did a great job on that project, though, and the design was so elegant that most users didn’t even realize we were running the test.

In any case, here is the link to Sarah’s blog, dubbed “Taste Tester”.  Enjoy.

Mobile Search: What are People Looking For?

I feel like I’m perpetually behind with my blog lately.  This tidbit is from a few days ago, but I think interesting enough to still warrant a post.

JumpTap has a nice chart out on their breakdown of search queries from mobile phones.  Turns out 12% of the queries can be classified as “adult” in nature.

A few years ago, I worked on the Search team at eBay, specializing in popularity data.  As a result, I was able to really go through the data to see what people were searching for, and in what volume.  It’s really an amazing insight to see the aggregated searches of millions of people together, ranked.  Even on this blog, I still get a kick out of seeing what searches people use to find these articles.

In some respects, I’m a bit surprised that the number is only 12%.  I’m not sure I know whether that is low or high.  Does anyone know the rough breakdown of adult queries for major search engines like Google or Yahoo?

So, I’ll leave this one with a question to my recently acquired friends at TellMe:

When mobile search moves from text to voice, are people as comfortable making adult queries?  Is there an equivalent to these search lists in the voice search space?

How to Set Up an Anonymous Proxy Server on Mac OS X

Several years ago, a good friend of mine worked as an electrical engineer for a company here in Silicon Valley. It was a pretty cool company, and they made pretty cool chips for networking applications.

Ironically, they were incredible tyrants internally when it came to “personal internet usage” – which meant they monitored and/or shut off common ports at the workstations of individual engineers. So while you could be designing a microprocessor capable of routing Gigabit traffic, you couldn’t actually use any of it for common applications like accessing My Yahoo or eBay.

At the time, I wanted to help my friend set up an anonymizing proxy server so he could still access personal email at work. Unfortunately, at the time, it seemed like too much effort.

Well, it’s a few years late, but here is an excellent post on how to set up an anonymous proxy server on your home machine running Mac OS X, and then use it at work to avoid internal monitoring and/or blocking.

Please note, before you click the link, the blog that has the article features some unsavory language in its topics and related posts.  I’m rating it “AL” for adult language.  It’s still a really useful post, however.

There is something still very cool about Mac OS X being unix at heart. Little tricks like this just remind me of that fact.