Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Field Day

I am planning this year's Field Day, a becoming-tradition at my school. Last year, we split the kids up into teams and tore a bunch of strips out of cheap cotton, a different color for each team, to be worn as armbands or ninja-style headbands. We played three-legged race, water balloon toss, egg-in-spoon relay, and that game where you join hands with two different people and then the whole group has to untwist into a circle without anyone letting go. One family came and brought watermelon for the whole school. It was fun, although as one of the main organizers, some of the downsides stick out in my memory, like the glass we found embedded in the ground, which put an end to games like the crab walk or the wheelbarrow relay.

Here are the activities planned for this year:
  • Team Cheer - Each team creates a cheer & simple choreography to go with it. Points awarded for originality, coordination, catchiness, choreography, and enthusiasm. I am considering having the teachers come up with a cheer ahead of time to perform as a model...
  • Human Knot - I remembered the name of that hand-linking untangling thing described above.
  • Dizzy Bats Relay - Not for the faint of stomach... Funny as heck to watch, though!
  • Three-legged Race
  • Wheelbarrow Race - If we can find a patch of glass-free ground.
  • Water Balloon Toss - Pairs of students toss water balloons back and forth, taking a step farther apart after each successful catch. Ends with a splash!
  • Tug O'War - I'm requiring that each team be gender-balanced.
  • Capture the Flag - Fun for the whole school!

There will, of course, be points awarded for sportsmanship.

For two summers during college, I was a camp counselor for IAAY - the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth - at one of their academic summer programs for kids. My 5th and 6th graders took one intensive class during the morning and early afternoon, while we, their RA's, planned active and/or relaxing activities for their afternoons and evenings. One of my fellow RA's thought up Pasta Challenge, an idea which I borrowed for an afterschool program last year; it's basically building stuff out of pasta and seeing how much weight it can support. We played a dozen versions of tag, read books together, played drama games, board games, and Chess, made friendship bracelets and pins, played touch footballa nd ultimate frisbee (and just how many sports include an adjective - no, a superlative! - in their names?!), took them to the pool, and thought up lots of indescribable ways to use up every last ounce of their energy before lights-out. For the evenings and weekends, we came up with whole-camp activities ranging from Capture the Flag to carnivals and trivia game shows. One weekend per session, the kids of each RA group would conspire to design a costume for Dress Your RA Night (they were given categories and help from two organizers). I walked down the catwalk (er, picnic tables) dressed as a sleepy clown and as Pippi Longstocking (something about my hair apparently said, "Pigtails!" to my charges).

It's crazy the stuff you can get away with when the kids are campers, not your full-time students, only there for three weeks, and don't go home to their parents at the end of the evening. One all-camp game involved getting marked with a (temporary) marker on your arm in order to get out of jail. We'd herd the kids into the showers after that one, but they'd still look vaguely green and orange for a couple of days...


Blogger jon said...

After we paid for our kids volleyball summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!

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Blogger Couch Potato said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog. You know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

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Strange day or what? :-)

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Click Fraud and How to Deter It

Pay per click (PPC) advertising continues to gain popularity in the online marketing world as an effective and inexpensive way to drive targeted visitors to web sites. Research firm eMarketer reported that between 2002 and 2003 the paid search listing market grew 175 percent.

Major trusted search properties such as Google, Overture, FindWhat, Search123 and Kanoodle, all offer PPC campaigns in which you pay only when someone clicks through your banner ad or link. But PPC also has an enemy--click fraud--and understanding what it is and what to do about it should also be a key part of your PPC campaign.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is when someone or something generates illegitimate hits on your banner or text advertisement causing you to pay for worthless clicks. AS PPC campaigns have grown in popularity and keyword prices and bidding have become more competetive, click fraud is on the rise.

Online marketers are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of click fraud. According to CNET News, some marketing executives estimate that "up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today's search industry."

This estimate is certainly unsettling for advertisers who, recently, have been paying hefty amounts bidding on desirable search terms. Financial analysts report that in the year 2004 advertisers are paying an average of 45 cents per click. Compare this to 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in 2002 the bidding wars continue to rise.

Who's Doing it and Why?
Click fraud perpetrators are most often motivated by trying to increase revenues from affiliate networks or attempting to damage competitors' revenues by forcing them to pay for worthless clicks. The Google Adsense program, in which affiliates receive payment for clicks whether they are real or not, has caused great concern for Google and has intensified its focus on click fraud.

Those engaged in click fraud use a variety of techniques to generate false clicks. Low cost international workers from all over the world are hired to locate and click on ads. The Times of India provided investigative reporting on payment for manual click fraud happening in India. Unethical companies may pay their own employees to click on competitor ads. Last but not least, click fraud can be generated by online robots programmed to click on advertiser or affiliate ads. Some companies go to great lengths creating intricate software that allows for this to happen.

How Can You Deter It?
Many advertisers know about the possibility of click fraud but generally haven't done much in the past to prevent it. Some feel that if they complain to any of the search conglomerates, it could ruin their free listings. Others feel like the problem is beyond them.

"It is a bigger problem, but folks just don't want to take the time to track it down because it's a complex problem," stated John Squire, of web analytics firm Coremetrics, to CNET. "Given that some of the largest marketers manage up to 1 million keywords in a campaign the data can be difficult to crunch."

Companies who do understand and report click fraud to search engine properties have had success receiving refunds for fraudulent clicks. For those advertisers who want to address the possibility of click fraud in PPC campaigns, good option do exists. At the most basic level, advertisers can use general auditing many have been known to compile lists of sites that generate high numbers of clicks but not sales. This will indeed put up a red flag.

On the other hand, because click fraud is advancing at such frequency, click fraud detection companies and software have been popping up all over the country. Let's take a look at some of the options:

- WhosClickingWho.com - This fraud detector tracks all PPC search engines, detects multiple IP's, and even pops up a "ClickMinder" after a potential abuser clicks repeatedly over five times.
- ClickDetective - ClickDetective allows you to track return visitors to your site and alerts you if there is evidence that your site may be under attack. Its reports show you every click in real time rather than a summary hours later.
- BogusClick - BogusClick can help advertisers determine competitor IP addresses, originating PPC search engines and/or partner sites involved, as well as keywords used.
- Clicklab - Clicklab employs a score-based click fraud detection system that applies a series of tests to each visitor session and assigns scores. Calculations are made to indicate bad/good sessions to show an advertiser the quality of traffic.

Click fraud is a big problem in search engine marketing that's only going to get bigger in the future. It is wise for any online advertiser to implement some auditing system. Why continue to waste precious campaign money?!

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