31 December 2008

Happy new year, from Gaza

if you read this tomorrow, it is too late.

Gaza Al-Aqsa Satellite Television in Arabic 1617 GMT 30 Dec 08

[Statement by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades read by a masked Al-Qassam spokesman, dated 30 December 2008; place not given -- live or recorded]

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. "Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah. then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme. [Koranic verse; Al-Tawbah; 9:111]"

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid. [Al-Hajj; 22:39]

O mujahid and steadfast Palestinian people; O Arab and Islamic nation. From the heart of proud and steadfast Gaza, and from the midst of its mujahidin, steadfast, and splendid heroes, and its patient and faithful people, the Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, sends you this message of jihad, which throbs in unison with the hearts of the mujahidin and which reflects the voice of the steadfast and militant men who are adhering to their religion and homeland.

For the past three days, the Zionist enemy has been perpetrating a horrible massacre and launching an unjust war of aggression against a steadfast Arab and Muslim people who are standing in the face of the machine of oppression, tyranny, and destruction, in total disregard to the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim blood, holding in contempt all the humanitarian values that mankind has respected over generations. This enemy is not paying attention to anyone in this world because it has acquired sufficient cover from the United States and its henchmen -- from the West as well as from the Arabs.

We are not complaining or begging. The picture speaks for itself, and the suffering of our people is now utterly clear to everyone in the world. However, we are now declaring the stand of the Al-Qassam Brigades on everything that is taking place on the blessed land of Gaza, and are telling the Zionists and the world that despite all these horrors and massacres, we are still adhering to our land and the rights of our people, and resisting despite the wishes of the coward leaders of the occupation.

During these three days, and despite the state of war that the enemy has imposed on us and the continuous overflights by its warplanes; and despite the huge arsenal that the enemy sent to the Gaza sea and airspace and surrounding areas, the Al-Qassam Brigades has been able so far to fire 150 rockets of the Grad and Al-Qassam type at the occupied towns south of Palestine and at the settlements and positions around the Strip. God be praised, we have been able to expand the Oil Slick and strike the occupied city of Ashdod, which is over 35 km from the Gaza Strip, and the areas known as (Oftim), Qiryat Qat, the occupied village of Yubna, and other areas, which the enemy knows very well. So far the enemy has admitted the killing of six Zionists and the injury of over 130, many of whom sustained grave injuries. This is in addition to the state of horror that has prevailed on all the positions and occupied cities and settlements of usurpation. We have forced the Zionists to go to shelters, hide in their holes, and declare a state of maximum alert.

Our first message is addressed to our steadfast people, who are being exposed to this aggression:

O our kinfolk, families, and our pride, God has willed that we should live on the land of jihad, steadfastness, and preparedness; that our land should be occupied by the most evil of races, the worst of peoples, and the most despicable ethnic group. This is God's will but we promise you, our people, to remain with you, defending you and satisfying your wishes by what we have prepared and are preparing against this usurping enemy. We swear by God that we will not let the enemy impose its control over you. Our people's mujahidin, led by the Al-Qassam Brigades, will not let the blood of the martyrs of our people go in vain. The suffering of the injured, orphans, and bereaved mothers will not go without punishment. We will take revenge for the sake of this pure blood. God is our witness.

Our second message is to our people's mujahidin and resistance heroes.

We tell them: You are our men, the hope and the example of this nation. Be patient and steadfast. We have always known you, O heroes of Palestine, to be patient and steadfast. You have rubbed the noses of the Zionists in the mud and soil of Gaza, and you will continue to be like that, God willing. Let us be united in the face of aggression. The Al-Qassam Brigades pledges to you, with its steadfast command and pious soldiers, that it will spearhead the ranks to realize the promise of God concerning the dregs of humanity and the scum of the earth. "Behold! thy Lord did declare that He would send against them, to the Day of Judgment, those who would afflict them with grievous penalty." [Al-A'raf; 7:167]

You can now see how the state of evil and aggression is standing as one man, using all of its resources, planes, and army, sounding the alarms, spending billions, calling up the reservists, and preparing shelters and fortresses. All of this and more, because it is afraid. It fears you more than it fears God. These are the most coward of mankind because they are defending falsehood. As for us, we say that our martyrs are in paradise while their dead are in fire. God is our supporters but they have no supporter.

Our third message is to the Zionist enemy leaders. We will tell you the following:

1. O cowards, if you believe that HAMAS and Al-Qassam Brigades are heaps of rubble and that you can wipe us out by bombing them, then you are misled and foolish. Thanks to our jihadist history, we live in the hearts and consciences of our Palestinian people. HAMAS and Al-Qassam Brigades are in every Palestinian house. They will rise from the rubble and emerge from the lanes and streets of the Gaza Strip's towns and refugee camps.

2. If you think that bombing houses, assassinating the mujahidin, and killing people in the street, in buildings, and in vehicles, will terrify us and force us to retreat then you will soon realize your bad policies and all your designs and intrigues will turn against you. We will surprise you with what will harm you. With the permission of Almighty and the Omnipotent God.

3. Let the Zionist war lords be prepared to stand in front of the second Vinograd Commission. It seems that they are falling into the traps of their dreams and their impossible imaginations. By God, we tell you that it would be easier for you to dry up the sea of Gaza than to wipe us out, uproot us, or strike at our resistance, which is embraced by our Palestinian people.

4. We tell the enemy leaders: Spare your efforts and try to save face. No matter what crimes you might perpetrate and no matter how many outrages you commit, you will not be able to force us to take a stand that satisfies you. You will only receive from us rockets, fire, bullets, and bombs. If this aggression continues we will strike with our missiles places and other towns that are more remote than what we have struck so far until the enemy realizes that when Al-Qassam Brigades says that it will expand the flaming oil slick, it knows what it is saying, that its actions precede its words and warnings.

5. If you have decided that this aggression will continue for a long time, then you have sentenced all the inhabitants of the usurper settlements and the towns in the south and center of occupied Palestine to death.

6. If you decide to mount a land operation against the Strip, the Gaza land will be transformed into fire and volcanoes that will erupt to kill your defeated soldiers. We promise you that when you enter Gaza, the children of Gaza will collect the torn pieces of your soldiers bodies and the fragments of your wrecked tanks from the streets, with God's help.

Our fourth message to the Zionist society.

We tell you that your leaders are trading in your blood in order to win elections. They are trying to deceive you into believing that they can stop the missiles. If you support what your army is doing in the Gaza Strip, then we ask you as of now to abandon Sederot, Al-Majdal, Ashdod, and the towns and villages near this area and beyond. Your leaders are deceiving you. They are showing you the dismembered bodies, the rivers of blood, and the rubble in Gaza and are telling you: We will stop the missiles. However, we reassure you that missiles will become a daily program in your life as long as there is single plane bombing the Gaza Strip or a soldier entering the Gaza Strip territory. Companies and banks have started to haggle over your areas and your homes, considering them a profitable good commodity to sell at the lowest prices.

We assure you that your government is deceiving you. What the war lords want are in fact your votes. Some of them will win the election but you will bear the consequences of backing this unjust and treacherous war.

In conclusion, we salute this wave of support by the Arab and Islamic peoples and the free peoples in the world to back our steadfastness. This uprising expresses the conscience and genuine nature of the nation [the community of Muslims worldwide], affirming that it is a mujahid and living nation. We call for further activities. The Palestinian people in Gaza are a Muslim Arab people who are at the first defense line to protect you. They need from you more than this.

At the same time, we express regret for the usual despicable stand of most of the Arab rulers and governments and tell them: Regrettably you have lost your Arabism because of your corrupt policies. Gaza will bring you to account before God because of your defeatism and complicity and your betrayal of your nation.

We finally say that we will remain committed to our promise and our covenant with Almighty God and with our martyrs and nation. We will remain as our nation knew us. We will never give up. We will not be defeatists or humiliated. Our victory is a promise of God, and their defeat is confirmed by a verse in the book of God. We are firm, patient, and triumphant with God's help.

God is great. God be praised. Victory for the mujahidin and humiliation for the aggressors.

It is a jihad for victory or martyrdom.

[Signed] Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Tuesday, 30 December 2008.

[Description of Source: Gaza Al-Aqsa Satellite Television in Arabic -- HAMAS-run television]

14 December 2008

Select Language Please...

zomg, blogging from work.

The Google Adwords debate. Various commentators have criticized, and Google has all but admitted, that it controls ad pricing via its 'Ad Quality' metric. The cost of an ad is directly related to the Quality score assigned to it by Google, or more specifically the bid and quality score of the next lower-ranked ad. Different websites, including Google explain how the system works, and point out either the positive or negative effects of this system. The positive effect is that it means ads have more relevance. The negative effects are more complicated...

Ads are placed and bidded on in different categories. Keyword searches are very different from targeted placement on 'content' websites, which is what many people associate when thinking of the distinctive 'Google AdWord' program. Cost-per-Impression bids too are different from Cost-per-Click. So what's exploitable?

Ad Quality for CPC bids depends, among other things, on click-thru rate (both the individual ad and historical trends for the advertiser's entire account). This encourages ads that are relevant to the marketed content site... but it also encourages ads which only SEEM to be relevant. Clickthru rate only measures appearance, not how that appearance translates to sales, but Google's Ad Quality program means that deceptive appearance may translate directly to lower costs for the advertiser. This is one reason for criticism of Ad Words.

The other metric, used for both CPC and CPI, is 'landing page quality'. This is probably a subjective quality, unless it is measured by network links, but even then it's subject to mistakes and flaws in Google's link-measuring algorithms, where mistakes by Google lead to discriminatory higher costs against affected innocent advertisers. This is another reason for criticism of Ad Words.

However the real problem is not that a relationship exists between Google's algorithms and the number of customers that buy products on an advertiser's website; it is that it is a direct relationship that can vary instantly based on Google's actions, where a random variation in an advertiser's Ad Quality can immediately lead to a higher Effective Cost-Per-Click or Per-Impression for the advertiser. What it should be is a reduction in impressions, because an 'irrelevant' ad should not be seen so much. You might think that since Ad Quality determines ad ranking and only a limited number of ads can be shown on each page, that Ad Quality would translate directly to fewer impressions, but in fact this often isn't true because the system is based off of budget saturation of higher-ranked advertisers, which is why Google characterizes a better Ad Quality as directly translating to lower costs per click.

((Ugh... doing something else for a while never helps logical coherence of blog posts...)) The ideal solution, of Ad Quality reducing impression rate and only impression rate, is related to the last problem of the size of market demand for the advertisers' products. The CPC and CPI bid metrics present a simple and understandable approach to the cost of advertising, when the market size is unknown or unreliable; but it leads to these problems of Google being perceived as directly controlling the return on advertising expenditures based on 'arbitrary' quality measurements, which are supposed to prevent exploits in the system but require advertisers to trust Google even while the system will never be without critique or possess the transparency that many would like.

Basically, Google ((I had Blizzard there, and didn't realize until I finished this paragraph... >_< zomg and in the last paragraph too!! -deletes it-)) attempts to use the 'uncertainty of form', advocated by Sun Tzu and the same strategy which I attempt to use myself to reach or.. maintain my existence, in their case used to attain an optimal operating position due to the compromises which they would otherwise have to endure operating in a world or environment of stupid people... but they do not do it perfectly, because there are still critics.

/sigh, what was I saying... too many Blizzards, now I don't know what I'm talking about and this is why I'll never have a serious blog lol.

Summary: Google's Ad Quality directly influences ad cost, and indirectly influences impressions/clicks because it encourages advertisers to use up all of their daily and monthly Budget via offering fuzzier ad matching options. What Google's Ad Quality SHOULD do is directly influence impressions/clicks at the same cost per impression/click, and INDIRECTLY influence cost when this encourages advertisers to raise their bid to increase their Ad Rank and indirectly the number of impressions.

The reason this can't happen under the current system is that it requires the number of impressions, or number of clicks advertisers get to be slightly fluid. Not in the sense of varying hugely based on Google's assigned Ad Quality rating, but rather on the slow and usually imperceptible currents based on market changes and on varying increases and decreases in competition due to overall average Ad Quality in the entire advertising market. I'm certainly no expert, but I would imagine this would mean transitioning from a system of variable $X per constant Y results, to a system of constant $X per variable Y results. The point that must be conveyed is simply that the variation in clicks or impressions is the same for all customers, regardless of Ad Quality or keywords or content placement of an ad. Provide more information about the expected effects of a certain expenditure for a website with a quality product and landing page, as well, to help new customers comprehend it all (a key complaint!).

It does still penalize newcomers to the system, because confidence in the system is dependent on it not collapsing from not being able to find sufficient placement in content and relevant search results... but that is as much as may be, and removing the perception of arbitrary cost penalties by Google is paramount, and this is the only way to do it.