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December 30, 2003

Changing the Game

Dave Aiello wrote, "Season's Greetings from everyone at Chatham Township Data Corporation. Today is the next-to-last day of 2003, and in the year that is coming to an end, we've made some real progress toward the goal of finding new purposes for this company. Over the past quarter, CTDATA has gotten itself further into the e-commerce business with a new website, Operation Gadget, and new clients who are trying to get their companies to the next level by selling products on-line."

"We are leveraging four software platforms in our recent efforts: Linux, Amazon Web Services, Movable Type, and Interchange. All of these platforms are fairly complex, low cost, and highly customizable. We believe that Amazon Web Services and Movable Type are still in their early growth stages, and lots of opportunities still exist to build fast growing businesses with them. Linux and Interchange are also platforms with good futures, but it's harder to characterize their growth prospects because of the broad applicability of their feature sets."

"I hope that we can look back at the work that CTDATA has done in 2003 and say that this was the year where we changed the game. Instead of continuing to talk about changing web publishing platforms and migrating content from one platform to another, we just went ahead and built Operation Gadget on Movable Type. Instead of worrying about making a website look as professional and corporate as possible, we use the words 'I', 'me', and 'my' freely on Operation Gadget. Believe it or not, this is real change at CTDATA."

Dave Aiello continued:

Some people will look at changes like this and laugh. Others will say that humility has finally crept into the picture. I say that I went too far in the past thinking about how each thing that CTDATA did would be viewed in the future. This was dumb when CTDATA was growing in spite of itself, but almost suicidal when it was shrinking due to the macroeconomic situation in our industry.

I need to think carefully about what to do and how to do it, but execute far more quickly. And, if you look at what has happened since mid-November, I think you'll agree that I'm finally doing it.

None of this stuff matters if it doesn't result in CTDATA finding more customers and doing more business with them. Operation Gadget has allowed us to connect with people researching personal technology products, most of whom are somewhere in the purchase process. This has resulted in a number of opportunities to earn revenue that we never had before. So far, those opportunities have primarily been through affiliate programs of Amazon.com and Google. But, the potential exists for revenue from this site to come to us from other sources and also in a more direct manner.

With respect to consulting services, the CTDATA.com website continues to be a source of leads for paying work. We need to take maximum advantage of any business that "walks through the front door" in this fashion, and we've done better at this lately than we have in a while.

Looking back at what I said last year, I hoped "that all of us are in one piece and better off in a year than we are today. Any progress without disaster would be welcome." I think that most of us are better off today than we were a year ago, but sadly, everyone didn't make it.

No year end summary would be complete without noting the passing of Peter Andreas Frank, one of my best friends and one of CTDATA's most loyal supporters. May he rest in peace and may his friends and family gain strength from his memory in 2004.

I'm optimistic for the year ahead. Let's agree to meet back on this website in one year's time and see how much we've learned, grown, and helped our customers.

I'd like to take a moment to thank our clients for helping us make 2003 a better year than 2002 was. I hope that our company has added value to your businesses. I'd also like to thank our partners at other companies who helped CTDATA significantly in 2003:

  • Martin O'Donnell
  • Phil Lurie
  • Art Iger
  • Doc Searls
  • Adam Kalsey

On behalf of our little company, I want to extend best wishes to our customers and all of the readers of our website. We hope that 2004 is a better year for all of us, in our personal and business lives. CTDATA is still here to serve you. If we can help you to build a better web-based application, or a better e-commerce or web services-based website, please let us know.

Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.

Dave Aiello


Chatham Township Data Corporation

Previous CTDATA holiday messages:

December 24, 2003

Tim O'Reilly on Business Week's Coverage of Amazon Web Services

Last week, Tim O'Reilly wrote about Business Week's article on the importance of Amazon Web Services to Amazon.com's growth in 2003 and beyond. This API is something that CTDATA has used extensively, beginning with our foray into used books, and continuing through our recent launch of Operation Gadget.

Tim believes that Amazon.com and Ebay are vast network operating systems that enable e-commerce. Therefore, he thinks that companies who get into developing Internet applications that leverage data from these sites will increase their own revenues as well as Amazon's or Ebay's.

We believe that Amazon Web Services represents a major growth area for e-commerce, that's why we are investing in it. We expect our plans in this area to become clearer to the public in 2004. In the meantime, we recommend that people interested in e-commerce growth areas read Tim O'Reilly's article, and the original BusinessWeek article as well.

December 11, 2003

Gizmodo Does a Redesign

Dave Aiello wrote, "I got up this morning and checked out our friends at Gizmodo. Looks like they've done a redesign that includes new graphics and a change in the way the archives are organized. It looks better than it did before."

"I checked a couple of links to content on their site, and it appears that they have not broken individual archive links. Seems like whoever did the redesign is on the ball."

"The most interesting development is that they have put each Movable Type category on a separate virtual web server. In other words the Home Entertainment category is at http://homeentertainment.gizmodo.com/. I bet this lets them serve more distinct Google AdSense ads to each visitor."

"Another thing they've done is put a Deals category up that separates information about good sales at on-line merchants from their straight news. We'll see how well they do with this."

"On the negative side, they've adopted the same home page layout that they are using on other Gawker Media websites. This reduces the amount of content that visitors get to see. Not sure people will like that."

"Most of the good design changes that they've implemented make their site look better in comparison to Operation Gadget, but, they still have a way to go before they reach feature parity."