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Nazi butcher Klaus Barbie hands out luxury mobile phones, valued at over €3,000 to corrupt Bulgarian politicians.

A total of 16 Bulgarian Members of Parliament succumbed to a trick designed by two media in order to expose their greediness and prevalence of personal interests over legislative responsibilities.

The joint operation between the bTV private channel and the “168 Chasa” weekly consisted in offering luxurious cell phones, worth over BGN 6000 to 42 Bulgarian MPs. An expensive party was “organized” on Wednesday at a hotel in downtown Sofia , on which the phones were supposed to be handed out to them.

The party coincided with a Parliamentary session. Only 26 of the invited MPs stayed, 16 of their colleagues skipped work to get hold of the nice “gifts”.

The members of the parliament did not realize they were being tricked, even though the invitations were signed with the name of Klaus Barbie, a notorious Gestapo member and war criminal, known as the Butcher of Lyon.

“You are abusing the name of a respected cell phone company. This is illegal,” ruling centrist GERB MP declared before the journalists upon being “caught in action”.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov condemned the 22 MPs, who skipped work due to a media hoax offering them “free luxurious cell phones.”

“I am ashamed by their behavior,” Borisov admitted, but still pointed out that his ruling centrist GERB’s MPs have been less greedy in comparison to their colleagues.

Parliamentary Speaker Tsetska Tsatseva, who was one of the invited but did not attend the fake event, also expressed her dissatissfaction

The joint operation between the bTV private channel and the “168 Chasa” weekly consisted in offering luxurious cell phones, worth over BGN 6000 to 42 Bulgarian MPs. An expensive party was “organized” on Wednesday at a hotel inSofia , on which the phones were supposed to be handed out to them.

The party coincided with a Parliamentary session. Only 26 of the invited MPs stayed, 16 of their colleagues skipped work to get hold of the nice “gifts”.

The members of the parliament did not realize they were being tricked, even though the invitations were signed with the name of Klaus Barbie, a notorious Gestapo member and war criminal, known as the Butcher of Lyon.

novinite.com

BRITISH ACADEMY, ROYAL SOCIETY BACK BULGARIAN TOP SCI BODY AMID ATTACKS

The presidents of UK’s leading research institutions are among those who have sent letters of support to the Bulgarian Academy of Science, which has been facing extreme budget cuts and likely closure forced from the government.

Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy – UK’s leading center for humanities and social sciences – has sent out an official letter to senior Bulgarian officials, including PM Boyko Borisov, in which he calls for a strong committment on the part of the state for science and research.

“It is a striking fact that in these very difficult economic times, many countries are making investment in knowledge and research a priority, and are even increasing their investment at a time of cuts elsewhere. They do so because they know that research contributes to innovation and economic growth, and helps build social stability,” writes Sir Roberts.

The letter concludes asking senior Bulgarian officials to “reconsider the cuts to a vital part of Bulgarian national life and of the Bulgarian economy.”

Lord Martin Rees of Ludlow, President of the UK Royal Society – one of the oldest and most prestigious research institutions in the world – has on his part sent a letter of support to the BAS President Nikola Sabotinov, expressing his “concern” at Bulgarian budget cuts for research, calling that science be “at the heart of European countries’ plans for future prosperity.”

Lord Rees of Ludlow has asked Sabotinov to forward his letter to all Bulgarian senior officials he is in contact with.

He further states that the Royal Society is “proud of its links with BAS” and speaks highly of the Academy’s plans for development and already instituted reforms.

The presidents of Britain’s top research institutions are just some of the international research leaders who have already sent out letters in support of BAS.

The messages include a strong-worded letter to PM Borisov from Prof. Jüri Engelbrecht – President of ALLEA, the umbrella organization of Europe’s science academies.

Further letters of support have been sent out by the presidents of the Serbian and Turkish of science, as well as by a number of Bulgarian researchers working abroad.

In the meanwhile, the Bulgarian Parliament is set to review Wednesday a controversial legislative amendment which envisions dismantling BAS into separate institutes under the direct jurisdiction of the Minister of Education and the Council of Ministers.

novinite.com

BULGARIAN GOVT STRIKES TO DEMOLISH TOP RESEARCH INSTITUTION

Authorities have taken up specific measures to make possible demolishing the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with an urgent legislative amendment currently under review by Parliament.

This development comes after November 15 Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov and Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva announced the Academy of Sciences (BAS) will be split into self-standing institutes and its central organs abolished.

Researchers alarmed that would mean an end to the Academy, and went out on a string of protests, after which PM Borisov and Minister of Education Sergei Ignatov announced that they have no plans whatsoever to demolish Bulgaria’s oldest science institution.

Nevertheless, last Thursday Rumen Stoilov, a back-bench MP from the ruling GERB party, tabled a legislative amendment to the Law on BAS which mandates precisely the splitting of the academy into self-standing institutes and the founding of a separate, largely ceremonial body of academicians.

The Parliamentary Education and Research Committee has deemed it worthwhile to urgently vote on the legislative proposal and has included it into its Wednesday agenda.

What is most alarming, the amendment forsees that the newly-created institutes would be under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and will be subject to merging or closing down by the Council of Ministers at the proposal of the education minister.

This would expressly eliminate BAS as a self-standing entity and will put in the hands of the central goverment the power to eliminate institutes at will – something that BAS researchers have been consistently alarming against.

Thus, although the letter of the legislative amendment is consistent with the statement that BAS will not be shut down, the new law would put all its units at the self-willed mercy of a government that has proven hostile not only to investment in research and education, but also to the Academy as an institution.

Researchers have claimed that in particular the government wants not only to disburden itself from the need to sponsor science and research, but what is more – to lay hands on BAS’s many properties.

Bulgarian Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov is a self-confessed BAS-hater. What is more, in interviews he has given to the Bulgarian press before assuming office, he has suggested the idea of selling out BAS’s assets, even mentioning specific figures of their worth.

BAS researchers and leadership have alarmed that Djankov has already effected the dismantling of the Georgian Academy of Science during his stint as a World Bank expert in the country.

They have protested the bill for amendment of the Law on BAS and have called a fresh protest Wednesday.

novinite.com

Entrepreneurs bemoan Bulgaria’s investment gridlock during Sofia travel conference.

“Missing links” in the chain are preventing sufficient funding reaching young travel business entrepreneurs in the Balkans, and, in particular, Bulgaria.

That was one of the conclusions of a discussion on investment in travel technology at the ongoing Trends and Innovation Travel Distribution Summit at the Sheraton Hotel, on November 5 2010.

A panel of experts, including John Hazlewood, CEO of TravelStoreMaker.com, Farley Duvall, CEO of WhiteBull.com and Victor Papazov, Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, noted that it was harder to obtain investment from venture capitalists and banks in Bulgaria than it was elsewhere.

Koos Schouten, of Webfactory.bg, commenting from the audience, noted that “too many great ideas and big opportunities for investment go south because of missing links in the market all over the Balkans”. He attributed this to “a lack of communication between entrepreneurs and ideas people and ‘the money'” and noted that “when you need money down the line, the doors stay closed” in Bulgaria.

Schouten remarked that in his native country, The Netherlands, budding entrepreneurs received a more favourable hearing from financial institutions and there are investment consultants ready to help people starting up.

Another member of the panel commented that in Hungary the situation is much better, citing the establishment of the venture capital association and the encouragement of corporate social responsibility.

The panel commented on the importance of presenting ideas attractively. “You might have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t package it, forget it,” said one speaker, who also noted “the importance of doing your homework if you’re looking for funds”. Above all, he said, don’t present your programme to your mother – seek unbiased and objective views!

Speakers agreed that those companies that are going “global” find it easier to attract investment. If, on the other hand, your market is exclusively that of a small country, such as Bulgaria, you could find it harder to secure funding.

The bigger countries, such as Romania, Poland and Turkey, will, of course, do better but companies with a global reach will always find it easier to get more financial backing.

Gabriel Hershman – Sofia Echo

37 Takeaways from SEOmoz Master Class in Bulgaria by Paris Childress

What better opportunity for my first YOUmoz post than to recap the most significant SEO event to date in Bulgaria–the SEOmoz Master Class at the Webit Conference in Sofia last Friday.

Bulgaria’s top SEOs settled in–mildly skeptical yet very eager to listen to and challenge the SEO ambassador they’d seen on countless Whiteboard Fridays. Rand was ready, though, and he delivered.

In the 3-hour marathon session (broken up by a brief 10-minute break), we drank SEO from the fire-hose. No important topic was left uncovered. So, to the takeaways already…

On ranking correlation data

1. Correlation does not equal causation, but ignore it at your own peril. Data convinces clients & stakeholders better than opinions and anecdotal evidence.

2. Short, exact match keyword domains are best, if you can snag them. If not, go for hyphenated keyword domains as your next best option.

3. Differentiation opportunity for alt image tags–these had surprisingly higher correlation than other more popular on-page factors, like the over-optimized page title (I sense low-hanging fruit).

4. .gov & .edu domains… perhaps a bit overrated on authority, however they do tend to host quality sites. Overall, TLD’s don’t correlate especially well.

5. Number of linking root domains correlates even better than exact keyword match domain! News to me.

6. Metrics for predicting a site’s collective ability to rank pages, i.e. domain authority, are still not as reliable as page-level metrics.

On Google Instant

7. It does NOT mark the death of SEO or the long-tail. Google Suggest trained people to read ahead a long time ago. Case closed.

On site architecture and related on-page conundrums

8. Map your site structure before doing keyword research (I suggest using an actual mind mapping tool for this); this forces you think like a user before thinking like an SEO.

9. Editorial categorization beats user-defined categorization (e.g. user tags), which can get complex & messy as it grows.

10. Workaround for minimizing click depth and elevating deep pages:  link to a custom sitemap in your nav menu.

11. Buttons are more clickable than links. Mail Chimp’s homepage demonstrates this well. No surprise, really, yet so many big sites still not getting it.

12. Rel canonical tag works like a 301 redirect.

13. What to do when spammers scrape and republish your content:

  • Use absolute urls in source code–lazy scrapers may inadvertently link back to you
  • Report it to DMCA
  • Do NOT attempt to block bots (or allow select few) in your robots.txt file–bots change names.

14. Suspect incomplete indexation?

  • Don’t trust ‘site:command’ on any of the engines, it’s flaky
  • DO trust organic search visits to pages, shown in Google Analytics (GA)
  • Track site sections separately in GA to better isolate trouble areas
  • Syndicate content
  • Create RSS feeds for the content you care most about getting indexed
  • Tweet those pages!

15. Got a search-based site not accessible to crawlers? Create static category landing pages for popular keyword queries.

16. Thin content pages? Try:

  • User-generated content (UGC) — this is what makes an Amazon product page truly unique.
  • Outsource writing assignments to Odesk or Elance copywriters
  • If you don’t care about them, keep them out of the index (meta no-index) to help your better pages get more easily found

17. Workaround faceted navigation (e.g. list re-sorting) by:

  • Using rel canonical tag
  • Use AJAX to reload page content
  • Offer faceted navigation only to logged-in users (if possible)

On Twitter’s cannibalization of the link graph & how to get more links, tweets, whatever

18. People who linked in the past Tweet today… links to viral content–when compared to a few years ago–are down; replaced by tweets.

19. Backtype, which captures all social sharing done on a page, helps complete the real picture of editorial endorsement.

20. Embeddable infographics–turn data into visually-appealing graphics… more low-hanging fruit that can reward well-optimized creativity.

21. Badge re-publishing works best when recipients have worked hard to earn them.

22. Be the first to write about trending topics on Twitter. Traffic may be short-lived, but replicate it over and over for sustainability.

23. Bundle tweets into weekly round-up blog posts (WordPress plugin Twitter Tools does this automatically).

24. Create an award.

25. Create citation-worthy content, where sharing requires a link to the source (e.g. heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers).

26. Find and target content niches where content supply is low relative to high demand.

27. Lots of sites still ‘do-follow’ links. Don’t overdue it, but…

28. Get links from friends, family, customers, vendors. Ask politely for a link in every email (duh). Wouldn’t you link to a good customer or vendor if asked?

29. Don’t ignore Twitter’s potential to send direct traffic; use Twitaholic to ID people who can send you real traffic.

On making Google Analytics (GA) actionable

30. Ask upfront: (i) Why am I measuring this? (ii) What would I do if the results were different?

31. Measure number of visits per search engine over time, taking into account engines’ market shares. (e.g. does more traffic from Bing mean improved rankings or Bing’s growing market share?)

32. Measure unique pages and unique keywords receiving search referral traffic.

33. Monitor number of visits sent from search over time for top keywords. This may help flag drops in rankings.

34. Compare conversion rates of first time vs. returning visitors. Expect to see higher conversion rates for returning visitors.

35. Focus on boosting keywords currently ranking on page 2 results. Just a few more links, or on-page optimization, will likely bump you to page 1, which will mean lots more traffic.

36. GA gives you 20 goals–use ‘em! Create micro conversions for things like time spent on site, newsletter sign-ups, shares, tweets, etc. Do your best to assign unique values to these actions.

37. Fix GA’s latent last-click attribution bias (meaning the last click before the conversion gets the credit)  by (at least) also measuring the first touch point. Here are instructions for setting up first touch tracking in GA.

Again, hats off to Rand! Lots of folks clearly learned lots of great info that they’re already applying today. And keep an eye on the SEO talent in Bulgaria. It can make people happy enough to do handstands!

http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/37-takeaways-from-seomoz-master-class-in-bulgaria

Webfactory CEO, Koos Jan Schouten, co-moderates eCommerceAcademy.net @ Sheraton, Sofia. 3-5 November 2010.

November 4, 2010 1 comment

Koos Jan Schouten is moderating several panel discussions at eCommerceAcademy.net @ Sheraton Hotel, Sofia. 3-5 November 2010.

The eCommerceAcademy is organised by travelstoremaker.com.

Among the speakers and panel members are:  John Hazlewood, CEO TSM, Koos Jan Schouten, CEO Webfactory.bg, Krassi Simonski, Head of e-Commerce Academy, Eric Ingrand, Director Business Development EMEA at Enveritas Group, Brenday May, European Sales Manager for IDeaS Revenue Optimization, Gerasimos Perdikaris, General Manager Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan, Petar Panayotov, Managing Director HotelWebSiteOfTheFuture, Davide Rosi, CEO BCD Travel Italy, Henning Kripendorf, Tracklayer Ltd.,Kamen Zahariev, CEO MyWebSiteSEO, Nicky Nikolaev, Managing Director  of Webboratory, Vladi Krastev, Head of Video Productions, Marin Yotovski, Design Guru Webboratory.com, Tony Iliev, Manager EmailMarketing.com, Vera Genova,  CenTransit Concierge, EasyHotel.com, Kostas Trivizas, Managing Director Aeolus Hospitality, Angel Kozludjov, VP Innovations and Technology, Orak Engineering  Katerina Nikolova, Product Manager ORAK Hotel Vera Genova, Director of Operations TranslationsBPO, Nikolay Ognianov PhD, Director of Technology and Chief Science Officer, Atanas Kebedjiev Ph.D, Director Technical Operations TravelStoreMaker.com, Ivan Toshkov, Chief Software Architect, Ramy Ramadan, CEO RoomsXML/WebSource, Krassimir Stoyanov, CEO ORAK Engineering  Bogdan Stefan, Sugar CRM Consultant, Vera Genova, Managing Director CenTransit.com, Prof. Irena Misheva, Dean of Faculty Higher School for Insurance and Finance, Hristo Galbachev, CEO Astral Holidays,Bobby Pankov, SpotsTours, Farley Duval, WhiteBull, Pavel Ezekiev, CEO Neveq Fund, Tom Higgins, Global Finance, Victor Papazov, Chairman of the Board of Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Valery Petrov, Bancroft, Martin Paev, Owner and General Manager SORTIS INVEST and others.

Bulgaria 5th in Global Broadband Internet Quality

Bulgaria ranks fifth in the world in quality of broadband Internet, according to results of a research by Cisco Systems Inc, conducted by the Oxford University.

The first four places are taken by South Korea, Japan and Sweden, while countries like Finland, Romania and Denmark are placed after Bulgaria.

Among the cities, Sofia ranks 11th in quality of the Internet connection, followed by Lisbon, New York City, Hong Kong, Paris and Copenhagen.

“Having in mind the Internet speed, I would like to live in Sofia,” said Fernando Gil de Bernabe, senior director at Cisco.

The broadband quality ranking measured the proportion of households and businesses with access to broadband, combined with Internet-connection speed.

The quality was defined by taking into account the download speed, upload speed and the average latency.

Sofia residents download with an average speed of 14,7 Mb/s and upload with an average of 7 Mb/s, while the latency is 52 ms.

Bulgaria, however, has showed a slow progress in the distribution of Internet in the country. It ranks last among the 23 countries.

Most of the Eastern European countries have shown a tendency for high quality and low distribution among the population in comparison to the countries that have more developed economies.

“The quality of the Internet connection in Bulgaria is developed enough. The country needs to do more about the penetration of the connection among the population. In order for this to happen, there has to be political will and initiative,” Bernabe said.

According to the survey, Bulgaria occupies the 20th place for the ratio quality-distribution.