facebook lets users test ad targeting

This week facebook announced a new feature in their advertising platform which give people an ability to split test several ads to find the ad that perform best.

The strength of facebook ads is how they are able to target the ads to right audience.
The new feature allows advertisers to have a 1 day test which determines which of the ads performs better.  The ads are randomized based on people rather than cookies and the audience for the test ads does not overlap. facebook reports that they see a 14% improvement in CPA using the split testing.

My early mistake in treating back pain


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Looking back 10 years when I began having problems with my back I now realize that I did not start physical therapy soon enough.  I ignored the early signs of problems hoping they will go away on their own.  In this article about sciatica pain physical therapist Kim Gladfelter states that the most effective results happen when the patient begins physical therapy within 16 days of the onset of pain.



Tools to understand and improve Amazon book search results


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wrote a very interesting two part article about Amazon book ranking algorithm.  I recommend that you read the entire article (links to both parts of the article are at the end of this post).  I found the article very educational.  The most practical take away from the article was the list of tools that are helpful for improving and understanding Amazon search results.  I have tried each of them and here is that list below with my comments.

  1. https://www.kdspy.com/ – This is a very sophisticated tool that helps you find the best performing keywords using real time data from Amazon. There is a free video tutorial that shows how it works.  This tool is not free but has a free trial period.
  2. https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A200PDGPEIQX41 – This is a free category browser tool from Amazon.  You can do similar analysis to what kdspy tool does manually but obviously it take much longer.
  3. https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-kdp-sales-rank-calculator/# – This free tool tells you how many books a particular book is selling to reach its ranking.  It looks like a calculator.  You input the book rank and it tells you how many books are sold a day.
  4. http://keywordtool.io/ – This tool generates related keywords.  It has a free version and a paid version.   The free version shows you a smaller set of keywords and does not show the specific volume details.  The pro version gives more keywords and exact numbers.  I found the free version useful as it the list contained two good keywords I did not think of on my own.
  5. https://aws.amazon.com/machine-learning/details/ – this is for-fee service from Amazon that allows you to model predictions based on your own data.  I read the tutorial and this is a pretty complicated tool. You need to have data to feed into the system, generate a predictive mode (with guidance) and then experiment with the results.  You are charged based on the amount of time you spend using the system. I did not think this tool would be helpful to me at this time.

    Mythbusting The Amazon Algorithm – Reviews and Ranking For Authors – Part 1, by Cate Baum

    Mythbusting The Amazon Algorithm Part II: Amazon Lists, Products, and Sales – Part2, by Cate Baum

My personal experience matches The New England Journal of Medicine double-blind trial.


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Today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine posted results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pregabalin in patients with sciatica.  Pregabalin is used to relieve pain from damaged nerves.  After my back surgery when I continued to have pain along my sciatica nerve my doctor put me on this medication.  I  was on it for several months and I did not think it helped me.  And now comes NEJM with their conclusion: ineffective! I concur!


I have my manuscript… now what?


When you are a newbie in the world of self-publishing the steps to a successful book launch are pretty daunting. I spent a lot of time doing research and found a lot of information.  Distilling what information I want to use and what I want to put on the back burner is also a process.  I want to share my decisions, hopefully another newbie will stumble on my notes and will find them useful.

A number of things can be done in parallel, but working with the book editor is fairly long process so it was one of the first things I did.

There are three approaches to editing your book:

(1) Ask several friends to proof read your book and request brutally honest comments.  The quality of the results depends a lot on the background of your friends, some of them might be good editors, but most are not.

(2) Put your editing job out for bid (e.g. Fiverr) or do a fixed price job posting on Craig’s list. Using this approach you generally don’t know what quality of the work you will get or even if the editor is a native speaker.

(3) Hire a professional editor. Obviously, this will generate the best quality product but this option is expensive.  Professional editors charge per word, and the price varies depending on what kind of editing you are looking for (grammar only vs improving the structure in addition to grammar).  The lowest quote I got was 3 cents per word.

The best advice I  found for hiring an editor no matter what option you decide to choose is to hire someone to do 10 pages of the manuscript.  This will give you a good idea if you like working with that specific editor and if you are satisfied with his or her work.  If the answer is no, you can cut your loses after spending a relatively small amount of money.

If the editor does his or her job there will be a lot of corrections!  Put on your thick skin!


Can you guess how long ago was the first spinal surgery ever?



I was amazed to read that the first evidence of spinal surgery was found in Egyptian mummies.  The first traction procedure was proposed by Hippocrates in 390 BC, and the first spinal surgery performed by Paulus of Aegina in 7th century. Imagine that! No anesthesia…  If this topic interests you can find the history of spinal surgery is this paper by Larry T. Khoo M.D., A. Fahir Ozer M.D., Murat Cosar M.D. Ph.D., Farbod Asgarzadie M.D.



How did you come to a decision to publish your first book?


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We all have different paths to publishing a book.  When I wrote my surgery diary I have not thought of turning it into a book, I just knew I had to write down all the details because I had such hard time finding information when I needed it. I had  a couple of co-workers and friends who also had back problems and I thought my notes would be helpful to my friends.  Fast forward a few years and I stumbled on a book called “Write Your Book on the Side: How to Write and Publish Your First Nonfiction Kindle Book While Working a Full-Time Job” by Hassan Osman.

“Write your book in the Side” demystified self-publishing for me.  This is a pretty short book and it made the whole process very simple and clear.  I already had the material written down and it is a topic I passionate about.  I also had very positive feedback from people  with whom I shared my notes when they were trying to make a decision whether to have back surgery or not.  So I decided to take a plunge into self-publishing.

I would love to hear how other people came to a decision to publish a book.  Was it a sudden realization that you have something to say like me?  Or  a longer desire that built over a long period?

I just did not know enough to ask the right questions


The first book I am working on is based on the diary I kept during my back surgery and rehabilitation. I quickly realized that despite my research prior to the surgery there were many things I did not know about the entire process. I thought I asked a lot of questions before the surgery but many things came as a surprise, I just did not know enough to ask the right questions.

Before my surgery I asked my surgeon to speak to patients who had a similar procedure done. For privacy reasons it was difficult for the doctor to connect me with other patients. Eventually through the doctor and other friends I found a couple of people who were willing to share their experiences with me. The bits of information they shared were very helpful for getting ready. However their brief comments did not cover many aspects of the entire experience. This difficulty of finding information and the benefit of even a brief discussion with other patients was the inspiration for this book. There were a lot of small things along the way that I wish I knew ahead of time.