Category Archives: Internet

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

A couple of days ago I was talking about whether it was a good thing or not to trust companies that end up being too big. I mentioned Google specifically because these days they’re in the news almost as often as Facebook. I wondered if there was an alternative to some of these large companies.

Of course I already knew of one when it comes to search engines, and it’s called Duck Duck Go. It sounds like a silly name but it’s a serious search engine and fast becoming the nerds option for searches where they don’t want to be tracked by cookies. Indeed, it’s what Google used to be at the beginning; a clean interface that only does searches, with no advertising, no tracking, and sometimes more accurate results than what you might find on Google. Sometimes, that is.

You’re asking about the “more accurate” part I assume (of course you are lol). I did a test by running a search term for one of my business sites. On Google I’m not even listed in the top 100 for the term; on Duck Duck Go I came up at #22. Why I say it’s more accurate is because on Google all these sites come up that aren’t local, that somewhere on their site might have “Syracuse” listed but, because it’s a large site, they end up outranking me for the term. On The Duck (I think I’m going to call it that) it eliminated almost all of those sites, although there were still a bunch in front of me. Still, more sites that were above me were local, even if they don’t do one of the terms I mentioned, using it a much different way than I meant it.

You want to talk tracking? They have a link where they tell you how they don’t track you. They also have a privacy policy that’s much easier to understand.

Now, before you say you like something like this and will leave Google forever, there are some things you need to know. Right now it only does searches for pages. If you want to search for images, news, blogs, etc, it doesn’t do any of that. That’s why I have them side by side in my toolbar, so I can select which one I want to use for which purpose. And there seems to be some relationship between them and the Mozilla folks, but since I’m a major Firefox fan I don’t have a problem with that.

Anyway, it’s a nice alternative, and one I’ll be using more often. One can only hope that when they get bigger, and they will, that they hold true to their mission in some fashion. I will never have a problem with them adding advertising, but I don’t want to be tracked and, well, imposed upon all the time.
 

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Gera Agency Scam

I don’t often “out” scams in the way I’m going to out this one but I think it’s important to do, and I’ve also seen them written about in other places so mine isn’t the first. But it’s not everywhere and I think people need to see this and hopefully learn, if nothing else, to trust their instincts.

Here’s the first email I received:

Hi,

We are looking for new advertisement platforms and we are interested in your sitewww.imjustsharing.com. Is it possible to place banner on your site on a fee basis?

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez

The response I sent told him what my advertising policy was on this site; I’d rather not put it out here, but knowing this is my most popular site, let alone blog, you can bet it’s not necessarily low. The responsoe I got after that was this one:

Hello,

Thanks for reply to our proposal!

I represent Gera Agency. At the moment we are preparing an advertising campaign for Lacoste Company (it is a French company producing clothes, footwear, perfumery etc.) We already have designed banners for the campaign, they are the following sizes: 160×600, 240×400, 300×250, 336×280, 468×60, 728×90. What can be your price for one banner (banner should appear at ALL pages of your site) of abovementioned sizes (please specify the place for the banner รขโ‚ฌโ€œ top, bottom, left, right)? Please mention a normal link for banner, without javascript code and set prices in US dollars per month.

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez.
site:www.geraagency.com
e-mail:vlopez@geraagency.com
phone: + (0)9 78 62 85 38

Now, I started having the Spidey senses once I received this, though I wasn’t sure why. In my response about advertising here, I indicated the type of banner advertising I’d allow on this site. What’s above seemed to ignore what I’d already written. Also, see what the products are? I wondered why this blog would be considered for advertising those types of products, although my feeling was if someone wanted to pay the kind of money I was asking for and it wasn’t something abhorrent why not accept it. I was also thrown off with the comment about javascript code; I have advertising already on one of my other sites and this was a first for me. I had no idea what this guy could be talking about.

My response, with prices omitted, was thus:

Greetings,

The only two banner sizes I’d allow on the site would be the 240×400 and the 300×250; all the others would throw off the look drastically. I’d charge $XXX a month for that or a flat fee of $XXX for the year. It would be a normal link as I don’t even know how to create javascript.

Just to add this, I have another site that might interest you, and the advertising rates are lower. Take a look at this site: http://www.servicesandstuff.com. There are multiple pages on this site and some of them might suit your clients product. Even though the advertising rates are lower, the rate for advertising is per page. However, this site would allow for the banner ad sizes 468×60 and 728×90 in addition to the other two I allow on I’m Just Sharing. The large skyscraper ad wouldn’t work on that site, and the 336×80 banner ad would have to be altered to fit, so that probably wouldn’t look good either.

This was his reply to that:

We like your price.
To pass to the banner control system follow the link http://webmaster.geraagency.com
To enter use the following data:

login: www.imjustsharing.com
password: XXXXXX (changed this)

You should install and activate the plugin in order to display advertisement. Before making payment, advertiser must approve location of the banner. The banner will be shown on your site when you add special code to your web- address (for example: http://www.imjustsharing.com/?adv_test=1). It means, that visitors will see the banner only if it is approved and payment made.

To get installation instruction for your site type pass to: http://docs.geraagency.com/wp_install
To activate your site you have to enter the code: XXX-XXX-XXX (changed this)

What way of payment is suitable for you?

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez.
site: www.geraagency.com
e-mail: vlopez@geraagency.com
phone: + (0)9 78 62 85 38

Whoa! Now the Spidey senses were kicking me in the behind! I’d really never heard of anything like this, and it didn’t make sense. Notice the part I highlighted in his response; create a redirect of a banner from my site? Was he serious? Plugin? I don’t think so.

It was at this point I finally decided some research was in order; I probably should have started with this. I looked up the site and it’s totally in French. Then I looked up Lacoste Company; even if I’ve never heard of them this is a pretty big site, and a major designer. Why would they want to advertise on my blog since I’ve never talked about fashion (doesn’t mean I won’t lol)?

Then it was time to research Gera Agency, and that’s where the red flags were confirmed. There was this link from a company in Malaysia that asked the same questions I was asking. There was this link from a site called Moonpixel where the guy posted the same exact letter as mine, only it looks like he actually tried to load whatever the site was offering. Finally there was this post on another blog called vinitneo with the same exact letter posted again. There are lots of others, but you get the point by now.

Folks, if anyone ever wants to advertise on your blog and they’re legitimate they’ll do one of two things. One, they’ll send you a banner file with the link they’d like you to use, or two, they’ll just send you the link and have you put it somewhere most probably in a specific blog post. Unless it’s an affiliate company, never, and I mean NEVER, download code from any site and allow it to add a redirect. You will regret it and might not get your site back.

Spidey senses to the rescue again! ๐Ÿ™‚
 

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Ken’s Googlebomb Post – My Head Hurts

Last Sunday I got myself hooked into reading a blog post by Ken Evoy of Site Build It that was titled Proof That Google Has No True Googlebomb Algorithm. I have to say that I knew nothing about Ken Evoy other than being the top guy there, and I didn’t even know he had a blog until this post. After reading the post… my head hurt.

I have kept the post for a while now because I wanted to read it again. The first time I read it I actually knew overall what he was talking about. But it’s quite a long post, so much so that I’m going to tell most of you that if you’re not into technology and a lot of that kind of talk don’t even bother checking it out. I’m going to touch on some of this though, because it’s interesting stuff.

What the Site Build It folks were able to do was prove that the Google system could be gamed. They have all sorts of documentation from someone who made it their goal of showing just how they could fool Google and get to the top of the rankings right under Google’s nose, even telling people what was coming. Site Build It tried to tell Google what was happening and, instead of addressing it, pretty much ignored it.

I say “pretty much ignored” because there were a series of form letters Google sent to Ken, and apparently Ken didn’t like that. At one point Google seemed to tell them they were going to do something really positive, but then didn’t do a thing.

Let me step back for a quick moment, if I may. A “googlebomb” is usually where a bunch of people get together and create a ton of links to something to skew search results so they’ll take you to a specific page for a search term, whether they’ve earned it or not. The most famous google bomb (you can write it as either one or two words) was when you’d put in “miserable failure” and George Bush’s name came up; so wrong! lol

Another google bomb was perpetrated by John Chow when he was able to get something like 85,000 people to keep linking to his name to drive him up to the top in Google’s search engines and in page rank. At least at that time Google hated it so much they delisted his site (that’s bad), but for whatever reason it didn’t end up reducing his visitors, and he still made a ton of cash online. He’s now back on Google after a 3-year absence with a page rank and listing after they kissed and made up (pays to have a direct connection to Matt Cutts; but I digress…).

Anyway, what it’s all boiling down to is, in his own way, Ken is going for his own google bomb, though he wouldn’t call it that. He’s trying to rally the troops, who would be us, to support his cause by going to this link and joining him in kind of a protest. He’s also declared that he won’t write another thing on his blog until Google fixes this algorithm.

I have some takes on this; otherwise, why would I have written this much?

One, Ken has a pony in this race which slightly colors his anger here. Seems there were some folks who google bombed his company with negative reviews, not because they didn’t like him or the company but because they wanted to prove they could do it. That doesn’t sit well with him.

Two, I can’t understand how not writing any posts on his blog will help push his cause. To me, if I had a gripe about something I’d want to write almost every day about it, or at least often. Who does him not writing on his blog anymore help? Google won’t care, people reading his blog that agree or disagree with him won’t go back because they’ll have no idea how long his boycott is, and thus his message will get lost.

Three, I’m not sure all that many people will get enthused enough to join a movement to get Google to take care of this problem of google bombs. I mean, Google did take away the page rank from this blog for a little while, but my posts were still showing up on Google, sometimes in the top spot for certain terms (you want to see something neat?

I could say more, but I think that’s enough for the moment. I guess I’ll just put the question out there and ask who’s angry enough at Google to even think about joining a movement against them? Actually, I hope you go check out what he wrote, but be warned, it’s almost 5,800 words. Good thing I speed read! ๐Ÿ˜‰
 

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When Comments Won’t Show

I’m writing this a couple of days removed, but hopefully I can help you out so you don’t go through what I went through. Of course, not everyone will be able to do this, but at least the information might be helpful.


by Steve Ryan via Flickr

On Sunday I heard from our friend Brian Hawkins on Twitter. He was telling me that he was having problems posting a comment to this blog. He thought something was missing, so I went to take a look and said everything looked fine. I even checked on 3 different browsers. So he tried it on a couple of browsers and it just wasn’t coming up properly for him. He said he’d try it at his brother’s the next day.

Monday morning I looked at comments and wondered why I wasn’t seeing any new ones. Remembering Brian’s comment the day before, and seeing that he’d sent me the comment he had wanted to post, I decided to go to one of those other browsers to post it myself. It took me to a 404 page. That was freaky, so I came into this admin panel to try to post a quick comment of my own; that wasn’t happening either, as it just kept disappearing.

Now it was panic and research time. From 8:30 in the morning until around 8:30 in the evening, with a few breaks to eat, I tried as many things as I could. Nothing was working. I even called my hosting company to see what they had to offer. They gave me some erroneous information that it had to be that my databases had gone beyond capacity. I went in and cleared one, which was really huge, and that didn’t get it done; I’m going to come back to that one in a minute.

During this time a couple other people had tried to help me, but without success. I finally went to the WordPress.org forum, because my host said it had to be their issue, and I posted the question, telling everything that I’d tried. Someone came on and started making suggestions. Some I’d already tried, but others were somewhat interesting.

They involved going into the control panel of my account on my host and getting into the PHPmyAdmin area, something I forget about because it’s not a place I have to go often; matter of fact, it’s probably been a couple of years. It was also where the hosting company had said to go and delete some files, so I was a bit skeptical.

His recommendation was to run a repair on the files I was having problems with. There were two files dedicated to comments, so I checked the box next to both of them then ran repair. It went pretty fast and gave me a positive report. I came back to the blog, posted a test comment, and all was right with the world once again; whoo hoo! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m writing this post because the information wasn’t anywhere else until I asked the question. Even though someone else who might end up with this issue might find that post in the forum, I figured why not write it up here as well; might save a lot of time later on. And I take this time to thank both Brian and Dan Lovell and someone called Esmi on the forum for helping me on this.

Now, back to the file I emptied. That file was related to the Count Per Day plugin I added last September. It seems that it collects tons of information and never gets rid of any of it. It had collected information to the post where the file had grown to 88MB; that’s huge. When compared to the next largest text file being only 5MB, you can tell it was out of kilter.

Many hosts don’t allow the data within an account to get larger than 100MB, and mine was around 147MB. So, clearing that file out freed up tons of space for me. Just something else to consider if you start having some issues with databases.
 

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Doing YouTube Video Correctly

I’m writing this post with the expectation that everyone else was doing things the right way already, but maybe not because they’d never thought about doing what I was trying to do. Yeah, clear as mud, but don’t worry because you know I’m about to explain things.

When I loaded my first video back in January, I came into things with some rules for what I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to see any negative comments on my YouTube channel. I didn’t want a lot of nonsense in any fashion. I didn’t see myself putting any advertising into the video unless I was going to do a review. And I wanted control over who would see my videos.

So, when I uploaded my videos to YouTube, I changed the setting to “unpublished”, which meant people could only find the videos if I basically sent them the link, or if I embedded the video somewhere. In my mind, that was the best way to go and still have control over everything.

And it worked; kind of. I had control, but not total control. What was lacking?

It seems that even though one has an account, if you select unpublished you can only find one video at a time. And I don’t only mean visitors, I mean the account holder as well. I’d been wondering why I could only see one video even though I’d uploaded 5 videos; actually, I wondered after the 3rd video but I kept questioning myself on it. Finally with this one I just had to solve the issue.

The issue was with “unpublished”. It seems that if you select that one you’re also saying you don’t want visitors that see that particular video, whether they see it elsewhere or decide to pop over to YouTube, to see anything else you might have produced. It doesn’t even tell people you’ve got another video up.

Well, that wasn’t quite control, was it? So I went in and took a look at all the settings. I found two things. One, publishing so any visitor can see all the videos available was the main option, and thus it’s probably what everyone else already knew. Two, there’s a secondary option which allows you to denote how you want to handle comments. I decided that I would moderate comments; therefore, no comments will show up on YouTube on any videos without being approved.

Yeah, I know, I talk about moderation on blogs all the time so what gives? The difference is that if a comment is over the line on the blog I’ll know about it almost immediately and can go in and remove it if I have to; luckily, I haven’t had to so far. On my YouTube page, nasty stuff could be there for a long time before I saw it; I decided I just wasn’t having that.

I won’t over-censor there though. Since I don’t expect very many people to find anything I’ve got there unless they know me I shouldn’t have many visitors; I can’t figure out what someone would put into a search engine to find it, since it’s not under “Mitch Mitchell”, which is also odd since, if you remember back in January, I said I never even knew I had a YouTube account to begin with. But it eliminates any confusion with the more famous Mitch Mitchell, so that’s good.

Anyway, if you happen to be someone that did what I did and went through what I went through, now you know why you can’t find your other videos. If not, well, you can laugh at me for trying to control everything, but now I am controlling everything; Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha! ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, while I’m talking about YouTube, I shared this video on Facebook about a month ago, and my wife is still laughing about it. And if I got her laughing, then you’ll enjoy it as well; poor dog:

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