Category Archives: Web Stuff

Article Farm Madness

As some of you know, I need a new roof. This isn’t a brand new issue, as I’ve written about my roof issues in the past. However, trying to get through one more winter with what we have is proving problematic, and it finally hit me that maybe I could find some information online about a home improvement grant instead of trying to go the loan route.


Organic Farm
by Charles Harker

I popped the term “home improvement grant” into Google, hit the search button, and up came almost 2 million pages on the subject. This looked really good, because I figured somewhere in there I was going to find something. And you know what? I was wrong!

What comes up are a great number of articles on what’s called “article farms” talking about grants in general. There’s not a single bit of assistance. How many times do I want to read “if you need help in paying for home repairs you can apply for a government home improvement grant”? And yet, there’s no specific offers anywhere, no real assistance, no links to government agencies, no phone numbers, no names, nothing.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “article farm”, this is what all those sites that pay writers almost no money to produce content for them are known as. Sites such as eHow, About.com, Associated Content, Buzzle and the like are all article farms. Because of their structure and rules for length and the like, what they end up doing is creating mass amounts of content that gives sketchy help at best most of the time. You might get lucky, but you might end up getting a mash of information that’s contradictory or useless.

Who remembers when I was writing some articles for Demand Studios? I found that two of my biggest issues with them were their saying I was writing articles that had too much information and my not being allowed to give specific answers that I knew if I couldn’t find the information to link to. I mean, health care finance is my background and I have a lot of knowledge that’s just not written up online, but they didn’t care. So, the articles I ended up actually getting on the site, though accurate, were deficient if you ask me.

Google is the first search engine that’s stated their working on algorithms to decrease the effectiveness of article farms that produce low quality content. Although I believe it’s about time, I also wonder just how they’re going to be able to do it. I mean, what would separate an article farm with low content from a blog post that their algorithm might determine isn’t written all that well? As I approach 1,000 articles on this blog, I wonder if they’ll use number of pages as a determinant, and if so, how many pages would that be?

I will say this, however. The days of searching and finding exactly what you need immediately are probably gone. There’s just so much content on the net that if it’s hard for us as individuals to find what we need, how will search engines determine what we need? Nope, I don’t envy them one bit.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2019 Mitch Mitchell

Verify Your Home Directories

Last week I was creating a blog for one of my web clients. A quick down and dirty for informational purposes is that what you do is go into your host and create an area for your blog software to be uploaded to. If you’re domain is going to be your blog then you’re pretty much set. However, if you’re going to add your blog to your existing domain, then you need to create a subdirectory within it.


by Niels Hiedenreich

I went into her host account, which is also 1&1, and created the subdirectory. When you do this, you have to make sure you’re creating the subdirectory within the original domain as opposed to creating a subdomain outside of the main domain. No, I’m not even going to try explaining that because it looks and sounds stupid no matter how I might try to clarify it. lol

After 10 minutes I went to check and the new folder was there, all set for me to upload the software. I did all of that, using WordPress of course, and it took just over 5 minutes. I had already prepared myself by going into MySQL and creating a database for the blog, so I opened the wp.config.sample.php file and put the proper information into it, then uploaded it as wp.config.php, as you’re supposed to do.

All seemed to go fine. I went to the link for the blog, created a password, signed in and all looked pretty good; normal, I’ll say. I had gone searching for a few different templates for my client to select from, but I chose one to start with because I know she likes colors. I had to do this conversion thing to switch it from PHP 4.4.9 to PHP 5.2, and once I completed that I installed just a few plugins that I thought were important to start with.

Everything looked pretty good, but I had noticed when I was looking at one of the themes I was considering that there was some error code showing up. I had planned on sending her an email telling her about the blog, but decided to wait until the next morning.

Next morning comes and I try to find her blog; it’s not there. Neither is her website; ouch! Actually, her website was now showing up as a skeleton of what her blog would look like without any pattern or background. Nope, this wasn’t good. I thought that maybe I had done something wrong to the .htaccess file so I went in and deleted that; nothing happened. I reloaded all the blog software; nothing. As a matter of fact, I was now getting one of those Error 500 messages; things seemed to be getting worse.

I decided to delete all the blog files and start again; this was taking forever. When that was completed I tried to go to the main website and now I was getting Error 403. I wasn’t quite sure about that one so I did what I should have done in the first place. I went to the host site and then to their FAQ. I looked up Error 403 and it said that meant the site was being directed somewhere that didn’t exist as the main directory.

Suddenly it all made sense. I went into the domain settings and I had made a mistake. I had created the new directory, but inadvertently told the site that the new directory would be the new main directory instead of a subdirectory of the one already existing. Ugh! Had I checked the stupid FAQ first I’d have saved myself an hour’s worth of headaches. I went back into the domain area, told it that the original directory was the main directory, waited 5 minutes, and the website was back, proud as anything.

After that I reloaded all the blog software, et al, and the new blog is back in service, looking great, and the original website is back as well; whew!

As I look back on this I realize that I wouldn’t have found the error if I hadn’t started deleting some of the blog files. After all, I had that Error 500 thing, and I’ve seen that before. I put in all the tricks I knew of to get rid of it, the simple stuff, and none of that worked. Not a single reference I found even mentioned checking out the directory first. So, if I can save anyone a little bit of time by writing this post, then it’ll all have been worth it.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Facebook Applications – How Trusting Are You Of Them?

I’m probably not the only one who gets invitations to sign up for Facebook applications. There are tons of them, and I know I’ve opted out of almost all of them that have come my way. There were a couple I signed up for before things really exploded, since I’ve been on the site for awhile, but since that time I’ve been reluctant to add many of them.


by Beth Kanter

The reason for my worry? I don’t like when an application is ready to load and it gives you all those disclaimers. The first one is always that it’s an independent application and has nothing to do with Facebook. I’m not sure I like that, but I guess it’s the same thing Apple tells people who have the iPhone about their applications. Sure, they’ll allow it to be used but if anything goes wrong they absolve themselves of any blame. I don’t quite like that, but we’ll move on.

The second thing is that the programs all say they’re going to access every single thing you have on your Facebook page. That’s bothersome to me, moreso than anything else, because they also let you know that they might share that information with someone else. In other words, you sign onto any stupid little game application and you’re basically saying to the world “spam me”.

Not that I really expect all that much privacy from Facebook anymore. Sure, they’ve added filters that allow us to protect some information, but they added those filters after they had already made changes then put your information out to the world, when the backlash came. Not that any of that targeted marketing is working anyway; my page says I’m married and I’m still getting ads for dating services. I also get ads for weight loss, other types of computer games, and strangely enough some kind of special new vitamin water; yuck!

All of this comes up in my mind as I’ve been debating whether or not to allow the upload of one application in particular, that being the Family Tree application. Telling more than I need to, I had pretty much gotten my mind into the reality that I probably was never going to see or hear from most of my family members again after some significant members have passed away, and was surprised when a couple of cousins connected with me on Facebook.

Suddenly family members I knew and didn’t really know were coming out of the woodworks, and then this Family Tree thing came up. Part of me thinks it would be really interesting to load it and see just how I’m related to a few of these people. Another part of me sees it as just another application that’ll get my information and sell it off.

What to do, what to do? Well, I still have lots of time to ponder this one out. How do you handle all these Facebook applications, if you’re on the service? How much do you trust them to do the right thing with your information?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Top 5 Online News Sources

This used to be a much more difficult thing to talk about. As more and more news sources moved online, it seemed like it was going to be pretty easy to find news that you wanted to read. However, what’s happening now is that you’re finding that some of your favorite sites are moving to a paid model. What this has done for me is taken me back to many of the news sources I used to check out before I got more specific with news.

I’m probably not the only one who looks at news online. Local news is also online, but I tend to want to watch that when it’s live. This is for all that other news, including news you never even thought you wanted to know about. And none of these sites cost you a thing; those are excluded. These aren’t necessarily the people who put out the news; just a place where you can go to get the news you want.

Excite is my favorite place to go for customized news for only this reason; it doesn’t require you to go to an extra page before you can see your news. At one point they had created a sales page that used to pop in before it took you to a news story but those days seem to be gone. You can select from tons of choices, select from hundreds of colors and backgrounds, and it’s a lot of fun. The best feature for me is the TV listings at the bottom, which no other news site, even my local sites, don’t give me. You can customize it based on the type of service you have, and then customize it to see only the channels you want to see; neat! The only gripe I have is that you can’t get rid of their own advertising content along the left side and at the top, but truthfully, I don’t even notice it anymore, and only noticed it when deciding to write this post.

My Yahoo is my number two source of customized news. It’s not the first place I go, but I love that it has more news sources to select from than Excite. It also has all the customization that Excite has. My one gripe is that many of the links you hover over have a plus sign come up, which means you’ll either have to click on that to go to a preview page and then the news, or you can hold down on control and click on it and go to the news story. It’s a small irritation, but one just the same.

CNN is always the first site I go to for my news. It’s clean, efficient, and at least the headlines are always up to date. I’ve customized Firefox so I see it differently than most people do. If I have a gripe, it’s that it doesn’t update the minor news stories as often as it updates everything else. Still, it’s quick and easy access to current news.

MSNBC is another great news source that allows for minor customization of where you get your news from. Very minor; for instance, the closest local news I get is about 30 minutes away. But they have lots of content and change it more often than CNN does.

Reuters is a great news choice and has lots of coverage of overseas issues, which for some of you makes it more valuable than my truly American slantings. Still, it looks like it customizes itself based on your location, which probably means I’m seeing a much different front page than someone would in another country. It also offers a different slant on the news that, for me, is sometimes enjoyed and hated at the same time, but always intriguing.

And there you go; now, go learn something!


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

Adbusters; What The Hey?

I always figure I’m in trouble when I don’t understand something, go to research it, and still come away scratching my head. That’s the story with an organization and website I just discovered called Adbusters.

Adbusters is an organization that says it’s anti-consumerist. I had no idea what that meant so I went to Wikipedia and it said this: “Anti-consumerism refers to the socio-political movement against the equating of personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions.” Uhhh, isn’t that communism, or am I just simplifying it?

No matter. That’s what the group is against, and their website… well, I haven’t quite figured it out, I must admit. It actually looks like it might be a lot of fun if it didn’t make me have to think quite so much, and I usually love thinking. It’s almost as if it’s working too hard to be funny or clever; I don’t quite get it. Having said that, I did kind of like this image I found; click on it if you’d like to see it larger:

As I said, I don’t get the group, and I don’t get the website. It quotes people like Flaubert (major league pervert & nasty guy who got lucky to write one famous book) and Solzhenitsyn (Nobel Prize winner for literature who told it like it was about the USSR back then, before being deported), seems to campaign against capitalism and the rights of people to own things while asking people for donations; seems there’s something to needing money to fund one’s weird thoughts. They have both a magazine and a newsletter, and they sell the magazine; that would seem to go against their principles as well. They have some videos that highlight things they don’t like, a blog, and something they call Spoof Ads; I only found one of them funny. And they hide their PR and Alexa rank; at least they tried, as I found their Alexa rank sitting around 67,000, and they have a bounce rate of 81%; seems I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it.

You know what; just take a look at the site and let me know what you think. I’m not quite sure why it’s bothering me, but it is. I’d like to know if you can figure out why, because frankly I’m stumped.

By the way, I’ve watched the movie below 8 times since I bought it Saturday, and I’d seen it twice at the theaters; buy this! 🙂

How To Train Your Dragon



Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell