Category Archives: Web Stuff

SimplyNoise And Calm

One of the problems in trying to focus is that sometimes things around you are either too loud or too quiet. It’s easy for one’s mind to wander, and suddenly you find that you’ve wasted 3 hours playing on Facebook or reading blog posts (mine better be a part of that) and not getting anything done, even though you had plans to do so.

simplynoise

That’s where the two websites I’m about to share with you come into play. The first one I’m going to talk about is called SimplyNoise. It’s exactly what it claims to be; it plays a few sounds that you can alter by clicking in one of 3 different colored buttons. You can control how loud the sounds are by using either their volume button or your own. I like using theirs so I don’t have to change mine around.

But that’s not all (hey, I’ve heard that on TV lol). There’s a second thing on the right that allows you to listen to what they call “simplyrain”, which you can also purchase. That’s the one I listen to most of the time because you get the option of adding thunder and altering the intensity of the rain and thunder. There’s something soothing about rain and thunder for me, and occasionally I’ll use that sound in a different format to help me get to sleep. The thing is that this noise never stops until you either turn it down or close your browser; at least that’s how it works on the laptop.

The other side is slightly different. It’s called Calm, and I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a massage but the site plays that kind of music for you and it’s quite calming, which is its purpose. It also has these visuals if you need that to relax, if that’s what you want to do instead of using it as background noise, and it plays actual songs. The thing about this page is that it won’t continuously play the music, and it’s hard to figure out when it decides it’s played enough.

Sometimes it’ll stop after one song, sometimes it’ll play a bunch of songs in order, but at some point it will stop playing. If you’re concentrating on other things because it’s helped you get there you might not notice it but I found that if it stopped after one song I always noticed it. You can always start it up again though. By the way, I got this one from a video by Kim Castle who included it when she was talking about apps one can use on an iPhone or iPad, but since I don’t have those things this was the only thing I could access, and I love it.

I actually did have one more site I was going to share with you, but it shut down as of December 31st, which is depressing but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. Check out the sites I’ve just shared and let me know what you think and if they offer you any type of comfort.
 

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The Death Of Twitter Tools

It was a nice run, but I was finally pulled into the 21st century kicking and screaming, and I’m not all that happy about it. Since last Friday I’ve been lamenting the apparent death of one of my favorite plugins, Twitter Tools, and now I’m ready to write about it.

Into The Unknown
Sean Molin via Compfight

Truthfully, it was almost like that. I wondered why none of my posts for the day had automatically gone to Twitter, and I saw there was an update to Twitter Tools. Since the same thing popped up on all 5 of my blogs I decided to use my SEO blog to test it out. When I upgraded, it said something about having to add a plugin called Social to run the plugin. I was wondering why I had to use a different plugin to run a plugin.

I loaded Social and went to its settings, where it said I had to get an API to use it. I had an API already set up for Twitter Tools so that was disturbing. So I skipped that part and decided to see what I could do without it. Well, it seems that without that you can’t post-date your articles to go live, and the only way you can get your post up is to actually tweet it through the post itself. What the hey?

I went into Twitter Tools, where everything I’d set up before was still there, but there was no option now on a post, as I went to do a test post, where it had a place for you to tell it to automatically post to Twitter.

I was irked, as I’d used that bad boy for more than 2 years, and I’d even taken the time to write a tutorial here as to how to set it up to work on Twitter. It was one of my post popular posts. Now it’s gone, as well as a couple other posts about that plugin and every article that I’d linked to talking about it.

But I needed something new. I knew a couple of friends had me hooked up to auto-share my posts when they went live, so I asked both of them what they did. Enter Twitterfeed, which takes any RSS feed and, when something new pops up, posts it to either Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. I was hesitant at first but Holly convinced me to go through with it. I did, ran some tests, and it works pretty well. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get it to post as soon as my articles go live, but I do have it set to check every 30 minutes for something new, and I guess I can wait 30 minutes or so.

As I said, I’m coming into the world of having to use web-based services instead of controlling everything on my own kicking and screaming. I wonder what the next technological shock will be.
 

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Maybe The Reduction In Web Traffic Isn’t Your Fault After All

You know, many of us have been griping over the last six weeks about the Google algorithm changes that ended up killing our traffic. Some folks, like our buddy Carl have brought up what Google said the algorithm changes were based on and how they were trying to eliminate bad linking, bad SEO and the like. Some people even speculated that it had to do with bad grammar, something I totally disputed and shot out of the water here.


by Jonathan Assink via Flickr

People have kind of lost their minds. Goodness, I think I lost my mind for a short period there, and obviously I’ve talked about it more than I care to even think. But now I think there’s a new way of talking about this thing, and though I’m not totally sure I agree with everything that I’m going to mention in this post, I do think there’s something to some of it if we look at things with a more critical eye.

For me, this all started by reading a post by a guy named James Hussey, who writes a blog called The Average Genius. He wrote a post titled Why Google Penguin Mauled My Sites and What To DO About It, which I found fascinating and commented on. He wrote back and expressed his opinion on what I said, then he said this: “So stay tuned. The conversation gets really, really interesting.”

That looked good and intriguing, and it then lead to this post which is titled Does Google Really Reward Quality, Original Content? An Interview With AsktheBuilder Tim Carter. This is a seminal post, great post, and one to really make you think. It includes an audio file with a guy named Tim Carter, who has a website called Ask The Builder, which of course you saw above. I’m going to give you some highlights of the audio file, but I think you should both read the post and listen to the file, which is about an hour long, for more detail.

In essence, Tim was the perfect Google guy. He started his site before Google came around, and he’s made tons of money online. When Google came around he added Adsense and made a lot of money off that as well. He’s not a guy who ever got into any of the SEO stuff that many other people did, including me to a certain extent. He was held up as the poster boy for how to do things right by Google. They wrote reports using him as an example. They invited him to seminars to talk about his success in working with them. He even went to Congress on their behalf once, talking about how things worked with him and the fairness of it all.

What happened to the poster boy? Panda and Penguin went through and he lost 70% of his traffic. Bad linking? Nope. Bad content? Nope. Pretty much overnight his website, which means his business, took a major hit. Well now, how does one reconcile that based on what Matt Cutts and company said the update was there to do? How do you crush your poster boy, who never did any of the stuff you said you were going after, in such a convincing fashion?

Now, I had to think about this for a bit, and I want to address a couple of points before I go forward. I wrote a post on April 30th wondering where my web traffic went. I indicated that this blog lost traffic and my business blog lost traffic as well. I mentioned that my finance blog stayed the same and that my SEO blog went up barely.

Well, those aren’t the total truths. Yes, this blog’s traffic suffered, and my business blog’s traffic suffered, which also took down my main business website. But within a couple of weeks traffic on my finance blog started jumping, and my SEO blog traffic almost doubled. My local blog stayed the same, and I hadn’t mentioned that one before.

Here’s the thing. I do the same thing on all the blogs. I do my internal linking, I link to the words that seem to make sense to link to, and I do it on all the blogs. I also link to external sources and, when appropriate, use keywords. Yet out of 4 blogs only 2 suffered; what’s that about?

My theory was actually addressed by Tim in the interview. I thought that there was some kind of adjustment against older websites. Indeed, my business blog has been around since 2002, but then again this blog started in 2007, my SEO website didn’t come around until 2007, and my finance site in 2008. This was and still in my top ranking site, but my business site was actually doing really well at one point. I had talked about my medical billing site, which has only been around since 2009, and traffic there jumped as well; my Adsense money on that site has started to increase since the updates went through.

So, was it age? That’s what I thought, which Tim touched upon, but obviously it doesn’t work across the board. But Tim also touched upon something else, that being that Google has made some changes that aren’t necessarily algorithm changes, yet after the algorithm changes helps to enhance what they’d done.

One, they added the G+, which in their way makes websites where your friends, or at least people you know, that have G+’d something takes higher priority than other links used to. Two, they’ve gone out of their way to make local companies and websites come up more than websites that aren’t from the area for many things.

Tim found that many topics he used to be number one for on Google were gone, and often he wasn’t found on the first 5 to 10 pages of a Google search. He also found that some pages that were suddenly ranking higher than him were actually using his content in some fashion; wasn’t that supposed to be something Google was protecting us all from, that someone would rank higher for content we produced first?


If you know what this is
you’ll understand the metaphor
of why it’s here now

In essence, the “reality” we were given doesn’t seem to real anymore. What some of us were doing for SEO is just fine; it has nothing to do with how we linked, or broken links, or good or bad content. It has to do with supporting some things Google’s been working on in the background. One last thing Tim mentions in the interview is how suddenly more large companies, those that are actually paying Google, are ranking higher than those of us providing pretty good content. I can’t prove this one, as I tested some search terms and didn’t see that.

Anyway, Tim is irked to say the least, and he’s got some other conspiracy theories he talks about. He’s also getting ready to go postal in his own way, as he’s going on a big congressional campaign to get an investigation going into Google. Seems he’s not alone, as James also advocates this on his blog post. Not that there isn’t already someone in Congress that wants to look into this but these guys are serious.

What’s my stand on all of this?

One, I stick by my premise in another post that some companies like Google are getting too big for our own good.

Two, I think there was a different goal in mind that penalizing people for “bad SEO”, which is actually the type of SEO Google themselves told us to do years ago. I believe this as much as I believe Pacquaio beat Bradley Saturday night. By the way, in case you were wondering about the image above, that’s people playing Dodgeball, which I relate to this because I think Google dodged the truth.

Three, I think losing your mind and deciding to write to Congress is a major waste of time for the majority of us. Then again, if I’d lost as much money as Tim I might have a different mindset on this one.

Four, I still think you should read James’ post and listen to the interview he did with Tim because it will get you thinking and maybe you’ll come up with something else.

And five, I think this is proof that we all just need to continue doing what we were doing, especially in producing the best content we can, because in the long run we’re going to still attract traffic and visitors, whether it comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or our own efforts in driving traffic to our sites, and it’s imminently more important to spend time producing that worrying about the why’s and how’s of it all.

And there’s always The Duck. 😉
 

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WordPress, Windows And Linux Servers

Last week I tried loading a new blog onto one of my friend’s accounts. I know how the process goes in trying to set up a new blog. You go in and create a new directory, while waiting for it you create a new MySQL account with all the information you’ll need, you go ahead and configure the WP-Config.PHP to what you need, and then when the folder is ready you upload everything and you’re good to go.

Except I wasn’t good to go. The sucker wouldn’t work, and I was getting this strange error message: Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.

Only it wasn’t missing anything as far as I could see. I ran a few things and figured something must be up, and at the same time there was a new WordPress update to 3.3.2, so I figured maybe that was the reason. I went and deleted all the files that I’d uploaded and then uploaded the new WordPress, making sure the correct WP-Config.PHP file was there.

I tried it again; same error message. Time to go and do some research, which y’all know I’m big on. And you know what? There’s a lot of mess out there that’s technical gobbledy-gook, and none of it make sense. Okay, some of it made sense, but little of it was anything I could do anything with. I did try some of the things I read, and of course none of them worked.

When all else fails, it’s time to call tech support. I did just that very thing and told the guy who answered the phone what the error message I got was saying. He told me that it was because my friend bought the Windows server package instead of the Linux server package and that, at least with them, WordPress wouldn’t work with the Windows server.

You know, no one tells most people this, but when offered a choice between Windows servers and Linux servers and it’s not your home system, you should always go with Linux. Windows is more stable across the board but not very flexible. I remember my trying to get something to work on someone else’s website some years ago and eventually found out the problem was that they were on Windows servers.

What to do? With 1&1, who he uses and who I use as well, all you have to do is go in and change it in your software package. What happens is that it can take up to 24 hours, though it probably won’t take longer than an hour most of the time, and the account will convert from Windows based to Linux based with no problems. Well, one thing you need to know. Anything you have on your Windows account will be deleted, so you need to back everything up first. Also, any MySQL accounts you’ve created will need to be recreated.

Truthfully, none of that is a big deal. My friend now has his blog, although he’s yet to put anything on it, and everything loaded smoothly. The main reasons I wrote this post is because I couldn’t find this specific information written anywhere and I figured it was time to simplify this stuff. So, if you’re new to this type of thing and you’re going the self hosting route, make sure you purchase the Linux (also known as Ubuntu to some people). And if you’re trying to load a blog and you get that error message above, check to see if you have a Windows package and switch.
 

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3 Firefox Scripts I Use To Alter Google Search

Do you want to know why I love Firefox? Because it offers the ability to set things up so you can do stuff that none of the other browsers can do, especially Chrome because, well, Chrome doesn’t want you to do any of what I’m about to share with you.

I’m going to share 3 scripts I use to alter Google searches. These modify the Google page as well as hides information Google tracks on you. To use these scripts, you first have to add an extension called Greasemonkey, which I’ve talked about in the past. These scripts, created by other users, then allow you do alter things like what I’m about to share with you.

The first script is something called Hide Google Sidebar. You know how they added that thing that pushes all your information to the right? I hate that thing, and this script will make sure that doesn’t ever bother you again. Of course, I found that I liked being able to access in the past when searching for images (such as looking for images of a certain size), but I can deal with not being able to do that anymore.

The second script is called Remove Google Search Ads. You know those Google ads that you’re always getting served on the right side? I don’t see any of that. Yeah, I know they really want me to see those things, but I’m not in the mood to have them on my search page. I see them in so many other places, and I want to see my entire screen with just the links to websites I’m looking at.

This leads me to the last one, and this one’s a doozy. The script is called Don’t Track Me Google and it’s a very interesting script. I’ll explain it this way. Go do a Google search for anything.

When the page comes up, right click on the link, slide down and copy the link location, then paste that link into your Notepad application, or any other text program you have. You’ll see a whole bunch of stuff that’s not quite the link the Google page tells you that you’re going to. That’s actually how Google tracks where you’re going when you go to a page from their search engine. That’s how they know if someone that ends up clicking on an ad came from the search, which they get paid more money for and thus pays publishers (writers; that be us lol) more, and that’s also how they start determining what ads to show you.

When you add this last script, if you right click and copy the link you’ll see the same link the search page is showing you, nothing else added. Now they can’t track you; neat eh? You have to know that they still keep records of stuff you’re searching; no getting around that. But it’s something different than tracking where you’re going from their site.

That’s that; you now have a bit more control over your workspace and your privacy. You can thank me later. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell