29 Nov 2007

3 Skypephone camera test

The 3 Skypephone I am testing out comes with a 2 megapixel camera. The images are saved in the jpeg format with a 1600 x 1200 px resolution. Unlike some phones (such as the Sony Ericsson K800i and the Nokia 6288), the Skypephone does not come with a flash and night shots or pictures taken in poor light come out bad. However, shots taken in bright light conditions come out much better even though a bit grainy.

Overall the image quality is nothing to shout about but not that bad either. They are definitely better then those taken by my old Motorola L6 and my wife's Nokia 6131.

The pictures below have undergone minor editing (reduction in image size and image rotation) using the IrfanView software.






28 Nov 2007

MarketingSherpa's Landing Page Handbook is AWESOME

MarketingSherpa, a research firm specializing in "what works in marketing", recently launched the 2nd edition of the "Landing Page Handbook: How to Raise Conversions – Data & Design Guidelines" on the 5th of November.

I was quite excited to receive a hard copy of the handbook as it has been three years since they published their first edition of the handbook. The first edition, which was launched in fall of 2004 became a best-seller and literally changed the way online marketers and web designers looked at the impact of landing pages in the success of online campaigns.

For your information, “Landing pages” refer to the pages on your site that visitors land on when they click on a banner ad, link ad, email link or search engine result.

It took me sometime to go through all 273 pages of the book and I have one word to describe it – “AWESOME”.

There are dozens of real case studies along with graphics and statistics. I didn’t count but according to their site, the new edition has a total of 114 sample landing pages. The new edition also has some information about blogs. The information only covers 5 pages but I still found it quite useful – especially the part about email subscription sign-ups. That is something I never even considered.

One feature I especially found interesting was their "eyetracking heatmap" in colour, that shows the high attention zone on a web page.

This book is absolutely invaluable for marketers, web designers, web consultant and SEO practitioners alike.

What do I wish they had included in the handbook?

- More info on blogs
- An index page that would make it easier to search for certain key words.

Other than that, the book was really an eye opener. There are so many small things that is quite obvious but you never thought about. I wish I had come across this book before as I realized the mistakes I had made in the past as a freelance web designer. The book points out simple yet common mistakes we make like not taking into consideration the impact of screen resolution and different browsers – something I learnt through trial and error.

To learn more about the handbook or to purchase a copy, go to: http://www.SherpaStore.com/LandingPageHandbook.html

Thanks Jeanne for sending me a copy.

26 Nov 2007

Sick of comments with ads

Spammers are now getting wiser. Now they are leaving comments that look genuine but with a link ad inserted in the text and/ or using certain key words linked to a website as their name. I suspect that some SEO companies might be involved in these schemes to increase the SERP results.

If you want to leave a comment on my blog please use your real name or nick name otherwise the comment will be promptly deleted.

25 Nov 2007

3 Skypephone: first impressions

Matt from 3mobilebuzz.com was kind enough to send me two 3 Skypephones. I will be testing them out for a month. The first box I opened had the white coloured phone, while the other one was black.

Passed the white phone to my wife and I took the black phone. Placed side by side, the white phone does look better.

I don't know why but somehow, the black coloured phone looked a little cheap at first. It was probably due to the fact that I am presently using a sexy Motorola L6. The dimensions of the phone are 100x44 x13.6mm. It's smaller than my L6 in length but a little bit thicker. However, as they say, don't judge a book by it's cover. The Skypephone is loaded with amazing features found on much costlier phones.

Of course, there's the ability to make Skype calls to all my contacts all around the World and to receive calls from them as well. Then there is the 2 megapixel camera. It gives quite good shots - much better than those taken by my old L6. I will upload some samples later.

The phone also has a decent MP3 player and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound through the earphones that are supplied with the phones.

I also appreciate the fact that that they bundled a phone sync software so that I can download and upload stuff from my computer to the phones and vice-versa using a USB 2.0 cable. It's surprising but most phones don't come with a sync software bundled.

Passing it around to my friends - the phone received mostly good reviews except for one friend who pointed out that it didn't have any games installed, apart from two trials versions of Pac man and Tetris. I don't play games on my mobile so I am not particularly concerned with this particular feature. However, it might be a good idea to bundle in some games with the phones for people who do care - especially the younger generation.

The internet connection over the 3G network was really fast (for a mobile) and a search of my ah ok lah blog on Google took only a few seconds. I even posted a comment on my blog using the phone. I later learnt that the phone can be used as a modem to connect my laptop to the net. Look for the review in an upcoming post.

Overall, the 3 Skypephone is a great phone and I haven't found any flaws in it as yet. I am seriously considering using it with a "Pay as you go" account once the trial period is over.

21 Nov 2007

Free business plan course

While I was doing my MBA way back, I took 'Entrepreneurship' as an elective subject. I know some of you are probably laughing as did some of my entrepreneur friends, when I told them that I was studying entrepreneurship. "You can't learn to be an entrepreneur, you are born one", they said. I was not really sure at that time but thinking about it, a lot of entrepreneurs could definitely benefit from learning some formal business skills.

Related to this, I can recall the professor teaching the subject pointing out the high failure rate of entrepreneurs during the first year of operations. Of course most of you might have heard the often used statistic "90 percent of small businesses fail in their first year". I learnt later that this was a myth but the fact is that a large number of newly formed companies DO fail in a year or two of starting operations.

One of the reasons given by the professor was that a lot of entrepreneurs do not have a good business plan to start with when they started the business. It was only later that I realised how true this was. I have a few friends in the banking industry and they were telling us that the main reason that they refused loans to number of entrepreneurs unless they had some collateral was because they had lousy business plans even though some of their products and services sounded great. I am sure all investors feel that way because they don't want to throw their money into some business that didn't have a proper objective and how it plans to get there. And that's the role of the business plan.

If you want to planning to come up with a business plan, do go through the 'How to Write a Business Plan' course offered by Trump University, famous American entrepreneur Donald Trump's online educational company.

Signing up was really easy and it is totally free. The course was developed by Professor Paul Wimer. At first I was bit sceptical but found it to be really informative and useful. Do tell me what you think.

19 Nov 2007

PayPerPost coming out with new web ranking system

Recently paid a visit to the PayPerPost forums after quite sometime and I was not surprised to see a lot of threads were about the recent Google PR updates and the havoc it has created in the blogosphere and of course, on the drop in earnings of several posties (Bloggers who are members of Izea).

I was not spared. Yesterday discovered that 2 of my blogs, namely 'Freebies' and 'Auto lah' had slipped further and now have 0 page rank (from PR3 in just over 2 weeks). Of course, I am disappointed.

Izea has responded by announcing an ongoing project to come up with a new blog ranking system, code named "Goo Gone". The new page rank calculation will be based on the following:
  • 70% weighted towards visitors per day
  • 20% weighted towards amount of ACTIVE inbound links per day
  • 10% weighted towards pageviews per day
According to Ted Murphy, CEO of Izea:
Unlike Google, we are open to feedback. We will publish the actual formulas for all to view. If we make any changes over time based on user input you will see what those changes are and why.

Looking forward to see how my blogs fare on their system.

7 Nov 2007

Google phone ?

It ultimately turns out that all the rumors were wrong. Google is not going to come out with a Google phone to rival Apple's iPhone. Rather, it's strategy is to take over the mobile phone software market, much like Microsoft did with the computer market.

In case you have your head buried in sand, Google just launched Android, an open source operating system for mobile phones. This follows Google's quiet acquisition of 22-month-old Palo Alto based startup Android Inc.

Google has also formed the Open Handset Alliance with 32 other partners, comprising Mobile Operators, Handset Manufacturers, Semiconductor Companies, Software Companies and Commercialization Companies. Their aim:
to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience.
According to the website, the explicit goal of Android was:
to be the first open, complete, and free platform created specifically for mobile devices.
Anyway, listen to what the creators of Android have to say:

Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords

If you are using Google Adwords to advertise your website, products and/or services, you will either use ad agencies to handle your advertising campaign or do it yourself. I guess most people would prefer to leave all the hard work to the agencies even thought they charge quite a lot.

What if you learnt all the secret methods used by agencies on running a profitable campaign? Well! It's not a secret anymore. PPC Professional Steve Baker has come out with the Google Adwords ebook. Google Adwords - The Ultimate Guide reveals all the PPC Agency secrets. I found the ebook to be highly informative and useful. Best of all, it's completely free to read online.

Going through the site, I found the comments really interesting. Steve further clarifies doubts and replies to questions raised by the visitors.

Anyway, you can also download the entire document, which is published by Epiphany Solutions Ltd for £12.49.

5 Nov 2007

Consumer Generated Advertising

My doctoral research looks at the credibility of blogs carrying sponsored content. While doing my review of literature, I was quite surprised to find that I couldn't find the definition of "Consumer Generated Advertising" anywhere on the web (not even on Wikipedia) even though it was used on a number of sites. I may be wrong, and please inform me if you do come across any site with the proper definition.

So here's my definition:

Consumer Generated Advertising refers to advertising on Consumer Generated Media. Generally used to refer to sponsored content on blogs, wikis, forums, etc. These sponsored content also known as sponsored posts or paid posts contain links that point to the home page or specific product pages of the website of the sponsor.

Check out the page I created on Wikipedia as well. Go ahead and add to the page.

3 Nov 2007

PR updates and earnings

I am still in the process of evaluating the effect of the recent PR update on my total earnings. Before this, my top income earner from paid posts was my Freebies blog. Since the update (PR went down from 3 to 2), my earnings have fallen drastically. It's amazing what just one point drop on your PR can do. However, this drop was more than made up by earnings from my oldest blog - ah ok lah.

I can fully understand why a lot of bloggers with blogs that dropped from PR5 are unhappy and making a lot of noise. I simply can't believe the number of high paying opps now available to me on PayPerPost (now under the parent company, Izea). My objective now is to try to bring this blog up to PR 5. In order to do this, I would be be taking a number of steps. Writing regular posts would be my first priority.

Would love to hear what steps you guys are taking.

2 Nov 2007

Setting up an ecommerce site

I have a lot of entrepreneurial friends who are running their own businesses. Most of them have an official company website up but most of these are static sites - much similar to an online catalog. On talking with them, I discovered that almost everybody wanted to set up an business/ecommerce site. They were aware that having an an ecommerce website would bring them a lot of benefits including getting rid of the middleman and related costs as they could then deal with the customers directly.

The only reasons that they didn't have one was because they assumed that having an ecommerce site would be expensive and that it would be very complex and time consuming. Their excuse was that they were not technical people and that they just didn't want to go through the whole hassle of putting in the infrastructure and getting trained staff to handle the new system.

I was telling them they didn't need to go through all of that. There are specialised companies who could help them through the whole process. One of them is AQHost - a one-stop business hosting 'online store' with over fifteen years experience in Information Systems and related technology. They are specialised in ecommerce hosting and can help with website design, setting up shopping carts and other ecommerce applications so that you can start accepting payments on your site as soon as possible. One of the advantages of doing business with them is the fact that they offer 24/7/365 support.