31 Jan 2008

Am I the victim of an evil eye

I was discussing the possible reasons behind my recent downgrade in my Google PR rankings and one of my knowledgeable friends suggested that someone might have "notified" Google about the presence of sponsored posts in my blog. Now, this is just an assumption but not entirely impossible.

Before you think that I am suffering from any Paranoid Behavior, let me explain.

I had people asking me how much I charge for reviews on my blogs and never replying back after I gave them quotes. And no I don't charge that much. Definitely not $400/ per review like John Chow charges.

Moreover, today I discovered that I had 255 bans on PayPerPost.com. When I went to view the bans, I noticed that all but one of the bans was made on 17 of January 2008, "Per Advertiser Request", presumably by a single advertiser. Now I am left wondering who this advertiser is and what problem he/she has with me. The problem is that In case you are not aware, Bans will negatively affect your overall rating. Before this I had an overall tack rating of 5 tacks. It has now been reduced to 4 tacks.

I have left a ticket with the Izea people and looking forward to what they have to say.

30 Jan 2008

Rebranding the blog

Taking everything into consideration, I have decided to rebrand this blog. The title is no longer "SEO Expert" but simply what it says it in the url - Adam Ok Dot Net.

There are three main reasons I am doing this:

1. It doesn't look good when you call yourself an SEO Expert and your Google PR is 0.

2. Makes it easier for my visitors to remember my url.

3. An increasing number of people hate the so called "SEO Experts".

I am still a "Dot Net Mogul in the making" though.

28 Jan 2008

Ubuntu installation problems


I finally received my free Ubuntu installation disk yesterday. It is a copy of version 7.10 known as the Gutsy Gibbon which was released in October last year. Haven't used my old PC since I got my new Dell and was really looking forward to installing and running Ubuntu. I was quite excited because I have never tried any Linux Operating System.

As they say, the best laid plans often go awry and so it did. At first it looked as if the installation was going all right and then I got these unending steam of code. I understood that there was something wrong with the installation process. to be more specific "Buffer I/O error on device sdc, logical block 0".

I had no idea what that meant and went to several Ubuntu forums to find a solution. It was clear that I was not the only one having the problem as a search gave thousands of results. tried out some of the suggested solutions but none of them worked. And that is how I spent my Sunday - trying to install Ubuntu, without any success. Really frustrating.

Would really appreciate it if anyone could help me with this.

26 Jan 2008

Google PR updates are still on

Just a few days back, I noticed that the Page Rank on my both my ah ok lah blog as well as this blog was down to 0. I didn't think much about it as it had happened before - where my blog' PR had gone to 0 and back up again.

Apparently, this is not some short term thing as my blogs are still showing a big 0 PR. It's clear that the Google updates are not over and in fact may signify that it's an ongoing process unlike in the past where they updated the PR and we had to wait a few more months until the next.

In case you are wondering about my reaction... I have to say initially I was really really upset. I seriously considered boycotting them. Moving all my blogs to my own host, removing Google as the default search engine on my browser, removing adsense ads from all my blogs - I earn peanuts from it anyway and discouraging everyone I know from using their products.

Why do I feel like this?

Mainly because I feel betrayed. Like how can they do this to me? Unlike some bloggers I know (online), I don't earn thousand of dollars from my blogs. Then there is the fact that I have always been a Goggle supporter, this was even before I started blogging (in 2003) and I have introduced hundreds of my students if not thousands, to the search engine (when it was still a search engine) and their email service. Talking about their email service - it was what actually makes it quite hard to boycott them. I love Gmail and sacrificing my email account might be an extreme move and to my great disadvantage.

It was my wife who brought me down to Earth, like she does most of the time. She asked me why I was so worked up about, "it's only PR".

One thing she said really made me think: "Do you blog because you love blogging or because of the stupid PR?"

To think about it, I never really cared about PR. I simply blog because I love blogging - sharing my ideas and thoughts. I became obsessed with PR only after I started blogging commercially in December 2006.

I am still pissed off but I am not boycotting Google.

22 Jan 2008

PayPerPost referrals

Some of you might recall me talking about affiliate programs and how they don't really work for me in my post about the launch of the Pepperjam affiliate network.

Anyway, a few days back I happened to look under ppp tools after logging into PayPerPost and discovered that I had been paid $15/ for referring a Collin DeRuyck. Thanks Collin.

Better still, I also found out that I have seven more pending referrals. I get paid $15.00 for every successful referral. the whole process works like this: The blogger takes an opportunity on PayPerPost and posts it up, the posting is then reviewed by the PPP people, approved and then finally accepted 30 days later. Then I get paid.

Here are the guys with pending referrals along with their joining date:

Ron H. - 02-25-2007
Raja Ainun Shaira - 03-21-2007
Jason H. - 08-04-2007
Anthony J. - 10-01-2007
Larry C. - 10-12-2007
Enbarani R. - 11-27-2007
Reena H. - 12-11-2007

I am not sure why but the first on the list joined in February 2007 but still haven't been accepted.

If you are one of the guys listed above, go to the PayPerPost.com site, login and see whether your membership has been approved. Once you are accepted, you can start taking opportunities and writing sponsored posts on your blog.

20 Jan 2008

Vista Logitech camera compatibility issues

Despite my fears, I was able to run all my software packages that I regularly use, on my computer. I am still getting used to Vista and so far the only incompatibility issue I faced was with my old Logitech webcam. The one I have is the QuickCam Zoom Silver. Tyring to load the drivers led me to the Logitech site which helpfully told me that my webcam was not compatible with Vista and that I would have to buy a new one.

I was sure that there must be some workaround and after a search of the net finally found "Trick to Use Logitech QuickCam Messenger in Windows Vista". The trick involved installing the webcam driver for XP and then updating it to the latest version (10.5.1), which is Vista compliant.

I followed all the steps and my old webcam is now working fine.

17 Jan 2008

Not all my posts are sponsored

One of the drawbacks of carrying some sponsored posts and doing paid reviews is that the credibility of every post of mine is under question. For example, some of my regular visitors automatically assumed that my new Dell computer was sponsored by Dell. I bought it with hard earned cash made by writing sponsored posts via PayPerPost. I may be wrong but I doubt that Dell sponsors any blogger to write reviews about their products. Come to think of it, that is not a bad idea. They should send me some of their products to be reviewed.

Anyway as a lot of people have come to realise, starting a blog for the sole purpose of writing sponsored posts does not work out - Google frowns on it and you don't want to piss of the guys there. The end result might be a big fat PR Zero.

Such practices are also frowned upon by companies that are involved in consumer generated advertising, like Izea. However, the most important people that you don't want to alieniate are your own visitors because after a while, even those who are not net savvy will realise the fact that you are carrying too many posts linking to sites, some of which have nothing to do with the actual post. In mean they are not reviews or even an advertorial. I am sure blog regulars will know what I am talking about. These are only for SEO purposes. So don't be surprised if you find your visitor statistics slipping slowly.

Trust me - I am talking from personal experience.

16 Jan 2008

Pepperjam launches new affiliate network

Over the years, I have joined and unjoined a number of affiliate networks. And it is quite obvious that they haven't made me a millionaire of me yet. The reason I left most of the affiliates was that they were not really transparent with the way they calculated my earnings. Most of the time I was left with the feeling that they were somehow cheating us. And from my converstions with fellow bloggers and webmasters, I gathered that I was not the only one who that felt this way.

Anyway, Pepperjam, one of the biggest online marketing companies in the US has recently announced the launch of a new "revolutionary" affiliate network. According to Kristopher B. Jones, President & CEO of Pepperjam, their new
Affiliate Marketing program will address two of the main shortcomings of other networks, namely, communication and transparency.

Read the whole press release below:

Pepperjam Announces Launch of Next Generation Affiliate Marketing Network

Pepperjam, a two-time Inc. Magazine fastest growing company and industry leading full-service internet marketing agency, today announced the launch of Pepperjam Network, a proprietary next generation affiliate marketing network.

If you are an advertiser or affiliate and would like to sign-up for Pepperjam Network please visit www.pepperjamnetwork.com.

“Pepperjam Network represents an evolution in affiliate marketing. The creation of Pepperjam Network represents eight years of research and development and the combined ideas, feedback, and intelligence of hundreds of affiliate marketers and advertisers. Pepperjam Network will forever change the face of affiliate marketing by putting power back in the hands of affiliates and advertisers to build long-term, profitable partnerships through better communication tools and transparency,” said Kristopher B. Jones, President & CEO of Pepperjam.

Among a variety of affiliate marketing enhancements, Pepperjam Network addresses the two primary shortcomings of other existing affiliate networks, namely (1) poor, unreliable communication tools and (2) lack of affiliate transparency. With Pepperjam Network, affiliates and advertisers can communicate in real-time via Pepperjam Chat™, thereby providing a reliable communication system to build stronger, more profitable partnerships. Pepperjam Network also provides advertisers with an unprecedented measure of affiliate transparency, which helps to establish trust, protect brand integrity, and lays the groundwork for open, long-term, profitable relationships.

Pepperjam Network also introduces pepperjamADS, which is a first-ever affiliate marketing widget that affiliates can use to serve customized contextual ads from one or multiple Pepperjam Network advertisers at the same time.

Pepperjam Network was designed to make the experience of affiliate marketing profitable and educational, with the goal of allowing affiliates and advertisers to truly understand and maximize the critical affiliate marketing channel.

Unlike the traditional networks, Pepperjam Network uses Web 2.0 technology to provide affiliates and advertisers with an easy-to-use, cutting-edge interface designed to facilitate and optimize the affiliate marketing process. For instance, Pepperjam Network offers industry leading source-level tracking and reporting - this robust technology is especially beneficial to search marketing and sophisticated super affiliates that want to take advantage of the most up-to-date technology available to track commissions at the keyword level.

Here is just a sample of what many industry experts are saying about Pepperjam Network:

“Even after all these years using Commission Junction on the merchant and affiliate side, I still find it terribly clumsy to find what I want. With Pepperjam Network it is quick and easy. Pepperjam Network is what an affiliate network would look like if it were built from a wish list from both the affiliate and merchant perspective,” said Shawn Collins, Cofounder of Affiliate Summit.

“As both an advertiser and a affiliate, I am on the lookout for affiliate marketing systems that meet all our company’s needs. Pepperjam Network is without a doubt the most comprehensive, practical and useful affiliate marketing system I have seen to date. Pepperjam Network demonstrates that it is possible to combine style with substance in a network that provides site owners and advertisers with tools and resources to increase their bottom line,” said Joel Comm, New York Times Best-Selling author and CEO, InfoMedia, Inc.

About Pepperjam:

Pepperjam is an industry leading full-service internet marketing agency offering marketing services and advanced technology in the areas of pay-per-click, search-engine optimization, affiliate marketing, and online media planning and buying. The company was founded in 1999 by internet marketing expert, accomplished speaker, and published author Kristopher B. Jones. Pepperjam has received numerous awards and achievements, including recognition by Inc. Magazine for two consecutive years as one of the fastest growing privately-held businesses in the United States. Learn more at www.pepperjam.com.

Apple's MacBook Air

I have never owned a Mac my whole life though I am surrounded by die hard Apple fans - including my father-in-law. I can't say I was not tempted.

Their latest product might change all that.

As you may be aware, this year's Macworld 2008 expo in going on in San Francisco. It ends on the 18th of this month.

At his keynote speech, Steve Jobs' unveiled another amazing product - a new laptop range called the MacBook Air. Under the tag line "Thinnovation", this laptop is 0.16 inches at its thinnest point and 0.76 inches at it's thickest.

I have to agree when Steve Jobs said, "Apple makes the best notebooks on the planet". I haven't tried it as yet but we don't even need to. Just look at it. It's like a work of art.

It comes with a 13.3-inch display, a built-in iSight camera, full sized keyboard with backlight and a huge touch pad.

As for the technical specs, the computer has a Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 4MB on-chip shared L2 cache running at full processor speed. It was custom-built to fit within the compact dimensions of MacBook Air. The standard is 1.6 Ghz while the faster 1.8Ghz version is optional. The laptop has a 80GB 4200-rpm Parallel ATA hard disk drive or an optional 64GB solid-state drive.

In a first for Apple, Jobs also emphasised the "Green" status of the MacBook Air.

It's really amazing - the products they come up with. Wonder what they will come up with next.

15 Jan 2008

TomTom hung

I had been playing with my TomTom sat nav and had been updating the software. Had a scare morning as we were about set out for our son's check up at the Walsgrave hospital. The TomTom One just hung after startup. It just showed the logo and wouldn't shut off. I panicked a bit as we had to reach the hospital in less than 40 minutes.

Fourtunately remembered that there was a reset button at the bottom (See figure).

Source: TomTom ONE manual.

However, it was in a tiny hole and I couldn't find anything to press it. Finally found a needle and used it to press the resest button. That finally turned off the gadget.

Started it but the same thing happened again.

I repeated the whole process but this time, I hooked it up to my PC and started the TomTom HOME application. After loading it up, I put on my TomTom. I went ahead and restored the old files I had backed up.

It worked perfectly after that. Phew!

14 Jan 2008

Google PR updates 2008

In case you are not aware, the first wave of Google Page Rank (PR) updates has already started. Here are the PR changes on my blogs since the last update:
The fall of my ah ok lah blog was a big blow and the effects on my earnings were seen immediately.

Any changes on your blogs?

12 Jan 2008

My Workplace

In his latest video post, the Problogger shows off his new office, which he calls his "HQ 2.0".

Anyway, here's a pic of my own "Blogging HQ".

Yeah! I am still using an old CRT monitor. Still trying to get a good used TFT monitor on eBay.

About Abt Electronics

It's amazing the amount of technology that goes into appliances we use everyday. I didn't even understand what fuzzy logic means until I read it on our waching machine. Searching it on the net, I learnt that by Fuzzy Logic, it means that our waching machine has some advanced electronic stuff that monitors and makes the necessary adjustments automaticlly during the wash.

Talking about washing machine, check out the wide range of washing machines from brands like Whirlpool, Bosch and Frigidaire among others on the Abt Electronics site.

The company has a long history. It was set up in 1936 in Chicago and has grown to become one of the largest single-store operations in the US. They started selling online with the launch of AbtElectronics.com in 1998. Their online site carries high-end electronics products of almost every well known brand names. They are reputed to have one of the best services and pricing policies around.

Go and have a look.

11 Jan 2008

Cheap Dell PC

Dell Inspiron 530

Some of my friends who had bought the same Dell model as mine - an Inspiron 530, simply couldn't believe that I got my PayPerPost PC that cheap (£ 279.02 inclusive of VAT) when I told them the specifications.

According to them, even with the basic specs, it simply couldn't come below £300.

I agree that my PC is NOT the ultimate computing machine but it isn't that basic either. It has a 2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor with 2MB cache, 1 Gig DDR2 667MHz RAM and 250GB Hard Drive.

The reason my computer is that cheap is because I left out a lot of optional stuff. The costliest accessory I left out was the TFT monitor as I can get a cheaper one on eBay. I also didn't want a floppy drive and opted not to include speakers or a modem.

I don't play graphic intensive games nor do I use the PC as a multimedia centre, so I left the standard graphics card in as well. I also didn't opt for any software, other than those already included with the PC. This included the operating system as well - I went for Windows Vista Home Basic.

Of course, as I had mentioned before, I took advantage of their free delivery offer and had an additional £20 off.

In the end I had a PC that more than meets my computing needs.

Just for fun, I tried building another Inspiron 530 online on the Dell site. This time however, with all the best options available. It came to nearly £2,500. But then at that price, I would rather go for their top of the range XPS 720 H2C.

Doesn't that look sexy?

10 Jan 2008

Need help creating professional video presentations?

A simple video presentation may be much more effective than a long Powerpoint slide show, if you are looking to promote your business or even a product or service.

522 Productions, LLC is a video production company that is based in in Washington DC, Virginia, Baltimore, and Maryland. Their services range from script writing to motion graphics and editing. Taking your ideas and expected end results, they will work with you to come up with high-quality video productions. Going through their portfolio, I was quite impressed by their work.

So if you are looking for professional video production DC, do check out 522 Productions.

You can get a quote for your company through their free proposal form.

9 Jan 2008

Google plans to stop AdSense referrals

I received an email from the 'Inside AdSense Team' saying that:
If you're outside of North America, Latin America, and Japan, AdSense referrals will be retired.
Now you will agree that "retired" is a nice word for getting "rid off".

This means that all of us guys outside the three regions/ country will have to take down the codes by the last week of January.

The reason given by Google is that Adsense referrals haven't performed as well in regions outside the ones given above.

For more info read their post: "Upcoming referrals changes".

BTW, this is my first post using my new "PayPerPost PC" that came today morning.

8 Jan 2008

Recover lost passwords for office documents

It's getting harder and harder to keep track of all the passwords I have for my various emails, online subscriptions, social networks, bank accounts and so on. I follow all the safety precautions -
1. using alphabets with numbers,
2. alphabets in different cases,
3. not forming and word in the dictionary and
4. at least 6 letters (unless more letters are required) and last but not the least,
5. not having the same password for different purposes.

This ultimately leads to my problem - it is practically impossible to remember all the passwords and they literally number in hundreds. The only solution is to write all of the passwords down in a diary. I dread the thought that I might one day lose my diary.

Talking about passwords, I sometimes forget to write them down and this is true for a number of my office documents, which were considered quite "confidential". And yes! I have forgotten the passwords.

Searching for an Excel password recovery solution led me to Password-Studio (http://www.password-studio.com/). For Excel and Word files, the software called Password-Studio Pro, uses a "Smart Dictionary" and "Bruteforce" hacking methods to recover your password. It is said to be the world's most powerful Office password recovery tool. As compared to other simialr tools on the net, I found that it is one of the cheapest at only $16.95 for a limited time(approximately £8.95 or 11.95 Euros). So what do you think?

John Cow rejects $30K

Just read that the bloggers at John Cow turned down an offer of $30,000 (approx. £15200) for their site. That's more than my total annual scholarship. Someone once offered to buy my blog along with the domain name and asked me to name the price. I asked him to make an offer but he never got back.

I don't even make a fraction of what the guys at John Cow makes and I am really wondering what amount would make me part with my blog. They have given a list of few things we take into consideration while deciding the value of a blog, namely Online Reputation, Networking Opportunities and Building Content.

It didn't help much to tell me how much my blog is worth.

I got to think about this seriously.

7 Jan 2008

Finding a cheap International phone card

This holiday season, we made hundreds of phone calls to our families back in Malaysia, my siblings in Australia and friends all over the World. Somehow, an email feels too impersonal and cold. It can never match the feeling of hearing the voice of your loved ones. However International calls are not cheap and we are expecting quite a hefty bill this month. This is despite the fact that we took the cheap International call plan with our telephone provider.

I am aware that phone cards are a great way to save money on long distance calls but somehow I didn't want to go through the hassle of searching for the right one. The last time I bought one I was shocked to find so many choice that I didn't which one to choose, it did save us a couple of pounds.

If you are like me and have been wishing that there was a easier way of finding and buying cheap phone cards online - our answers have been answered. Found out that the site PhoneCardsAvenue can help us find and buy a cheap prepaid phone card. They have hundreds of international phone cards listed alphabetically. You can even search by country or by product name. Right now they are offering a cash back rebate program where they will give you 3% on every card purchase.

If you do make a lot of international calls, do check out the site. I am sure you will find one that's will save you a lot of money.

5 Jan 2008

PayPerPost PC

Had been planning to buy a new PC for quite sometime and I started saving up all my earnings from my sponsored posts, since October last year. My initial budget was around £350 (around $693). Even though I passed the mark, I kept putting off purchasing one as I didn't think it was that necessary. My fear was that an occasion might suddenly rear it's ugly head where I would HAVE to spend money.

Anyway, the recent crash changed my mind. Started surveying around for the best deals and it was actually good timing because a number of retailers are cutting prices right now. Heard that Dell was offering free delivery and £20 off on selected Inspiron models. Read the details in my post "Deals on Dell PCs". For the same specs, the Dell PCs were the cheapest and finally decided to go for the entry level, Inspiron 530 DT. Without the monitor, the total price came to £ 279.02 inclusive of VAT.

It will be delivered on the 8th, next Tuesday. I have a quirky habit - I like to give my PCs a name. The one that crashed was the eBay PC and I have decided to name the Dell, the PayPerPost PC. It reason is very simple - it was bought by my earnings from sponsored posts that I got through PayPerPost.com.

The Microsoft XP activation countdown is still going on and I will probably reformat the hard disk before the time is up. I have always wanted to try out Linux and decided to load up Ubuntu on it. I have already requested a free installation CD and I should have it in a few weeks. That should be an interesting experience.