28 Mar 2008

Adsense optimisation guidelines

The latest post on the official Adsense blog -"Another look at optimizations" mentions two guidelines for optimising your site for Adsense, namely:

1. Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.


2. Ads should be easily distinguishable from surrounding content.

I have noticed a lot of web sites and blogs openly flouting these guidelines. Their intention is clear - to make it look like the ads are their own created content and thus increasing the click through rates.

On my blogs, the ads are either after each post and/ or on the side bar and visitors can clearly make out that they are ads.

I am wondering whether Google is going those sites that flout the guidelines. Will they be penalised in anyway?

20 Mar 2008

Facebook problems on Firefox

Not sure whether any of you are facing the same problem but I am unable to create albums or upload pictures on Facebook using the Firefox browser. I am able to take the pictures and make comments but whenever I try to create an album, it will just hang.

However, I have no such problems using Microsoft Internet Explorer. As I use Firefox most of the time, this can be quite annoying.

Anyone facing the same problem?


Found the cause of the problem. Apparently, to use the full-featured photo uploader on Firefox on Microsoft Vista, you must have the latest version of the Java plug-in. Versions of Java older than 1.6.0_07 will cause Firefox to freeze (info provided by Facebook). Alternatively you can use the simple uploader, which works just as well..

18 Mar 2008

Google adsense updates

I had not logged into my Google Adsense account for quite sometime and last week just signed in to see how much money I had earned since I was last paid. When I had initially signed up with Google adsense (several years ago) I had used my old Yahoo email address and have been using it ever since. I found out that now I had to open up a new Google mail account in order to access my account. I tried to use my existing Gmail account but I don't know why, it was refused.

After a few tries I decided to open up a new Googlemail (not Gmail) account. Yeah! There is a difference. Right after signing in with my new account, I was presented with a long TOS or something. I skimmed through it and of course said, "Yes! I agree". There have been other changes including easier management of ads but haven't had time to check them out.

I discovered that my overall earnings have fallen, no doubt due to the Googlespank my blogs received in January this year.

Changed my form of payment from Cheque to Electronic Funds Transfer. Figured that it would be less of a hassle and in the process do my little bit for the environment by eliminating use of paper.

17 Mar 2008

Page ranked finally

I was really excited when I noticed a couple of minutes ago that my blog 'ah ok lah' is showing a Google page rank (PR) of 3. Thanks Google. I am hoping that it goes back to the PR 5 it once was before I got "Googlespanked".

FYI, Googlespank refers to Google punishing websites, which they consider naughty, with a big fat PR 0. I was one of their victims and I was really upset when I realised that my blogs had been penalised after the PR updates in January.

Unfortunately, the PR of this blog and others are still showing 0 page rank. Hopefully they will review my other blogs as well.

In case you are wondering what I did to get my penalization lifted, I have no idea. I did not apply for a reconsideration or "re-inclusion request" as suggested by Matt Cutts. However, I have removed ads from other companies (including referral buttons) and only carry Google adsense ads. I also haven't written a sponsored post for ages. So I can safely assume that those are the reasons I got my PR back.

I wasn't earning a lot in the first place but now my revenue from my blogs have dropped to a fraction to what I used to, a couple of months ago. Hopefully that will change once the PR of my blogs go up.

14 Mar 2008

Levi's Mobile

Just got to know about the Levi's mobile, made exclusively for Levi Strauss by the French design company, Modelabs.

The compact phone (96 x 55 x 11 mm) has a steel casing with their famous logo of two horses pulling a jeans, etched on the back. It comes in metallic silver, black and brown copper colours.

The triband phone has a 2 megapixels camera and MP3 player. It comes with 64MB memory which can be expended upto 2 GB (Micro SD).

The website claims that the Li-Ion batteries gives you a Talk time of up to 3H30 and stand by time of up to 200 Hrs.

Another unique feature (which I don't really like) is a detachable chain that hooks up to your phone on the bottom.

10 Mar 2008

Addicted to KnightHood on Facebook

Sometime back I was invited to join KnightHood, one of the hundreds of applications on Facebook by one of my friends. I signed up for the online multi-player game but it seemed a little to complex and I promptly forgot about it.

Quite recently, another friend was telling me about this "amazing strategy game on Facebook" and that's how I rediscovered the game. And after doing some research, quickly got into the thick of it.

You start out the game as a Squire and then move up to become a Knight (or Lady), then a Baron (or Baroness), a Viscount (or Viscountess) and so on. So far the highest ranked player is a Duchess Marina . To get started, you recruit your friends as your vassals. You then go ahead building, expanding and upgrading new buildings including Castles, Marketplace and Walls among others.

Building a Marketplace will being generating gold, which can then be used to hasten the construction and upgrade of other buildings including your defences, namely, Wall, Watchtowers and Pallisade.

Building Barracks allows you to raid other players and steal their vassals. I made some mistakes in the past such as expanding my Barracks too fast without building up strong defences. This brought me into the attack bracket of some very aggressive players and ended up losing several of my Vassals. I later learnt that it is advisable to build up very strong defences (at least 2 levels above your Barracks) before expanding and upgrading the Barracks

I was released by my leige who said that I was pushing up his attack bracket and I thus became a "Sovereign". I was loosing too many Vassals and decided to disband my troops and went into peace mode (no one can attack me in this mode nor can I attack anyone else while I build up my defences.

There were some interesting offers on the discussion boards. One guy was offering 10000 gold per week or 1000 gold everyday to join him as a vassal with the freedom to be released any time. This sounded good with me and I became his Vassal.

I will be gathering back my armies as soon as I finish building the dreaded Trapper. Don't be surprised if you find the servers down once in a while. The game is still in Beta.

Yeah! I am really into this game.

Join me here .

PS. Neewbies! I suggest you go through the KnightHood Wiki Help site before you start playing.

5 Mar 2008

Izea to get rid of Google PR

In response to request from hundreds (if not thousands) of PayPerPost posties who were punished by Google, Izea has decided to remove Google PR from PPP entirely. Instead they would be using a backlink count. Read Ted Murphy's post on the Izea blog: "Customer Experience Survey Results".

According to a postie on the PPP boards, Izea will be using the Yahoo backlink count. For more information read this post on UTheGuru.com: "How to Count Inlinks / Backlinks to Your Site using Yahoo".

Checking the page strength of my blog on SEOmoz.org, gives me:

# Links pointing to full URL: 11186
Source: Yahoo! Site Explorer

# Links pointing to domain: 12049
Source: Yahoo! Site Explorer

That's not really the stats of a "Dot Com Mogul" but it's not bad at all.

2 Mar 2008

How should Izea respond to Google

I don't know about other posties out there, but it has been ages since I last took a sponsored opportunity on this blog. I am still being punished by Google and my Page Rank (PR) still shows a big fat "0". It is obvious from the the posts on Izea discussion boards that I am not the only one and there's a lot of anger there. This is not a conspiracy theory and Izea founder and CEO Ted Murphy blogged about it saying "If you have been hit by Google unfortunately there is little we can do". Duncan Riley predicted on TechCruch that there would be "an exodus of bloggers out of PayPerPost".

Izea founder and CEO Ted Murphy says that "the PayPerPost market is not melting down" as reported in a Wired article. However, I do notice that several posties have removed the PayPerPost referral badge and others have even gone to the extent of removing all their sponsored posts from their blogs.

So what should Izea do?

Well it has two options:

1. Bow down to Google
- Have posties add "nofollow" tags to all sponsored links.
- Have all posties put up "sponsored post" badge on all sponsored posts.
- Allow posties to give "free for all" reviews.
- Negotiate with Google.

This should shut off several critics of Izea including long time PayPerPost hater, Michael Arrington. On the other hand, this might lead to an exodus of advertisers who are with Izea for SEO purposes and there are a lot of them.

Then we have the second option,

2. Eliminate Google from the picture altogether

One of the reasons that the PR downgrade hurt a lot of posties was due to the fact that Izea uses Google PR as the main requirement for taking an "opportunity". They have introduced their own ranking system called "RealRank" but many advertisers still prefer to use Google PR for screening Blogs to carry their ads. There is no way Izea is going to win in a fight with Google. David defeating Goliath happens only in stories.

So my suggestion is to get rid of Google PR as a requirement altogether and use only Alexa and RealRank. Izea might also want to get rid of the special tracking codes altogether as they are like beacons in code signalling, "Hey! we are posties. Come bury us".

Would love to hear what other posties and non-posties out there think of my proposal.

1 Mar 2008

Another phishing PayPal site

Received yet another fake email purportedly from PayPal.

Here are the details:

to ahoklah@gmail.com,
date Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 6:33 PM
subject Critical Information Regarding Your Account
mailed-by vitamin101.com.tw

Images are not displayed.
Display images below - Always display images from noreply@paypals.com

Dear PayPal User

Due to the safety and integrity of the PayPal
account you have been notified with this message.

As a security measure your PayPal account information needs to be
updated in order to reduce the instance of unauthorized transactions on our website.
If you could please take 2 to 3 minutes out of your precious time and confirm your details you will not experience
further problems with the online service.

Once you have updated your account records your PayPal
services will not be interrupted and will get protected with additional security.

To protect your PayPal account start with the following link:
Click Here To Continue

Looks like the real deal

The link is http://www.sklep-gps.pl/images/secpaypal.com-secure-ISO9491/confirm/webscr.php?cmd=_login-run&dispatch=a23fb40310a01cac2553635478262a06a23fb40310a01cac2553635478262a06

Was surprised that Firefox didn't give me a phising site alert. It usually does.

The "Phisers" are getting better.