Sunday, October 28, 2007

Widgetbucks

Widgetbucks.com is a young program which seems to be a good alternative to Adsense. People are still very skeptical about this program, because it seems too good to be true. Some people already had some problems with their accounts being blocked or closed for invalid clicks or for abuses, but such things happen with adsense too.
I have tested Widgetbucks and they are doing pretty good compared to other programs but they were not doing better than adsense for me. Anyway, it all depends on your site niche I guess.

Here are some opinions about Widgetbucks I got so far:

+pluses:
1) their ads may look catchy for some people
2) they have good CPC
3) easy to signup, easy to install
4) they pay by both check and paypal

-minuses:
1) they are new and probably unexperienced in some aspects
2) you have to wait 45 days to get a payment
3) the ads are in flash and they are slow when loading
4) some people complain about blocked accounts

Anyway, you should try Widgetbucks yourself and see how it performs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Keyboard without windows special keys

It's seems so hard to get a classic keyboard nowadays. Specially on USB. All keyboards are filled with useless multimedia buttons. And every keyboard has some special keys put differently. Whenever I switch computers I need time and concentration to avoid mistakes. I would love to have a keyboard like I used to have in 1995. No special windows keys, a simple 101/102 keyboard.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

qmail unable to read controls

Usually I am installing qmail from sources. But this time I was too lazy and on a debian box I simply apt-get install qmail. After fixing some dependencies issues, I finally managed to have qmail installed but I was getting 421 unable to read controls messages.

I added the following files defaultdelivery defaultdomain me rcpthosts in /var/qmail/control and it fixed the problem.

Friday, October 19, 2007

LinkWorth review

LinkWorth is a system where you can sell and buy all kinds of ads and text links. I tried them for a couple of months and I would not recommend them to anyone else. First of all their system is quite complicated and you rarely actually sell something although you spend a lot of time to list your sites.

The worst part of the program was their affiliate system which didn't trace any single referral! And I had like 800+ targeted webmasters who followed my links so it's almost impossible that none of them actually signed up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why Yahoo outranks Google in Alexa top traffic sites?

Is Yahoo really having more traffic than Google? NO! But according to alexa.com top 100, yes.




First of all, keep in mind that alexa uses the toolbar to make the rankings so it may not be very accurate considering that the toolbar is not spread equally on all types of Internet users.

Then, take a look at yahoo.co.uk and at google.co.uk and note that yahoo.co.uk will redirect you to uk.yahoo.com. So while uk.yahoo.com is seen by alexa the same as yahoo.com because it's a subdomain, the google.co.uk is seen as a totally different site. The same with .de, .fr, etc. So for Yahoo, Alexa adds all the traffic from regional sites while for google it doesn't. Then think about mail.yahoo.com and gmail. Again, for yahoo it all goes in the same domain while for google not.






The same with 360.yahoo.com and blogger.com or video.yahoo.com and youtube.com. So as long as Alexa will keep counting every subdomain as being the same with the master domain, it will be very hard for google.com to outrank yahoo.com since google has it's traffic spread all over other domains.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Include php file in smarty

I run a phplinkdirectory who uses smarty templates.
While I was modifying footer.tpl, I needed to include a .php file and I tried {include file="/path/to/somefile.php"} . This turned out to include it as text file, without executing it.
After some research, I found that it will execute it only if included with {include_php file="/path/to/somefile.php"}

Mediawiki spam and abuses

I am running a website using Mediawiki engine. All was going well, until I started to get my pages spammed with links about pills. They were not too many so I was removing them manually (using rollback) and then ban the IP. But after some weeks, I started to get too many to do this manually. They were probably some bots. I looked into config files and found $wgSpamRegex variable. I simply added some keywords into this and it prevented further spam from those bots. But later, some other bots came with other keywords. They had random like keywords so I could no longer use the $wgSpamRegex technique. Then I learned about Spam Blacklist Extension and I found this helpful forum http://www.mwusers.com/forums. I also found this: Blocking Spam in Meediawiki. With these resources, now it should be much easier to maintain a wiki site. Something I simply don't understand, it is why some of the spam bots were simply adding some random characters in my pages. No links, no advertising, nothing else. Just a few random characters like: coauier or afoilta. Are they some kind of probes and then after they finish the scanning the real spam will arrive?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why Amazon Associates Program Rocks

I was very skeptical when I first joined the Amazon affiliate program. The commissions seemed very low comparable to others programs that give 50% or even more. But there are some reasons which make the program very good:

1) Amazon gives XML feeds for a lot of products, more than anyone else in the market. They also have reviews and descriptions in the feeds so you can create user and search engine friendly pages using them.

2) In your Amazon pages you can run Kontera and Adsense increasing your revenue lot. Adsense+Amazon+Kontera is one of the best user friendly combo you can use.

3) Amazon is a serious company and they will always pay.

And what is bad about amazon:

1) They don't offer alternative payment methods such as paypal, egold or moneybookers

2) They pay quarterly

3) They should give higher commissions and better stats reports.

rc.local in Debian

Non Debian users are probably surprised when they see this message: /etc/rc.d/rc.local: No such file or directory . It happened to me and I was very disoriented.
But don't worry, here is a quick fix for this:

With your favorite text editor create the file /etc/rc.d/rc.local and add something like:

#!/bin/bash
# Add all the scripts to run after system startup
/usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl start

then chmod +x /etc/rc.d/rc.local

then update-rc.d -f rc.local start 99 2 3 4 5

Now you should have it working as on other distros.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Online IQ Tests

Are you looking to take some IQ test? Or a psychological test? Or just to have some fun training your brain? http://www.queendom.com has a nice collection of tests. My favorites are in the Mind Stretchers section.

Online Button Creator



To create small buttons easy, you can use this site: http://kalsey.com/tools/buttonmaker/

Ascii Text Generators

Terminals with fixed fonts are no longer used so much, but even where graphics are available, some ASCII texts look very cool.

Here is a test:


_____ _____
/ _ \ ____ _____ / _ \ _____ _____ ____
/ /_\ \ / \\__ \ / /_\ \ / \\__ \ / \
/ | \ | \/ __ \_ / | \ Y Y \/ __ \| | \
\____|__ /___| (____ / \____|__ /__|_| (____ /___| /
\/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/




You can use these sites to create such texts automatically:
http://www.network-science.de/ascii/
http://www.kammerl.de/ascii/AsciiSignature.php

Murloc Pet (World Of Warcraft)


More than a year ago, I wrote this post: wow murloc pet and it seems to be one of the most popular from my blog. I can't believe how many people are fascinated by these murloc pets. Some would actually pay a lot of money to get a secret code.

AI bots taking over the Internet

In science fiction AI is often seen as an upcoming power trying to overthrow human authority, usually in the form of humanoid robots. There might be a lot of time left until our world will look like in the Matrix, but let's take a look at what bots are already doing on the Internet (which can be for some people even more important than the real life).

Ingredients needed:

1) A programmer
2) Captcha recognition - A CAPTCHA is a program that can generate and
grade tests that:
* Most humans can pass, BUT
* Current computer programs can't pass


BUT


Some captchas are weak, can be easily passed by computer
programs, and the most important: EVEN THE MOST COMPLICATED CAPTCHAS CAN BE MASS RECOGNIZED USING CHINESE METHOD (which means simply hiring a couple of people to type in captchas all day long)





3) A couple of compromised computers or a list of open proxies/winsocks


...and you get this:


* mass forum spams
* blog comments spam
* contact forms spam
* email spam is too old to mention and it does not even require captcha recognition, however it can now extend to new levels because you will get spammed from yahoo/gmail/hotmail legitimate accounts, no longer just with fake headers

Basically any form of free registering account can now be abused.

You'll say that's why there are forum moderators. But what a moderator can do when you get 1000 new threads/hour from usernames made from different IP addresses? I guess all they can do is to turn off new user registration.

Registration price increased on domains

Today, most of the registrars where I have domains, notified me about increasing the price.
My inbox is now full with messages like "Old pricing $8.88, new pricing $9.29 per year".
It seems that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
approved certain domain registries to increase their prices.

Maybe it's a good idea since too many people(including myself) hold some domains without actually using them. They are parked or just in wait mode for good offers. I read somewhere that only about 10% of registered domains are currently used.

Monday, October 08, 2007

traffic analysis

Traffic analysis is the process of intercepting and examining messages or packets in order to deduce information from patterns in communication.

First used by military intelligence, but now it's use is more commercial-like in Internet surveillance. Big companies pay o lot to know when simple users surf the Internet, what they buy online and what sites are most visited. Basically your behavior and interests are tracked and recorded and are going to be used for economical or political purposes. While for the companies this means optimization and profit, for others this can be discrimination or interference in personal life.

Solution? There is no solution for the masses. Most people simply don't realize what's happening behind their Internet activities. They think nobody is able to track their activities. Others know it's possible but they think no one actually cares what you do online. But they are WRONG! As a consumer/buyer you are monitored because you need to be easy manipulated and in order to do that, they need to know as much as possible about you.

As an individual, you can start using VPN, SSH Tunnels or Tor.

New Mitsubishi Lancer



I have always considered to buy a Lancer. It's not an expensive car, but it's a high quality Japanese car. I think Mitsubishi is #1 in offroad cars and this is confirmed by the rallys where they are always on top. So Lancer would be a good combination of city car but strong enough to resist some tough roads like in my country. The reason I did not buy a Lancer was the 30% taxes, because it was made outside EU. Even with these taxes it was cheaper and with more options than european cars, but you just don't feel comfortable when you have to pay so much just for some stupid taxes. Another good reason to take it, was that it's actually made in Japan, unlike many Japanese cars which are made in Turkey or even Eastern Europe.

Now I'm waiting for the new model to get released in Europe and maybe I will consider again to get a Lancer. Now the taxes are also much lower, so I have all the reasons.

It looks so cool, I can hardly wait to have it in the showroom to see how the inside feels and maybe to take a test drive.

Top paying adsense keywords

I don't know exactly how people generate these lists, probably based on adwords estimations. However, it is hard for me to believe that you could get $30+ from a single click. And even if you try to optimize your page, it's impossible to predict which ads will google show on your website. With PPC programs, you can simply show the first bids ads, but on adsense the algo behind it's complicated and unpredictable and I think it's a bad idea to try to manipulate the adsense engine, you could get banned maybe.

Anyway, here are some sites which offer free lists:

ask.inwiki.org/Financial_top_paying_keywords

www.earnersblog.com/top-paying-adsense-keywords/

adsandsense.blogspot.com/2006/12/top-paying-google-adsense-keywords.html

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What users do on the Internet

According to a stanford.edu research, this is what users do on the Internet:



It was made around year 2000 I think, so it's quite old.
Something more recent(2006) says Internet is mostly used for p0rn: http://www.grupthink.com/topic/433.
More surveys and polls list emailing and shopping on top: http://www.pewinternet.org/trends/Daily_Internet_Activities_1.11.07.htm
dpolls.com


Some more stats like usage by continent/countries can be found here: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Call to undefined function imagecreatefromjpeg()

I was trying to resize some jpeg file in a php script and got this error:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function imagecreatefromjpeg()

I have recompiled the PHP by adding the following parameters to the ./configure script: --with-gd --with-zlib --with-jpeg-dir and everything worked after.

Of course I had to fix some dependencies first, but it was easy under Debian using apt-get, I remember that I had to do something similar a few years ago under an old Red Hat and it was really painful to fix all those GD requirements.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

UFO2000 the only true XCOM remake



The first XCOM was released in 1993. It was one of the best game ever. Turn-based strategy game, with RPG elements. The game is divided into two parts. In one part you build base, make researches and general administration. In the second part you fight aliens on the battle field using researched technology and manufactured weapons and of course your soldiers.

The fight is quite realistic(an unarmored soldier dies at the first shot) and quite SCARY. Yes, the game can give you some feelings unexperienced with other games. Usually the hypnotic music goes in some repetitive mode while the enemy is hiddenly moving and then suddenly one of your men's life is taken and you hear some scary sounds. Everything the game is so realistic: fog of war, line of sight, night missions, civilians, etc. The mystery part makes you wanna play this game non-stop. At start, you basically don't know anything about the aliens or their technology and you start little by little to capture parts of their weapons, bodies, etc. After long days of hard playing you eventually discover all their technologies and you are ready to go to their main base on Mars and destroy their core mind.

The game continues with XCOM2: Terror From the Deep and XCOM3: Apocalypse. But the lack of new elements didn't make these games so successful as the first one.

There were many commercial remake attempts lately: UFO: Alien Invasion, UFO: Aftermath, UFO: Aftershock, UFO: Afterlight and UFO: Extraterrestrials. None of them can give you the feelings from XCOM. All the time and resources spent with these games are useless. Each was announced as masterpiece and hardly expected by the fans but they all make you bored and disapointed after one hour of playing.

But don't lose hope, there is one game which uses the elements from the original XCOM and comes with something new, something we could not even dream in 1993: MULTIPLAYER SUPPORT .
Yes, it's the UFO2000 project and it's open source. It runs well on both Windows and Linux and maybe other OS. Official page: ufo2000.sf.net.

The game is continuously updating and improving. Basically you have a number of points/money, the same as your opponent, and you use them to buy soldiers which can be human or aliens and weapons. You can also adjust your soldiers capabilities. You can design some to be scouts, some snipers, grenadiers, etc. If you like turn based strategies, you cannot miss this one. Although the game is free, you still need to download the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Terror from the Deep if you want to play additional maps.

The game has an official server where they keep statistics of played online games at ufo2000.xcomufo.com.

If you are annoyed by the complicated 3D graphics of the new games and their lack of good ideas, you have to try UFO 2000, which has some old 2D graphics but can offer some magnificent gameplay.

Warning: the multitude of customization of your soldiers and high number of strategies you can use, make this game very addictive!

Will Google ever update PageRank again?

Definitely. But why these delays? It used to update every three months or so. As most webmasters noticed, when Pagerank updates, there is no big change in SERPs, so they assumed that Google updates the pageranks much often and they make the changes public every couple of months. It's called pagerank export.

But this time the delay is bigger than ever. This probably happens because too many webmasters started to manipulate the Pagerank by getting paid and reciprocal links. While reciprocal are easy to detect, the problem is with paid links. Paid links are not easy to detect manually and it is even harder to do this automatically. So while Google tests various algorithms for this, they probably decided to delay the pagerank export. This has a quite high impact, because many webmasters started to panic, they invested in links and cannot see the results in Pagerank or some SEO companies have contracts with customers where they promised higher pageranks.

There are many rumors that Google will change the PR to something else. But I disagree. I think it's either google exports the Pagerank in the next couple of weeks and they also come with a good detection system for paid links or they will just stop to make the pagerank public hoping to discourage link buyers and sellers.

A good explanation about how Pagerank works can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Blue Air

It's been a while since Blue Air started to operate flights in Romania and Europe, but I've only found out about it recently. I was planning a vacation in Greece, and the almost 1500 km that we'd have to drive to the destination (which was northern Greece, the southern part would have put some more hundreds kilometers on the route) didn't sound too good. So I looked for
some cheap plane tickets and found none, only the airport taxes were about 300€, not to mention the tickets themselves, so I gave up the whole trip, sadly. Now it's too late, the summer is gone and I've got a new job to think about, but at least for the next year I'll know that there are some options for the light-pocketed, Blue Air being one of them. Not for Greece, though, as for now they only operate routes in Romania, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and UK. They have some nice offers, 1€ per ticket and other such cheap offers, but still, the 2 problems for me remain: is it worth it to travel with low-cost companies, in terms of safety? and th eother one, well, they don't cover that many destinations...But this is constantly changing, as they grow, after all, 3 years is not such a long time in business world. Heh, I've seen that they're based in Bucharest, Baneasa airport, and not only do they offer cheap flights, but they offer free connection from Cluj- where I live - to Bucharest, thus making me the same offers as to the ones living in Bucharest, nice! I've surfed a bit for some customers' opinions, and just like in any other matter, there are pros and cons, of course the only pros are related only to the low prices...While the cons range from targeting the air hostesses' attitude to the more worrying problem of flights cancels, delays and lack of efficient communication.
Well, I'm still in doubt. It's not yet the time to make a decision in becoming their customer, but I think it's a good thing that the ancient Tarom has some competition in the local and international markets. And it hasn't been a whole year since Romania joined the EU, I'm sure things will improve in this area of air transportation too, I just hope it'd be sooner than later :)

Being anonymous with Tor

Tor is a tool which uses encrypted tunnels which can help you anonymize web browsing, instant messengers, IRC, and any applications that use the TCP protocol. It is based on volunteers who run servers.

Although, it was created to protect you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as "traffic analysis", it can also be used to reach websites or services that are blocked by your local Internet providers or even by local authorities(like in China), of course you do this on your own risk.


Tor is a free open source software, so anyone can use it without any charge, but beware, some even got arrested, you can read more about this here.

Site uptime monitor for your business

If you run sites or servers and want to be notified as soon as there is a problem with them, you can use siteuptime.com free service. They have various available monitoring options such as: http, pop3, smtp, ftp, dns, ping, ssl and custom tcp ports. They send tests at time intervals and if more than one location detects a connection failure, an email or SMS alert is sent to you.

Since this service has a public statistics page, you can use it to show your customers how stable your servers are, specially if you are in some kind of hosting business.