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Don’t turn on Content Network in Google Adwords

Nov 2009

I experimented for two weeks with Google Adwords for my freelance copywriting business.

I won’t go into much of the details, but I was quite happy with the results. It gave me a lot of enquiries, most of whom turned out to be genuine paid work.

I targeted not just on keywords, but also on location (Malaysia) and age (20-60 years).

What I was terribly disappointed with was the Content Network. Google Adwords shows a list of where my ads showed up on. The network performs on the basis of opt-out.

You never know which websites your ads will appear until they do. So when someone clicks on an ad, you end up paying for the click, even though you never paid for the ad to appear on that website.

I found that 30% of what I paid for were on the websites of domain squatters. No content whatsoever.

60% were on websites belonging to truly desperate people who are more keen on collecting micro-payments than actually producing worthwhile content. In other words, your run-of-the-mill blogger.

Only 10% of the ads ended up on websites of adequate quality and of relation to the ads.

I don’t know whether that 10% was worth paying for because Adwords doesn’t track a clickthrough to the goal. Or maybe it does, but Google Analytics doesn’t show it.

In the two weeks, I ended up paying nearly 50% of the spent budget on clickthroughs from the Content Network. 90% of which I doubt were worthwhile.

So my recommendation is: don’t turn on Content Network. Keep it off. Save your money.

Extended Menu Joomla hack for bad homepage alias

Nov 2009

The Extended Menu module for Joomla 1.5 is both really useful and really popular for creating dropdown CSS menus. But it has a problem if you have a homepage link as a menu item.

Extended Menu always adds the homepage alias as a suffix rather than linking directly to your root. ie http://yourdomain.com/home instead of http://yourdomain.com.

(The standard Joomla Main Menu module doesn’t have this problem.)

Here is the hack to solve it.

1. Open /modules/mod_exmenu/exmenu/view/menuview.class.php in your editor

2. Find

default:    // formerly case 2
// open in parent window

3. Append after those lines

if($menuNode->link == "http://yourdomain.com/home") {
$menuNode->link = "http://yourdomain.com/";

Voila! Works for any troublesome link. Sent to me by Richard Biddle.

I am switching to PC

Oct 2009

I’m one of an old dying breed. I am a pre-iMac user. One of the oldest in existence. I began 20 years ago in 1989 when I was introduced to the Apple LCIIs in basic Journalism class.

But Macs are no longer for me.

I’ve owned 5 Macs. Each one lasting a good 4 or 5 years. One upgrade was prompted by a hard disk crash. One was prompted by the new look of the colourful lozenge iMac (and also because Apple stopped supporting OS9). One was prompted because I needed a laptop rather than a desktop. The last one was by the theft of my iBook.

I don’t upgrade out of habit every couple of years. But it seems Apple doesn’t want those kind of customers. They make decently-solid computers that do seem to last many years. Mac users also tend to treat their computers well which also lengthens their lifespans.

This time, I don’t need to upgrade. But Apple is demanding that I am, even though my iBook works perfectly fine. They stopped making spare parts like batteries and power supplies for my iBook a long time ago. At the same time, for the second time, they stopped supporting my operating system (OS 10.3.9).

Being unable to get a replacement battery or power supply is a really ridiculous reason to have to invest in a new laptop. But that’s Apple for you.

The only way for me to continue using a Mac is to buy a new one. And I am refusing to play this game.

At least Microsoft tries to make their operating system backward compatible. And there are a lot more software companies willing to ensure their products work with older PCs. But Apple and their suppliers will cut you off, perhaps in the belief that they are doing you a favour by making you get a superior product.

There are things I like about Macs that I will be looking for in my new PC.

I want a small sized PC laptop (around 12″ inches), a solid feel like my iBook, no DVD player, something lightweight like the Air, with a nice GUI and with a Firewire port as standard.

I can’t say it hasn’t been disappointing. It’s been a bit like finding out you married for love and she married for money. Then again, there were plenty of wonderful years.

So long, Apple. It was good while it lasted. No hard feelings.

I now work with Joomla, finally

Sep 2009

After such a long time, I’ve finally broken my Joomla cherry.

I’ve begun creating Joomla templates and using Joomla as my defacto CMS when making websites.

My new personal business website is at http://copywriter.my/.

Holiday Inn

Oct 2008

Nice one, from an aging brand.

Heineken Sponsorship

Oct 2008

John McEnroe is one funny guy.

Impulse Seaweed

Oct 2008

A nice self-parody by Impulse.

Sylvannia lightbulbs

Oct 2008

A very bizarre TV commercial from Thailand.

Scuba diving in Tenggol

Oct 2008

I must remember never to dive with a newbie and non-photographer group ever again. This is the second time I’ve made that mistake. They tend to go to very safe and shallow areas and move far too fast for patient photography.

So I didn’t get much photography done. Especially since the first day was overcast and I don’t have strobes. I also didn’t get to return to the part of the Sri Nakhoda wall that has all the nudibranches.

The visibility on the third day was very good and the first wreck in Tenggol bay was the clearest I’d ever seen it. Here was the giant moray hidden inside.

How to box-in a speeding driver

Oct 2008

Once in a while, every driver will have the experience of having an aggressively-speeding driver tailing him or coming up too fast from the rear.

Two of the more common ways of dealing with such a driver is either to give way or to make a hard brake. The first is passive and doesn’t do any good. The second is inappropriate and downright dangerous.

Here is how I deal with speeding drivers: I execute a two-lane block to box them in. It’s a safer alternative and it gives me a warm feeling inside.

(The scenario I am about describe assumes that both you and the speeding driver are in the fast lane.)

  1. With the speeding driver tailing you, increase your speed until you approach another vehicle that’s ahead in the same lane. The speeding driver will continue to tail you, thinking that he is pushing you faster.
  2. Signal to move into the slower lane, if the slower lane is clear, then move in. The speeding driver will then speed up a bit to take your place, tailing the other vehicle in the fast lane.
  3. Increase your speed a bit as soon as you are in the slower lane. You will now be blocking both the vehicles in the fast lane from moving into your lane. The speeding driver is now effectively boxed in.
  4. Revel in delight at his pain. Every moment that you box him in will be agony to him. But do not make eye-contact with the speeding driver, not even in the side-view mirror. Or else he may figure out that it was all part of a plan.

At this point, one of three scenarios may play out.

  1. The vehicle that’s ahead of the speeding driver in the fast lane will speed up and pull into the slower lane to let the speeding driver pass.
  2. If you are on a highway that has three or more lanes, the speeding driver may execute an over-take from the slowest lane.
  3. If an approaching vehicle looms ahead of you in the slower lane, try to speed up and over-take both vehicles in the fast lane. Then continue to put some distance between you and the speeding driver. By the time the speeding driver has come up to your rear again, you will be in the correct position to execute another box-in. Repeat from Step 1 until you’re satisfied.



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