Wednesday May 18

Textarea tools

A very interesting collection of javascript and markup that adds handy features to basic HTML textarea forms that we never had before. This includes wordcount, character count, textarea resizing and character resizing.

http://livsey.org/experiments/textareatools/

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link harvester - linkback tracker

Link harvester is a comprehensive linkback tracker of every website indexed by Yahoo search that ever linked to your own site. I like it because it presents the urls all on one page and it highlights those that have more linkbacks than others.

http://www.linkhounds.com/link-harvester/backlinks.php

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Tuesday May 17

Please sign-in at Malcolmglazer.com

If you're a football (soccer) fan, or if you're not, either way you may have heard that Malcolm Glazer has bought Manchester United Football Club. Which is kind of like Jacques Chirac buying the New York Yankees. Not even when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea was there ever such talk. The phrase "that American wanker" used to be reserved for George Bush. Not anymore.

I'm all for tossing the tosser out. How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders. The man can't even trust his own pants. Anyway, someone has registered malcolmglazer.com and has put up a petition there and a website dedicated to the evils of Malcolm Glazer. Please drop by and sign in.

http://malcolmglazer.com/

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Tivo to RSS

If you have ever wanted to check what your Tivo was doing at home while you were at the office, here's a neat little script.

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Pop2RSS - Converts contents of a POP email box to RSS

This is a handy little Perl script from John Resig.

http://ejohn.org/projects/pop2rss/

Monday May 16

Proposition from an Indian ad-clicker

India has spawned an innovative business called ad clicking fraud in which thousands of Indians are paid to click on a website's Google ads in order to increase the website owner's revenue from Google for each click. And the Indian ad clickers get a percentage of the take. Here's an email exchange I had earlier this week with a representative of an Indian ad clicking syndicate.

12 May

Hello,

I got your email address from your site by Google search, while being interested in Adsense. At present you have 12 Adsense advertisements on your site. I have an offer for you. Which is that I am capable of giving you 1000+ different traffic to your site per day - and all of them would click on all the Adsense advertisements. For all these clicks you would be able to earn a good amount per day. My offer is that I would give you that 1000+ different traffic to your site in exchange of 50% of earnings of their total clicks. If you are interested, please let me know.

Thanking you, Sanjay Das.

So they use Google to search for people to defraud Google's customers? Ironic deliciousness! Sanjay was at least smart enough to limit the offering to about 1,000 clicks to help keep under Google's radar. And trusting enough that his customers would provide accurate revenue numbers. I thanked him for his offer and stated this was fraudulent and I wasn't going to risk my Google Adsense account. Google is aware of this business and can track it (however unlikely as that was). Sanjay was quite persistent.

13 May

This is known, but can they track if 1000+ clicks takes place from different PCs ? Also the clickers would load your site by pasting your url in the address bar from their clipboard, so there would not be any referred URL shown in your and Google log. Would it bypass the Google tracking ?

Sanjay Das

Sure, it's not as if Google would notice my site suddenly getting an uncharacteristic surge of ad-clicks from Indian ISPs. So I pose an obvious question to Sanjay (I'm being a bit of a jerk since both of us are clearly aware the current number of ad-clicks on my site are so meager they're negligible). I ask him "How would I be able to distinguish the difference between income generated by one of your clickers and one of my regular visitors? I assume I only pay you for income generated by your clickers." To which he replies:

14 May

Well that will not be a problem, if you engage in the deal. If I am correct, then, I think, you may not have enough clickers of the ads per day. My clickers would not be from any "referred" websites. Your traffic are from some "referred" sites. This way we can differentiate. Besides I would be very flexible about this once we have a deal. 1000+ clickers are too many. In my next step, I can increase the clicker traffic to 5000+ per day.

Sanjay Das

And later he adds:

Of your 1000 visitors, how many click on the ads (Is it 1+% ?) ? Can you give an average percentage, for the periods you are in the Adsense ? My 1000+ visitors are such that each person would click all the Adsense ads on your site. Additionally I can give you IP addresses of each of my visitors to your site. This can be a way to differentiate. I don't know how is the log of the Adsense, but I can give you a helping hand to differentiate my visitors from your visitors. All you have to do is to give me a secondary access to your logs, by either sending me the saved log page (as MHTL) or by sending me snaps of the log pages. What I will do is to hire a student to do the job of differentiation. Once we resolve the technicalities, we can go ahead.

Whoah, Nellie! Sanjay didn't know that Google doesn't provide logs with IPs. If they did, the Indian ad-clickers would go out of business. The ad-clicking syndicate doesn't seem to be run by the technically-proficient but by the entrepreneurial. It wouldn't help if he had a thousand students analysing logs, there isn't any data to analyse. (Ralph from fantomaster.com adds that this indicates ad-click fraud has gone mainstream.) Either way, I'd had enough and forcibly turned Sanjay down. I was sincere in my offer to pass on Sanjay's details if anyone here is interested in retaining the services of an Indian ad-clicker. You can write to him at freeuploadedfiles-at-gmail.com. But Google-fraud is Google-fraud.

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Sunday May 15

ScrappyGoo is faster than Google Alerts and shows more results

After some testing, Google Alert user Duncan Riley makes this interesting discovery about my Google News feed scraper, ScrappyGoo.

The delay from a news story being posted on Google [News] to the [Google] Alert being delivered varies between 3-12 hours, and that's if you even get it at all. That's right: the scrapper [sic] is delivering more results than the Alerts on the same search terms.

Read more on Duncan's blog.

Why RSS is better than email in permission marketing

Syndicateiq.com has an excellent article listing the ways that RSS beats email in permission marketing.

  1. No spam filters or black-list to avoid
  2. Consumers opt-out (no CAN-SPAM requirements)
  3. Guaranteed delivery of content
  4. More trustworthy because it puts control of the subscription in the hands of the subscriber

The article advocates using both email and RSS. More people know how to subscribe with email and much fewer use RSS readers. But perhaps that doesn't make any difference because (it quotes) a study by eMarketer warns that 83% of people hesitate in subscribing to an email newsletter because they're not sure whether their email will get sold to spammers.

http://syndicateiq.com/cms/s-iq/more/rss_saves_email/

RSS Submissions directory

An exhaustive list of sites that accept RSS feed submissions. Strangely, it doesn't include feedmarker.com.

http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-submission.htm

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RSS2HTML - Converts RSS to HTML

There are a few sites out there that convert RSS into a javascript that you can use to display the feed on your site. This one does it almost directly into HTML. Kind of like RSSdigest. It's a very nice and handy tool. But the results are not very customisable as the layout is fully furnished in the feed generation process.

http://www.rss2html.com/

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Saturday May 14

Amazon can target RSS subscribers with personalised marketing, but they don't

One of the complaints from marketers about RSS feeds is that subscribers are virtually anonymous. They say that email subscribers are not and can be targeted on a personal level. How is this possible when anyone can create anonymous email accounts on Hotmail, Yahoo and newsletter recipient accounts on Bloglines in less than two minutes?

Syndicateiq proposes that it is possible with wishlists like the ones that Amazon.com offers. With three new RSS services, Amazon can find out more about its subscribers and will be able to target them based on their tastes in products. Watchcow.net is a creation of Amazon that lets people track the favourite products by keywords and prices. http://www.oxus.net/amazon/ is a service that lets you generate searches of Amazon into RSS feeds. And Walter Higgins at xanadb.com hosts a javascript that creates an RSS feed of your Amazon wishlist. Using these three tools, Amazon can take advantage of the valuable data that their customers tell it about themselves. It can for example, target these RSS subscribers with upsell suggestions or suggestions of alternative products like it does on its website. Or it can sell ads in the RSS feeds to third parties based on the selection of products in the feed. No shopping channel I can think of has opportunities like these.

Comparison between online feed readers

I for one would really like to see an article comparing online feed readers like Bloglines, Newsgator, 2rss, Rojo and Feedster from the user perspective with a table of features. I haven't been able to find something like that yet and I think it would be really useful for people to see. Could someone volunteer some time to do this please. There's one at Pcworld.com, but it's a bit outdated and it includes a lot of desktop feed readers.

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Workers pick web over coffee

It's Hotornot time. On one hand, you have surfing the web at the office. On the other, a cup of Starbucks joe. Which would you choose? If you are like me and 52 percent of American employees, you'd pick the surfing. And people get paid to ask questions this obvious?

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Friday May 13

schtuff.com - free hosted wiki

Schtuff is a hot new direct competitor to jotspot.com, an earlier hosted wiki service. But schtuff is free. It gives you 200mb of space to store your notes and even photos and files. It also offers update notices via RSS and email and supports multiple-users. I think people will start using Schtuff first to try out using a wiki then they might move to jotspot because jotspot offers a few more usability features like MS-Word style editing and posting by email.

http://www.schtuff.com/

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torrentocracy.com - the next revolution in bittorrent and rss is bittorrent+rss

Along with mythTV, Torrentocracy turns your TV into a super bittorrent machine. It will read an RSS feed and download everything that comes up on the feed as soon as it gets syndicated. Presumably, this means that the feed only has links to TV shows and movies on it. So while you are sleeping, your TV is automatically preparing shows for you to watch the next day. And at the same time, seeding the shows you have downloaded to other people. Your TV wants to be a media centre.

http://www.torrentocracy.com/

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I'm an online brand planner and SEO specialist in Malaysia. XHTML, CSS and PHP hacker. for branding and content planning and execution, offline and online. This blog gets published between 12-1am GMT+8 every day.

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