January 31, 2023

Web Developer (Ruby) Wanted

Here’s the good news: Right before Christmas, I entered into an agreement with an angel investor for Nuposts.com. We are go!

For the past month, he has been looking for developers and we’ve both been briefing them, preparing the ground and refining the project outline.

Here’s the great news: We are looking for a web developer. Someone with experience with Ruby. We already have one Ruby developer and we need a second one to get the project off quickly. If you or anyone you know wants to get involved for a couple months (or thereabouts) in a great new project that’s going to change the way the internet consumes content from blogs, email me quick!

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December 12, 2023

TV commercial blog

My experiment with locating TV commercials around the internet to create blog content is working out surprisingly well. At first I thought I’d be posting a few a week. But it looks like there are so many good TVCs around the web that I can promise to post three new ones every week day. And I’ve been running it for over two months already. Of course it’s only my opinion of what is a good commercial. Feel free to submit your own, I’d love to find out more about what’s out there.


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November 16, 2023

Problogger Clean Theme for Wordpress

This theme is based on my own blog design. But in many ways, this theme release is better (and with neater mark-up too). It has been tested on Firefox, Safari and Windows IE. Seven things are significant and quite unique about it.

  1. Monetised

    This is one of the first Wordpress themes that comes with Adsense blocks built in. The adsense blocks have been tested to have optimised positions and optimised colours.

  2. Featurised

    Unlike other themes which come sans-features, this one has built-in features using a single functions file that comes with the theme folder. So it does not rely on any plugins.

  3. Corporatised

    It is a bit of a serious theme with a very corporate colour scheme, not usually the kind preferred by personal bloggers.

  4. Search engine optimised

    Heavy interlinking for search bots to easily find pages. And page titles are automatically customised to the post titles.

  5. Promotion optimised

    There are a few features that allow you to promote yourself and allow visitors to the site to share it with others if they find it interesting.

  6. Stickitised

    Ok, that’s not a real word, but it simply means particular attention was paid to the internal navigation. Links to other posts are placed prominently and throughout all the blog pages to invite visitors to click on them.

  7. Prioritised

    The positions of the sections, colours and font sizes have been prioritised to the immediate communication needs of the first time visitor. The theme is space sensitive and is thus very content focused, keeping much of the important details at the top or near the top of the fold.

And those are also the reasons why the theme is called Problogger Clean. If you choose to use this theme, please do email me or leave a comment about it on the support forum. We’d really like to see how you use it so that we can get more ideas on improving themes.

Proceed to download Problogger Clean or view the documentation.

(Click here to read the rest on the article page…)

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November 8, 2023

New blog: adblog.wordpress.com

Back in 1998, there was a very popular website called Adcritic.com that tapped into the idea that people actually like seeing TV commercials. They showcased new commercials, mostly from the US. The site became so popular that when it closed down, it became the poster child for Popularity Meltdown. Bandwidth costs money and video takes up a lot of bandwidth. Adcritic later rose again, but in a paid subscription model and never regained its earlier popularity.

The next generation of video content sites like iFilm.com learned from the Adcritic case and created partnerships with bandwidth providers. But video content sites became anathema to venture capitalists. Until this year.

With the increasing popularity of high quality digital video recorders and the rise of the mobile phone video recorders, video blogging started becoming the in-thing. The year of the video bloggers began in 2004 (or arguably somewhat earlier) as people began making their own video content and posting them on their blogs. Then sites like Youtube.com and Video.google.com burst onto the scene earlier this year and things never looked better for video blogging.

Now that I’m in the advertising industry, I wanted to re-look into TV commercial blogs. There were none. Advertising blogs up till now focused on posters and press ads and photos of ambient media — cheap low-bandwidth-sucking images. One of the issues was that there was no reliable video hosting that was cheap enough for the lone enthusiast to afford. But with user-submission sites like Youtube and Google Video, fans of TV commercials now have free and reliable hosting resources to make highlight their favourite commercials.

So I made adblog.wordpress.com, a brand new TV commercial blog. It showcases the commercials that I like, culled from sites like thespecspot.com, viralx.com and adforum.com. The videos are hosted on these sites and I blog links to them. Or else, if I find the video on other sites, I upload them to Youtube. (Nice thing about Youtube and Google Video is that they generate thumbnails of the video from screenshots.)

There is so much TV commercial content floating all over the internet right now that I can post about four commercials a day and still have left over content for the following day. I hope you enjoy the commercials as much as I enjoy blogging about them.

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October 3, 2023

What do you write for a small business blog

Particletree has an article on small business blogging making arguments for it. The article brings up the point that small businesses think that blogging is too time consuming. But I think they’d change their minds if they knew of the interesting and wide range of things they could blog about. For most people, blogging is synonymous with ranting and political monologues. Having a list of small-business-related topics (and examples of their execution) could fire up the imagination of small businesses and their motivation to blog. The Particletree article lists a few:

  1. Issues the company itself is dealing with
  2. New product ideas
  3. Marketing ideas
  4. Small business issues
  5. Practical tips
  6. References and links to other articles

But a blog is an interactive channel. So to this list I would add a few feedback ideas, thought sharing ideas and more. A blog is also not just a marketing channel, but also a channel to assert your expertise, a public relations channel and a relationship/trust building channel. So I could add a few more ideas to the list:

  1. Letters from readers/customers
  2. Solicitations for feedback on product issues
  3. Solicitations for feedback on marketing issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  4. Consumer/Customer meetups
  5. Reviews of related books/websites/articles (RevenueRoundtable)
  6. Industry/ethics issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  7. Social issues (SkyeCreative)
  8. Consumer issues (RevenueRoundtable)
  9. New products (DenaliFlavors)
  10. New press coverage (DenaliFlavors)
  11. Announcements of new clients
  12. Announcements of new locations/outlets
  13. Announcements of new employees
  14. Announcements of new partners or suppliers (SkyeCreative)
  15. Conferences and other upcoming events that business representatives will attend
  16. Customer/Service policy changes or new policy issues
  17. Case studies

Sorry I didn’t have time to find examples of all of the list. I’ll add more, but please feel free to suggest some. Links via PowerBlog Review.

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September 24, 2023

The real top ten tips for blogging anonymously

As many of you know, Reporters without Borders released a PDF handbook about blogging for dissident bloggers. Actually a lot of it also deals with making a good blog, like the section about blogging ethics and search engine optimisation. Completely irrelevant. If I was blogging at risk, I think I would have more pressing concerns than getting my blog spidered by Google. My chief concern was the section about Blogging Anonymously by Ethan Zuckerman which contains a lot of shockingly bad (and sometimes unnecessary) advice for blogging anonymously. So, here’s the real top ten tips for blogging anonymously.

  1. Get a new email address from a free email host.
    As anonymous as you think your own email address is, it is imperative to get a new one. Keep your real identity and your fake identity completely separate. Use your fake email address to open a new blogging account, don’t use a blogging account that was opened with your real email address. I recommend a service like Hotmail.com that does not require your real email to make an email confirmation for opening a new account. One thing Zuckerman did not mention is that you need to choose an email name that has nothing to do with your name or anything to do with you. No funny play on words or use of acronyms. Enough coincidences like that and you’ll be scuppered.
  2. Get a blogging account from a popular blog host.
    Zuckerman made recommendations such as weblogs.us and seo-blog.org. Let’s get serious here. No disrespect to the guys who run those two hosting services, but I doubt they have the legal team like Yahoo, MSN or Google’s to back them up. You have to go for blog hosts that won’t crap their pants at the sight of a lawyer’s letter or the FBI at their door. Go for blogspot.com or livejournal.com or MSN Spaces. Accept no imitations.
  3. Blog from cybercafes
    Library computers are public, but some libraries require a lending identity card to use their computers. Anything that suggests your identity is bad. Go for a crowded cybercafe always. Zuckerman’s advice on switching your cybercafes often is a good one. Never choose any that are near your place of work or place of residence. Never choose one in which you have membership privileges because they will have notes on you. Always choose one that’s crowded and popular at all times. And always choose a seat in the cafe with your back to the wall! If you can be observed posting to your blog, you’re scuppered. As far as any security expert is concerned, the key to figuring out who you are is figuring out which computer you use.
  4. Forget about anonymous proxies
    Anonymous proxies don’t hide your identity. Even those that say they are “high anonymity” often are not. Do you want to trust a sysop to state the truth about his service when that service is for clandestine purposes? Anonymous proxies only make it difficult to make a direct trace to your computer, not impossible. And if the authorities already suspect which computer is being used to make blog posts, anonymous proxies won’t help. If you have to use an anonymous proxy, it means you are using the wrong computer. Always blog from popular public computers. Zuckerman’s suggestion that it can be safe to blog from your home with an anonymous proxy will earn you a knock at the door at midnight.
  5. Tell no one
    Zuckerman’s advice to seek the aid of a computer expert is his second worst piece of advice. That computer expert is yet another person who can finger you. Tell no one. (And do I have to mention here that you shouldn’t keep any notes related to your blogging topics? Notes = evidence that can be used against you.)
  6. Onion-router schmonion-router
    If you’re reading a handbook from Reporters without Borders on internet anonymity, you obviously don’t know anything about internet anonymity. Setting up an onion router compounds the problems of having to ask for help to set it up and putting too much trust in technology to hide yourself. If the authorities are going high-tech to find you, then go low-tech for protection. Tell no one and use popular public computers.
  7. Encryption: Are we still talking about that old hat?
    Sure, you can follow Zuckerman’s advice and set up PGP encryption and post via email to a remailer to a blogging service like Blogger.com that allows posting via email. Does that promote your anonymity? Hell no. It only means that someone intercepting your email will have a hard time discovering its content. If they’re already intercepting your email, you’re living on borrowed time. This technique also gives you the false sense of security that you’re safe while blogging from your own computer. You’re most certainly not. Furthermore, the shadow of the email you sent can be used as evidence against you.
  8. Post via email
    I am not saying that blogging via email is a bad idea. In fact, it’s a very very good idea. If you are being observed, a tell-tale sign of blogging is when you open up an obviously recognisable interface like Blogger.com’s. Blogging via email does not look like blogging at all. It looks like you are sending a supposedly harmless email. If you are using a blogging service that allows posting via email, set that up and don’t open the regular blogging interface. And make sure your email software keeps no traces in the “Sent” folder.
  9. Flush your cache
    If you are using a web interface for blogging, flush your cache before you leave your seat as an added precaution. Caches are logs of the sites you visited and can remain in a public computer for several days. Flushing the cache removes traces of what sites you were at. Go to the Preferences of your browser, find the Security tab and click on Empty Cache. This is a good practice to have when using a public computer, even if you are not blogging at risk. This is not a fool-proof technique since deleted log files can sometimes be recovered. But used in conjunction with other precautions, the authorities will have a harder time finding stuff about you, especially when the authorities don’t have the special expertise needed to recover deleted caches.
  10. Don’t panic!
    Be mindful of the force (and the authorities), but do not get paranoid or panic. The authorities are waiting for you to make a mistake and the chances of making one rise hundred-fold when you are out of your mind. If you think the authorities are close, test that assumption by changing your habits (like switching to a new cybercafe temporarily). In the movie Hunt for Red October, they called it a Crazy Ivan. Zig when they think you will zag.

The EFF has more real world tips on blogging anonymously.

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September 12, 2023

Tell me about your blog

If you read my blog and if you have a blog, tell me about it. I already have a short list of other bloggers who read my blog, but I got them mostly from comments and from blog-search tools like Technorati. I have a list called “Readers” in my RSS feed reader, but it’s still very thin and I’d like to boost it. So leave me a comment or write me an email. Thanks!

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