Phishing company - expediamail.com

Dec 27, 2005 at 6:44 PM
Email scam just received that looks like an email from Expedia saying you have a coupon for a free trip or some other juicy offer.

All the links look right, and it looks like expedia.com, and all the URLs show up as the right places -- very official looking.

But it's actually from http://expediamail.com instead, if you hover over the urls in the email.

DON'T FALL FOR IT. If you log into your "account" through their interface to claim your coupon it will steal your info.

Forward any email you get from them to the email address spoof at expedia dot com.

Lovely double rainbow

Dec 18, 2005 at 6:57 PM


Here is a double rainbow. I took two pictures, and it was soo beautiful I wanted to share it with you.

Funny movies

at 6:54 PM
Sinatra covers the beatles

OR

An Interview with Bobo

A visit from royalty

Dec 17, 2005 at 5:03 PM
A red tailed hawk just flew by and then landed in a tree facing me. Little things like that remind me of the beautiful things in life to be thankful for.

You never saw anything more regal than a Red Tailed Hawk. He OWNED that tree while he was sitting on it.

Then he flew away. Presumably to attend to some prior obligation (you know how royalty are always on such a tight schedule).

Extra Extra ! Major Media Outlet for sale to highest bidder! Read all about it!

at 3:16 PM
IMO:

It is so obvious who owns newspapers, magazines, TV networks and the rest of organized media that you'd have to be wearing blinders not to see it.

Just look at the ads running alongside any story, expose or article, and you'll find out who "sponsored" the latest slanted ridiculous article.

Even in the little things, liek when you read an article about women's fashion choices, they always stick a recommendation of a product in it. Same paper, same day - big ad for that product.

Opinion pieces (like political stuff) I have no problem with. It's when they give me my news with a big chunk of like-it-or-not opinion stuffed in that I don't appreciate it. Or when they assume everyone else agrees with an assumption that the entire article is based on that is actually quite a far-out concept in the minds of most people in America.

I suppose the news outlets think of all this as some kind of "synergy of purpose" between the marketing department and their reporters, or some other advertiser hype buzz-word.

I think of it as selling out.

I don't read news articles in newspapers anymore that ring true to me. Ever. I haven't read one that didn't seem tilty or factually wacky or slanted in a long time.

And I'm not that far different from my friends and neighbours. I don't know anyone who personally feels the way that these newspaper articles tell me is the gospel truth.

Speaking of gospel truth...

This week I've heard TWO stories that made me feel like religion in general (and philosophy as a whole, I imagine) is under attack. And they pile on top of so many previous stories like this. So I looked at who was sponsoring the articles - who was paying to have it run by placing their ads there next to it.

The first such article was sometimes early this week, I think. It was that Pope likes to buy armani and prada and cartier, and that this is "an image problem" because he wants Catholics to shun excessive Christmas spending. Sounds reasonable to me to want religious people to apply their faith to real life, right? And Christmas really IS too commercial. We all know it.

The article even sent aspursions to his wealth and power. Hello? He's the POPE! Of course he's rich and lives in a palace and wears fancy clothes. This is news? It doesn't matter who the Pope is, if you're gonna say that wealth and power are BAD, you can make him appear fallible. And I'm not conceding that wealth and power ARE inherently bad.

Why in heck would anyone purposefully speak negatively about the Pope for wearing shoes and watches that reflect his position of power??

Well, let's see who advertised next to this article. Who was it? Christmas retailers and drug companies and a VISA card company. Hmmm. The groups who stand to lose the most if people turn to their religion. Psychs and drugs lose out when we get religious (cause religious people are less depressed statistically). Retailers stand to lose out when we refrain from overspending on Christmas. And credit card companies lose out when we don't overspend, cause most of us do it on credit.

Where has respect for religion gone? Obviously to the highest bidder.

Today the LA Times bashes Scientology - why? Because Tom Cruise really loves his religion and believes in it, and has powerful friends in his church, and speaks out about what he believes is true. They said something like that hearing Tom Cruise is like hearing Hubbard from beyond the grave. Huh? And outspoken Christians must be like listening to Jesus Christ from beyond the resurrection? Oooh! Creepy.

Besides, I don't even see how this is bad news. Everyone is free to speak in America, even those of us who aren't bought and paid for. Freedom of religion is protected. Thank God!

Next to that tacky article? You guessed it. Ads for psych drugs. You'd have to be a naif not to know who's behind that one.

This reminds me a lot of when Mel Gibson got outspoken about being a Catholic. Media outlets that used to call him handsome and gregarious started calling him dangerous and old. Mel Gibson was suddenly strange and wrong for being a real catholic, and all kinds of wild bizarre accusations were made about him being brainwashed by his religion or trying to pound it into us.

It disgusted me how no one is ever treated badly for pushing the standard line but anyone pushing religion is bad bad bad. Bad!

Respect for religion for sale to the highest bidder! Belief in humanity for sale to the highest bidder!

It appears that the only organization that remains infallible is the organized press for being totally at the will of the advertiser pulling the strings.

And they wonder why we news consumers are turning to RSS feeds and blogs. We can choose our news and opinion articles this way. If you can choose, why would you want the media's conformist, consumer-creating, out-of-touch-with-realilty wacko view of the world, anyway?

Since the standard thought process of major media appears to be "Let's see. What articles can we write to best align with what our advertisers are selling this week?" then it stands to reason that you can draw a conclusion.

My advice to Catholics, the Pope, Tom Cruise, Scientology, Mel Gibson and anyone else the media trashes? Invest in media advertising. Just buy tons and tons of advertising. Way more than you need. Then they'll love you. Right up until your enemies buy more ad space.

I will never stop being a believer in the BLOG PRESS. The simple fact that the content of the article online decides the advertising that displays next to it (think AdSense) means that the advertiser doesn't influence the outcome of the article.

The internet is YET AGAIN proven to be the bastion of the free press, and the only place where I can be assured to receive real news. It is the only place where I can find a full spectrum of opinions to choose from rather than the kaleidescopic view of life that the old media wants me to have to sell more of the advertisers products.

Real life is so five minutes ago

Dec 16, 2005 at 11:43 PM
For whatever reason, I have decided not to promote my blog, sell anything or try to get something out of you.

I want you to believe what I say, and I always take advice with a grain of salt when it comes from someone selling something.

OK

REAL LIFE - WEB EQUIVALENT

The mall = shopping.yahoo.com


television ads for "Crazy eddie!" = flashy shaky animated banner ads



standing in line at the bank = waiting for your bank's site
to let you "skip intro"



Every nightclub flyer or homepage ever all rolled into one = MySpace



playing D&D in the basement = playing D&D at wizards.com



The waiting room of a doctor's office
when the doctor is taking a nap = forums



The dude who mutters nonsense
to himself all day at the park = Comment spammer



Trying to talk to any real person
when calling any large company's
voicemail system = Trying to figure out how to send a real email using one of those forms
at nearly any large company's
website



Snake Oil Salesmen = Sites that say
"submit to 1,000 search engines!!!"



The local TV station promising
that if you place an ad with them,
customers will "stampede in" or
"bang down your door" = Someone saying that their $35.00 software can guarantee "number one
position in all search engines"


MLM = Link Farms



flea markets = ebay


get rick quick schemes = scraper sites



pet rocks, lava lamps = useless browser add-ons that make it look cool.


telemarketers who call you as you're leaving for work to sell you life insurance = spyware ads popping up while you're tryint to get started with work.


me = me



Huh... Interesting. I translate pretty well.

Sandbox Rules - Google Playground penalties

at 10:43 PM
About the google sandbox - I have something to say:

First, let me promise you that I've got good common sense advice below about what you can do about it below. Now I'm gonna hit you with it.

There is no such thing as the Google sandbox.

And for those of you who think you're sitting in the sandbox, the likelihood is that your butt is just sitting down in the road.



So what is the sandbox? It wasn't made up by SEOs to make people buy our services. Instead, it is a common misperception of an aging delay that Google applies to your site, but ONLY in terms of valuing your relevance to search terms. It was put in place because of all those nasty spammers out there.

But the aging delay is only one of a googol (pun intended) of equally important factors, at least according to my sources.


So, what about the sandbox. Should it be considered important to try to beat it? No. Why? Well, there is no such thing, really. It is not as though all websites are waiting to go through the metal detector at the airport. And once you pass through it, you will magically be the person who gets first place. If you want to improve your relevance in Google's eyes, make sure you don't resemble in any way the spammy sites. There are a million other things you can look at, and the aging delay is one small factor. It only gets focused on because you can't fake your age as a website very easily, and certainly not once you're already up and running.

CRUCIAL POINT



If you do not come up in a direct search for your page, you are not sandboxed. You are just NOT in Google.


Again, not being listed in Google DOES NOT MEAN you are sandboxed.

Instead, you are either making it impossible for Google to crawl you or you are being penalized by Google.


Here is how to get started fixing it. Once you know which one of the below is what's happening, then you can start fixing it.

You are penalized when the googlebot has already come to your site, and:

  • You have no listings in Google, even in a direct search for your URL, and/or

  • You have no page rank at all.



You are doing it to yourself, by making it impossible for Google to crawl you when you have links to your site that google knows about, but:

  • You have excluded robots somehow or

  • You have decided to place massive plugins, cookies, and flash animations on your home page or

  • Your home page takes a long time to load.



If Googlebot doesn't easily get into your site, it skips you. Period. It is a VERY busy little creature. Cut it some slack, and make it easy for the bot to crawl you. Check every now and again if the bot has crawled you. It is way more likely to be something wrong with your sever setup or load time than that Google has it out for you and has penalized you. At least if you've been trying to just follow good practices, as a business and as a website. If you're doing something really wacky (like doorway pages, blocking all robots, using duplicate content across lots of your pages, hidden text, buying into a link farm or what have you) then you probably know you're doing it, and shouldn't blame a sand box.

That's not as complex as you thought it'd be, now is it?



It is easy to fix these problems, if you know where to start.

If you've been penalized, get a good web designer with lots of experience building reputable websites to consult with you in fixing your problems. You'll need their help to get back in good graces with Google.

If you're just a bit too disorganized for the googlebot to access your site, work on cleaning up and simplifying. Make sure your home page code is clean and includes only what needs to be there to get the job done. Make sure you're not excluding robots or that you haven't forgotten to include navigation in your HTML. If your site allows it to, the googlebot will crawl you.

p.s. if you're just complaining about LOW RANKINGS, you're in completely the wrong place. The sandbox has nothing to do with you. You're just not as well-known (linked), well organized (good site design) and relevant (good content) as your competitors yet. And you could have basic coding problems. See my prior post abvout checking your HTML for validity.

Do anything except sitting on your butt complaining about the imaginary sand.

AskJeeves is getting more relevant

Dec 14, 2005 at 11:35 PM
I personally feel that the huge jump in Ask.com's popularity has to do with growing relevance.

I find them to be way more relevant on my search terms than they were a year ago. Also a lot less in your face with results.

And I think that's why they've grown 77% recently. Still a small market share.

My cat is named now

Dec 13, 2005 at 1:10 AM
My girls decided to name our cat "Starr". It's very eight-year-old-girl, don't you think?

I think I'm gonna to officially dub her "Brenda Starr".

Everyone gets a full name in my house.

Tucker is "Tucker Fitzgerald, the Presidential Dog"

The cat is very female, and very fiesty -- and I always loved Brenda Starr comics as a kid.


The TAO of Food Shopping - Pantry Nirvana

Dec 12, 2005 at 11:03 PM
I was fed up. So, I've decided to change my ways and rethink food shopping.

I'm sick of having a half-stocked larder. At any given time, I have only half of what I'd like to have on those shelves. This is because I have limited means.

But, I've had an idea. An idea that may mean I can have a perfectly stocked kitchen by correcting what's wrong with the way that I shop.

Before my girls get home from visiting their father, I have four more weeks, three more shopping trips, two more holidays, and a weird idea to try out.

I'm going to take the next three shopping trips to buy only one meal at a time.

This breaks the shopping into the same pieces that I break the day up into. I think in terms of specific meals. Why don't I shop that way?

I will have a focused shopping trip where I know exactly what I've come for. That always saves me a great deal of money. And I will be sure to do a better job of getting everything needed if I handle only the one thing at a time.

Humor me for a moment, I'm trying to deal with my kid's being away. This is my way of dealing with it.

I got the idea last week, when I went to WalMart, but since I wasn't going straight home, I bought only housewares type stuff, and did a great job of remembering everything I was out of, since I wasn't there for food either. I also didn't get anything other than what I had come for, because I was focused from the get-go.

This morning, I purposefully bought ONLY breakfast items. I did a very good job of it. I got everything I had been wanting for breakfast items. That means everything. Most are in the freezer, the rest are shelf items.

The next one is LUNCH foods. Then DINNER and then SNACKS. Since we don't eat much sugar, dessert doesn't count and will get wrapped up into the SNACK trip.

Everything will get frozen until the girls get home. When they do, my larder will be fully stocked with every item we need all at once. I will have achieved pantry perfection – this divorced mother's domestic dream come true. This is no minor accomplishment for me.

I may have found my way... to shop.

I give it 24 hours MAX before I hear "Mom, we're out of cereal!".

IMHO: Firefox is fabtastic

at 10:53 PM
I have decided that I love firefox. I know I am joining a huge crowd. But the more I learn about proper use of HTML and CSS, etc, the better I like Firefox. The more I use it, the better I like it. Often, Ifind that what appear to be display errors are just incorrect usage of CSS that is displayed correctly in Firefox, but was made to fit into IE's weird display concepts that aren't standard CSS.

I love tabbing, and my browsing habits have completely changed. It doesn't crash on me either. The list goes on.

I'm happy.

The final nail in IE's coffin for me? The Forecastfox weather extension is literally the only weather plug-in I've found that displays the weather out here where I live - way out in boony land. With a satellite image and a three day forecast, it still manages to be unobtrusive.

(I'm not including links because I don't want to be mistaken for spam. But if you don't know where to download mozilla ff, you're the only one.)

Obligatory cat post - Need cat name

Dec 10, 2005 at 7:15 PM
Official "blogosphere buzz" apparently must be taken as absolute truth at face value at all times.

The most recent piece of this is that every personal blog is required to have a post about your cat. All right, all right. Geesh!

My cat is a chubby black thing without a stitch of any other color than black. She has no name right now. I got her off of soeone who was moving away. THey'd named her Ciarra -- the same name as my ex-step-daughter. It's a painful subject, and I don't want the cat to remind me of it.

It boils down to that I need a new name for my cat.

Here is a picture.

And another:


Cat's don't care what they are called.

My dog cares, but the cat doesn't.

Personality traits:

Requires extremely hands on petting, and only when inconvenient (like at four AM or when I'm playing piano). Doesn't meow much. Catches EVERYTHING and leaves it on the bed. Loves me and wants all of my attention whenever the TV is on and I'm trying to watch. When I pet her, she chases my hand with her head, and wants both of my hands petting her.

Very bossy, and does not like to be fed without getting wet food too. Scared to pieces by my dog, Tucker. He ignores her.

Any name ideas?

I am jonesing for a spades partner

at 5:47 PM
Living in the woods is great, but there's no one to play cards with!

I quit smoking last week, but what I'm really jones-ing for is a good game of spades. Especially one with really intelligent partners.

My Dad and I play cribbage. It's not my favorite, but it is a decent game. I've beat him four games in a row now.

I really miss my games with Jon, Dee, and Rick on the back porch in Florida summer. More than any other aspect of our room-mate-ish-ness (yes, it is a word!) I miss that.

I tried playing the online variety of spades, as an expert player but everyone else in the game was either a bad player pretending to know how to play spades, or someone who quits the second anything bad happens (like a few measly bags). And it's excrutiatingly slow. Internet spades is still nothing like the real deal.

This is where I chew my cud

at 5:38 PM
Despite that I work in internet marketing land, you'll notice that my blog is a template site blog, and it is not displaying ads, and it's not even well linked up. That's because I agree with this post from Kim Krause Berg. I write about whatever I want whenever I want, and none of it is being written with the intention to sell anything, or make me any profit. I don't link to myself, self promote or send myself kudos.

This blog is where I come to contemplate my life.

I've made the conscious choice to have a home, rather than an office, as a blog. I take my work home with me all the time, but that's ok. I'm only chewing my cud, thinking things through.

Blogging has been overtaken by the corporate world. It's like the farming community that used to be where Wall Street is now, except that in the blog universe, both CAN coexist peacefully.

Adwords ranking change affects everyone

at 2:38 PM
AdWords is the big bad wolf right now, huffing and puffing on advertisers’ houses. Is your house made of straw?

Right now, Google is the single most important web presence, with everything else either depending on or playing off of it.

Because of this, any little drop will make big ripples.

But a huge change has just been made. Google AdWords (paid placement/sponsored listings at Google) quietly changed the factors that it ranks ads by. For the very first time, it includes a factor not a part of the internal workings of an AdWords account. AdWords has started looking OUTWARD to improve their revenue.

The factors that are considered to determine the display of your ad will now include the "content and layout" of the landing page.

A page with better "content and layout" - meaning an optimized page with good marketing presentation – will now place better than a higher bidding person with a poorly optimized landing page.

What does this mean to an advertiser? It means that everything has just changed, in a very American, “free enterprise” kind of way.

Those who deserve better traffic because their pages sell better and work better – ie are optimized to sell – will now get a boost from Google.

This will improve the relevance of the AdWords results for the searcher and it will also push those with irrelevant or poorly optimized pages out of the artificial results.

Google must have noticed that searchers aren’t clicking on AdWords ads as much, and realized that it’s usually because there’s rarely a good site at the other end that was actually selling what was promised. If AdWords relevance increases and a percentage of searchers recognize it, AdWords revenue will increase exponentially.

Revenue from AdWords will increase by increasing the trust factor of the “sponsored results”. This will generate more business for the best of Google’s AdWords accounts, and for Google, regardless of whether they bid less. More clickers means more revenue over all, even at lower bids. More revenue means more internet commerce, and more internet commerce strengthens the entire web, increasing competition. Ultimately, this boosts the efficacy and longevity of the web as a whole. Free market strategy at its best.

It is a brilliant move, and one which should improve the longevity of the system, even if the short term dip occurs.

If Google is smart (which 100 PhDs should guarantee) it will gradually increase the weight applied to this factor until it is at least as important as every other factor considered. Anyone in this business should expect a massive shift in AdWords placement to occur very slowly, like a glacial melt.

There is only one set of people who will see negative results from this change — advertisers who have avoided making their site better in favor of pouring their advertising budget into an AdWords account. It’s the get-rich-quick people who will lose out most. The poor little piggies with straw houses will be left standing in the cold.

A lot of sites have used AdWords as a way to boost themselves up in rankings when their pages were not quality enough to rank in natural search results. In fact, large amounts of sites depend entirely and only on the revenue generated through their AdWords campaign, because they didn’t put in the effort to optimize their site.

Dropping even one rung will be devastating to these sites -- already paying top money, often their entire advertising budget, to rank well in the paid results at Google.

This means optimization has just become way more important to the little guy, who won’t be as able to give himself a false boost anymore.

Google should also expect to find more desperate people either paying more to rank better at Google AdWords or desperately trying to trick the search engine for better placement in the natural search results. Some of the get-rich-quick people are not going to get the point. Others will fix up their site, increasing the competition in SEO and therefore, in theory, increasing the importance of quality optimization.

OK. You’re thinking: “But, is this really a big deal?” Not if you’re the good little piggy who built your well-planned web site brick by brick.

Smoker-no-more

Dec 8, 2005 at 8:23 PM
I quit smoking on Saturday. I was gonna buy cigamints or Smoke away because I already know they work, but I just went ahead and cold turkey quit. It was agony, but I'm 5 days into it and the worst part is over within three days. I'm loving the newly regained freedom. No more trips to the store in the middle of the night. No more going to sleep smelling like smoke!

Buy yourself some chiclets or tictacs or gum or beef jerky shreds. Anything to chew on that is not heavily caloric and just do it. I know someone who cut plastic bic pens into pieces and took out the insides and chewed them to bits while he was quitting. It worked. (I'm surprised he didn't choke, though. Supposedly hundreds of people a year choke on pens.)

If you think about smoking as a problem (thoughts like "why am I doing this to myself?" or "I hate that I do this") you just need to quit and get it over with. It feels great. It's not as hard as you think it's gonna be.

Here's a picture I took so my kids could see what I did. I'm unusually proud of me right now.

Leprechauns in black hats

at 8:04 PM
Sorry so long. Amongst other things, I've been busy working on my own mother's web site. She had been using a faceless SEO with lots of employees, and I'm left cleaning up the mess. She was promised a lot of stuff that sounded good at prices that seemed fair. What they ended up doing was lots of negative tactics, like keyword stuffing into comments, putting keywords into meta-tags that are not actually anywhere on the page, extremely convoluted use of navigation to conceal duplicate content pages, etc.

In addition to that, there was no actual change to their pre-existing code, complete with CSS errors, invalid HTML, stacked tables, unfollowable links, etc.

I don't recommend using any SEO who can't:

A. Provide LOTS of phone numbers to call for recommendations from real people with real businesses (not just a list of clients -- it's easy to fake those).

B. Gives you a really lousy sounding guarantee. If it says anything about guaranteeing first place for the keyword of your choice, they are outright lying. If it says guaranteeing first place for ten keyword phrases, trust me, those will be the most obscure phrases possible. If you sell sprockets, your highest ranked keywords will all be variations on "rusty worn-out green sprockets" or "sprocket type 7a-cB1" on which you will get nearly no additional traffic.

I am mortified that there are so many leprechaun repellent salesmen out there in the SEO world. They aren't black hat (dirty techniques) or white hat (clean techniques), they are just nobodies pretending they can get the job done. They are worse than con-artists, because most of the time the customer has NO idea that they've just been conned. While the white hats and black hats are out there duking it out at high noon, this guy's snoozing on the porch.