I have to admit that filling in the inactive account settings for my Google account gave me the shivers. There’s not much that would stop me logging into my Google account for more than 3 months. It would have to be one of the following:
- Trekking through a rainforest pursued by secret agents monitoring all radio communications.
- Lost on a desert island with only 80′s computer equipment to keep me amused.
- In a coma after a botched attack by terrorists who are hell bent on killing open source developers.
None of the above are very appealing options but at least one is as inevitable as, err, taxes, so it must be faced.
I added a trusted contact and was then presented with a popup asking for a subject and email body. Writing that was unsettling but I hope more services do something similar. I’ve heard too many horror stories about Facebook accounts that have been frozen on the death of an account holder.
You can choose what data is or isn’t shared with a contact. Included is Latitude, which has tracked my whereabouts for the last 2 years and will continue to do so. It makes me wonder how my descendants will cope with the deluge of information. It may very well end up as an anonymous zip file on someone’s computer I guess.
The list won’t be frozen in time either. Do I add my siblings? What about my son when he’s older? What age? I should set a calendar reminder for his 18th birthday. I’ll have to warn those trusted contacts because Google sends an email and a text message when the account goes inactive. Like a letter from the grave.
I wanted to know what IP addresses were hitting my website. I’d done this before and it only took a moment or two to recreate the following commands. Still, here it is for future reference.
grep -v "wp-content" access.log|grep -v wp-includes|cut -f 1 -d " "|sort|uniq -c|sort -nr|less
- Excludes “wp-content” and “wp-includes” requests.
- Uses “cut” to cut out the IP address.
- Sorts the list of IP addresses.
- Uses “uniq” to count the occurrence of each IP.
- And finally reverse sorts the list again, by number of occurrences, with the largest number at the top.
You’ll probably find Google and Yahoo! bots near the top of the list, but I also found the “Jyxobot/1″ bot was quite busy today.
This is weird, a huge number of POST requests started to hit the Shite Drivers website a few days ago. The requests came from lots of IP addresses and all requests went to the non existent /bc/123kah.php
The payload was an array that looked like this:
[version] => 188.8.131.52
[id] => c3b342beb6ad7adf39499e7a38f93c09f681611d
[tm] => 1266855758
[aff_id] => gooochi
[net_id] => gooochi
[safe] => 1
[exceed] => 2505,2507,2582,2597,2602
So I presume it’s the Gooochi malware referenced in this search for that word. Strange that the infected PCs hit my server though.
The traffic was never overwhelming but I decided to put a stop to it with a simple
in a .htaccess file. Much better than having WordPress serve up a 404 page.
deny from all
I mentioned the 123kah.php file on Twitter and I’m not the only one to see these odd requests. I guess even malware has bugs! (which is all the more reason to keep your anti-virus software up to date if you use Windows)
The way I see it, there are three stages to web browsing:
- The web is new. You visit the blogs of friends and colleagues every day. You use Gmail or Yahoo mail and check in on your favourite sites a few times a day.
- It quickly becomes tiring visiting websites every day that may not have any new content. You discover feed readers and play around with a few of them. You find that Google Reader is a pretty good one and you start subscribing to every single interesting blog or feed you find.
- Not long after you suffer feed fatigue. There are just too many blogs. Too much noise, too much chaff. You discover Stumbleupon, Friend Feed and Twitter (I’m ‘donncha’ on each of those if you’d like to subscribe/follow!). Now the feeds or sites you read are recommended by your trusted circle of friends. You’ll still dig into your feed reader but it seems to happen less and less and that unread items count keeps going up and up.
Now if only I had time to check out Friend Feed properly. I find I’m skimming through the web these days. If I can’t scan a blog post and understand the main points of the page within a few seconds I’m gone. It’s a sad state of affairs.
If you’re time poor, how have your web surfing habits changed? (paradoxically, if you have time to comment here, you’re not that time poor. What a bind!)
Damien has a knack for really pissing off people. Of course, the people in question, Ace Internet Marketing (nofollow condom applied) stole his content for their own site and then got all stroppy when Damien called them up on it.
Hahaha. This has happened to me more times than I can remember, but I’ve never had the threat of legal action taken against me. Phew. I even made money out of it when the News of the World printed one of my photos. When I bothered to complain at all I’m either ignored (very occasionally), or the content is removed with haste.
One thing I haven’t heard anyone suggest, is that this could be a dastardly evil plan by Ace Internet Marketing to get a few backlinks. What’s scary is that a Google Blog Search or Google Search for that site’s url return very little of the bad press Damien and other Irish bloggers have been giving them. A search for Ace Internet Marketing is rather more successful as Damien has found out.
They should have quietly taken down the post, apologised, whipped themselves a few times in contrition and scurried off to their own dark corner again. Cat’s loose now, let them try and catch it.
I use Google Analytics to track visitor numbers to my site as well as a custom written referrers package some of the early users of WordPress.com may remember. That only records 7 days of data because of the data size so when I wanted to know how many visitors come from Google to my blog I went looking at Analytics.
To do the same on your site, open Google Analytics and select your site. Click on “Traffic Sources”, then look at the list of top sources. Chances are Google will be near the top of that list. Click on that link and you’ll see a graph like the one above. Done!
While it didn’t invent search-triggered ads, Google figured out a far more efficient way of turning web-users into buyers. Rather than doling out premium space to the highest bidder, as its competitors did, Google used another algorithm to work out how relevant the ad text was to a given query and the odds someone would actually click on it. This meant ads were targeted at the users most likely to respond to them. The result was that Google’s ‘click through’ rate (the number of times users click on ads) was twice as high as its nearest competitor’s.
You signed up for Google Adsense, verified your home address, typed in the secret code they sent you and now you have adverts on your website. Are you earning the most you can from them? Probably not. Read the quote above again. I’ll wait.
Done? Many advertisers already know this and exploit how Google pick their adverts so their low-paid adverts show in preference to higher paid ads. A whole industry has sprung up around this to create “Made For Adsense” or MFA sites. MFA sites make money because the link clicked to get to them costs them less than the money they make from the adverts your visitors click on their sites. Google took action earlier in the year and disabled many MFA accounts but it’s easy enough to get an Adsense account and they’re coming back. Here are the Alexa graphs for a couple of MFA sites who were stopped in their tracks in June:
And here’s an inappropriate site I don’t want advertising on my site.
Unfortunately despite the culling of MFA sites in June there are still plenty of low-paid adverts in the Adsense inventory. That’s where the Competitive Ad Filter comes in useful. At least once a week, or maybe more often I browse through the most popular posts on my sites looking at the adverts. If a URL looks particularly suspect I manually type it into a new browser window (don’t ever click on your own ads!). If the page that loads looks like an MFA site it gets added to my ad filter.
Criteria for MFA Sites:
- Content free. The site will have very little content, or the content will be ripped from elsewhere. Sometimes this is easy to pick up on.
- Lots of adverts compared to content.
- Directory site. The front page is a list of unrelated subjects.
- Front page lists link directly to product affiliate links.
Basically, spammy behaviour.
How do I know if cheap adverts are being served? Log in to Adsense and check the “Page eCPM” column on the Reports Overview page. Is it lower than $5? You could probably do much better! eCPM stands for “Effective Cost Per Thousand Impressions”. From the Adsense help page:
From a publisher’s perspective, the effective cost-per-thousand impressions (eCPM) is a useful way to compare revenue across different channels and advertising programmes. It is calculated by dividing total earnings by the number of impressions in thousands. For example, if a publisher earned $180 from 45,000 impressions, the eCPM would equal $180/45 or $4.00. However, please keep in mind that eCPM is a reporting feature that does not represent the actual amount paid to a publisher.
I document changes to my Competitive ad filter on notspam.org. The sites listed in those posts suit my sites, but if you don’t use the ad filter in Adsense it’s a good starting point. Hopefully you can increase the eCPM of your Adsense account above US$5 with only a few small changes.
I’m shocked. Paypal.com is down. I need to lie down.
One of the really useful features of Firefox in the past was the ability to click the middle mouse button anywhere on a browser page and have the URL in the clipboard load in that window. For some reason it stopped working some time back and I don’t know why. Here’s how to enable it again if your Firefox has stopped obeying your middle finger.
- Open “about:config” in a new browser tab or window.
- Search for “middlemouse” and find “middlemouse.contentLoadURL”. Set it to true if it’s false.
- If that preference isn’t there, create a new one by right clicking and creating a new boolean value. Type “middlemouse.contentLoadURL” into the box and press return.
- A new value, set to true by default, will be created.
- Now try copying a URL and middle-clicking it anywhere on this page. Try http://ocaoimh.ie/ for good luck!
One of the first things I did when I started using Google Reader was finding the bookmarklet to make subscribing to feeds easier. Unfortunately the first few times I used it I didn’t realise I had to click the “Subscribe” button in the Reader interface. It was hidden away in the top right of the page. I was too busy looking at the feed contents to notice it.
Tom and others have pointed out that Reader added a search feature but this “You are not subscribed yet” warning is a nice usability improvement that I haven’t seen anyone mention yet.