A busy time producing great Websites

The start of the year has been a busy time and we have been working with some great businesses on their websites

Here are a few we have been working on

Freestyle Construction
Christiansen Building Services
Whangarei Menswear and Suit Hire
Northland Seedling Nursery
Koruhealth
Turners Tree Care
Kerikeri Football Club
Robert Van der Touw Design

We have a number of others in the pipeline, so things are pumping here

The feedback continues to be great about these workshops.

This 4 hour session will be hands on, where we will take you through updating your own websites during the session.

The workshop is limited to 6 people to enable more time to work with each participant. This is where you get to work on your own site, improving it’s SEO before you leave the session.

The system used to demonstrate the SEO techniques will be WordPress, but the information will work for most online systems. Please bring your login details to your website, so you can fully participate

Cost is $99+gst

Fill out the following form if you would like to book your place on the workshop, or call us on 09 4016656

* indicates required field


It’s been a while since I have attended a conference as an attendee rather than a sponsor.

It had been well overdue.

I decided at the start of the year that we needed to get out an involved in these sort of things, learn more, network with developers and others in the wider industry.

Wordcamp was the first of these and it was a great experience.

Wonderfully organised, everyone was looked after and apart from Bill Bennett’s tech destroying session on writing content, went off prettyy much wiothout a hitch

There were some awesome speakers on board, ranging from HTTP2, REST API’s and speed to content, support and Impostor Syndrome!

I got some great learnings from the weekend, not just specifics from each talk but widening the scope of what is possible.

Getting out of the trenches and taking the time to learn and absorb new things has been a wonderful thing

Maybe it’s time for a WP Meetup in the North…

Photo credit Chaitanya https://chait.photo.blog/2017/03/12/wordpressers-wordcamp-auckland-2017/

These sessions have been great, get in early to secure your spot

This 4 hour session will be hands on, where we will take you through updating your own websites during the session.

The workshop is limited to 6 people to enable more time to work with each participant. This is where you get to work on your own site, improving it’s SEO before you leave the session.

The system used to demonstrate the SEO techniques will be WordPress, but the information will work for most online systems. Please bring your login details to your website, so you can fully participate

Cost is $99+gst

Fill out the following form if you would like to book your place on the workshop, or call us on 09 4016656

* indicates required field


After our successful SEO Workshop last month, we are running another!

We had some great feedback about the session and how much of a help it was for people

Different to our previous seminars on SEO, this 4 hour session will be hands on, where we will take you through updating your own websites during the session.

The workshop is limited to 6 people to enable more time to work with each participant. This is where you get to work on your own site, improving it’s SEO before you leave the session.

The system used to demonstrate the SEO techniques will be WordPress, but the information will work for most online systems. Please bring your login details to your website, so you can fully participate

Cost is $99+gst

Fill out the following form if you would like to book your place on the workshop, or call us on 09 4016656

* indicates required field


SEO, both an important part of running a website and also a magnet for unscrupulous individuals and businesses trying to make a fast buck.

We get lots of calls from clients who have received emails from people claiming to be SEO experts. These emails state that the clients website is riddled with errors and that they can help correct these problems and improve search rankings

Here is a copy of one such email I received

Hi,

My name is Anil kumar, and I am Online Marketing Manager at a leading Digital marketing company/SEO and Web Designing Company.

I was analyzing your site and it seems that some of your website rankings have dropped. It is due to non optimized techniques/errors

And Google guidelines not being followed properly. As you know that Google’s crawler is software and work on coding basis only.

That’s why site coding portion should be strong for better results.

I would like to present a detailed analysis of your website along with errors that your website and ways to improve your Google rankings.

It would be a detailed report and would be explained as well on phone once we send this over to you.

Please let me know if we can discuss this.

Thanks,
Anil kumar
Online Marketing Manager

Now, improving your rankings is important. It is something that you should be looking at. However, these emails are problematic for a number of reasons

  1. Despite stating they have analyzed the website, I expect that in 99% of cases this is not true.
  2. These are untargeted spam emails.
  3. Their skill level is unknown, with no website for reference and only using a gmail address for email.
  4. In some cases the lack of skill in writing emails in English may cause concern if your website is in English.

All in all, you are better to talk with your current web designer about SEO and how they can help you. They know your website, know what has been done in the past and are in the best position to either help you out or give advice on how you could get exert help for this.

Don’t fall prey to the SEO scammers

We are pleased to announce that we will be running a hands on workshop, in Kerikeri, for people wanting to know about doing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on their websites.

Different to our previous seminars on SEO, this 4 hour session will be hands on, where we will take you through updating your own websites during the session.

The workshop is limited to 6 people to enable more time to work with each participant, we will run additional workshops if there is demand.

The system used to demonstrate the SEO techniques will be WordPress, but the information will work for most online systems. Please bring your login details to your website, so you can fully participate

Cost is $99+gst

Fill out the following form if you would like to book your place on the workshop, or call us on 09 4016656

* indicates required field


Spiderbyte Newsletter- March 2016

Message from The Webmasters

 

The first quarter of this year is flying by, 2016 has seen us on-boarding another 20 odd new clients, trialling Reach Local to existing clients and generally having a whole lot of fun (including meeting a client of 7 years in person for the first time…exciting stuff!!!  Thank you to everyone who took part in the Reach Local Trial, we hope you got some great results.  Welcome, welcome to our new clients and Thank you to our existing clients, your continued support and recommendations to others have led to this opportunity to welcome many more.
We are very happy to wish everyone a profitable 1st quarter which will set you up for a fabulous year in business.

 

Powered by Imagination

Cheers

Deepweb Web Design
Joanne and Steven Gardner
59 Hone Heke Road
Kerikeri

094016656

On The Agenda

Training courses

Dates: 8 and 22 July plus 2nd and 16 September 2016

Details: 3 hours per course, book your place, 10 places available per session

Cost: $60 per person.

Extras: Morning Tea included and a discounted 2 hour consulting session as part of the follow-up.

Search Engine Optimisation – SEO

Getting found on the Internet can be one of the hardest things to do. However, being successfully found will bring you many visitors. Most websites are poorly optimised and common mistakes are made that when corrected can make a difference.

Learn more with Deepweb…book yourself on our SEO course.

Deal of the MONTH

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation…we do it for you…invest in your business.
Refresh your website with a behind the scenes review and update Normally $180 plus GST
April Special $150 including GST

 

What’s HOT

Motorbike Racings – Avalon Biddle is HOT!!! Deepweb Web Design have sponsored Avalon for 9 years.

Group Tee PhotoShe is the TOP Womens Motorbike Racer in Europe and New Zealand… check her out at http://www.avalonbiddle.com/ Donations are always needed and gratefully accepted so she is able to continue to REPRESENT New Zealand on the World Stage…Go Hard GO AVALON

2015: New Zealand Superlite Champion

1st European Women’s Cup round 1 Aragon

1st European Women’s Cup round 4 Donington Park

1st European Women’s Cup round 5 Portimao

1st European Women’s Cup round 1 Misano

 

Hot Tips

How to test that your website is Mobile Friendly…   https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

If you haven’t touched your website in a while…it is time for a refresh!  We are working our way through our clients to refresh you all onto Mobile Friendly websites…everyone needs to do it…Google will over look your website if you aren’t Mobile Friendly already.  If we haven’t contacted you yet please contact us!!  The sooner you are visible on the search engines again the better.  There are a few costs involved but we give you the opportunity to refresh your images and content at the same time.

Contact Us to get your site Mobile Friendly

Moments Thoughts…

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”
Anonymous

 

Recent Additions and Changes to Our Clients Websites

It has been fun and exciting times at Deepweb as we create brand new websites, move more and more of our clients onto the Mobile Friendly sites, for some bringing content up to date and for others SEO – search engine optimisation.

It has been fun and exciting times at Deepweb as we create brand new websites, move more and more of our clients onto the Mobile Friendly sites, for some bringing content up to date and for others SEO – search engine optimisation.

It has been a privilege and a joy to work with Top New Zealand Business owners to build their Business Advertising and Brand awareness in their market place of choice.

Screenshot from 2015-08-19 12:27:19I am happy to report that my re-introduction to Deepweb Web Design has been the conversion of existing client websites to Mobile Friendly Responsive Websites.

There have been a few changes to web design work since I was last involved and I am delighted to find that it is easier to make your money go much further than ever before.

The World has opened up in relation to where, when and how customers can go searching for a solution to whatever interests them.

Take advantage of this new social networking age with each new refreshed website we create I will also post it on our Deepweb Facebook page with a link to your page and access to all of our friends, customers and countrymen…and in return make sure you post your new and improved image on your Facebook page too…social media driven traffic is all about casting your net wide and embracing what is out there.

Joanne Gardner

These ones are really important

You may have seen lately some mentions of new domain names for New Zealand.

These are domain names that do not have the .co at the end of them. For example, Deepweb’s domain name would be http://deepweb.nz

As from the beginning of this month, anyone can register these domains.

Normally I would not recommend getting additional domain names unless you were selling into a specific country or were looking to protect your brand.

However in this case I believe that these new domain names are worth getting because:

  • You don’t want someone else getting a very similar domain name to you
  • These domains are likely to become the default once they become more widespread

They cost the same as standard domains ($39.95+gst)

For a while at least, it will be a good idea to keep your existing domain name registered even if you get the new .nz address.

If you have any questions get in contact and we can help you out.

Microsoft is soon to release Windows 10, the follow up to the polarising Windows 8.

Windows 8 was a bold attempt to redefine the computing experience, taking parts from mobile and tablet use and incorporating it into the desktop experience.

On the whole it wasn’t the disaster many expected, but this had a lot to do with the 8.1 update that “fixed” a number of things including backtracking on some user experience issues that appeared to be a bridge too far for many users having problems moving to the new layout and design.

Overall I quite liked it, but tellingly, I decided to stay with Windows 7 when I upgraded my PC. Windows 7 worked, it worked well and I didn’t have to learn too many things when I moved from XP.

Windows 10 is supposed to combine the best of both user experiences. It is also supposed to unify the experience across many devices, from phones and tablets to laptops and desktops.

Windows_10_-_screenshot

The Start menu is back, which was the bugbear of so many people, but the tiles remain and so becomes a fusion of both user experiences.

The date for release is around June 2015, users of Windows 7 and up (excluding enterprise editions and some others) will get a free upgrade for the first year. That definitely sounds like a future subscription model, so we could be in for paying monthly or yearly for our operating system.

Plenty of people will jump on the free upgrade, but I am concerned about the potentially higher cost of the subscription.

For a more in depth look at Windows 10, have a look at this CNET hands on

 

 

Mobile use of the internet is increasing all the time and web technologies are evolving to meet this demand.

I hear from my clients asking if they should have a mobile friendly site. Many times this question is brought on by them reading articles or in some cases by attending seminars discussing online marketing.

The overall message that they seem to take from these things is that if you do not have mobile site you are losing out on half of your web traffic.

In some cases this might be correct, so I decided to look at  some of my clients Google Analytic reports to see what kind of proportions of their traffic is mobile.

Now from a definition point of view, I am going to include tablet views as mobile.

Here are a selection of sites across a number of industries for the last month (to 28 Jan 2015)

Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Site 4 Site 5
Tablet 24% 21% 25% 13% 18%
Phone 5% 11% 17% 7% 6%

Not quite 50%, but in some cases it is closer, and over time it will probably get larger still.

To look into these numbers a little more, we need to consider the use case for each type of device. When do people use tablets vs phones vs normal computers to view websites?

Some assumptions will be that most tablets do not have a telcos data connection and so will generally not be used on the go. Whereas phones will be more likely to be used on the go.

Given this distinction and that so many more people are picking up their tablet around the home to do their web browsing, is the need for a mobile site on a tablet as imperative as it it so obviously is with the limited screen size on a phone?

While layout and design are not necessarily compromised by tablet use (given that some tablet screens are nearly as big as small ultrabooks) their interaction with the user can be more difficult. Examples are small menu and clickable areas for important sections of your website.

What Can You Do About It

If you are building your website from scratch, or are due for an overhaul of your site, then make sure you do the right thing and cater for mobile visitors.

This can be done by utilising responsive design from the start. We predominately use WordPress for our client sites and all of our new sites are completed using a responsive WordPress theme.

If you have an older WordPress site, but don’t want to go all out with a redesign, a plugin you can use to improve the sites mobile friendliness is WP Touch. This adds code to your site that will detect the visitors device and deliver a mobile friendly version of your site. This can be a bit hit and miss, and you may need to create mobile only pages to be served up to your mobile customers.

If you are not ready for a redesign of your site, the best thing to do is look at your stats to see what the percentage of visitors that come to your site via mobile.

I recommend focussing on the phone users first, as they are the ones that have more to lose from a site that isn’t designed for their phone.

Make an informed choice as to whether your move to a mobile friendly site is now or later

I felt I had to send a submission around the Bill to expand the surveillance powers for the GCSB, It is being conducted under urgency and only allowed a couple of days for submissions. There are a number of issues with this of which I submitted around 3 of them.

You can submit your own submission here. Thanks to @Farmgeek for a helpful submissions guide that you can see here


 

Thank you for the opportunity to file a submission relating to this bill.

Whilst I understand the need for certain secrecy around matters relating to National Security, the method as to which this bill is being passed and the content of the bill gives cause for concern.

Namely:

  1. Urgency – In the past few years, this government has a tendency to pass unpopular bills under urgency. Urgency is not to be used to suppress dialogue and discussion on topics of importance to the nation. In addition, given the recent past performance of the GCSB, SIS and government in relation to surveillance matters, proper discussion of these matters is not only the right thing to do, but imperative to allay fears of collusion and heavy handedness.
  2. There is nothing to indicate why the current laws are inadequate to deal with these new issues. These are the expanding of powers rather than the creation of unique solutions. This indicates that current laws would be sufficient if applied correctly.
  3. Broadening the scope of the SIS/GCSB powers effectively breaks down the required barriers between the separate areas (Police,GCSB etc) which in turn opens up the abuse of these powers. While the phrase “efficiency” or “expediency” may be used, these also need to be matched up against “safeguards” and “proper process”. In short the quickest way may not be the best way.

In short, with a bill of such importance, not allowing for full discussion both inside and outside parliament means mistakes will be made that could have disastrous consequences.

Thank you for your time

Regards

Steven Gardner

Great Productivity Tools – Todoist

todoist_logoEveryone has their own set of tools to help them in their working day.

I have always struggled to find a to do list program/app that helps me in my day. I have tried a number of them, tempted by their features and claims of increasing productivity.

But I have found many of them actually slow me down.

Take Evernote for example; a brilliant application that does so much stuff. But for my needs it seemed too much, all of the fantastic features just seemed to get in the way, I needed something simpler, so simple and easy to use, it encouraged me to use it.

So I stumbled on Todoist on one of those “10 Apps to Increase Your Productivity” kind of articles. I wasn’t actually looking for it, but found it after I had stumbled on another quirky productivity app called Coffitivity (more on that in another post).

On first glances Todoist looked simple and clean, just what I was looking for. Gone were the other features that gets you away from the core function – making lists.

It was as easy as typing a list item and hitting enter, nothing else was needed. So far so good.

But there are options to categorise and add other information to your list items, but they are not required and this was the key for me. I could just type out a list of items and not worry about the other information, I could go back and do that later if I needed to.

Suddenly I had a list of items and as things came in, whether it be by phone, email or talking to someone in person, I could quickly add it to a list.

I have a tendency to try and keep things in my head, to which I am mostly successful, this has been a great way to get those lists in my brain down in a more permanent form.

todoist1
Todoist Screen (with spelling mistakes 🙂

So now I have these items on my lists, I can work on them and tick them off. What’s better, is that Todoist records your completed tasks and lets you know how many you have done per day and per week. You can set your own goals and it will keep track for you, this is a great way to incentivise the completing of tasks and improving your productivity.

There is an accompanying app for most devices and also integrations with popular mail programs too.

As with many of these things, there is a Free version and a Paid version, I ran the free version for quite a while and it was great. In the end I upgraded to the premium version, because you can create shared lists that are great for collaborating in teams. Each user costs USD29 / year, but it is a small price for enhancing your productivity.

So, in a nutshell, Todoist is an awesome app for me: simple, quick and I can quickly see the improvements it has made for me

New and Updated clients for October

Another busy period and we have completed lots of new work including Order of Precedents, a new software application for the Legal profession.

There is lots more on our plate and we look forward to launching a bunch of new websites over the next few months

Things have been pretty busy over the last few months, especially with a new product I have been working on with a client call Order of Precedents (more about that later)

But with the web side of things, here are some people we have been working with over the last little while.

Plenty to keep us busy

We have been having issues playing back new content on TVNZ On Demand due to their accepting a new DRM protected video format for their service.

This has only happened in the last few weeks and confirmed by their techs. From the text of their email to us when we notified them of the error, they do not have a fix and only suggested a starting point for some potential solutions.

It appears that it is the HAL module that is the sticking point.

Following the Adobe link provided, correctly mentions that the HAL module is the missing piece, but the instructions to install it do not work. It appears that the HAL module is no longer available. A “HAL-INFO” package was available, but this did not solve the problem.

After trying all of the solutions proposed by Adobe, I tried a few additional options, such as installing the Flash plugin provided as an installable package from within Mint (this did not work either)

I did some more research on the net and found the following page

http://linuxg.net/how-to-enable-the-playback-of-flash-content-protected-by-drm/

Specifically this to install a package including HAL

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjblenner/ppa-hal
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install hal

The key thing here is that there is a PPA in the repository that contains HAL. Since trying to install HAL by itself fails, this packaged version includes the HAL libraries.

Interestingly, there was a mention in the output of the installer about “Keeping HAL alive” so it does seemt o be in response to the demise of HAL as an installable piece in it’s own right

With all of my trial and error, I have not gone to a clean system and installed just the above PPA to test it outright. However, I am pretty confident that this PPA will resolve the issue.

Or

Headlines You Won’t Believe Till You Read Them. And Then You Will Cry

I made a comment on Facebook yesterday describing my disbelief about the current format of headline writing

Am I weird (don’t answer that yet) in that I find the current trend of internet headlines eg: “You won’t believe what happened….This will make you cry etc yada yada yada” completely counter productive.

My first thought is manipulation and spammy. In fact making a headline I am LESS likely to click on, not more as they would hope???

Am I alone in ignoring these manipulative headlines?

So I wondered about what supports these ideas.

Headline writing is marketing and marketing is psychology.

Upworthy is one of the stars of the headline writing business and it isn’t a fluke that they have become so successful. They spend plenty of time and effort testing and measuring their headlines and content for the best results. (See this post from KISSmetrics) Right now, it seems that this current style of headline works the best.

I am certain that over time, people will become less interested and more immune to this style of writing and sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy will need to change also.

This blog post over at The Moz Blog : 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click has some great research and information such as

  • Explosion in content competing for readers’ attention: A Day in the Internet  shows that 2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails, and 864 thousand hours of video are created daily. Each day also brings 400 million tweets .
  • 80% of readers never make it past the headline: According to some sources, on average, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy , but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
  • Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline: According to Koechley, tests show that traffic to content at Upworthy can vary by as much as 500%  simply because of the headline. “The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about, and who didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to care about feminism or climate change, or the policy details of the election,” he said.

Each of these bits of information show why so many article sites, some directly copying the style of writing (and headlines) of Upworthy and co, are being launched. Attach some ads to these articles and if you can generate some virality around them, money can me made.

We see similar changes over time with other styles of advertising, whether it be on TV, Radio, Print or the Internet. These mediums and their advertisers need to compel those who see their ads to take action. Whether that is by using the emotions of shock, laughter, happiness and sadness or other methods such as visual/audio styles, questioning techniques and props/actors.

So for today, this style of headline is the way, but who knows what we will be presented with in a year or two. Whatever it is, you can be certain that is has been well researched and measured to make sure they get the best bang for their buck.

SEO Workshop 29th of April in Kerikeri

I am presenting a SEO workshop on the 29th of April at Woodlands in Kerikeri.

With plenty of things changing in the world of Search Engines, it is a great time to get up to speed with the do’s and don’ts of making your website as findable as possible.

Here are some of the things we will cover:

  • How to change the key items of content on your website
  • What are good links and what the bad ones look like
  • How to identify those SEO scams that appear in your inbox
  • What is Adwords

If you can make changes to your website yourself, then you will find practical ways to work on your site. If you have someone to do it for you, then you will have the knowledge to ask for the right things to be done. 

There will be plenty of time for questions, lots of the things learnt in these sessions is from the discussions we have with attendees about their website.

The cost is $65 incl gst and includes morning tea.
Numbers are limited to 20 so grab your space.

The session will run from 9 am till noon.

To book your place, either email me at webmaster@deepweb.co.nz or call on 09 4016656.

I look forward to seeing you there.

When you choose a web designer, there are many things that you need to be aware of and that need to be taken into consideration before you make a decision.

To some extent, the ability to work successfully with your web designer is sometime as important as their actual skill in being able to deliver the project.

A web designer that is skilled in what they do but is a pain to deal with can make the whole process frustrating and not worth the money being spent, especially if you have an emotional attachment to the project (which you should have being the one supplying the money and motivation)

That relationship can be worth a large proportion of the contract.

However, there are some key things you need to consider

Be careful in what you get for your money. Some possible pitfalls you may want to check on

Obviously what do you get for your money

What is included? Design, Content, Search Engine Submission, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Graphic Design, Updates? You need to get these details so you can compare your quotes against each other. You also need to quantify some of these things in terms of quantity, hours, numbers search engines submitted to etc.

What are the ongoing costs?

All websites have ongoing costs. Web Hosting, Domain Names and updates are the main three. Make sure you know the total cost of your investment. Some companies offer lower up front costs to lock you into higher ongoing costs that end up costing you more. Some other things are SSL certificate costs, more bandwidth and web space.

How easy is it to incorporate your branding

Some template sites are hard to blend a logo or colours into them, be wary of template driven website companies, some of these people are skilled enough only to change the text on a template. Some designers design their sites from the ground up incorporating all of you design elements in their design. These companies offer the most flexibility.

How reliable are the services provided

With hosting and email, too much down time can make the whole experience unworkable. You don’t want to have to change hosts after six months because your designer has provided you with a poor host. Some people rely heavily on email and these are the people that need to choose carefully so their business inst impacted.

What are the costs for making changes later on?

Updates and maintenance on your site is something that will eventually happen, even if you don’t change the content frequently (see the Making Your Site Super Sticky Article for the benefits of this) you will eventually change some content and so you need to know what it will cost over a year.

Hidden costs

Make sure common things (like search engine submissions) are either not included or are an extra cost. Some key things can be omitted to keep the price down.

Make sure you don’t get sold short.

An important one…is the web designer doing the job part time Are your web designers doing this as a full time job? Some designers are working during the day and then web designing at night. A lot of designers started out this way, but it can cause issues when you need something done and they don’t do the job from 9-5.

If all these things check out then you have found someone who you can work with and provide you with a service that will get you your desired result.

Remember; choose a designer with the right skills, but also one you believe you can work with on an ongoing basis. Build a working relationship that will benefit you both and your web project will benefit as well

I have been asked a number of times to explain what is needed to launch a website. It is easy to be an expert when you know the basics but it is another thing to beable to explain the basics so that others understand the necessities to get going on the Internet… A website is like a shop in the desert, without a place to reside and address to find it noone will ever come.

Three basic things are required to launch any website…

  • Domain Name 
  • Hosting 
  • Website page or pages

Let’s discuss each in turn.

Domain Names

This is the name that you want customers and surfers to find you as..

Your letter box in Internet land…you can not purchase a Domain Name, you lease it.

Each country has a 2 letter identifier but you are not restricted to using only your countries suffix.eg: New Zealand is .nz, Australia is .au Even with this identifier you can be found worldwide.you can not isolate your domain name so that only one country can visit you.it is their for all and sundry. Some countries restrict who can purchase their web address, eg: In Australia you have to own a registered company to beable to get a .au address and in Germany you have to have a physical address in Germany to able to get a .de address.

You can add security to your website eg: a password, to limit your visitors but this will not stop the initial location of your domain name.

Hosting

The place where you will store your Website so that it is available to the www world 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Like the land you would build your house on..but you can not buy this land, it can only be leased.

There are millions of companies out there wanting to be your host..often your web designer has spent hours searching for a reliable and safe host.ask their advice but feel free to request the host that you would prefer.

Check pricing too, the Internet is a huge sea and has it’s fair share of sharks and fly by nighters. 

Website Design and Management

This comes in 2 parts.

Look and Feel

The pages that provide the look and feel of your company or venture that you wish to showcase. Design, Logo, Photos, Graphics, Galleries, Blogs and many other ways of presenting information are used. This is where your shopping cart or auction software is placed.. there are many ways to do this structurally, some more search engine friendly than others. Many hours of work can go into building your Internet house (Website).this you DO own. Look for an initial fixed price so you know what the up front cost will be to get you started.

Behind The Scenes

The behind the scenes information that allows search engines to find you and therefore makes it easier for your customers and other visitors to find you. There is an art form to creating and maintaining your website’s internet profile. Many hours of research go into finding the best ways to present a website…you could call it a science but it is inexact as it depends on how many others have the similar sites to yours and also how well known your business is..if people don’t know to search for you..guess what!!! You will never be found no matter how good you think your site is.

Your Website is like a glossy magazine advert but instead of being limited to one or two copies, it is live and available for as long as you keep leasing your Domain Name and Hosting. It needs regular upkeep to match what is happening in your business and market. A stale website will drift along miss informing potential customers and visitors. If your website has pricing and products, you can be held accountable for the information being incorrectly advertised. Beware.it is your responsibility to have your website information correct, your design is only as good as the information that your provide.

Summary

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a computer to have Website representation, you just need access to a great designer and someone who is prepared to field email messages on your behalf. However, it does help.

The internet is vast and can provide information on almost anything that you can imagine and a whole lot more that you never dreamed of! There are large portions that are unsavoury and down right dangerous. Make sure you have a good security program running on your computer at all times. There are a number of excellent products available for your safety.

The ethical business portion is rather a lot smaller but is very legitimate. You can level the playing field somewhat with a good website, big business does not necessarily have user friendly websites, they are large and cumbersome. Giving many opportunities for customers to leave without making a purchase or even an enquiry. Many large businesses do not sell on the internet but instead prefer to list their retail outlet stores..a very backward move in my opinion as often the punter has come to buy.why not make the most of wanting customer!

Smaller businesses websites are often very inviting and simple to use. They are there to make the sale and make the buying process easy. Don’t let your size stop you, large or small you can make an excellent impact with a well designed and managed Website.

We have been Trade Me members since November 2001.

During this time we have learnt by trial and error the best ways to present an auction, to pay for a purchase, to deal with postage and much more.

We have had the privilege of trading with wonderful people up and down this beautiful country also the profound privilege of trading with overseas buyers too.

Over the years we have used Trade Me as a Sales and Marketing tool for our business too. With products Trade Me can be an interesting a fun vechicle to reach customers. It is more difficult to auction services because there is no tangable item but an inventive marketing type could create something that could work for you.

I would like to outline just a few things we have learnt as part of the Trade Me community. 

12 Things we have learnt

FEEDBACK First and foremost..Always give feedback for every single trade. 
This is how the Trade Me community knows who to deal with and who to blacklist. This is how you will determine yourself who to trade with.

RULES Read the Trade Me rules and abide by them. 
You can’t do any trading if you break the rules. If you see some else breaking the rules use the Community Watch and report what you see. This is how the Website stays safe for the whole community. It is everybody’s responsibility to look after the running of Trade Me.

USE THE HELP information that is provided on the Website, as a phone call to Trade Me will cost $1.99/minute + GST. 
Don’t waste your money asking questions that are already answered for you. The Help feature even has a calculator to work out the Success Fees which stays open even if you close out of Trade Me..it is excellent.

PAYMENTS The best way to pay and receive payment for an item is on-line banking. 
If you don’t already have internet banking arrange it, it will save you a lot of time, money and hassle. Fantastic not just for Trade Me too. For international trading the best payment method we have found is Paypal..I am not keen to except Credit Cards from Overseas buyers but using Paypal they handle all of the exchange and banking for you. Very worth it and very easy.

POSTAGE When listing an auction always have the buyer pay for postage and packaging.. 
You are not a charity and you can’t guarantee the final selling price.This caught us out a goodie when we listed one of our first auctions for $1 and it sold for $1…the catch was .it was a printer and had been sold out of town.

PACKAGING When packaging goods that you have sold always pack them like they are going to be thrown out of a plane to their destination. Neither a courier company nor NZ Post are 100% infallible but don’t let this stop you. Know what insurance your postal company provides so you can take advantage of it if required. A pair of scales can come in handy for weighing parcels that go by NZ Post. The NZ Post website.www.nzpost.co.nz has a weight, price, destination calculator. Use it so you can get the right money for the postage and do not forget to add at least $1.50 to cover the packaging. Some sellers add more, it depends on what the item is. If you think the postage and packaging is unreasonable, say so but consider the costs first.

AUCTION LENGTH I tend to stick with the 7 day auction offered for free. 
It gives a good amount of time for many different buyers to find and bid on your auction. Use the other date options if you are going away and need a sooner finishing date. Don’t list an auction and then go away on holiday when it is about to close. This will get you bad feedback as a buyer wants contact within the first couple of days of winning. The same goes for buying..don’t bid on something that you are not able to complete the transaction on..read the Trade Me rules.

START PRICE Start your auction near the price that you want for it. 
I have found the most effective auction is one where the start price and the reserve price are the same. It also means that the first bid is a buying bid and you will not lose the sale because the reserve price has not been met. With Trade Me there maybe only one or two collectors for your item so if you start your price too low it will not go any further unless there is more than one interested party.

BUYER QUESTIONS As a buyer ask as many questions about an auction as you need to decide if you will bid or not. 
If you have no intention for making a bid refrain from asking questions. Only ask for a Buy Now price if you intent to buy the item straight away and be prepared for the seller to say no. It is an auction not a shop! It is important that your questions are relevant and appropriate. When you ask a question you are added to the list of interested buyers that an offer can be given to after the auction has completed.

SELLER ANSWERS As a seller try and answer all the questions HOWEVER you do not have to answer questions that break the Trade Me rules. 
You also do not have to answer any questions that are inappropriate. You do not have to add a Buy Now price if asked, it is your choice. Describe the item you are selling warts and all. This will earn you respect and good feedback

FREE LISTINGS Don’t be tempted to do a Free Listing.. 
While this sounds great you limit severely who will look at your listing. A .45cent gallery listing will very much improve your chances of selling your item. A buyer will search for key words but will look at the pictures first then the words in the title and then the listing itself.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH Finally, research what you are buying and selling. 
Know what you are dealing with it is key to getting the best out of a system like this. $1 Auctions can make you some good money if you did not want anything for your item in the first place.but if you do want something for your item research it’s value so you can choose a good starting price. Some good places to do research are:

  • Google search engine or indeed any other search engine
  • Trade Me
  • Ebay
  • Local shops that sell your item already
  • Trade and exchange

So, with all the above advice under your belt.. don’t forget to research, measure, describe and photograph your item. Add maker’s marks, stamps, certificates and anything else that will prove authenticity. Be courteous in your questions and answers. Be generous in your feedback. Most of all treat others, as you would like to be treated and expect nothing in return. You will be pleasantly surprised at the kindness and generosity that exists in New Zealand and in the Trade Me community. Finally, do not exclude overseas customers as they bring a Global Market dimension that does not exist in normal retail shop or auction house. Some of my best money has come from Overseas buyers.

We continue with Trade Me as a vehicle for our endeavours and recommend it to all as a great place to buy and sell. Have a go it could work for you too.

One thing that sometimes escapes web designers is the need for the end product to be focused on the customer rather than on what the web designer can provide.While new whiz-bang things are nice, they can be, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, so distracting from the purpose of the website that the true message never gets across.A balance needs to be met that encourages creativity but retains the adage that “content is king”.To achieve this balance, here are three areas that I believe are important.

  • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
  • Don’t do anything silly
  • If I were a customer…

You can look at these areas from both a designer’s point of view but also from a client’s point of view. If you have contracted a designer to provide you with a website to sell you and your products and services, don’t get baffled with talk of Flash, DHTML, Java and the like, make sure it delivers your message effectively

KISS

Yes, it really does work… Keep It Simple Stupid is a key idea throughout a project. The client’s message is what needs to get through. Some industries lend themselves toward more complicated and visually impressive effects (i.e. entertainment, music, art), but remember that this is still promoting the message.

You do not want your home page to become cluttered and bogged down with too many words; this is the place to convince your visitors that they want to know more. Make sure your navigation is simple and makes sense; it is easy to fall into the trap of having snazzy looking menus and buttons that don’t tell you what they are supposed to do. All this does is wastes your customer’s time finding the information they need.

Don’t do anything silly!

While this is more of a pointer to the designer rather than the person paying for the service, as the client, it is your website that maybe affected and so you should keep tabs on what is happening to your website.There are some very simple things that can slip the net when creating a site.

Hopefully your web designer will have enough sense to have the site thoroughly checked before it goes live, but it is amazing what you see out there on the net.From spelling mistakes to grammatical, these small errors on the website promote anything but the professional image you have paid for. Look for these things when you are either completing a site or when your site is due to be delivered to you:

Make sure the title on each page is defined (this is what appears right at the top of your browser). It is surprising how many “untitled documents” slip through the cracks. It is also very important when getting recognised by the search engines

Keywords and descriptions are often played down when it comes to optimising your web pages for Search Engines. The “META tags” are hidden from normal view, but some search engines still take them into account when indexing your site or simply displaying your page in their search results.

Broken Links – there are two reasons for making sure your links are working: firstly, nobody likes clicking on a link and finding it doesn’t work and secondly, links are very important when indexing your page. If you are linking to external websites, you will need to periodically check them to make sure that they still work.

Get an assurance from the web designer that they have included these checks before the site will be released. Even take responsibility for it yourself and do your own checks. 

If I were a customer…

You must always remember that the whole purpose of your website (especially if you are promoting products or services) is to get people buying or enquiring from you. With this is mind; you need to make sure that everything that is done is done for the benefit of the customer.

You navigation should be simple and intuitive, your written content should be clear and easily understood, pictures should enhance the rest of the website and everything should direct your customer to the point of your website being there: Making a Purchase.

In summary,

A website is a communications medium, and with all communications you should tailor it to the intended receiver of the message, your customer.

Make it clear, simple and focussed on your customer and you have the best chance of making it work.

With web sites being more common than ever, people are turning to the web to find products and services where they may have used other mediums previously.

In such a cluttered on-line world (and getting busier every day), you need to have something on your site that grabs peoples attention and more importantly keeps them coming back again and again.

The first thing that you need to make sure is that the content you have is current and if possible updated regularly (regularly may mean different things to different businesses, from daily to monthly). This may mean text, pictures or even a seasonal redesign or makeover. Google do this well by simply changing the graphic of their logo to represent different events.

Once content is being refreshed, it gives your customers a reason to come back. For many the products or services we sell are not commodity items and so return business is less certain due to the infrequency of the purchase.

If your content is changing (and obviously worth reading) then your customers are going to return to keep up to date with the developments.

To increase your stickiness, you are going to need something extra, something that can entice the visitors to your website to return, something SuperSticky!

This elusive element of your website will be different depending on your business and the target audience.

Some possible options are:

  • Discussion Forums
  • Auctions / Classifieds
  • Picture Galleries
  • User/Customer Reviews

Let’s discuss each in turn.

Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums, depending on your business and audience, are one of the best ways to keep your customers coming back for more. The key here is that your customers are generating your sticky content for you. Just think…every time one of your visitors to your website posts a comment in the forum, they are pretty certain to be back to check on the responses to it.

You can develop this format into questions and answers. You the expert can answer the questions of the visitors and hopefully your answer to people’s problems generates more and more traffic to your site, as you become known as a place to come for advice.

Auctions / Classifieds

Auctions and classifieds are another way to get people to return to your site. With the success of Trademe in the New Zealand Internet space, online auctions have become well known. Offering your own niche auction site could also benefit from this surge of interest.

If auctions are not your thing, then classifieds can be something that you can employ to offer visitors and customers a place to trade goods and services. Again your visitors are generating your content and locking themselves in by using the service. A word of advice…do not attempt to dabble in any money matters relating to these services. You are there to bring people together; it makes it much simpler and less fraught with peril.

Picture Galleries

You will find picture galleries on many websites, you may even have one on a site that you have now. Having one is SemiSticky, but having one that people can submit their own photos is Sticky! , And having one that people can rate and comment on is SuperSticky!

You may not want people to comment on pictures in your gallery, but again it comes down to the fact that if you can get your visitors involved in generating the sites content, the more likely they are to come back.

User/Customer Reviews

Similar to the galleries are reviews on products and services. 
You sell the product and have compelling sales copy to say it is great, but nothing says it better than endorsements by fellow customers. A testimonial on your site is good, but having them in such a publicly accessible place as a review section can give them even more authenticity.

However you may not want your customers to review your products, they may say something bad about them…. But hey, isn’t that a great way to improve your product or service?

Summary

In summary, great websites are not usually the prettiest looking (although it helps); they are the ones with information that keeps the visitors coming back.

You may not have the time to update your site everyday, but by implementing some of these options, you may get your customers updating your site for you.

You will need to think about your audience and determine whether these ideas promote your site in the right way. Also talk to your web designer about how they can be implemented. There will be a cost, but you may find the return visitors make it worthwhile.

So the answer is simple…Make it SuperSticky and make them want to come back.

 

Tech wise, the world goes through inspired periods of innovation. However, 2013 wasn’t one of those periods.

3D televisions are a dud, music services popped up like daisies, it seemed like such a muddling period.

There were innovative products that were shown and introduced this year, but the strange thing was that they were based on technologies that weren’t new eg: The Oculus Rift

Apple bored us again with incremental refreshes (Thumbprint reader excluded), while Google had a number of blue sky ideas that you weren’t sure whether they were serious or not eg Project Loon.

The main product for me that really got people excited was a small TV gadget called the Chromecast, It plugs into the back of your TV and allows media to be played across your WIFI network through your TV. So far only a few services work, such as Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, but the concept is an awesome one. (Unfortunately not available in NZ)

The early signs of CES this year seem that 2014 will be a year of further consolidation. The improvement of earlier innovation into usable and clever devices that will have a real impact on users.

Smart watches made a ripple last year, Samsung making the loudest attempt. But it was still essentially an early stab at things, with updates needed to make it truly useful.

Advancements in battery life, data plans and mobile platforms in general make this maturing of the last few years of gadgets something that I am looking forward to.

CES is often the place you see pie in the sky ideas put forward as the future of tech. Many of these things never see the light of day. But I sense that this year some of the previous years goofy stuff will find it’s way (or the technology it is based on) into real products this year.

However, we may be still waiting for the wow moment of 2014 when this year ends.

What do you think we will see this year? Who will produce the must have product that we never thought we needed?

A new site that uses a very visual style to complement the great NZ images.

We provided the shell of the site to the client, with page templates so that they could complete the sites content with a consistency of style.

This is an example of a collaborative approach to the build, where most of the content is inputted by the client with Deepweb providing advice and assistance where necessary.

In addition, help with SEO and providing tools and techniques to help with their performance in the search engines.

We have plenty of sites being redesigned and converted to WordPress and lots of other interesting projects going on.

Here are some sites we have worked on over the last month or so.

 

There have been plenty of recent stories of invasions of privacy, from website leaks, hacks and releasing of customer data, to privacy policies on websites that are encourage the sharing of more and more information.

What are we willing to give up, what is the price of your privacy.

Now that we have proof of Governments snooping on even it’s own citizens, this question is even more important.

I believe that Governments need access to certain information to help protect it’s citizens and am not really surprised to hear of the capability that is being used.

What does surprise me more (and it probably shouldn’t) is the abuse of power that these agencies appear to be using.

Having specific targets to go and find information about seems to be the right balance, rather than the blanket hoovering up of data that seems to be happening.

One of the latest outcomes is a letter from the US Senate to the Director of Intelligence James Clapper spelling out that having a “secret body of law” described as deliberate reinterpretations of terms used in the industry is unacceptable and summoning Clapper to provide more specific responses without these reinterpretations.

Whether they can bring themselves to do this remains to be seen, but each leak published by the Guardian and other media outlets will cause more and more embarrassment to the US government. Even now, they are having to have diplomatic talks with allies that they have alleged to have been spying on.

Clearly with this information now in the public domain, if agencies are lying to their bosses to hide this kind of activity, then how can we really know what is going on in our governments.

Trust that laws and processes are being followed have really been all that has kept things in line. A clear breach of this trust could be very problematic and as more revelations are disclosed, the further that trust is eroded. Would a change of government fix this? Not necessarily, as the people voted into office are not the ones who have been found out. Changes at the top of the agencies may be the only way forward.

So maybe the original question needs to be amended. Rather than “What is the price of our privacy?” should it be “What is the price on our safety?”

 

Trustwave Vulnerability Scan Scam

This one is potentially a better attempt at a phishing scam than most.

Supposedly from TrustWave, it tells of a failed vulnerability scan on my network and to view the results online.

Visiting this site potentially loads Malware, or tries phishing techniques to get access to your systems.

One interesting aspect of this is it predicts IP ranges that will attempt to access your network, which makes me lean toward a malware attack.

This is an automated email message to prevent you that the scheduled TrustKeeper vulnerability scan of YOUR NETWORK SYSTEMS has completed and is not compliant.

IMPORTANT: During the scan, TrustKeeper Discovered several Unsecure systems. Trustwave strongly recommends you review these findings as your overall PCI DSS compliance status may be affected.

TrustKeeper generated a vulnerability scan report. You may view these results by accessing TrustKeeper at:

https://login.trustwave.com
User Name:webmaster@deepweb.co.nz

You will receive an e-mail confirmation when the scan completes and your results are available. Please note that this can take up to three days.

Note: If you monitor your network for activity, note that the TrustKeeper scan may originate from IP addresses in these ranges:

200.16.208.0/24
61.37.230.0/24

TrustKeeper is a certified remote assessment and compliance solution created by Trustwave and designed to help merchants meet the PCI DSS and achieve compliance with the associated programs of VisaŽ, MasterCardŽ, American ExpressŽ, DiscoverŽ, and other credit card associations. The TrustKeeper solution is an integrated easy-to-use tool that removes the challenge of navigating the complex PCI DSS requirements and provides a “one stop shop” for merchants to certify compliance.

DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE VIA EMAIL.

This mail is sent by an automated message system and the reply will not be received. Thank you for using TrustKeeper.
This email was sent to: webmaster@deepweb.co.nz
This email was sent by: Trustwave
80 West Madison Street, Suite 1080, Chicago, IL, 60408, USA

We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

So a new attack method, using fear to cause people to click the link and open themselves up for the real attack.

Instructions for Adding an Email Account

I get lots of requests for setting up an email account in different email programs, so I thought I would provide a list of the best instructions I have found that I pass on to my clients.

All thanks to those that have provided these resources, it seems silly to replicate these over and over on the web.

If you know of a better one than what I have listed, let me know in the comments and I can look at them and add them in.

I am only listing one set of instructions for each Mail program version that I think is the easiest to follow.

Remember, these instructions will need to be supplemented with your own specific settings such as login / password and mail server settings. Contact your hosting provider for these things.

Mac OS

Windows

So if you have other clients, other operating systems, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

 

New Sites for May

School Holidays are upon us, but the work never ends…

Here are some new and updated clients sites we have completed recently.

Shopify and Payment Express

shopify-logoI have been doing some work for a client in Shopify. First time I have worked with it and so far it’s not too bad.

However, some things have had me scratching my head.

One in particular was trying to test the payment gateway to DPS’s Payment Express. (PxPay)

After choosing the right one (There is PaymentExpress and Payment Express???) I kept receiving the error message:

“error – failed to get token – message was MerchantReference too long”

The problem lay in this instance with the Shop name.

dps_logoThe client had a shop name that was 42 characters long, I reduced it to just 15 characters and this worked.

Given the Reference limit is 64, there is obviously other information added to the end of it, what this is I am not sure yet it may appear on the clients statement, but may include product name or a unique code.

Unfortunately, DPS did not write the code and so they are not able to provide any help with any issues connecting to their product via Shopify. I haven’t tried the Shopify support, but I am not sure if anyone in their employ wrote the code either.

Law 2 Web is a industry specific web consultancy firm and in partnership with Deepweb provides Lawyers with expertise around Websites and other internet specific areas.

The site was created to showcase these areas of expertise and to provide information to the industry on things web related that can impact on them

We put together a website for Air New Zealand’s staff health scheme to provide a place where people can get information and also supply information via online forms to manage their membership.

The custom online forms are integrated into the WordPress site and allow for submission of supporting documents with the form content.

Kerikeri Teas website was converted from a static site to WordPress so that the client could update the content.

We then added WooCommerce, a e-commerce plugin for WordPress to add a shopping cart facility. Using Paypal to take payments, they are now taking online orders.

The WooCommerce plugin allows for product variations (in this case, sizes and flavours) to give flexibility to the shopping carts inventory

 

Forestwalks is a WordPress site that has had a recent update to it’s design.

Working with a local graphic design firm, we implemented their design and added the appropriate functionality to deliver on the design firms template.

A long term use of the blog, has meant that there are plenty of pages of content for visitors to consume.

We have worked with the owners to encourage social media use and they regularly use Twitter and Facebook to drive visitors to their site.

So Much To Look Forward To

2013-tech-trendsWell it is now the new year, resolutions have come and (for many) gone.

Following on the from an interesting end of the year, this one carries much promise.

New contacts, new partnerships and a bunch of amazing clients mean it will be a most interesting year.

Taking a wider view, upcoming and recent events including Mr .Com’s new initiative to seemingly circumvent copyright and, from the coverage of CES this year, the convergence of many of the areas of tech.

Further through they year, we will get our obligatory iWhatever release, of which we are certain the features that could have been released this year (but held back) will make an appearance.

Will they be thinner, will they be lighter? Probably.

Who will die first? RIM when Blackberry10 fails or Nokia, when Windows 8 doesn’t bring them the sales they need.

Will Apple buy their way into mapping that won’t get you lost?

Will WindowsRT disappear as soon as the Pro (read: actually ready) version ships?

So many questions, so much meh!

I want to be wowed by something that stands out, makes everyone sit back. Everything so far seems to be all about minor upgrades to suck the last of our upgrade dollars from us.

Who do you think will provide the spark? Apple? Google? Amazon?

New Work for our Clients

The blog has been a bit neglected, this will be remedied as I start to publish some articles about tech related items. The run up to Christmas is always a busy time before people head off on holiday.

Up here in the Bay of Islands, plenty of businesses are gearing up for the summer influx of visitors that are the lifeblood of this area. (Shameless plug… we have a holiday home, if you mention you found us on the blog, we’ll give you a great discount! http://40paihiaholidayhouse.co.nz )

Anyway, in the last few months we have launched a few large sites as well as upgrades and new sites for small business. We continue to roll out new WordPress sites, especially since it is an easy way to format your sites for mobile.

Here are some of the sites we have worked on:

Buy local and support your local businesses

New Scam email from ADP Netsecure

A new scam arrived today, this time about a Digital Certificate. A client also had the same email (2 actually) so it must be a wave going around.

Is is purportedly from ADP, a payroll system, but includes links to obviously hacked sites for phishing

They are looking for ADP logins, to then access personal information of companies employees.

Here are the two emails

Subject: ADP Generated Message: First Notice – Digital Certificate Expiration

This e-mail has been sent from an automated system. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY. If you have any questions, please contact your administrator for assistance.

———————————————————————
Digital Certificate About to Expire
———————————————————————
The digital certificate you use to access ADP’s Internet services is about to expire. If you do not renew your certificate by the expiration date below, you will not be able to access ADP’s Internet services.

Days left before expiration: 2
Expiration date: Jul 11 23:59:59 GMT-03:59 2012

——————————————————————–
Renewing Your Digital Certificate
———————————————————————
1. Go to this URL: https://netsecure.adp.com/pages/cert/register2.jsp

2. Follow the instructions on the screen.

3. Also you can download new digital certificate at https://netsecure.adp.com/pages/cert/pickUpCert.faces.

———————————————————————
Deleting Your Old Digital Certificate
———————————————————————
After you renew your digital certificate, be sure to delete the old certificate. Follow the instructions at the end of the renewal process.

 

and…

 

Subject: ADP Security Management Update

ADP Security Management Update

Reference ID: 68760

Dear ADP Client July 2012

This message is to inform you of the upcoming ?Phase 2? enhancement to ADP Security Management (formally ADP Netsecure). This is where you manage your users? access to ADP?s Internet services, and includes the self-service registration process.

Effective July 25th, ADP Security Management will reflect a new user interface. This will include tasks such as Account Maintenance, User Maintenance, and Company Maintenance within Security Management.

Please review the following information:

? Click {link} to view more details of the enhancements in Phase 2

? Complete the What?s New in Security Management Service {link} (Expected to take about 15 minutes)

? View the Supported Browsers and Operating Systems, listed. {link} These are updated to reflect more current versions to ensure proper presentation of the updated user interface. It is important to note that the new ADP Security Management is best accessed using Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 8 or Mozilla Firefox Version 3.6, at minimum.

This email was sent to active users in your company that access ADP Netsecure with a security role of ?security master? or ?security admin?. You may have other users that also access ADP Netsecure with other security roles. Please inform those users of these enhancements, noting that the above resources will have some functionality that does not apply to their role.

As always, thank you for choosing ADP as your business partner! If you have any questions, please contact your ADP Technical Support organization.

Ref: 0725 MSAMALONIS1@TWNSHP

It is important to look at the status bar at the bottom of your email client, as this will display the underlying link that you would be taken to if you click it. If it looks anyway suspicions, do not click the link

New sites with Deepweb

There has been plenty going on with some new launches and some refreshes of existing sites.

We are seeing a real surge of WordPress sites, with people wanting to have the ability to make changes to their sites themselves.

Have a look at some of the most recent sites we have done:

Plenty more where they have come from, we are working on some exciting projects now.

Spotify Launches in NZ, have we arrived?

As Spotify launches in NZ, does this mark a bit of a turning of the corner for the internet world in NZ?

Now Spotify is not the largest property on the internet that NZ has been waiting for, but I think it is a significant step in the right direction for many reasons.

Firstly it is a widely loved streaming service that has slowly made it’s way across the globe. Unsurprisingly, NZ is not early on the release timetable, but with it’s launch here we do not have to look longingly offshore for another service out of our reach.

Second, it is another legal content service to be added to the few currently in NZ. With Quick Flix and TV Ondemand peoples choices are becoming wider with more content online. Add Spotify (and Rdio) to the mix and online content is becoming more and more compelling. With the Commerce Commission’s investigation of SkyTV, their tying up of the distribution rights to many items of content will be under more scrutiny.

Is this  the start of a change to an avalanche of online services and will it bring the choice that we have been calling out for.

Will it take something like Netflix to finally push it over the edge?

I want to see more content via the internet, whether I consume it via my PC (which is the only way I can at the moment) or via an internet connected TV, we should be given the choice for content and the distribution.

I think the traditional rule makers in this industry need to change their thinking. What they need to do is work out, in a blue sky way, how consumers have all of their needs fulfilled. Build that infrastructure and then build the monetisation around that. Currently, there are hanging on to the shreds of their old model and squeezing it for everything they can get.

They know that things are changing, but they are not bold enough to make the step willingly.

Maybe they need a push

 

Twitter DM Spam / Virus / Phishing

Whoops, it’s a good thing this was not one of those dodgy sites!

 

Please, please please do not click on those “OMG see what someone is writing about you” kind of tweets. Or you will be hacked and your account will be used to send horrible stuff to all of your friends.

 

Yours sincerely,

The Twitterverse (The good ones anyway)

 

PS: If you got here by clicking on the link in a tweet, retweet it, so we can warn more people 🙂

New Sites for March 2012

Well since the start of the year, things have been pretty busy. We have a few large projects underway, but other things have been ticking along as well.

Here are some of the sites we have completed over the last month or so.

As you can see we are utilising WordPress for many of our sites now. It’s ease of use and stability make it an ideal platform for people to build their web presence on.

 

IRD Refund…Oh Goody

Sorry, it’s another phishing attempt, this time pretending to be from the NZ IRD (Inland Revenue Department)

Here is the email

From: ir3refundfiles@ird.govt.nz

Subject Due to our latest update you are eligible for a refund

Dear Sir/Madam,

You are receiving this e-mail with reference to our latest database update on February 5, 2012.

Due to our most up-to-date calculations, Inland Revenue updated his database system to a more accurate structure. As a result, you are eligible to get a refund of 184,56 $NZD.

Please download IR3-e-file_FORM-759784123157 attached to this e-mail, complete the form with your personal information in less than 48 hours and allow up to 24 hours to update the data into our database.

Your records are securely encrypted through a secure 128 bit socket to our servers and will NOT be shared.

Reference number: 76178256192/2012nzr.

E-mail officially sent by Ross Hughson.

Inland Revenue – IR3_e-file refund form . html

 

As you can see it is “from” an IRD email address, ir3refundfiles@ird.govt.nz, to make it look more legitimate. It also give a real sounding name and a refernce number.

What could go wrong?

Well the HTML file that is attached will be the bit that bites. It will either redirect you to a phishing website or gather your data then and there and report it back.

Don’t open these kinds of things, if in doubt, give them a ring.

 

 

New Scam – Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau have been targeted as the latest providers of a “trusted source” for email phishing attempts. Not that the BBB are actually doing something wrong, but have been targeted by the spammers as a face for their campaign due to their trustworthiness, and in this case, the concern that happens when you get an email from them saying something is wrong.

With this latest email (I received 2 today, even though I am not in the US) they use the threat of a complaint against your company to get you to click on a link in the email.

Here is a copy of the email

RE: Case # 18558568
2011/12/20

Hello,

The Better Business Bureau has been filed the above-referenced complaint from one of your clients on the subject of their dealings with you.
The detailed information about the consumer’s concern is presented in enclosed document.
Please give attention to this matter and let us know about your opinion.
We encourage you to open the ATTACHED REPORT to reply this complaint.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely yours,

Louis Gerald

Dispute Counselor
Better Business Bureau

So again, it is a case of being careful when something like this appears in your mailbox. Don’t panic and click the link to see what the issue is, if in doubt hover over the link and it will tell you in the status bar of your email program the real link that it will take you to.

If it looks in any way suspicious, leave it alone.

Malware/Phishing Attempt About declined Payment

I have received an email saying that a payment has been declined, as with many of these things, I have nothing to do with the service or vendor concerned and so I automatically think it is a scam.

In this instance it appears to be a phishing scam by trying to trick you to click on an apparent document link that takes to to a webpage.

Other known reports of this (here) talk of zip files being delivered to entice people to run the included .exe file (similar to the UPS scams)

This appears to a bit cleverer as it takes you to a website rather than the hassle of unzipping and running the executable.

The organisation mentioned does not send out these emails and so you can delete with impunity.

Here is the message:

The ACH transaction (ID: 5061740263570), recently sent from your bank account (by you or any other person), was canceled by the other financial institution.

Canceled transaction

Transaction ID: 5061740263570
Reason for rejection See details in the report below
Transaction Report report_5061740263570.doc (Microsoft Word Document)

ANZ Bank Phishing Target Again

These phishing attempts are usually found by my virus scanner, but this one got through.

Anz Bank

We’d like to inform you that your Secure Messages Center has 1 new message.

Please login to your Online Banking and visit the Secure Message Center section in order to
read the message.

Log On to Online Banking.

(The Message Center contains only important information about your account and online banking.)

Copyright Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ABN 11 005 357 522, 1996-2011.
ANZ’s colour blue is a trade mark of ANZ.

 

The log on link goes to http:// nogueirametalurgica . com . br/www . anz . com/index . php

This is a typical ploy where they hide the link to a hacked website. Here they have placed a site that looks the same as the target (This time ANZ) and hope that you do not look at the link that appears in the URL section of your browser.

Whenever you get a dodgy email, you can often just hover over the link in the email, and the email program will show you the link that you will be taken to.

If it is anything like this, then stay away

Google+ Pages – More Social Real Estate



Deepweb
on Google+

Google has released Pages for Google +

Google+’s Pages are similar to Facebook Pages and allow Brands such as companies, organisations, local businesses, celebrities and other entities to create a presence on Google+

Previously there had been a lot of criticism of Google for not allowing these from the start of Google+. To the point that the “Real Names” policy caused the deletion of some profiles that are now essentially what Google+ Pages is meant for.

Similarly to Facebook Pages, you can add your brief business information and start using Google+ to share information.

There are some key things to note with these Pages

  • Google+ Pages can’t add others to their circles (or follow / friend) until those people have added the brand page to their circles (to try and stop spamming)
  • As a follow on from the first point, it is more difficult to promote your page without having a personal Google+ account to promote the Page, the more people in your personal account circles the better.
  • The profile information is limited, if you want to get more information out there, use links to your website or use the post facility to add them into your stream
  • Your personal Google+ profile is your administrator account, you can switch between the two and post as the respective accounts.
  • It is important to do the Google+ Direct Connect (this puts you in the running to have the ability to be found on Google Search by adding “+” at the start of your name like a keyword)

It would have been nice to have a connection between your Google Places listing and your Page, I hope this is integrated as this would be a sensible way to combine these common things (maps, business details etc)

It is also a new kid on the block. There are no Apps like in Facebook to add other functionality like E-Commerce, but I expect this will be added later.

Hangouts (where you can host a video chat session) can be a really novel way of interacting with people following your page. I can see this being really good for video training, Q+A sessions and other mass interactions that are currently done via forums, wiki etc.

Rugby World Cup – can I say that?

So after 6 or so weeks, the 2011 Rugby World cup finishes with the final tonight pitting the hosts New Zealand against their bogey team France.

Now while I expect the All Blacks to win, I don’t think it will be as easy as some are predicting.

The only way I see the French having achance is if they come out with huge intensity and get over 14 points clear in the first 20 minutes.

Then doubt would come in and spoil the AB’s gameplan.

However, I expect a score of around 25 – 13

Come on NZ, win the tournament playing the best rugby – not just winning rugby, but winning rugby that is entertaining to watch!

Chinese Domain Name Scam Update

I have had a number of enquiries from clients, checking to see if these emails are legitimate or not.

However, I have just received one directly and have noticed that although the scam is the same, the wording and formatting are a bit better, more convincing.

Here is the transcript:

Dear Manager,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration and dispute internationally in China and Asia.
On October 17th 2011, We received Tianhua Ltd’s application that they are registering the name ” yourdomain ” as their Internet Keyword and ” yourdomain .cn “?” yourdomain .com.cn ” ?”yourdomain .asia “domain names etc.., they are China and ASIA domain names. But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so we are sending you this email to check. According to the principle in China, your company is the owner of the trademark, In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

Best Regards,

John
General Manager
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 136615 29704
Fax: +86 216191 8697
Web:
www.ygnetworkltd.com

So you can see that the construction of the email is much more professional, but still is  not quite perfect.

Again the point of these emails is to scare people into thinking that their domain name is going to be registered by a Chinese company. All they are wanting is to get you to register the domain name through them (often at an inflated price)

Don’t worry, I have not seen one of these be real yet.

We Don’t Want to Watch What You Want Us to Watch

Especially when you want us to watch it.

Times are changing in TV land.

While we in NZ still have restrictive broadband limitations in speed and monthly data caps, the world moves ahead in the use of streaming video.

Offerings such as Hulu and Netflix, plus streaming options through other providers such as Amazon mean that video delivered over the internet is dominating internet traffic in those markets.

But even in New Zealand, on demand video is becoming more and more prevalent. MySky allows for easy recording and playback of shows from SkyTV’s plethora of channels and the free to air networks have the OnDemand services where you can catch up on shows you have missed only a day later.

But what this “on demand” method of consuming video (and audio) does, is it puts the control of the content back into the viewers hands.

Apart from live events such as sport, where the “watching it live” component is eminently important, most other forms of TV or movies can be consumed at the viewers leisure. No more checking the TV guide and planning your life around when a particular show is on, just watch it when you like.

Imagine a world where you can pick and choose all of the shows you want to watch with no reliance on date and time.

What impact could this have on the different parts of the ecosystem?

Producers of Content: Major producers might be more selective of what content they invest in and so the number of productions might reduce in size (possibly better funded). Independent producers of content such as the Twit Network may be encouraged to produce more content to fill the gaps left my changed in major network production.

Advertisers: Much improved analytics and viewer statistics will allow for much more targeted advertising. Ads for lower rating shows will reflect those lower ratings and advertisers can get a real idea as to the viewership of their ad portfolio.

Consumers: Fringe shows (from the current model) will become even more marginalised until they disappear. Niche shows will be created by nimble producers focussed on fanatical audiences. The only scheduled shows will be live events.

I like this future as it enables true choice for the consumer and a better experience.

Dashes vs Underscores for SEO – Winner announced

We have a definitive answer from Google as to what is better for word separation in URLs.

Matt Cutts released one of his Webmaster videos discussing this and while there is not much in it (to the point he said not to change it if you already have underscores), that if you are starting a new site, dashes are the way to go.

Work for September

We have been very busy over the last few months, in August we launched StorConnect, you can see the website here:

http://storconnect.com

It is a tablet (iPad/android) powered contract system for the Self Storage industry.

On the Deepweb side, we have been working with the following clients:

Plus many more.

September and October look like they will be just as, if not more, busy than the last wee while.

Accommodation Scam Email from “Cowell Travel & Tours”

Another accommodation scam email, this time done a little better.

Rather than the all capitals, poor grammar and spelling of previous emails, this one reads better and so is harder to spot.

However, the key ingredients are the same

  • Doesn’t match the products on offer (Asking for 7 people, when only 6 available)
  • Insists on credit card as only payment method
  • Urgency
  • Not an enquiry, but a straight booking

Here is the copy of the email

Greetings,

I am Mr. Simon Cowell, I am writing from the Cowell Travel & Tours, Liverpool England, we have group of 7 people coming to spend their vacation in your country for 10 days. With due respect, we will like you to provide accommodation and breakfast for 7 of them for the whole period of their stay.

Let me know your room’s types and cost per night so that reservation will be made on time.

Our Arrival Date is 20th September 2011; Our Departure date is 30th September 2011.

Number of People: 7. all adult.

Kindly Confirm if you will have availability during these dates so as to proceed with the booking.

I will be appreciating your urgent response, I hope you accept credit card as means of payment, because I will be making the payment with my credit card only.

Regards,

Mr. Simon Cowell
Cowell Travel & Tours
Adlib House, Fleming Road,
Liverpool, Merseyside, L24 9LS
England.

Tel: (+44) 703 182 0750

 

Deepweb’s new Product StorConnect

Over the last year, We have been working with a client, All Secure Self Storage, to enable his customers to move away

from paper application forms and replace them with an electronic form.

To do this, we have created a web application that interfaces with Storman Software, (software that manages the self storage facility). We have called this StorConnect.

This means an elimination of errors on the input side, as the customer is the one doing the inputting, plus a virtual removal of paper in the office as all of the documents are stored electronically. Good for the environment, but also a great disaster recovery option, as they are stored offsite.

After the initial installation at All Secure, we launched the product and the Self Storage Association of Australasia (SSAA) annual conference last week.

This was a great time, meeting facility owners, talking with other providers and the feedback was extremely positive and we were delighted to sign up some facilities to this new product.

The icing on the cake was winning the 2011 Innovation Award at the conference Awards for our new product. We were up against another significant player in the industry for the award and so are delighted with the award.

You can see more information at the StorConnect website.

New Work – August 2011

We are right in the middle of a busy period here.

I’ll be heading off to Australia next week to launch a new project at an industry conference, but more of that in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, there has been plenty of output, so here we go:

Some other big projects in the pipeline too, so must get back to the grind 🙂

 

Incubus’ Clever Use of the Internet

There are an increasing number of clever uses of the internet as a marketing tool for companies, products and brands.

Once that I think is really good is that of the band Incubus.

They are releasing a new album soon called If Not Now,When? and using (as far as I can tell) a novel method to promote the album, have been using a website called http://www.incubushqlive.com/ where they have been streaming live performances from the band plus interviews and clinics from band members.

But it also seems to be a great way to promote the band while practising for upcoming appearnaces and concert tour.

Each of the performances can be attended by emailing the site and getting an invite. The venue is small, only really big enough for a ring of people around the band as they play their set. The performances have been a mix of old songs and those off the new album.

The interaction of the band with the small audience is great too, they make mistakes, laugh about it and go again, till they get it right.

Most performances I have seen there have been over 4 thousand people watching the stream. Tweets with the bands hashtag get displayed live on the screen behind the band.

All in all a great use of social media and technology to promote an upcoming album.

Speaking of social media, how did I find out about this? Facebook. I’m a fan and so follow them on Facebook, where they have been advertising what has been happening at “HQ” leading up to the album release. This along with their website provide all of the information needed for fans to get prepared.

All we need now is for them to come to NZ   *hint, hint*

Google + , I’m in!

I am happy, I thought I was missing out.

But I got into Google + today. It’s a bit echoey, but looks like it might actually have some interesting features to it that will attract a few people.

They real question is what effect it will have on the social scene.

Will it be a threat to Facebook?

Will it become a social aggregator like Friendfeed was.

One thing is for sure, Facebook felt threatened. With their “awesome announcement” today that Facebook will be integrating Skype video chat into it’s site, Facebook has shown that the video feature of Google+, the hangouts, was enough for the to appear to rush this announcement and get product to market.

I can imagine the code cutting that went on since knowledge of the inner working of Google + became known to Facebook. Determined to release something before Google+ made it to general release.

In turn the Facebook announcement seems to have hurried up the public roll out of Google+. Originally the invitation beta was due to last a few more weeks, but there are now noises that Google+ is going public pretty much straight away.

Competition in this way is great, it speeds up innovation and we the user get the benefits.

As Google get closer to a social network and Facebook drive more search within it’s site it is inevitable that competition between these two juggernauts will escalate.

How have you found Google+

 

WordPress 3.2 Now Released

WordPress has released it’s next semi-major release with version 3.2.

You can read the official announcement here

Significant in this release is the breaking away of support for old technologies including older versions of MySQL, PHP and even old IE6.

This part has me really excited (especially the IE6 part) as backwards compatibility has its drawbacks. The ability to embrace new technologies is limited while trying to keep people using older technologies happy.

IE6 is incredibly old in technology terms (It has it’s 10th birthday on the 27th of August) and the sooner developers stop catering for this the quicker things will move forward.

The new look of 3.2 is smart, more clinical (professional?) but initial thoughts are good.

But the best thing about it? The upgrade went flawlessly.

The upgrade process in WordPress is one of the best out there for stability and reliability.

I’ll keep using it for a while and post back an update later.

Empire Avenue – What is it Good for?

Empire Avenue is an interesting concept in this world of Social Media and Social Media Marketing.

We are told to network, to make connection in our industries and across others to broaden our horizons, to reach out to our customers. Engage, Engage, Engage!

With all of this engaging going on, who’s doing all the real work? (Only joking)

Many people still don’t see the benefits of Social Media, it took the advent of Tweetdeck for me to see the benefit of Twitter as a networking tool. But slowly as these things come more into the mainstream and more importantly, experiences are discussed about the benefits and pitfalls of this new form of marketing.

Empire Avenue takes all of this engagement and networking and turns it into a game.

I used to play AlexaDex, it was a share trading game based on the traffic that websites recorded according to Alexa.

Empire Avenue does something similar where it gathers information about your social connections via sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube and Flickr, plus what you do on the Empire Avenue site and give you a score, or a share price.

If people in the game think you are an upwards mover, they can buy shares in your profile to hopefully make a profit on your rise.

It seems to me that it is a really fun version of Klout, or similar social media analytics programs.

It is a great way to make measuring your connectedness and engagement fun.

To be honest, you may even engage more, to increase your share value.

A bit of a chicken and egg scenario then, not only does it report on your social engagement, but it encourages you to engage more.

I like it. I like the fact that it can make the measurement fun. It has encouraged me to be more vocal in social networking circles, which in itself is not a bad thing.

What is your experience? Do you like it? Do you think it is a big waste of time?

(I had to put this in…)



 

Twitter has New Follow Button

Under the Resources section on Twitter.com, you can find the new Follow Button.

Using the setup screen, it generates the code needed to put on your site to display the follow button. The good thing here, is that the button allows for the visitor to follow you on Twitter without leaving your site.

This is how it looks


Looks good and well implemented.

 

Your Website is Under Constant Attack

For those with a website, it can be an interesting and sometimes amusing experience to see what people have typed into search engines to get to your site.

Some of the things are so wide of the mark you wonder how you have appeared in a search for that term

Of my current search terms the most offbeat are:

“web designers for trade me” – would be nice, but it’s not me 🙁
“is it illegal to stream tv shows online” – sure is, thanks for asking
“the sharp edge of the wedge” – ummm

Even so, I can guess at what content I have written that may tie in with these

This one I’m not so sure

“nude girls database”

One other area that is interesting is the 404 Errors. These are when someone has tried to access some page or file on your website, but it was not available. (This is a good thing to check over time as it can identify issues on your site)

Apart from old links that have not been redirected, you can find evidence of probes into your website, looking for vulnerabilities, here is a selection of what has appeared on mine:

/phpMyAdmin/scripts/setup.php
/serv/whmcs.sql
/scripts/+1l.3r(
//phpMyAdmin-2.6.2-rc1/scripts/setup.php
//PMA2005/scripts/setup.php

Someone obviously thinks they can get into PHPmyadmin via a vulnerability with an undeleted setup script.

Curiously, they have tried every possible variation of naming convention to brute force their way in.

The same goes with other know scripts like OSCommerce, Joomla etc where known vulnerabilities are tried.

The moral of the story, keep your web based scripts up to date with the latest security releases.

Tips for Choosing a Content Management System (CMS)

I frequently get asked by my clients (and prospective ones) about wanting to update their website.

I had a rant about this a while back, where a journalist accused web designers of ripping their clients off if they didn’t provide the ability to update the site themselves.

I stand by my comments that for some clients, a content management system is not wanted, nor is it in the best interests of that client.

However, for those that do want to update their site, we need to provide a solution that is both easy to use and delivers the complexity required for their needs.

These two facets, ease of use and complexity can be seen to be at loggerheads with each other, and in some circumstances that can be the case. But I will propose two solutions that cater for both ends of the spectrum.

In the past, due to the lack of affordable and easy to use CMS’ we have provided Adobe Contribute (Formerly Macromedia) as a way to allow our clients to edit their sites.

The reason for choosing Contribute was it’s simplicity. In tandem with Dreamweaver (which we use to develop with) it allows for areas of the site, such as menus, header, footer and overall structure, to be protected from the end user.

This allows for editing to be done, knowing that catastropic mistakes can’t be made.

The interface is simple and allows for most functions to be performed including editing of text, images, links and if allowed HTML snippets for things like Youtube videos or Paypal buttons.

The biggest downside is that it costs around $400 NZD for a retail copy. This is also a per license price, so if you want to edit from multiple places, you need additional licenses.

For the schools that we have done sites for this was an issue. Some paid for additonal license to get the software into key locations, but for others it was restricted to the office.

This is where web based content management systems have a significant edge.

Especially open source software, that is free from licensing costs, makes this a much easier proposition.

We currently propose two different CMS’ for our clients depending on their needs:

WordPress – The easiest to use, easiest to modify, my choice for brochure style sites.

Joomla – More complex, but manages user management much better

Overall I like WordPress better. Around a year ago, WordPress became a system that you could leave with a user and they would be able to manage their site with little input from their designer. Before that, upgrade and installation required a level of tech knowledge that was no suitable for all users.

That and the well presented plugins system, mean that a user can improve their site and feel in control of their site, without a reliance on an IT person.

There are plenty of complex sites designed with WordPress as their base system, but there are some things that Joomla does much better straight out of the box.

Joomla seems to be able to manage a multitude of types of data much easily. Especially when their are user logins involved.

Extensions like Community Builder allow for a mature user system to be maintained on a site. Plus add-ons for payment and subscriptions mean you can monetize your user base easily.

So depending on the functionality you are wanting for your site, you can find a system that will make the development of a website easier to develop and easier to use.

There are plenty of other systems out there, I have heard good things about Drupal (though I found it less rich than Joomla, it’s direct competitor) and have seen some great implementations of Expression Engine (a paid CMS, so check out prices)

But for my money, choose WordPress for a simple business website, or Joomla if you need to manage a community of users.

 

Integrating with Facebook

I am working on a project that has now required for integration with Facebook.

So I will be working to utilise Facebook logins and registrations on the external site.

I’ll post information that may be useful through the project as I expect over time, that this kind of interaction will become more common.

My early look at the Developer Documentation looks good, seems to be well documented, plus all source code is found at GitHub.

The basics seem easy enough, not even reuqiring an API key to use like buttons via iframes.

eg:

<iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/ 
like.php?href=YOUR_URL"
scrolling="no" frameborder="0"
style="border:none; width:450px; height:80px">
<iframe>

But things are not that simple, so I am off to read up on OAuth and the like.

Streaming Tech TV – Great Stuff

twit live tvMy latest must see is TWiT. It is a streaming online Tech tv service that has shows screened throughout the day and then replayed around the live broadcast times.

For the broadcasts I have seen, they are, for the most part, well presented and produced pieces. With a variety of themes around technology there is a good range to keep techheads up to date with whats happening.

For me the ones I return to are TNT with Tom Merritt, All about Android and The Week in Google

All have one or more main presenters usually with guests beamed in to the show by video.

There seems to be good banter between the hosts and guests which makes for a much more watchable experience.

Go and have a look for yourself.

 

Illegal File Sharing Bill Shows All That is Bad with Politics

There are plenty of people who are a bit angry today.

Make that really angry.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is a contentious bill with history of internet protest. Maybe the knowledge that more highly visible protest would precede any passing of this bill caused the government to rush the Bill through parliament under urgency.

While the Bill has been changed to be more balanced than in it’s early incarnations, it’s termination clause was still a reason to protest.

But what this really highlighted, was not so much the content of the Bill itself, but the politics surrounding it.

Admissions from National politicians, that discussions with other countries over free trade talks were a consideration, gave a feeling that there were underhanded reasons for what was happening last night.

So what is urgency? Here is a link to the NZ Parliament site that explains:

The House of Representatives sometimes goes into “urgency” to make progress on business additional to what would be possible under the normal rules for sitting hours and progress of business.

Now this session of Urgency was called to deal with legislation related to the Christchurch Earthquake. However, completely unrelated business can be added.

Given that Copyright issues have absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake, one can make the following assumptions:

  • The Government had some other agenda (Maybe this was part of the free trade negotiations)
  • Pressure was being applied by supporters of the Bill (In this case the likely supporters are Record and Movie companies)
  • By passing under urgency, with no notice, anticipated protest could be held to a minimum

Regardless of your opinions on the pros and cons of the “Three Strikes” and final sanction of internet account holder suspension, the conduct of the MP’s who were in the debating chamber last night made for some interesting insights.

I was up watching Parliament TV streaming online here, so were many others, possibly giving Parliament TV it’s best ratings ever. Alongside my stream was my Twitter feed and especially the comments tagged with #blackout.

It was an amazing and compelling evening of watching most MP’s wallow in their abject understanding of the topic they were debating, while those interested spectators spouted vitriol towards them via Social Media.

Special mention must go to Gareth Hughes (@GarethMP), Jacinda Adren (@jacindaardern) and Clare Curran (@clarecurranmp) who seemed to at least have a working understanding of what was being discussed.

Brickbats go to Melissa Lee and Jonathan Young who seemed so unsure of the terminology and the concepts being discussed that they are now stars in their own parodies of themselves.

Quite how a piece of legislation can be debated by those who are completely unqualified and also when key players are away (The Minister of Commerce, Simon Power) is amazing, maybe there should be a quiz before entering the chamber to test the knowledge of those wanting to participate in the debate.

As of this morning, the Bill was passed, with both Labour and National voting for, with the Greens the majority of those opposed.

It won’t spell the end of the internet, but the political process has exposed to many as a farce.

It seems the Greens got a few more supporters last night. Will it make a difference come election day?

iPad2 – a bit of a yawn?

You are either one or you are not.

Most definitely I am not. It harkens back to the day when I was at University and spent the entire 3 years of my computer science degree and did not touch a PC at all.

Now, I have always thought that Universities are supposed to prepare you for your career after you leave, but to not even use a PC is a bit of a joke.

Anyway, we used Apple computers for the first two years doing programming and other things. My flatmate was an Apple devotee, I was not. I can see the design aesthetics, I can sometimes see the usability benefits. But I much preferred my PC.

Zoom forward nearly 20 years and we have now have two iterations of the iPad.

I am using one (v1) at the moment for a client project and so have had quite a play with it.

It’s nice, it’s easy to use (for some things) and it makes my kids go all gooey, but it still leaves me cold.

My smartphone and my laptop seem to be a better combination that the iPad. It just seems to me to be a device that does things OK, but it doesn’t seem to fit a need.

What is there that the iPad can do that other devices can’t? What is it that made it a “must have” device?

Seeing the recent launch hysteria of the iPad 2 makes me wonder if it is any better than the original.

Can anyone help me out with this one?

Business Listing Scam – EU Business Register

Beware of a directory listing scam that is being emailed out to people offering a business listing with Free Updates!

What is hidden though is that by signing and sending back the form, you lock yourself in for a three year listing at EU995 per year.

But they do let you update your details for free.

Transcript is here:

From: contact@business-listing.info
Subject: EU Business Register 2011/2012
Dear Madam/Sir,

In order to have your company inserted in the EU Business Register for 2011/2012, please print, complete and submit the enclosed form to the following address:

EU BUSINESS REGISTER
BOX 252 – 28020 Madrid
SPAIN

Fax: +34 91 791 9167

Updating is free of charge!

 

These kind of scams are pretty common, I get ones faxed to me a few times a year. Similar ones for overpriced domain names are common as well.

You know your business and will know the kinds of places that are worthwhile advertising. If anything comes across your desk or into your inbox that offers advertising, check it thoroughly before committing, this one had the price in the fine print in the attached PDF, not in the email itself. IT’s terms and conditions were even further hidden on a website not linked to in the PDF.

Lottery Winning Scam – Phishing Again

The anglers are at it again, phishing for your personal details.

I got two emails this morning, both titled “Royal win!” to two different addresses. Aren’t I lucky to win two 1st category prizes. Especially when I didn’t enter!

PDF’s are attached that ask for personally identifiable information, such as Passport, Drivers License or other ID.

Together this, with the other standard info such as contact info, can be all that is required for identity theft.

Don’t fall for these kinds of scams. Any time someone is asking for information that can be used for identification such as middle name, passport or date of birth, be very careful you know who you are giving it to.

These guys are using the lure of winning money to entice people to hand over these details.

Don’t be fooled.

Below is the email contents, there are also two pdf’s attached, a claim application form and a terms and conditions document.

Continue reading

All Whites Deserved to Win Halberg – So Says Biased Football Fan

OK, I am biased, I am a football nut. I think they deserved to win the Halberg Award and given that the 28 person panel voted accordingly, there was obviously enough support from the people who mattered.

The panel consist of 10 media types and 18 sports people from a wide range of sports. Interestingly, none of them are from Football.

Possibly sentiment carried the day, Dick Taylor is due to resign as he didn’t “agree with the end result.”

As the President of the Canterbury Rugby Supporters Club, you could guess that football is not his favourite sport, but his beef seems mainly that he thinks you must win something to be eligible.

“Really, they (All Whites) didn’t win anything. Part of the criteria for the Halbergs is about people winning or high achieving.”

He mentions that bit at the end “or high achieving” as a bit of a throw away, but it does change the criteria significantly.

Is high achieving significantly surpassing everything people expect of you?

If so then the All Whites were a shoe in for the award.

People expect the All Blacks to win, The Kiwis and Silver Ferns are one of only 2 or 3 contenders for every trophy. This is a massive achievement in the world of football.

Giving the award to a “non winner” has precendent:

Here is a list of recent winners:

  • 1990 Halberg Award Winner – Peter Blake
  • 1991 Halberg Award Winner – Philippa Baker
  • 1992 Halberg Award Winner – Annelise Coberger
  • 1993 Halberg Award Winner – New Zealand Men’s Amateur Golf Team
  • 1994 Halberg Award Winner – Philippa Baker & Brenda Lawson
  • 1995 Halberg Award Winner – America’s Cup Team
  • 1996 Halberg Award Winner – Danyon Loader – (1990s Decade Champion)
  • 1997 Halberg Award Winner – Beatrice Faumuinã
  • 1998 Halberg Award Winner – Rob Waddell
  • 1999 Halberg Award Winner – Rob Waddell
  • 2000 Halberg Award Winner – Rob Waddell
  • 2001 Halberg Award Winners – Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell
  • 2002 Halberg Award Winners – New Zealand Men’s Basketball Team
  • 2003 Halberg Award Winners – SILVER FERNS (netball)
  • 2004 Halberg Award Winner – SARAH ULMER (cycling)
  • 2005 Halberg Award Winner – MICHAEL CAMPBELL (golf)
  • 2006 HALBERG AWARD WINNER: MAHE DRYSDALE (ROWING).
  • 2007 HALBERG AWARD WINNER: VALERIE VILI (ATHLETICS).
  • 2008 HALBERG AWARD WINNER: VALERIE VILI (ATHLETICS).
  • 2009 HALBERG AWARD WINNER: VALERIE VILI (ATHLETICS).

Full Details can be found here and here

The 2004 triumph of the Tall Blacks is a similar award of the Halbergs to a non winner, their amazing 4th in the world championships is arguably an ever bigger non winning achievement.

It was also a great result for Winston Reid’s equalising goal as the Sporting Moment award. I was awake, ready to pack the kids off to bed after a competent, but anticpated loss.

But THAT goal changed everything. The kids were buzzing. They didnt want to miss the other games and the whole World Cup took on another dimension from that point onwards.

Enjoy these…

God on you Boys, well done!

New Clients for February

One month down already, plenty to keep fingers typing furiously. January has been full on. Some exciting projects either close to release or due to start soon.

Here are those new clients and existing ones with recent changes

Avalon Biddle – Awesome Bike Racer

We are proud to sponsor Avalon Biddle. She is an amazing person, racing a Honda rs125 amongst the men in the 125gp class here in New Zealand and Australia.

We provide her website services and it is a real priviledge to help her in this way.

Here is a great view of her doing a flying lap at Hampton Downs (around 240 kph down the straight and it still didn’t sound flat out!)

Well done Av! Check out her website here

Phishing Scam for Email Users

Another phishing scam is circulating, following the lines of similar ones over the last few years.

ie. Scare users into divulging logins and passwords by saying their access to something is finishing.

Fortunately, the link in the one a client of mine has sent me has been deleted, so the damage has been minimised. But these tactics appear all too frequently.

Here is the content of the email:

Date: 27 January 2011 10:30:54 AM NZDT
To: recipient address
Subject: Access to your e-mail is coming to an end

Good customer,

Access to e-mail is coming to an end,
We recommend that you upgrade your account, to avoid suspension.

Click on the Upgrade Now below to update your account.
Upgrade Now

Thank you.
Webmail.

Whenever you get an email that you are suspicious of, paste some of it into Google and see if it has been mentioned anywhere.

And remember, don’t click on any links you are not sure of.

Your WordPress Theme might be Killing your SEO

After repeatedly fixing up themes for SEO reasons, it gets a bit depressing that theme makers are not switched on about the basics.

A common occurance is when the title of the site and the description of the site is formatted with H1 and H2 tags, these tags are important for search engine optimisation purposes.

Repeating the same text in the H1 tag on every page does not allow you to focus each page on it’s specific function.

Here is an example of a header.php file that will generally have the top part of your site (header image, menu etc)

<div id=”header”>
<div id=”blog-logo”>
<h1 id=”blog-title”> <a href=”<?php bloginfo(‘url’); ?>”> <? bloginfo(‘name’); ?></a></h1>
<h2 id=”blog-description”> <? bloginfo(‘description’); ?> </h2>
</div>

As you can see the Blog Title is using the H1 tag and the Blog Decription using the H2.

When you get to the content (especially Pages), you find that the title of the post or page content is formatted using a less powerful Header tag.

The title of your content is an important piece of real estate that you cannot let slip by.

A second issue is that the Title that you enter into WordPress when you are creating your content. It is often used as the menu item for that page. Because of this people create poor titles as they create them as a menu label rather than a keyword rich title.

To get around these problems, I do the following:

Remove any Header Tag Formatting

Remove H1 and H2 tags from the header of the site (see above) and reformat with other styles if the blog title and blog description are necessary.

Remove the Post Title

Remove the post title from the content code (either page.php or single.php)

Example

<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>

<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?> <div id=”post-<?php the_ID(); ?>”  <?php if(function_exists(‘post_class’)) : post_class(); else : echo ‘class=”post”‘; endif; ?>>

<h3><?php the_title(); ?> </h3> <- remove this line

<?php the_content(); ?> <- this is the content of your post or page

Lastly, write Good SEO titles as H1 tags in the actual body of the post or page.

Example

It is important to check your theme to see if it has been managed in such a way that you can get the best out of your SEO. Some themes say they are SEO friendly but it is worth checking and making some simple changes if needed.

New Clients for the Start of 2011

December was a busy month, with plenty of works to be done before everyone went on Holiday.

Here are some of the new clients who came on board or have had new work done on their sites

For those new clients, welcome. To those existing clients, thank you for your continued business.

Getting to the Sharp end of the Wedge

Over the last few weeks there has been plenty of stories backwards and forwards about the quality of Google’s results, specifically that the quality is going down.

Google counter in an official blog post to counter that specifially by saying that search quality is better than ever (though conceding a short term increase recently)

Penned by Matt Cutts, it tries to convince people that Google are always trying to improve their results, that they take web spam seriously and they are implementing new changes to combat the new threats.

Google are in a different space these days than when they were fighting spam a decade ago.

Now they are the overwhelming search leaders and are beginning the attract the kind of attention that Microsoft has had to deal with due to their size.

Any small incident or problem will be leapt upon and made larger than life.

Reports generated by people with close links to opposition search engines will appear forcing Google and it’s fans to dispute the findings.

With webspam, the easy fight has been fought and mostly won. Computer generated content is easily found and algorithms created to weed them out. Each iteration from the spammers is met by an algorithm change at the Search Engines and the fight goes on.

But now we are talking about “low quality” content, often written by people (rather than scraped off other sites) for small amounts of money, on topics far and wide to capture and convert as much traffic as possible.

But here in lies the problem:

Most online business owners are in the game of creating content and hoping it drives traffic and revenue. Same as this new form of Web Spam.

What Google are complaining about is that this content does not add to the search experience of the end user. In their eyes, the end user clicks on a link that takes them somewhere that will not solve their question or provide the appropriate information.

So, does that mean that Google are now the arbiters of what is “low” or “high” quality content? These are much murkier waters than before and we trust that Google do this job properly, not to the detriment of everyday content writers that have something valid to say but may not be the most polished of journalists.

Plenty more ammunition for the anti-Google to fire up with.

Do you think this is a fight too far? Can you algorithmically determine high from low quality?

Spam Content that Makes you Laugh

I have a morbid fascination with the content of spam.

They ways that these people try and avoid the antispam brigade can be quite hilarious.

What I really can’t understand is when something is this bad, that people still respond.

Because, in the end, the proliferation of spam is collectively our own fault. If it didnt work, they would stop.

Here is the latest humerous additon to my spam collection.

Submit your own, and lets laugh at the spammers 🙂

Privet, my friend!

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. It is spring and love in my soul and the scent of beautiful lilacs fills the air in my imagination. And I cannot get you out of my mind, because I am dreaming to find your precious love. Can you guess what I would like to do for you?
I want to protect you from all of the injustices
in the world and carry you off into a blazing sunset.
I want to do all I can to make you happy and make you fill loved every day of your life. My honey, I am here for you, so do not make me wait for too long, because I am hunger for you love.

Hugs and kisses
Mila

Search Trends for 2011

Here is an interetsing video from Matt Cutts of Google with Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand, talking about future trends for search in 2011.

They talk about the increased importance of social media in influencing ranking. While still small, it shows a shift towards social as a means of determining importance of content on the web.

Towards the end of the video, they talk about how Google is trying to avoid the poisoning of somones persona on the web by taking multiple sources of information, reviews etc to try to weed out any malicious or extraneous reviews or comments. Matt says that they take over 500 sources to try and determine this, I wonder what they are?

Another important note, is that even though these sites are classed as social networks, if Google can’t crawl them, (possibly because of high security settings) then that information remains hidden and cannot be used in building ranking.

So will SEO now become more about the persona of the individual or company, will the “quality” of the persona be just as important as the “quality” of the links or the “quality” of the content?

The next big industry….Persona Management 🙂

Tis the Season to be Spammed – IRD Tax Scam

This is probably done all around the world, but even us in NZ get our own tax scam.

Sent supposedly from inlandrevenue@newzealand.govt.nz (The wrong address, the source says it comes from dukecmimpo01.coxmail.com) their real emails are ending in ird.govt.nz.

Tax Refund Form
Get Tax Refund on your Debit Card
*Please enter your name and a valid Debit Card where you want the refund to be made.
Please enter the following information here.

It then asks for Name address etc

But it then goes onto your Debit Card info. Now with Debit and Credit Cards being very similar in operation, giving up your debit card details is just as dangerous.

But since it is called a Debit Card, people may be less likely to think it is a scam.

While giving up your account number for direct crediting is relatively safe, any request for card details should be viewed suspiciously.

They even get a bit cheeky to cover their tracks

Note: For security reasons, we recommend that you close your browser after you have finished the refund process.

Is “like” the most powerful word in the world?

Such a small word, but surprisingly, it has immense connotations.

I got to thinking about this after watching The Social Network, the movie about Facebook, it’s genesis and growth.

In the movie Mark Zuckerberg, the “co-founder” of Facebook has a lightbulb moment; that peoples relationship status is an incredibly important part of a persons profile.

There are a number of key features in Facebook that make it so connectible and therefore so important to many peoples lives.

Most, if not all, revolve around sharing information: pictures, comments, links to sites, hobbies, interests, the list goes on.

But possibly the most important is the concept of Like

Like in itself is a very average word, you will not find Love on Facebook, nor will you find the ability to rate on a scale.

One thing that has been regularly asked for, but just as regularly ignored is the request for a dislike button (or hate as some people have wanted it to be called)

The fact that you can only make something positive, yet only averagely positive is a concept and can raise some interesting questions:

  1. If something has no likes, is it bad, or just invisible.
  2. How many likes = cool?
  3. Why is there no dislike or any negative option?

With the last one, Facebook probably don’t want to have to be moderating all of the dislikes, they have enough on their plate with hate pages and groups, objectionable picture uploads and more.

But while watching the movie, I started thinking about the word “like” and it’s links back to the sites creator.

Zuckerberg, as depicted in the movie, is a brilliant problem solver who has inspirational moments (seemingly when he is angry) to build social style websites.

Paradoxically, he seemed socially awkward and the first scene of the movie shows him being dumped by his girlfriend for his eccentricities.

Is it strange that someone who was obviously not moving within a social crowd was able to create and implement various things specifically around the social glue that we thrive on?

Is “like” an extension of this?

Until relatively recently, pages and groups on Facebook had Fans. These Fans were Facebook users that took an interest in a particular page or group and added themselves as a Fan in the same way Like was used for comments and status updates.

When Facebook changed all of the Fans to Likes I couldn’t understand the reasoning. The differentiation it brought seemed logical and fitted the nature of the Groups and Pages.

But I got the impression from the movie that Zuckerberg didn’t want Fans. He wanted people to Like what he did.

Maybe Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, or at least his socially hip and well connected shadow.

Reservation Scam

There are many scams out there, Nigerian, Phishing among others. I have just received an email with our first Reservation scam.

Here is the email

Hello,

I am John Jones the MD of GOD’S TIME TRAVEL CONSULTANCY, i will be interested to know if you could assist me in getting an accommodation for my 3 paxn coming over to your country for holiday.

Below is the details of my booking: Room Type. 1 Double & 1 Single rooms. check in : 20/ 01/ 2011 check out: 25 /01/ 2011 Number of guest…3 people. Days of stay…5 days NAME OF PAXJAMES DELAP (MR)

DIRK THOMAS (MR)

LILY THOMAS (MRS)

Get back to me on this ASAP, so that we can proceed with the booking. I will like you to know that all payment will be made before the arrival of my client via my secure credit card details.

Thanks. Regards.John Jones

So, it looks OK, not too scammy sounding, but the alarm bells ring as soon as I see a business with a “free” email address (Note to businesses, use your domain for your email, a gmail address is OK for a backup)

But there are a few other key pointers:

  • No specific reference to your company or specific details of goods or services
  • Promise of full payment in advance
  • Stilted english

Often the scam plays out by paying for goods in advance, then cancelling and asking for a refund, once the refund is paid, the original payment is returned due to a stolen card.

There are a number of variation on this theme, retailers are not immune either.

Be careful with emails that sound a bit strange.

The Internet is the Magnifying Glass of the World

Before the Internet stuff happened.

Since the invention of the Internet, the same stuff happens, so what is the difference?

The main difference is that more things are visible to everyday people. Things that were obscure for geographic reasons are no longer and can be viewed in all of their glory (or not).

But specifically, things are magnified. News coverage is more saturated than ever. If Obama sneezes, we have Richard Hammond slowing it down to super slowmo speeds and then goes viral on Youtube.

In some cases this is beneficial. (not the sneeze) Take things like the plight of victims. Whereas previously propaganda and the control of media meant that the plight of victims was reduced and in some cases eradicated with them, now with worldwide media being so openly available, it seems impossible for news to stay hidden for long. Cellphone video of protests and treatment of the protesters quickly spread via social media and video sharing sites.

Even in countries where media is closely monitored and controlled, it seems impossible to shut it out completely.

Is this a good thing?

I believe so. While there are always areas where this is turned into a negative; ie: invasion of privacy, paparazzi, Amercian Idol, the ability for anyone to publish news and make it available to the world is a great leveler.

Atrocities are now viewed with more balance. A prime example being the treatment of prisoners of war, prior to the last decade or so, none of the current reporting of ill treatment would have had the same coverage around the world.

What do you think, is this a good thing? Or are we walking a dangerous path?

New Sites

Well we have been busy over the last few weeks getting sites completed and with some other exciting projects underway.

Here is a list of the recently completed sites and changes:

Online Reviews – Good, Bad or Fake

Online reviews are one of the many great things on the web that are abused by some to either positively or negatively influence things.

For as many fake negative reviews on the web, I am sure there are just as many fake positive reviews out there. However, the negative ones are the ones that get the attention.

TripAdvisor, Google and many others provide the ability to submit reviews on businesses and products.

While a list of positive reviews are great for business,  a few negative ones can really put people off.

When you do get a negative review what should you do? Here are some tips for you.

  1. Respond quickly – as soon as you find a negative review, get on to it quickly. The longer the response, the more damage it does
  2. Acknowledge the issue – most people with a legitimate gripe about the product or service they are reviewing are doing it from a place of honesty. It is important that you acknowledge this
  3. Avoid “He Said – She Said” – arguments that happen on feedback sites can only end badly for the business involved.
  4. Don’t let it get personal or emotional – stick to the facts, be reasonable
  5. Move forward – each negative feedback is the opportunity to learn something and do better. If, in your response, you can indicate what you can do to make customers experiences better in the future, it will show your willingness to listen and take feedback on board.

Use negative feedback as an ideal opportunity to get better.

Here is an interesting video about the problem with fake reviews

Firefox is an Abomination – Unfortunately

Well I suppose it had to happen.

It was all going so well, good memory management, it was fast and had great addons. It was a no brainer to use Firefox as my default browser.

Version 3 was better than Version 2, this is how software evolution was supposed to be.

And the only reason I still had Internet Explorer on my machine was that I needed  it to test my websites.

Chrome was good and fast, but Firefox had all those great addons: FootieFox for my Football scores, WHOIS tools, ScribeFire for writing my blog posts and the best of the lot FireBug.

Alas, since 3.6.8 was released my Firefox utopia has been shattered.

It has gotten to the point that I have had to shift to Chrome. Had to, not wanted to.

The memory leaks were so bad, that after coming back from being away from my desk for half a day, Firefox was consuming over 1gb of memory, for only 4 tabs!

It got to the point where I was rebooting 3 times a day to maintain any speed.

Luckily, since I have moved to Chrome, my work experience is much better, the speed is back and I found that there was an extension for Chrome called Firebug Lite, I am Saved!

If Mozilla sort out the memory problems, I may go back. But the major problems need some serious tweaks.

Have you found your favourite Browser or other software made by non monoply (Microsoft, Adobe) etc has succumbed to bloat and decreasing performance?

Have they gotten lazy as market share has risen?

Twitter Spammers

Wherever there is opportunity and invention, you will find people who stoop low to take advantage!

I have had spam sent through Twitter, whether it be by spam bots or live spammers following me in the hope I follow back or Direct Messages if I am unlucky not to see through their spam disguise.

The most problematic version is using mentions to target people.

As an example, I got the following:

@deepwebdesign i got it today! yes!! http://bitly.thruhere.net/bluEt
From singh8567 via API

Now there are a couple of things that stand out here that make it look like spam:

  1. Default Avatar, spammers are lazy, but not even changing the default avatar is downright dumb. It is one of the first things I look at to determine if I want to continue on with this “person”
  2. Crappy Username, Nearly everyone I follow (if not all) has a well though out name as their username, not a name with 4 digits after it. Most likely singh8567 has been deleted 8566 times before now.

But the thing that really caught my attention was the shortened url.

Bit.ly is now the most common used url shortener and most people on Twitter and Facebook are used to seeing shortened urls. The risk is that a shortened url from a friend or follower is seen as a trusted source and is more likely to be clicked on.

Spammer use this behaviour to enhance the chances of their links being clicked. Twitter had a big problem with compromised accounts a while ago that were sending out urls designed to trick others to get infected.

Back to the tweet, you will see the url is http://bitly.thruhere.net/bluEt

So not bit.ly at all but thruhere.net.

This is a common trick used by phishers to make users think they are going to a trusted source. Since the shortened urls are often jumbled sets of letters, a url mistake is less likely to be detected.

I got onto longurl.org (where you can preview the destination of these urls) and the preview showed it to be a page about icons. Now the page may also have a more dangerous payload once you visit, I haven’t tried 😉

Look for the obvious signs of spammers, usually they follow similar patterns and can be spotted.

As is usual, spammers will evolve their techniques to continually challenge our ability to detect the bull.

New Sites by Deepweb

Welcome on board to these new clients, here are some of the work that has been done recently for new and existing clients.

Xerox Scan Email Virus

The tricks these guys try…

So I get an email, apparently a scan of an image from a Xerox copier sent to my inbox.

I am going to open the zip file that is attached? Um No!

This is what I see wrong with this one…

  1. Images don’t need to be zipped, it doesn’t compress them enough
  2. It was sent from someone I don’t know at admantech@nederland.8bit.be
  3. It’s incredibly vague.

Obviously targeting large organisations that have these centralised scanning machines that deliver documents in this way, but for the other masses, a real scatter gun approach.

Heres the text:

Subject : Scan from a Xerox WorkCentre Pro N 2918425

Please open the attached document. It was scanned and sent to you using a Xerox

WorkCentre Pro.

Sent by: Guest

Number of Images: 1

Attachment File Type: ZIP [DOC]

WorkCentre Pro Location: machine location not set

Device Name: XRX9679AA7ACDB40111008

For more information on Xerox products and solutions, please visit

http://www.xerox.com

Great Video on Blogpost Frequency

I get this question a lot, especially as I am doing many more blogs and CMS run sites.

I am definitely not in favour of blogging for frequencies sake. You need to make sure that the content you are adding is of value to your readers.

Think of these options for content:

  • Is it new? ie new creative content, stories, artwork
  • Is it a new angle on a news story? A new perspective or raises a point that has not been widely discussed.
  • Is it well researched?
  • Is it an opinion? Controversy is not necessary.
  • Is it an experience you can relate?
  • Can you solve a problem? (This is a great way to bring in the visitors)

All of these options will help you produce good quality content. If you can build a site that has regular good quality content, you will bring in the visitors.

One thing that Matt discusses, that I have found to be true is that generating new content does bring in visitors. It also feeds your readership. An increase in your subscriptions via RSS can be an indication of long term loyal readers of your content.

So while frequent posting can bring visitors, for SEO purposes write quality content. Coupled with a regular frequency, quality content will also hook your readers and keep them coming back. It’s called being Sticky!

Interim Management Training Assistance Scheme

If your business has fewer than 50 full-time employees, you may be eligible for financial assistance from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to partially cover the costs of management training courses completed between 1 July 2010 and 30 September 2010.

This is an interim scheme to continue helping business owners and managers to improve their management capabilities while a new network of regional partners and capability voucher system are established by NZTE.

Details about the NZTE Management Training Assistance Scheme are available at www.nzte.govt.nz/training.

New and Updated Clients

Welcome on board to those new clients of Deepweb, here are some of the work that has been done recently for new and existing clients.

iPhone 4’s Reception Problems

As a company who has high expectation about design and usability of it’s products. Apple really seem to have gotten it wrong this time, if reports of the difficulties with the iPhone 4’s signal reception bear out to be true.

I can’t believe that a product can reach production without an issue like this being known.

Was the leak of the iPhone prototype the cause of rushing the product before it was ready?

Reports of Class Action lawsuits and leaks of instructions call centre staff are to give disgruntled users are surfacing showing that the issue is real and that Apple are moving to, at least at this stage, play down the issue.

One of the responses has been to hold the phone a different way. I wonder if there is a specific Apple way to hold the phone, maybe like a secret handshake that they have forgotten to tell their followers?

I would expect that the design will be changed, quietly, but with over 1.7 Million units sold in the first few days, there are plenty of people out there with a potential handling issue.

Is this a case of aesthetic design overpowering functional design? Trying to be ahead of the other smartphones?

Steve Jobs runs a pretty closed shop, part of the reason why Apples reaction to the leaked prototype was so intense. A flaw like this would be a real dent in the PR armour of Apple.

Bruce Clay on Search

I love the Webpronews Videos, a great source of info, especially from presenters of Search and Marketing conferences.

This one with Bruce Clay, at 18 minutes long, is a great discussion around search, how it has grown, broadened in it’s nature to include Interactive Marketing and Optimisation on many levels.

He makes a few key points:

  1. The new first page is actually the top three, especially as results are continually refined and made more personal
  2. The distinction between Search and Find, Search being research based, looking for overall information, whereas Find is all about what is around me know, especially on Mobile
  3. How Google’s Caffeine update has made the “accidental long tail”, ie those pages that are found for a phrase when that page is not about that phrase, less findable while improving the rankings for intended long tail pages.

Check out the video for some interesting information

Will Adidas pay for their failed Jabulani Ball?

There have been plenty of criticisms of the Adidas Jabulani ball, to the point where FIFA have said they will look into the concerns about the ball.

Seems to me like it is a bit too late.

We are in the middle of their show-piece tournament and that FIFA have made this admission now (given their reluctance to even acknowledge the discussion on technology) shows they are not happy.

Adidas have a contract with FIFA to supply the ball for the next World Cup in 2014. They paid over USD300 million for the right to do so.

I think one of the key reasons for the problems with this ball is the significant change from previous models. There seems to be a complete change is feel to the ball and the way players are describing how it acts will mean that they have some getting used to it.

The fact that the first free kick to be scored from came in the last round of the group stages again highlights how long it has taken to get used to the new ball.

The Jabulani has been available to national teams for months before the finals, but given most leagues (Especially, the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A) use Nike balls, they could not be used consistently to gain experience.

Ironically, Germany’s Bundesliga was the only major European league to use the Jabulani in normal domestic matches.

I expect for the next games to play better as teams are coming to grips with it. But it shouldn’t take this long.

I would hope that Adidas are put on notice for 2014, to either provide a ball similar in characteristics to what is being used throughout the world or provide it much earlier for teams to practise with.

Unfortunately, with Nike’s domestic league dominance, if Adidas decide to push the boundaries again, we could have the same problem in four years time.

Should I get a .co TLD. Is it worth it?

I was asked by a client if he thought getting a .co address was worthwhile. To be honest I hadnt heard of any new TLD that had been created (TLD means Top Level Domain, ie .com, .net plus country codes like .nz)

In fact it is actually the Columbian country code that has been opened up to be registered by anyone.

So what’s the big deal?

In the sales pitch, the people running this launch have this to say: (found as a sponsor post on Read Write Web)

The .co TLD will provide companies with a TLD that represents “company”,
which is a viable and possibly even superior alternative to .com. With
the .com domain inventory nearly exhausted, .co gives businesses the
opportunity to brand themselves online to the fullest extent possible.

LEt’s break that down into it’s parts:

  1. .co to represent “company” a viable possibly superior alternative to .com – To be honest, I can’t see much to this, ok it is 1 character shorter and to some areas, like URL shorteners (apparently, Twitter is looking at t.co as an in house URL shortener) it is useful to achieve their requirements. But for the majority, overcoming the habit of the .com is going to be hard to break.
  2. With
    the .com domain inventory nearly exhausted, .co gives businesses the
    opportunity to brand themselves online to the fullest extent possible. – Excuse me, the .com space is not nearly exhausted, this is just an excuse for lazy marketers. Agreed, most simple words are already taken, but it is no where near exhausted.
    It also raises the possibility of more domain name disputes as existing brands have to fight again to save their brands form being hijacked.

As I mentioned before, .co is actually the country code for Columbia. I can expect some technical issues with the search-ability of sites with .co as their TLD.

Google bases it’s local and pre-filtered searches based on the TLD and/or the location of the server that a site is hosted on. As an example for a New Zealand company it is important that either the site has a .co.nz domain or is located on a NZ based server. This gives Google an idea as to who to provide results to for this site.

When you have a .com address on a US based server, you need to use Google Webmaster Tools to tell Google that your market is in NZ, if that is the case, as it not necessarily easy to determine this just from your content.

How quickly will this issue be fixed once the .co TLD is released. Similarly, Google will need to be told that your intended market is not Columbia, given that is what .co domain really means.

I believe this is a marketing opportunity, pure and simple. I cannot see any real credible reasons for creating this confusion between the established .com and a new ambiguous player in .co

My advice to people is to ignore .co. If you need a global domain, go for .com. If it is taken, look for creative ways to claim a .com domain, as I expect it will take many years (if at all) for the .co TLD to mean anything to anyone outside Columbia.

Please comment if you have received any correspondence about this, how are your registrars selling it to you?

Facebook Credits – And it Begins

I have just noticed Facebook Credits appearing on my Facebook page. I have been saying for a while, that a key shift for Facebook will be the implementation of some sort of Marketplace, to make Facebook a viable platform for businesses. Facebook Credits may be the start of this.

Part of the issue with Facebook as a business platform is that is was not designed as such, it was designed purely as a way of people connecting socially.

With this social mindset, users are not looking to Facebook to solve their “I need to buy” or ” I need to find” problems. If I am looking for Christmas presents, I do not think of Facebook as the first place to go to get something.

However, there are plenty of things being advertised through Facebook PPC ads that may be suitable.

Until Facebook changes the mentality of it’s users into thinking of Facebook as a viable e-commerce marketplace, the effectiveness of Pages as a marketing channel will be limited.

Imagine being able to go to Facebook, enter the marketplace and be able to purchase goods from local and international suppliers.

One key difference here is that Facebook ads are targeted at you, not who you are purchasing for, a marketplace could change this dynamic, by using profile data of your friends to provide you with good information to help make those purchases.

Would you use Facebook if it offered a targeted marketplace? Would you mind if your profile data was used to help others buy you cool gifts?

And it Begins….

The 2010 Football World Cup and the All Whites

I am an unashamed football nut, have been forever. I was young but remember the ’82 World Cup (I was even given some Spanish stamps commemorating it from a friend that went)

I have been reading and watching the current All Whites World Cup campaign from the early stages: relatively routine progression through the Oceania Group, the warm up game vs Jordan, then the nail biter in Bahrain in the first leg of the qualifier.

I was even lucky enough to be one of the near 35000 who was at the game on “that” night in Wellington.

But then the wait, six months before the true build up to the World Cup itself.

Expectations have been varied, from Ivan Vicelich’s possibility of getting past the group stages, to some of the bookmakers who were giving big odds for us even scoring a single goal.

Recent warm up games have given some optimism, that we will be at least competitive and not the walk overs we were talked as. But more than that, while our midfield is light, especially in technique, our defence is looking strong and the most pleasing things is that we actually look like a genuine threat at the pointy end.

I would expect us now to most likely score in each of our pool matches. If that is the case, we give ourselves the best opportunity to get results in every game.

Who knows, Ivan could be right.

Twitter Series – 7 Steps to Get Started on Twitter

With all new things it can take a bit of time to get into it. Here are 5 things I learned to make your introduction much easier.

  1. Make sure you add a photo (of you, or a logo) and a description in the bio section of your profile. People with the Twitter default profile picture are often robots and spammers and are often ignored by users.
  2. Find local people (Twitterers or Tweople) who you can interact with – you can do this by searching for place names in Twitter and in other Twitter Directories like Twellow.com
  3. Find people who have similar interests or are in the same industry (I have a list of Web and SEO people I follow). You can find these in similar directories like wefollow.com
  4. Use a program like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to make your interaction with Twitter much easier
  5. Don’t use Twitter to hard sell, especially at the start – you will look like a spammer, and people will not follow you
  6. Join in the conversation. If you find something that interests you – thank the person and provide things of your own
  7. ReTweeting is seen as a good thing. If you like something, retweet it – it then flows to your sphere of influence.

Twitter requires effort as it is a conversation. Find some people you have a common interest whether that is location or subject and make and effort to be involved in some of the conversations.

Using the Internet to Make a Point – Protest against Telecom’s XT

The internet has been hailed as a wonderful tool for everyone to be able to express themselves, whether that be for good or for bad.

There are plenty of bloggers out there who can write, just as there are plenty who can’t, but technologies ability to enable everyone with an internet connection to have their say has flooded the internet with voice and opinion.

Twitter and other social networks were lauded for enabling protesters to distribute footage and news of the Iranian elections and protests. Historically, these images would have been less likely to make it into the public eye.

While not as serious as protesters being killed during political demonstrations, the XT network has failings of it’s own.

Paul Reynolds hair has been widely acknowledged as the real winner amid the storm of publicity around the repeated failures of the XT network.

Who would have thought Trademe would have been the hub of one of the most intriguing protests of recent times.

Check out this auction of a Lemon (Sold as the XT Network)

Through the questions and answers section at the bottom of the auction, New Zealanders have been able to vent some frustrations at Telecom and their flagship mobile product.

Congratulations must go to the seller, for his efforts in replying to every question (well over 500) to encourage further conversation and comment about the networks failings.

If you have time, read them all (It will take a while), as it is a really funny read.

The auction closes later on today, but for a week (and who knows what will happen once the auction closes), XT was vilified, parodied and generally made fun of by ordinary New Zealanders having their chance to make their point.

The Phishers / Virus Makers have Hooked Amazon now

Phishing is all about getting people hooked, line a sinker, this time Amazon is the recipient of the Phishers focus.

It seems to be the usual DHL / UPS style scam, where a zip archive is attached to an email that carries the nasty payload.

Asking you to print the attached postal label to get your package.

As usual, delete these emails as they are nothing but a cover for a dangerous virus or scam.

Here is the transcript of the email

Goodafternoon!

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com
We have successfully received your payment.

Your order has been shipped to your billing address.

You have ordered ” Asus Eee PC T91Go ”

You can find your tracking number in attached to the e-mail  document.

Print the postal label to get your package.

We hope you enjoy your order!
Amazon.com
Attachment is called Postal_label_Nr234.zip

It is interesting to see these people targeting suppliers / vendors that have wide audiences. Removing any refernce to DHL or UPS as this is starting to get a little old.

I wonder how long it will take for the Anti virus brigade to recognise this new variant.

Avast Antivirus – Wow!

I have used a number of Antivirus programs over the years. I was a big fan of Mcafee back in the DOS days, moved onto Nortons when it came with my PC (Threw it away when it got too bloated). Tried a number of others and then settled on AVG.

AVG was great. It was free, wasn’t bloated like Norton was (I have been assured that the 2009 and 2010 versions are much better) and seemed to do everything, except custom scheduled scans, you needed to pay for that.

Over the last few years it has worked great for me and I have been through a number of versions, till the recent v8.

However, I noticed it too was getting a bit bloated, using memory and system resources that seemed a bit big while idle.

I thought I would try Avast.

It too is a free anti virus program, for non commercial use and has all of the current drop of shields including Instant Messaging, Web,Mail, Network and more.

Resource wise it was better, not to much between them, but it definitely used less memory than AVG. This was ideal for my laptop that only has 256mb of RAM.

After some toing and froing between versions, the newest version of Avast has been released, so installed this on the resource challenged laptop.

Well some of the initial tests have been quite stunning.

While the proof will be in the protection it provides (The previous versions seem to be good in that regard), the resource usage of this new system is quite staggering.

With AVG installed, the laptop idled once fully loaded at around 260mb (remember this only has 256mb of RAM)

With Avast this reduced to 195mb, around 65mb less. On such a tight resource budget this is huge. Updates and scans obviously take more cpu and RAM, but that is to be expected. Why waste resources when they are not needed.

Well done to Avast, they have made a good product even better, enough to get a WOW out of me!

You can download it here

Email Scam targetting mail users at specific domain

Well they keep rolling off the spam/scam production line.

This one pretends to be an email from mail support of a specific domain. As with all of these mass email scams, they don’t realise that the person they sent the email to manages all of the mail for that domain (Including the “support” that is mentioned in the email)

This is a phishing scam hoping to gain logins and passwords to try to gain access to mail (or if you are sharing login details) or other online services.

Here is a transcript

Subject: Your profile will be locked in response to a complaint received by the Administration
from: support-62@deepweb.co.nz

***This message was created automatically by mail-delivery software. Do not reply to this message.*** 

Hello!
Your profile will be locked in response to a complaint received by the Administration 29.01.2010 ?.
According to "paragraph 8 of the user agreement, deepweb.co.nz reserves the right to suspend or terminate the provision of services deepweb.co.nz, promptly notifying the user. 

Refute the statement may be, following this link:
<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="http://schwaber.net/472e3bb6">http://schwaber.net/472e3bb6</a>


If the application is not rejected within 7 days, your e-mail an account will be blocked.
It has a number 237242679231777. 

In the near future we will contact you.
It takes up to 3 days to process your request.
Thank you!
--------------------------------
Sincerely,
mail support service
deepweb.co.nz 

As you can see they are using shortened style urls to hide things, but it is unsophisticated as they use a completely unrelated domain as the link.

Most likely this will be handled by the antispam handlers, but shows these scams are still out there and are unlikely to go away.

Other variants of this try to dupe gmail users into giving their logins to the phishers

DHL, UPS Virus Email, What Next NZPost?

Many times there are things that show the US Centricness (Is that a word?) of the internet:

  • .com readily meaning US site
  • US date formats in online forms
  • USD as the default currency

Well another example is the idea that every country must use UPS and DHL for their parcels.

Why else would all of the post / courier etc virus emails sent all around the world have these two as the only options to use.

The phishers seem to have a better idea…use a local provider to have a better chance of success. (Even these guys get it wrong: Note to Spammers – I dont have any Commonwealth Bank of Australia accounts)

What is wrong with NZPost? I suspect that in any case like this, an email from a local bank / services company / postal service etc would be more troublesome to the local population.

So, look out for suspicious emails from local suppliers, and as should be usual practice, here are a few standard tips to protect you from email nasties:

  • Any email asking for any form of login / password should be treated suspiciously
  • Any email warning of a security breach should be treated suspiciously
  • Don’t click on any links in emails that you are unsure of, instead go to the website manually
  • Don’t open any attachment that is unexpected, this especially includes zip files
  • Keep your virus software up to date and make sure email scanning is turned on!

Let me know of any other tips or other virus laden emails you have had to send to your trash bin.

Twitter Phishing Problem or Twitter Security Breach?

I have received a Twitter email saying that:

Due to concern that your account may have been compromised in a phishing attack that took place off-Twitter, your password was reset. Please create a new password by opening this link in your browser:

Now, funnily enough, I don’t remember any phishing attempts coming my way, and by the number of similar issues that others are having, who also don’t remember any phishing attempts, it seems more likely a glitch at Twitter.

Phishing attacks are usually to capture logins and passwords so the attacker can gain access for some illicit purpose, but there were no bad tweets, no changing of settings, no damage I could see at all.

Again, none of the others I have read about have found any damage either.

I use some third party software and plugins to manage my Twitter account, so it could be one of those, but that isn’t phishing, that is a security breach.

No one seems to have any ideas, the closest I found was a reference to software such as Seesmic or Tweetdeck users having problems.

Some people were getting these emails ten times or more.

Here is a blog post about someone else’s experience (worse than mine, so far 🙂

Have you received one of these, have you had any issues resetting your Twitter password?

Let us know in the comments…

Is this the needed Push Out the Door for IE6?


Internet Explorer 6 is an old browser, in internet terms it is a dinosaur. Released in 2001, it has been the mainstay of peoples internet experience over the last 9 years.

The masses are often reluctant to change unless something pushes them along.

Firstly, Firefox gave users a good alternative browser to use (Better in my opinion)

Then came regular security issues, each time a further section of the browsing public moving to another browser. Most recently was the security hole that caused a breach in Google and over 30 other companies.

The key thing to note about this last issue was the speed and loudness of some governments urging people to look at other browsers to prevent further problems.

Some say that Firefox has overtaken Internet Explorer as the first choice in some countries.

However, there are still about 20% of the internet population using Internet Explorer 6.

I have now just read of Googles impending chang in in policy to cease support of IE6 from the 1st of March. This specifically deals with Google Docs and Sites, but shows a willingness to help push the remianing 20% into more modern browsers.

I support this as it has the following benefits:

  1. Wider support for the new HTML5 (IE6 would not be able to offer this new technology)
  2. Improved browser compatibilty with web standards
  3. Speed

It would be great if those 20% could not use Google at all, that would really send a message!

If you want to know more you can visit IE6 No More, a site dedicated to helping it disappear as soon as possible

If you use IE6, why don’t you upgrade?

New Clients for the new year, Welcome!

Well as usual, the run up to Christmas was frenetic with lots of things to get done before the break. It has been quiet for the last few days as many clients in this part of the world are either on holiday, or are in the Tourism industry and are working hard during the peak of the season.

So I thought I would list up the latest clients into the Deepweb stable, welcome to all…

Spam is a Great Source of Jokes!

Some of the more common recent spam comments posted on this blog and others are obvious spam, but have the added benefit of including jokes.

Some are actually ok. Here are a few recent ones…

  • Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because there were no chickens in those times.
  • What do you get when you play a country music song backward? You get your wife back, you get your job back, you stop drinking …
  • Why do hurricanes travel so fast? If they traveled slowly, we would have to call them slow-i-canes

So OK, they are not great, but make spam less annoying 🙂

Great Howto for 301 Redirects for Dynamic URL’s

I have recently moved a site over from an ASP content management system to Joomla.

One of the tricky things was creating the redirects for the pages on the old site to the new.

Normally this is easy enough when you are redirecting a static page to another static page. Unfortuntely the mod_rewrite in Apache that is responsible for doing the rewriting of the URL’s cannot manage parameters after file name in the standard way, ie:

I wanted to send oldsite.com/index.asp?id=1 to newsite.com/news

However, everytime I used the standard redirect:

redirect 301 /index.asp?id=1 http://www.newsite.com/news

I ended up with a URL like : http://www.newsite.com/news?id=1

So I found a great resource here >> http://bit.ly/5WLc8q

It broke down the workings of the redirect and included the followign example

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^id=1$
RewriteRule ^page.php$ http://www.example.com/content/page? [R=301,L]

Once I used my own page references it worked great.

A big thanks to Alex Juel ( http://twitter.com/seoholicc ) for this tip!

Igrin Email Scam

Local NZ ISP Igrin is the latest to be targetted for a phishing scam.

This one is quite crude as even the links look nothing like Igrin links

This message is from the webmail IT service, you are to provide to us the below information to re-validate your account due to spam.

What was the problem?

On November 27th, our servers were subjected to a malicious attack, which affected certain components of the operating system on some of our servers. Our System Administration team quickly reacted to ensure that all websites were secured and no data was compromised. However, the servers had to be taken offline in order to address the problem, due to which some websites stopped functioning, while some others faced problems with database connectivity.

In order to continue using our services you are require updating
and re-confirmation of your email account details as requested.
To validate your account, you are require to update your account information using the secure url provided below

http://www.pacnet-servers.co.cc/igrin/login.php.htm

Failure to do this will immediately render your account deactivated
from our database and service will not be interrupted as important
messages may as well be lost due to your declining to re-confirmed
to us your account details.

We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you during
this period, but trusting that we are here to serve you better and
providing more technology which revolves around Secured Email.

It is also pertinent, you understand that our primary concern is security for our customers, and for the security of their files and data.
CONFIRMATION COaDE: /93-1A388-480

IT Support Team

Don’t fall for this one. Igrin has a generic “We don’t ask for your login and password” message on it’s home page, I wonder if they have sent anythign out? I wonder what their policy on protecting their clients is?

If there is anyone from Igrin out there, can you let us know?

Jane Campion on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show

Webpronews did a piece on Kevin Pollak using the internet as a medium to overcome censorship and time restrictions of mainstream media formats.

Unlike Parkinson or other chatshows with 10-20 minute interviews, his internet only format has some interviews of over 2 hours.

The additional scope this gives can provide for some compelling interviews

He has done nearly 30 shows now, including one of Jane Campion, the New Zealand director of recently released Bright Star and earlier works like The Piano and An Angel at my Table.

I really like the fact that these interviews are unconstrained and allows the interviewee to provide in depth answers to the questions posed.

Also, the use of viewer questions from Twitter and the online chat room get real viewer participation in the show.

It was great to hear Kevin tell other celebrities to embrace new media and what benefits it offers.

IE6, What Do We Do About It?

Kick it to the Kerb?

That would be nice, as most web designers have come unstuck when a nice design fails spectacularly in IE6.

But unfortunately, there are still lots of people (over 30% in most cases) that are still using it, that is too large a number to upset with messages about compatibility and the like.

Some new designs from template makers will not work properly in Internet Explorer 6 and they provide warnings and encourage users to upgrade.

If you target corporate users, this is not a wise choice as some will still use IE6 across their organisation and IT are not keen to roll out IE7 or 8.

I have even recently visited a primary school that is still using IE6 in all of it’s classrooms.

For designers, testing in multiple browser brands involves installing the different browsers and testing as you go, however, my suite of browsers include:

  • IE8
  • Firefox 3
  • Firefox 2
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera 9
  • Opera 10

Notice that some browsers allow multiple versions to be installed simultaneously. This is a great thing for testing.

However, you can only install one version of IE, (there is a hacked version that allows older ones as well, but that seems a bit scary)

Recently, I found out about BrowserLab from Adobe, (Thanks @kalena) it is a great tool that lets you test browsers online without having to install them on your machine.

You enter the address of the site you want to test and the browsers you want to test on, and let it do it’s magic, you get presented with an image of what the result is for each browser.

Here is a list of all browsers:

  • Firefox 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 under XP
  • Internet Explorer 6.0, 7.0 and 8.0 under XP
  • Chrome 3.0 under XP
  • Safari 3.0 and 4.0 under OSX
  • Firefox 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 under OSX

Having Safari and Firefox under OSX is great too. No Opera yet, but I assume they will appear in time.

Good to see a useful resource hitting the web.

Do you have any web resources that you “must have”, let me know in the comments.

Domain Renewal Scams

There are plenty of domain name scams out there, I have spoken about SEDO branded ones, Chinese domain name scams and there are plenty of others.

They are all generally trying to trick you into either registering a name similar to the one you own or trying to encourage you to renew with them as opposed to your current provider.

What is common among most is that the prices they charge a far higher that they should be.

One that did the was the Domain Registry of America (wiki entry), they would send out renewal notices in the mail, hoping for someone to fill it out and send it back hoping they didnt realise that it was not from their provider or that the charges were much higher than normal.

Anyway, I got a similar email, today. The key things here is that it is for a legitimate domain, but the registration is for USD79.95 per year, far more than you can register or renew a domain.

With most scams, they use language to lure people into thinking they are legitimate, in this case talking about ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Now this service is not necessarily illegal, because anyone can renew any domain name, however, the issue here is the price.

Here is the transcript of the email.

Subject: Renewal Notice
From: “ISP Renewal” <notice@onlinereminder.net>
Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2009 20:34:58 +0100
To:registrant@yourdomain.co.nz
www.yourdomain.biz will expire 2009-12-08
In order to avoid loss or cancellation of the domain name use the link below to renew the domain name.
Click to renew your domainname: www.domainrenewal-online.org/for.php?d=www.yourdomain.biz
When we have received your payment we will start the renewal process instantly. You will receive a confirmation when the renewal process is completed.
Information
You recieve a reminder from us when you have a domain name that is about to expire. Domain Renewal monitors domain names and renews your domain names through your existing Internet service provider. If you choose to prelong your domain name please use the link above. You can also ask your existing domain provider to renew your domain for you. If you order us to renew your domain name, we will not make any changes in the whois information or change internet service provider. The only changes will be a new expire date. You can see the total fee for your renewal by clicking on the link. You can contact our customer center if you have any questions regarding your domain. The customercenter can be reached at  + 44 20 33 55 49 51.

Funky Cool Twitter App – Twitnest

This is one cool app regarding Twitter, It really doesn’t do anyhting but look cool, but aren’t the best apps like that 🙂

Twistnest takes your profile ID and builds a pictorial view of the relationships between those people in your Twitter network.

You can even highlight the connections for anyone on the page.

Have a look here : http://twitnest.appspot.com/nest/index.html

Brilliant!

New Facebook Virus Threat

These virus guys are busy, so soon after the DHL and Mail Server viruses, we now have a Facebook one. It will be interesting to see if people are getting wise to these forms of delivery, or whether the threat of losing access to Facebook will panic people into opening the attachment.

Again it looks like they are in the wild for a day or so before the virus software gets updated.

As usual here is the transcript

From: “The Facebook Team”
To: validemail@yoursite.co.nz
Subject: Facebook Password Reset Confirmation.

Hey validemail ,

Because of the measures taken to provide safety to our clients, your password has been changed.
You can find your new password in attached document.

Thanks,
The Facebook Team

Attachment called Facebook_Password_420ca.zip at the bottom

As always if you get anything suspicious, look at the Email Scams and Viruses category to see if it is there.

If not, let me know

Let the fun begin!

Combining Blogging and Twitter

I have been running workshops on Social Networking, talking primarily about Twitter Blogs and Facebook.

Once of the questions I am asked is which of these are most important, what should they focus on first.

As usual, there is no definitive answer, but it becomes more about :

  • What you want to achieve from social media and social networking
  • Who do you want to say
  • How much time do you want to apply to this

Twitter only gives you 140 characters at a time to talk aobut something, this is OK for many things: announcements, short comments, conversations, but not so good for somehitng more detailed.

This is where Blogs have it over most other forms of social media. The ability to be as brief as you like or as detailed as you like.

Also, your content is more permanent. Twitter tweets are much more “in the moment” as they pass in front of your followers.

Recent changes in search, where Bing and Google have both announced that they are entering agreements with Twitter to provide tweets in search results, means that what you say in Twitter will be available to more than just your followers.

So there is a place for both (or any facet of Social Media). There are plenty of addons that allow you to synchronise your entries across the different platforms (just make sure the duplication is appropriate for each audience)

Here is a video from Webpronews about Blogs (specifically Blogger) and Twitter and how you can get the benefits of both

Possible new DHL Email Virus

Wow, the virus / malware people are working overtime, my last post was about the Mail Server Upgrade scam / virus, now interestingly, a DHL email has slipped past my virus scanner.

In the past these have been picked up and have never been a threat, but this one got through, the email reads

Subject: DHL delivery service. Get your parcel NR.26252

Dear customer!

The courier company was not able to deliver your parcel by your address.
Cause: Error in shipping address.

You may pickup the parcel at our post office personaly!

Attention!
The shipping label is attached to this e-mail.
Please print this label to get this package at our post office.

Thank you for attention.
DHL Delivery Services.

As usual, there is a zip file attached. This normally trips the virus scanner,b ut not this time.

Hopefully the next virus updates will catch up with this new variant.

New Email Threat – Mail Upgrade Virus

I have had a couple of clients send on emails they have recieved with what seems to be a reasonably well crafted email describing an upcoming mail system upgrade.

The key thing is there is a link given to click on that in one email was direct to an executable file, assumed by me to be a file carrying either a virus or trojan program.

Another email had a link to a page on a website. (Which could easily redirect to a file download)

As with other emails of simialr technical nature, thsi one tries to talk in enough tech language to try and come across as legitimate.

Here is a transcript

From: System [mailto:System@clientsite.co.nz] Sent: Tuesday, 20 October 2009 12:20 PM
To: validemail@
clientsite.co.nz
Subject: Attention – Mail system upgrade

Attention!

On October 22, 2009 server upgrade will take place. Due to this the system may be offline for approximately half an hour.

The changes will concern security, reliability and performance of mail service and the system as a whole.

For compatibility of your browsers and mail clients with upgraded server software you should run SSl certificates update procedure.

This procedure is quite simple. All you have to do is just to click the link provided, to save the patch file and then to run it from your computer location. That’s all.

http://updates.clientsite.co.nz.secure.certificates-db.com/ssl/id=7721494943-validemail@clientsite.co.nz-patch6559.exe

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and sorry for possible inconveniences.

System Administrator

Another one, similar

—– Original Message —– From: “administrator” <administrator@clientsite.co.nz>
To: <validemail@clientsite.co.nz>
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 1:56 AM
Subject: Read carefully:Mail System Upgrade

Attention!

On October 22, 2009 server upgrade will take place. Due to this the system may be offline for approximately half an hour.
The changes will concern security, reliability and performance of mail service and the system as a whole.
For compatibility of your browsers and mail clients with upgraded server software you should run SSl certificates update procedure.
This procedure is quite simple. All you have to do is just to click the link provided, to save the patch file and then to run it from your computer location. That’s all.

http://updates.clientsite.co.nz.secure.certificates-db.net/ssl/id=798545139-validemail@clientsite.co.nz-patch2066228.aspx

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and sorry for possible inconveniences.

System Administrator

(urls changed)

It seems like some anti-spam has already picked this up, but if you see an email like this beware


IBM taking on Gmail

In my last corporate job we had Lotus Notes as our email / group-ware platform.

It was good for some things but was very poor at things that Outlook express did very well. It was really the group-ware and the integration with work-flow systems that really saved it’s bacon.

This was a few years ago now, I haven’t seen the latest versions, but the news that IBM are now pitching iNotes, their online email client, to people disgruntled with the GMail service.

One of the issues pointed out as why IBM are choosing now to make their move is due to outages of the Gmail service.

For those people paying for Gmail as a corporate service, they have more reason to complain (unlike those of us who use it as a free service)

But this quote from an article made me think…hang on a bit

Last month millions of business users could not access email for almost two hours.

Wow, an outage of 2 hours in a month, that’s about 2% of the working month, or in IT terms, an uptime of about 98%

With promised up-times quoted as over 99.5% for many online service this is obviously completely unacceptable! (Tongue firmly in cheek)

No one has mentioned whether this is a normal incident or a one off.

But come on, most computer networks have outages, I know that in that same corporate job, using IBM’s notyes platform we had some very lengthy outages, some even more than 2 hours!

So what did we do? We did something else and waited for the network people to sort it out, which they always did.

Far too much jerking of knees I think.

Parallels between Iran Elections and G20 Protests

History has always been written by the victors. In the distant past this was often because no survivors of the losing side were left alive to tell.

These days the advent of broadcast technology has allowed for both sides to get their stories to the masses.

When the fallout of the Iranian elections was happening, the Iranian government tried to stop the spread of news by attempting to block access to these broadcast media, text, mobile phones and the internet.

Twitter emerged as a key conduit for locals to be able to get 140 character snippets of information out, uncensored and definitely not what the government wanted people to hear.

Reading tweets today (24th Sept 09) saw a proliferation of people talking about the police actions against protesters in Pittsburgh.

Accompanied by a lot of the tweets were links to video and news stories covering the event. Youtube carried plenty of videos made by people at the locations where demonstrations were being held.

This widespread saturation of user generated content means that government officials, the police and others involved in these confrontations are more exposed than ever to what happens and the ensuing debate and discussion will have real evidence (especially video) to back up claims from either side.

Propaganda is much more difficult in these days of Twitter, Youtube and Civilian Reporters.

Real Feel Good Moment in Sport

Well this is a great story doing the rounds on the internet (the power of the viral story!)

Dad catches his first foul ball in Baseball, gives it to his three year old daughter and she throws it back to where it came from.

Not quite what Dad had in mind!

But his initial reaction and then hugging his daughter was caught on TV and has now spread via a combination of network news reports and the internet.

Here is the story in more detail

Great to see some good news stories coming out of sport in a week of Serena’s outburst, Formula One’s crashgate and the All Blacks losing yet again!

Here is one of the TV networks covering the story.

Philadelphia 6ABC Action News Story – Phillies vs Nats Fathers 3 year old tosses foul ball back

Muse – The Resistance out on the 14th September

For something a little different, my current fave Muse have a new album coming out on the 14th of September, what is interesting from a internet / technology point of view is the changing face of promotion of music.

With all of the wailing from the record companies about piracy and copyright infringement, the ways they are promoting upcoming releases is interesting.

As a Muse fan, I have been waiting for the new album. I have scoured Youtube for any footage and there has been some on there, especially the song Uprising. However, as each one is uploaded it is quickly reported for copyright violation and taken down.

So the record companies are actively trying to minimise any exposure of their products before they are ready.

The fact there are so many desperates (Like me!) looking for this, means there is a big market for this kind of pre release information.

So, we are only a few days out, and I read an article on Stuff today that has a Flash player with a preview sample of the songs from the album.

I have embedded the player here, not sure how long the link will work, possibly till the release date.

What it does show is a willingness to embrace the internet as a marketing medium and using it’s power of connectedness to improve the spread of the message.

What do you think of the recording industry (and the movie industry) using the Web and Social Media to market their upcoming products?

NZ, Sri Lanka, India Cricket Trophy is a Digital Photoframe

compaq-cup.jpgWell this can be taken two ways:

  1. It is a bold move into the digital age, or
  2. It is trampling all over tradition

I am leaning towards a bold move, but man, it is ugly.

As part of the Compaq Cup contested between New Zealand’s Black Caps and India and Sri Lanka, Hewlett Packard have had a great idea:

Rather than inscribing a name on a silver trophy, let give the gift that keeps on giving ie. a digital LCD screen that displays highlights, fan messages and statistics from the winning team.

While this seems like a great innovation, I have a word of warning.

Imagine the trophy cabinet after a few years of these being given out for a successful team (Say India, not NZ unfortunately)

It would look like a Noel Leemings TV display area.

Imagine the amount of energy it would need to power all of those screens. Not like a simple tin cup!

Philips Sensual Massager – ie Sex Toy

philips-sex-toy-massager.jpgWell there must be money in this sex lark, as Philips try to get in on the act with their up market massager, with models for him and her. You can see the site here

While Hitachi has been well know in certain circles for their heavy duty massager, not too many other large brand names have taken the plunge into this market.

By why not, estimated at USD97 Billion worldwide, it is a place where people are spending their money, and for some retailers, it is a market that is definitely recession proof.

At between $150 and $300, they are not cheap, but Philips seem to think there is a future in this industry for them

“We found that 40 per cent of couples were uncomfortable with the poorly made and often crude sex toys currently available. We will keep expanding both geographically and in products.”

So who is next? Sony, LG, Panasonic?

Adobe Contribute at risk from Business Catalyst Purchase?

We provide Adobe Contribute to quite a number of our clients. (From the Macromedia days too)

With the semi announcement (only semi, since Adobe haven’t released anything yet) it posed a question about where is Business Catalyst going to fit within the product offerings of Adobe.

Looking at what there currently is, the only thing I see is the relationship between Dreamweaver and Contribute. That developer / publisher relationship is what CMS is all about infrastructure-wise, the snippets of information released by Business Catalyst, show that GoodBarry, blogged about here, will cease to exists as a retail offering and the more “serious” Business Catalyst will be the sole offering.

This is not going to be an issue for a while, current users of Contribute won’t be disadvantaged for a few years at least if there is a discontinuation of Contribute.

I am wondering if Adobe is seeing “Software as a Service” being a new stream of revenue.

I liked their subscription service for their products, and with GoodBarry they were charging $47 (AUD I suppose) per month.

Possibly a way of generating additional revenue from a product like Contribute is to move to a web based system.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how Adobe will get behind the product.

Spring has Sprung – Welcome

Well September is here, Spring in NZ – Good times ahead.

So here are some of the people we have been working with in August

Crackerjack Fishing – Charter Boat in the Bay of Islands
DiveOps – Dive the Canterbury wreck as well as the Rainbow Warrior
Team Dilusi – Rally Team based up here in Kerikeri
Kerikeri High School – Local High School in Kerikeri
Flutes Bed and Breakfast – Accommodation in Whangarei Heads, have stayed here, brilliant!

Plus many more, it is good to be working with local business.

Does IE8 Make Your Buttons and Form Fields Small? Fixed

Had this problem for  a while, but since I use Firefox mostly, it hasn’t been too bad.

Anyway, I decided to find a dsolution and Google Help came to the rescue

The link is here http://bit.ly/d4mC2

Here is the solution

Go to Tools, Internet Options and select the Advanced tab.  Under the Browsing section remove the tick from “Enable visual styles on buttons and controls in webpages” and click on OK, the change should be instant.

So, a nice and easy fix, Thx to mooredc54 for this.

Domain Name Scam Cleverly Disguised

There are plenty of domain name scams out there, ones that pretend they are your registrar, but fool you into transferring your domain to them, others that try to get you to register other extensions (See Chinese Domain Name Scams)

This one is a little difference, in that by using words like: Domain, Register, Renewal, Expire they try to look like a domain name renewal notice, but in fact they are selling “Website Search Engine Submission”

At USD $75 per year or a great deal at $295 for 10 years, it is preying on thos ebuisness owners that see the trigger words and reach for the credit card.

Don’t be fooled.

Here is the transcript received by one of my clients:

Attention: Important Notice

  DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE
 
   Complete and return by fax to:
 1-646-385-7542

 47-47 36th Street #16452
 Long Island City, NY 11101
 United States of America
  ATT: CUSTOMER NAME
  ADMINISTRATIVE CONTACT
  COMPANY NAME
  COMPANY EMAIL
  Address Details Here
  WWW.COMPANYNAME.COM
  

  Domain Name: COMPANYNAME.COM
 Search Engine Submission
 
  Requested Reply
 August 18,2009
   
PART I: REVIEW SOLICITATION
Attn: CUSTOMER NAME
 As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your registration and save.
 
 Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.
 
 Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering. Search engine subscription includes domain name search engine submission. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below unless you accept this offer. Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
 
 This Notice for: WWW.COMPANYNAME.COM will expire on August 18,2009 Act today!
  ————————————————————————————————————————–
 
    DETAIL OF SERVICE: ANNUAL WEBSITE SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSION FOR DOMAIN NAME WWW.COMPANYNAME.COM

  Detail of Service:
 SEARCH SUBMISSIONS
 
  Reply by Date:
 8/18/2009
 
  For Domain Name:
  COMPANYNAME.COM
 
 *100% SATISFACTION IS GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK
  
  Select Term Your Existing Domain Period Covered Price
   
   COMPANYNAME.COM
  [ ] 1 year 8/18/2009 – 8/18/2010 $75.00
  [ ] 2 year 8/18/2009 – 8/18/2011 $119.00
  [ ] 5 year 8/18/2009 – 8/18/2014 $199.00
  [ ] 10 year -Most Recommended- 8/18/2009 – 8/18/2019 $295.00
       
   Please ensure that your contact information is correct or make the necessary changes.
   
   
   Full Name: Customer Name Email: Customer@companyname.com
 
  Phone: _____________________
   Today’s Date: _____________________ Signature: _____________________
  

 Option 1:
  Payment by Credit Card
 PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN BY FAX: 1-646-385-7542
 
 
 Option 2:
  Payment by Check or Money Order
 Print and mail a copy of this order form along with a check or money order to the address listed below:
  
  Domain Services
  47-47 36th Street #16452
  Long Island City, NY 11101
  United States of America
  
  Please do not forget to include a copy of this order form along with your payment!
  
  ————————————————————————————————————————–
 
  By accepting this offer, you agree not to hold DN liable for any part. Note that THIS IS NOT A BILL. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated unless you accept this offer. The information in this letter contains confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the DN. This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above. There is no pre-existing relationship between DN and the domain mentioned above. This notice is not in any part associated with a continuation of services for domain registration. Search engine submission is an optional service that you can use as a part of your website optimization and alone may not increase the traffic to your site. If you do not wish to receive further updates from DN send an email to wdsrv7861@operamail.com to unsubscribe. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents for this letter is strictly prohibited. * 100% satisfaction guaranteed, you may request a refund within 30 days.

There is plenty of clues in here to ring some alarm bells. Any kind of solicitation like this should be viewed sceptically. Some may be OK, but in my experience, they usually are not.

Let me know if you have received the same letter, or other similar ones.

Gem Heist – I have a Question?

Isn’t the make up artist now the most important person in the enquiry?

If you haven’t heard, there was a huge gem heist from a jewellery store in England where the robbers had an unaware makeup artist give them new appearances for the job. Cost them GBP350.

This make-up artist must have a very good idea about what they looked like prior to the job.

Shame to police took the 350 pounds as well.

Bad week for him, first he helps with a robbery, then loses the money he was paid.

Movie Studios Digging their Claws in

The Movie Studios are hardening their stance on the new revision of the copyright law under discussion.

They are not happy with the most recent revision that includes a judicial review.

Tellingly, one of their complaints is the possibility of the process being bogged down in red tape, therefore making it difficult for them to deal with copyright infringers.

On the other side, the Creative Freedom Foundation are determined that there is “due process” and that the studios will not be able to run the process to the detriment of consumers.

This disagreement is only about the last part of the process, where a repeat infringer who has not been swayed from infringing by warnings, is refered to a copyright Tribunal with the possibility of internet account termination.

I still believe that the warnings are going to deal with most of the problems, as there will be plenty of people who will continue until they are threatened with a warning.

I also think that “due process” is necessary to protect consumers from heavy handed tactics by copyright holders.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses.

Xtra/Yahoo NZ back in the Search Hands of Microsoft

binghoo-logo.jpg

Will it be Binghoo or Yabing?

With the announcement that Microsoft and Yahoo collaborating on search for a 10 year license term, one of the key outcomes is that Yahoo search will now be powered by Bing, the new Microsoft “Decision Engine”

After Xtra ditched MSN and went to Yahoo, Microsoft is back in the fold.

Regulatory issues in the US could mean we won’t see “powered by Bing” at the bottom of our Yahoo results for a couple of years.

So what affect will this have on the search market in New Zealand?

Not much.

It is pretty hard to compete with a competitor has over 90% of the market. The only thing I could see is that they might actually make an effort to increase their share. With each owning less than 5% share, it was even more futile. So now they have a chance, albeit a very slim one.

Microsoft will have access to key Yahoo technologies to make Bing better (Can’t see how this is good for Yahoo in the long run, past the 10 year license) and in Steve Ballmer’s words, reported by Danny Sullivan from the press conference.

Burden on Microsoft to deliver the goods and enable Yahoo to be successful

I think the key issue here is that Microsoft and Yahoo have finally decided that they will only be able to compete with Google when they stop fighting amongst themselves and consolidate their effort against a common enemy. Again as reported by Danny Sullivan:

Carol Bartz, Yahoo CEO: it’s hard to be a long term leader with Microsoft and Google keep stealing your employees

So I expect it will be a drawn out process, no surprise launch like Bing a couple of months back, but it will be an uphill battle for both to finally prevail as the No 1 search engine here and internationally.

Contextual Ads – AC/DC and Hells Angels

After reading an article about patch bans in Wanganui and the legal challenge to that ban by members of the Hells Angels, my eyes caught the contextual ads that were being served up.

Now I am not sure how these ads are served, they are not Adwords, or other obvious PPC ads. They seem to be generated by the INL ad bureau.

What caught my attention was that AD/DC was being advertised on a page mentioning Hells Angels. (I have also seen other ads relating to mens issues, Expedia, IRD, NZArmy, Sky TV and others)

Now, upon looking at the code of the page, the Javascript that runs the ads, states that the keywords that are triggering the ads are: (exact content, non capitalisation included)

  • Hells Angels
  • Wanganui
  • gang patch law 

Now with Ad servers I have worked with, advertisers can choose the keywords they want their ads to be triggered by. It is also possible, that they are just on a site wide rotation.

However, it is interesting to see what keywords and what advertisers are appearing for this kind or article.

If the ads are keyword triggered (which makes sense from a targeting point of view, you don’t waste as much money), what was the keyword that worked?

Was the targeting deliberate or just accidental, if it is deliberate, are they aware of what articles their ads are appearing in?

This issue is common in generic news sites, especially when some keywords can be wildly different (Wanganui vs Hells Angels)

The Growing Use / Influence of Social Networking

As a web professional, I try to look at and investigate new ideas, trends, and concepts that appear in the industry.

Not only because they may work for me, but also so I can give advice on these topics to my clients, coming from some if not much experience.

Take as an example my Facebook and Bebo profiles.

I initially started both up as an exercise to see if either would be beneficial from a business point of view. In the process of doing this I have started to use Facebook, but not Bebo.

This is basically down to two things:

  1. Facebook was best connected to my social network
  2. It seemed to work better

In looking at these two products, I can now talk to my clients about them with some experience.

All advice is clouded by the experiences of the giver, but I believe it is better to have this experience, however small.

The by product of this is that I am now a regular Facebook user, not only for work, but for personal reasons. My wife and I have Bejeweled challenges each week!

So as a web / IT professional, the emergence of these technologies and our need to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable about them does mean we spend time and effort immersing ourselves.

Twitter is another good example. One we cannot ignore due to it’s explosion of popularity. I am now about to do workshops on Web 2.0 and social networking, talking to people about these products, services and the concept of social networking as a business tool.

But here is the crux for me. Twitter became much more usable, effcient and meaningful, not because Twitter is so cool, but because I found a tool (Tweetdeck) that makes it work for me.

Having to refresh my Twitter stream each time I wanted to check, made it more remote and less engaging.

Now, having notfications, means that I am now using Twitter as a real communication tool.

I believe that the emergence of these tools to augment and improve on the great ideas on the net is key to the further success of these concepts.

After looking at the specs for HTML 5, the reliance on client side applications to enhance websites like Twitter looks like to be disappearing, to the point, where HTML 5 may make web apps as interactive and functional as desktop applications are now. (At least that is what Google seems to be heading towards)

What tools do you use to enhance your online experience? What has been a real “key” to getting more out of an existing service?

Leave me a comment and let me know

HTML 5 – The future looks bright

HTML 4 has been around for many years, and it looks like the newest incarnation HTML5 is going to make some serious changes to the way the web works.

Here is a video for those who are interested (it is over an hour long, and targetted at a technical audience, but very informative)

Here are some Highlights:

  • Offline Storage including offline database storage
  • Adding video will be as simple as adding an image to a webpage
  • Forms will be much simpler, yet complete (things like calendars for dates etc)
  • Geolocation API’s so you can get the location of a mobile device via the browser
  • Drag and Drop
  • Better interaction with the Operating System
  • Canvas, being able to generate images dynamically

So there are plenty of cool things coming. Alreadt Google Chrome, Safari and a few other browsers (including iphone and android mobile devices) are already handling HTML5. However, there are not many websites that are written in HTML5 to take advantage of this.

Older versions of Internet Explorer (version 6 and older) won’t work as it is too old and one fight will be getting people to upgrade their browser so they can access these new features

We may be building dual websites for a while!

A More Sensible Process for Enforcement of Copyright Violations

I posted about the imminent revised copyright law (Section 92a) being published.

I must say that the process put forward does seem to make sense and the threat of disconnection can only be issued for repeat offenders.

While some are still not happy with this being the ultimate punishment, it will mean that there will not be mass disconnections that some are predicting.

Here are the stages:

  1. Complaint made to the ISP of the alleged infringer. ISP notifies the subscriber of the complaint
  2. If further infringing occurs a cease and desist order would be sent to the ISP to pass on to the subscriber
  3. If there is further infringing, the complainant could apply to the Copyright Tribunal to get the contact details of the subscriber.
    (This can then be used by the rights holder to communicate directly with the subscriber)
  4. If this communication is not successful in preventing further infringing, the Copyright Tribunal would convene to hear the case and impose penalties that could include fines or disconnection.

That is a pretty involved process.

Most people who are unwittingly violating copyright, would cease at stage 1, especially if the exact nature of the infringement is spelt out.

For people to get to the latter stages of the process, I would suggest they are either a shared IP with no easily identified source, of someone who does not care about the consequences.

The way the law is used by the right holders will be key as to whether the approach is successful, will we see a mass of complaints about all and sundry sent so the rights holders can assert their influence on the market?

I still think education is important and a agreed set of guidelines are produced to clear up grey areas including Youtube and other sites that can mix legal and illegal items on the same site.

Submissions close at 5pm on Friday 7 August 2009 and may be sent to: copyrightact@med.govt.nz

The Section 92A Review Policy Proposal Document is available at: www.med.govt.nz/section92a

Copyright Law in NZ recommendations due shortly

After the Black Out campaign gained some time for reasoned thought about the new copyright law, the new recommendations are due shortly about it’s implementation.

The previously drafted legislation called for termination of infringer’s internet accounts for repeated copyright violations. This created the Black Out backlash and so now we wait to see how things will be treated this time.

The Creative Freedom Foundation say that disconnection is disproportionate to the crime while interestingly internet access has been claimed an “essential utility” by people in the UK.

InternetNZ also think that disconnection should not be considered.

However, things point to a revised version of the original law with a level of Arbitration to decide on terminations.

I think that a series of warnings and increased fines would be sufficient to deter most people, and termination only avaialble if all other preceding actions have been ignored by the user.

This would alleviate the issue with users being scared of disconnection for unknown violations.

It would also help provide safety for those parents who are unaware of their children’s internet activity.

Any legislation of this kind must also be delivered with some clear definitions of what is infringing content.

What do you do about Youtube? Myspace, Blogs that may have infringing information on it. It would make more sense dealing with the source of the information than the end users.

These things need clarification before any measures are taken to ban them.

Once we have an announcement I will post again on it’s content.

I Love TweetDeck! Best App for Twitter

Twitter is becoming clearer.

Now I have TweetDeck, Twitter becomes a much better experience, I now know when someone I am following has posted something up, and it even allows me to reply from within TweetDeck.

Now the thing with TweetDeck, is that it is a program you install on your PC, think of it like Outlook for Twitter (Though much better and definitely not a Microsoft thing)

I means you do not have to refresh twitter to see what people are saying. It also means you can get notifications when there are new tweets in your stream.

I can see when I have been mentioned (@deepwebdesign) and also a list of my direct messages to other Twitter users.

But the real benefit, it to create groups of users so you can filter out the people you really want to hear from and leave some of the noise behind.

I can’t believe how much it has changed my Twitter experience.

The only downside is that it is a bit memory hungry (over 100mb of user memory when running, written in Adobe AIR)

But overall one of the few apps I am really happy about.

Click here to download TweetDeck

They also have TweetDeck for iPhone

Using Web2.0 to promote Dan Brown’s new book “The Lost Symbol”

Doubleday, the publisher of Dan Brown’s new book has announced that a series of puzzles will be used to promote the new book.

“codes, cryptic trivia, puzzles, secret history, maps, aphorisms”

These will be made available through Twitter and Facebook.

It is an example of the growing influence social media is having on the entertainment industry.

This looks like his Twitter profile, and his Facebook profile is here too.

I might be keeping an eye on these ones, looking forward to the book!

$75 Free Advertising on Adwords for NZ businesses

This is a real winner, Google is providing $75 worth of free advertising on Adwords for NZ businesses that have not used Adwords before.

Google Adwords Offer

As a response the the current economic climate, the campaign is titled “Google Business Stimulus Offer” and is available till the end of August.

I recommend people take advantage of this offer, Adwords can be a great way to generate business.

Get in contact if you want to know how it works, click here or call on 0800 333 793

ReTweets are Twitter Referrals

In the world of Twitter, ReTweets are becoming the defacto method of recommending content.

While you can create your own Tweets and use a URL shortener like Bit.ly (my favourite) to point someone to a web page you like, ReTweets are the simple way to do it.

However, the page you want to retweet needs to have the required buttons to do it.

The best one I have come across is Tweetmeme, it is a great site in itself, showing the most retweeted items, but even better, it has widgets available to add the retweet function to your website.

From a full API to widgets and buttons, it has a full suite of tools to incorporate the Retweet into your site.

To add a ReTweet button to your site, go to the Buttons page on Tweetmeme and either incorporate the Javascript code into your page, or if you are using WordPress, there is a plugin you can install that will add it automatically to your posts.

You will see it below this post.

Firefox 3.5 is available for Download

For those of you who do not use Internet Explorer, Firefox have released version 3.5 of their browser.

You can download it from here if you don’t have Firefox or if you are viewing this from Firefox, you can request it by going the the Help menu and choosing “Check for Updates”

Supposedly with a raft of new features and increased speed too.

I have just installed it and we shall see how it goes.

My only gripe is that Firebug hasn’t been updated, so this great tool isn’t available yet. Hopefully it wont be too far away.

I have also upgraded Internet Explorer to version 8, I’ll try them out for a week and see how they go.

PersianKiwi and the dangers of using Twitter in Iran

No one knows if “Persian Kiwi” or PK has any connections to New Zealand, however, it has definitely captured the attention of some media in New Zealand.

What it doe though is highlight how Twitter has become a key issue in Iran.

With the Iranian Government stopping the access to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, users have been determined to find ways of accessing these sites via proxies around the world.

Now it looks possibly like those who have succeeded in making it past the censorship gates are now being hunted by the government.

It shows how as time moves on and things progress, the same things happen in more modern ways.

I love this song by the Propellerheads (with the amazing Shirley Bassey) call History Repeating, where the key phrase is:

I’ve seen it before….and i’ll see it again

For Twitter, read Pirate Radio, read Rock n Roll.

The message will get out, Twitter is just the current medium.

One key difference is the access and the huge ability to disseminate information widely around the world.

Access because you can post to Twitter via your mobile phone or anywhere with internet access (providing you can circumvent the blocks)

And the ability to disseminate the information via the internet is so huge these days, and the inherent nature of the social networking sites makes this even easier for viral explosions of news and current affairs

Attack on Rugby Player Made Up

I posted earlier about a French Rugby player who was attacked on his way back to the teams hotel after playing the All Blacks in Wellington.

After pressure from the NZ Police based on their investigation he has admitted to making up the story to cover up his being drunk and falling over a table.

The award for stating the obvious must go for this

“I panicked and I dug myself deeper into a hole.”

Now the reputation clean up begins

Police Hoping for Internet Video Footage to Catch Assailants

Mathieu Bastareaud was attacked on the weekend after his tram has lost to the All Blacks on Saturday night. After leaving a venue to return to the team hotel he was attacked and suffered a suspected broken eye socket and needed four stitches to his face.

What makes this interesting, is that since there appear to be no witnesses and Bastareaud was unsighted, the police have said they are looking for footage posted on to the internet by the attackers.

Wellington area commander Inspector Pete Cowan said it was possible one of the attackers may have recorded the incident on a cellphone and police were monitoring the internet in case any footage surfaced.

Now, there have been plenty of people caught in the past from video footage of fights (in schools and other places), but have the Police now made it less likely the attackers will post the video knowing the Police are looking.

The lure of the infamy may be enough for these people to post the video, or they may not read or listen to the new, but it does seem strange.

Maybe they should monitor Twitter for mentions of it too.

What’s Hiding Behind That Shortened URL

TinyURL.com, bit.ly and the new su.pr from Stumbleupon are all tools you can use for shortening URL’s, especially useful for Twitter and other micro blogging sites due to their limitation on each message.

However, I had never thought of the possible implications of shortened URL’s, primarily the ability to hide any references to bad sites hosting malware, phishing scams etc.

I found this in my server logs when someone used longURL.org to expand one of my shortened URL’s for a recent post, most likely found on my Twitter account or Digg as these are common places to find shortened URL’s.

It really made me think about how blindly we click on shortened URL’s expecting them to go to where the description says they will.

Have you had any bad experiences with shortened URL’s taking you places you hadnt expect? Is this a huge problem waiting to happen?

Real Time Search with Collecta

With the launch of Bing and some of the responses by Google, Collecta is a new small player, that could actually be a forerunner for Real Time Search.

Using Google, Yahoo or Bing, finding social content has been difficult. Twitter, Facebook and other social sites have not been well indexed.

People often use Twitter for their real-time search, but it only searches Twitter, Collecta seems to get its data from many sources including :

  • Blog posts
  • Comments of Blog posts
  • Updates from Twitter, Jaiku, Identica
  • Photos from Flickr

Doing a search for “deepweb” (I had to do some market intelligence ) http://www.collecta.com/#q=deepweb gives up my most recent Twitter updates, which are also some of my latest blog posts, via Twitterfeed, plus an item from Reddit

The major search engines havent really tapped into this area of search yet, it will be interesting to see if Collecta can make some decent inroads before the big boys catch up.

It looks to be a great to for market intelligence so you can see where you, as well as your competitors show up in the social networks.

I have heard of some downtime and teething issues with Collecta, however in my few searches, it has worked fine for me.

Key Ranking Factors from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz

I love the video section at Webpronews, they have plenty of interviews as they travel the conferences including PubCon and the most recent being SMX Advanced in Seattle.

This video is one of the better ones as Rand Fishken covers off some really key findings from data collated on factors in ranking high in the search engines.

Some of the key points I thought were:

  • Optimised Title Tags are very important (can’t emphasise this enough)
  • H1 Tags (Generally the main heading) are not as important as expected
  • Onsite optimisation (Content, keywords, alt tags, description and title) only seems to make up around 25% of the ranking factors, the rest are inbound link related 
  • Links from separate domains are important, rather than many on one domain

Have a look at the video, it is a good insight from one of the acknowledged experts in the field.

The age of the Attention Seeker

All bow down to the internet, that which allows us all to publicise ourselves to the world.

I blogged a while ago about the guy made famous for the phrase “Don’t Tase Me Bro” when he heckled a political address, which appeared to be a choreographed attempt for attention.

The power of the internet now provides the platform for anyone to have their say and be heard. Even Ashton Kutcher is talking about social media democratising the internet.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog. You may have read about the blogger who wrote about a fictitious pregnancy and who chose to carry her terminally ill child to term rather than have an abortion because of her deep Christian faith.

This is another example of the behaviour that the internet can drive. The lady in question, Rebeccah Beushausen, has apologised for her actions:

In her apology, Beushausen said she began writing the story as therapy but became addicted to the attention it generated. She said she lied “to a community of people whose only intention was to support me through this time and that is wrong, and for that I am sorrier than you could know.”

It is the addiction to the attention that fascinates me. I know when I have a blog post that generates plenty on visitors and comments, I get a bit of a thrill knowing that people think I have something interesting to say. (I hope that is why they read it 😉

Addictions can be powerful things and the internet is an ideal vehicle for addictions to be fed. Online gambling is hugely popular (a post I did on online poker is my most popular!), and adult content is easily accessible to those who want it.

We just need to be able to tell the difference, this hoax went on for two months before being found out. While not overly damaging, it was interesting to see some of the comments about any repercusssions:

Police Sgt. Randal Stumpf said his department was not investigating.

Don Blumenthal, an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University who specializes in Internet security and cybercrime, said it’s difficult to prosecute such cases.

It’s hard to establish jurisdiction and even that a crime has occurred, and few people have the legal skills to prosecute such cases, said Blumenthal, who previously led the internet investigations center at the Federal Trade Commission.

“It’s an area of law that needs a lot of development,” Blumenthal said.

All hail the attention seekers!

The Twitpocalypse – Oh dear

Will it rival Year 2000? Will it make the world grind to a halt?

Of course not it’s only Twitter, but for some it is the end of the world as we know it if Twitter goes off-line.

Just like those people who need therapy every time their Blackberry stops working, Twitter is an addiction for some and the news that Twitter may have a capacity problem shortly, has people all a twitter (and adding to the potential problem by twittering about the subject, duh)

I haven’t gotten o the point where Twitter is a big deal to me personally or that I am ultra reliant on it for business, however, there are businesses that are reporting more and more successes from using Twitter to market themselves, these are the people that need to be the most concerned.

To me, it will be, well…. meh

Now if my internet access failed, now that would be the end of the world!

Claiming David Bain is guilty online could get you sued

Reading Stuff today, I came across an article that talks about how posting comments claiming that a person is guilty of murder (in this case David Bain) can get the poster in trouble.

I know that there are some really blurry lines when it comes to what you can and can’t do online. Most people will be unaware of the risks they may be taking by (in some cases) commenting or speculating about legal matters.

For the record, David Bain was found not guilty of murdering his family 13 years ago in a retrial.

There are Facebook groups you can join called “David Bain is Guilty”

Legal opinion in the article says that these people are open to defamation cases if Bain decided to take action. Whether he would bother after 13 years of fighting the original conviction is up for debate, but it hilights a real issue in the openness of the internet and the ability to discuss and provide opinion on current events.

One key commnet was this:

People could also be sued if they wrote on their personal Facebook page that Mr Bain was guilty.

“(Also)
if they put it up on somebody else’s site, then if David Bain wanted to
sue he could sue either the person who posted it or the person who is
hosting the site, or potentially the web server (ISP) itself,”

The culpabilty goes far and wide, not only the poster, but the site owner, host and ISP.

I don’t expect this to cause people to stop commenting or tweeting about current events, but it does show that the laws have not caught up to what is happening online.

In a separate case showing some judges are getting a better grip on it, name supression was denied due to the inevitability that the names would be found and published.

Is this a good thing? Name suppression is there for a very good reason. How well the legal system adapts to the online age and particularly social networking will be interesting to view.

Huge nomination for Sidhe at E3 Games Awards

New Zealand’s own Sidhe Interactive and their new game Shatter is up for an award after unwittingly keeping one of the 1Up.com journalists on the game for a half hour, after only intending to have a go for 5 minutes.

To me it looks like a super suped up version of Arkanoid, some levels played in spheres, huge power ups, explosions and much more.

Will they win the “Best in Show” category?

They are starting to get a bit of notice, and mentions like this can only help. Releasing Shatter on Sony’s Playstation Network will mean that it will get some airtime and if it is as addictive as indicated they could be on to a real winner.

Well done guys!

Opera 10 Look Good

If you are sick of Internet Explorer, Opera is a great browser.

You can download a beta version of Opera 10 here

I use Firefox and when I am building websites I need to make sure that they work well in IE and Firefox predominantly (due to their market share)

But before Firefox came along, I was a big Opera fan and user.

The main thing about Opera is that it is fast and seems to be pretty light on the system resources.

I wont bother doing timed tests for sites and download file speeds, but I downloaded the new Beta version of Opera 10 and it looks good, worked well on the sites I tried and it was fast.

While I cant recommend it yet for production use, for anyone who is willing to try out stuff in Beta will like this. It will also sit alongside your other browser, so you dont have to get rid of it. Yet 🙂

What is your favourite browser and why?

So what is Bing all about? – Part 1

Well Bing is here.

What is Bing? Well it is the new Microsoft search engine. Technically replacing Live as their search engine.

There have been plenty of blogs and articles today about the premature launch (it was supposed to launch on the 3rd of June), but came out a little early.

To the point where Googles Matt Cutts has been taking aim at some of the results from Bing against Googles results for the same query.

The comments vary and peoples experience so far has been unhelpful in deciding whether this is a serious competitor to Googles search dominance.

It is new, but you would expect them to get it pretty right from the first release.

How will this affect NZ? Not sure at this stage, I am going to do some of my own research and present this in a few days.

Check back.

Latest Email Scam – Trying another Tack

I have just started receiving a new wave of scam emails, these look like phishing ones (where the perpetrators try to mimic a reputable website, to encourage the public to enter personal details etc ), but the twist is that they are now changing from fear related (ie for your security, or there was a problem style) to reward related.

Here is the email I just got, I have removed the link, but left the link text:

Subject: Complete our quiz for a chance at 500$
From: quiz@commbank.com.au

Complete our quiz for a chance at 500$

We will randomly draw 50 winners from those that respond with all correct responses and deposit $500 in the customer's account.
You may only enter once and must be a member to enter. 

Please follow the link below to proceed: 

<a class="moz-txt-link-freetext">http://www.commbank.commbankcau.com/quiz/</a>

Winners will be notified by phone and/or mail. 

You must complete this quiz within 24 hours to win. 

Sincerely,
Commonwealth Bank

Notice that the domain of the email quiz@commbank.com.au
, and the domain name of the link www.commbank.commbankcau.com
are different

These are all attempts to trick people into clicking the link and handing over their details.

Once again, any emails coming from your, or another bank or financial institution like Paypal should be treated with caution. As a rule, do not follow any links in these kinds of emails. Go to your Bookmarks, or search in Google for the text of the email to see if you can find any mention of scam related issues.

Let me know if you have seen something similar, or other tactics these people are trying to use to trick us.

Why your Website needs a “Call to Action”

People use the internet for all sorts of things: Entertainment, Shopping, Information. Their path through the internet may seem at times random, taking funny turns from topic to unrelated topic.

However, at all times, people are open to opportunity and things of interest.

I know there are times that I realise I am a long way away from what I originally started my search for.

What will happen though is that people will come across your website because they found something of interest. It may be a listing on a search engine, directory listing, article or other forms of advertising.

The key thing is to take advantage of the visit to convert them into a customer.

Conversions of visitors into customers is where the money is, no point having visitors that don’t end up doing what you want them to…whatever that is.

This is where a call to action is important. Why let chance determine whether someone does business with you. People have little time and clear, definite calls to action helps people get to the right place, for them as a prospective customer and you as the business owner.

So what works?

There are a few key things to consider

Placement – Where should it be?

It needs to be visible, the more visible the better. It needs to be “above the fold” , this is the part of your website visible without scrolling. Imagine it as a newspaper folder on the shop counter, you only get to see the first half of the front page, same as your website.

If your call to action is below this, research states that between 70-90% of visitors will not scroll on the first page of their visit to your site.

Some sites have heat maps, that show where people look the most, and spend the most time looking at. Here is a view from Google regarding where to place Adsense ads. While here are real case studies on Websites in the UK

What to Say?

Ok, so you have decided where you want t put your call to action, so what should it say.

This depends on what type of site you have and what you want people to do. Here are some examples

  • Buy Now
  • Book Now
  • Act Now – offer expires May 31st
  • Get a free e-book by joining our newsletter NOW.  Click here!

All these things are driving people towards the goal you wish them to complete.

Summary

Call To Actions are important in increasing your visitors to customers. This is the art of conversion optimisation.

Try different wording and styles, colour can make a difference too.

The important thing is not to leave it to chance, let your visitors know what you want them to do and more of them will become customers.

Beware the Powerpoint Virus

This give attackers access to everything the host user has access to. So this is obviously worse for someone with administrator privileges.

Microsoft has deemed the problem as critical, the top rating on their security scale.

Symantec’s virus hunters have dubbed the virus Trojan.PPDropper.B, while other antivirus makers are likely dissecting it as well. It follows a well-worn pattern: an email arrives from an unknown source, in this case from a Gmail account, and has a PowerPoint file attached. The email has Chinese characters in it, which would indicate its origins are in Asia.

Interestingly, the latest viruses are appearing just after Microsoft’s regular update to try and allow the virus or exploit to be in the wild for as long as possible.

Here is a link to the Microsoft website (Security Bulletin MS09-017), where the exploit description and how to protect your software is located

Hulu and Vimeo vs Youtube

There has been plenty of talk about online video.

When Google bought Youtube, that seemed to be the end of online video sites, as they had with Google Video over 80% of the video market.

However, Hulu and Vimeo have made waves for different reasons.

Hulu is the one closest to Youtube in style and delivery. The key change seems to be the promotion of commercially produced full length episodes of TV programs so often banned and taken down on other sites.

Youtube is still the choice for uploading any kind of content, subject to the terms and conditions. If you are quick enough, you can find replays of Champions League, Premier League and more. Wait a couple of hours and the videos are starting to be taken down as violation of copyright.

The surprising thing is that people do it every day, knowing they will only last a short time. The amount of resource that Youtube (and other providers) need to put into the policing of this is amazing.

However, for non US residents, Hulu is not available, due to copyright agreements in place in other countries around the world.

They provide a popup, where you can put your email and region, so they can let you know when Hulu becomes available. (It could take some time)

Then there is Vimeo. Vimeo is a different kettle of fish. They provide this as a simple guideline to the content they want on their site

Vimeo exists to provide you with a space to showcase your creativity and share your life. As such, we do not allow you to upload videos that are commercial in nature or videos that you did not make yourself

So, this gives a completely different feel and purpose for this video site. I have seen Vimeo used for hosting training, video tutorials, video blog files and more.

The quality seems better than Youtube (even though the controls seem a bit obtrusive) so looks like a nice platform.

You won’t beat Youtube for potential traffic and viralness (Is that a word?) but Vimeo looks like a great alternative for staging video content on your site.

Do you have a preference, any others  worth noting?

CNBC IT Co. Limited are at it again – More Domain Scams

I had an enquiry for a client about an email they received, as soon as I saw the content and who it was referring to, it was obviously a scam I blogged about earlier, and with SEDO here.

The ones I received, were sent directly to my email address, supposedly from the WHOIS record of my domain. That wouls make sense, as it should be that person responsible for the renwal or registering of the domain.

My clients one however, was sent via the contact form on her website.

It pretty much says the same thing, but it is the first I have seen sent using this method.

Possibly passing Antispam due to the originating email coming from the sites mailserver.

Here is the content of the email

Below is the result of your feedback form.  It was submitted by
(paul@cnbcgov.org.cn) on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 22:47:02
—————————————————————————

feedbacktype: General Information

name: paul

comments: Dear CEO,

We are CNBC IT Co.,Limted, which is the domain name registration organization in China, which mainly deal with international company’s in china. We have something important need to confirm with your company.

On the May 06, 2009, we received an application formally. One company named huaxia Investment (china) Co., Ltd applied for the Internet brand name “clientdomain” and the Domain names “clientdomain.cn” “clientdomain.asia” etc. . which involve internet intellectual property right of your company.

These days we are dealing with it. In order to deal with this issue better,We would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible. Please let someone in your company who is responsible for trademark or intellectual right contact me freely.

Best Regards,
paul
CNBC IT Co.,Limted

Tel:+86-797-6654451
Fax:+86-797-6654452
Web:www.cnbcgov.org.cn

2009-05-06
paul

So you will see that the information hasnt really changed, but the delivery has.

Let me know in the comments if you have seen any variations on this.

District 9 – Peter Jacksons upcoming Scifi Film

district_nine_xlgOne of the best pre release implementations is Peter Jackson’s District 9.

Not necessarily the best marketed, as I only found a link to it when reading about something else, but once I had started to look at the things they had done on the web, it really makes me want to watch the movie when it releases in August.

I watched the trailer and while interesting, it wasn’t compelling.

However, the supporting website seem really cool, from the “real” looking company website, to the information portal for either humans or non-humans (with translations of course)

They even have a amateur looking Maths quiz to see if you have the right potential (I got 6 out of 10, which wasn’t good enough)

I also had a laugh at the blog written by one of the aliens.

It really got me looking and peaked my interest into the movie.

Whether this is the idea of Peter himself or one of his creative advisors, I have to give it a big thumbs up.

Do you know of any other movie tie ins that are really well done? I am not talking about flashy promos for the film, but something more subtle and clever like D9?

Time for the Government to take a bold lead

We are in uncertain times, but taking a bold lead in the upgrading of the countries Broadband infrastructure would be the right move.

With the Government already pledging 1.5bn to help trigger private investment in the nations fibre network, they obviously see the potential and necessity in upgrading our current creaking offering.

Vodafone seem to be seeing things similarly, whereas Telecom and Telstraclear have differing views, possible clouded due to their existing investment in infrastructure.

I believe that the country would benefit from a “lead from the front” mentality. Asking others to come to the party is all and good, but by expecting private enterprise to provide more infrastructure spending then the Government is will to provide puts the whole project on the wrong footing.

It seems like it is the Government supporting private investment, rather than the other way around.

Given the Governments concern about the economy, things need to be looked at very carefully, but the level of investment is large and John Key needs to show that he means business.

New Zealand can benefit more, relatively, than other countries, due to our distance from other countries.

After doing a speed test at a clients house, we found that New Zealands average connection speed was under 5mbps, where as South Korea was top with over 17mbps (and that is an average)

Ignoring home users for now, business will benefit from the speed that information can be transmitted. Efficiencies can be harnessed by collaborating online, telecommunting can become a reality.

Add in the benefits that home users will find and the folw on effects for advertisers and ecommerce and this shows the benefits this upgrade will provide us.

I hope that there are decisions made quickly so the benefits are felt soon.

Even though my town isnt eligible, NZ needs the speed.

Market Research for Website Owners – Know your Market

In my SEO courses, one of the key things I talk about at the start is the need to do good research. Having resources at your disposal to find information related to your business and your website.

Doing business online is a bit like shooting blind without the right information, you know there is something out there, but you might die from starvation before you are lucky enough to shoot something.

Whether you have a website already, or are looking to start one soon, this is a key step.

When you are looking at your markets, you need to identify who is most likely to need your services.

Men, Women, Old, Young.

Here is a good article from Webpronews on the buying habits of men and women.

I think there are some key things like:

both genders agree that ease of use is the most important aspect of usability. Pose as a visitor. How easy it is to upload/download/view/purchase? However, men prize download speed over easy navigation, while women place both easy navigation and accessibility ahead of download speed.

This can make some serious difference to the way your site has been designed, but also in the path people must pass to complete the action you are wanting (subscription, purchases etc)

And an interesting generalisation

unless your website is very niche, that when you design a site for general use, you’re really designing a site for women. If you can make it fast and easy, and leave out the purple, men will like it, too.

In addition to market research, research around keywords and key phrases is another important step on the road to making your website work for your business.

Many sites are built with no regard to how it is presented to a search engine. Consideration must be given to the words and phrases that people use to find what you are selling.

Put yourself in your buyers shoes, what solutions do you provide to their problems and more importantly, what are they searching for. By mimicking their enquiries with the search engines, you are in a better position to be found.

Tools like Wordtracker (7 day trial, but costs USD329 for a year, or USD59 for a month) are great to find out what people are searching for. Your web stats only show what your are found for, not what you are NOT found for.

For a free alternative, use Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to find words and phrases that you could include in your text on your website.

Research and information gathering doesn’t end once the site is built.

Key statistics can help you make informed decisions on changes to your website. I talk to many website owners who don’t know how many visitors they get every month, how many enquiries they get, where there visitors are coming from.

This information is critical to being able to make a difference to the way your website is performing.

Conversions of visitors into purchasers is what the website is all about. Sometimes, people spend too much time and effort getting people to their website, rather than spending time on getting those who are already there, making purchases on the site.

On a previous post I linked to a video on the same site that talked about e-commerce optimisation and making things as easy as possible for people to make a purchase.

Immersing yourself in information about your website and the markets you are attracting is the best way to arm yourself for the battle with other websites in your industry.

It could make all the difference.

madefromnewzealand.com – this is the kind of site I think is great

I don’t normally plug other sites, but this one looks like a good one for businesses in NZ – www.madefromnewzealand.com

My biggest like is the tone it seems to have of a great place to be; lots going on, plenty of information on businesses, people and events.

The other cool aspect is the social side of things.

Not only is the site itself a social networking experience, they have also made the effort to integrate the site into other social networks. You can link to your Facebook profile using Facebook Connect, you can also attach your blog to your profile and use RSS to bring in your latest posts.

A possible suggestion is to something similar to Twellow, where they offer integrations to a larger range of other networks including Twitter, Flickr and more.

They even have blog plugins to provide an easy way to share people, businesses and networks with others via the blog. Here is one to my profile: [business:Deepweb]

So a great place to get listed and connected with other businesses in NZ.

Give it a go.

Speed Dating using Skype?

Well where there is idea there is generally a website.

Currently in Beta, Skyecandy offers Speed video dating using Skype, their tagline reads “The whole world can speed date for free”

But why start a service without looking for where the money is going to come from.

Well a look at the costs under the About Us, tells us that they will be charging for sms messaging and also unknown future enhancements:

including Matching and VIP Services that will enhance the skyecandy experience but only cost a little bit.


Ooh, what does that really mean?

What’s the chance that the basic speed date will not be much good, and these optional extras will be the only way to make it work?

We’ll have to see won’t we, you can sign up for the Beta test now?

Google Profiles – Another Great idea or breach of Privacy?

Google is expanding the Google Account to become profiles.

Logging into the Knol section of Google (a kind of knowledgebase) allows you to create your profile.

Here are a couple of links to instructions on how.

Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Round Table

(Update : 23 Apr – Be aware that the Profiles are having a few problems at the moment)

One of the recent changes is that these profiles can be returned in search queries, so it may make sense to get one.

However, something that has already been highlighted, is that verification of your profile requires you to either provide Credit Card details or via a cell phone.

Now I have provided my credit card details to Google for Adwords, so that isn’t a problem, and I have given my phone number to them to verify my Business Listing, so it doesn’t really worry me.

However, there will be others who will want this facility and not have to give over these details.

Is this too much to give? Will they want a sample of my DNA next?

Are you happy to provide this detail so you can get your own profile into the search results?

NZ included in Googles new Keyword Tool

Good news for NZ businesses, Google is now including New Zealand in it’s revamped Keyword Tool.

The tool can be found here:

http://www.google.com/sktool

On the Official Adwords blog, Google says:

we’re happy to announce that the tool is now available in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, and New Zealand.

So this gives a much better picture of keyword data from more specific countries than before. Perfect if you have inbound visitors from those countries. Tourism businesses in New Zealand need this specificity to identify trends in search from target markets around the world.

Google’s search algorithm changing to combat spammers

As reported in Webpronews, Google look to be set to change their algorithm to combat a new wave of spammers using black hat seo techniques to elevate their pages to the top of the rankings.

One of the major differences seems to be the more dangerous destinations these spammy links are pointing to.

Rather than just ad supported, content scraped sites, people are now being redirected to scareware, malware or virus ridden sites.

With this more aggressive and harmful aspect to the spam links, the stakes have been raised. People will now be driven away from Google if it can’t rectify the situation quickly enough.

However, is this really big news? Google is always reacting to new trends in the search space, from link buying, link farms and other black hat seo techniques.

Possibly the threat to Google is more than before. It would take some serious issues to make me stop using Google, but I have read comments that are showing people are already starting to chnage their searching habits.

I personally havent found any of these links, possibly because of the pre-filtering that Google does on a geographic basis, NZ searchers are being protected to some measure, and so it may be a mainly US / Europe phenonemon.

Have you found any of these links?

What would make you change search providers?

Can you do link building with Twitter?

I am relatively new to Twitter and some of the marketing concepts I have heard of don’t seem to make sense.

Then you hear of companies using Twitter heavily to build brand awareness and engage with their customer base.

When it comes to link building, I think it may be a combination of the above ideas.

While adding links to Twitter is a great idea, due to the URL shortening that goes on, plus the fact you only have 140 characters anyway, means that you need to be smart in the way you go about it.

I think there is possibly more traction with link awareness. Using Twitter as a viarl marketing tool to share links to content that support your business.

It could be something you have recently released, adding volume and velocity of the visitors.

Alternatively, it could be links to reviews or discussions of a product, service or concept; driving people and engaging them in the discussion.

You could even consider Twitter to be “PR on speed”

Volume of visitors and engagement of people in a concept or product will generate links, it will also generate other forms of content supporting it too.

I just don’t think Twitter is built for link building in the form we currently use.

What results have you had from Twitter?

I think I have found the Word of 2009

Twitter has been talked about plenty in the last few days. With Ashton Kutcher and CNN going at it to reach the 1 million followers mark (of which Ashton got there first) Twitter has been getting plenty of airtime.

Here is a post from the great site Mashable, with the Youtube videos of Ashton’s interview with Oprah

So I think I have found the word of 2009 – Democratisation

Democratisation

noun
the action of making something democratic

Social media is being talked in places as the democratisation of the internet, where everyday people have the same kind of opportunity to get their message out to the world via great apps like Twitter, Youtube, Digg etc

It is a great platform for people to get information out. Twitter for more immediate, bite size chunks of news, Blogs for more in-depth reporting and discussion.

Another contender for word of the year is Twam, or Twitter Spam, I got my first one yesterday, an system email from twitter about someone who has started gollowing me, once I had a look at their profile, all it was there for was to sell a domain name for $8000.

Abuse of these things is inevitable, a shame really, but that’s human nature.

So, do you have any “Words for 2009”

Share in the comments.

WP Greet Box – some pretty cool use of Ajax :)

I cam across WP Greet Box, looking for some kind of Twitter integration (of which it isn’t really)

Anyway, looked like a great way to interact with visitors and from a social point of view a great way to encourage others to network via RSS, Twitter, Facebook etc.

By default the following are covered

  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Stumbleupon
  • Technorati
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Live and MSN
  • Blogmarks
  • Blinklist
  • Diigo
  • Facebook
  • Furl
  • ma.gnolia
  • Mister-Wong
  • Myspace
  • Newsvine
  • Reddit
  • Simpy
  • Plurk
  • LinkedIn

There are other you can activate including Youtube, WordPress, Tumblr and more.

It will be interesting to see what come of the change, if it drives more social interactions.

I’ll report back as to it’s success or otherwise (By the way, once I installed it, got three new Followers on Twitter, coincidence? mmm)

SEO for Ecommerce Sites

SEO has been around for ages in it’s alway evolving mish mash of jargon, link building and algoriths. While the tactics and techniques are the same for all sites, ecommerce sites seem to seen as too big and complex to do well.

Relying on the shopping cart software to do your SEO for you has until recently been a hopeless task. Now shopping cart sites have become more SEO savvy and allow for more complex computations of keywords, descriptions etc.

This is video from Webpronews that talks about Conversion Optimisation.

Conversion Optimisation is not about increasing the people visiting your website, but increasing the purchases of those who do visit.

In the video, they talk about conversion rates of just 0.5% (Thats only 1 in 200 visitors purchasing something)

Whenever I am workiing with a client or running an SEO / Internet Marketing seminar, I talk about the importance of converting visitors to purchasers.

Obviously, no visotrs, means no sales, but once the you have a steady flow of visotrs, focussing on conversions can make more sense.

Have a look at the video, there are some great things to think about.

Let me know your stories about your e-commerce package, does it work well, how good at search engine opimisation is it? Do you focus on conversions or getting more visitors.

I’ll talk a bit more about split testing in a later post.

Another Chinese Domain Name Scam – this time using SEDO.com

Well, I received a new chinese domain name scam this week.

Unlike the previous one I blogged about here, this one is much more primitive.

Here is the email I received

Hello

The domain name www.HEARTART.CN  is available for purchase.
Since you own this name in another extension, we thought
this name would be of interest to you.

I think,We could finish the transaction through SEDO.com a
international Domain trade agency

Through SEDO( www.sedo.com), you could make your offer at
http://www.sedo.com/search/details.php4?domain=HEARTART.CN

The price is $850

Thanks

Liu
My mail: ljp198@gmail.com

So in essence, we are tlaking about doamins that have been registred with a .cn extension (China) and marketed to people hoping they will take up the price.

Checking the sedo.com site, the price offered is USD1700, not $850, another ploy to think you are getting a good deal.

This is another scam to be aware of, just delete it and walk away!

Mummy Blogs, What about the Daddy blogs?

In a recent article about blogs written by mums, I thought, what about the dads out there. I agree that some of the stuff some of the mum’s write about is interesting, possibly as I work from home and can relate. But I have also read plenty of blogs written by guys who are fathers and husbands, they also have interesting things to say.

While there may not be the boom for the dads as there seems to be for the mums, the male angle on all things from work, relationships, sex and kids is just as interesting.

Dad blogs are fewer and further between, but there are some real gems out there.

Are you a dad with a blog, send me a link in the comments.

Updating your Website – The options

I read a piece about running your own website. You can read it here

I was surprised to see this kind of reporting on a reputable site. I couldn’t post a comment on it, so I thought I would blog my response here.

The key theme through the piece is the assertion that :

People hate being held to ransom, but that’s what you do when you give control of your site to a web designer.

Now, that is a comment that I find a bit offensive.

The writer (who is unnamed) then goes on to talk about the benefits of using a content management system (CMS) to manage your website’s content.

CMS systems are great and they work for a lot of people, but when I engage a new client we talk about updating their website.

Contrary to the above articles assertion, not all business owners want to make the changes themselves. Not all of them have the know how, inclination or time to learn and then keep making changes so the learning is not lost.

From experience, for small businesses, updating their website is low on their list of things to do.

I have clients that when I first meet them, want to make changes weekly; special, newsletters etc. But when it comes down to it, they mostly don’t get time.

However, to provide them with the options they need to manage their website, I offer three choices

  • Content Management System – for those who have a large amount of information to manage, with categories and the like
  • Adobe Contribute –  a great piece of software you can install on your PC or Mac and update (plus add new pages) based on the template we have made
  • Hold them to Ransom 🙂  – do changes for you as and when you need them.

Other options that are more recent are things like Twitter, Facebook and Blogs

While reading the article, I got the sense that the writer had a bad experience and was getting it out of their system.

With quotes such as:

I hate being held to ransom. And I’m sure you do, too

and

I’ve invested hundreds of hours researching various CMS’s

So the end result of the these hundreds of hours of research, the writer decides on a product called GoodBarry (I’ve never heard of it).

Now since he has spent so much time researching it, and his complaints about free CMS systems like Joomla having a steep learning curve, he then admits to:

After a couple of months tinkering in the back end of GoodBarry, I’ve been fairly impressed. But the proof will be in the pudding when one of my businesses goes live with it later this month. So do I recommend it? It’s too early to say. Ask me in a few weeks.

So at the end of it all, he has spent hundreds of hours, then three months setting it up and it still isnt live!

He doesnt even know if it works for his business.

I personally don’t know if a business owner can spend that amount of time (read money) setting something up on the say so of someone who hasn’t even proven the product works in their live environment.

My advice is to ask people, other businesses, web designers to get the best you can for your money.

Be honest when a designer asks you about you needs for updating the site. Any good designer will be able to provide a solution that will help you achieve your business goals.

What are you thought about updating? What do you prefer?

Winning at Online Poker using Artificial Intelligence

As robotics and programming get more and more advanced, the things these advances can be put against increases too.

From simple algorithms / decision trees and problem solving to more intelligent programs to deal with Chess, draughts and black jack.

Here is a great article on online poker and the things people are doing online to make a buck.

From AI players, used to fleece out beginner players, to more complex hybrid systems to help beat the best.

I have played online Poker before (for no money I might add, too chicken!) using Pokerstars.net.

It was a great bit of fun, winning chips was fun knowing you were not going to lose the house, but over time it got boring.

Thinking I was possibly playing against robots, doesn’t make it any more interesting, I like the fact you could chat to people across the table. See where they were from, what they did.

Why do people have to take the fun out of it?

Symantec auto-charge changed

A while a go I posted about Symantec and it’s subscription system (Have Symantec lost faith in their own products?)

Well it has now been reported that due to overwhelming feedback on a Stuff poll (over 97% were against) Symantec has backed down.

Good news I say, as while Symantec have said that it was to protect consumers from forgetting their renewals, it more smacks of how can we increase our sales and margins.

You can’t believe that a policy and change in process like this did not go ahead without the company know exactly how much they might benefit financially.

I am certain that they wouldn’t have lost money (Apart from when everyone started to cancel and move to another product)

Sometimes, revenue and profit make people blind to just plain old common sense.

So now they have allowed an “opt out” on the renewal screen and also allowed them to “easily” get out of the system from peoples Symantec account screen.

However, why not “opt in”? Because you make more money that way!

In this case the ethical way is not the profitable way

SEO and Marketing using videos

Video is getting more and more prevalent on the web, Youtube is the largest video platform and amazingly provides the second most searches of all search engines, behind Google.

This is a great opportunity to base marketing and SEO for your site / products / services

Here is a great video with the product manager for Youtube. Talking about some basics.

I am just starting on some video marketing with a client and will post some things I have found during the process here.

Have you had success marketing video on the web? Let us know.

Looking at the Future of Search – Video from SES in New York

Search Engine Conferences are a great place to find out information about the world of search.

In this video, the discussion is about the future of search, including Twitter, Social Search, Mobile and even possible acquisitions in the search world.

One interesting aspect is the change from mass media to social media focus.

Have a look and see what could be the future of the industry.

Comic Relief – Sketch comes true in England 2 – Ukraine 1

As a football fan, it’s great to see the footballers making fun of themselves.

For those of you who follow football, this was a recent sketch from Comic Relief.

Interestingly, Peter Crouch (one in the front row) did the “rope” as part of his celebration after scoring a goal in tonight’s 2-1 win over Ukraine.

Well done that man.

Comic Relief Sketch is here

Faster Broadband, but not here…Boo Hoo…

The Government has announced $1.5Bn worth of investment to provide fibre optic cables (dark fibre) as the basis for the new broadband infrastructure.

Unfortunately, Kerikeri is not in the 25 largest centres that the money is being spent on. Hopefully the rich and famous who live or holiday locally will generate some reason to increase our chances of getting a slice.

Here are the places deemed large enough:

The 25 centres, in order of population, are: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Napier and Hastings, Dunedin, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Fielding, New Plymouth and Hawera, Kapiti and Levin, Nelson, Rotorua, Whangarei, Invercargill, Wanganui, Gisborne, Cambridge and Te Awamutu, Blenheim, Timaru, Taupo, Masterton, Whakatane, Ashburton, Tokoroa, and Oamaru.

Come on people bring the cable up here!

More info here

Not April Fools, But Conficker Day?

With April 1 hard coded into the Conficker virus, expect some headaches shortly. We will either hear the gnashing of teeth and wails of “Not Me!” or a whimper as the virus is reactivated.

Here in NZ, there were some high profile casualties, Ministry of Health, Polytechnics, Newspapers sites

Whether lessons have been learnt, we will have to see.

Symantec’s protection steps against Conficker / Downadup.C / Kido

F-Secure’s removal tool and instructions for downadup variants

They say between 9 and 15 million PC’s are affected, how many after 1 April?

Upgrade to Googles Search Algorithm today

An upgrade to the algorithm used by Google to rank website relevance to a users query is being rolled out today

Google is today rolling out a key upgrade to the algorithm powering its search engine which is based on “Australian-made” technology originally developed by a PhD student at the University of New South Wales.

The student was Ori Allon and the search engine process he developed at the university’s Kensington campus in 2005 was called Orion.
– SMH

From the Official Google Blog, one of the key changes is an addition to the results

Starting today, we’re deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search, and one of its first applications lets us offer you even more useful related searches (the terms found at the bottom, and sometimes at the top, of the search results page).

This is more for suggesting people what may be related to the search query.

Secondly and possibly more important is the increase in the snippet length. This is the text returned in the results to show the relevance of the result to your query.

Up till now the length has been limited to 156 characters.

It now looks like this snippet length has been increased, possibly to double the old 156 characters.

It says it is to deliver better results from long search queries, as before the old snippet was not necessarily long enough.

How this will affect SEO is unknown at this stage, the description meta tag may now be treated differently.

I’ll post a follow up once more is known.

Hacker “Akill” contracted to Telstraclear

Owen Thor Walker, a 19 year old, who was wanted by the FBI for his part in leading the group the A-Team has been employed by Telstraclear for nearly a year to provide information for seminars.

Telstraclear made an interesting comment when they said:

He said it was not the equivalent of hiring a bank robber to advise on bank security.

Of course it is, however, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Hackers have been used for years to test and break into systems, giving large networks the kind of testing they would not necessarily find elsewhere.

These legitimate hackers can be a very good resource for corporates, it takes some strong leadership to bring in someone whose past is a little questionable and let them loose on the security side of things.

There have been many security breaches in New Zealand, we even have our own Hackers Conference : Kiwicon where there were sessions on such subjects as

  • Walking Through Walls Ninja Style – The Art of Non-Destructive Entry
  • Black SEO Exposed
  • Tracking NZ Based Malware Distributors
  • Mobile Phone Network Security

Security is a serious business and corporates like Telstraclear must be able to use the resourses available to it to make it’s products and services as secure as possible.

But do we trust them?

Talk Like William Shatner Day

Bugger I missed it, yesterday was Talk Like William Shatner Day

Here is a great video of an impersonator giving lessons.

Very Funny.

So….I’ll have to….remember………it next…..year.

I’m Declaring 3/22 “International Talk Like William Shatner Day”!

Why can’t Microsoft get it right? IE8 is out and already I have found problems

While these are not software problems (mainly because my attempts to downloaded were thwarted) these show a serious lack of foresight on the behalf of the behemoth.

Problem 1 – If you run Firefox, you can download it

I went to the download site, chose my country and operating system and waited for the download window to show. Well I am still waiting. If I click the link they tell me to if the download doesn’t work, it takes me back to the start again.

Now, if I was trying to increase my market share, I would allow people using my competitors browsers to download it.

Problem 2 – If you are in New Zealand, don’t expect Microsoft to tell you about it

Clicking on my country link on the download page I get taken to this that announces how much Microsoft have heard you and are now “introducing” Internet Explorer 7

So why isn’t the page updated?

Microsoft are not really interested are they?

I will have to install it so I can test my clients sites in it and do browser checks when building sites, but this is just terrible customer service and PR from Microsoft.

Let me know your thoughts on it, is it any better than IE7 (Which is pretty terrible)

Google’s Friend Connect API

Here is a video from WebProNews about the new Google Friend Connect API

With this, it allows you to integrate many social style interactions (Comments, votes etc) into your site. Google have created some Open Source plugins for WordPress, Drupal and PHPBB.

I will look at adding the WordPress plugin here and see how well it works.

You can find the plugins here : http://code.google.com/apis/friendconnect/plugins.html

If you know of any other plugins that have been developed, leave a comment on where it can be found.

Google hit the target with DoubleClick’s DART

When Google bought DoubleClick last year, there were plenty of concerns from privacy advocates about what this would mean.

Well this new initiative seems to be the logical conclusion.

Google is now using DoubleClick cookies to track users browsing habits and serve up ads relating to that browsing history.

From a web developers point of view, I have just received notification from Google of the changes and have been given a date of the 9th of April to get my clients websites amended to cater for this change.

Now programs change and policies change, but to require these kind of changes in a short period of time is very poor.

Also, the opt out system means that it goes against all of the best practice methods relating to direct marketing.

In addition there is not option for publishers to opt out, only for the visitors of sites to opt out.

Google is treading very closely to the “Do no evil” motto as they are doing pretty much everything wrong here.

I can’t understand why they would be so heavy handed in favour of Doubleclick/revenue/controversy

It seems like they are forcing it through in such a small amount of time so as to minimise the criticism they will get.

It will be interesting to see what the fallout from this will be.

How much value to bloggers add to the Web?

Blogging is rife, every one is doing it, I advise my clients to do it, you should do it (if you are, well done)

But the majority of us bloggers do not have any formal training. some blogs I read are written very badly, but the content saves them.

So what value to do blogs and bloggers add to the whole web thing?

Well, heaps in my opinion.

It is that non trained point of view that actually adds some grit and personableness (is that a word) to online news.

Whether it be personal diaries, commentary or humour, the style and tone of lots of blogs really work. To me the best blogs are those where the author responds to the comments placed by readers, giving the blog a real voice.

It is also a great way for news to be propagated extremely quickly and effectively.

By using existing information and content, people can add opinions or extra information to the item to increase it’s visibility and round out the conversation.

Go bloggers go…

W32.Downadup.C – Removal Instructions

Just as a follow-up from the previous post, Symantec have released the removal instructions for W32.Downadup.C

You can find them here

The removal instructions are part automated using the Antivirus software, but also require the editing of the PC’s registry and the usual system restore issues.

It is the registry edits that mean these instructions are beyond a large number of users. (and potentially fatal for the PC)

Whether they will create a removal tool that makes the process much easier I don’t know. (I havent searched for any other instructions, if you know of any post them here)

Cheers

W32.Downadup.C the next big hit?

I don’t cover viruses here much, but after reading about this in a few places a few things stood out.

This is an article from PCWorld that describes a notification from Symantec.

Downadup is a virus that execute instructions from an infected machine. Apparently, the new variant is more hardened against anti virus tools (looks like a removal kit will be required for this one too.)

But I noticed a few things

  1. This was caught in a “honeypot” but hasnt been reported on customer sites, can’t be too long
  2. Does the first Antivirus software developer to report a new big virus get a surge of subscribers? (If so, is this a driving factor)

Some good advice at the bottom of the first reader comment

People, don’t worrry about malware if you would simply heed the following precautions:

  1. get automatic critical patches enabled.
  2. ensure your AV solution is up to date

But most importantly, and this is the tough one:

Operate with the Least User Privilege principle

Now I am sure I don’t do this, Also not sure whether it is worth the difference, as my Antivirus solution (I am using Avast) seems to do the job just nicely.

Anyone done this, any research you can point me to about its effectiveness?

Mashups, Integration and Cooperation

facebook-logo.jpgIn this more sharing and caring world of Web2.0, the idea of sharing information between platforms has become one of the key issues for sites such as Facebook to deal with.

Facebook is a great site (must be great, even my Mum thought it was a great idea!) and over the last few days I have made a couple of changes to integrate Facebook with Twitter.

I am a Twitter newbie, and got my first Follower today (Thanks Rich Henry from Get Frank)

But the connection between Twitter and Facebook isn’t as easy as it might appear.

I added a program to Facebook to connect my Facebook to my Twitter account, but it only goes one way, you can Twitter and the tweets appear as items on your Facebook profile, but there wasn’t an obvious way to get your staus updates from Facebook to appear in Twitter.

In similar fashion, I have been able to get my blog posts to appear as items in my Facebook profile, that is a really neat aspect, but again there didn’t seem to be a Blog -> Twitter option.

twitterfeed_logoToday I found out about Twitterfeed, this is a system where you can take the RSS feed of your site and feed it into Twitter (The proof will be when I post this)

Again a great idea to join these two different systems.

But the killer app would be one that does all of these (plus other social sites as well)

If you make one, all credit goers to me for thinking it up first, kay 🙂

What other cool mashups do you know of?

Avalon Biddle – 16yo female motorbike rider takes on the boys

We had an email before Christmas asking if we would sponsor a young lady named Avalon. She rides in the 125cc class as the lone female among the other male riders.

Well we thought this was great, so we have created a site for her with a blog so she can start talking about her cool story.

She won the national Grand Prix and this weekend is racing on her home circuit in Pukekohe.

Go Avalon, Go!

Avalon’s Website

The web2.0 of Web2.0

We got it wrong, so lets get our users to help

That might be what the suits at Facebook had to say when there was the huge backlash relating to their terms and conditions release a week ago.

For those who haven’t heard, there were huge online protests to the terms that made content posted onto Facebook the property of Facebook.

Now Facebook are asking for help from their community

The “Facebook Principles” lay out the start up company’s philosophy on privacy and control of information, while the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” are operating guidelines based on its big-picture stance.

Any Facebook member can access these proposals on the site and opine on them over the next few days. The networking site will incorporate people’s reviews when firming up governance policies. Future policy changes will follow the same democratic model, the company said. (Read more here)

Web 2.0 was supposed to be the interactive internet af=ge where content was driven by the user. So why not ask them for their views on governance and policies of the sites they use.

Most large companies use focus groups to do customer testing, but this is possibly the largest case of inviting a user comminty to shape more than just content.

Cloud Computing…What the?

For a while now, I have been talking about the need for New Zealand to improve its internet infrastructure (Read broadband speeds) to allow for a more distributed possibility to working.

In my last corporate job, the talk was of about Telecommuting, or allowing staff to work from home using the internet as a way of accessing corporate networks.

This was to be seen as a caring employer and I agree that a remote workforce is, in some cases, a good thing.

In my current role as a web designer, I work from home and have a lot of interation with people over the internet.

An increase in broadband speed is going to have a huge effect on my ability to increase productivity.

Recent moves to remotely hosted applications like Google Docs, Xero and others, shows a path to centrally located services and a reliance of good, robust, fast internet infrastructure.

This article discusses “Cloud Computing” and why we may miss the boat (or be dragged along behind) if we don’t up our broadband capacity soon.

Rod Drury says

“What that’s going to mean is that rather than storing your photos and video locally on your PC, these devices are going to make it compelling to put your stuff up on the web, which doesn’t work in a country with broadband data caps,”

I think this advance needs to happen in a hurry, the three main Telcos, Telecom (Xtra), Telstraclear and Vodafone have told the Government they don’t want the $1.5 billion dollars worth of investment into a fibre optic high speed network, it looks like they are not willing to lose their ownership of the network.

However, the government needs to take a lead and push through with the rollout as it is essential to the long term health of the economy in New Zealand.

Just dont forget us small town folk 🙂

The Top 5 Benefits of Using Google’s Webmaster Tools

1. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a great way of telling Google what pages you want to be indexed.

Google will index your site regardless of using a sitemap, however, this tool makes it easier for Google to index those pages you want it to. You can exclude pages if you really want to, but you can use a generator to create the XML formatted file.

Here are some generators

2.  Content Analysis

One of the things Google hates is duplicate content, even worse is duplicate Titles and Descriptions (These are the important Meta Tags)

Webmaster Tools will allow you to see if there are any pages with duplicated titles or duplicated descriptions. This is a very important tool to get the most out of these tags

3.  Web Crawl Diagnostic

Once Google has crawled (indexed) your website, you hope all of your pages are visible in the index. This tool can help you find out if Google had problems finding and pages.

Obviously, if Google can find a page, it wont be in the search engine listings.

This can be bad links, moved content or other easily picked up issues.

4.  External Links

This shows all of the links into your website from other pages on the internet.

The best thing is the link on the right hand side that allows you to see all of the inbound links.

(Note: this does not show all of the times your website is mentioned, only the working links people can click on to find you)

In basic search engine terms, the more inbound links the better for you

5. Geographic Targeting

This one is bit more advanced and will affect a smaller number of people. One of the key changes in Google’s delivery of search results is the pre filtering that is done when you search.

Google will filter your results, even if you don’t ask it to.

As an example, if you do a search for a topic and DO NOT select the “web pages from this country” button your results are still biased towards the country Google believes you are in.

Alternatively, if you select the “web pages from this country” button, you will get results that Google think are directed to that country.

How does it do this?

It shows results for either websites with a country specific suffix ie .nz for New Zealand, or websites that are hosted in that country.

However, if you have a .com website hosted not in New Zealand, you will not be found in the search results for that country specific search.

The solution is to use Google’s Geographic Target, where you can specifiy the county you want to target (Only one, though)

There are plenty of other Tools, including Keywords, Search Phrases etc.

So Webmaster tools is a must have for all Web Designers, but also for those business owners who are keen to see how their sites are performing in Google.

Well done everyone! Controversial bill averted for now

I have just been reading Aardvark, a great local IT commentary site and the thoughts of it’s author Bruce Simpson about the Section 92a protest to stop the introduction of “guilt by accusation” legislation.

Bruce was quite condemning of the action so far by the NZ blogging community (plus a notable mention to Stephen Fry on Twitter) to run a Black Out campaign to highlight the problems with the legislation drafted as it currently is.

Fortunately, the black out campaign and the “whining” has made a difference.

Bruce said today on his site

The whining is deafening — yet virtually nobody is listening. In fact, I’d wager that people are just turning off because of all the constant harping that’s coming from the blogging community.

Fortunately, the Government didn’t turn off and has just announced:

Prime Minister John Key announced at a post-cabinet press conference this afternoon that implementation of the controversial clause of the copyright legislation to be delayed until March 27

To enable a voluntary code of practice to be agreed.

Well done to the blogging community for making themselves heard and making a difference. The battle isn’t won and I’ll be waiting in anticipation of a better solution to the current problem.

Google Penalises Google for Paid Links

One thing that is a hot topic at the moment is paid links. Google has said for a few years that it frowns on the idea of paid links.

This also includes paid posts that include links (I suppose essentially the same thing).

Recently Google Japan was found to be doing just that and was penalised for it, dropping 4 PR points as a result of the penalty.

Matt Cutts twittered “Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while.” He expresses Google’s deep remorse and apologises on the company’s behalf in this video.

A few things stand out for me here:

  1. Google applies penalties across the board, BMW fell foul of Google a few years ago and was lost off the indexes for some time.
  2. If you have a PR of 4 or less, look out, if you are looking at this technique to build your ranking.
  3. Ignoring the webmaster guidelines (Which Matt says is evolving all the time) can be fatal for these grey and black hat techniques.

In another video, Matt argues against people who think Google are trying to tell webmasters what to do on their site. He points out that webmasters can do what they like, but so can Google.

With Google having over 90% share in the search market in NZ, you have to be careful to follow the guidelines or face the consequences.

Are you Blacked Out?

On the 28th of February, anyone who is accused (not proven) of repeatedly downloading copyrighted material can have their internet access terminated.

It is part of a revision of the Copyright Act Section 92a.

In protest, the Creative Freedom Foundation is organising a virtual protest and is asking people to change their avatars and other profile images to all black, so to promote what a censored internet might look like.

But what does the act mean?

Can I look at things on Youtube?

How do I know I have downloaded something that is copyrighted?

How do I know how many time I have infringed?

Are there any sites that are exempt?

While there are some obvious places that carry pirated and illegal software, music and movies, my concern are with other less obvious places.

Back to Youtube… in amongst all of the amateur and obviously licensed and official clips, there is a large grey area of those that may or may not be an issue.

These could be remixes and mash ups of songs, things that have taken something and made something else (Like the Lego songs)

Youtube has a policy of it’s own for the notification and taking down of content that infringes copyright. Why isn’t this enough?

So many questions and no real answers coming from the Government except to say they will review if it necessary.

Will the 28th be D-Day for the internet in NZ?

Will you Black Out?

Matt Cutts on Basic SEO

Here is a great video that goes over some basic questions about SEO.

Matt Cutts on You Tube – How to get better visibility on Google

Once of the key things that Matt talks about is the 3 main meta tags. He goes to great lengths to talk about the benefits of the Title and Description tags, but says “Don’t worry that much about the keywords tag”

To what level “Don’t worry” means is not known, but taken together with the fact that a badly written keywords tag can have a detrimental effect on your site, it can be like a poisoned chalice.

I have not been adding Keywords tags to my sites due to this fact and client results have not been adversely affected.

I often get comments from people that they are no Keywords in the meta tags, so this video is a great place for people to do some research.

What do you think? Have tyou been penalised for bad keyword tags?

Have Symantec lost faith in their own products?

A great piece by Tom Pullar-Strecker from The Dominion Post talks about the auto debit of credit cards for renewals of their anti virus software.

He even says Website TechWeb has quoted former Symantec consumer-group chief Enrique
Salem saying it was also one of several ”revenue-generating”
strategies to ”pump up the consumer group’s bottom line”.

This makes me think that they do not think that the quality of their product will be enough to bring in the revenue they need.

Symantec products used to be well renowned for being excellent products in the fight against viruses and stood up very well against other antivirus programs.

To the extent that it was seen as a more serious product, built for business strength use.

The main competitor was McAfee, who also produced a great product (The original DOS one I used on my first PC)

As the fight against viruses has become more and more important, both companies have targeted the consumers maket more.

I have installed Symantec products a number of times and each subsequent release was, in my opinion, a worse product than the previous one.

They seemed bloated and slow, even the interface was slow and clunky.

To the point where I changed to AVG.

While AVG is not fantastic, it seemed to do the job just as well and was much smaller and compact. (The latest version seems to have fallen victim to a bit of bloat as well)

I am currently using Avast and it looks good so far.

I have seen many horror stories about Symantec products around the operation of the program, the difficulties in getting rid of it and many billing issues as well.

Super Fast Broadband – Now the fine print starts to appear

I talked yesterday about the announcement from Telecom that they will be offering a service using VDSL2 technology to allow customers huge increases in broadband speed from around 5mbps to 50 mbps for downloads and from around 0.7 mbps to 20mbps upload.

I also talked about whether these speeds will be theoretical maximums or reality.

Well those questions are still unanswered, but it now appears that the new service will attract a premium cost.

Now, they have said it will be small, but how many other “extras” there might be. Will we have to buy a new modem? Will there be minimum contracts.

I wonder what the increase on current plans will be? 10%, 20%

What will the market accept to get these increased speeds

VDSL2 – Is it going to be as good as they say?

Telecom have announced their next generation broadband network will allow download speeds of up to 50mbps and upload of 20mbps.

Now if this is true, it is going to make my life and many people who rely on the internet as a medium for large amounts of data.

It also addresses one of my beliefs that telecommuting and being able to work from any location without the impedance of slow internet access is a necessity.

Sharing data between co workers and clients is necessary in the days or larger and larger chunks of data (see the size of unedited digital camera images)

But how good will it really be?

My current maximum download speed is around 4-5mbps, which is faster than a number of people I know.

50 will be frightening!

But since many of my sites are hosted in the US, how will the Southern Cross Cable handle all of this extra data.

Will I get anywhere near 50mbps for anything other than locally derived content?

Will ISP’s need more aggressive caching to allow these speeds?

Or is this just “Telecomspeak” for what in ideal circumstances and with your tongue in the right direction is possible.

Well the first rollout starts 2nd quarter 2009

I might have it by Christmas, the cabinet is just across the road, Yay

High Profile E-Commerce Site Closes

Link to story on Stuff is here

So it has finally happened. I had heard stories about the amount of money that was thrown at Ferrit by Telecom and how it was not really working. These stories go back right to the start.

I applaud them for sticking at it for so long if things were grim, however, Christmas 2007 seemed to be an indicator that online shopping was becoming more and more sustainable.

It possibly didn’t help that Ferrit was purely a reseller of other retailers goods. Those retailers have robust bricks and mortar businesses that can absorb a non performing online platform better than telecom and they have indicated they will be focussing on more core activities.

I think Ferrit has helped the e-commerce scene in New Zealand, more for getting the concept of online shopping into the mainstream through their mass marketing of the brand and what it can do.

None of the brands it was selling made anywhere near the impact that Ferrit did.

I expect that what Ferrit made on each item was small and needed a high level of sales to make it work, supermarket style.

Contrast this to the brands themselves who would likely have made more profit from each sale than Ferrit did, yet thay did no real work.

So goodbye to Ferrit and their weird but funny ads.

I expect ecommerce to grow and this will end up being more of a restructure issue rather than the market not being able to sustain ecommerce as a concept.

Websites can be one of the most cost effective marketing tools around. Don’t let Ferrit put you off.

New Sites for November

We are at the end of November and getting to the end of the year.

Here is a list of some of the site we have worked on this month

  • McCondach Movers – Kerikeri based Removal and Storage Company
  • BestBnB – A pick of the best Bed and Breakfast and Activities across New Zealand
  • Student Storage – Self Storage for Students
  • Doorcraft – Redesign of a site for handcrafted doors.

Have a look and support local businesses

Personalised Search Results with Googles new Promote and Remove buttons

What are those new Promote and Remove buttons?

Well, Google is experimenting with new Promote and Remove buttons in their results. This is definitely is an experiment but interesting it has made its way onto the public results, given they say it may or may not stay around.

You can move, and remove the results. This will mean much more personalised results.

So now, the effort in getting a top ranking for any keyword may just be wasted. Possibly a great way to user-filter the results since it is specific to each user.

Check out Google’s announcement that explains the SearchWiki

What do you think?

To Bebo or Not to Bebo

That is the question…

This Bebo thing is a funny one. Can it be used as a business tool? Some say yes, it’s original use (and still its primary one) is for social connectivity, but with social connectivity come networking full stop.

From a more business oriented is LinkedIn. This is specifically for business links with recommendations playing a big part.

I’ll be experimenting here to see if Bebo can be used to promote, encourage, discuss, network.

So lets see….

Click here for my Bebo profile, make me a friend if you have a Bebo profile as well.

If you are into LinkedIn, have a look at my profile there, see the difference and similarities.

Lastly, everyone is on Facebook…No? I added a profile, even have a client added as a way to pass work info back and forth. You can see that one here.

I would be interested in other people thoughts on using them for business, can you utilise the networks for business?

Cheers

Are Paper Directories Dying?

There are hints out there that paper based forms of information are starting to feel the pinch.

No, this wont mean paperback novels become a thing of the past (I love to read), but the more informational based things like newspapers, trade magazines, Yellow Pages, directories and the like.

I talk to a number of clients about where they will be spending their advertising dollar. More and more are saying that they will put that money into online advertising.

This may mean they are paying the same advertisers, but that this advertising is online rather than off-line.

Price changes from the new owners of the NZ Yellow Pages show their understanding and desire to tap into the increasing online market.

The bundling of pricing of paper and online directories of Tourism based products show companies hanging on for grim death to their old Flagships, while partly embracing the new media.

Website sare a great form of advertising, cost effective and available to prospective buyers 24/7. As more and more people use the internet to find information and purchasing of products and services, so the more products and services become available for purchase.

Our experince is that more and more people are looking at online sales as a way of either enhancing their existing offering, or promoting their product entirely online.

Fraud issues have subsided and the upsurge in online transactions such as Ailine and Hotel bookings, Vianet and Trademe are all solidifying the internet as a safe place to shop and do business.

Last years Christmas online sales were up, expect the same again this year.

As broadband rolls out and more and more people have access to “always on” internet, their habits will change:

  • White and Yellow Pages will be more used online
  • Browsing for items will move to purchasing
  • More online services will be available (this is starting with Car Relicensing)

What do you do now online that you used to do offline

Are you spending more time online actually “doing” something rather than pure entertainment?

What are your thoughts?

New websites to Deepweb’s Portfolio

Well it has been a busy month, we have been working on a couple of large projects set to be made live in November, but here are a list of other sites we have created recently

  • Wired Designs – Triss is making and selling jewellery online using Paypal “Buy Now” buttons to raise funds for a volunteer trip. Have a look at some great pieces
  • 0800 Dumpme – For rubbish removal and not those ugly skip bins, this is the civilised way of getting rid of your rubbish
  • Cure – an organisation providing services which include psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, clinical supervision and counselling in Auckland.
  • Kaukapakapa Area Residents and Ratepayers Association – bringing news of KARRA’s activities, and also as a place where Kaukapakapa community information can be placed.
  • Wairoa Valley B&B – Kerikeri Bed and Breakfast in 15 acres of native bush
  • Great Barrier Island Tourism – If you’re contemplating a visit to Great Barrier Island you’ll find that
    it’s all the things that we can’t offer you that will make your experience all the more enjoyable
  • Phoenix Motorhomesspecialise in new and pre-used luxury motorhomes, mobile home conversions and full or partial interior fit-outs.
  • Cherish Beauty – Kapiti Coast beauty salon, wide range of products and services

Look forward to more next month

Law and the Internet…Who has Jurisdiction?

A local judge has suppressed the names of two offenders in court, but only to websites due the possibility that the internet may be used to gather information about the accused.

The judge, who is known to be quite internet savvy and has his own internet law website has allowed the names to be published in traditional media.

Some online agencies are thinking of challenging the court order.

Today offshore blogs are defying the order by publishing the name and offer scathing remarks on the futility of suppression, especially when it targets the internet.

I agree that if suppression is needed it is given, but it is given across all mediums.

To single out the internet is naive and gives the impression that it is possibly a test case to test the jurisdiction and effects it may have.

So far it has been effective in NZ, but that isn’t the point. Unless ISP’s are able to block suppressed content from appearing, the internet will provide the names to anyone.

What do you think? Can supression work, even if it is as selective as in this case?

Kiwi Gamers win big in Asia

An article in Stuff today saw another good report of NZers doing well internationally in IT, this time in the lesiure department, player style.

New Zealand’s computer gaming team has been named the best in Asia.

The team took a gold and silver medal at the World Cyber
Games Asian Championship in Singapore earning them trophy for the
overall winner.

Mason Maddox won gold and $US1000 ($NZ1450) on the Xbox 360 game,
Guitar Hero III, beating competitors from countries including Korea and
Japan.

Lorance Taylor, Jeremy Macdonald, Slava Sheynin, Nick Catley and
David Ashwell took silver in the Defence of the Ancients – All Stars
tournament, winning $US2000.

The top 140 gamers from 14 countries in Asia Pacific competed.

The New Zealand team will compete at the World Cyber Games final in
Cologne in November for a chance to win $NZ3.5 million in prize money.

Well done guys, Kick some world butt in the Worlds!

Google PageRank Patent May Go Poof

Patent office changes views, could impact Google and others

New criteria for restricting the scope of what the US Patent Office considers patent-worthy poses a threat to numerous software patents, including Google’s famed PageRank.

Google climbed past a morass of ineffective search engines when it arrived on the Internet. Its devotion to the most relevant possible solution for a given query quickly made it the de facto search choice as millions of people shifted their browsing habits from walled garden content to the broader World Wide Web.

The essential and much-discussed PageRank technology holds a patent, a common legal protection sought by software developers small and large. Some have claimed software patents affect far too broad a scope of potential innovation, leading to lawsuits where a patent owner claims damages by multiple companies.

Continue reading

Beware the Chinese Domain Name Scams

Well, I have received a second email from Tony in China, warning I have 2 days to register my Chinese domains before they are taken by some other Company

Upon doing some research here, here and here I have confirmed my initial belief that these are just emails to scare business owners into registering domains they have no need to.

To me the most concerning thing was the talk of “Internet Brand” as above domains and across all jurisdictions.

Seems a load of rubbish to me, due to the fact that jurisdiction on the internet is no simple thing.

So let me introduce Tony…

Continue reading

Firefox 3 Is Go!

Well version 3 of Firefox is now available, We have been using it since Beta stage and it is significantly better than v2 (*which is significantly better than IE7)

After resolving the memory leaks of v2, Firefox 3 is now a must have for all Internet Surfers.

As a web development company, we are aware that IE still has a large lead over Firefox, but with these improvements and IE8 being some time away, Firefox will gain further ground.

If you haven’t got Firefox installed on your PC, you really should, and once you have tried it, I would expect IE will be a thing of the past.

You can download it here

FontStruct – Neat Idea, will you play with it?

FontStruct is a site that allows you to create fonts from scratch. Not sure if I have the time or inclination to make my own, typographers seem to have a real design knack for this that I don’t.

Never the less, it looks like a neat way to create4, share and find different dsiplay fonts for your projects.

Go and have a look at http://fontstruct.fontshop.com/

If you make something up, let me know.

Cheers

Speed Racer – The Videogame

Speed Racer has been released, another big time release for Sidhe Interactive, based in Wellington NZ.

After their success with Jackass:The Game Sidhe have gone to another adaptation of another genre with this game for the DS and Wii.

Speed Racer was a big time hit on Nickelodeon and is now in Theatres directed by the Wachowski Brothers.

Well done to Sidhe for making another success of the video game world. Good to see NZ being well represented.

I wont talk too much about the game, here are a few links to reviews etc

Stuff – Review: Speed Racer: The Videogame

IGN.com – Wii Review

Gamespot

Go Sidhe – See their website here

New Zealand is the second most hacked country

New Zealand is the second most hacked country per head of population across US, UK, Russia and the Asia Pacific countries, a new report says.

The TippingPoint Cyberhack report said there have been 5849 successful hacks in 2008 so far against websites with .nz addresses, or one for every 730 people.

This puts the country just behind the UK, with one hack per 683 people, and ahead of Australia, which had 871 people per hack.

New Zealand’s poor showing may come from its small, relatively tech-savvy population. The total number of hacks in the country was much lower than larger countries like the UK, Australia, and China.

The country’s government websites (.govt.nz) fared a bit better, recording 17 hacks, well down the list.

The report does not cover New Zealand-based websites with .com, .org, or other international addresses.

Big ups to Start Up!

Well done to Patrick and co at StartUP, a new website / blog / news aggregator focussing on new business online.

http://www.start-up.co.nz/

Blogs, videos, articles and a directory of sites related to the topic are all found out here. There is a wealth of information on the site to keep you reading for ages.

Also starting Start Up TV – a tv “docu-reality series” (TM – Deepweb) showcasing startups looking to make it big in the online world.

Have a look, could be a goodie!

NZ inches up OECD broadband rankings

New Zealand has climbed one place to 19th in the latest OECD broadband, or high-speed internet, rankings.

Fairfax Media

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s
broadband statistics report, for the six months to December, shows New
Zealand 19th out of 30 countries. That is up from 20th in the previous
OECD half-year report. The figures are based on broadband subscribers
per 100 inhabitants.

According to Internet NZ, 18.3 out of every 100 Kiwis now have
broadband. This compares to the OECD country average of 20 and gives a
total of 757,132 broadband subscribers in New Zealand.

Internet NZ executive director Keith Davidson said today the
Government-enforced three way operational separation of Telecom had
both helped boost competition in the telecoms market and broadband
uptake. He said it was encouraging that New Zealand was the sixth
fastest growing OECD country in terms of broadband penetration with a
net increase of 4.37 subscribers per 100 people.

“If New Zealand maintains this rate of growth then it will continue
to slowly improve its position relative to other OECD nations,”
Davidson said.

However, to reach the top half of the OECD Davidson suggested
substantial investment in, and customer uptake of, an open access fibre
network was needed.

Youtube and Top Gear – Match made in Heaven

I am a late bloomer in regards to Top Gear.

I now love it and if I have some time to kill, go to Youtube and find some of the snippets I haven’t seen.

This has been a bit hit and miss as the search for Top Gear gives plenty of videos to view, some are new, some are old, some are rubbish.

One thing that Youtube have done is allowed for split videos to be connected via click able links for Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3 etc.

The good thing about this for us fans of TV series or other longer video content, is it makes the job easier to find information and see it in the order it needs to be looked at.

My first full Top Gear episode was of their drive to the North Pole. You can see it here

Here is my Youtube wish list

  1. Mark any videos I have seen with “Watched”, so I can skip them
  2. Allow better categorisation in Channels, BBC have over 2000 videos…

Not long I know, but hey…

Grand Theft Auto – New Zealand version

When a 17 year old designs a version of GTA for NZ, he gets a bit of stick for putting New Zealand Police insignia on the police officers in the game. From a position of skill and expertise, this guy needs some congratulations.

He has taken it on himself to provide a more local feel for the game he plays. Being able to produce new textures for the game is no simple feat, and to have the desire to do it and make the effort to go through with it deserves a pat of the back.

I can see where the Police are coming from too, especially with some of the more violent aspects of the game.

However, it is a rare glimpse of a teenager putting learned skills to use. He even says he wants to become a police computer forensics expert. Maybe he should out these exploits on his CV:

Recent Work Experience
2008 – NZ Police textures for Grand Theft Auto.

Go on NZ Police, give the man an apprenticeship!

Google is Super-Dominant in New Zealand

Search Engine Market Share in NZ

Well I thought Google was dominant, but the latest Hitwise figures show how dominant Google is in New Zealand.

I have quoted figures of around 60% market share for Google based on figure seen historically and overseas things are more like 45%, but the most recent Hitwise statistics show that Google is up at 89.5%



Thats nearly 90%, 9 out of every 10 searches, that’s huge. I wondered when Yahoo took over from MSN as Xtra’s search provider that they would gobble up search share, but that doesnt seem to be the case.

While Google’s seaqrches are split between .co.nz and .com (70% and 19% respectively), add the up together add you get one hell of a dominance.

What does this mean to the average business owner with a website?

Here are a few thoughts

  • Make sure your web designer is clued in on what Google wants.
  • Dont waste time and money on the other 10% unless you know it will result in worthwhile sales.
  • Make sure you keep checking your rankings in Google regularly. If you are changing content regularly, you need to make sure you know if thiongs go wrong and right.

If you primary market in in the US or Europe, then this is not necessarily correct, but in NZ for NZ markets it is important to make the use of Googles dominance.

Let us know if you need more info on this, leave a comment if you have a Search engine story

Cheers

Microsoft Buying Yahoo would iron out some kinks…

With a myriad of search providers currently out in the webosphere, the news of Microsoft making a 51 Billion Dollar offer for Yahoo has some interesting ramifications.

Obviously it creates two large competitors to duke it out over the major market share of the search space.

I am not sure if people realise the effect this consolidation will have; moving three providers that suck up 90% of the market into two will mean a shift in the dynamics of the market.

But what flow on effect will that have on the rest of the Internet.

Continue reading

Jade : Another New Zealand tech success

Jade Software Corporation Limited, the Christchurch based software developer has been special for quite some time.

It has now announced a successful implementation of a server based architecture to replace a mainframe one. This is significant if large capital costs related to mainframe architecture can be reduced by using more easily available and obviously cheaper server systems (in this case running Windows).

Continue reading

Telecoms Split – Chrous Unveiled

Well the first part of Telecom’s split has happened with Telecom announcing the name of the new Network entity, Chorus
I am not too sure about the name, but the logo is pretty well done.

Once all of these splits are completed, we can possibly see a clearer picture on the future of the web in NZ.

Also, a Canadian Internet provider (Craig Wireless) has secure wireless spectrum this week which will put them into the market as a possible alternative supplier of Broadband in NZ.

In Northland, where the population density is relatively low, a regional initiative is being discussed by a regional ICT forum. The first meeting was a chance to meet the other attendees and get a feel for the needs of the group.

There should be a another forum early 2008 to formulate some actions that can be worked on to achieve something for the region.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sir Edmund Hillary – A NZ Hero

A Change of topic, to make mention of the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, probably the most famous New Zealander in history, especially internationally.

The amount of coverage on CNN, BBC and other new agencies showed how well he and his most famous achievement were know.

88 is a good age to reach, and ironic that a man so famous for his daring and adventurous to reach 88 and die of age related cause.

Farewell Sir Ed, You will be well remembered

Powered by ScribeFire.

ADSL / Broadband at 100mbps – Thats Superfast!

An Australian researcher has provided an algorithm to produce speeds of up to 100mbps on existing ADSL networks.

If this is correct, this will be one of the most significant shifts in the internet’s infrastructure.

Content will shift to more real-time and social networking sites and rich media sites will boom. Web TV will also become more viable with near LAN speeds.
Continue reading

Jackass: The Game – From the Talent Pool in New Zealand

Jackass: the Game went on sale in the United States on
Tuesday, carrying with it the hopes of New Zealand’s fledgling computer
games industry.

The fortunes of Wellington’s Sidhe Interactive, which created
the game, would be greatly boosted if Jackass became one of only 200
computer games to sell more than a million copies. That was the
benchmark for success set by the game’s US publishers Red Mile
Entertainment and MTV Games.

With Peter Jackson, Weta Workshop, Andrew Adamson and other digital wizards from NZ, Sidhe have now joined a  select company.

You can now think of a Jackson/Weta/Sidhe collaboration covering all apsects of design, contsruction and merchandising.

Well done those boys! Hope it sells well and if the 1 Million can be sold, then their cut of the $30 Million USD will be a nice payday.

Watch the game trailer on YouTube.

Watch a clip from the game.

Cheers

Steven

Powered by ScribeFire.

Google Custom Search

After umming and arring over using Google Search (I have used the Adsense version) for a site, I researched for it and came up with a new version Google Coop Custom Search Engine.

What is this?

Well it seems to be the usual search, but allows you to collaborate with others to provide a nice resource for others to use. You can add lists of sites to search on specific topics, or as I am, a single site search.

What has put me off before is the branding of Google has been very obtrusive and didn’t work in with either plain white or black backgrounds.

Here is the great thing…

This now has the branding inside the search field…this means you are only publishing the search box and the search button. So now you can add it to any form and it will work.

Results are the similar to the Adsense for Search and work as two included Javascript snippets.

Google are now releasing a AJAX modal search result via their API, however, it is still in development and won’t allow you to collect revenue from the search results.

Overall it looks good, we’ll see what the client thinks

Cheers

Steven

Powered by ScribeFire.

Whats in a domain name?

Domain names are unique on the internet, you can’t have two the same, no matter how you try.

That’s why they are important, for search engines, it is a key component of the algorithm, see how many searches you do that have a keyword match in the domain name.

But that leads me to my client’s dilemma, should they chose a domain name that is their name ie www.comanyname.com or go with a keyword based name ie www.keyword1keyword2.com Continue reading

$40000 per week by Spamming – Go Black Frog

blue-frog-spam.pngThe Spam King made up to $40000 per week spamming net users. Is it no wonder why the scurge that is spam still lives and is expanding by the day.

With other reports that 4% of US net users respond to spam and now the cash benefits for the spammers shows waht a huge task it is to fight spam.

Do we charge each user for each email they send? 1 cent, 5 cents (It is 45c for a snail mail letter here) Continue reading

Welcome Firefox 3 , Goodbye IE7 – Yay

firefox_preview_1.jpgIn response to the damp squid that was IE7, Mozilla has produced an alpha version for download and testing.

Version 3 of Firefox, codenamed Gran Paradiso, looks to take the lead in usability and functionality that v2 has and stretch it further.

However, the issue of bloatware has raised its head, with a number of people asking Mozilla to get back to the basics of version 1.5 rather than building on the newer version 2 to which there are a number of memory and resource issues. Continue reading