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April 16, 2007

AdSense Optimization Report

To AdSense publishers, if you haven’t noticed yet, Google now provides automated optimization reports via the AdSense panel. You will see it just below your earnings report in the Overview pane.

A sample of the report will look like this:

April 2007 Optimization Report

Dear Publisher,

Here is your optimization report for the month of April. After an automatic review of your sites, we think you might be able to improve your monetization using the following tips:

You may be filtering ads that monetize well on your site.
How can I fix this? Dismiss this tip.

We hope these tips are helpful, and encourage you to experiment using different layouts and formats–no two sites monetize the same way!

Sincerely,
Google AdSense

I have around 100+ URLs added in my AdSense competitive filter list (a correction to Jayvee mentioning they were keywords in his iBlog3 presentation). These URLs are the ones frequently advertising on your blog and when you visit these URLs, they’re also running tons of AdSense or affiliate ads on their pages in the hopes that they could recuperate their ad spending with the ad revenue they’ll get. You filter them because they usually get the lowest bid (cost-per-click).

Though competitive ad filtering is a good move, the optimization report indicates that I might be blocking out advertisers that convert well. That means, even if their cost-per-click is low, the ads could be more relevant giving you a higher CTR to compensate for it.

The solution. Check the list again and see which ones are relevant and which ones are not. Then, de-list them and see what happens. :)

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April 16, 2007

Google bought and killed DodgeBall?

Dodgeball, a start-up mobile+social networking website, was silently bought by Google back in May 2005. Just last week, the two founders left Google disappointed:

Dodgeball

It’s no real secret that Google wasn’t supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us – especially as we couldn’t convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, I’m actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again.

This is a bit surprising and from the picture at Flickr, it doesn’t look good either. Last month, when I had a talk with one of the regional executives of Google, I specifically asked him about Dodgeball and how that model was supposed to be viable in the Philippine landscape. I didn’t get a clear answer. So, this is what’s going on in there. Too bad, IMO.

Reminds me. Will MeasureMap suffer the same fate?

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April 15, 2007

MyBlogLog: bid goodbye to your animated avatars!

The official MyBlogLog blog has just announced that they are going to kill all animated avatars next Friday:

The animated gifs bug enough people that we’re getting rid of them. Next Friday we’re going to process all of the images and cut them down to a single, static frame. If you have an animated avatar or community image, you have one week to update it or face the wheel of chance.

LeonidasNow, now, where will all the fun be at MBL? Jonas, say goodbye to Leonidas. I will miss him as well. :D

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April 15, 2007

FedEx still way faster than Internet

In this day and age, we all thought that the best and fastest way to send digital information/data is thru the Internet. Snail mail is a thing of the past since we have emails. Print photos have been replaced by Flickr/Picasa. Newspapers have been substituted by blogs and news sites.

Still the internet has its speed limits and FedEx is still way faster with bulk transfers — say moving 120 Terabytes (TB).

Google’s initiative to transfer all the Hubble space telescope data is a good case study. The Hubble data takes up 120 terabyte (120,000,000,000,000 byte). How does Google transfer it? Not over the internet. Instead they send actual physical disk arrays via regular mail, something they have dubbed, for fun, FedExNet. This allows them to get the data within 24 hours.

To transfer the same amount over the internet in 24 hours, Google would have to be able to achieve transfer rates of more than 11 gigabit/s running constantly maxed out. On a regular 100 megabit connection, transferring 120 terabyte of data would take almost four months (111 days).

Sneakernet is a term used to describe the transfer of electronic information, especially computer files, by physically carrying removable media such as magnetic tape, floppy disks, compact discs, USB flash drives or external drives from one computer to another. Sneaker refers to the shoes of the person carrying the media. This is usually in lieu of transferring the information over a computer network.

Now that makes FedEx more than a hundred times faster than the Internet. :D

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April 15, 2007

5 reasons why you won’t see me on Twitter

For the still uninitiated, Twitter.com is a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing? In really simple terms, it’s micro-blogging on multiple platforms – the web, your phone or on your IM. So, while a lot of friends and fellow bloggers have already jumped into the bandwagon, and though I sometimes enjoy their twittering, here’s are five reasons why I haven’t joined the fray.
Twitter

  1. It’s so like blogging in 1999 all over again. I think I’ve already got past that stage. When I started HTML blogging (meaning I manually code my post/entries) in late 2000, I was already doing the Twitter one-liners. So, how does my Twitter page looked like in April 2003? (see image on the right.)
  2. I’m always invisible (or offline) in all my Instant Messengers. Why would I want to be visible on Twitter? I don’t even respond to emails and text messages on time (talk about a day late!)
  3. I don’t like to be watched. I look at Twitter and I remember Pinoy Big Brother. Something to do with voyeurism. :D
  4. I don’t have enough time. I can’t even write on all my other group blogs regularly. It could also take away my focus on my own personal blog.
  5. Imagine Twittering on your phone. It could get really expensive.

Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever see me on Twitter. With the right conditions, I… just… might.

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April 14, 2007

I got a 1.0 in U.P.!

During the iBlog 3 sessions in the afternoon, while were having a quick snack in the lobby when a young kid approached me and introduced himself as a UP student.

Grade A

He explained that he sent me several email questions before for a thesis paper he’s doing about internet marketing and online advertising. The clincher was that he got a 1.0 for it! Wow, I felt that I’m sharing that 1.0 mark with him. And to think that I used to be just a C student back in Ateneo, getting that 1.0 in UP Diliman was joyous first for me. That there made my day. :)

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April 13, 2007

I’m in the Publishing Business

J Angelo wrote at the Blog Herald that he’s had a hard time explaining what he does for a living. To most people that he talks to, blogging or problogging isn’t even a career or is still nowhere near a form of livelihood. As for me, I’d always explain it in really simple terms that 99% of the people I talk to can understand — I’m in the Publishing business.

Here’s why:

  • Think of me as a one-man newspaper. When I did a talk over at Nestle Philippines, I explained that as a problogger, there’s not much difference between me and say Manila Bulletin (print) or Inquirer.net. We’re all in the publishing business. They may have dedicated writers, editors, photographers, programmers, designers and an Editor-in-Chief. But I also have a writer, editor, photographer, programmer and designer on my blog. Just so happen that I alone do all those stuff and still manage to be the Editor-in-Chief and the Sales Manager as well.
  • The business model is simple and has been around for centuries — advertising. Well, online advertising may be fairly new in this part of the region but everyone’s already familiar with traditional advertising. Let’s just say that the internet or new media is a growing platform, although I think the mobile media is way ahead of it in the Philippines. So, if you get a text message from Smart or Globe to download a ringtone or wallpaper, it’s no different from seeing an ad beside a blog entry. I think SMS ads are even worse since you can’t practically control what you get and when you get it. At least in blogs, you can choose not to read them or you can go and get the desensitized RSS version. Reminds me of Manny Pacquiao‘s boxing fights and how many advertisers wanted to have their logo stitched on his pants and jacket. Will that affect Manny’s performance inside the ring?
  • The compensation package are almost the same. If bloggers get paid on a per post basis, magazine contributors are also paid the same. As a matter of fact, the going rates for bloggers on a per post basis is as good as a local magazine’s rate (that’s basing from experience with writing for both.) If sites like ReviewMe or PPP suggests what kind of review bloggers can write about a product or service, you’d be surprised that magazines also require an almost similar guideline. At least with ReviewMe, they don’t have the authority to edit your blog post. Your article contributions on a magazine will surely get one.

Ms. Malou Mangahas gave me a book about the media and journalism in the Philippines and I read there that there’s no governing body for media so anyone with money can put up their own newspaper. With blogging, the start-up capitalization in the publishing business has just become close to nil.

So to my fellow grassroot probloggers, when you’re asked what you do next time, just tell them you’re in the publishing business. ;)

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April 13, 2007

iBlog3 today

Almost forgot that it’s already the iBlog 3 today. If you haven’t heard of it, go check it out and visit the venue. This is already the 3rd year and it seems like just a while ago that JJ Disini, Connie & I first met at a resto in Marikina to talk about plans for a Blogging Summit back in 2005.

Anyway, I will be there tomorrow (2nd day) to talk about some blogging success stories for around 20 minutes. It won’t take long though I would have wanted to give more time on discussions so that attendees are able to share their opinions or ask questions.

Apologies to those who came in today and went looking for me. Got your text messages and missed calls. Will see you tomorrow. :)

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April 12, 2007

Isn’t the Pager already dead?

PagerWe were having dessert at Cafe Breton in GB3 a while ago with the rest of the BoB thinking when we could record our next episode when our discussion rolled over to those ancient Nokia cellphones and the pager or beeper.

Aren’t they dead yet? At least, here in the Philippines. Easy Call used to be one of these paging companies but has now evolved into a call center (with clients like Wendy’s). Are there any other companies still into this?

Just curious.

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April 12, 2007

Red Fox Jazz up your PC

Saw this ad on PC Buyer’s Guide the other day — PC Buyer’s Guide Jazz Up your PC with Red Fox. It’s a promo to all PC Buyer’s Guide readers who wants their rig jazzed up. Your current PC must be an old but functioning one and no faster than an AMD Duron or a Pentium III processor. They’ll be using an AMD processor for the upgrade.

To join, send a letter or email to promos@asiantech.com including your complete name and contact number, address, brief description of your interests and hobbies, condition of your current PC, complete specs of the rig, reason why you wanted the free upgrade, a short blurb how PC Buyer’s Guide is helpful to you as a reader, and 4 colored pictures of your computer unit.

Entries must be sent in on or before May 1, 2007, so if you have an old rig lying around or still in use, this is your chance to get a free upgrade.

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April 11, 2007

imo.im: Yet another Web IM Client

Here’s another web-based IM client – imo.im. The service runs on Lighttpd, Pidgin (formerly Gaim), Ubuntu, and YUI. They have a blog here and looks like they’re the same guys running Aryty of Gorilla Mobile.

IMO.im

If you go to that page, a Certificate Authority window will po-up which is kinda annoying. I then tried to log in to all the 4 IMs supported — YM, AOL, GTalk and MSN. However, I got confused a bit since there’s only one buddy list showing up on the page and it’s a little hard to identify which IM is which contact you are looking though I think the icons beside the handles would indicate that.

My biggest wish for such web apps — individual IM settings panel which allows me start-up or login settings. I would appreciate it if I could set my status to invisible at login.

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April 11, 2007

Bargain hunting with Dealighted

We’d like to pause for a moment to earn a living and do this Sponsored Review from Dealighted.

Continue Reading

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April 11, 2007

Western Union for Philippine AdSense Publishers

Mars Woo left a comment on my earlier post about Malaysians getting their Adsense payouts via Western Union:

Hey, I’m a Philippine publisher and I also received an invitation from Google to try Western Union this morning. Hmmmm. I think publishers should be wary of this because Western Union has a payout limit. I’m having second thoughts also because Western Union is very strict. You have to produce two valid IDs, fill up information sheets yadah yadah.

But one good thing to consider is that those who are invited to try the Western Union payout will not be charged for the service at this time. Hmmmm. Any thoughts?

I checked my AdSense account and the Western Union option is not yet available. However, in the tips section, you will see this: “TIP. If you have selected to receive payments by Western Union Quick Cash, we recommend that you check the amount of your upcoming payment to ensure that it is not over the Western Union payout limitation. Learn more.

Clicking on the link will get you to a page with an error message — “Oops! This feature isn’t available yet. Please stay tuned — it’s coming soon, and we’ll be sure to let you know when it’s available to you.

My thoughts? I think this is a good option considering that we still have postal delivery problems and secure delivery via DHL is a bit expensive ($24). It would have been better if Google will shoulder the remittance fees via Western Union. In any case if a publisher is earning between $100 to $300 a month, the $16 fee is still cheaper and faster (2 days!).

However, Mars is right about Western Union having a money transfer limitation in the Philippines. The maximum you can receive is $2,000 at a time (per day) or its Philippine Peso equivalent. Now, that already disqualifies me. :D

Note: profile removed as per request by Mars Mosqueda.

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April 10, 2007

TLA announces Post Level Text Link Ads

I thought this was bound to happen on Text Link Ads as several other companies are already doing this (V7N Contentual Links and Text Link Brokers for example). So, when you upgrade your TLA WP plugin, you will also be able to serve up more link ads on your blogs, specifically on the post level:

With the growth of social networking news sites individual blog posts can be very valuable in terms of traffic and direct links to these specific posts. You can now sponsor these specific posts with our new Post Level Text Link Ads. Only one ad will be served at the bottom of the post and it will allow you to have a full 80 character title and 150 letter description.

- You will still have editorial control for each link purchased if you have opted for editorial control for your regular Text Link Ads.

- Pricing is set automatically and is lower on a per link basis then typical homepage placed Text Link Ads.

- No extra coding work for you, we sync all of your posts automatically with our new WP plugin.

- If you regular Text Link Ads are sold out you will now have new inventory to sell.

The pricing may be a little lower per link compared to that of your front page rates (due to low PR? But I reckon that the link is now more relevant than that of a frontpage link). This is more beneficial to those blogs that have already used up all 10 spots in their ad inventories.

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April 10, 2007

Note This on Google Results

I just noticed that Google results is now showing a “Note this” link on search results. This only happens when you are logged into your account. Here’s a screen shot:

Note this

Clicking on the link will show a small window appearing on the bottom right of your browser with the link and the description of the site. You can then edit the descriptions and add comments to it. Looks like this is related to Google Notebook but I don’t recall activating this service in my Google Account.

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April 10, 2007

In search for a great podcasting mic

You know we’re pretty serious with this BoBCast when we’re already in search for that ultimate podcasting mic. Last week, we recorded our 5th episode of the Band of Bloggers at Bataan but due to the number of BoBCasters and our lack of external microphones, the resulting audio did not went well. There’s just to wide an unequal volume in the recording and Marc seems to have a shield of static around him that’s affecting my laptop’s dual built-in mic. I tried all the low-pass filters, noise-cancelling and normalization techniques I’ve known to no avail so I think we’ll have to re-record that episode again.

Samson MicSo, I’m going out and getting us a nice external mic. Here’s my shortlist of a possible buy:

MXL V63M Studio Condenser ($99, details here)

Shure KSM27 Studio Cardioid Condenser Microphone ($299, details here)

Samson C01U – USB Studio Condenser Microphone ($90, details here)

Of the lot, I think only the Samson mic is the only one that has a USB input. However, it comes with its own recording software and you can’t hook it up directly to say Audacity or Garage Band.

The question here really is, where do I find these mics? I’ve tried all the PC and music stores in Mall of Asia but none had something close to the ones above. Will try Park Square 1 later this evening.

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April 09, 2007

Technorati vs. Google Blog Search

Just a quick survey — do you still use Technorati over Google Blog Search? Why?

Technorati
US market usage reports via Techcrunch last Dec. 2006

Which of the two is better at tracking/indexing blog specific posts? I still enjoy the use of Technorati tags to track definite topical searches. It’s a really great filter. Feature-wise Technorati still rocks. I wonder if Yahoo is looking at buying it soon.

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April 09, 2007

Help write the Blogger’s Code of Conduct at Wikia

As mentioned earlier in last Tuesday’s Wrap, Tim O’Reilly is proposing a Blogger’s Code of Conduct. On Wikia, that code of conduct is now under development. Help Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales to write the draft or join in the discussion.

Here’s the first 6 suggested codes of conduct on that list:

1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

2. We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person.

3. If tensions escalate, we will connect privately before we respond publicly.

4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.

5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

6. We ignore the trolls.

I especially liked numbers 2 and 3. Blogging has allowed people to voice out their thoughts but it has also gave way to those who abuse that freedom of speech. I know everyone has their own reasons and motives in blogging, but let it not be for unfairly attacking others and creating discord. I hope we take part in this discussion and consider the codes of conduct.

On the other had, Dave Taylor thinks the Code of Conduct is fundamentally flawed. But what’s wrong to ask people to be nice and be responsible?

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April 08, 2007

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Aileen was telling me and Marc that her old and widely linked personal blog had a PR3 while her newer less linked work blog had a PR4. I tried explaining that it’s not the volume of links but the quality and (topical) relevance. Marc counters that relevance may not be part of the algorithmic factor in determining Page Rank. He had some real-life examples to show it. I have mine that proves the contrary.

Anyway, thanks to Eric Salas for emailing me this link from SEOMoz (didn’t have much time to check my feeds):

Top 10 Positive Factors

1. Keyword Use in Title Tag
2. Global Link Popularity of Site
3. Anchor Text of Inbound Link
4. Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
5. Age of Site
6. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site
7. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community
8. Keyword Use in Body Text
9. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site
10. Rate of New Inbound Links to Site

The survey represents the collective wisdom of 37 leaders in the world of organic search engine optimization. You can read details and the comments here.

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April 07, 2007

Road Speeds: HSDPA, EDGE, GPRS


We left Bataan early this afternoon to visit Mt. Samat. We’re now in Angeles City, Pampanga having dinner at Camalig and listening to good ‘ole music. While cruising, I got the chance to capture HSDPA, EDGE and GPRS speeds (of Globe 3G/Visibility) thru NetMeter and this is what I got.
Continue Reading

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April 07, 2007

Will .COM prices go back to $35?

While our recent discussion over the expensive ccTLD (.PH) is still fresh, let me point you to another development on the upcoming price increase in the CNO name space. Frank Schilling has some juicy backgrounder on why ICANN has approved the Verisign price hike.

Remember, the 7% price increase this October is just the start. The price hike will most probably continue annually until 2012 or a 31% overall increase in the next 5 years, when compounded annually.

Expect all most Registrars to pass this increase on to all their customers soon. Marc told me during our podcast (watch out for Episode 5 of the BoBCast) that this is actually good and somehow I agree on some of his points.

  • There are no more good .COM names left; it’s a crowded space already.
  • A more expensive .COM will make it harder for domaineers to maintain their ROI. That will force them to release those grabbed domains that aren’t performing well.
  • This will take the focus off of the CNO namespace and give way to other alternative domain extensions, gTLDs and ccTLDs alike, to get some exposure and sales.

So, assuming that .COM price was brought back to $35, the same price as the current .COM.PH, will people start buying the latter instead? I think so but it’s just a hunch.

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April 07, 2007

Malaysians form National Alliance of Bloggers

Due to some political heat and libel suits being hurled on Malaysian blogosphere, bloggers have organized a group called the National Alliance of Bloggers.

The National Alliance of Bloggers’ main goal is to “protect bloggers,” and to try to get the government to see their point of view and why they have made certain postings, the new group’s president, Ahirudin Attan, wrote on his popular blog “Rocky’s Bru.”

About 50 of Malaysia’s popular online personalities held a meeting and decided to start the organization because a few bloggers were being “demonized again and again” by the government, Ahirudin said. {source: Yahoo/AP}

Here in the Philippines, we have the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). Several people/bloggers have also encouraged me to set-up/initiate one for bloggers and discussions for a possible org has been on-going (although I still have reservations). We still have to iron out some issues but I believe it should be discussed more widely among stakeholders. It just so happen that in Malaysia, a series of events have actually prompted to put up one this quick.

What you guys think?

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April 06, 2007

Do you turn off your PC at night?

An article over at Microsoft Small Business Center asks: Do you need to turn off your PC at night?.

More often than not I leave my desktop PC on overnight. I only turn them off if I will be away for a day or more. Most of the time, it’s running Limewire, iTunes or some torrents but sometimes I just leave it there with nothing to do. I just turn off the monitor/LCD to save on electricity. I do this primarily because there are cases when I need to login or use the PC so quickly, it’s easy to just turn on the LCD/monitor than to wait 2-3 minutes for Windows to boot up.

The article discusses the use of sleep or hibernate instead of turning it off or pulling the plug. An unplugged PC still consumes 2.3 watts (because of LAN) and uses the same power during hibernate while on “sleep” mode, it eats up 3.1 watts. Regular monitors consume 75 watts when left on, 5 watts in “sleep” mode while LCD monitors eats up 22 watts when turned on and 3.3 watts in sleep mode.

These might be small figures but if you add them up in a year (365 days), you could save up to thousands of pesos (depending where you are or how much your power rate is).

So, do you also leave your PC on at night?

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April 06, 2007

Fresh New Adsense Ad Formats

From the Adsense Blog, newer Adsense Ad formats will be rolling out soon. Check out the images below for a comparison of the current format and the new format:

Adsense Ads

There’s not much difference there actually. I would have really loved it had they allowed Publishers to choose the text fonts. I guess they only allow that sort of flexibility for Premium Publishers (say you spell 20 Million pageviews a month?).

For experienced bloggers, these new layout may not be of any help for for those who are just starting out or have already pushed the default layout, this could prove to be a strong factor affecting their CTR.

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April 05, 2007

BoBCast Episode 4: Of Banana Splits & Relationships

Band of Bloggers PodCast, Episode 4: Of Banana Splits & Relationships
Hosted by: Yuga & Jayvee

Guests: Aileen Apolo, Sasha Manuel, Rico Mossesgeld, Gail dela Cruz, Marc Villanueva

Time: 22 minutes
Show Notes:
Social Networking Sites & Offline Relationships
EMI and Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Philippine Blog Awards After-Math

We recorded this podcast over at Iceberg at Metrowalk last night after our badminton game at Smashville. That’s one of the less noisy places we could find to hang out, have some halo-halo and banana splits, and get this podcast ready for publish before we head of to a Lenten week-end getaway at the Macalua Mansion and Resort at Bataan. Watch out for the inevitable rant on the podcast. Soundtrack credits to Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Advanced Happy Easter to all fellow Christians. ;)