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March 05, 2007

Tales of Lost Adsense Cheques

Another Adsense cheque bites the dust, this time, that of Jepoy. Receiving international cheques in the Philippines isn’t safe, even if you course it thru registered mail. A lot of Adsense publishers learned that the painful way — may it be in dollars or peso currency, someone diligent enough and with the right connections can encash them quicker than you’ve realized you’ve lost it in the mail.

A lot of people have suggested solutions for s stricter mailing policy from Google but I think the problem is not with the search giant but with our Philippine Postal system. Whatever security measures are put in place will only be bypassed if it’s an inside job. There are only two ways I can think of that could solve this postal thievery:

DHL Express. They’re one of the most trusted courier in the world so you can be sure you’d get your package & money on time (actually faster). The only issue is the $24 courier fee which is a bit expensive (but it’s money we’re talking about here). One way to save is to make your payments on-hold for several months until you’ve got enough funds to offset the delivery service.

Direct Fund Transfer. This is not yet supported by Google in the Philippines but I think this is the most convenient way really. Let’s just hope that comes along soon enough.

On another topic, I’ve also been informed by my bank that dollar cheque deposits are now being tracked by the Central Bank by getting the depositor’s TIN and asking for the source of the remittance. They’d categorize it as either professional fee, donations or dividends. Not sure what’s the real reason behind it but I guess since that terrorism act has been passed into law, that’s one way for the government to track money laundering activities funding terrorism groups. That’s just a theory though. :D

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March 04, 2007

The Band of Bloggers goes to Puerto Galera

Just for the week-end though. We arrived back here just an hour ago and tired from the 4-hour drive. This trip was organized by Ms. Google Philippines herself.

I took tons of pictures but I can’t post the ones in bikinis so let’s just post the one with the “Lost” inspired shot instead:

Puerto Galera

In the pictures, (from left to right at the back) Rico, Aileen, Mark (Sharm’s cousin) & May, Ryan (my bro), Arianne (my cousin), Yuga and Sasha. Sitting in front are Jayvee, Sharms, & Marc.

Gail didn’t make it ‘coz she’s sick but was happy to take care of James for me and Markku is away with Joey in Bora.

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March 03, 2007

WP 2.1.1 hacked, upgrade now!

Everyone should have known about this exploit by this time but if you are running WordPress 2.1.1 from a download just several days ago, your WP blogs might have been compromised.

This morning we received a note to our security mailing address about unusual and highly exploitable code in WordPress. The issue was investigated, and it appeared that the 2.1.1 download had been modified from its original code. We took the website down immediately to investigate what happened.

It was determined that a cracker had gained user-level access to one of the servers that powers wordpress.org, and had used that access to modify the download file. We have locked down that server for further forensics, but at this time it appears that the 2.1.1 download was the only thing touched by the attack. They modified two files in WP to include code that would allow for remote PHP execution.

You could be also running that cracked version. It’s strongly recommended that you upgrade to WordPress 2.1.2 now.

Please, help spread the word.

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March 03, 2007

Free Fonts Galore

Surprisingly, I got another request from ReviewMe yesterday after rejecting the old one. So here goes my quick review about UrbanFonts.com:

Continue Reading

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March 03, 2007

Free your Wifi!

I’ve been talking to several people, especially bloggers about the possibility of this “open source” project. I’d ask them if they have wifi at home and if they freely share that with their neighbors. Most of those I asked tells me they have some sort of encryption and password protection and do not freely share their bandwidth.

While I agree that the network security is an important issue, I still believe in the idea of “pay it forward”. If enough people who have their internet on 24/7 at their homes and establishments and network it wirelessly, everyone else will benefit from this “open source” scheme. If this idea grows and more and more people will share their wireless internet free, life could be easier. :D

Yup, again, I know the repercussions of un-secured networks and all that but I think that ultimately the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages.

So, what do you think?

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March 02, 2007

Yuga visits Inquirer.net office

Now, that looks like a loaded title. *joke* I couldn’t think of anything to match that one so I’ll just copy it from Joey Alarilla’s post over at the Inquirer.net Blogs (thanks for the coffee Joey, I know it should have been bottomless beer instead).

The visit was actually about our interview for the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards and although Gail couldn’t make it, Jayvee and I filled up her spot just fine. ;)

You can watch the 16-minute vidcast uploaded on YouTube here.

So, if some parts of the interview weren’t clear, I’d say it here again. We just signed the contract to get the RCBC Auditorium as the venue for the awards night on March 31, 2007 so it’s a go.

I’d like to thank the latest sponsors who pledged their support. eYellowPages & b5media will also be a co-presentors and Inquirer.net is a major sponsor as well together with Adobe Usergroup Philippines who will be giving away a licensed copy of Adobe Studio 8, a $999 value. :)

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March 02, 2007

Yehey! Chief comments about IPO

Yehey! Chief Donald Lim left a comment on my blog about my earlier entry on their supposed plans to go IPO this year.

Actually, we are going IPO for many reasons: from gaining more cash for other investments, to becoming a global online media behemoth.

Yehey has undergone a transformation since last year, starting with its facelift and relaunch, and the introduction of Kaban (www.kaban.com.ph) which replaced Payplus, to becoming a formidable marketing tool for business.

For our users, we have introduced a rewards system called bretas. The more you search or navigate yehey, the more points you earn, and you can redeem it later for goodies.

I guess PinoyMoneyTalk is right in the sense that we have become too hybrid. What is our positioning anyway? For now, we are happy being home for Pinoys in and out of the Philippines. We deliver aggragated content, have a good message boards and chatroom activities, new channels and sections, and definitely, more interactive features. But we will see how it goes.

If you have ideas, please let us know. Thanks.

First, I have to give it to Yehey! for the bold move. Going public could make or break your company so it’s a huge risk to take. Second, I didn’t knew about this Kaban thing that’s replacing the half-decade old PayPlus so I’m surprised about the switch.

Lastly, and this one’s interesting, is the bretas system — looks like an attractive scheme to make the site sticky. But it also begs the question — are your eyeballs there because of the unique and useful value you’re offering or because of the rewards? How to monetize this traffic will be as challenging as Friendster trying to monetize its 5 million Filipino users. I can now imagine people gaming the system — from repeated manual punching of the F5 key to an automated 5-second page-reload browser extension.

From Donald’s comment, it would seem that Yehey will try to become an everything-for-everyone site.

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March 01, 2007

How online ad rates are quantified?

A question was sent to me yesterday asking how rates are quantified in online advertising, including variables which may affect it. I believe this type questions are better addressed by internet marketers.

Continue Reading

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March 01, 2007

Where are the Pinoy Podcasters?

A year ago, Ajay asked me a quick interview for MB on what I think about podcasting. I couldn’t really remember what I said but the gist of it was that the act of podcasting is a difficult routine that it could be short-lived.

A quick check at the list of nominations for the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards in the podcast category showed poor results. So, I went back a tracked them. Most of the Filipino Podcasts I used to listen had been off the air or floating somewhere. So, where are they and what could be the reason why they discontinued their shows?

  • Diminished/Lost interest from podcasters?
  • Lack of time and/or schedule coordination among co-hosts to continue regular programming?
  • Lack of topics to cover?
  • No audience?
  • No avenues for monetization?
  • Went back to blogging as it’s easier and less stressful to write than to talk (and edit, and mix, and compress, and upload).

In blogging, I noticed that the most prolific ones (or the ones that really grew their audience) were partly motivated by the monetization aspect so the is the lack thereof in the podcasting arena be a reason for that? I’m not sure.

That area of the local blogosphere needs to be rejuvenated. :) To our former/current podcasters out there, why’d you stopped?

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March 01, 2007

Totally iTunes for Pinoy?

Now, this is what I’d call purely Pinoy creativity. *heh* NoypiTunes is your iTunes for the Filipino mobile phone users.

noypiTunes.com lets you personalize your mobile phone for All-Pinoy tones, images, logos and other content.

Here you’ll find a wide collection of top-rated homegrown music from artists like Bamboo, True Faith, and from Pinoy master rapper Francis M, downloadable as ringtones to US mobile phones. You can avail of download packages and enjoy four polyphonic ringtones for the price of one.

The problem here is that the branding is just too close to Apple’s iTunes that I am seeing C&D anytime soon, especially when Apple launches its ringtones shop on iTunes right after the iPhone is released to the market.

Hat tip to KissNewMedia.

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March 01, 2007

PEP.PH all geared up

PEPPEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) has formally launched last night together with the 7th anniversary of Yes! Magazine. The showbiz portal looks really promising and has the basic features (forums, gallery, commenting) engaging enough to keep avid fans glued on their monitors. The operator of the site, GMA New Media, is really proud of this site (based on what Ms. Malou Mangahas relayed to me) and though they were not able to snag pep.com.ph (by Philippines Equity Partners Inc.), I’m sure there won’t be any type-in problems there (I see they already got pep.net.ph too).

What is more interesting is that several big time showbiz bloggers have mentioned that PEP could pose as a huge competition in their market. It’s possible PEP could take away their readership in a short time. Talk about pageviews and unique hits huh?

IMO, it could go both ways. With PEP, they (showbiz bloggers) might have competition growing their reader community (thru forums) but they now have a more centralized source for entertainment news.

(To PEP: Nice work on the watermark, huh!? You know you can’t stop people from grabbing your images, but at least they got your brand along with them. ;)

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February 28, 2007

Bloggers/Forum Owners Immune against Commenters

I wish we had something similar to this here in the Philippines:

In Universal Communication Systems v. Lycos, a company who had allegedly been victimized by defamatory statements on a message board regarding the value of its stock sued Lycos, which operated the board. The message board allowed users to post comments with minimal moderation, and no one from Lycos was responsible for the allegedly defamatory statements.

Examining the impact of Sec. 230 on this case, the court noted that “Congress intended that, within broad limits, message board operators would not be held responsible for the postings made by others on that board,” adding that allowing bloggers and message board operators to be sued for the statements of commenters on their sites would have an “obvious chilling effect” on speech. Accordingly, the court dismissed the complaint against Lycos.

Then my life would have been much, much less chaotic and exasperating. I wouldn’t have also dug deeper into my pocket.

Credits to ACSBlog, via Andy Beal.

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February 28, 2007

SEO Clinic: Free SEO Advice

Now, this is something you’d like to get if you’re running a huge site or an online business — some free SEO advice from several of them kick-ass SEO professionals in the industry:

SEO Clinic is a new project we are now offering on Search Engine Journal for webmasters and site owners which are not experiencing their desired or potential Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and MSN rankings.

Every week our group of SEO experts will band together and lend our expertise to help one lucky selected site with their SEO. We will publish our tips for your site on each Tuesday.

SEO Clinic is a free service and our recommendations will include ideas and tips on link building, site navigation, usability, copywriting, social media optimization and other techniques which help web sites rank higher for desired terms in search engines. {Search Engine Journal}

Head on over there and have your site diagnosed.

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February 28, 2007

How to reject a ReviewMe request?

The other day, I just got an email from ReviewMe that there is a pending request for review for one of my blogs. When I login back to their site, I discovered that my blog rank was updated from $100 per review to $250 which is the max rate for a request. With a take home of 50%, that’s $125 already.

ReviewMe

The review was for a data recovery software designed to restore accidentally lost files and was assigned to PTB. So, I stared at it real hard and instead of clicking the decline button, waited it out until the request expires (maybe next time buddy). Still, it’s nice to know a company would shell out $250 for a blog post.

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February 27, 2007

Of Blog Networks and MP3s

I realize that sometimes, there are topics which are better published on other blogs than your own. Either the topic is more in tuned with the theme or the regular audience may respond more depending on where the topic was posted.

When I first wrote at the Blog Herald, it took me ages to make up my first post. It was because I know the audience there is totally different than my audience here at YugaTech or at Pinoy.Tech.Blog. So, I tried to change the tone and the style of writing (although the grammatical errors are still consistent :D) and hope I’d grab attention as well as the other A-List bloggers writing there. Now I realize it takes time and a hell lot more patience. So, i’ll take my time then. ;)

Over at PTB, I wondered if the recent Alcatel-Lucent suit against Microsoft marks the beginning of MP3′s demise as a popular/universal audio format.

At Blog Herald, I wrote a fairly lengthy explanation on what might be a perfect payout structure for network bloggers. Go get blog hopping in there. ;)

Paki Digg nyo naman para me $50 ako! *hahaha*

[tags]problogging, blog networks, mp3[/tags]

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February 27, 2007

How to improve Technorati rank?

TechnoratiI have not been able to update the list of Top 100 Philippine Blogs on Technorati until recently when I getting too many requests to do so. I was actually doing a script before which will do this ranking automatically on a regular weekly basis but forgot all about it. (Again, to those who’ve only discovered that page only recently, it’s manually updated so there’s a huge chance I overlooked a couple of blogs. The biggest challenge there actually was to discover which blogs are written by Filipinos.)

So, there goes the question, how to increase your Technorati rank? (First, go back and read my earlier explanation about Technorati ranking before we move on.) So, it’s either you gain more blog links faster or other blogs higher than you lose their links.

Here are some quick tips on how to improve your Technorati rank:

  • Create really beautiful blog themes (WordPress & BlogSpot ones are hot). Just look at Gail and Beng’s free WordPress themes and how much links they got for it.
  • Develop awesome blog tools and plugins (again, mostly for WordPress). Andrew and Marc’s WP plugins have been harvesting scores of links in the blogosphere.
  • Come up with timely contests. Remember the free tickets to the World Pyro Olympics? Both blogs garnered a combined 277 comments & 108 trackbacks.
  • Join contests. Aside from the one mentioned above, there’s the recently concluded Ituloy Angsulong contest as well as the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards.
  • Attend events. There’s more to what *Jozzua posted about why you should network. Bloggers will talk/write about you and more likely, link to you. The Blog Parteeh! has bare witness to how bloggers benefited from the event especially those who really went around and got to know their fellow bloggers.
  • Sponsor an event or contest. If you can’t make one or attend one, why not sponsor one instead? Just ask how many new blog links our sponsors got from the Blog Parteeh. (It’s somewhere in excess of 110.)
  • Focus on your niche. Remember, more bloggers will tend to add you to their blog roll if you’re blog is related to their niche.
  • Be the first to blog about it. You know what they say how the early bird gets the fat worm first. You’re more likely to be linked to when you write about a hot issue first.
  • Make good use of Technorati tags. A lot of people are watching and using Technorati and by using the tags, you have more chances of being seen or discovered.
  • Technorati Link Optimization. If you already got the link but it’s not showing on Technorati, you can ping on behalf of the blogger.

Oh, let’s not mention the link baits anymore. As long as you write original and compelling content, the links will follow. The ones I highlighted above just gets you there faster. ;)

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February 26, 2007

Apple’s iPhone Commercial at the Oscars

Can you say “Hello?

That’s it?

[tags]iphone sales, iphone activation, iphone reviews, iphone sold out, iphone lines, iphone news, [/tags]

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February 26, 2007

Canon EOS-1D Mark III: World’s fastest camera?

Is there any other digital SLR out there that can shoot at 10 fps?

Canon EOS-1D Mark III

My Canon Rebel XT (350D) shoots at 3fps, very far down the food chain. ‘Nuf of this. Elber has the complete specs here.

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February 26, 2007

Is that a 160GB Flash Drive?

Adtron Corporation recently announced a whooping 160GB Solid State Flash Disk. “The products in this announcement include the industry’s highest capacity 2.5″ SLC NAND flash disk drives at 160 GBytes.” Wow, as in wow!

160GB Flash Disk

And I thought Apple iPod’s 4GB & 8GB were the current industry sizes with the 16GB & 32GB being introduced by Samsung as a laptop’s HDD replacement.

This seems to be a huge leap from the existing capacities that we see now. Are we looking at laptops running on flash drives by the end of the year?

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February 25, 2007

Moblabber Philippines launched

Here’s a new local networking service which ties both web interaction and mobile connection – Moblabber.

Basically, the service allows you to interact among peers and people with the same interests via the web or your cellphone. Think YahooGroups or GoogleGroups for the cellphone. The only difference is that you can manage everything on either the website of your mobile phone. The web is free but any outgoing messages you send via your phone will be charged Php2.50. Registration is confirmed/verified via your inputted mobile number. You can call this Twitter on steroids although blog/step integration is still in the drawing board.

The highlights of the service allows you to send a text message to your group via the web or via your cellphone, so you’re only charged for one message. However, those who will receive the messages via their phone will carry the charges (again at Php2.50) instead.

Disclosure: Moblabber PH was developed by the same company (FeedText) (which granted license to Axis Global) that sponsored the last Blog Parteeh and BBN partner Sasha also works for them.

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February 25, 2007

Adsense Beautifier violates Adsense TOS

I’ve posted here before that your Adsense beautifier *might* violate Google Adsense’s TOS. It wasn’t a straight clarification so some people removed them while others (like me) retained them thinking that as long as the images are not related to the ads, it won’t be a problem.

Noemi emailed me saying she got a notice for Adsense Support Team asking her to remove the plugin:

While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as …..

Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way, for instance, by formatting neighboring content to look similar to the ads, or by making ads look like games or forum threads. Additionally, publishers may not attempt to associate specific images with the individual ads appearing on their sites. Such an implementation may confuse users who assume that the image is directly related to the advertiser’s offerings.

Please make any necessary changes to your web pages in the next 3 business days. We also suggest that you take the time to review our program policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance.

Once you update your site, we will automatically detect the changes and ad serving will not be affected. If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.

Thank you for your cooperation.

I actually got a similar email days ago but totally forgot about it after complying with the Adsense team. We’re just glad they informed us and told us explicitly about it. So, if you have the same plugin in your blog, you can act now before they email you. ;)

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February 24, 2007

Rickey’s $100-a-day Adsense Challenge

For a couple of days now, I’ve been chatting with Rickey and helping him optimize his Adsense ads on his main blog. With over 100,000 page views on a hot day, he reckons he could have lost thousands of problogging dollars last year for an under-optimized ad layout.

My approach is simple. Set a target based on your existing stats and plug in your ideal figures to see how much you ought to be earning from your blog.

Total Monthly Revenue = total daily page views x CTR x CPC x 30 days

* CTR – click through rate
* CPC – cost per click

So, in his case, our target is a CTR of 1% and a CPC of $0.10 (all figures here are hypothetical and does not reflect any of Rickey’s actual Adsense stats). That gives us 100,000 x 1% x $0.10 or $100/day which gives us $3,000 a month. (Note to Rickey: Sorry my original computation was wrong when I said it was $900/day. My math failed me there.)

How to increase CTR?

1) Ad-blending
2) Increase ad relevance by using section targeting
3) Changing ad layouts or positioning
4) Using ad channels for tracking

These are very basic methods but if you use them very well and by tracking your ad performance, you could hit that good mix which will yield you the highest possible CTR. After just a day of tweaking (if you have 100k page views, a 24-hour experiment is enough), we increased his eCPM by 50% and his CTR by close to 90%.

How to increase CPC?

1) Reducing total number of ads
2) Positioning the first ad to get the highest CTR
3) Targeting higher paying but relevant keywords

This is a bit tricky and more risky to experiment with but once you hit the sweet spot, the returns could be two or three-folds.

So, when Rickey mentioned that we probloggers don’t share the secret sauce like them SEO guys (put name here), I’d like to prove him wrong by inviting bloggers to send in their blog for an AdSense Makeover. Of course, I will not guarantee that I could increase your earnings but I will try my best. Again, I think it’s easier to do this if you have a sizable traffic already (say 1,000 pageviews or higher). And yes, we will also discuss here how we did it and what changes we’ve made and how much we gained from the make-over. Anybody up for it?

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February 24, 2007

Discovering new links

Several days ago, a Multiply account linked to our Travel Blog that brought in a rush of readers. The traffic went four-folds that day:

Travel

Total number of direct referrals as of date is around 1,366 but after that initial link, the surge in traffic (pageviews) still continues. I believe this is because everyone who saw that link have never seen the blog before and got really interested in the volume of content we have there. So, they kept coming back each and every day for the past 5 days now, continue reading where they left off the night before. And because of that, I also receive a bunch of emails from people wanting to contribute to the blog.

Special thanks to kooki for the link. ;)

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February 23, 2007

Globe is co-presenting the Phil. Blog Awards

Thanks to the people from Globe Telecoms and Globe Innove has agreed to become Co-Presentors for this year’s Philippine Blog Awards.

We’re all gearing to a huge, huge event this March 31. Oops, did I just said the date?

Thanks to everyone for the support. Now, I’m off to the event’s committee meeting.

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February 23, 2007

More ways to make money online

Over at Web Worker Daily, Anne Zelenka writes about 10 New Ways to Make Money Online. Some of the items she mentioned have already been around for sometime while others have become too saturated as well.

I’m now thinking of ways to make money online that’s more relevant to our region (or specifically in the Philippines):

  • Buy & Sell items in TipidPC. I look at TipidPC as somewhat like the eBay for the Philippines, even before eBay.ph came into the scene.
  • Work as a Proxy Player. Some games require you to play a certain amount of time before you reach a level or number of points. I have been told by a friend that these players (students and office workers alike) would pay other people just to continue their game play (proxy-play) while they’re away. Rates go as low as Php20 per hour and the player also pays for the net cafe rent. Others do it from home too.
  • Sell mobile wallpapers and ringtones. The telcos and CPs have already dominated this space but as an individual with talents, time and enough resources, this can be done. Here’s how I would do it. Create all your original mobile wallpapers and ringtones from scratch. Set up a small website to upload screenshots or demos of the products you created. Setup an SMS server on your PC (software costs as low as Php5,000 and all you need is a mobile phone and the cable). Start receiving request for downloads and get paid via Smart Money or Globe G Cash.
  • Proxy blogger. I know some network bloggers are doing this. They have too many blogs to write for that they could not maximize their output for a day. So, if they’re being paid $5 per post, they would look for someone else to blog for them and pay them $2 or $3. They reach their daily quota and they still get a cut.

Lots of other niche industries not yet tapped around here.