Google

An Alternative to Annoying Ads (Is there one?)

I often have brilliant ideas (for websites) while trying to get back to sleep in the early hours of the morning.

If I can still remember them I do a little research, only to discover that the idea has been done, and often done to death and there is now a website listing all the websites that have successfully implemented “My Big Idea” (MBI).

Scamdex/Scamalot uses online ads to generate income to pay for the hosting etc and to give it’s owners a trickle of income to compensate for the significant effort in keeping the sites running.

No one likes ads on websites. It’s a fact, proven by the enormous popularity of ‘Ad Blockers’. This is made worse by deceptive, loud, fraudulent, offensive etc ads that make your browsing experience unpleasant.

Scamdex/Scamalot uses Google Adsense mainly, this is because I trust them not to try to trick my visitors, they use their vast databases to attempt to tailor ads to the visitor’s interest and also because they pay ‘per click’ – so if someone clicks on an ad on my site, I get a couple of cents (the amount varies widely). This isn’t exactly a quid pro quo – I have a Click Rate of around 1% – so for every 100 visitors, one person will click on an ad that they see there.  I also use a couple of other ‘Affiliate’ ads, one for a respectable on-line lottery and one for Amazon.com, oh and one for Spokeo.com, a search engine for people. I am not making much, let me tell you!

So, ads are annoying and they bring in a pittance – what alternatives are there?

Well, there’s only one – a ‘Paywall’ – You need to signup and pay to get into the website. Like the newspapers do. But everyone hates that idea. We all visit hundreds of websites and only the very big/popular sites (Think ‘New York Times’) can possibly expect to get signups (and even they struggle!). A low-volume website like Scamdex would simply not get enough visitors to justify the implementation.

Anyway, you see the problem now?

Back to my early-morning “Eureka” moment – I was thinking of a way for public websites to generate incremental income without showing ads and I came up with this:

  1. Create a website called ‘Pennies from Heaven’ (PFH) or somesuch that allows people to click a link and automatically credit a website that they are visiting and appreciate with a penny (or more), from their account.
  2. PFH would aggregate these micro-donations and, assuming a certain threshold, pay out monthly.
  3. The websites would be free from annoying ad clutter and be free to fill in the gaps with more content.
  4. People would become members of PFH and set a monthly maximum amount to donate. At the end of the month, that amount would be billed to them.
  5. A discrete button on PFH-affiliated pages would invite the visitor to contribute, ostensibly to support the site financially and to thank the site for not showing ads.
  6. Another option would allow visitors to websites to automatically contribute based on page views or some other scheme – monthly, perhaps.

Sounds good eh? A Win-win as far as I can see – except perhaps for the ad companies (and the ad-blocker companies )

Well I went to a website last week and saw a button that just said ‘Flattr us’ –  Flattr this – and knew immediately what it was – My Big Idea! (MBI)

I signed up and you’ll see the button on a couple of pages.

They implemented MBI in a slightly different method, probably due to some major brainstorming sessions and logistics (I’m guessing some thresholds to do with payment processors).

So How does Flattr work?

  1. After signing up, you choose a monthly budget – say $20
  2. Every website you visit (that’s part of the scheme), you can click on the Flattr button and make it a recipient of part of your budget (for that month).
  3. At the end of the month, your budget is divided up between all the websites that you’ve ‘Flattr-ed’
  4. 90+% goes to the website(s) and the remaining 10% is split among the Flattr website and to pay Payment Processing fees.
  5. You can be a Contributor and a Recipient of Flattr income – as I am.

Ok, so it’s not MBI, but it’s close and I can see a great future. I think Micro-donations (and Micro-payments generally) are the way forward. aggregating is (currently) the only way to achieve this, mainly due to minimum charges made by payment processors – I think it’s around 30-75c per transaction.

I haven’t looked around to see if/how other micro-donation sites are doing, but if you know of one, please feel free to let me know – and your views on this subject

 

Is it Polish? No – it’s a Czech Scam!

I would say that 99% of all the scams I see are in English. A smattering of French, Russian and German, even occasionally Italian and Spanish. I have no way of identifying character-based languages (Japanese, Chinese) but I try. This is a new one for me – I first assumed it was Polish, but Google Translate tells me that it is in fact Czech!
Nothing in the email explains why this is so and the bank references is a British bank and the email address is also British.
Still, interesting to see!

From: Mail [mailto:ewen-ss@gmx.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:07 AM
Subject: Od pana Ewen Stevenson (Obchodní návrh)

Z: p Ewen Stevenson
Výbor pro audit Group
Royal Bank of Scotland – Anglie
Obor: 48 Haymarket,
LONDÝN SW1Y 4SE
SPOJENÉ KRÁLOVSTVÍ

Komplimenty na vás,

Prosím, můžete věřit? Jsem pan Ewen Stevenson, pracuji tady v Royal Bank of Scotland – Anglie. DůvÄ›ryhodný poradce pro více než 20 let a v současné dobÄ› místopÅ™edseda výboru pro audit Group / finanční Å™editel; Royal Bank of Scotland – Anglie. Rozhodl jsem se hledat důvÄ›rné spolupráce s vámi pÅ™i provádÄ›ní dohodu tady pod popsáno, že bude mít ohromný přínos pro nás oba i tÄ›ch ménÄ› privilegovaných bude mít rovněž prospÄ›ch, a doufám, že si udrží to jako vrchol tajné vzhledem k povaze transakce.

V průběhu našeho Bank ročního auditu, jsem zjistil, nevyžádaný / opuštěné fondů, celkový součet £ 21.500,000.00 britských librách (dvacet jeden milion pět set tisíc britská libra) v účtu, který patří k jednomu z našich zahraničních zákazníků (Late pan . Moises Saba Masri), který byl židovský (syrského extrakt) mexický podnikatel bohužel dne 10. ledna 2010, Saba přišel o život poté, co jeho vrtulník havaroval v Cuajimalpa spolu s manželkou, synem a manželkou svého syna.

Volba Vás kontaktovat vzbudil z geografické povahy, kde žijete, obzvláště vzhledem k citlivosti na transakce a důvěrnost zde. Nyní náš bankovní bylo čekání na některý z příbuzných přijde-až k tvrzení o dědické fondu, ale bohužel všechny snahy se, že neplatné. Osobně jsem byl neúspěšný při rozmisťování ani příbuzné ani žádný nejbližší příbuzný k (pan Saba) po dobu 5 let. Na této týče, teď mám usilovat o váš souhlas k vám jako další příbuzný / Bude příjemce, aby zemřelého tak, že výtěžek z tohoto účtu oceněn na 21,5 liber milion britských librách šterlinků může být vyplacena na vás. To bude vyplacena, nebo sdílená v těchto procent, 50% pro mě a 50% na vás. Slibuji, že poskytnou vám všechny nezbytné a právní informace je, že mohou být použity k zálohování toto tvrzení jsme o tom s bankou.

Všechno, co potřebujete, je nahrát své osobní údaje, jak je uvedeno níže je uvedeno v naší databázi bankovního systému, aby vám ukáží jako oprávněný příjemce by měla být v případě bankovních šeků. K dispozici bude právní dokumentace, která musí být dosaženo v souladu s Brity zákony, aby se předešlo problémům. Všechny Žádám nyní je vaše nejvíce upřímná Co-operation a absolutní důvěra není pochyb o tom, aby nám umožnila vidět tuto transakci prostřednictvím. Možná, zaručuji vám 100% úspěšnost, která bude legalizován v takové vzdálenosti, že tato transakce bude provedena za legitimní uspořádání a působnosti zákona, který bude chránit vás z jakéhokoli porušení smlouvy, a to jak ve své zemi, a tady v Londýně.

To je velmi naléhavé. Prosím, mi poskytnout tyto informace je, jak máme 5 pracovních dní spustíme ji projít:

-Vaše celé jméno,
-Vaše Kontaktní adresa &
-Vaše Přímá čísla mobilního telefonu.
-Číslo faxu.
-Tvůj věk
-Vaše profese :

S proÅ¡la metodický vyhledávání, rozhodl jsem se Vás kontaktovat doufat, že vás najdou tento návrh zajímavé. Prosím o vaÅ¡i pozornost této zprávy indikující váš zájem, poskytnout výše uvedené informace potÅ™ebné k tomu, aby mi nahrát vaÅ¡e data do Royal Bank of Scotland – Anglie databázi tak, aby odrážely v naší síti systému banky. PravdÄ›podobnÄ› bude banka být pÅ™esvÄ›dčeni, že jste ve vztahu k rodinÄ›, ani jmenoval nejbližším příbuzným / bude příjemcem (pozdní pan Saba). Já vás bude vedení o tom, jak otevřít komunikaci s bankou a dÄ›lat nároky na další pÅ™edávání fondu na váš bankovní účet.

Váš upřímný souhlas na tento e-mail a obchodní návrh bude vysoce ocenil. Zavolej mi na obdržení tohoto e-mailu pro více diskusí.

Poděkoval vám v očekávání pro vaši rychlou odpověď.

S úctou Váš,
Pan Ewen Stevenson.

Scammers turning your WordPress Website into a Spam/Malware Distributor

So I get an email from Google complaining that several links from my son’s blog (which I will not name here) are linking to malware sites. The sample links they included were valid but completely foreign to the site, and the pages themselves were mangled versions of existing blog posts, with long lists of search engine spam and a few websites.
Needless to say, these were not of our making so I set out to investigate and clear them down as soon as possible.
The blog is concerned with my 12 year old son’s love of all things Lego which, since getting his own laptop and discovering Minecraft, has been languishing since his last post in July 2012.
The spam pages are not referenced from the valid blog pages in any way and have been in place since October. Only Google, chiding me about pages with my Adsense code being used to point to Malware alerted me to the breech. Otherwise I would never have noticed.

How it got there?

I suspect that the intrusion method was a theme I installed in October. It’s just a guess though – WordPress is so ubiquitous, I’m sure there are loads of vulnerabilities, especially if the constant stream of updates is anything to go by. Suffice it to say that they got in, and with enough authentication to allow them to upload files.

What I found

I found a couple of anonymous type directories under the ‘/wordpress’ directory: “imgxkm” and “imguut”. The content was a load of files of the form 74XXXXX.html. Each file was a complete webpage which seems to be spam content mixed with genuine blog page content. There was also an index.php.txt file which does a lot of stuff which I was in no mood to examine.
The important file, the one that makes the whole thing work is a .htaccess file. For those not in the know, this file is the Swiss-army penknife for web developers – it can make black into white and cure cancer – it can also take a mangled-looking url and make it go to a perfectly normal-looking webpage (and vice versa). Anyway, the job of this one was to take those odd looking SEO-spammy type urls and serve them up with a content-rich webpage – all without the website owner knowing a thing about it.

What Now?

I dont have time to completely debug this issue, I’m just glad to have found it (thanks to Google’s ever vigilant search engine spam detection algorithms). If you get messages from Google relating to webpages that you dont recognize, check for .htaccess files like this one.

Bon Chance!

Big Internet (Facebook, Google) gets serious about Email Scams.

And this time, they seem to be serious, joining together these powerhouses:

* Big Internet: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn etc.

* Big Money (aka financial service providers): Bank of America, Fidelity Investments and PayPal.

* Big Security: Agari, Cloudmark, eCert, Return Path and the Trusted Domain Project

To fight Email Scams, specifically Phishing Scams. Such scams try to trick people into giving away passwords and other personal information by sending emails that look as if they come from a legitimate bank, retailer or other business. When Bank of America customers see emails that appear to come from the bank, they might click on a link that takes them to a fake site mimicking the real Bank of America’s. There, they might enter personal details, which scam artists can capture and use for fraud.

To combat that, 15 major technology and financial companies have formed an organisation to design a system for authenticating emails from legitimate senders and weeding out fakes. The new system is called DMARC – short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. In a nutshell, it is another way (in addition to the SPF and DKIM checking already available) to make sure hat an email is really form the organization that it says it is.

Most Phishing emails pretend to come from a respected institution and it is a simple matter to claimthat the message came from the domain name of the trusted entity. This is the first step in establishing trust – if an email arrives that seems to come from ‘accounts@paypal.com’, one’s guard is just that little bit lower.

DMARC aims to prevent those emails from ever arriving by intelligent checking and has a feedback mechanism that alerts the real organization that the event has occured.

It’s not going to stop email from addresses that use obfuscated (accounts@paypal.com.asjdgh.gyutut.com) or maliciously mis-spelled (accounts@paypai.com) or just completely fake email addresses (accounts@paypalbillingsupport.com)
…but it’s a start and Scamdex for one applauds it!

More information [than anyone probably needs to know] is available at the DMARC website

Asterpix (who they?) vs. Google

Some Background FirstAsterpix Logo

A company called Asterpix (www.asterpix.com) have a cool tool (Searchlight) for websites (such as this one!).  They analyse the page you are on, include any recent search terms passed in (eg. from Google) and the website you are on and generate a Tag Cloud of words and phrases that seem to be interesting, by means of search terms or frequency of occurance or other weighting.

When a user clicks on one of the phrases in the tag cloud, they are taken to a fairly plain looking Google Search Results page with a (Google Adsense) ad block at top and bottom. While the search page is hosted on Asterpixs’ website, the Google Adsense account is the original site owners.

A visitor clicks on an ad, the revenue goes to the site owner – what could be simpler?

The Problem is ….

(more…)

How do I get my website on google and other search engines?

An email I got today…

How do I get my website on google and other search engines?
I went on google and searched for zzn and other people’s came up. But when i
searched mine (chicagoil.zzn.com) it didn’t show up! Can you help me do
that?

I wanted to be as concise and useful as possible, without baffling people or driving them into the arms of some expensive ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (SEO) ‘expert’, and I came up with this:

Hi,

There are a million people who will tell you how, and many will want money for their service but there are just a few tips that will help:

1. Make sure you website has TEXT, lots of text that describes your website, using KEYWORDS as much as you can.
2. Categorize your website and fine tune any META tags to as concisely and uniquely as possible describe your site’s purpose.
3. Use H1, H2, H3 html tags wisely (search engines use these to see what’s important in your site. )
4. Encourage visitors (including yourself) to visit. Google comes to the site to see what the content is so that it can service you relevant ads at the top. the more you visit, the higher importance it gives your site.
5. Google is democratic – the more people who ‘vote’ for you, the better the ranking you will get.
6. Pictures don’t tell Google anything – it cant read them, or javascript – imagine your site without them – that’s what Google sees.

Anyone got any better sugestions?