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Be Careful of Security Issues when Using Wiki's and Blogs with Trackbacks

7:43 am in Blogging, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

When a website automatically posts comments to another site it is called a trackback. Essentially, Blogs and many Wiki’s automatically post comments on a website’s page (when comments are enabled) when one links to that particular page. In most cases, the trackbacks and comments are used to create a discussion around a particular subject. Hence why Wiki’s and Blogs are key to developing an internet community.

However, wiki’s are also often used in development projects, and if you are not careful with the security settings, you can give away your development secrets. Read the rest of this entry →

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Feedburner Helps Websites Understand Their Content

7:12 am in Blogging, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

RSS (really simple syndication) has changed the way users and websites utilize the web. Whenever a new technology comes along that changes the way we interact with the web, new companies emerge to assist with the process and introduce even more new technologies that are built upon making these technologies usable. Enter Feedburner.

The next big thing is what makes the current big thing better

Unfortunately, I can’t remember who said that (and it might not be in it’s exact form), but that is essentially what Feedburner is accomplishing.

RSS is a technology which allows publishers to push their content around the web. Instead of relying on email and newsletters to keep consumers updated with news or features, RSS puts consumers in control. Read the rest of this entry →

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Add a contact form to WordPress

11:28 am in Blogging, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

Please, don’t use a simple mailto link on the web. That’s the single easiest way to increase the amount of spam you receive. Instead, use a contact form. WordPress has some plugins for email. If these don’t work for you, I’ve included other options available. If you don’t use wordpress, please skip below, there are options available to you covered here.

The simplest way to add a contact form to wordpress is to use one of these plugins:

  • WP-Contact Form Plugin
  • In Touch WordPress Plugin
  • Secure Contact Form

With servers and senders going through more email verification these days, these two plugins may not work on your server. If these two won’t work, the next option is to install wpPHP Mailer. This takes a little bit more work as it uses a sourceforge php code. Don’t be afraid of working with PHP if you’re unfamiliar with it. This is a fairly straightforward plugin to work with. The main advantage of this one is that it let’s you put in your email password and account, so it will work with many servers which require an additional level of security.

However, if that still doesn’t work for you (some servers again have issues with this particular plugin), the next is to move to the cgi-bin. If you don’t have a cgi bin, write your administrator, most servers come with a cgi-bin and cgiemail installed.

If you happen to have, please do some reaserch before thinking that’s the best way to proceed – it’s fraught with issues.

The cgi bin is pretty easy to work with. The main issue most people have using cgiemail is they don’t realize it’s actually two different files they’re working with.

  • The first is the actual form. This is a straightforward form which is located on an html or php page (and can be added to a wordpress post or static page so that it’s integrated nicely with your blog).
  • The second page is a .txt file that tells the cgi emailer what to do. (Note: The page must be in iso or ascii, cgi doesn’t work properly with all text formats. So, when you save this page, just do a ‘save as’ and look through your options – ascii is the best choice).

The last issue is that some servers don’t seem to process the cgiemail form properly unless it’s stored in the root folder (no idea why, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it happens).

Here are the top documents around to show you how to create these forms:

  • Official cgiemail page (now offline)
  • An MIT page with additional help
  • And yet another good university page from a website creation class (more broken pages on the web – had to delink)

Finally, the last way is to use a wysiwyg editor (such as Frontpage) and publish to your website (the server must have frontpage extensions installed). Since this will not have the ‘feel’ of your blog, you’ll want to create this in a few different steps.

  • First, create a new page in Frontpage using the Feedback or Contact Form template.
  • Second, customize the form for the fields you wish to include
  • Next, publish (since this uses Webbots, you’ll have to publish it, not FTP the page) the page to your server
  • Fourth, create a static WordPress page and use an iFrame to include the contact page in your regular wordpress page
  • Complete. You will now have a contact page from Frontpage that utilizes your blog’s template

If this is your first time working with a form, it will take a little bit of time (if you’re creating it from scratch) to make sure all the details are perfect. If you have some experience with HTML, you should be done in 30-60 minutes. If you don’t it might take an hour or two. However, your inbox will be happy with the reduction of spam you receive.

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Video Game Advertising Speculation

7:27 am in eWhisper's Notebook, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

I recently setup my xBox 360 to connect to the live service so I can see how Microsoft is using the xBox to combine users to MSN Spaces and bring the community together via both the living room (via xBox) and online (via computer) and how it will develop and act based upon services, advertising, and the total gaming experience.

I must admit, I was amazed at how easy the connection service was. I used wireless hardware to connect the xBox to my internet connection and it was a very smooth process. (After going through half a dozen routers, changing the WEP services, etc to connect TiVo via wireless, I was expecting a fight – but I didn’t get one). Immediately, it wanted to connect via a passport, which I supplied an extra one I have for certain purposes, and the connection process was amazing smooth. It pulled in my Microsoft Passport data and there was very little for me todo. Within 5 minutes I had connected a wireless router, connected to the web, connected to my Passport, and could access xBox extras and services. (Why isn’t the web this smooth?).

As I’m seeing how easy it is to download new content, upgrade games, receive automatic downloads, the advertising aspect of this really hit me. It’s very feasible to code objects, billboards, etc in to games and leave them as ‘generic’ or ‘default’ messages for those not connected to the web.

For those connected, it then becomes possible to skin these objects based upon the current advertiser base. Take for instance a bottle (Splinter Cell comes to mind as a Coke can was an integral part of the game for causing distractions). The bottle could be ‘bought’ by an ad company as the game’s generic fallback icon. However, when one is connected to the web, it’s suddenly very feasible that the bottle could be ‘skinned’ based upon the current advertiser landscape, one’s demographic (MS has your passport data), one’s geography (Based upon IP address), and possibly search history or other web based components.

The same goes for in-game billboards. Imagine launching a new product and instead of buying 10k banner ads, one buys 10k ‘in-game’ billboards. The purpose of these is branding, association with a product, name recognition, etc – not direct ROI measurable sales. This opens up many possibilities to subsidize game manufacturers, change console interactions, give away certain games purely for the ad distribution, etc.

It is worth nothing that Microsoft announced at SAS they are acquiring Massive. Massive is one of the leaders in putting ads in video games and has several well established relationships with game publishers already. It will be interesting to see how they incorporate Massive in the the xBox live environment, their own published titles, and if they give their video game makers any special bonuses for incorporating Massive into video games.

Personalization is coming in search, with web based consoles, user subscriptions, billing information, gender information, location information, gaming preference, etc – serving ads based on some very interesting demographic and geographic targeting becomes quite viable, and even connected so a message can be delivered via the web and gaming console in a complimentary way.

This really hasn’t been talked about mainstream, it’s considered niche advertising, but when one compares the amount of time the average person spends on the web (not including playing games) vs how much time they spend looking at games (consoles, computer, and web), there is a huge opportunity that’s not being fully exploited, and it’s coming.

The question is, will you notice it?

Good advertising is part of the landscape, it blends in, it delivers a message, the user isn’t distracted.

Bad advertising can ruin a consoles reputation.

I would guess that in-game ads start off very conservative and very blended into the game to preserve the game’s integrity (remember, someone did shell out $49 for that video game), however, the branding and deliverability options through gaming integration will become quite amazing.

Something to keep an eye on, do you notice the video game ads?

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Backing Up Microsoft Outlook

12:51 pm in eWhisper's Notebook by brad

Microsoft Outlook is my favorite email program, but when it comes to backing up files, it can be a little tricky. There are three major aspects of Microsoft Outlook that you need to consider.

Microsoft Outlook PST File

The main file in Outlook is called a .pst file. This includes calendar, contact, tasks, journal, notes, and all your folders. This folder can grow quite large, and might need cleaning out before you back it up. My last backup of a cleaned .pst file was a little over 3. 7 gigs (hence why I don’t use GMail), so I had to zip it before I could burn it to DVD.

The first thing to consider is if you want to delete all the items in your deleted items folder. Cleaning out this folder can quite easily save a lot of disk space. If you now realize that you want to save deleted emails from particular senders this is the time to make a new rule. If you wish to save all the deleted items, then archive them.

To archive a folder, click on: File > Archive. Click the deleted items folder, then OK. This will cause these files to take up less space, yet more time if you need to access them in the future. You can choose to archive only items older than X months so recent items are quickly accessible.

Next, consider deleting or archiving your Sent Items Folder. This folder, over time, can start to accumulate thousands of emails in it. If you want to save sent messages to a particular person, look at the Microsoft Outlook Rules page for instructions.

Look at Journal and Tasks. Archive items over X months old. To archive these folders, you can also right click on the folder, choose properties. Click on the archive tab, and then select the date you want to archive items older than. Here you also have the option of deleting these older items instead of archiving them.

Now it’s time to back up our .pst file. Click file > import & export. Select export to a file, click next. Select Personal File Folder (.pst), click next. Highlight Personal Folders, and then check the Include Subfolders box.

Click desktop > My Documents. Right click, select new folder. Make a folder called Outlook. This is where we’re going to save all our backup information. Now choose a file for it to be exported to. I would suggest saving backup folders by date and select allow duplicate items to be created. This way you can backup your files, and then delete the 3rd oldest backup. Just in case, I keep two backups on my computer. Now click finish. Your .pst backup folder for Microsoft Outlook email software was just created.

You now have a copy of all your email folders, journal entries, notes, and tasks, but what about rules and accounts? Nope, they weren’t backed up, those are separate files.

The Rules Wizard in Microsoft Outlook Email Software

To back up the Rules Wizard, make sure the folder highlighted is an email folder.

Now click Tools > Rules Wizard. Click Options. Click Export Rules.

Browse to the Outlook folder in My Documents where we just saved the .pst file above. Name the rules the current date so you know which rules file goes with which .pst file, and click save. That was nice and easy, and we’re almost done backing up all our Microsoft Outlook information

Backing up Accounts in Microsoft Outlook

Most people have 3-5 email accounts, some have only one, and others have over 50. This can be a lot of information to save, and a lot of passwords you don’t want to remember and reenter all the time. These email accounts are easy to back up, but we must do them all individually.

  • Again, make sure the highlighted folder is an email folder. Click tools > account. Highlight an email account, and click export.
  • Browse to the Outlook folder in My Documents where we’ve saved everything else, and click save.
  • Repeat this for each of your accounts.
  • We’re Done backing up Microsoft Outlook

Congratulations, you now have backup files for all your Outlook information. If you need to move information from work to home, or just save it in case of emergency, you can now use CD Burning Software and have a permanent record of your Outlook information.

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Knowledge as Conversation

10:01 am in eWhisper's Notebook by brad

Very interesting blog post on knowledge as a conversation:

Then the Internet happened and the world fell into conversation. It’s no longer a matter of getting reports back on the strange beliefs of distant lands — “Why, in China crickets are considered to be smart and monkeys to be dumb…Believe it or not!” — but an immediate awareness that we’re all living within a single conversation space. We may not actually be IM’ing Chinese Communists or Jihadists, but we at least know that what’s being said in one corner of the Web is being refracted elsewhere. And we know that we can pick up the Skype phone and actually talk with a Communist. Where there aren’t actual conversations, there is now the constant awareness of the potential for conversation.

Source: Joho the Blog

Taken as a philosophy, it is interesting in it’s own right. However, taken in the context of the new community building that is happening on the web, a different view is brought to the table.

Is the web 2.0 project, Yahoo’s 360 initiative, the growing plethora of Wikis, and don’t forget the ever expanding blog communities, a place for conversation or a place for knowledge?

Does the fact the news breaks seconds after it happens, conversations break out minutes later, and new blogs or websites within an hour show the desire to share knowledge, or the desire to communicate through shared knowledge?

Just interesting thoughts.

Knowledge is not the body of beliefs that needs no further discussion. Knowledge is the neverending conversation. And much of that conversation is precisely about what we can disagree about and still share a world.

-Joho the Blog

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Breakdown of Media Content vs Blog Content

9:48 am in eWhisper's Notebook, PPC Marketing Blog by brad, one of my favorite news sources, is beginning to include blogs in it’s news coverage. While alone, this might not be considered huge news on the heels of Yahoo doing something similar, their research is fantastic.

Topix did a breakdown of traditional media topics vs blog topics and show the results here in a few different graphs.

Looking at the graph, it could be interpreted in several ways. If you’re a webmaster, you can see there are areas that blogs are not covering nearly as close as traditional media, and assuming traditional media is more a standard of user interest, it’ll let you see areas where a good blog can really shine due to lack of competition.

Or, it could be interpreted as this is what people are highly interested in, as it’s what they are writing about – and give the traditional media a wake up into the subjects they should be allocating resources to cover.

For those who enjoy reading through RSS, but can’t find good RSS feeds for various topics – is the place to go. My favorite thing about this is you can subscribe to an RSS feed with a search query, instead of by channel.

Here is the XML feed for topix on the query Search Engine News:

You can change the query string ?q=search+engine+news&xml=1 to be anything you desire. This makes it so you can have very specific feeds.

Personally, I run about 30 topic RSS queries into a single Attensa folder. I might not have news everyday with these specific queries, but when that folder has something in it, it’ll be exactly what I’m looking for.

With an overwhelming amount of news being published on the web everyday, one needs a pre-filtering technique to not be overwhelmed, my solution has been to use RSS Search. If you have another good pre-filtering technique, please let me know.

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Open Letter to Google & the Zeitgeist Conference

2:23 pm in eWhisper's Notebook, PPC Marketing Blog by brad

Google has asked attendees of the 2005 Zeitgeist conference to not blog and write about it, and based on the information shared, I can fully agree with their request.

Being an off-the-record conference, the was an air of openness and idea sharing even between very strong competitors.

It’s this type of spirit, when one isn’t competiting, but cooperating, that ideas are born, and projects are fostered.

In the normal business world, such a conference would be very difficult to pull off. The press has their spin, the bloggers have theirs, and attendees have yet another. In a world where what happens at Zeitgeist, stays at Zeitgeist, a different air is fostered.

The conference was very amazing. Some great speakers and attendees. I consider myself lucky to have been apart of the conference.

A thank you goes out from all the attendees I’ve talked to who wish to pass on their deepest thanks to Google for the experience.

Hopefully, Zeitgeist 06 will be as much of a success (and an invite will follow…).

Thank you, Google.

To the conference organizers, I would name some of you by name, but don’t want to put you into a public light. Hopefully, you all know how you are. You each deserve a pat on the back for pulling this off. It was well organized, handled, and came off flawlessly (at least to the attendees).

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NY Times on Blog Evangelists

12:06 pm in eWhisper's Notebook by brad

The NY Times has an interesting article on Blog Evangelists.

For these bloggers, intertwining their personal stories and commentaries gives them a stake in defining the brand’s image while linking them with fans of similar mind across the country.

“They feel like they own the brand, that it’s theirs,” Jackie Huba, author of the book “Creating Customer Evangelists,” said of the bloggers. “They feel they’re doing the world a service,” she said.

For readers, these blogs, like the customer reviews on, help them make decisions about what to buy. And according to a survey released this spring by Yankelovich, a marketing firm based in Chapel Hill, N.C., a third of all consumers would prefer to receive product information from friends and specialists rather than from advertising.


Blogs can help define a brand, and they are powerful marketing, especially since they’re not marketing – they’re sincere customers.

What I found interesting what NY Times willingness to show blogs in a somewhat positive light. There have been some comments by NY Times individuals that Blogs are not ‘real journalism’ and how they are not ‘authority’ information. However, no one can deny they are a source of information – and to that end, they will stay no matter how more ‘official’ journalists believe in the authority of print.

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Jim on "Link Pages"

10:06 am in eWhisper's Notebook by brad

Jim’s response to Rand, which is a response to a Highranks post.

I’m not completely positive link pages are dead – however, I do believe that no one should get all their links in the same manner.

The most common types of links are:
1. Recips
2. Directory Submissions
3. One way requests
4. Press Releases
5. Article Submissions & Distribution
6. Buying Links
7. People naturally linking to great articles (what Google would call ‘natural links’).
8. Blog Comments
9. Trackbacks
10. Board/Blog/Guest book Signatures
11. (Sure I’ve missed some, the above is my ‘most common’ list).

Of course, there are better and worse ways to implement each of the above.

When I look at a site’s backlinks, patterns often emerge. It’s pretty easy to tell what strategies someone has implemented to get their backlinks. If there’s an easily noticeable pattern for me (who is not an SEO), think about what Google and Yahoo have mapped.

Anyway, the point was are recips dead? I’d say No.
Are recips as the sole means to ranking dead? I’d say Yes.
Are there ways of working good recips into a site? Read Jim’s Post.

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