All Things Techie With Huge, Unstructured, Intuitive Leaps SPAM !!!

Legal Definition of Spam

As a public service announcement and for the edification of dumbass spammers, I provide the following definition of Spam.  Public Law No. 108-187, 15 U.S.C. 7701, et seq., defines spam as a "commercial electronic mail message" as "any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose)."  The primary characteristics of Spam are:

1) Lack of visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism in all emails.
2) Lack of a legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser.
3) Message sent to a harvested email address.

I have zero tolerance for spammers who fit the above-mentioned legal criteria.  

Here is the latest spam fitting the above criteria in my mailbox by dumbass spammers:

(start clip)

I have been physically threatened by a spammer because of  my posting of his illegal spam.  My attorney suggests that I save the screen shots, and remove the content as it will be evidence.  A criminal felony complaint is being filed with the appropriate police departments against the perpetrators of the illegal spam for the resultant felonious threats to me for exposing their spamming business practices. 
(end clip)

Now the ironic thing is that they have a fancy domain account and yet they want me to send money to a gmail account.  Yeah, right!

Google is killing off Adsense?

Holy Cow!  Google is killing Adsense.

I just got this email today:


We’re writing to let you know about some important changes that will be happening to AdSense on Google Sites. Starting on August 30th, it will no longer be possible to make updates to AdSense on your Google Site.

Any ads that you currently have running will not be altered or removed. However, it will no longer be possible to edit or add new ads to your existing site or new pages.

This change does not require any action on your part and will not affect the current implementation of ads on your site.

To read more details about this change, please visit the help page.

Yours sincerely,

The Google Sites Team

© 2013 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to AdSense on your Google Sites account.

So I went to the Adsense website and I got this terse notice:

Sunsetting AdSense

Some important changes are coming to AdSense on Google Sites. By August 30, 2013, it will no longer be possible to make updates to AdSense on any of your Google Sites.

No change is required on the part of AdSense users. Any ads that you currently have running will not be altered or removed, though you’ll be free to delete ads yourself. However, it will no longer be possible to edit or add new AdSense ads to your existing site or to new pages.

There is no other explanation.  There is no indication of what if anything will replace it.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Traffic Faking Update

This is an update on traffic faking.  If you have a blog or a website, you will see an inordinate amount of hits from weird and not-so-weird domains.  They are faking traffic to your website.  When you click out of curiosity, you are bombarded by spam, or even worse, malware.

I created a La Brea Tarpit blog -- a blog with lots of keywords.  It has had no hits at all from legitimate users, but in four days, it had the following hits from the traffic faking domains: 30 hits 22 hits 18 hits 11 hits 10 hits 4 hits 2 hits 1 hit 1 hit

I contacted that .pw registrar and they weren't interested in stopping their traffic faking domains, so my guess is that they are scumbag traffic faker enablers as well.

The internet is very Darwinian.  Traffic faking must work to generate hits, otherwise they wouldn't do it.  If you are a webmaster or blog owner and you see one of these domains, don't click on it.  Let's starve them out of web traffic.

Apple Was Hacked -- This is what they sent me.

Apple Developer

Apple Developer Website Update

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately  and have been working around the clock since then.

In order to prevent a security threat like this from happening again, we’re completely overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database. We apologize for the significant inconvenience that our downtime has caused you and we expect to have the developer website up again soon.

The Psychology of UIX -- Background Colors for web pages

I get a newsletter from the Brain Lady -- a psychologist named Susan Weinschenk who has built an industry around the psychology of the human brain applied to web design.  I really applaud people who can build significant online revenue streams by leveraging their skills.  She is a speaker, obviously in demand because she has upcoming seminars all around the US and London.

One of the concerns that I have about the information that she promulgates is that she takes psychological studies on the human brain and preaches a 1:1 correlation between a literature review and web design without actually having tested it in real life.  For example, she in one article, she said that the human brain is more comfortable with less choices than more and menu items should optimally have between four and seven choices.  Yet when we wireframe some complex web apps, this is either impossible, or test subjects want more choices to do the tasks that they want and they want those menu choices to be highly explicit.

All this to say, is that the brain information is very interesting, but it all can't be applied uncritically to web design on a 1:1 basis.

Her latest newsletter had the following information about the color of backgrounds.

I came across some interesting research from Mehta and Zhu about red vs. blue background color for screens.

If you are using a negative or fear message it will be more impactful if you use the color red. If you are using a positive message then use blue.
If you want people to do a detail-oriented task use a red background. If you want them to be creative use a blue background.
If you are highlighting detailed features of a product your message will be more persuasive if you use a red background. If you are highlighting concepts of how to use the product then the message will be more persuasive with a blue background.
People prefer blue backgrounds over red, even though red might make them get a task done more quickly. They are not aware of the effects that the colors are having.

Ravi Mehta and Rui (Juliet) Zhu. Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances. Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, 2053 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada. / 5 February 2009 / Page 1 / 10.1126/science.1169144

I hope this helps and if someone uses this information, I would appreciate some feedback.  Thanks.

PHP on Tomcat with JSPs

First of all, in spite of the fact that the world runs on LAMPS (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, SQL), I really dislike PHP or Python.  They are sort of pseudo-Object Oriented and do not have the power of J2EE where one can integrate pure Java classes with JSPs.  My preferred approach is LAMJS where J is JSP or Java.  Our webserver is Apache Tomcat.

At any rate, we have a rang-dang-doo enterprise app written with Java, JSP, ServerFaces, and all of the good stuff.  Our business requirements say that we have to have a blog and a newsletter and a marketing side to our enterprise app.  We only have so many developers and we believe in the AGILE approach with continuous iteration and working software.  So to put the marketing side in place, we decided not to re-invent the wheel.  Wordpress has templates galore and all of the features that we need.  Wordpress is written in PHP and uses PHP, so we have to make Tomcat play with JSPs and PHP.  It was a hair-pulling experience.

The first thought was to use JavaBridge and JavaBridge.jar.  We kept getting this stack trace:

Fatal Error: Failed to start PHP ["php-cgi", "-v"], reason: Cannot run program ""php-cgi"" (in directory "C:\Users\Delon"): CreateProcess error=2, The system cannot find the file specified
Could not start FCGI server: PHP not found. Please install php-cgi. PHP test command was: [php-cgi, -v] Could not connect to server
at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardContext.listenerStart(
at org.apache.catalina.core.StandardContext.startInternal(
at org.apache.catalina.util.LifecycleBase.start(
at org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase$
at org.apache.catalina.core.ContainerBase$
at java.util.concurrent.FutureTask$Sync.innerRun(Unknown Source)
at Source)
at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor.runWorker(Unknown Source)
at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$ Source)
at Source)
Caused by: File \\.\pipe\C:\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Tomcat 7.0\temp\JavaBridge3030620009245189355.socket not writable
... 15 more
Caused by: PHP not found. Please install php-cgi. PHP test command was: [php-cgi, -v] 

Obviously we hadn't configured Tomcat to find the PHP executables which were supposed to be in the .war file.  We tried various things like trying to install PHP on Windows (our dev machines are Windows, but our production and test servers are Linux), all to no avail.  We found plenty of instructions on how to show Apache how to find the PHP executables, but none for Tomcat.

I was really looking for a plug and play solution, and I found it with Caucho and their Quercus war file.  I simply downloaded the war file, and took a copy of it.  I changed the copy's .war extension to a .zip extension and unzipped it.  I took the resultant folder and dropped it into our webapps folder where Tomcat could find it and it worked first time.  Someone ought to preserve their blood for posterity.  You too can make PHP play with Tomcat by downloading the war file from here:

 Thank you Caucho and Quercus where ever you are.

Google's Changes to SEO

Google's Summer Changes to online business rankings

Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, outlined the upcoming changes this summer.  Here is a summary.

This summer, Google hopes to put another few nails in the coffin of Black Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practitioners, while rewarding White Hat webmasters.  All website have a natural or an unpaid ranking.  That ranking is responsible for where the page shows up in search results.  Black Hat SEO practitioners use dubious techniques that offer short term results.  These techniques often raise the ire of Google and other search engines, and the websites that they manipulate, can be eventually banned from search results, confining them to the dark recesses of the internet where nobody goes.  White Hat practitioners on the other hand, do positive things that organically grows traffic to the website and has lasting effects on web traffic.

In May of 2013, Matt Cutts of Google outlined some of the changes that Google is implementing to its search algorithms.  First and foremost among the changes, they will reward the White Hat techniques.  Their algorithms are designed to recognize compelling, high quality web sites.  Google will introduce search methodologies that detect and recognize authority, and reward those web sites with higher page ranking.  It doesn't matter what you are an authority on, if you consistently deliver good information (measure by many things including how long a person is on the website), then Google will reward you with higher page rankings.

The Black Hats will be punished.  They have two tools called Panda and Penguin.  Penguin detects sites that spam, or put viruses and malware on your computer.  Penguin already has had an update, and will be further enhanced.  Penguin will now detect spam links.  If you go around putting links on every forum or where ever you are allowed to post, with no regard to actually contributing to that site (like comments in a forum), not only will you be ignored, but you might invoke the wrath of Google and be banned from search results.

Panda detects thin sites that try to improve page ranking with material from other websites.  If you have a business website that harvests material in your area of business and re-posts it, you will be punished with a lower page rank.  You are better off to link to it.  However, Panda will have new link analysis, so that if you are genuinely trying to help people find other information, you will not be considered a marginal site and your page rankings may improve.

Hackers will often hack a genuine business website, and add a link to load malware, viruses or spam on your computer when you visit that site.  The original site webmaster may be unaware that it has happened.  Google will provide tools to help webmasters clean up and avoid hacking on their sites.  The webmasters will be offered a set of tools to help businesses create and maintain high quality web sites.

If Google succeeds this summer, the advertorial will be dead.  Advertorials are web pages designed to look like content but are paid advertisements.  There will be no punishment if there is clear and conspicuous disclosure that the content is paid for.  Businesses would be better off by not paying for SEO, and creating sites where they offer good information, expert advice, compelling graphics and engaging content.

In terms of the user experience, the enhance Google of the summer of 2013 will provide cleaner search results.  Often times for a very esoteric topic, one will find search results clusters from just one domain.  These are frustrating, and Google is working on enhancing that aspect, as well as their overall Page Rank algorithm to provide contextually correct search results.  So as a user, expect to see a lot less spam, and a lot more authorative search results.

Protecting yourself from government spying

Well, apparently NSA leaker Edward Snowdon has more startling revelations.  Among them, is that there are back doors in common programs that we use everyday.  Skype is the prime suspect.  However, because of its ubiquity, I wouldn't trust Google either.  And since Microsoft owns Skype, well it has been proven that you can't trust them.

So what's the answer?  As far as I am concerned, it is open source.  Who knows if the name of the document is reported back to Microsoft when Word or Excel crashes.  Open Office springs to mind as an alternative to being spied on.

What about communications?  It looks like the best bet for email, is an account with your local ISP.  I know that it is a pain every time that you change providers, but they probably are not being listened to.

Encrypted email solutions often don't encrypt the meta-data, so sometimes it is easier to hide in plain sight. Open a web based email account.  Write a draft and save it.  Then make sure that the recipient gets the log-in credentials, and logs in to read the draft and deletes it.  This avoids the SMTP filters.

I'm willing to bet that a whole plethora of private solutions will spring up to protect people from governments spying on them.

Vimeo - Another Dead Man Walking

Here's another fearless prediction.  Vimeo, the video hosting site won't be around for long.  Quite frankly, Vimeo sucks.  Their upload time is horrendous.  Their processing time is over half an hour.  They say that you can pay to get to the front of the line.  They act as if it is 1999 and disk and storage space is expensive, and bandwidth is to be hoarded.  Their revenue stream is so early internet.  They are carving steaks off their race horses with their program.   Jeepers, compared to Youtube, I can't find one value proposition that Vimeo delivers on.  Another dead man walking in the tech world.

Monetizing Your Content - How Much Money Do You Make From Youtube

I monetize my digital content.  I would be a fool not too.  This includes my videos on Youtube.  I participate in Google's Adsense programs.  This works out well, because Google owns Youtube.  So how much money do I make on Youtube?

Here are my metrics.  I make exactly half a cent per minute of videos watched.  Two minutes of viewing makes me one cent.  To make a dollar, I need 200 minutes of viewing time with monetized ads.  I need 40 views of a five minute video to make a dollar.  My most popular video has 12,765 views.  It is 10 seconds long.  That's 2,127 minutes of view.  That video has made me $10.64 cents in ad revenue.  Not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme.  Obviously the trick is to upload as many videos as possible.

Best PDF to Word Online Converter

I had this pdf from a few years ago.  I had lost the original MSWord document, and I wanted to change it.  I went online and Googled a pile of online services.  One asked me if I wanted to make my document public.  Not trusting them, I moved on.  Another accepted my document, and said that I was 5,500 in the queue and it went down by one every couple of minutes.  I cancelled that job.  I went to another one, and it sent me a conversion into my email box.  However it was just an image pasted into an MSWord document, and I couldn't edit it.

I came to the conclusion that I needed my PDF scanned with OCR or Optical Character Recognition.  The first one that came up in the search was .  Note:  This is not which I didn't like.  It had the word "scanned" in the URL.

Bingo. This was it.  It promptly sent back an MSWord doc that I could edit.  They sell a desktop version as well.  I was totally pleased with the result.  There was a spelling error or two, but the error was consistent.  I would heartily recommend their product and services.  I was not paid for this product review, nor did I receive any inducement to make it.