Jul 18, 2009

5 Must Have Add-Ons for a Blogger Blog

When you first sign up for a blog on a site like Blogger, there is a wide variety of options made available that allow you to reach out to your readers. From customizable templates to imbedded videos, audio and advertising, the new blogger seemingly has the world at his or her fingertips. That warm and fuzzy feeling eventually starts to wear off though as new ideas pop up that may not be immediately covered by Blogger's built-in features.

Luckily, Blogger and essentially any other blogging platform allows its writers to add any number of open source add-ons to their blogs for enhanced features and interaction with readers.

AdSense

The single greatest thing you can do for your blog is turn it into a profitable outlet for your daily writing. Google's very own AdSense add-on is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this. The best part is that it is incredibly easy to add AdSense to your blog through the interface provided by Google in Blogger.
All you need to do is sign up for an AdSense account using the same login ID you currently use for Blogger. Go to the template page of Blogger where you will find a visual layout of your site. Click on any of the "Add a Page Element" links on the page and you will be asked how big you would like your ads to be, how many to place, and what background colors they will have. It is quick and easy and integrates directly into your account.

Templates

The templates page is a great place to find and make a great deal of changes to your blog, the best and most visible impressive add-on being a new template. The code for your template can be located here, within the Template tag of your blog settings. To change your template, all you need to do is find a new one that you like and copy the code.

While Blogger comes with a couple dozens templates already installed, there are thousands more options available almost anywhere you look on the Internet. So, despite what Blogger may want your site to look like, you can make almost any changes you want, assuming you can find someone who has built a template to match your desired look.

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This simple add-on can be found within Blogger's own Buzz page, the company blog that announces new changes and updates to their website and services. To find it, look for it just below your list of blogs on your dashboard.
This new add-on makes it easy for you to stay in the conversation loop after you comment on a post. Blogger now gives you the opportunity to receive an email every time someone comments on the same post. This way, if you ask a question of the post author, you will get instant notification of their response without having to check back on their blog. To use this feature you will need to have a Google account which will insure that someone else can't provide your email causing your to receive email that you didn't request.
Amazon Widgets

Another great way to make a few dollars from your writing, Amazon widgets allow you install links to products on Amazon that your readers may be interested in buying. Sign up for a free Associates account with Amazon and you can then install these widgets with your own Associate ID number and get commission for any sales made through your site. It is a great way to make relevant ads on your site linked to posts you have written.

Bookmarking Buttons (Digg, Delicious, Facebook, etc)

These are almost required in today's age of social bookmarking and networking. By default, the only way a reader can interact with you on your blog is through the commenting feature. However, you can install simple button links on your site to services like Digg and Delicious where they can bookmark your posts and share them with millions of other social bookmarkers. To add these buttons to your page, visit the websites for Digg or Delicious and search for buttons and links after signing up for a new account. They install easily within the code of your template (which these sites will guide you through doing).

There are countless additions you can make to your Blogger blog through widgets and third party applications. When someone has an idea, someone else has probably already created an application to serve that idea. The best way to find new widgets is to search Google for "Blogger Widgets" or "Blogger addons" and search through the listings provided. You can do wonders with your blog with the right resources.

Jul 17, 2009

How to Start a Blog - Easy Tips

  • Pick A Niche

What are you going to write about? Well, what are you good in? Now, if this subject is one that you have a good amount of knowledge about and is an area of interest to lots of people (find out by going to Google's keyword external tool and entering the keyword or phrase-over 15,000 searches/month minimum is a good area of interest), then you've found your niche (pronounced neesh).

  • Blog Platform

Do you want a free or paid blog? Decide soon, because you have a group of hungry people waiting for information on their favorite subject from a fresh source-why can't it be you?

A free blog is hosted for free by it's host, like blogspot and wordpress. They own the blog that you start with them, so if you violate any of their rules, then they can shut you down for whatever reason. Be careful avout what you write!

A paid blog is hosted by a host you select and pay, usually monthly. It's not too expensive, usually around $10/month. However, you've got the freedom to put what you want on it, including different types of content, such as videos, podcasts along with articles.

  • Write Often

Google, the search engine king, will list your blog and make it easier to find if you submit posts at least 2-3 times a week.

Write articles, post videos or audio podcasts to your blog on a regular basis in order to get repeat visitors who can develop a loyal following and refer it to others, thereby growing the number of daily visitors to your blog.

  • Stay Current

Spice up your blog and really attract visitors and business prospects by keeping up with and reporting the most current news in your niche.

Visitors will realize that you're the go-to place for news about that niche. This will attract more visitors to your blog like bees to honey.

  • Answer Comments

Let visitors who comment realize that your blog is a living breathing thing by responding often to their comments.

This energizes them and encourages them to return, for you're giving them helpful feedback and making them feel special-because they are.

Conclusion

Starting a blog is a wise decision. As your business' hub, prospects can connect with you easier and may become followers as well as customers.

Just make sure that you pick a niche you're knowledgeable in and is either free or paid,depending on your level of flexibility. Make sure to: write often to get indexed and noticed by Google, stay current to establish your blog as the go-to blog; and finally, keep open the lines of communication by replying to readers' comments.

There you have it: an easy 5 tips on how to start a blog. Now, get started!

Jul 16, 2009

Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop Computer

Purchasing a laptop is a large investment, and one that can be complicated by all of the options, manufacturers, and technical mumbo-jumbo that needs to be sifted through. Before you spend a lot of money on a laptop, it is important to spend a little time considering some basics that may affect the decision-making process. This Tech Tip will take a look at five of the innumerous things worth considering when buying a laptop computer.

  • Ergonomics

If you are going to be spending any significant amount of time working on this laptop computer, you’re going to want to be comfortable. A well-designed interface is essential for comfort, as well as good health. Carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis may be some of the more common conditions associated with extended computer usage, and selecting the most comfortable laptop may help avoid them all together.

The keyboards on laptops generally feature compressed layouts with smaller keys, which may place a strain on hands and wrists as users try to adapt to these miniature arrangements. Generally speaking, the larger the laptop, the larger the keyboard, as they are usually designed to span the entire width of the unit.
Most laptops use either a touchpad or tracking pointer (knob) as a replacement for a mouse. These may be adequate for occasional use, but even the best designs can become frustrating and uncomfortable when used extensively. Plus, when used for game play or other applications where precise motion is critical, they just don’t cut it.

Purchasing a separate mouse may be the best bet, as it allows you to place your arm in a more familiar (and comfortable) position, as well as providing something that may fit your hand much better. Notebook mice are available in a wired or wireless version, and generally feature a slightly smaller footprint than your typical mouse.

  • Connectivity

Being able to connect to common devices is just as important on laptops as it is on desktops, but being able to add these connections down the road is not as easy on a laptop. Upgrades aren’t as easy on laptops due to the basic design, so make sure what you need is included up front.

Wireless networking is almost a must-have feature on laptops now. The cord has been severed to every other shackle confining you to your desk; don’t let network connectivity hold you back. Wireless networking adapters are available as upgrades via either PCMCIA cards or USB adapters, but many now offer it onboard, hidden inside the system’s housing. Integrated wireless is the best option if available, as it requires fewer accessories to carry and to configure, and leaves those expansion ports open for other uses.

USB 2.0 may be the most common peripheral connection, and many laptops may still come with just one port. That’s fine if you don’t mind carrying around a USB hub, but the more you have to carry, the less mobile you are. A good example of the importance of USB is that many people decide they want to use a separate mouse for ergonomic reasons, and generally it will connect via USB. On a laptop with just one port, you now have to juggle the use of the mouse with connecting anything else, like a digital camera, MP3 player, or an external hard drive.

Firewire may not be as popular as USB, and as such, it doesn’t show up at all on many computer systems, regardless of whether they are desktops or laptops. Having this connection may not be necessary for everyone, but for those who want it, keep in mind that its inclusion on any particular laptop is not a given.

Bluetooth is another type of connectivity you may want in a laptop, but its popularity has yet to really catch up to its hype. More and more consumer electronics devices are starting feature Bluetooth technology, but for general computer applications, it may be more trouble than it is worth.

  • Power Management

If you are going to use a laptop as it was intended, away from your desk, you’re going to want it to provide as much battery life as possible. The first step is to shop around for a unit that offers the best battery life possible, and then seek out independent reviews to verify this performance. A good laptop should be able to run for four hours or more on a full charge, and as the technology advances, finding units that can double this time isn’t unrealistic.

The operating system on most laptops will allow for the hardware to be configured to utilize the battery as efficiently as possible. It is just up to the user to navigate their way to these tabs and set things like the display to turn off, hard drives to power down, or even the processor to slow down when it isn’t needed to run full speed. Not all processors can provide this speed throttling, but finding a system with a Mobile Pentium/Celeron or Centrino processor may be your best bet to ensure this capability.

Another way to ensure extended life away from a power outlet is to just add a second battery. Although you can obviously carry a charged spare in your bag, some laptops allow for two batteries to be installed at once, with one generally replacing the optical disk drive.

  • Size / Weight

All laptop computers are not created equal, and the size and weight of the various models reflect that. Some may weigh more than others due to the quantity of components included, but it may also be due to the quality of the components. Larger displays, multiple hard drives, and other integrated components will all contribute to the weight of a laptop. The largest single source of weight in a laptop may be the battery, and systems with two batteries as described above, should be expected to be much heavier.

No laptop may be considered heavy in the grand scheme of things, but just a few pounds more may be noticeable if you regularly have to lug it through a busy airport or across a large college campus. Geeks.com may not provided the exact weight of each laptop they carry, but they do provide a shipping weight for each, which is a good approximation of what the laptop and various accessories will weigh when loaded into your carrying bag.

The overall size of a laptop is generally governed by the size of the display included. You may have seen the commercial where Yao Ming (7’5” basketball player) and Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) compare their laptops with 12 inch and 17 inch monitors. It is an excellent demonstration of the range of sizes available in laptop computers, and how the various sizes may be appropriate for different users. Those seeking a replacement for their desktop computer may insist on a 17” display, while those seeking to minimize size and weight in the name of portability may be willing to select a laptop with a smaller display.

  • Future Proof

Basically, purchase as much laptop as you can afford, so that a year or two down the road you may be less likely to need a replacement.
Processors in a laptop are generally not upgradeable, or at least quite difficult to upgrade, so picking something with marginally adequate speed for today’s needs will no doubt be obsolete sooner than you might expect. Desktop computers generally offer the convenience of having their processors (and other components) upgraded, making it less of an issue, but it is important to plan ahead with laptops, or to plan on buying another one in a few years.

The graphics processor is another integrated feature that should be considered before making a purchase, as there is no upgrading. Many laptops may offer somewhat basic graphics intended for good 2D display and 3D displays that may be hit or miss as far as the quality is concerned. In general, laptops were never intended for 3D gaming, but things are changing and many manufacturers now offer higher performance graphics solutions that can rival many desktop computers. ATI is well known for their high performance graphics products, and offer the Mobility Radeon X series of graphics processors based on their popular desktop solutions.

Laptop memory is less of a bottleneck, as it is readily available and can be upgraded rather easily. That said, many notebooks offer a base configuration of memory that may not be adequate for your particular needs. It is suggested that a Windows XP system have a minimum of 256MB of memory, and you may find that this is what is offered on many systems. 512MB is the recommended amount of memory for smooth operation on Windows XP, and many users with more intensive applications to run may insist on 1024MB. If you intend to run serious business applications or want to play some modern 3D games, it may be worth having that base 256MB upgraded before the laptop ships to you.

Final Words

Picking a laptop computer will probably be more involved than reviewing five simple steps, but you have to start somewhere! Each of these steps will hopefully guide other decisions and make the process less frustrating, while also leading to the selection of the best laptop possible.

Information on Installing Windows XP

XPlogo In this Tech Tip, I will give you some information about installing Microsoft Windows XP on your computer. Most Windows XP products including Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition install the same way. If you are using an older version of Windows, or even one of the other versions of Windows XP, the steps will probably be a bit different.

Back up your files!If you are currently using an older version of Windows, such as Windows 98, we highly recommend that you back up all your files to another drive and do a clean install by reformatting your hard drive and installing Windows XP as a full install rather than as an upgrade. Often, upgrade installations don’t run as well as full, “clean” installations. For this Tech Tip, we will assume that you are installing Windows XP on a new computer that has never had Windows on it.

Before you start, ensure that your hardware is correctly installed, then place your Windows CD into the CD or DVD drive on your computer and reboot your system. If you don’t have your BIOS set to boot from CD before your hard drive, you will likely encounter problems. However you can go into the BIOS by pressing the appropriate key when prompted during the POST (Power On Self Test). Typically, you will press the “delete” key, but this can vary from one motherboard and BIOS to another.

Once you are in the BIOS settings, look for the boot sequence tabs. Each motherboard vendor usually has a different BIOS set up. Check your motherboard owner’s manual for more information if you can’t find the boot settings menu. Once you have modified the BIOS settings, save them, exit the BIOS and reboot. If the boot sequence is correct, you should see the screen reading “Windows is preparing for installation”.

After the software has copied the required files to your computer, you will be asked if you want to install Windows -- click “enter” to begin the actual install process. The next screen you see will be the End-User License Agreement (EULA). You can’t begin the installation without accepting the EULA. Follow the prompts to either accept or decline.

As you will see, the EULA is quite long and most likely hasn’t been read since the Microsoft attorneys drafted it. In a nutshell, it says you won’t pirate the operating system (OS). If you decline, you will not be able to continue with the installation.

After you accept the EULA, you will be taken to a screen that asks you to choose your file system. Your options are NTFS (New Technology File System) or FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32). FAT32 is the older file system used with Windows 98. NTFS is the preferred choice for a Windows XP installation and our recommendation. The NTFS file system has improved functionality for security and data integrity and was first introduced in the Windows NT operating system. Choose the file system for your installation and press “F” to begin the formatting and installation. If you had any data on the hard drive you are using, it will be lost at this point. However, if you took our advice earlier and backed up your files, you should be okay.

If you are using a SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive, you will get an error message and will need to start the install process over. Keep an eye out for the message at the bottom of the screen that prompts you to “press F6 to install a third-party driver”. At that time, go ahead and press F6 and follow the prompts to install the SATA (or RAID) driver. This is the point where that “optional” floppy drive comes in handy since the only way to install drivers in this screen is via floppy disk. Place the floppy with the correct drivers for your SATA or RAID array into your floppy drive to install the drivers. After the drivers are installed, you are ready to move on.

Once the format is successful, the Windows installation process automatically installs the required files and reboots when needed. After a couple of reboots you will be asked to activate Windows by choosing a user name and a password. Windows activation is the process of enabling unrestricted use of Windows via your Internet connection with the Microsoft servers. If you don’t complete activation during the initial loading, Windows will shut down after 30 days and you won’t be able to use it. But don’t worry -- you do have 30 days to activate it after the first time it runs.

There are very few motherboards utilizing a network (RJ45) jack for broadband connection that do not require drivers to operate. If the network jack on your motherboard requires drivers and you use a broadband connection to access the internet, you won’t be able to use the internet to activate Windows until you install the drivers on your hard drive. If you are connecting via dial-up, you will need to make sure the drivers for your modem are installed before activating. If you don’t have an internet connection just yet, your Windows software paperwork should have come with a number you can call to activate. Once the drivers are installed, you will be able to select “Activate Windows” in the Start menu to complete with Windows activation process.

Windows XP DesktopAfter a fresh install, the icons for some of the familiar Windows components like “My Computer”, “My Documents” and others will not be on your desktop. If you want to add them, simply right click your mouse in a vacant space on the Windows desktop. Select “properties”, then “desktop”, then choose “customize desktop” at the bottom of that window. You will see check boxes for the common desktop icons there as well as the checkbox for the clean desktop wizard. Once you choose the icons you want on the desktop, select “apply” and close the window. Your icons should now be on your desktop.

After you have activated Windows, you will be ready to begin installing other programs. Installing Windows XP isn’t as daunting as it seems to be at first glance. Simply follow these instructions and the onscreen prompts and you will be fine. If at any point you get stuck on the install process, you can refer back to this tip, or the myriad of other online resources for installing Windows XP. Happy computing!

Jul 15, 2009

Ways to Back Up Your Data

The data on your hard drive is the most critical item inside your computer, and the only item which can not be replaced. It may be an unwanted hassle and expense to replace a defective memory module, monitor, or processor, but there is no replacing data once lost.

In addition to the possibility of a simple hard drive failure, the threat of internet borne worms and viruses has become an increasing risk to data loss or corruption. Although you may not be able to provide absolute protection to your hard drive, there are various ways that you can ensure that the data on your hard drive is protected. Five methods of backing up your data are summarized below.

1. USB Flash Drives

Although I am not recommending that flash drives be used for the actual data storage, they are a convenient means of transferring data from one computer to another. Important files can be quickly loaded onto a device such as the MINIDISK-512-DGRY-CS USB 2.0 Flash Drive, and transported to another computer for safe keeping. Installation and operation is extremely simple, and other than perhaps having to install a software driver, the use of a USB flash drive is a matter of having an available USB port on your computer. Just about every computer produced over the last several years has USB ports included, with more modern systems supporting the USB 2.0 standard. USB 2.0 allows for data transfer rates of up to 480 MB/s, which is a tremendous improvement over the original USB speed limit of 12 MB/s, and allows a user to fill their drives with data in a relatively short period of time.

Although the storage capacity of flash drives has increased greatly over the last year or so, users are still limited to common sizes of 512MB and 1GB. Mass storage is obviously not an option, but even 512MB may be enough to backup your "My Documents" folder, several albums of MP3s, or other important files to be stored elsewhere.

2. CD and DVD Writers/Re-Writers

The falling prices of CD and DVD writers/re-writers have made them a staple of just about every modern computer. These devices can typically be found installed in a computer case, but external devices supporting USB 2.0 or Firewire are available for greater flexibility and ease of installation.

A combination drive, such as the NU Technology DBW-521, will provide the user a high speed CD reader/writer, as well as a DVD reader, for under $40. The extremely low price of the drive (and the blank media) makes for an inexpensive means of creating data backups, and the re-writable media increases the convenience by allowing the same disc to be erased and reused many times. The main limitation of using a CD writer for data backups is that the discs are generally limited to a capacity of 700MB per disc. Not nearly enough for a full backup, but adequate for archiving key files.

The popularity of DVD writers/re-writers has surged thanks to dropping prices, and they are pushing the stand alone CD burner towards extinction. DVD media affords the user far more storage capacity than a CD, and DVD burners can generally burn CDs as wells as DVDs. The recent availability of double layer DVD burners, such as the Sony DW-D22A-DO-N, represents a large boost in the capacity of writable DVDs, taking the previous limit of 4.7GB per disc and nearly doubling it to 8.5GB.

With proper storage, CD/DVD media can provide long term storage that can not be jeopardized by hardware failure. The data on a CD or DVD can easily be read by just about any computer, making it a good choice for archiving files that aren't excessively large.

3. External Hard Drives

As the name might imply, external hard drives are generally the same type of drive you might find inside your system, but housed in a smaller, external enclosure of its own. The enclosure will feature at least one data interface (such as Firewire, USB, or Ethernet), and the capacity is only limited by the size of hard drives presently available and the user's budget.

The Ximeta NetDisk is an example of an external hard drive that provides a user the option of connecting an additional 80GB, 120GB, or 160GB of storage to their system by using either a USB 2.0 or Ethernet connection. Installation for such a device is rather simple, and may involve the installation of some basic software, as well as making the necessary connections between the computer and the external enclosure.

The capacity of external hard drives makes them ideal for backing up large volumes of data, and many of these devices simplify the process by including software (or hardware) features to automate the backup.

For example, some Seagate External drives feature a "one-button" backup option right on the case.In addition to being a convenient method of backing up large volumes of files locally, most external hard drives are compact enough to be portable. The inclusion of a common data transfer interface, such as USB, allows an external hard drive to be connected to just about any modern computer for data transfer, or for more than one computer to share the external hard drive as a back up.

4. Additional Hard Drives

By simply adding an additional hard drive to you system, you can protect yourself from data loss by copying it from your primary drive to your secondary drive. The installation of a second hard drive isn't difficult, but does require a basic understanding of the inner working of a computer, which may scare off some users. We do offer a "how-to" section on our site for many tasks such as installing a hard drive into a computer system.

To take the installation of a second hard drive to another level of security and reliability, the hard drives may be installed in a RAID array. RAID stands for a Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks, and can be configured in several manners. A thorough discussion of RAID and all of its variations would be an article all by itself, but what may be of interest to this discussion is what is known as RAID 1. A RAID 1 array requires two hard drives of equal size to be installed on a RAID controller, which will then mirror one drive to the other in real time. Many motherboards now come with RAID controllers onboard, but the addition of a PCI slot controller card, such as the Silicon Image Sil0680, is an inexpensive purchase that will add RAID to any system. With a RAID 1 array in place, if one hard drive should ever fail, the system won't miss a best by continuing to run on the remaining good drive, and alert the user that one drive may need to be replaced.

5. Online Storage

Online services, such as Xdrive and Windows Live’s Skydrive, allow users to upload their files to a server for safe keeping. Although it may be convenient to have the data available wherever an internet connection is available, there are a few limitations.

The services generally charge a monthly fee relative to the amount of storage space required. At Xdrive, for example, 5GB of storage costs $9.95 per month, which can quickly add up to more than one would spend on any of the other options discussed.   While Skydrive offers 25GB of free online space.

Security is supposed to be very tight on these services, but no matter how secure it may seem, it is still just a password keeping prying eyes from your potentially sensitive documents.

The speed of your internet connection will also weigh heavily on the convenience of your backup, and no matter what type of connection you have; it can't compete with local data transfer rates.

Final Words

Although not a comprehensive list of options available for backing up your data, the five items listed provide some simple and relatively affordable means to ensure that your data is not lost. Data loss is an extremely frustrating and potentially costly situation, but one that can be avoided.

Ways to Block Pop Up Ads

Advertisers are constantly looking for any way to draw attention to their products. Although typical banner ads are still used heavily, they now seem to be almost invisible to the average web surfer. Pop ups and other intrusive types of advertising are now used to thrust an ad in your face that you have no choice but to at least acknowledge. Regardless of the nature of the ad, pop ups are a nuisance, and there are now many options available for keeping them off of your computer screen all together.

1. Internet Explorer on Windows XP with SP2

The release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP brought about a few significant changes to the operating system. One of the most noticeable was the addition of a pop up blocker to Internet Explorer. The pop up blocker is integrated into the browser and can be customized by browsing to the “Tools” tab at the top of the program. Like many pop up blocker applications, personal preferences can be set to allow/block pop ups from certain sites, as well as providing customization for how the user is alerted to the fact that a pop up has been blocked. For those using Windows XP, upgrading to Service Pack 2 is an excellent idea for your system’s security as a whole, but specifically for the additional convenience of an integrated pop up blocker. For those with a Microsoft operating system other than XP, sorry, this is not available for you.

2. Alternative Web Browsers

There are other choices for web browsers available, and many have included a pop up blocker long before Microsoft decided to include one with Internet Explorer. The Mozilla Firefox browser version 1.0 was officially released on November 9th. This browser has already received a great deal of acclaim and has become quite popular as an alternative to Internet Explorer.

Firefox is a highly customizable web browsing application that includes an effective pop up blocker, tabbed browsing, and many other features not found in Internet Explorer. Crazy Browser is another option that was released in 2002, which is not as much an alternative browser, as it is a skin for Internet Explorer. In order for Crazy Browser to run, a system must have Internet Explorer 5 (or greater) installed, as well as Windows 95 (or greater) installed as the operating system. The Crazy Browser application then takes the base functionality of Internet Explorer and adds features similar to Firefox, such as the pop up blocker and tabbed browsing.

3. Browser Tool Bars

A growing trend is for websites to offer a downloadable toolbar for use with Internet Explorer. Many of these toolbars offer unique features intended to enhance the user’s web browsing experience in different ways, but they generally also include a pop up blocker. Although there are toolbars available from dozens of websites, Google, MSN, and Yahoo are some of the more reputable names with one available. The installation of these toolbars is quick and easy, and the most difficult part may be reading the fine print in the license agreements. Although these toolbars may do an excellent job blocking pop ups, they may also be retrieving data on your web surfing / search habits. If you feel a toolbar may be the right solution for you, stick with one from a trusted name, and just be sure to read the fine print.

4. Pop Up Blocker Software

Stand alone pop up blocking software is available from dozens, if not hundreds, of different sources. With various interfaces, and prices ranging from free to $30 (and higher), choosing one can be a difficult task. Many of the programs that are not available for free do come with a free trial download, so you can at least get a sense of whether the program is right for you before committing. Some of the options in this category include STOPzilla, Secure IE, Zero Popup and Pop Swatter, to name a few. The main drawback to this type of pop up blocking solution is that you now have another independent application running on your computer. Although they are generally not resource intensive, why run a program to do something that can be handled by one that is already running anyway? Additionally, with so many reliable solutions available to eliminate pop ups for free, spending money on one is hard to justify. Along with a dedicated pop up blocker, another recommended tact for eliminating pop-ups is eliminating spyware on your computer system. Some pop-up programs use accompanying spyware to target pop ups specifically to you and your web surfing habits. Excellent, free programs for eliminating spyware of all type is Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy.

5. Internet Access Software from Select ISPs

Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) now incorporate a pop up blocker with the software they provide to subscribers for accessing the internet. Earthlink, Optimum Online, and AOL are just a few of the larger providers that add value to their packages by adding a pop up blocker. Bundling this functionality with the ISPs base software definitely makes things easy for the subscriber, as there may be no need to find one elsewhere. In general, these blockers are effective, but are not the most feature rich and may have limited options for customization by the end user. One draw back with ISP provided pop up blockers is that some only work with their service. So, if you ever switch to a new provider, you’ll need to be prepared to switch to a new pop up blocker as well.

Final Words

Pop ups are a fact of life on the internet, but that does not mean you need to put up with them. Among the five general solutions presented above, there are literally hundreds of options available for eliminating the clutter of pop up ads, allowing you to enjoy only the content you intended to see.

Fantastic “How-to” Sites

Introduction

There's always something that you need to know how-to do. And need to know in a hurry. Things like replacing an oil filter, making the perfect turkey, planting an exotic plant, or replacing the hard drive on your desktop computer.

It used to be that if you wanted to learn how-to do something, you either needed to check a book or a videotape, or begged a friend or a family member for help. Not any more. You can, at a basic level (and sometimes beyond), get a grasp of a subject using the Web. And I'm not talking about random blog posts or Wikipedia, either.

There are a number of dedicated how-to Web sites that will tell and show you just about everything you need to know. Sometimes even more than that. A word of caution: these sites can be addictive. Use them wisely.

eHow.com The site bills itself as teaching you "How-to Do Just About Anything". And that's not too far from the truth. The site contains dozens of categories, and within each one are subcategories that have hundreds to thousands of articles in them. Like what? The computer electronics section covers topics like cheap digital cameras, GPS, satellite radio, and televisions. That section alone has close to 8,500 how-to articles!

The articles at eHow are short. I glanced through a few dozen of them, and the longest procedure was 11 steps. Each step only contained a short sentence or two. Talk about a quick hit of information.

How to Do Things.com Like eHow, How to Do Things.com contains a number of categories, each with several subcategories. Although it's not as comprehensive as eHow, this site does have a lot to offer on a variety of topics.

The articles at How to Do Things.com are more like entries in a traditional user guide or article. Instead of eHow's quick points, you get longer descriptions and a bit more narrative. You also get a few more photos and illustrations as well. Because of this, it'll take you a little longer to get the information that you need, but you might just get a slightly better grounding in a topic.

FindHow.com isn't a a how-to Web site in the strictest sense. It calls itself the "How-To Search Engine"; but it's more of a meta site. FindHow is a collection of links to how-to information all around the Web. For example, if you're looking for information on how-to study more effectively, you can find a link to the CliffsNotes Web site here. Or, if you want to learn how-to make a pinwheel,  you'll find links to articles at Canadian Living magazine, Martha Stewart's Web site, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

If you can't find it anywhere else, then you can probably find it at FindHow.

WikiHow.com combines the short instructions that you find at eHow with photos that illustrate some or all of the steps in a procedure. Note that not all task have photos, at least not yet. Each step in the procedure is brief, and you can click the photos to get a larger, clearer version. Many of the articles include additional tips and cautions as well.

Some of the articles on the site (like the one on tying a slip knot) also include short videos. The number of videos are limited, but they are useful.

Going back to eHow for a moment, the site has a small but growing section of how-to videos. You can also request a video, and it might just get made. It might take a while, though.

Instructables The site has an interesting mix of content that has a heavy DIY and geeky edge to it. But the content rarely talks down to you or goes over your head. Everything is clearly explained in words, pictures, and video. And you can download a lot of the content -- both as a video and as a PDF file that you can read on your computer or print.

And Instructables doesn't take itself too seriously. In addition to sections like Tech and Green, it has one called Offbeat. What's in there? Instructions on how-to make a spinning bow tie, how-to do guerilla gardening, and (my favorite) how-to build a soda bottle rocket.

Wonder How-to on the other hand, is completely video. This site is both a repository of how-to videos and a collection of links to videos on the wider Web. There are literally tens of thousands of videos available through Wonder How-to on topics ranging from sports to foreign languages to personal finance to magic and parlour tricks.

The videos at Wonder How-to are quite good quality, and range in length from a few seconds to several minutes. Users can grade the videos from an A+ to an F. While I usually don't pay much attention to ratings on Web sites, the ones here are generally fair and accurate.

MAKE Magazine is a print publication that's devoted to do-it-yourself technology projects. The magazine's Web presence is nothing to sneeze at either. The Web site contains a number of video podcasts that take you step by step through projects in the magazine. Some of the projects are interesting, like making a speaker out of a styrofoam picnic plate.

The site also has a blog, which posts interesting videos and links to projects that technology DIY enthusiasts have come up with. Even if you're not into building wild gadgets on your own, you should check out the site for the novelty factor.

Wirewize Even techies sometimes have a hard time setting up home entertainment systems. That’s where Wirewize comes to the rescue. As you've probably guessed, the site helps you not only figure out how to connect your home entertainment devices, but also helps you choose the best cables to do the job.

All you need to do is tell the site what components you have, and it will return a list of the proper cables and guide you through the connection process with clear photos. Wirewize also includes a good generic support section that educates you about consumer electronics and jacks and plugs, as well as offering you guides that will help you set up various types of speakers. The site also offers live support. But to access that support, and the bulk of the information on the site you have to register.

Conclusion

No matter what you need to learn how-to do, there's a Web site out there with information that can help you. You don't have to be an expert to learn from these sites, either. And if you are, there's a chance that you'll learn even more from them.

Jul 14, 2009

How to Boost Your Blog Traffic

A Step by Step Guide

Many first time bloggers automatically assume that once their blog is setup and they put a few posts on it, they will get some hits and regular readers. Unfortunately, this is not true. You won't get any traffic if no one knows about your blog.If you are blogging just for fun then that is ok but if you are into making some money out of your blog then i suppose this is not what you would want.
In order to boost traffic to your blog you need to make it visible to the users. You need to advertise your site over the internet. You need to get it indexed into major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. You need it to get your blog submitted to various free online directories. You need to increase your blog ranking in various search engines. In this article i will guide both the bloggers and webmasters through all the necessary steps required to drive more traffic to their site.

Blog Layout and Style

Before you start posting contents into you blog, you should first spend some time to decide on the layout and style of your blog as this very important to make your visitors stay on your blog for at least sometime and also to make your visitors come back to your blog repeatedly. Most web users are instantly turned off by tacky site designs or extreme neon colors. I know I won't stay at a website too long if the layout or navigation annoys me. The goal is to have a unique blog, different than all the other weblogs on the net. The one thing I really stress to others is making it easy for your readers to contact you. It shouldn't take a reader more than a click, if any, to find your email address or a contact form. This makes the reader feel like someone actually runs and cares about the website. An about page is also a great asset to have on a personal site or blog. The more a reader knows about you, the more they trust your content.

Blog Content

Your blog's usability goes hand in hand with its content.you. The content of your blog decides traffic to your blog to a great extent. You can specialize in a niche subject as long as you have an idea of how many people might be interested in that subject. If you do well with your niche subject matter, you could get some crazy traffic for being the only decent blog online with that type of content. On the other hand you could have widely used content, such as some aspect of technology, but add your own twist with your opinion or comparing/contrasting from other tech analysts. People won't go to your site to read something they could have read on CNET or Tom's Hardware, they want a unique take on it. If you learn anything from this article, I hope its that reblogging is a very bad thing. The one thing to kill your traffic is having identical content to another several hundred blogs. Finding out what your content should be is a key element of your blog's identity, the type of image your blog will ultimately emit and the traffic your blog will finally generate.
Now that you have created a blog with a nice eye-catching layout and style and posted in some unique and interesting content, its time for you to get you blog some visibility. Below I have discussed some of the important ways you can do it.

The major search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, and Ask, all offer direct submission to their search directories, but I wouldn't advise using them. For example, Google has a page where you can simply submit your webpage address for indexing, yet they tend to place your request in a holding position, sometimes for months, while you are waiting for their posting of your website. Sure this is a free service but do you really have the time to wait while business is passing you by? You could pay for search engine submissions but if you can do it for free, why would you opt for that cost needlessly?
There are some very simple and much faster means of getting your site indexed with the big boy search engines that you will find much more satisfying and a lot less stressful as far as playing the waiting game. Just follow some very easy steps that will get your site indexed quickly:

  1. Do not submit directly to the search engines. I repeat do not do this, unless you want to wait and wait and wait.
  2. Type into your favorite search engine free search engine directory lists, then look for directories that have at least a PR3 rating. The PR3 is the rating that is currently assigned to a webpage that is considered active and receives a fair amount of traffic.
  3. Submit your website or web pages into the proper categories, you want your website to be among similar topics to gain more direct traffic seekers once you are indexed.
  4. Use a text link containing keywords or phrase rather than just your URL to better describe your website. This will further assist the search engines by indexing your site in the best location.

Technorati is Your Best Friend

Technorati is one of the best traffic providers for bloggers. It makes your blog much easier to find when people search by technorati tags. Technorati is also a large blog ranking engine. Based on the number of links to your blog from various websites, your blog is given a rank. The higher your rank the easier your blog is to find when people search for things. A higher rank gives your blog greater credibility in technorati. If you don't already have a technorati account, get one.

Blog Rings/Networks

Submitting your website to a blog network or blog ring is another excellent way to get more readers. There are many of these networks but the one that I use is BlogTopSites.com. BlogTopSites is a blog ranking website that makes your blog easier to find and search for as well. Make sure you select an appropriate category to post your blog in. If you are not careful, you'll find yourself in the same pool with some heavy hitting blogs and your ranking will be fairly puny. For WordPress users, you can join Blogs Of The Day by simply installing their plug-in, which uploads your blog stats directly to them.

Burn that Feed

By now you may have a few extra readers, but how can you help them come back? Many blog users will immediately scan the page for an RSS feed if they like your content. Most blogs, such as WordPress, already have RSS feeds integrated for entries and comments. Using the default feeds may suffice, but you won't have any idea about how many people you will be catering to. The FeedBurner service will take your feed and reproduce it on their fast servers while tracking reader statistics. I highly recommend signing up for the service and letting them burn your feed.

Backlinks are the Key

A back link is basically a link to you, your work or your site that has nothing to do with your site. For example, if a visitor to your blog is very impressed with one of your post or article or finds your post very informative and want to share it with others, he may create a link to one of your post or the whole blog and post it in his blog or website, this is a back link.

Back links are critical in attracting traffic because they play a Huge role in search engine ranking. The more places that link to your work, the higher ranking you will have. That is why many big named companies pay people to link to them.
Now the important questions is how to get more and more back links linked to your articles. Well you can try these few things to create back links for free:

  1. Submit to Directories. Listing your work with directories is a great way to get back links.
  2. The Buddy System. Ask your friends or family to link to your site. Even if their content isn't totally related.
  3. Locate Sites. You can use the internet to search for other site owners, authors and bloggers with your same content and ask if they would like to link to you.

Getting To Know Your Readers

The next step is tracking your visitors, seeing where they came from, what they saw, and how they left. You will be able to easily assess what content your readers appreciate the most and concentrate on that aspect of your blog. Most webhosts include some type of stats monitoring applications such as the Urchin suite.

Final Thoughts

If you post guides or reviews on your blog that you think many people can benefit or learn from, I suggest posting a link on del.icio.us or Digg. If your page gets on the front page of Digg or on del.icio.us popular, you're set. Many tech websites have an email address for tips. If you think your content is worthy, try sending them an email with your article. You never know, they might post it. Even if they do not have a tips line, a polite email to the editor-in-chief or webmaster could do the trick. Even at the lowest level you will establish some rapport between that company or person, which may help you out in the future.

In addition, holding a contest can greatly boost traffic. Even if it is for a small thing such as a WordPress golden ticket, you will be amazed at how many people find out about it. You can establish a relationship with some of your readers, and they might link to your blog on theirs. Commenting on other blogs can also earn you a few hits if you put down your URL.

MySpace Marketing and SEO Guide

This page is intended to show up some ways in which MySpace (http://www.myspace.com) can be used by any webmaster to bring traffic and customers to its site. The MySpace generation brought some changes to the marketing scene - while conventional marketing and link exchange solutions are never going to fade out, new opportunities arise when millions of people gather in one place. That's the case of MySpace. Here are some facts:

  • MySpace has a Google PageRank of 8 (many user pages also have PR themselves)
  • According to Alexa, MySpace is the 6th most popular site on the entire web
  • In June 2006, MySpace had 75 million users, 15 million daily unique logins, was growing by a massive 240,000 new users per day, and was generating nearly 30 billion monthly page views (that's 10,593 page views per second)
  • In September 2006 MySpace had more than 100 million users

An entire niche was created around the myspace revolution with everything a MySpace user could want. For example, if anyone wants to have a better looking profile page, he can search for layouts sites like this MySpace Layouts site. Now, with so much traffic and so many people, it's clear that this can be an opportunity. To obvious thing to do: create an account, build a targeted friends network, communicate with them and promote your products or services. Well, let's refine this idea a little: building such a list by hand is impractical because of time consideration. And you probably (I'd say hopefully) have better things to do.

As a side note, there are various so called 'whore trains' - services that promise they will bring friends to your account. My advice: don't use them! They only bring you friends that signed up for the same service and those persons are more than certain just looking to gather a large amount of people to send messages to - you want real people as your friends.

You actually have more than one option: you can buy an already made account (the downside is that you don't have an accurate control over the friends added) for which the price depends on how many friends it has - the usual price is $10/1000 friends. Or you can hire someone to build an account from scratch based on your needs (e.g. you only want friends from with ages between 20 and 30 years from the US) - here the price is around $15/1000 friends. Or finally, you can just use a message sending service: persons who own MySpace accounts send bulletins (bulletins are just messages that are sent to all your friends with a single click) to all their friends on behalf of you - the price is somewhere around $0.5/1000 friends.

The key to success is to carefully choose the text of your message and more important, the title text because everyone sees first the title and only if they click it they can look at the entire message. So you'll need a hook there - my advice is to just make it look natural. You have to be sneaky in a way: if it looks like advertising your friends will just feel cheated and ignore the message.

What can you write in the bulletin body? Almost anything: you can use full HTML and CSS which means links, images and pretty much anything that can appear on a web page (no javascript, iframes or other mechanisms that may allow javascript injection for obvious security reasons).

From my experience, the click-through rate for these kinds of messages is around 1-2%. That means, for example, that if you submit the bulletin to 10.000 people (at a regular cost of $5 if you choose to use someone else's account) you can expect to receive 100 - 200 visits to your site (I presume anyone who promotes something will have a link to the site in the message). This brings you to a cost of 2.5 - 5 cents/visit. That's not bad at all! Now, traffic is something, but targeted traffic is the king - so if you get good friends you have no excuse of not recovering your investment.

Jul 13, 2009

What is Google Adsense?

AdSense is Google's program for placing its AdWords ads on non-Google websites such as this one.
AdSense lets website owners like you and me make money easily and fast without even selling anything. In fact you can often start earning in under 24 hours and when you get paid, it is Google that sends you a check!

Promoting Your Blog as Advised by Google

This is in no way a science or guarantee; it's simply a few suggestions with which many bloggers have found success.

Set your blog to Send Pings. When this setting is activated, your blog will be included in various "recently updated" lists on the web as well as other blog-related services.

Activate Your Navbar. Do this and you might start to see the effects right away! One of the features on the Blogger Navbar is a button called NextBlog - click it to visit the next Navbar-enabled blog.

Install Email This Post. If you use Email This Post on your blog, people will be able to forward your posts to friends. This may not have an immediate impact on your site stats but it enables others to publicize your blog for you.

Turn on Post Pages. By publishing every post as its very own web page with Post Pages, you ensure that your entries are way more link-able and more attractive to search engines.

Turn on your site feed. When people subscribe to your site feed in their newsreaders, they're very likely going to read your post.

Add your blog to Blogger's listings. When you add your blog to our listings it shows up in Nextblog, Recently Updated, and other places. It's like opting-in to traffic.

Write quality content and do it well. If your "style" is bad writing, worse grammar, no punctuation, and an ugly design, that might be okay for a niche crowd. But the idea here is to achieve mass appeal, so fix yourself up a bit.

Publish regular updates. Simple: the more you blog, the more traffic you'll get.

Think of your audience. A good way to build an audience is to speak to one in particular. When you keep your audience in mind, your writing gains focus. Focus goes a long way toward repeat visitors.

Keep search engines in mind. There are a few things you can do to make your blog more search engine friendly. Use post titles and post page archiving. This will automatically give each of your post pages an intelligent name based on the title of your post. Also, try to be descriptive when you blog. A well crafted post about something very specific can end up very near the top results of a search.

Keep your posts and paragraphs short. Strive for succinct posts that pump pertinent new information into the blogosphere and move on. Keep it short and sweet so visitors can pop in, read up, and click on.

Put your blog URL in your email signature. Think of how many forwarded emails you've seen in your day, and just imagine the possibilities.

Sumbit your address to blog search sites and directories. People look for blog content at Technorati every day, are you on their list? You should be. Submit your blog's url to Technorati, Daypop, Blogdex, Popdex, and any other site of that ilk you come across.

Link to other blogs. Links are the currency of the blogosphere and it takes money to make money so start linking.

Install a blogroll. It's a very simple yet effective social networking scheme and it has the same result as a simple link if not stronger: traffic! So if you don't have one yet, sign up for a blogroll and get that link-list going.

Be an active commenter. This is in the same vein as linking. Most comment systems also provide a way for you to leave a link back to your blog which begs a visit at the very least. So if you feel inspired, leave a comment or two in your blog travels. It behooves you.

Enable Following on your blog. Following a is a great way to keep your friends updated on the latest activity on your blog. New blogs will have this blog feature enabled by default, but for older blogs you will have to enable it from the Layout | Page Elements tab.

Source:

Google HelpBlogger HelpShare Your BlogTeam Blogs, Authors, and ReadersGetting Started › Promoting Your Blog 

URL:

http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=42377

How to Remove Ads from Windows Live Messenger Without Patches

In this post presenting a different solution, suitable for those who do not use Internet Explorer as your Web browser instead preferring other browsers (Firefox, Opera?).
Windows Live Messenger displays ads using Internet Explorer: So the idea is to intervene on IE settings to prevent the appearance of ads (especially troublesome dynamic enlarge passandoci above with the mouse pointer), but I can not exclude that with this trick not even be displayed banners static.
You just open Internet Explorer, go to Tools menu-Internet Options Security set to “High” level of protection of the Internet.

intsec

Click on Apply and OK and close Internet Explorer.
When this is done, log Windows Live Messenger and riconnettetelo: the ad should see a banner all white, or you get the banner following standards:

bannermsn

How to Really Speed Up Computer

When I was buying my laptop all I had in mind was performance. I wanted to have core2duo, 2 Gb of ram, discrete graphic card and Vista operating system. I thought with that specs, especially with core2duo, my laptop would fly with speed. And finally when I got it I had a terrible experience. Laptop was sooooooo slow like it was running celeron processor! I knew Vista was not the fastest operating system  but I tweaked it and removed all unnecessary applications and services…. but performance was not much better. Which component was causing this?

 computer-ram   Processor      SamsungF1HardDrive

I knew processor was fast and it could not be the bottleneck because task manager showed utilization between 5-15%. Ram could not be guilty for there were 2 Gigabytes. Maybe video card. Not a chance because nvidia 8400 gt was deffinitely capable of running vista. Than there were too options left. Operating system or hard drive. Vista was definitely partialy guilty but not that much. If the code was badly written-with many turning instead of less coding lines, processor would probably take the burden and utilize more. But it did not. It was merely working. So the only thing that remained was hard drive. And I was right.

Do not take me wrong processor is important, but by far the slowest computer part is HDD. So I went for it and bought new faster 7200 rpm hard drive. Than I noticed much faster performance and application launch time. And I remembered a sentence I read somewhere: “computer is that fast as the slowest component inside”. And the slowest part was Hdd. Processor is much much faster, ram approximately 30 times faster than hdd, video card has multi processor-core, but Hdd…. that fellow is slow.

I also find misleading hdd vendor information where thay state that e.g. hard drive can sequentially read or write at a rate of 100 Mb/s.  Yeah, but what about in real world. Divide that number by 10 or at least by 5 and now you get the real picture. Most of hdd-s can boot for example xp operating system at a rate between 7-10 Mb/s. Now this is not 100 Mb/s is it? Not at all.

So the next time I am going to buy laptop, I will definitely have in mind fast drive, probably solid state drive and not quad-core processor. Nowadays everyone(e.g.intel and other banchmarking companies) emphasizes the importanance of cpu and tries to convince us that new cpu with fater fsb and second-data level cashe is going to make miracles in speed and that we definitely need it……Well that is all good but with slow hard drive it will not make much difference. Cpu will be taking “vacation” anyway if it does not get enough and fast all the data to work on.  Just imagine ferrari on traffic-jammed highway. It can not go any faster than a truck can, right?

So if you want to speed up computer, my advice is to invest your money in faster hard drive or even SSD drive instead in cpu. You will be surprised how much faster your computer can be. I was! Please also take in account that this is general guidance in most every-day situation, when you also meet basic hardware  requirements for certain operating system. If you are an advanced user it makes sense to upgrade cpu and ram as well but still not that much as upgrading HDD.

Enable Polygamy in Yahoo Messenger 8 and 9 Without Patches

Here’s how to enable polygamy (multiple user logins at the same computer).

  1. Click start button and select Run and then type regedit to open the registry editor.
  2. In the registry editor navigate yourself to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\yahoo\pager\Test
  3. In the right-pane look for a DWORD entry called Plural, In yahoo messenger 8.x this will not exist, but in Yahoo messenger 9 this will exist and will have a default value of 2.
  4. Create the DWORD entry Plural if it doesn’t exist, or modify it if it already exists, change the value to 1.

Now you can have polygamy without any patches!