Monday, October 22, 2007

Charlie Ayers - Google Chef Now a Millionaire

Chef Charlie Ayers joined Google as their first cafeteria chef in 1999.

Though Charlie is no longer an employee of Google, he owns 40k shares of GOOG and that are alone worth $26 million.

google chef

He also had plans to write a cookbook titled "Revealing the Secrets of the Google Kitchen" - that never happened but Chef Charlie is now busy consulting tech companies on deciding good food for their employees.

Update: Chef Charlie Ayers wife Kimberly  just informed that the Cookbook is happening. It will be released in April/May of 2008. Also, Charlie is opening a restaurant in May/June of 2008.

Read more about Google Chef Charlie on NYTimes or watch this video on "How much is the Google chef worth?" at MSNBC News.

[Charlie Ayers - From managing the Google kitchen to managing millions]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Webmaster Central Error : URLs Restricted by Robots.txt

For some reason, Google's Webmaster Dashboard says that access to following blogspot URLs is restricted by robots.txt.

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/05/guide-for-google-adsense-publishers.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/05/us-government-rss-library.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/08/screen-capture-ocr-for-text-and.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/12/anonymous-email-that-disappears.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/03/great-firewall-of-china-blocks-skype.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/03/online-logo-generator-text-logos-made.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/03/waterfalls-and-kazaa-are-bad-for-your.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/04/blogging-stocks-aol-blog-experiments.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/05/adobe-employees-excited-about.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/05/interesting-forms-of-art-from.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/06/louis-vuitton-ruling-could-mean.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/07/please-join-my-frappr-google-map.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/11/cropping-pictures-with-adobe-photoshop.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/11/windows-vista-upgrade-advisor-can-go.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/01/world-time-clocks-visual-guide-to-time.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/04/privilege-of-being-adsense-premium.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/07/livesearch-from-yahoo-better-than.html

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/10/modify-pdf-documents-without-adobe.html

How to Add Star Rating Widget To Blog Posts

Blogs that are on Blogger or WordPress can add the wonderful Outbrain star ratings widget to their blog posts.

This ratings widget has been under a closed beta for some time but they finally made a public release today.

Outbrain Ratings widget is light, requires no registration and intuitive - visitors can hover the mouse over the five stars and click any of them to rate your current blog post.

Even if you have a regular website that's not a blog, this ratings widget can be installed on your site as well.

You need such a rating widget to get feedback from all those reader who are subscribed to your blog aren't contributing to the discussion because they are probably too lazy to write a comment.

Give them a system like this ratings widget that requires no effort and they'll be happy to say if enjoyed or disliked reading your blog post. Get the Ratings Widget here.

If you are using Windows Live Writer to insert ratings in your blog posts, make sure you remove the link breaks from javascript else this may not work.

Ticker Symbol Lookup in Yahoo! Finance

When I wrote this story comparing Google Finance with Yahoo! Finance, the one area where Google had a lead over Yahoo! was ticker symbol search.

While Yahoo! Finance required you to enter the exact stock ticker symbol in the search box, Google Finance would offer matching suggestion as you type the name of the company or stock symbol.

Today, Yahoo! Finance have enhanced their quote lookup search box and it looks even better than Google - you can now find quotes for a company even if you don't know the stock symbol.

The other nice addition is multiple search - you can look for stock symbols of multiple companies in the same search box - just separate the names by comma. When you hit Go, stock data for all those companies will appear on the same summary page.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Upload Pictures to Flickr From Windows Live Photo Gallery

This is exciting news for people who use Flickr for storing photographs on the web but prefer Windows Live Photo Gallery on the desktop for managing their picture and video collection offline.

Microsoft today released a  new version of Windows Live Photo Gallery that lets you send pictures to Flickr directly from the desktop using Windows Live Photo Gallery. You can also bulk upload images and folders to Flickr using this new feature of Photo Gallery.

upload flickr pictures

Like the official Flickr uploader, this one from Microsoft will also resize your pictures before uploading them onto Flickr (optional). You can also specify the photo set where that picture should be uploaded to.

Related: Compare Picasa with Windows Live Photo Gallery

If you operate multiple Flickr accounts, Windows Live Photo Gallery lets you add them all to the Flickr uploader.

You can download this Flickr enabled version of Windows Live Photo Gallery through Windows Automatic Updates (kb943550) or the common Windows Live Installer here.

Related: Download Flickr Photos in a Batch

Can You Spot This Secret Feature In Facebook

facebook friends collage

Here's a simple question for anyone who has been on Facebook for some time now.

How do you create a photo collage of your Facebook Friends (as shown above) without using any of the available Facebook Apps or third-party tools.

And no matter how large your Facebook friends list is, the whole process should not take more than 2 seconds.

Hint: This secret feature is available right inside Facebook though Mark Zuckerberg and his team never told us about it.

Answer: Once you finish exploring all the options in Facebook, read the solution.

How To Save PowerPoint Presentations Out of Google Docs

Before you upload PowerPoint PPT files to Google Presentations for editing, make sure you know that the opposite is not possible yet.

Unlike other members of the Google Docs family, Google Presentations doesn't have an export function so you cannot download your edited PowerPoint slideshows out of Google Presentations in PPT, PDF or any other popular formats.

Update: This is no longer required, you can now easily export PPT files from Google Docs.

Google Docs does allow you to download the presentations as a ZIP, which is a mix of HTML, CSS and JPGs, but again that's not a very useful or convenient format.

Considering that PPT is such a universally accepted presentation format, it is quite safe to assume that PowerPoint export feature will meet Google Presentations very soon.

But if you are getting desperate to get those PowerPoint slides out of Google Docs now itself because the boss wants them, the good old Print Screen key can be your friend.

Open the Google Presentation file in the browser that you want to import back into PowerPoint - then hit the "Start Presentation" link on the top left (or hit Ctrl+F5) to play the slideshow in a new window. As the slides progress in the browser, hit the Print Screen key each time, add a new slide in PowerPoint and insert the clipboard contents by pressing Ctrl+V.

It's not the most practical solution because the slides are now still images and therefore non-editable - but then something is better than nothing.

The print screen technique can also be used for sharing presentations created in Google Docs on any of the PowerPoint hosting services like SlideShare, Scribd and more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Technorati Blog Search Is Useful Again; Rolls Back Recent Changes

technorati blog search

The two very useful features of Technorati - Charts and Blog Directory - mysteriously disappeared after Technorati decided to shift focus from a blog search engine to a multimedia search engine.

The move may have backfired for Technorati and so they decided to revert the changes pretty soon.

Other than charts and blog directory, you can also sort blog search results by authority like before to filter posts from blog sites that have very low or no incoming links.

Another major enhancement is that Technorati Topics have made it to the front page of Technorati. It shows a live stream of new and popular blog posts arranged in categories.

Video and Photo search features are still available but the tag search is now different than regular blog search - they are no longer clubbed together.

Pretty good move by Technorati. It will continue to remain one of favorite blog search engines on the web. Also hoping they resume publishing the quarterly State of Blogosphere reports as well. Thanks Dave and Richard.

Related: What's Hot on the Internet

What Will Happen When Google Becomes an Adult ?

predict the future

The Forbes magazine today launched a new feature called the "The Future" where they invited personalities to predict trends and technologies that will become popular in the near future.

An extremely intelligent prediction about Google's future comes from David Ewalt where he says - Over the next 10 years, Google will solidify its hold on the world's information, and as it adds data service to its portfolio, it will give away free Internet access and phone service around the country. In 10 years, the company (and its ads!) will be omnipresent in American lives.

David also expects that Google will lose the cool factor - Expect Google, at 19 years old, to be regarded much like Microsoft is today - bloated, monopolistic and oppressive.

There's a very interesting quiz as well where you have to guess about events that are likely to occur in 2008 - Will Google hit $900? Will the richest person be from China ? What will the exchange rate be between the U.S. Dollar and the Euro on December 31, 2008?

The quiz is US-centric but fun nevertheless. Forbes will send you an email in January 2009 sharing your quiz score.

Google Adsense Plugin for Windows Live Writer

Insert Adsense Code in Blog Posts

AdSense Coder is new plugin for Windows Live Writer that lets you to add Google Ads directly into your blog posts through Windows Live Writer itself. It will also wrap the Adsense code around your text using the align attribute.

You first define different Google Ad formats that you want to include in the blog posts. AdSense Coder will then add those blocks of Javascript code to your blog posts anywhere you like.

Pretty easy to use but before you download and install the Adsense plugin, here's a word of caution.

Always avoid inserting Adsense code directly in your blog posts - always do that via templates in Blogger or themes in WordPress.

The reason is simple - if Google decides to change the default Adsense code for publishers somewhere down the line, you'll have to manually edit each and every blog posts that contains the Adsense code in order to remain complaint with the Google policies.

That situation will never arise if you put the Adsense block in a central place like the template of your blog. Thanks Stephan.

Modify PDF Documents without Adobe Acrobat

Since Adobe PDF is an output format, you cannot edit or recreate the PDF file unless the source documents are available.

Now Adobe Acrobat does allow you to apply numerous modifications to your existing PDF documents (like editing text, changing font attributes, inserting images and more) but, as you know, Acrobat is an extremely expensive software.

If you are on a budget and wish to edit PDF documents without Acrobat, the easiest option is to make edits in the original document itself and recreate the PDF using Google Docs or any of the free PDF writers.

When that is is not an option because you don't have the PDF source files, the PDFill PDF Editor (link) can help you manipulate PDF documents though it may work with password protected PDFs.

The PDF Editor is freeware and lets you make basic changes to PDF files - you can reorder the sequence of pages, crop a PDF page, add text information in header and footer, add image stamps or even merge multiple PDFs into one.

PDFill PDF editor is still limited like it won't let you edit that phone number or address in the PDF - another option is to download a trial version of Adobe Acrobat Professional - it works like a charm for 30 days.

Related: Extract Text from PDF with Gmail

Download Images From a Webpage When Right Click Is Disabled

Some websites disable the right click menu on their websites to prevent people from saving images and photographs to their desktop.

There are several ways to bypass that "right click" barrier - you can either do a screen capture, or copy that protected image from the web browser's cache or read the image URL from the HTML source of the web page and then save the image using your favorite download manager.

All the above methods work but the only problem is that they are geeky. So let's take look at another approach that requires absolutely no effort - it's called "drag-n-drop."

Just point your mouse pointer over the image, press and hold the left click button and drag that image either to browser address bar or somewhere on destkop. That's it. The image file will be instantly saved to your computer even if the right-click option was disabled (because we used left-click).

The drag-n-drop method really comes handy when the web page is opened in a window that has no menus, scroll bars or the toolbar.

Related: Bypass Flickr SpaceBall Protection

Flickr To Accept Payments for Pro Accounts Via PayPal Again

yahoo paypal flickr errors

Few months ago, Flickr removed PayPal as a payment method and only those Flickr members could upgrade to a Flickr Pro account who had a Credit Card.

This was met with a great deal of disappointment in the Flickr community as existing Pro members, who were not having credit cards, could not renew their yearly Flickr pro membership.

Well, the news is that PayPal will make a comeback on November 20, 2007.

However, PayPal will now be offered as payment option in Flickr via Yahoo! Wallet. Flickr will also provide local currency support for payments made my PayPal. Full thread here.

Compare Flickr Pro with Picasa Web

Monday, October 15, 2007

PC Magazine - Give an OPML Of Your Favorite Blogs

Following the footsteps of CNET Blog 100, PC Magazine too today released their own list of 100 favorite blogs. The list includes the usual suspects but if you are new to the blogging world, this is probably a good place to quickly build your reading list.

There's something surprising here - PC Magazine decided to release a Windows based installer that will add this grand list of 100 blogs right into your Internet Explorer bookmarks.

pc magazine blogs

Agree, a lot of people still use browser bookmarks to save their favorite websites but blogs are generally read and subscribed in RSS readers. PC Magazine could have released the blog list as an OPML that subscriber could import to their favorite news readers in a click.

Secondly, the PC Magazine installer will work only on Windows even though the mentioned blogs would definitely interest readers who may be on Mac and Linux.

Another surprise - Scobleizer is missing.

How to Download Contacts from Facebook To Outlook Address Book

Facebook users are not too pleased with the "walled garden" approach of Facebook. The reason is simple - while you can easily import your Outlook address book and GMail contacts into Facebook, the reverse path is closed.

There's no "official" way to export your Facebook friends email addresses or contact phone numbers out as a CSV file so that you can sync the contacts data with Outlook, GMail or your BlackBerry.

Some third-party Facebook hacks like "Facebook Sync" (for Mac) and "Facebook Downloader" (for Windows) did allow you to download your Facebook friends' names, emails, mobile phone number and profile photo to the desktop but they were quickly removed for violation of Facebook Terms of Use.

How to Download Contacts from Facebook

There are still some options to take Friends data outside the walls of Facebook wall.
  1. Facebook offers the Takeout option allowing you to download all Facebook data locally to the disk (include the Facebook Photos). Go to your Account Settings page and click the “Download Your Information” link. This will include email address of your Facebook friends who have authorized Facebook to include their data in the exported files.
  2. Alternatively, you can use the simpler Yahoo Mail option to export emails of all Facebook Friends. Once you link your Facebook and Yahoo account, all the email address of your friends will be available in your Yahoo address book that you download as a CSF file, VCF, as a text file or any other standard formats.
If you are on Microsoft Outlook, Fonebook is one easy (and legal) option to transfer photos, web address and birthdays of your Facebook contacts to Outlook (no email or mobile phone numbers). Update: No longer active.

Another secret program is Profilicious that will export your Facebook address book to other programs like Outlook or GMail. Since Facebook displays the contact email addresses as an image, Profilicious has an inbuilt OCR to extract the text out of that image. Update: No longer available.

Related: Add Friends Pictures from Facebook to Outlook Address Book

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Advantages of Using Gmail with Google Apps Premier

If you are also planning to sign up for a new Gmail account, consider opting for Google Apps Premier Edition that makes Gmail even better. Here are five reasons:

1. While 3 GB in free Gmail is lot of space, it can get exhausted - Google Apps gives you 25+ GB of storage space.

2. You can define a list of approved email senders and web domains - any messages from approved lists will always go to your Inbox bypassing the junk email filters. You can also block individual email senders and entire domains - messages from anyone in a blocked domain go directly to the Junk Quarantine.

3. Google guarantees a 99.9% uptime for Gmail. If things still go wrong, you can call Google's 24x7 telephone support for a solution.

4. Google Apps Premier users can hide all advertisements in Gmail that show in the right sidebar.

5. Now the top reason for using Google Apps email over Gmail - accidents do happen but with Google Apps Premier, you can recover deleted email messages from Gmail.

If you accidentally delete an email message in GMail , you will be able to retrieve the deleted message for the next 90 days by just searching for the message in the email archive.

Unlike Gmail which is free, Google Apps Premier will cost you $50 per year. Though Google is promoting the premier edition for business users, it is a good enough for anyone who finds Gmail storage limited or wants more control - $50 could be a worthwhile investment.

Al Gore's Current TV Makes Impressive Foray Into Social Networks

Current TV, which is a wonderful mix of some original programming and viewer generated content, will soon launch in a new and very impressive avatar.

While the original Current TV was limited to video, the new Current is more of a social network and bookmarking site where you can save and share videos, web pages and photos clipped from the web.

You can also upload original videos, just as before, except now your videos can be nearly anything, not just programs for Current TV.

You can watch some screenshots here of the upcoming Current TV website:

current 1  google current

current tv

The most popular segment of Current TV among web users is Google Current - it provides a look (with a pinch of humor) at the current most popular search queries on Google using search data from Google Zeitgeist.

Current TV is led by Al Gore, the former Vice President of US who is also senior advisor to Google.

Add Tags To WordPress 2.3 Posts From Windows Live Writer 2008

The new WordPress 2.3 release supports keyword tagging without requiring external plug-ins like Ultimate Tag Warrior or Simple Tagging.

With the new Windows Live Writer 2008, you can easily add keyword tags to WordPress blog posts (see screen capture) though this feature is not enabled by default.

Windows Live Tagging WordPress

To enable tagging in WLW for WordPress 2.3 blogs, follow the steps below:

1. Download wlwmanifest.xml (with some images files) here and upload them to your wp-includes folder. [5023]

2. Add two lines of PHP code (highlighted in green) to the default-filters.php and general-template.php file also available in the wp-includes folder.

3. Goto Windows Live Writer, select the WordPress 2.3 blog and update the settings.

Voila! You will see a new input field that says "Keywords" - type any number of tags here separated by commas and they'll become part of your blog post.

More troubleshooting tips on using WordPress with Windows Live Writer.

Sidenote: I finished upgrading my second blog to WordPress 2.3 yesterday and the entire process completed in less than 15 minutes. The shift to the new WP platform was so simple as if you are just installing a new version of some WordPress plugin. Thanks Matt, your team rocks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Merge Multiple RSS Feeds Into One with FeedBurner and Yahoo! Pipes

One of the very popular question in the FeedBurner FAQ is about merging XML RSS feeds from different sources (like Blogger, WordPress, Flickr, Twitter, Jaiku) and then syndicate the entire content as one FeedBurner feed.

This is desirable because a single feed makes it extremely easy for your subscribers to track new content and updates from you.

Though FeedBurner doesn't provide any native feed mixing service, you can use the excellent Yahoo! Pipes service to combine two or more feeds and burn them into a single FeedBurner feed.

Here's a step by step guide:



Step 1: Go to the Yahoo! Pipes website and Create a new Yahoo! Pipe.

Step 2: Drag-n-drop the "Fetch Feed" tab from the Sources tab to the main drawing panel.

Step 3: Add all the different Feed URLs in the same Fetch Feed Module (click the plus icon).

Step 4: Once you are done adding all your RSS feeds, drag the lower circle from Feed Fetch module to the Pipe Output at the bottom.

Step 5: Give some name and save this Yahoo! Pipe. Now run the pipe and you will see a new RSS feed - syndicate that feed via FeedBurner so you can even track the feed subscribers. It's all very simple.

Microsoft Releases Word 2007 Viewer for Reading docx Documents

To open a Word 2007 document without installing Office 2007, you either had to download the Office 12 Compatibility Pack or manually convert .docx to .doc format using any of the online conversion services.

The limitation with Office Compatibility Pack is that it still requires a previous version of Microsoft Office on your computer.

Not anymore. Microsoft recently introduced a free Word 2007 viewer that lets you view docx Word documents, even if you don't have any version of Word installed. You will still need to install the Office Compatibility Pack.

Other than Word 2007, Microsoft also provides a PowerPoint 2007 viewer for pptx presentations. There's no Excel 2007 viewer yet but you can convert xlsx to xls using Zamzar and then view the converted spreadsheet in Google Docs.

None of the Online Office suites (like Google Docs) currently support the new Office Open XML format of Office 2007.

Word 2007 Viewer | PowerPoint 2007 Viewer | Office 2007 FAQ

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Excel 2007 Calculation Fix Weighs a Whooping 32 MB

bug fix excel 2007

After two weeks of testing, Microsoft today released a patch that will fix the Excel 2007 calculation errors.

Earlier, if the result of calculation in Excel 2007 is a number from 65534.99999999995 to 65535, it is incorrectly shown as 100000 in the spreadsheet.

The patch file weighs around 32 MB and that could be one of the reasons why Microsoft did not include it the regular Windows Update cycle though the patch itself is released on a Tuesday.

More details and download links on Excel Blog.

Once you apply the fix, it will update the main Excel.exe program to version 12.0.6042.5000 as well as the Graph and Office Art programs of Office 2007. This will also be a part of Office 2007 SP1.

Publish Your Twitter Tweets on Jaiku Automatically

Now that Jaiku is owned by Google, it will get lot of traction in the coming days - people who have refrained from micro-blogging so far are also likely to jump in.

If you are a Twitter addict but also want to use Jaiku simultaneously, here's a time-saving trick - you can continue sending tweets to Twitter as before (via mobile phone, web or Google Talk) and the messages will automatically appear in your Jaiku account as well. See screenshot.

twitter tweet jaiku

This is possible because Twitter provides RSS feeds of all your Twitter messages and Jaiku can easily import that feed.

Just goto Jaiku Web feeds here and type your twitter URL (twitter.com/username). Then select the second option (as in the figure) and click Add feed.

The next time you write something on Twitter, it will also become available to your Jaiku Contacts.

integrate twitter jaiku

Other than Twitter status messages, you can also add your Blog Feeds, Flickr photos, Digg, Facebook Status and everything else to Google-Jaiku that supports web feeds.

This Little Bird Is Twitting In The Google Campus

google jaiku

Google acquired Blogger in 2003 from Evan Williams who later launched another successful company called Twitter.

Google owned a service similar to Twitter called Dodgeball but for some reason, that service never got the attention it deserved and DodgeBall soon became history.

Well, Google has re-entered the "micro-blogging" space - the news just out is that Google has acquired Jaiku, another Twitter clone.

The litte bird above showed up on Jaiku homepage because the service may experiencing massive traffic at the moment.

Jaiku is not so popular as Twitter so Google may have definitely got a better deal here. Kevin Rose of Digg also runs a Jaiku-Twitter clone called Pownce.

Jaiku is currently invite only - While I have an account on Jaiku, the link to invite new friends is returning a 404.

Related: Twitter, Jaiku, Tumblr - The Future of Blogging

Is Your Google Talk Friends List Too Long and Unmanageable?

If you exchange a couple of email messages with another GMail user, Google Talk assumes that the person at the other end is a known contact and will automatically add him (or her) to your friends list.

That's the reason why many of us have long list of buddies in Google Talk (watch this video).

If the list has grown too big, try Google Talk bankruptcy - remove all existing friends from Google Talk in one go and make a fresh start.

Google Talk Friends List Getting Out of Hand? Try Bankruptcy

Camtasia Studio 5 Is Now Available - Review and Screenshots

Read review of Camtasia Studio 5 (with screenshots)

camtasia studio review

TechSmith have just released released Camtasia Studio 5. The software works on Microsoft Windows Windows XP and Vista.

The Camtasia Studio trial is fully-functional and runs for 30 days after installation. A free, 60-day account for Screencast.com is also included in the trial.

Camtasia Studio 5 is quite nicely integrated with the Screencast.com, an online service like YouTube but for sharing screencast videos. Unlike other online video hosting services, Screencast.com retains the original video quality and size of the uploaded screencast.

The World Atlas of the Internet

Internet World Maps - Visualize the popularity of Internet and Social Networking across various countries and continents. The full list includes seven interesting World Maps.

social-networks

Monday, October 8, 2007

Focus Your Attention On the Current Task, Hide All Distractions

Distractions are always present when using a computer.

For instance, you are watching a YouTube video but hate the desktop screensaver that gets activated every few minutes. Or you are writing an important Excel sheet and suddenly there's a notification in the system tray that says "Your friend Rick is Online" or that "You a new email."

before screen capture

Here's a real scenario - I am writing this blog post in Windows Live Writer and there's Outlook, Google Talk, Firefox in the background all competing for attention.

All these little things make it tough to focus on the task at hand. If you also find yourself in a similar situation and wish you could work on the computer sans distractions, a little utility called Zorro for Windows can help you here.

after screen Zorro is like placing a cardboard on the screen with a rectangular hole - you focus the Zorro views screen over any area of the desktop (or any running software application), hit the ESC key and Zorro will blank all the outside portion. Distractions, if any, won't be visible unless you escape the Zorro mode (i.e., remove the cardboard).

Get Zorro 1.4 for Windows and stop paying attention to stuff that's not important at that point of time. And similar to Mouse Spotlight, Zorro can be a great help when giving presentations and you want the audience to concentrate on a particular area of the slide or screen. Thanks Martin.

Related: Write Without Distractions

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Google Reducing PageRank of Websites That Sell Paid Text Links

google pagerank Matt Cutts has long been giving strong but indirect hints that selling text links ads (without using nofollow) or writing sponsored product reviews could harm the rankings of your blog or website in Google search results.

Google is not against text link advertising, they just don't want sites to pass link juice to advertisers. Read Matt's take on the issue:

You want my links for traffic.. totally fine..just don't make it so they affect search engines..so that's why we say use nofollow..or use a redirect which is through robots.txt

Paid links that affect search engines (whether paid text links or a paid review) can cause a site to lose trust in Google.

Two months ago, we saw that organic search rankings of a Page Rank 7 website were penalized by Google for selling text links. The ban was quickly lifted (in less than a week) after the site owner removed the paid links.

Google PageRank from 9 to 7

Now another instance has surfaced where Google penalized the PageRank of a site after detecting paid links.

The Stanford Daily website, which is part of Standford University, was a PR 9 website but with the recent update, Google has dropped the to PR7. The reason, you guessed it right, is paid text links.

Danny Sullivan, who discovered the drop, talked to Google about the issue and Google confirmed that PageRank scores are being lowered for some sites that sell links.

Not just PageRank, Google said that some sites that are selling links may indeed end up being dropped from its search engine or have penalties attached, to prevent them from ranking well.

Not everyone here may agree with the rules imposed by Google Government but there's no denying that Google is the single largest source of search traffic to most websites today.

By selling paid links on your site (without using nofollow), you may be making money in the short run but once the search rankings and PageRank is penalized by Google, the incoming search traffic and link selling power of your site will dilute anyway.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Image That You See Here Is Not a Photograph

 photoreal image

You may not believe your eyes but the image above is not a photograph, it's just a painting of a non-real person done using airbrush, not Photoshop.

Dru Blair took around 70 hours to paint this beautiful photorealistic image - look at the eyes, skin tones, hair curls.. they look so real.

Dru has the details on how he completed this painting dubbed "Tica" - Photorealism at its best.

Related: Fake or Real Photos

The World Is Missing Technorati State of the Blogosphere Reports

Do you know that 120,000 new weblogs are created worldwide each day. That the most popular blogging language is Japanese, not English. That more than 1.5 million blog posts are published each day.

state of blogging The world came to know about these very-interesting blogging trends and statistics courtesy David Sifry, founder of Technorati, who would religiously publish his much awaited "State of the Blogosphere" report every few months.

But things have seriously changed at Technorati this year - Richard Jalichandra is the new Technorati CEO and the last State of the Blogosphere quarterly report was released in April 2007, that's more six months ago.

Now the world (and mainstream media) have no concrete idea about the growth of blogging during this period except that Technorati is currently tracking 108 million blogs - that number was 70 million six months ago.

Anyone in the Technorati Team reading this - please don't break the ritual that Dave has been following since October 2004. The blogging community is eagerly waiting for those green graphs and numbers.

Related: Gaming Technorati Favorites, Understand Technorati Cosmos

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How to Access Orkut Account from Facebook

Something very interesting for people who are active on both Facebook and Orkut.

You can now easily integrate your Orkut account with your Facebook profile courtesy a new Orkut app for Facebook that's not developed by Google but an Amazon employee.

The best part about the Orkut Application is that you need not supply your Google Account or password, just type the full URL of your Orkut Profile and that's sufficient to bring your Orkut data into Facebook.

Once you add the Facebook application, you can read the Orkut scrapbook of anyone, write new scraps, browse photos uploaded by other Orkut friends and more. Update: The app is no longer available.

Related: How to Create Custom Facebook Pages

And it's a good way to expose your community of Orkut friends to Facebook friends (and vice-versa). Facebook friends, who are not on Orkut, can know about your Orkut community without ever visiting that site. They can also view the Photos and Videos that you have shared on Orkut. How much fun.

Read some workarounds on how to access Orkut, Facebook and other restricted websites at school or work.

Anti-Phishing Game: Learn How to Spot Fake Websites

Like the Phishing Quiz from McAfee, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an interesting online game to help people recognize online scams and phishing websites easily by looking at their URL in the browser address bar or with the help of Google.

play anti-phishing game

The plot is interesting - you are a small fish swimming around the bay with your experienced father in search of food. You will encounter worms in the water - swim over a worm to reveal it's attached web address (URL).

You earn points by eating the good worms (legitimate websites) and rejecting the bad ones (phishing websites or online scams). If you are unsure about a site, press T and you learned father will give you a nice hint if the site is legit or fake.

Play the Anti-Phishing game here.

Related: Google Phishing Warning Extension

Microsoft Removes WGA Validation Requirement for IE 7

Microsoft today released a new build of Internet Explorer 7 that installs without requiring you to validate the copy of Windows as Genuine. The new IE7 is available Windows XPSP2, x64 Server and Windows Server 2003.

download internet explorer 7

Now that users running pirated copies of Windows XP can install IE7, it makes one wonder if Microsoft took this step to counter the growing popularity of alternate browser like Firefox and Opera? [Microsoft Software Piracy]

This is an update to the availability of Internet Explorer 7 and not a new version of the browser. Other than removing the WGA validation requirement, Microsoft has made some minor changes to IE browser.

For instance, the Menu bar will be turned on by default and the online Internet Explorer 7 tour has been updated to include how-to’s on new IE features like tabbed browsing.

You can download Windows Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP SP2 here.

Genuine Windows users, who are already running IE7, need not do anything except for downloading a new update for IE7 here that resolves a performance issue with the Phishing Filter of Internet Explorer 7.

Related: Block IE7 from Installing via Automatic Updates

Create a Temporary Webpage That Self-Destructs After Some Time

You have heard of temporary email and disposable email services that help shield your actual address from spammers and email harvesting robots. Extend the same concept to websites and what you get is a service called disposable Web pages.


First you make a proper webpage using the rich text editor that also supports tables, images and Flash movies. Then set the time when you want that web page to expire (or become unavailable).

When others are reading that webpage, they will also see a count down clock that shows the exact time to disposal.

Disposable WebPage provides a wiki like environment where others can also edit the web page created by you provided you share with them the password (or the master key).

Could be a useful and quick alternative to small wikis for managing upcoming events and TODO lists. disposableWebpage.com

Know When People Submit Your Stories to Digg; Get Dugg More

submit story to digg Whether you write a blog or a regular website, incoming traffic is always welcome even when the flow is from Digg.com.

When a reader submits your blog post to Digg and the story gets dugg a couple of times more by other Digg members, you can quickly add the yellow "digg this" button to your website - that Digg button not just displays the current digg count but also encourages others site visitors to digg your story without leaving the site.

Now the important thing - How do you know automatically when people submit content from your website to Digg.com ? Well, it's actually quite simple. You just have to setup a custom search RSS feed to track Digg like a hawk.

1. Go to Digg Search at digg.com/search

2. Type your web domain in the seach box and select "URL only" as shown in the screen capture. If you are on blogspot or wordpress, you will have to type the subdomain name as well.

3. Select "All Stories", "Sort Newest First" and hit the Search button.

story submit on digg

Digg provides an RSS feed of these search results. Whenever a story from you blog hits Digg, it will become available in the RSS feed irrespective of the number of Diggs it has received.

You can either get this feed in your news reader or turn it into an email alert via RSSFwd or R-Mail to get an email as soon as you are Digg.com.

Then head over to your blog post and add the following Digg snippet so that visitor can digg the story without ever leaving your website. (see live example)

<script type="text/javascript">
  digg_url = 'DIGG_PERMALINK_URL';
</script>
<script src="http://digg.com/tools/diggthis.js" type="text/javascript"> </script>

You can read about some more interesting Digg features and tips in our guide - Digg for Power Users. A similar trick is available for tracking del.icio.us as well.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Online Photo Editing in Adobe Photoshop Express - Video Demo

You have seen the screenshots but at the recently concluded Max 2007 conference, Adobe gave a live video demo of some prominent features in Photoshop Express, the much awaited online image editor.

Like the live preview feature in Microsoft Office 2007, you can hover the mouse over various thumbnail images in Photoshop Express to see how that effect will look when applied to the current image - it's efficient and lightning fast.

CNET has the recording of the Adobe Photo Express demo which is embedded above. It's still not known if the online Photoshop editor can deal with layered PSD graphics.

Related: Edit Photos Online for Free

FeedBurner Upgrades FeedSmith Plugin for WordPress Feeds

feedburner worpress feed 

FeedBurner FeedSmith is a must-have plugin for WordPress that redirects all your RSS Feeds to a single FeedBurner feed so you can know exactly how many people have subscribed to your RSS feed.

If you are already using FeedBurner FeedSmith to manage your WordPress feeds, it is important that you immediately upgrade FeedSmith with the latest version available here.

The previous version of FeedSmith has a security hole that can allow other to change your WordPress plugin settings without you noticing during the time you are signed into your WordPress control panel.

Steve! Thank You For Reading Digital Inspiration

steve-rubel This morning I woke up to a very pleasant surprise from Steve Rubel, author of the widely-read Micropersuasion blog. An excerpt from his post - APAC Rising:

In Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat he talks extensively about "the great leveling." Specifically, he writes about how broadband-enabled populations in India, China and elsewhere will make waves here in the US. This is more than just theory. It's reality. All you need to do is look to the emerging voices from Asia Pacific (APAC) and their ability to make money from US advertisers.

Web 2.0 in APAC is rising. A lot of talented, new voices are emerging from the region - and quickly at that. Two of my favorites are Amit Agarwal, a technology analyst from India and author of Digital Inspiration, and Leo Babauta a Guam-based blogger who writes Zen Habits and also contributes to Web Worker Daily.

What's notable here is that both are making money from US advertisers. Leo, who has 20,000 RSS subscribers, works with BlogAds and Amit (15,000 daily subscribers) uses Google Adsense.

Thank you Steve. You made my day with this one. [Filed in quotes]

Make Sure You Alway Have The Latest Version of Software Programs

download latest software

UpdateStar is a new tool to help you ensure that all software applications installed on your PC are up-to-date.

Like Belarc Advisor, UpdateStar scans your hard drive and prepares a complete inventory of software products (including freeware and shareware demos) that exist on your system - it then lists the available software updates, if any, alongwith a link to download those updates.

So you don't have to manually hunt download.com or the software vendor's website to get hold of new updates, UpdateStar will let you know as and when they become available.

Other than finding the latest version of software already installed on your computer, UpdateStar can also be used to uninstall programs just the like the Add/Remove programs or MyUninstaller.

UpdateStar runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista. It's fast and did a decent job of finding minor upgrades for some old software running on my computer. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with software drivers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Interesting Picks

Which iPod Should You Buy?

Planning to buy an iPod but cannot decide which iPod model to choose from? This quick iPod Buying guide compares all the new iPod models to help you pick the best iPod for your needs.

Smart Ways to Lower The Cost of Printing; Save on Ink and Paper

The best way to reduce printing costs is to educate people – Can employees do without printing a hard copy of that email message? Is it essential to distribute the PowerPoint training material in paper format when it’s always available on the company’s intranet?

Custom Email Addresses for Windows Live Hotmail Users in India

Microsoft is trying something unique to make Windows Live Hotmail popular among Indians (especially the young crowd). Instead of the default @hotmail.com or @live.com address, you can now opt for other email address choices that relate more closely with your personality, interests or lifestyle.

Rupee Mail - You Read An Email Newsletter And Make Some Money

A a new service in India is offering to pay you a certain sum of money if you agree to receive some of their marketing emails (that contain advertisements). You give your email address to RupeeMail and specify your areas of interest - you’ll then receive advertisement messages in your inbox.

Google may partner Anil Ambani for sub-sea cable project

Google is beefing up the infrastructure to make use of rising internet usage across globe especially in Asia-Pacific regions by setting up its own under-sea cable across Pacific, under a project called Unity. This would help Google to meet its data and video transfer requirements from US to Asian countries.

Open .XLSX Spreadsheet Files Without Excel 2007

If you have an .xlsx file attachment in your email inbox but the computer doesn't have Microsoft Office installed to open file of that extension, what are your available options?

The xlsx file format is the default extension for spreadsheets written in Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and Office 2010. The format is currently not support by GMail attachment viewer or any of the online office suites like Google Docs.

However, you can easily convert .xlsx spreadsheet to the traditional .xls format using the Microsoft Office compatibility Pack available here. This will help you open, edit, and save .xlsx files in Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003. More details on Office 2007 FAQ.

Alternatively, you can convert .xlsx to .xls or any other text format online using the email conversion service of Zamzar. Just forward the email attachment to xls@zamzar.com or txt@zamzar.com and it will send you a link to download the converted file. 

Unlike the Microsoft compatibility pack, the Zamzar .xlsx to .xls conversion services will not require a copy of Microsoft Office on your computer.

And if you have OpenOffice, Zamzar can also convert the XLSX file to OpenDocument spreadsheet format.

Guidelines For PR Professionals Who Pitch Bloggers

microsoft-pr-laptop PR professionals often approach bloggers, with decent readership, to talk about the products and services of their clients.

Though most bloggers would love to read PR-pitches about products that are closely related to their niche, irrelevant pitching is always ignored and sometimes met with great frustration.

To save from this frustration, Ogilvy PR team (in consultation with external bloggers) have drafted a "Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics" document that outlines certain essential guidelines for public relations professionals who pitch bloggers. Some excerpts:

1. Before we email you, we will check out your blog’s About, Contact and Advertising page in an effort to see if you have blatantly said you would not like to be contacted by PR/Marketing companies. If so, we’ll leave you alone.

2. If you are initially interested in the campaign, but don’t respond to one of our emails, we will follow up with you no more than once. If you don’t respond to us at all, we’ll leave you alone.

3. We won’t pretend to have read your blog if we haven’t, and we’ll make a best effort to spend time reading the blogs we plan on contacting.

4. If we ask you to review a product and, therefore, provide you with the product to enable you to “experience” it, we will ask that you be transparent and reveal that you have been given the product temporarily, or permanently.

5. If we reach out to you with news about a product, campaign or issue, we will not provide monetary compensation, because we believe it is unethical to “buy” favorable reviews and not want to appear as if we are.

You can get the full version of Blogger Outreach code of ethics document from Ogilvy's blog. It's a must-read for all PR companies and marketing professionals who want to maintain a good relationship with bloggers.

Adobe Office Gets A Word Processor, Outlook the Next Target ?

Adobe officially entered the web-office space by acquiring Buzzword, a word processor that works inside the web browser (like Google Docs or Zoho Writer). Other than creating documents from scratch, Buzzword can also import your existing Microsoft Word .doc files.

Buzzword is done in Adobe Flex, the same technology that powers Picnik, the popular online image editor.

iscrybe calendar  iscrybe timezone

Now that Adobe has a word processor, what could be next logical addition to their productivity suite?

Adobe Ventures recently made an investment in Scrybe, an online organizer that's a perfect blend of Microsoft Outlook and Google Notebook. Scrybe (video demo below) allows you to store notes and web clipping, manage TODO lists, calendars and more inside the web browser.

And like Buzzword, Scrybe looks beautiful, intuitive and extremely impressive. Do not be very surprised if Scrybe becomes the next member of Adobe Office Suite. The icing is that Scrybe already works both in online and offline mode.

Move Draft Posts Written in Windows Live Writer Across Computers

Here's are simple tips for bloggers who work on multiple computers and use Windows Live Writer to compose and publish blog posts.

Problem: If you write a blog post in WLW on computer A and save it as a local draft, how to you access that unpublished post from another computer ?

Solution: You have two options here - the first is to use "Post Draft In Weblog" (available under "Save Draft") - WLW will put the post online though in Draft, i.e. it won't be available to your blog readers.

The approach is recommended if you just have a handful of drafts written in Windows Live Writer.

transfer-windows-live-writer

But if you tons of unpublished posts or if you are planning to move to a new PC altogether and transfer all the drafts from this computer to the new one, an easy option is "My Documents".

Windows Live Writer creates a "My Weblog Posts" folder under "My Documents" which has two sub-folders - Drafts containing all the unpublished posts while Recent Posts has all the posts you have ever published through Windows Live Writer.

You can also clear the Recent Posts folder to reclaim hard drive space.

Just a word of caution, these .wpost files are binary and you read or edit them only with Windows Live Writer.

Additional Windows Live Writer reading:

Windows Live Writer Tips & Tricks
Windows Live Writer Guide for Power Bloggers 
Useful Windows Live Writer Plugins

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Standalone FLV Player For Watching Flash Videos on the Desktop

If you download streaming video content from the web (like YouTube videos, CNN news clips, etc), chances are that you have piled up tons of Flash Video (flv) files on your desktop.

Unfortunately, these FLV files cannot play directly inside the web browser or the standalone Flash Player and you need to download an additional software like RIVA in order to watch the FLV videos.

watch-flashvideo-content

But the future of these third-party FLV players may be in trouble as Adobe has just introduced an all-new Adobe Media Player that can play FLV videos - you can drag and drop the FLV video file over the Adobe Media Player and the video will be begin to play instantly. The videos can also be viewed in Full Screen Mode.

Get Adobe Media Player installer here. Release Notes in PDF are available here.

Everything else you wanted to know about Adobe Media Player {FAQ}

The FLV files are associated with Adobe Media Player so you can even double-click the FLV file on your hard-drive to play it in Adobe Media Player.

This is a pre-release version and does not support H.264 encoded videos. Only Flash video encoded in Flash 8 [On2 VP6] and Sorenson Spark and H.263 can currently be played in Adobe Media Player.

play flash videos