Why You’d Be Mad To Buy Digg


March 23rd, 2009
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Reddit and Digg are fairly similar in regards to this post – but I am going to concentrate on Digg.

When Digg started out it was hailed as a service to help bloggers market their articles/posts/thoughts/art etc.The simple math said that if something was good then it would rise to the top of the pile. It would stand out as todays must see/read.

It gave the little guy hope. Hope of finding an audience. Hope of spreading his/her words to an ever growing populous of avid readers.Hope of, dare I say it, significance.

See, the problem with blogging is that we really only do it with the vein hope that someone will give a rats ass about what we say and comment or start a discussion.

In the very early weeks of Digg people would find your voice and respond. They’d trounce your web server and have your hosting company screaming at you because all of the other little websites on your shared host are now out of action as well as your own.

It was a chance to get noticed. The entrepreneurial spirit drenched its pages.

Now, it is a decrepit, dying, corrupt beast gasping for its last breath.

At any one time on Digg‘s front page you will find a story from one of the major news corporations. This is not surprising you may state – after all they announce the latest breaking news.

You can also find the same story posted many times with different titles by different users.

Teams of people with multiple accounts all get together to promote their wares. Companies exist to market articles from all sorts of companies e.g News Agencies, and Political leaders with agendas to push (I’m looking at you Obama).

When people are paid to market articles and they use Digg to do it – the whole site is no longer in the hands of the little guy. It’s been taken over. No battle was raged and no one died.The money just walked in and took what it wanted – namely – the front page and every other page that you could be bothered to look at.

The whole site is now so wrapped up by agenda pushers that it no longer holds any value to the small blog writer.

You could almost associate the way that big corporations and political parties have raped Digg and other social networking sites with the way the banks have screwed the financial system. They have no essence, no spirit and they have pushed aside all the little guys to enforce their command on the playground.

In their never ending quest to increase the number on their quarterly profit and loss reports they have stolen everything that made this past boom so great.

Social networking as it is now, is just one big scam to cram as many people into one portal as possible and then spoon feed them adverts – but I am getting off topic.

So why would you buy Digg? Any attempt to weed out the corrupt users will just lead to more ways for them to cover their tracks. If you have got users – they will never go away.

The money you’d have to fork out to buy the company would be completely wasted as the time it would take to break even would be well into Web 6.0. During which time your unique visitors will probably have dropped to like 3. You, your fake account and one other person who just hasn’t caught on yet.

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The Problem With BloggersBase.com


March 18th, 2009
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IT BRINGS YOU NO TRAFFIC.

Absolutely none.

I’ve had over 11,800 views on my profile on Bloggersbase.com and from looking at Google Analytics it seems that not even one person came from the site to MusicReviewZone.com.

I find it pretty perplexing.

So instead of using it to drive traffic I have now changed strategies and now use it for link building. The crappy part about that is that I have to dump links in at the end of my posts if I want to generate links. The site doesn’t appear to allow outgoing links anywhere else.

My profile doesn’t have a direct link to MusicReviewZone.com anywhere. So who uses this site and why?

Who knows…

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Symfony 1.2.4: Build-All Bug? Cannot fetch TableMap…


February 19th, 2009

So, I have been recently trying to get back into Symfony. I had taken a break from it for a while to concentrate on Music Review Zone.

I bought a domain recently that I’d like to develop a Symfony application for and since my current knowledge base is with Symfony 1.0 – I thought I’d use it. Then I noticed the benefits of Symfony 1.2.4 and couldn’t pass it up.

So I started creating my project in the usual way:

php symfony init-project <name of project>

php symfony init-app front

I then setup my databases.yml file and completed my schema.yml file. I then ran:

php symfony propel:build-all

… and got the following output:

symfony propel:build-all
>> schema    converting "C:/wamp/vhosts/private/config/schema.yml" to XML
>> schema    putting C:/wamp/vhosts/private/config/generated-schema.xml
>> propel    Running "om" phing task
>> file-     C:/wamp/vhosts/private/config/generated-schema.xml
>> file-     C:/wamp/vhosts/private/co...enerated-schema-transformed.xml
>> autoload  reloading autoloading

  Phing was run before and used many custom classes that might conflict with
  your model classes. In case of errors try running "propel:build-forms" and
  "propel:build-filters" alone. This is due to a PHP limitation that cannot be
  fixed in symfony.

>> propel    generating form classes

  Cannot fetch TableMap for undefined table: location.  Make sure you have the  
static MapBuilder registration code after your peer stub class definition.

[?php

/**
 * User form base class.
 *
 * @package    ##PROJECT_NAME##
 * @subpackage form
 * @author     ##AUTHOR_NAME##
 * @version    SVN: $Id: sfPropelFormGeneratedTemplate.php 12815 2008-11-09 
10:43:58Z fabien $
 */
class BaseUserForm extends BaseFormPropel
{
  public function setup()
  {
    $this->setWidgets(array(
      'id'                           => new sfWidgetFormInputHidden(),
      'username'                     => new sfWidgetFormInput(),
      'location_id'                  => new sfWidgetFormPropelChoice(

I am beat as to why this is occurring.

My schema.yml file creates a user and location table, among others. Each user has a location which I state in the YAML as :


user:
    _attributes    { phpName: User }
    id:            ~
    username:      { type: varchar(50), required: true, index: unique }
    location_id:   ~

I also define the location table as:


location:
    _attributes         { phpName: Location }
    id:                 ~
    name:               varchar(50)
    created_at:         ~

So I do not know why ‘symfony propel:build-all ‘ is failing.

When I run each of the commands that makes up the ‘build-all’ option – each succeeds. i.e:

  • build-schema
  • build-sql
  • build-model
  • build-filters
  • build-forms

So is this a bug or are your fresh eyes noticing something that I am missing?

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Twitter and Strange Activity…


February 2nd, 2009

I recently got an email from Twitter to indicate that someone was now following my updates. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this, but I logged in anyway to find out more about the user – cause this is what I do.

When I clicked on the user to follow them I got hit with the error message at the bottom of this post.

I wonder what this user was doing. They didn’t send me any unsolicited emails or try to sell me anything.

Any ideas?

You should follow me on twitter to get all the latest updates from Music Review Zone.

Follow me by clicking here

twitter_error

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How To SEO-imize Your Blog Posts…


January 30th, 2009

Writing, proof reading and editing posts is a time consuming task – but we all gotta do it.

One of the most important parts of creating a blog post is to think about the value to the user, but also the value to the little bots/spiders that search engines send out to trawl through your content. Clearly – I’m talking about . Search Engine Optimisation.

So what parts of my blog post can I SEO-imize? I hear you fictitiously asking.

Well, here are the areas that I think about:

  1. The Title
  2. The content
  3. The tags
  4. The Images
  5. The links

The Title

When you think of SEO, you should really be thinking ‘keywords’. Keywords are what you type into Google when you are searching for something. When you are thinking of the title for your blog post, don’t just slap in something nonsense. Think about how someone will search Google and come across your post. The title is the link that they will see in the results so you have to make it catchy, descriptive and most importantly what your readers are searching for. I have SEO in the title of this post for this reason as this post is about SEO and that is also what people will search for on Google.

The Content

The content section of your post is where the most value can be gained. If you are writing about Britney Spears then you sure as hell better write her name a good few times in the post. Don’t over do it though. If you do you are basically saying to the spiders that you are deliberately trying to game the system. If you over use your keyword(s) in the post you will be penalised – which is obviously not a good thing. Notice how I have managed to avoid writing the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation in the section – I have already written it 5 times already in this post – I don’t want to over do it.

The Tags

Every post in every blog should have tags associated with it. It makes things easier to find. It also gives the spiders further places to reference your site for the keywords you are using. On top of that, guess what, you get to repeat your keywords again. Sweet.

The Images

Google and the other search engines of note (Yahoo, MSN, Ask) cannot read images – yet. This will inevitably be possible in the future but at the moment they need a helping hand. 

By adding title and alt tags to your images you are lending your post more credibility. Your title and alt tags, associated with your images, describe the image as well as your post. It is another way to drop in your keywords. By doing this, and naming your images (i.e the file name) properly, you can also increase your traffic streams from images.google.com.

When you go to Google, click on images in the top left hand corner and search for your favourite star – where do you think Google gets the list of images and how do they know that they relate to the star that you searched for? It’s because the filenames, title and alt tags were properly set.

The Links

This is one of the best tips I can give: Link to as many of your previous posts in the new posts that you are writing as possible – and choose your link text carefully.

This is called deeplinking – another buzz word in the realm of Search Engine Optimization. When you go off your site and beg people to give you a backlink – they are usually only linking to your homepage. This means that your homepage has a Pagerank of X but the rest of your site has nothing. You need to distribute that Pagerank to the other pages in your site as much as possible.

Why?

I’ll answer that with another question: How do you think the search engines determine the first result when you search? Answer: Relevancy and Pagerank.

Relevancy is based on the keywords in your post – we’ve covered that. Pagerank is the amount of other sites linking to your page. The more pages with pagerank that link to your posts the better. That means that you have to link to the other pages within your site in order to pass on your homepages’ Pagerank. This distributes the Pagerank evenly throughout the site and has the added bonus of enticing your readers to click through them to read other stories on your site – which has the further added bonus of lowering your Bounce rate.

It all makes sense – right?

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How To Scare Away Opportunities


January 28th, 2009
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I’ve had a few opportunites drop by my email box in regards to MusicReviewZone.com. Some fall into the category of providing content for backlinks to being sent music CDs for review, or advertising related.

Each time someone from another company has approached me I’ve tried to weigh up the offer and decide how best to proceed based on my site’s progression and growth, not just to grab the offer because – well … hell – it’s an offer!

I find it incredibly important to put due dilligence into offers. Are they right for my site? Will it help the site grow? What does the company making the offer want to achieve? Any ramifications?

I recently had an offer from a leading UK tabloid newspaper. They wanted to send me their breaking news stories so that I could publish them on my site. They wanted full disclosure of the articles origin through backlinks. So – for every article of theirs that I posted on my site, I would say "written by <link to newspapers website here>".

It was clear that they wanted to broaden their readership in other countries as well as improve their SEO by deeplinking.

I thought the idea would be great for my site as well as theirs. I only had a couple of questions:

  1. If, for any reason, the arrangement is terminated – can you give any assurances that your company will not seek to have all previously published articles removed from my site?
  2. Is this a short-term or long term offer?

The reasoning behind these questions should be pretty clear. I didn’t want to post all of their articles and build my site only to have it decimated when they demanded that I remove all of their content. That would make my site look pretty bad, right?

The reason for the second question was to guage whether or not I would be upping my daily post count on a short or long term basis. Ideally I wanted a long term offer. A short term offer would only help my site – short term – and after the offer expired, I’d be dropping back down to the 3 posts that I have published each day.

When I asked these questions – I was attempting to solidify the offer with proper details. I have yet to hear back from the company. That was over a week ago.

In a vain attempt to rescue the deal, I emailed my contact again a few days ago – but still – nothing.

I am now not sure what their mindset is – you know – why they have seemingly bailed. When I mentioned assurances about the previously published posts – did they freak and think "LEGAL"? When I asked them if it was a long-term offer did they think I was second guessing them?

So – I am left wondering if my protectionism scared them away. In protecting my own assets have I come across as being more business and less blogger?

What do you think?

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For WordPress: Affiliate Link Cloak Plugin 0.5.1 Beta


November 8th, 2008

I released a Plugin in August that was not fully compatible with WordPress 2.6+. That post was here : For WordPress: Affiliate Link Cloak Plugin.

The issue lay with how WordPress handles global variables. The most recent versions of WordPress import plugins within a function which screws with variable scope.

The issue has now been resolved – so the plugin is now working in WordPress 2.6+ versions.

This plugin allows you to cloak your affiliate links so that readers of your site will not know that you are including your affiliate details on links to sites that you recommend to them. Full details can be gained from my original post : For WordPress: Affiliate Link Cloak Plugin.

Any issues – please leave a comment…

MCN Redirect – Affiliate Link Cloak Plugin

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Is BlogCatalog Paying for Ads On Its Own Site?


September 4th, 2008

I recently got one of many emails from blogcatalog.com to tell me that I had a message waiting for me – so off I went to see what it said.

Surprise, surprise it was yet another “Hey I have added you to my friends list. Hope you add me to” message – so I simply do what I always do and ignore it.

My eye was then caught by a banner ad on the site. “Bloggers Unite” and “Blogging for hope.”  it said triumphantly.

I am always eager to know how the big sites handle their adverts – i.e how they serve them. Some have internal systems – either custom made or OpenX - while other outsource this to ad agencies.

This is only for adverts that are displayed on their own sites. Of course, they also use ad agencies like Adsense and DoubleClick etc to advertise on other peoples/companies websites.

So I hovered over the banner ad to see if I could determine how it was served. To my amazement, I saw that it was coming from DoubleClick and that it was an ad for BLOGCATALOG.

See here :

So – does that mean that Blogcatalog have an Ad campaign running with DoubleClick, and Doubleclick are serving those ads on BlogCatalogs own site ?

Weird.

Categories: Uncategorized

WordPress 2.6: register_activation_hook Cannot See Global Variables


September 3rd, 2008

I have recently been trying to update an old plugin I created for WordPress 2.3.2 so that it would be compatible with the latest version : 2.6.

I am currently having an issue where the register_activation_hook function (and this may not be limited to this one function) where it refuses to reference the global variables that I define in the plugin.

Take the below as an example (proper code attached at the bottom):

require 'mcn_constants.php';

$mcn_test_blabla    =   "Well ??????";

register_activation_hook(__FILE__,'mcn_test_install');
register_deactivation_hook(__FILE__, 'mcn_test_uninstall' ) ;

add_action('parse_query', 'mcn_test_check');

function mcn_test_install() {
    global $this_is_broke, $mcn_test_blabla;

    add_option("mcn_test_value", "The value is: $this_is_broke And :: $mcn_test_blabla ");
}

function mcn_test_uninstall() {
    delete_option("mcn_test_value");
}

function mcn_test_check() {
    global $this_is_broke;

    echo get_option("mcn_test_value");
    echo "Proper value : $this_is_broke";
}

When you load the front page of your blog with the above plugin code activated you should see :

The value is: YES I AM BROKE!!!!!
And ::Well ??????

Proper value : YES I AM BROKE!!!!!

… but instead you see:

The value is:
And ::

Proper value : YES I AM BROKE!!!!!

As you can see – the $this_is_broke and $mcn_test_blabla variables are not being set in the Option “mcn_test_value”.

Yet calling the global variable in the function “mcn_test_check”, which is called as part of the “parse query” action, will show the global variable – as it should.

So – is this a bug or am I missing something fundamentally different in WordPress 2.6? Using global variables in WordPress 2.3.2 worked just fine.

I have attached a sample plugin that will replicate this issue.

Any ideas?

mcn_test.rar

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Currently Working On…


August 28th, 2008
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A new template for MusicReviewZone.com.

I feel that the current template is to …. Bloggy. For the site to gain a reputation for being news worthy I need it to look a little less amateur and a lot more “professional news service”.

At least – that is what I am aiming for.

So the layout is going to be completely different. Over the weeks I also want to add a lot of functionality to the site. I really wish BuddyPress was available in something resembling production quality as this would enable a lot of extra functionality very fast – but alas – it isn’t.

I am not sure if I’ll release the new template until I am ready to rock with a Google Adwords campaign and have some paid content writers on board.

If you would like to be paid to write album reviews or to provide your own slant on the current (latest/breaking) news stories then give me a shout using the “Contact Us” link above or clicking here.

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"Thought leadership is how winners are differentiated in business."