Saturday, August 30, 2008

Computer Security - Human implementation

In the recent month, due to the Georgia - Russia cyberwar (we think), we have had a lot of trojan attacks. And we're worried about the SQL injection problems. As part of this, we tightened our passwords and put security on 100% of the computers that our staff uses.

But, there is always the question of implementation and the human element. Below is an actual email from the president of the company (me) to the head of engineering. (names changed). I wrote it a week after the CTO had reported that all the computers in the office were safe and secure with software on them for protection. It illustrated how there could be "many a slip twixt the cup and the lip" or, how hard real implementation can be unless you really focus and follow-up.

* * * * * * * *

I review the BitDefender logfile on my computer every morning to see that my computer is safe. There's a list of deleted files, quarantined files, and a few residual problems usually consisting of password protected files that couldn't be deleted or scanned.

I wondered why nobody else in the office seems to have issues. I walked over to Tom's computer and asked to see his log.

It reported that there was nothing found in the last week on his computer. I was happy! :->
I then checked if his software was updated and found that it updated last night: more smiles :->

Then, just to be thorough, I checked to see when the last scan was run.....August 20th! Over a week ago. Grrrr. His security software is Trend Micro which has a default setting to run once a month. :-<>

One of the staff who was listening then asked me: How does the security software run at night if I turn my computer off at night? (which she has been doing?). Obviously, it does not. Apparently, the security software on her computer has never actually been run.

Joan, a third staff member, then asked ---- I just close the report that is up on my screen when I come in every I supposed to look at it?

In short, the software that we had implemented was NOT providing effective security due to the human element.

Here's the plan.
Sally will visit each person/computer every morning for a while. She will verify in conjunction with the person who sits at the desk:
- that the scan ran the previous night
- that the software updated itself on the previous night
- that the scan that ran is a good one (ie deep scan) and that the settings ensure that all emails and downloads are being scanned.
- that the log report is healthy. If it's not, she'll get you to look at it with her. Soon, she should get good at reading it.

As part of this, we will have to do some purchasing since many of the packages that we installed are on 30 day trials.

This week, Sally, can you make a list as you visit each computer of:
- the security software on each computer
- whether it is purchased or a trial
- when the trial expires

Come back next week to find out whether the plan to off-load the daily review of each scan to Sally from the IT heavyweight is successful. And whether we have stopped the inflow of trojans onto our websites (we've had two contaminated in the last month).


Parked domains, Monetizing traffic

I was studying the revenue report from my 9 domains at TrafficClub (now called domainsponsor which is part of the moniker roll-up). I learned some things.

The nine domains have been there for years. One has made money (getting close to $200), two have made less than five dollars and six have made zero.

The one that has made money has been there for years. It made all of its money this year, primarily in the last four months. The actual sequence is:

June - $24.21
July - $63.34
Aug - $82.32
2008 YTD - $248.81 (of which $169.87 was in last 3 months, so $78.84 was in first 5 months)

The breakdown of revenue by category is interesting. $.08 from pop-under revenue but$83.20 from search. There were 65 visitors and 45 clicks on advertisements and 26 searches.

So, the site made more than $1 per visitor! (This is also true in July) And, while there is no revenue breakdown from search versus advertisements, there are two days in which there are only searches and on both, there is zero revenue on those days (confirmed by looking at July) so I can conclude the money is coming from onsite advertisements.

Previous posts on this topic:
There's no such thing as free lunch with domain parking - Sept 2006
Parking domains at GoDaddy - Last week
Parking domains for money - Guess which one is making $$$ - Last week.

Since I have dozens of idle domains, I'm busy parking lots of them.
And I have questions:
- what is the best parking service? I have a few at TrafficClub, a lot at GoDaddy's cash parking and I just set up an account at NameDrive.
- is it a total hit or miss business? Do I have any influence or way to predict which domains are going to make money or not? Is my parked domain making $80 in a month a total freak?
- is it worthwhile to add my own links from my other domains and blogs?
- is it more sensible to just look at the keywords that they're optimizing for and then do a few pages of my own with adsense and some similiar content?
- what percent of the total revenue is my parking service paying out to me?


Friday, August 29, 2008

Making money on parked domains

Almost two years ago, I got excited about parking domains. I took about a dozen of my domains and parked them at a service called TrafficClub. I built some links to them and waited for my retirement fund to start building, all by itself.

A week later, I'd made ..... $.03! I built a dozen or so links to them and waited another month. A nickel. And after a few months, I lost interest, starting slowly moving domains elsewhere when I needed them, and forgot about it.

Last week, I got a check - $105 - from some service that I'd never heard of. It turns out that TrafficClub got rolled up into some other big group and one of my domain, over the previous 90 days, started making money. Can you guess which one? The winner gets a Time4Learning coffee mug.

Ps - Any advice ? Should I leave them there waiting for another windfall? Is it a one time deal or will it keep paying it? Should I move the others elsewhere and give a different service a try? What service? Would building links, perhaps with proper anchor text and title tags, make a big difference?

Here's some more that have been parked:

OK, I haven't made any money but I'd like to.....Here's some more that I parked for money at GoDaddy. It's an area where I've been frustrated by a dirth of info so I hope to provide great articles and forums over time. Right now, I'm busy so I'm parking them...

Credit Card Vendor info
Credit Card Vendor mobi
Credit Card Vendor net
Credit Card merchant account - CREDITCARDMERCHANTBLOG.COM
credit cards merchant accounts - THECREDITCARDMERCHANT.COM

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Parking domains for money

I joined the Godaddy club for people with more than a hundred domains. Today, I finally got around to putting some of them to work, I put them in their cash parking program.

writing-lesson /.com
writing lessons /with hyphens
writing soft online
writing-tutor/.net with hyphens
writing-tutoronline/ .com with hyphens

Florida Virtual
Florida Virtual with hyphens
New York Virtual
New York Virtual with hyphens
New York Virtual
New York Virtual with hyphens
Michigan Virtual
Michigan Virtual with hyphens

Virtual Academy
Virtual with hyphens
Virtual Academy with hyphens

Will I make any money with such things? Stay tuned....


Paypal - How do you have payment categories?

We use paypal as one way that people can pay us. We have several types of revenue coming into paypal. To simplify our accounting, I would like to have a way to track which service the revenue is for. This can't be a problem unique to us but there doesn't seem to be a simple solution.

We could set up separate paypals but then we have a cash management problem. I think the less places that cash is kept, the better.

My current plan is I have different revenue streams being sent to different emails. We have money for Time4Learning coming in to a Time4Leanring email address, ditto for Time4Writing (our kids writing course services), and a third email being used for affiliate type email.

BUT, when you look at the tables and reports in Paypal, there is no indication of which email the money come in to. So our accountant needs to open each and every transaction to see which account to put it in.

Dear Paypal, this is very annoying.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning from a blog....

Good listening and learning by a vendor...

I read on a blog about an interesting effort by a vendor to learn about their members and how their services work and can be improved. It was a learning experiment.

And I quote:

The blog - web home schooling - was started by Time4Learning as a learning experiment.We asked half a dozen parents (actually, all moms) of students using Time4Learning to write on this group blog about the details of their homeschooling program. What their days were like and what they worried about. And were happy about.

More specifically, we wanted to know what was working for them and what wasn’t in terms of their use of online educational materials.

--- it continued for awhile and concluded with......

What did we learn? We learned a lot of details and about other products that are used in conjunction with us. We learned that most homeschool curriculums are a home-made eclectic mix optimized for each child. And that there is different mix of planning, routine, and spontenity for each family. We were stunned to find out how unique and useful our service really is. My favorite posts:
The gifted child, with autism, with Time4Learning
How the Internet changes everything….for homeschoolers
T4L - How it helps everyone. Mom too.


Good copywriting is so hard!

I just looked at one of our sites and saw that the copy on the front of the first page breaks a cardinal rule....Start with a positive upbeat statement. Right now it reads:

For many students, learning to write well is difficult.

It's an interesting hook but I don't like it. Too negative. It doesn't feel to me like a phrase that is motivating to parents.

So I tried to write a nice positive statement about how Time4Writing is a positive useful educational experience. Or maybe, say something positive about how students learn from Time4Writing.

Since I'm busy and was stymied and seemed to be blocked, I asked a colleague to generate a few concepts from which we could wordsmith. Here's what I'm staring at. And remember, I'm just worrying right now about copy effectiveness, I haven't even started to think about SEO and what terms I would like this site to do well on....

· With Time4Writing, learning to write doesn’t have to be a chore.
· With Time4Writing, learning to write doesn’t have to be a bore/chore/dull.
· Time4Writing lets students discover an easier way to learn to write effectively.
· Many students discover that, with Time4Writing, learning to write can be exciting( challenging, stimulating, captivating, though-provoking, interesting….)
· With Time4Writing, many students learning to write effectively for school and beyond .

Here are some more concepts.....

Students like learning to write...with Time4Writing (focuses on the student experience)
"I finally understood how to write a paragraph from Time4Writing"
Writing instruction from Time4Writing.... (too passive)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Keyboarding Games is succesful

Keyboarding games, from a review of my stats of kids learning games, turns out to be very successful. Oddly, the number one search term is for that page but is for typing games.

The two biggest consumers of bandwidth are the hurricane song and the Sun Science Song.

The site also does well with the term free kids learning games and free typing games.

The other page that does well is about free memory improvement games.

Our goal is to have November be 2.5 x in terms of players and visitors coming to this sweet learning game site.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Some websites work....but why?

We experimented this past year with a "group blog" which was about how the web and homeschooling. We invited (actually paid) half a dozen Time4Learning mother's to write two times per week in a blog on whatever their thoughts were on their Time4Learning experience. We encouraged them to react to each other and we were hoping to have it as a sort of ongoing focus group about their use of various homeschooling curriculum (homeschooling curricula?).

We learned alot about our users and how our service works from them. We were also interested in whether the blog would pick up a readership or any Google rank. Answer, after several months delay, it has started picking up good traffic from the search engines. It's not clear that it has any regular readers. And one article, on how has the internet changed your life, is by far the most popular. It alone pulls in almost half the traffic. I'm not entirely sure why, I think it got picked up on some blog service as highly picked (stumbled upon or favorited or tagged or whatever).

We reall

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A tear in the fabric of the web....

Tim O'Reilly seems to have started a very interesting discussion about how major media companies are now linking more to their own properties rather than to the more "editorially correct" source. Webpronews picked up on it and I quote:

For a decade and a half the outbound link was a "hat tip," a courtesy or even system of content reimbursement; the "Web" is a web because of linking, each quality website helping to prop up another. It was actually kind of socialist in nature.

I don't think the sky is falling. I think there are two ways that the system should be self-correcting.
1. Readers. Many readers will get annoyed and move onto more editorially rich sources with more useful links. If we don't, shame on us.
2. Google. Google promises us that they won't be evil. I have always heard that the Google algorithm penalizes sites that don't have useful outgoing links because, they recognize black holes for what they are. If self-linking becomes a problem, I think Google can help solve it by rewarding those with more outgoing links.


Why do People Blog? It blows up the couch potatoe theory.

I've been studying this question of why do people blog.

I think it's interesting since the amount of time and energy going into blogging real blows the "couch potato" theory of modern people out of the water.

I have a few explanations of why people blog:
- novelty. Maybe it's a craze that will end in another year of so. A little like pet rocks, flag pole sitting, hippydom, and disco.
- new life style ambitions. an enormous interest in making money from home and gaining independence
- a staggering commitment to self-expression and finding souls and community of similar interests
- self education and improvement by reading and learning

I just took a beginners course on blogging which was one of the funnest things I've ever done online. Took about wo hours a week. Very social (albeit online) and I learned tons. Phenomenal experience. Highly highly recommend it.


SEO Quake

I'm a little out of my depth here so once again, I'm returning to the roots of this blog. As I study different issues and tools, I write about them trying to build some understanding. Blog readers can learn with me. Hopefully, some of you have some info to contribute which will help me build my understanding. Todays topic:

SEO Quake

Seoquake is a powerful tool for Mozilla Firefox and for Internet Explorer, aimed at helping web masters who deal with search engine optimization and internet promotion of web sites. Seoquake allows user to obtain and investigate many important SEO parameters of the internet project under study on the fly. This is from their site and I find it vague.

SEO Quake seems to be a plugin or addon to the browser. It provides an array of information about a webpage.

I think a portion of AdSpy is provided as part of SEO Quake. When you see a google advertisement, it tells you how many other websites have google ads from that same account! But, to get the list of sites, you must subscribe to AdSpy. The AdSpy site is not that helpful in terms of figuring out the price. If you go into the sales funnel, you find out that it's $67. It's never said whether this is for a month, a year, or forever or what is included. The user agreement is a standard doc with T&Cs about payment & refunds without any of these details.

SEO Quake provides the following information right on screen for each website or webpage: Google PR rank, Google links, Yahoo links to the page, Yahoo links to the domain, Alexa rank, date of listing of domain, delicious rating, whois info, and internal and external links to (or is it from?) this page.

It's an incredible tool which would be more useful if it was a little better documented and so easier to get started with. With one page of explanation of what we are looking at and why it's important, this "insiders" tool could become widely useful.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why do I need one of those blog thingys?

I was just reading LisaDesign's blog, a web designer in Rapid City. And she gave the most charming answer that I've heard as to how blogs help:

It's like candy for search engines.

It's a cuter way of saying (and I quote an old post of mine and some speaker years ago): Blogging is also a great way to build position in the search engines. Its been suggested that B-L-O-G is not so much an abbreviation for Web-Log but the secret to a Better Listing On Google.

Her post explains how each article contributes to your position: like "compounding interest". I like Lisa's writing and analogies...Her website is nice, her blog is beautifully written. And I'm sure when she has time she'll upgrade her blog to SEO-friendly URLs...

For those who don't know what a search engine friendly URL is. Look at Lisa's blog. The most recent article has this URL:

Google reads this and can't find much in that URL to help it "digest" her content. If she had SEO friendly URLs, it would read: . Of course, this would help Google understand that her article has something to do with things and needs and bloggies. So with user-friendly URLs, you start paying a little more attention to searched keywords and a little less to extreme cuteness. While SEO friendly-URLS are only one part of Google "digesting" your content, every little bit helps. I was working on a site built in druple today (about learning today) in which you get to tell the system the keywords to use in the URLS.

How do I know all this blog stuff? It's because I'm the co-creator and one of the first students of a course on blogging. Let me recommend that if you are starting or thinking of starting to blog, you take this course. It's fun and you learn in 8 pleasant weeks, what could take you a year of figuring out on your own, the hard way.

One last blog point: I am frequently asked what blog software people should I use? Blogger? Wordpress? Typepad? Should it be hosted on a private domain (like Http:// or or sit on a shared site (like this one on or

The long answer is take the blogging class, the short answer is that you should start by just using a shared host somewhere since it's easier and you can move it later. Do pay attention to use the most recent version of whichever software you choose. I love the recent versions of both WordPress and Blogger. The older versions are just a pain compared the simplicity of the new ones.

This post sponsored by the best homeschool


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Websites, Russian Warfare, Computer Security, Denial of Service

Can you connect the dots?....Russia has attacked Georgia....I'm having a series of security problems on my websites......

Yes, they are related. For the first time, a ground war seems to have been coordinated with a cyberattack. According to MSNBC : Attacks by Russian hackers against Georgian Web sites, including one hosted in the United States, continued Tuesday even as Russian President Dmitri Medvedev ordered a halt to hostilities against Georgia.

For Russia to crash these Georgian websites (the presidents site and others), they need to create massive demands on the Georgian websites. These denial of service attacks are achieved with armies of zombie computers sending out gazillions of efforts to gain control of computers and servers. Which once controlled, will split their time between attacking the Georgian websites and looking for more security holes in computers. Once found, they will take over those computers and the cycle continues.

It's very weird to realize that the spate of attacks on my computers and websites are related to this first coordinated physical and cyber warfare. To remain neutral, unharmed, and not be collateral damage, we have:


Wednesday, August 06, 2008 sent out a newsletter!

This email that I received absolutely cracked me up. Apparently, this was the first update that they had sent out in four years!

Howdy. Long time no talk. I take that back -- criminally long. I think this is the first message we've sent to the announcement mailing list in about four years.

That's older than AJAX! Where to begin?

Since the last newsletter we've added themes, plugins, multiple categories, sub-categories, tags, static pages, WYSIWYG, widgets, update notification, post revisions, and colors other than black and white. ....[ It ended with ]
The kids these days are spending all their time on something called Facebook. Apparently you can "friend" the WordPress group here:
Now get off my lawn!
* Thank You *
Thanks for reading, and for blogging with us. We'll try to do these more often, as we strive to keep you in "the loop" on all things WordPress.
Forever yours,

I feel a lot better about some of my unused mailing lists and domains. Of course, my products and online learning centers are good, but they aren't as fully kickass as Wordpress.