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Disable Snap Previews on web sites

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by Payday Advance UK

We all have our internet pet peeves - those minor annoyances that web sites throw in our faces. One of mine is the Snap Preview, a feature that pulls up a small, in-browser pop-up preview of a linked site when you hover over it. To me they're like the equally obtrusive (and annoying) advertisements that take up half your browser window and cover up content.

Luckily, it's not all that difficult to get rid of them. You just need to go to the Snap website and download a cookie that deactivates all of those preview windows. Install it, refresh any offending sites, and you'll be clear of those irritating little bubbles. It'll only work until you clear your cookies, so keep that in mind.

by Adam Pash

The new 100 most useful sites

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 by Payday Advance UK

In 2004, the internet was a different place: there was, for example, no YouTube, and most Britons online didn't have broadband. That's changed dramatically: now, more than 75% of users have broadband, and the arrival of Web 2.0 has brought sites where the interaction is as fast as if it were on your machine. So we've revisited the "cream of the crop" that we brought you two years ago.

Some of the crop is brand new; some has stood the test of time. As before, we have 100 sites in 20 categories. That of course means that your favourite might not be here (even if you suggested it on our blog). Email us with your suggestions for the ones we should have included.

Many of the categories here are new since the last crop. Many of the sites from that time still exist, of course - and are still hugely useful.

One category that's missing is mobiles, where data speeds haven't kept up with broadband. Maybe in 2007?

Contributors: Charles Arthur, Kate Bulkley, Michael Cross, Bobbie Johnson, Vic Keegan, Jack Schofield, Keith Stuart


Why have an application to run in your browser? Because for tasks shared between people at different locations, it makes sense to access password-protected sets of work. 37signals offers Backpack (note the domain is backpackit) for simple tasks and the bigger Basecamp for grown-up projects. Tadalist is simpler, being just to-dos (but isn't that what it's about?), while Google's Documents & Spreadsheets requires a Google account (they're free) and doesn't try to compete with Microsoft Office. Wikicalc is a free online spreadsheet, and developing smartly.






Blogs: reading

There are millions of blogs out there; you need to pick the best. Step forward RSS (aka web feeds) and blog search engines to simplify things. Technorati is occasionally flaky, but generally a reliable indicator of what's being blogged about. Icerocket runs it close. And you'll need an online aggregator to keep abreast of the feeds you're most interested in: Newsgator and Google Reader are good choices. Bloglines is an excellent alternative feed reader.






Blogs: writing

To do it rather than read it, you need a good set of tools. The open-source and free software project Wordpress has risen to prominence, elbowing aside many rivals with its blog creation, management and (importantly) spam-beating tools. Wordpress.org is the free software; wordpress.com offers paid-for, managed versions of the free package. Blogger is the best of the rest; Vox is neat, easy and free, and plugs into lots of social applications. Statcounter counts, well, statistics for your site; the free Google Analytics (if you can get an account) is good too.







Google's Gmail has become the web-based email system of choice for those who can get access. Its main drawback is that it's still an invitation-only system in the UK. However, Yahoo's free email service is a decent competitor, and Microsoft has Live Mail. Unlike Microsoft's old Hotmail service, none will delete all your old emails if you fail to log on every 30 days. Among the dozens of free alternatives, Bluebottle is a decent option for its focus on spam filtering. The free version offers 250MB of storage and supports the POP3 and SMTP standards, so you can use a proper email program as well as web access. There's also TempInbox, which provides free, temporary, throwaway email accounts with no registration.







There are far too many videogame news sites on the internet today; you need an aggregator like Gametab to filter through to the best. Pocketgamer specialises in handheld games, while Gamasutra is absolutely unmissable. Gamesfaqs has FAQs and walkthroughs (plus cheats, reviews and previews) for loads of games. And the ESRB lets you search by age rating.







Maps matter, but once you're past Google's maps and satellite detail, everyone's thrown back on the Ordnance Survey's data, which means there's little to choose between them. Ordnance Survey has improved its site, and can at least now tell you which map to buy for an area; its placename search is nifty. Meanwhile, the New Popular Edition site shows how the country looked in the 1940s. Delightful.






News: mainstream

The BBC marches on, adding more media forms while also letting users add their comments. The New York Times site is vast (though it has shut off some of its content behind a "paywall"). Both sites' (short) RSS feeds can be read on a mobile at bbcriver.com and nytimesriver.com. Google News extends its reach, though the top headline is still whichever site last updated rather than the one which is most accurate. Nowpublic is a US rival to OhMyNews and claims 52,000 (and counting) "mojos" - amateur journalists with mobile phones whose location can be figured out from GPS or phone triangulation.






News: recommendation

One thing that Web 2.0 is really good at is letting lots of people vote on things. It can be (and is) abused, but generally the system works. That's seen the rise of sites which let people vote stories up, or which news stories (and how) bloggers are talking about (at memoerandum).The biggest is Digg, which overtook Slashdot earlier this year. Reddit was recently bought by Wired magazine. Findory is slightly different, learning what you like the more you use it.







Snopes checks out unbelievable tales, scams and urban legends and debunks (or confirms) them. Slightly less useful is the 100-strong webring of Unusual Museums of the Internet. These include the Virtual Toilet Paper Museum, the Old Calculators Web Museum and Signalfan's museum of traffic control signals. You can find links to lots of other offbeat sites via the Weird Site's Other Weird Links page. The Onion is the web's leading satire magazine, though with an American bias. Otherwise, for five minutes of fun, try browsing B3ta. This UK site sends out a weekly newsletter of cool links and runs a message board where people post amusingly manipulated pictures. But be warned: it's often offensive - that's part of the point - and most definitely rated NSFW (Not Safe For Work).







The MySociety team remains unbeatable for turning Hansard inside out with Theyworkforyou and Publicwhip, but bloggers have begun to expose the unwritten workings of politicians to greater public scrutiny too. Guido Fawkes' blog has the inside gossip from Westminster, while NO2ID agitates on arguably the most important political and technological issue around, while NHS 23 is a wiki outlining the problems with the political, technological and medical drama of the NHS computer- isation programme.






Public action

Now, it's time to bug someone in power. The idea that the web can make a difference is growing; politicians are on the web and there's an online petition site at No.10. Pledgebank and HearfromyourMP are both part of the excellent MySociety (mysociety.org) family of sites enabling citizens to connect to decision-makers - and, one would hope, vice versa. Netaction includes The Virtual Activist, a manual for anyone looking to build and promote a cause online. Those interested in helping out in their area might try Timebank, which finds organisations to which to donate spare time.







Radio now travels over wires, at least to our homes. The BBC dominates here, but there are thousands of stations to choose from. AOL's Shoutcast is interesting: find whatever's on right now (you can tune in via iTunes or any internet radio-enabled player.) Radio-locator and Live-radio list broadcasters worldwide, so you can find something new to listen to. Reciva does the same, but if you buy its internet radio you can add your own favourites online and they show on the gadget; or just listen online.






Recommendation: music

Another new category: being able to find stuff that's similar to music you like is increasingly important, both to listeners and to record companies trying to profit from niches. Last.fm requires an application that runs on your machine, and shows what other people with the same music like. Pandora says you need a US postcode; so give it one, then enjoy its expert-chosen stations. Liveplasma can search relationships in films as well as music. Tuneglue is a relatively new venture between last.fm and EMI, using data from Amazon and last.fm. Goombah requires a small download and only works on music in an iTunes library, but has been at it for some time.







Wikipedia now dominates the reference side of the web, partly because its pages are ranked so highly in Google. User-written, it's not always reliable, but is usually a good place to start. It competes with the Encyclopedia Britannica, which isn't free. However, another traditional alternative is the HighBeam Encyclopedia, which searches more than 57,000 articles from the Columbia Encyclopedia. Otherwise Jim Martindale's Reference Desk, started in 1994, provides an astonishing collection of links to reference sources. For words, try Onelook, which indexes more than 7.5m words in 931 dictionaries. It also has a reverse lookup to find words from their meanings. Finally, Teldir (on the infobel site) has links to the world's online phone books.







Alphagalileo gives a view of public-facing science in Europe and is a counterpart to eurekalert, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's press announcements forum. Space.com remains fascinating for all things spacey. Nasa contains a wealth of information. The growing importance of climate change makes the RealClimate blog written by climate change scientists important.







Google continues to tighten its grip on our hunt for information (it now gets half of all searches) but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best. Search can now encompass your hard drive, blogs (a separate category - see above), images, peer-to-peer and even what used to be out there. Blinkx remains unique with its focus on video, while Ask (now without Jeeves) has made great strides recently, though it only gets a tiny portion of searches.






Social software

The browser has grown up: now it's the path to meeting people of similar interests and creating your own personal space online in a shared area. Social networks have become a cliche, but that hasn't stopped MySpace becoming the biggest site online. Bebo is popular, Habbo is more tuned to the kids, while Friendster and LinkedIn will appeal to the older user.







The crowds are all over at YouTube, the poster child of online video (a category too niche to merit mention two years ago; YouTube was founded in February 2005). But it's not the only place to find video. Revver offers a revenue-sharing system (people pay to watch your video, you get some cash). You can also start your own TV station at brightcove and currenttv. And Videojug has demonstrations of how to do lots of possibly useful tasks.






Virtual worlds

The key distinction from social sites like MySpace is that virtual worlds give you an avatar - your representation of yourself in the online world. The advent of broadband allied to faster machines has made them usable. When the BBC held a concert in Second Life, it seemed like an anomaly; then IBM's chief executive got an avatar, and suddenly everyone's there. Habbo Hotel is booming with teens. World of Warcraft has millions of users; Everquest, its own culture. Or you can play the Sims online. Whether an influx of new users will make these worlds more antisocial remains open.







It's what everyone's talking about. Some of these sites appear above because they're the places to go to find out whatthe webworld is thinking. Watch them whizz by, but don't forget to breathe. YouTube is the moving picture of the web; Flickr the static one. Google Trends shows what the world's looking for; Digg, what it's found. And Technorati shows what it's writing about. youtube.com flickr.com google.com/trends digg.com technorati.com

source: Guardian Unlimited

Social optimization is the new hot seo technique

Friday, January 05, 2007 by Payday Advance UK

Social optimization is the new hot seo technique, but is it really whithat seo? As usual there is more than one answer to the search engine optimizers question. So I will help clarify each social seo method and tactic.

Blogs and blogging.

Blogs, almost anyone can write blogs. Nearly everyone has a blog. Most use blogs as an extension for their business, an easy way to spread news ideas and updates. Some abuse blogs simply blogging to spam links into the search engines and social networking websites. The absolute worst blog links links and more links. Using automated content and blog writing scripts they pull links from their website and blog them with no other content. With Wordpress blogs this cannot be stopped as each blogs owner has total control of the content. With Google Blogger and Blogspot blogs there is some measure of control. There are many other blogging platforms out available but Blogger and Wordpress make for the mass majority. So I will reference these.

In the event that you are a blatant blackhat seo blogger or search engine blog spammer you will know this already. For the rest of you I will try to fill you in on what would be whitehat blackhat and in between.

A 100% white hat blog will be full of useful or informative content. The majority of the content for the blog will be associated with its main topic or niche. Linking to your own website will be minimal and only where appropriate. Linking to other blogs and websites will be natural and usually in reference to a specific subject such as articles products or work done by the blog or website being linked to.

Blackhat blogs will be full of links may or may not contain relevant content, are generally automated and more times than not tend to be useless. There are many methods used for this. Some use RSS feeds to automate the posting of their blog. Others use software or server based scripts to do the posting. The only real intent of this type of blog is to get search engines to find the links or generate revenue from the blog reader. Many of these blackhat spam blogs will contain nothing but keyword links.

Now in the middle you will find everyone else. Bloggers link to things all the time. Many companies have staff write blogs specifically to link back to products and information that are on their website. Internet marketers use blogs to help generate traffic for affiliate websites and niche websites. In the eyes of search engines this is actually spam. Yet since it tends to be informative or useful it is given a blind eye. So if you are not sure what kind of blogger you are or what type of blog you are reading this has hopefully helped you know.

Pings and Pinging

Pings are notices send to search engines and Social networking site to inform them of new content news or information on a blog or website. This can be done manually through blog pinging services such as Pingoat Pingomatic and the like. It can also be automated from sites such as Autopinger or with automated pinging scripts. These scripts are built in with Word press and can be added to Blogger or Blogspot blogs.

Whitehat pings are for real updates and information changes. Generally are only to blogs and RSS feeds.

Blackhat spam pings are sent out for blogs and websites regardless of updates. Many people will ping a blog or website repeatedly in the hope of getting more traffic. There is a process called Blog and ping or blogging and pinging which is very common practice for spammers in the marketing world and blackhat seo techniques.

So if you make an update to your blog and ping it you have done nothing wrong. This is what the ping services are for and would be considered whitehat. On the other side of the coin pinging just to do it or pings for the same post would be considered spam or blackhat seo.

Tags and Tagging

Tags are special links used in social networking sites to label things. The act of tagging is done socially to group similar websites ideas and blogs for social informative searching. Search engines use tags to determine relevance to topics and help return better search engine results. Social networking site do this very heavily.

Tagging a blog or website is a normal social act. It helps to share your opinion or thought on what you tagged. Later other people can look for something by a tag and may find what you tagged as the topic. This is all natural and considered whitehat seo. It provides natural information and data about topics . Websites and blogs may both be tagged as well as videos music or images.

On the blackhat or spammy side of this. The process is to use large amounts of tags and non relevant tags , again for more traffic. The tag and ping method is very popular for this. Spammers will make a blog post then tag it and ping it. This is done hoping to increase search engine ranking for more traffic.

I hope this has been informative and we will go into more detail on our main seo website. A full Social optimization section is being developed to cover all aspects of blogging pinging and tagging. With data on most of the main social websites. Feel free to post your comments and questions.

by MD Feinx

How To Get Into About.com

by Payday Advance UK

About(dot)com is a very comprehensive index that combines site listings with reviews and editorial content. An editor or guide runs each category, and they are the individuals that you have to appeal to in order for your site to be listed. The easiest way to get their attention is a direct email, as opposed to using the "Feedback" link on the pages. Usually it takes ages for about.com to get back to you as they are looking for bigger sites or sites that are very specific to what the articles on their site are about. One way to get their attention is to give them a link that leads them to your offer as an affiliate program. This is because most of the articles on there are accompanied by index after index of affiliate sites.

Your best plan of attack to getting listed in About (dot)com is to: 1. Pick an "about" category that suits your site. 2. Submit an article that you have written on one of your domain pages. 3. Offer a link back. Put a link to their site even before contacting them and said, "I find your site such a great resource that I've listed you in our links page.

The guides at about.com are also looking for what they call deep links. This may not necessarily be your homepage, but rather an article that you have written from an "expert" point of view. These articles are used to search engine optimize about.com's site. Once your article is added it is reciprocated to the about.com site, which is a monster site in the eyes of the search engines. Even getting just one article published on about.com can boost your search engine rankings substantially. This works because as you will recall, exchanging links with a site that is much bigger than you is a crucial strategic tactic when it comes to following the principles of excellent search engine optimization.

by Chris Angus is a SEO and website promoter