Good Advice for dealing with an Incorrect Spam Suspension Warning???

Sometimes website owners will incorrectly be associated and reported as a spammer.  (I’m talking email spam here.)

Unfortunately it is all to easy for an email spammer to simply code your email address into the header of an email, even though they are actually sending the email from some other email account and then your email account gets associated with grand titles like term life insurance quotes or the latest Brittany Spears viral image teaser of the day or sometimes it is used in PayPal or Ebay phishing emails.

I’m sure you have probably seen an email that appears to be coming from someone or some site that you know, but if you dig into the properties of the email address, the real email address is something entirely different.

The issue is that some hosting companies will receive a spam complaint and simply shut down your account without doing the appropriate level of due diligence.

This afternoon, I came across some good technical advice to both help you prevent this from happening in the first place and the right responses to que your webhost up with to defend against your account being shut down inappropriately on a forum at Lunar Pages.

You may not be doing anything that can be reasonably construed as spam, but are you absolutely certain that your account and site haven’t been hacked? Could code have been inserted into your site to generate spam? Have you confirmed that there are no changes to your files that were not made by you, or without your knowledge and consent? You’re going to have to go through your files with a fine tooth comb looking for unexplained changes. I find it handy to do a weekly ls -alR of all my files (via cron) to flag changes — if you haven’t been doing that, it’s a lot more work for you to find what’s changed.
You should ask LP if they have any logs of outgoing mail from your account, which might give you a hint as to what got hacked. It’s also very possible that some jackass has simply forged your email address to their spam, and you’re paying the price (even though the spam never went through your account). Demand that LP produce the “spam” emails, with full headers, so they can be examined to find out exactly where they came from. If they won’t, tell them you’ll see them in court if they try to close your account. They need to learn that some twit claiming you’re spamming is not sufficient grounds to disrupt your business — they need to prove it’s originating from your account. It may or may not cut any ice with them that you didn’t know about it, but if you can show you’re taking steps to stop it and prevent future problems, they should relent.

Spam Suspension Warning???  from the Lunar Forums

Latest WordPress Upgrade Fixes Very Annoying WindowsLiveWriter Publishing error!

I mentioned yesterday that WordPress had issued a new upgrade and they were strongly recommending that people should Upgrade their WordPress Software to 2.3.2 Now.  I was very happy to see that after I updated one of my sites a publishing bug went away completely!

I had repeatedly run into an error on one of my sites that enabled women to write reviews about sexy boots and other skimpy products.  The error manifested in several nasty ways:

  • Publishing with WindowsLiveWriter would publish, but would always generate an error and WLW would not be able to save a link to the published post for future changes
  • There were multiple code errors present when ever I navigated around in WordPress, tried to make changes, approve comments a host of issues.

I had run a number of upgrades on this site and another impacted by the problem (saw this on about 10% of my WordPress sites).  I restarted MySQL, repaired databases, upgraded WordPress, upgraded WLW but nothing fixed it until this latest WordPress upgrade.

I’m very happy that that problem is fixed!

Upgrade Your WordPress Software to 2.3.2 Now

That is the message coming from WordPress.org.  The former version of WordPress, version 2.3.2, had some serious security issues that are supposedly addressed in 2.3.2.

Here is the note from the WordPress Development team

WordPress 2.3.2 is an urgent security release that fixes a bug that can be used to expose your draft posts. 2.3.2 also suppresses some error messages that can give away information about your database table structure and limits and stops some information leaks in the XML-RPC and APP implementations. Get 2.3.2 now to protect your blog from these disclosures.

As a little bonus, 2.3.2 allows you to define a custom DB error page. Place your custom template at wp-content/db-error.php. If WP has a problem connecting to your database, this page will displayed rather than the default error message.

For more detail on what’s new in 2.3.2, view the list of fixed bugs and see the changes between 2.3.1 and 2.3.2.

This latest release sounds a little more ominous than usual and so I’m walking through each of my blogs pushing out an update/upgrade as this sounds like more of a fix than the typical call for vitamins for women and men that usually seems to be pushed out from WordPress.org where so many upgrades and updates are offered that it almost seems as if they are having you update just for the sake of checking their site on a regular basis (I know that that is not the case, but the sheer number seems nuts sometimes.)

Linking to Your Own Images with Blogger Blogs

Here is a tip for blogger bloggers. 

When you have a blogger template, the defaults often times come with images in the template that are hosted on blogblog.com or some other site provided by Google or the maker of the template.  When you use these images, you are missing out on an opportunity to provide one of your own sites some incoming link action on every page.

Copy those images down, and post them up onto your own folder on a domain that you own.  Then update the code location url in the template to point to your domain where the image exists.

Below you can see one image that points to my site at softduit.com (this one has been updated).

You can also see another image that has not yet been updated pointing to blogblog.com.

 

blogger blog template tip

NOTE. above I also placed the image in a directory that had the same name as my blogger blog, distribution business articles.   This also helps to give a bit of a file name association and contextual aspect to the image article as it then points out to the blog of the same name or title.  So if your site is about royal caribbean, then put the directory as royal caribbean as opposed to some generic name like image-file-xyz.

Setting up File Compare in Dreamweaver 8

In my last short article I mentioned a free program available from sourceforge.net that will enable you to compare to files of code (or any text file for that matter).

I forgot to mention how and where to set that up in Dreamweaver so that you can rapidly compare an old version of a file with a new version of a file.

Simply go to  Menu  Edit>Preferences

Then select File Compare

file-compare-dreamweaver-8

Then simply pick the files exe, which is likely to be located somewhere in your Program Files folder.

Its all relatively simple and easy, but its one of those things that if you are looking for it yourself, you may not find it relatively quickly on any given day of the week. 

It’s never easy to find when you really need it, so hopefully this helped you if you did a google search on it. 

So maybe this little tutorial will save you from falling off the bandwagon and seeking counseling or drug treatment.  If so, please drop us a comment with a thank you if you get around to it.  We would definitely appreciate it.

Diff Utility – Program for Comparing Text or code

This evening I finally broke down and learned how to compare text in code.  This is actually something that I have meant to do for a long period of time, but only got around to it tonight when things became critical and absolutely necessary.

The program I’m using is WinMerge and is supposed to plugin to Dreamweaver 8, which is what I am going to attempt to accomplish next.

Note to self.  It’s just been one of those kind of days.  Database crashed, code went buggy on a different site, my micro sd card died for no apparent reason, and I have a touch of the flu!

Google's Lost Opportunity to be Friends with Bloggers

It is ironic that Google one of the largest providers of blogging software is unfriendly to bloggers.  Google suffers the common bloggers of the world as a means to an end for serving up more Google Adword/Adsense ads across the internet.  They privately also use the writing of bloggers to help index the internet for their search engine.

However, Google looks at bloggers like a cruel child looks at an ant farm.  Casually observing the coming and going of the ants, and every now and then toying with the ants by channeling some heat from the sun through a lens, just to watch the blogger ants squirm.

It demonstrates a serious lost opportunity for Google.  Google prides itself on its intelligence.  That pride might be one aspect of their undoing and continued attacks on Google’s Adwords advertising platform offers up a glimpse of an example.

There is a virus spreading throughout computers.  The virus is a trojan and infects computers such that when the computer surfs the internet, the computer user thinks they are seeing Google Adsense ads paid for by Google Adwords advertising customers that link out to Google approved websites.  In reality the ads are delivered up by the perpetrators of the trojan virus.

They send people to unintended websites and may install even more malicious code or strip private information from those users. So you may see an advertisement for furniture stores, click on it and end up going to a site that serves up an automatic virus to your computer.

The trojan redirects queries meant to be sent to Google servers to a rogue server, which displays ads from a third party instead of ads from Google, BitDefender said in a statement. 

ITPro: News: Google ads attacked by Trojan

Now if Google were to look at bloggers as an opportunity for public relations as opposed to annoying ants, they could have benefited from the power of millions of bloggers to help spread the word about this trojan that is attacking Google’s primary source of revenue.

In the past, Google suffered from an integrity attack from click fraud, where a limited number of people worked to directly and fraudulently attack the Adword advertising system.  A person committing click fraud had to knowingly act to perpetrate click fraud.

However, this trojan virus has the means of potentially turning and unknowing casual internet browser into the source for click fraud.  This particular attack does not yet appear to be mature enough to cause Google serious harm (more than a billion dollars lets say).  However, it can and will cause harm.

The question becomes what will Google do to prepare for future iterations that will probably be even more dangerous.  It would surely help if Google had the ability to get the word out and fend off these attacks.  Unfortunately, Google has grown into a very large and very bureaucratic company with one silo operating independently of another and this level of coordination may be forever out of their reach.

MindMap of YouTube Video Download Software Tools

In this article I have mapped out a number of YouTube Video Download tools in MindManager and then snapped them into a swf file so that the map parts are clickable. I found the original list that I used for my mindmap source over at Mashable.

I then uploaded the swf file to the domain here and then put the basic code into this blog article using WindowsLiveWriter.

Next I’m hoping to find a WindowsLiveWriter Plugin that enables me to attach and upload swf files in one shot.  Here I simply wanted to attempt a proof of concept one half step of the way towards my goal. In the mean time, I’m taking the long slow way through this just to insure I understand the steps and consequences, even though it feels like I’m stuck on an endless series of treadmills.

Note, one reason why I’m using flash instead of a mapped image with hotspots is due to a slightly better image quality using flash.

Update

So my first attempt to manually put the swf code failed.

Then I tried it again, but this time I only included the embed code and dropped all of the other code that I normally include when working with Dreamweaver.

Making a Connection with Your Audience to Get them Off the Couch

Watching a CNN news clip today, inspired me to look up Katherine Heigl on the internet and that led me to an interview with her and Seth Rogen about their movie Knocked Up.  After watching the interview I sensed a bit of a personal connection (for no apparent reason) but that made me want to see the movie.

Now, I had previously thought to myself that this might be a good movie to wait for a cable broadcast, but now I think I may not wait that long and might go rent it.  I felt connected and that was triggering me to want to take action.  If you make a personal connection with your readers, you to can impel them to act.

Perspective on Why we Blog

I herald from a camp of bloggers that believe that bloggers should not present themselves as reporters.  I have nothing against bloggers that are in the ‘news’ business or that break stories or gossip even.  I say each unto their own, but I personally connect better with bloggers that write in other ways.

That often means making a personal connection with the blogger and as a passive reader, I can’t make that connection myself.  It is up to the blogger to reach out to the audience and connect, most of the time(comments and forums and email aside).

What do you Get when your Readers Connect with You?

There are a number of benefits to connecting with your readers and this can definitely make striving for a connection worth while.  These benefits can include:

  • Returning readers
  • Increases in subscriber rates
  • More comments
  • Feedback to help you improve your blog or writing
  • Help or tips for great new topics
  • Referrals to friends and family and other connections
  • And of course revenue from both advertising as well as affiliate referrals or even buying your Ninja T-shirt or something
  • Support through web backlinks

So How do you connect?

Well first off, you should consider how and when to get personal.  This will often times be driven by the subject of your blog.  If you write a tech blog, you may not want to talk about your dog or your pregnancy or your kids. 

Unless you talk maybe about the latest dog collar buzzer that you can control with your cell phone, or

a 3D home imaging device to watch your baby in the womb, or

how your kids put on a terrific movie with a camcorder and edited it on the Mac, published it through iTunes and made enough money to pay for college.

You need to find the right tie ins and you  need to find a way to get personal without getting gross or making your readers uncomfortable.  Now, in the early days, you will probably have to practice this behavior a bit as you learn to mix your writing talents and your personal views.  Plus, if your personal life style is too far off base with readers, getting personal about the troubles you are having multiple luxury homes might leave some of your readers cold.

The goal here isn’t really to make up some garbage to tug at the heart strings of your readers, but you do want to speak truthfully and from the heart.  Most people have a highly attuned sense of balderdash (despite how poorly they may play the game) and can recognize garbage when they read it.  They may not acknowledge it explicitly, but they will not react positively to it if its not REAL.

You will know that you are succeeding when you ultimately mix in personal and relevant comments within your writing without having to think about it too much!

Good Luck, and if you have experienced some positive feedback from your readers based on articles like this, please feel free to share.

I’d be more than happy to share a few examples here in the article, so leave a comment or drop me an email at [email protected]

Exodus 3000 Not As Sophisticate as Tank on Atari But Addictive None the less

For a year or so now, I have been on again off again playing a really basic game called Exodus 3000.  There’s really nothing terribly spectacular about the game.  Its graphically about as complex as Tank was on Atari but not exactly as complex as HDMI switches.  Strategically its about as demanding as playing the old board game Stratego, but it sucks me in for 10-20 minutes from time to time anyway.

They profess to pay their players for their winnings in real money, but I have never made anything myself.  The in game winnings are used to build up my player or something and I never seem to get to the level where you actually make money.  Of course, I might play a couple days in a row for 20 minutes at a time and then come back 3 months later so maybe that’s why I don’t make any money. Regardless I go there just to take my mind off the internet a bit.