If Googling Something is To Difficult, You Can Hashtag a keyword on Twitter and get an Ad Served to you too!???

image Blast Applications BLAP Launches Twuition.com

PLAINVIEW, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Blast Applications Inc., (OTC: BLAPNews), a premier creator and developer of iPhone, Twitter and Facebook applications, announces today the official launch of www.Twuition.com.

Twuition.com is a corporate branding and advertising application which responds automatically via Twitter informing Twitter users of translations, weather reports, product pricing, locations and even the national debt by typing in the hashtag “#whatisthenationaldebt”. The tweet platform, generates an advertisement for each response sponsored by businesses for brand awareness via our Twitter profile. This advertising application gives corporations the ability to sponsor answers while building awareness to millions of twitter users, also providing them information without leaving twitter.

“Find out the weather report, shop for a product best price, find the restaurant of your choice or translate while visiting other countries, on your iPhone via Twitter, make sponsors proud of our innovative way of communications,” says Dino Luzzi, CEO of Blast Applications.

About Blast Applications, Inc.

Blast Applications, Inc. (“Blast”) is a premier creator and developer of applications for iPhone®, Twitter® and Facebook®, that allows users to have more fun, be more productive and make social media sites easier to use and more intuitive than before. Blast Applications has a unique opportunity to monetize the web surfer’s dedication to social media sites. Through direct advertising programs tied to the Company’s tools and applications. For more information visit www.blastapplications.com.

Editors Note:

While some of Blast Applications other products do seem relatively useful, this one really seems to be a stretch.  If you absolutely can only access twitter for some information, this might be useful, but this same type of service didn’t really take off in the 90’s with 2 Way Pagers either, somehow I doubt it will go far here. 

That said, sometimes you have to work outside the box a little in order to make a break through.  :)

For all that this is not likely imho to be useful, the advertising that you can purchase through this same channel is not likely to be very robust either.

American Idol Group Night Sucks


In the midst of a new wave of riots in Iran, real unemployment on the rise, small blizzards hitting the mid atlantic region, people sleeping on the streets in Haiti, and many more serious issues, I came across the all important headline in Google News “American Idol: Are the Group Performances Still Necessary?”

Hollywood weeks group day pollThat really caught my eye, because last night I watched group night on American Idol and subsequently wanted to rip my eyeballs out and feed them to our cat.  I haven’t seen that level of drivel on TV in at least 72 hours and I sure as hell don’t want to see it again.  Now don’t get me wrong the article is a non-read, about as much as this one will be a non-read, the title says it all and based on the super scientific poll conducted at BuddyTv with massive sample size of 5 votes, it is obvious that the world already understands that Group Day sucks to such an extent that they won’t even bother to vote in the poll.

Rolling eyes at "That's like a cop out"You can almost here the masses chanting (as their own cats eat their own eye balls) “We get it already, group night on Idol sucks.”

So why do they do it?

corporate music meat grinder - American Idol Group night sucks Maybe this is the way Idol and music producers test applicants for the corporate music meat grind:

  • Will you jump through hoops if we ask?
  • Will you sing really cheesy crappy songs on demand?
  • Will you sell out so completely that your dog wouldn’t recognize you?
  • How much will you sell your first born for?
  • Will you offer up a bogo if you have twins?
  • If we mix and match you with other sell out entertainers on concert tours or award shows, will you play nice enough so that we can market you to the point that the devil would puke?
  • Seriously, we might write reports about you being a prima dona but you better do what we say behind the scenes

Music Industry Corporate Accountants Pay Attention – Group Night is bad for ROI

So let us appeal to the music industry’s inner greedy child.  The bottom line is that last night was not good entertainment no matter how you slice it.  ‘Cops’ would have been more entertaining. 

Let American Idol do group night if there is some reason to test the would be stars, maybe it helps to identify who will jump through corporate hoops down the road, but if they are going to do group night, don’t put that crap on TV, its a waste of my DVR space! 

Wish I had a crap filter on my DVR, "The show set to record was deleted due to extremely low levels of quality content."  Maybe we should start a letter writing campaign to Congress, now there’s a group of people that know just how flawed a group night concept really is.

How to Delete Mass direct messages in Twitter – $6 bucks a pop



Save Time and Get Redemption Through Twedemption.com

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. – February 9, 2010 (OTC: BLAPNews) – If you ever leave on vacation, step away from your computer for a few days or been on Twitter for a reasonable period of time, it’s easy for your direct message inbox to get full quickly. Blast Applications, a premier creator and developer of iPhone, Twitter and Facebook applications, announces today the official launch of Twedemption.com.

With the new launch of Twedemption.com, a PHP script that allows Twitter users to mass-delete direct messages, you can participate in the latest innovation developed to enhance your Twitter experience. For a one-time fee of $5.99, you can safely and securely delete multiple or all DMs from your inbox on the go.

“If you’ve been receiving a lot of auto generated-direct messages or are building quite a following, this type of program is invaluable for Twitter users,” says Dino Luzzi, CEO of Blast Applications. “What we wanted to do with Twedemption.com was focus on a very talked about problem on Twitter and bring a bit of internet attention to it.”

Going through one-by-one to delete each DM is very time consuming; however with Twedemption.com you can delete all the messages from one Twitter id.

About Blast Applications, Inc.

Blast Applications, Inc. (“Blast”) is a premier creator and developer of applications for iPhone®, Twitter® and Facebook®, that allows users to have more fun, be more productive and make social media sites easier to use and more intuitive than before. Social media sites are growing fast all around the globe. Blast Applications has a unique opportunity to monetize the web surfer’s dedication to sites such as Twitter® and Facebook®, and through direct advertising programs tied to the Company’s tools and applications. For more information visit www.blastapplications.com.

Editors Note:

I typically try to keep the number of new services that require my twitter login information to a minimum and after I have used one, I change my twitter password right away.

Personally, I don’t have so many DM’s that I need a mass delete option, was even aware that you had to delete them at all, but I suppose if you are a bit of a clean freak and can’t stand to look at a bunch of DM’s any more, $6 might set you free.

Apple’s Premium Hinges on Cool: Can the iPad Rot that Core?

image For decades now, Apple has achieved notoriety and buzz and lots of synergy through marketing campaigns from first, being cool and second being easier to use than cheaper PC products or more entrenched MP3 player or cell phone brands.  Apple helped make it cool to buy a personal computer in the 80’s, and then they made it cool to not only buy an MP3 player, but actually PAY for an MP3 file.  Apple even through some miracle of evil genius made it cool to have an At&t account (spits on the ground).

They motivated the masses to jump on the Apple band wagon because Apple was cool and PC’s were not cool.  Apple iPods were cool and those more experienced MP3 players from other companies were not.  The iPhone was cool and a Crackberry was anything but.

Then the iPad came. 

An unlikely device with too little functionality and a name that had already been lampooned by MadTV 3 years before the product ever came out for sounding too much like a feminine hygiene product.  The iPad was decidedly uncool and some of that taint seems to rub off on Apple too for not being hip to the fact that its male customers might be just as uncomfortable sporting an iPad as they might be buying hygiene products for their mothers, sisters, girlfriends or wives. 

A couple weeks after iPad launch…

“A survey of more than 1,000 randomly selected customers at the online marketplace Retrevo found that 52 percent of respondents have heard of Apple’s iPad, but are not interested in buying one. Another 18 percent said they had not heard of the product, but also were not interested.” ~ source AppleInsider.com citing Retrevo.com

Similarly, female customers have been left wondering which dip shit male in marketing was insensitive enough to let this name get on the white board in the brainstorming sessions let alone actually approve it for the launch of a major consumer electronics product.

People believe that this product may not hurt Apple, but I disagree.  This product may not knock the wind out of Apple’s stock, but it should cause investors to assume a neutral position before jumping on the short band wagon.

The issue is that Apple has done something decidedly uncool inviting ridicule and lampooning which harms the premium of their formerly cool brand.  They have done this in a year following Steve Jobs miracle purchase of a new body part to save his life and allow him to keep leading the company that only he can apparently run. 

This product represents one of the first decisions of Apple by a Steve Jobs sans all the original body parts, and if this were a horror movie plot, the audience would be wondering by now whether or not Steve had either lost his mojo or been taken over by the owner of the original liver that he picked up for the price of a few thousand itunes downloads.

The new Steve Jobs is aging.  He has been an amazing guy for decades as he plundered through Palo Alto searching for an idea to sell, a box to build, a GUI to reverse engineer.  He reinvented marketing itself in the 80’s and even took a vacation to help retool Disney via Pixar.  For decades and decades he has been hard charging and by all accounts one of the coolest cucumbers in the garden, crisp and on top of things. 

Sure Apple has had its share of turds such as the Apple Newton(the original tablet) and Apple TV and Apple Inc run by someone besides Steve Jobs.

Oh and don’t forget that turkey of a collaboration called the IRockr from Apple and Motorola, a collaboration that Apple may have sabotaged from go in my opinion.

The difference between those turds and the iPad is that they happened under the watch of a healthier more vibrant, fast walking Steve Jobs.  Jobs may not be the same person when his body isn’t up to snuff.  He could be a holistic package that can’t function with half his body weight gone and a borrowed liver.  He has done to many things to help make the world more interesting and arguably better for anyone to wish his demise, but he doesn’t have much experience being held back physically and that may be something that is holding him back mentally as well. 

Apple’s competitive advantage in Steve Jobs edge may be a little too iPadded.

The IzeaInsider Program Past-Present Future?

The Izea Insider program is currently in a bit of limbo.  It is unclear to those of us that were in the program last year (2009) whether or not the program will continue in 2010. 

Contracts were only for the 2009 calendar year, so technically we are all out of the program as of the 1st of the year.

That said, it would appear that Izea does have some interest in continuing the program, and it is probably more a question of

  • (a.) whether or not to fund it
  • (b.) the cost of winding it down -> lots of programming went into setting it up
  • (c.) Refocusing the program for 2010 if it does continue
  • (d.) whether to continue with some or all of the IzeaInsiders from 2009
  • (e.) whether to bring in new insiders etc.

All of those points are my own speculations on the program as an IzeaInsider from 2009.

In general, those of us that were in the program last year did pretty much the same type of work in 2006, 7, 8 without any formalized program to support us with or without money.  We will likely continue helping people the same way in 2010 with or without the program.  :)

The program’s goals were a little soft.  One of the main goals seemed to be in blogger recruitment or education.

In this, I think Heather (@heatherinbc and Drew (@benspark) hit it out of the park recruiting more bloggers.  They are both naturals at this and even better at managing relationships online after they are created.

Several of us, myself included, always felt a little weird competing for blogger recruitment with people that are essentially our friends. 

It was always a bit of a zero sum recruitment game.  If I encouraged someone to sign up, that might take a recruit away from say Heather, who might have also helped the same person. 

I mention this because I suspect this same issue probably made it difficult to track in metrics and in $$$ the success of the program.  It was hard for us Insiders and Ashley, running the program at Izea, to develop a good understanding of what was working with our efforts and what was not while it was happening, I doubt that cloud has been removed after the fact.

On other fronts, speaking for myself, I did quite a bit to develop some improvements in the terms of service for PPP and SS about this time last year.  Some of those upgrades did happen, but some of them did not.  We had a lot of conversations online and on the phone with several people in Izea, but I suspect its hard to buy off in changing the status quo of something as mundane as the TOS in hopes of improving the culture and quality of the blogosphere. 

I still think it was necessary, especially as it concerned collaboration and multi-writer blogs, but I’m not sure that the energy spent on this really bore fruit.  :)

update We were all very vocal about updating the sign up and claim process in Social Spark and I missed this update that came out about 3 weeks ago, drastically over hauling and improving the process.


Throughout the year, I myself covered a lot of conferences, camps, meetups, tweetups, social media club things, startup weekends, brain storming sessions, think tanks and more.  Some of the expenses for these were at times partly or fully funded by my travel allotment from Izea of $1500.  I slept on floors and couches, hotel beds, my car, van, and airport terminals to save money and stretch that money as far as it would go.  I drove and flew more miles than I would like to count covering events all around the southeast in Atlanta, Raleigh, Durham, Orlando, Savannah, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Holden Beach and some to more distant locations including New York City, Peoria/Bloomington, IL and several trips to Las Vegas for 8 different conferences.

In short, I worked & traveled my ass off.  :) I was not soley working for Izea, I was working for myself.

During those trips, I rarely recruited bloggers.  Most bloggers that I ran into, were already monetizing their sites and knew what they were doing.  There were many that were new to the business, so new that they didn’t even have blogs at all.  I worked with quite a few companies and personalities as part of my business with Softduit setting up websites, blogs, and (hate the cheesy catch phrase) social media marketing plans.

In marketing and seo conferences in particular, I found myself primarily providing education and insights to fellow advertisers, marketing firms, marketing professionals etc in regards to blog marketing and Izea.  For the record, unless asked only about Izea itself, I almost always provided information about all of the blog marketing firms I have worked with in any capacity.  I even continued to give referals to PayU2Blog despite the fact they think I’m evil incarnate after I pushed a medium sized campaign to Izea instead of their network the year before. 

I simply referred people to the right network for any given type of job that would fit best in that network.

Most advertisers or firms seem to lack any blog marketing industry experience at all, let alone know which product or service to run with in any given circumstance.

My efforts to help companies and marketing firms understand blog marketing came to a bit of a crescendo with IzeaFest with the panel What Advertisers Want.  At Blogworld, an event that I attend every year, (podcast Expo before it every year as well), I also found myself working (sans pay) in the role of connector.  I helped a large number of companies come together and meet each other in October, knowing the industry and having worked with quite a few of these companies over the years, I saw the synergies and introduced people all over the show.

That was a whole lot of fun, partly because I helped so many people and companies.


What’s next?

dunno  :)

I think the goals of the program need to be tightened up a bit.  I don’t think it should be shelved.

I think there need to be 4 roles targeted

1) Blogger recruiting
2) Blogger Training
3) Advertiser Recruiting
4) Advertiser Training

If the program continues, I think these are the areas that will reap the most rewards for everyone in and out of Izea or the blogosphere.

Some people can touch on any one of these areas at any given time, no one I know of, myself, Ted and Ashley included, can hit on all 4 cylinders all the time.

Also, there were some definite communications problems with the program.  A couple of these were technical in nature, like how to do a conference call type stuff, which I’m not worried about nor am I worried about the difficulties of getting a bunch of bloggers in different time zones and countries on a call together either.

But one of the bigger problems was How Izea can talk with Insiders about Anything that is not public?

There were several times where Izea launched a new system, service etc where we Insiders were shown the new whiz bang 24 hours before or less.  Yes we had a little advance notice, but as Insiders it was always questionable whether or not we were allowed to ‘blog about it’  (and we’re bloggers 😉 ) at the time we learned about it.

When contracts and NDA’s enter the business relationship issues like this get a little muddled.

But maybe more importantly, with only a few hours before going live, it was difficult to give any meaningful critique or feedback in a timely way such that a new system or service could be improved.

Case in point Sponzai

Great service, great product, love almost everything about it.  Over a year ago when I was working on my last major ad campaign through Izea (yeah been awhile!) Dan Rua asked me some questions leading up to whether or not that type of process (in PPP or SS) might be useful to me as an advertiser based on some real world challenges I was facing in both those networks at the time.  I essentially created a manual campaign based on the Sponzai concept and ran in through PPP.  Then I gave a whole bunch of feedback to the Izea team about that experience. 

A year later they developed and rolled out Sponzai.  Very cool to see the idea incubate go live, but there were some opportunities missed during production.  It was a long time coming that product, I was happy to see it roll out, but after so much time, even with my high interest and relatively high level of buy in as an Insider and as an advertiser that had given a lot of feedback, I felt (touchy feely word that has nothing to do with business) distanced from this tool.

Along the way, if asked I would have requested several different things:
1 – Include it in PPP and SS as functionality not as a stand alone product
2 – Name it with something that includes one or more of the words or root words ‘guest’ ‘guest article’ ‘guest post’ ‘guest author’ etc.

Izea Challenge Point

So look I’m not perfect, don’t claim to be, but here is a challenge point that Izea seems to have.  They work in a fast paced advertising business where knock off competitors pop up quickly.  Izea has a modus operandi of creating a thing in secret and then featuring a grand reveal to the world ala Steve Jobs. 

They are not great at taking conversations in social media, forums, blogs etc and bringing those discussions in house to work on them WITH the folks that kick them off whether they be other businesses, bloggers or customers.  There is something that is not transparent about the process and like a supporting character in a scary movie, the lack of communication about what is going on or what is needed, that lack of transparency about the situation, decreases the buzz, the momentum and the effectiveness of the end result.


A magician on YouTube is only as good as their latest trick.  Once you’ve done the trick and everyone has seen it, there’s no magic left until you create a new trick.  A master magician however can take a suggestion from the audience and work a trick on the spot.  That’s essentially what companies (not just Izea) but all companies working in this ridiculously named space of ‘social media’ -> ‘people talking with each other media’ have to do.  They have to listen to their stakeholders, take their requests and suggestions and work some magic.

If that magic can not be done in real time, then it has to at least happen while the company/magician continues to talk with their audience, keeping them engaged in the trick, the potential of the trick, and the hope of future magic.

You can’t go into radio silence for a year and then come back with a trick and expect your audience/stakeholders to still be there and still be present with the same level of connectivity and buy in that they had before.

Too much media down the stream at that point.  In a world where attention spans are measured in 5-15 minute segments, a year is more like a millenia.

Sooo there’s my insights on the Insider program.  I have heard ruminations about some changes at Izea that might also play a role in whether or not the program continues or not or how it might morph.  I suspect money will play a role.

The former accountant in me, suspects that the program needs to tighten up significantly and maybe consider some alternatives to keep the program financed.

Less emphasis on travel and distant conferences and more emphasis on local/regional events (like this).

Less emphasis on blogger recruitment and more emphasis on blogger development.

More emphasis on advertiser recruitment and development, afterall that will drive new revenue and $$$.

Hell maybe even some out of the box thinking like trying to use Obama’s ‘proposed’ incentive providing $5k per new hire in tax credits paid out of payroll taxes.

Last Point

I wanted to mention that I did receive a big benefit indirectly out of the Insider program.  As part of the program we insiders were to get a blog makeover.  If you’ve ever seen some of the blog makeovers created by Izea and their partners, they are generally off the charts stellar. 

I received a mock up for a makeover of my own personal blog There’s Something About Harry.  (it was really ugly)  But the point is, that really drove me to figure out how to design wordpress themes myself and during a year when my blogging revenue dropped by half compared to the year before, I was able to makeup that revenue performing WordPress implementations using WP as a CMS with themes I started designing. 

I got a bit of a lemon and made lemonade out of it.  That was a huge opportunity, and I view it very positively. 

We bloggers have received a lot of ‘freebies’ over the last few years.  It has had the extremely negative result of creating a sense of entitlement by bloggers that is at best ugly, and at worst is completely disgusting. 

Out of necessity I had to fend for myself and I learned a whole lot more than I would of if I had not.  Yes, I did burn a lot of cycles learning yet another discipline, but I did Learn!  Offer me a freebie or an opportunity to learn and I’ll take the opportunity to learn every day of the week.

Artisteer 2.4 with Vertical Menus & Flash Headers Available

Tonight I’m checking out the new Artisteer 2.4 which just became available.  The new version (in beta still) supports to major feature advances:

Vertical Menus for WordPress or other CMS systems like Drupal, Joomla etc

You can essentially run two menu systems now (at first glance). 


In the image example above within the Artisteer design environment I have the option of both a horizontal menu and a (new) vertical menu.  :)

No idea yet how that will be managed in WordPress as I haven’t exported one of these puppies yet, but that’s coming up next!

Category Driven Menus

Update – I just heard through the forums that not only have vertical menus been added, but now category driven menus are possible.  There appear to be binary options for this.

  • You can either have a Category based menu OR a Page based menu in the Horizontal menu or in the Vertical Menu.
  • You can have a category in the horizontal and a Page based in the vertical or vice versa.
  • You can NOT have a category AND a Page based menu in the vertical at the same time.
  • You can NOT have a category AND a Page based menu in the horizontal at the same time.

All that said, this is just the post export (standard) options.  There are probably some easy ways to hack some additional combinations into a theme after the fact

Flash Header Support for WordPress Theme Design

There is also flash headers support for WordPress themes now.  I can add some very basic animation templates that Artisteer includes with the software, or if I have an .flv file I can import it into the theme header.

I haven’t tried that out yet, but I can’t wait to give it a go.  :)

Changing a Template from one System to Another (Ergo WordPress Theme to Blogger or Drupal)

Here’s a nice cool upgrade option.  If you have designed yourself a nice little template in say WordPress and you want to use the same exact design in Drupal or Blogger or Joomla or DotNetNuke or just an HTML page (for like a WP page template with modifications!) you can now do this with a click of the mouse (ok 2-3 clicks).

imageAfter you have the design you like, just change template type.  Then save file as something else if you don’t want to lose your original theme/template etc and you are off to the races.  :)

If you have a website powered by WordPress and you have a blog powered by Blogger, you could then easily cobrand the sites to look very similar as one working example.  Gonna have to ruminate on some additional practical applications.

Extending Free Upgrade License

imageFor just over a year now, I have received free upgrades to Artisteer.  That’s part of the license.  Buy Artisteer and you get free upgrades for a year.  When I first picked up Artisteer in November of 2008, they were just moving to beta version 0.8 I believe.  1.6 versions later or from my perspective about 20 improvements, updates and upgrades later, it was now time for me to update my license.

For $59.95 I purchased another year of Artisteer upgrades, and now I’m cranking through the possibilities with 2.4.

In case you are wondering, it only took moments for my order to process and my old license became good for upgrades all over again.  There is a huge amount of value in this program, but every time I download another free upgrade (yeah I paid for it, but most software companies don’t give away free upgrades at all), it feels great and puts a smile on my face.  In total, I’ve invested just short of $200 in this software over the course of about 15 months, and I have earned a return on that investment of about 100x.  :)

You can check your own
upgrade subscription status here.

Artisteer Discount Code/Link

If you would like to get a 5% discount on a new Artisteer license (home/education or standard) feel free to use my referral link http://www.artisteer.com/?p=brett

Note: Cross posted from Softduit Media.


Quick Tips on Getting New Long Tail Value out of Old Sponsored Posts on a blog

Let’s say you have 50 or 100 or 1000 old blog posts on one or more sites that were sponsored articles.  You were paid up front for a short time advertorial essentially.  That was years ago and those posts haven’t brought any revenue to you since.  :(

Plus, the FTC has changed the landscape of online marketing and now you have to go back and consider adding some new form of disclosure to an advertorial.  Lots of work for no revenue, all cost, no profit, plus if you don’t you risk who knows what from the FTC.  :(

QUICK TIPS (ok not so quick) to get those old articles earning money again!

There are several things you can do in conjunction with each other to get those old deep links earning you some money.

  • First, realize that what ever work went into those articles in terms of copy, research, writing etc, is long sunk.
  • The risk of FTC issues is as real as your geographical address if you reside in the US (If you live in Canada, the UK, the Pacific Rim, feel free to laugh at the FTC all you like.)
  • Now, go over to Skimlinks.com and sign up for an account. 
    • They essentially turn old deep hyperlinks going out from your site in to current working affiliate links if there is an affiliate program through their collection of multiple networks traversing the world. 
    • They aggregate affiliate links through multiple networks at commission rates that are often higher than you can get individually. 
    • Get your account up and going and load the javascript onto your site. 
    • If someone clicks on one of your old deep links and buys something, you get a commission.  $$$
    • Pretty easy for just copy/pasting some javascript in your footer!
  • Skimlinks is a good option, BUT for advertorials, it will likely only convert if you had kick ass copy on a page that draws a lot of natural search results. 
    • If your copy was written for 2006 and not 2010, it might not convert so well no matter how good it was. 
    • If your page hasn’t drawn a new hit in 2 years, well then its really not good for much of anything, almost.
  • SO, identify your articles that you want to target.  For example, I recently went through an old blog, I filtered for all articles that still had a CountTrakula.com link in it, an old PayPerPost tracking mechanism, then I further filtered for articles from 2006.  THESE WERE OLD AND TIRED! But some of those posts still have some power,
    • Some have lots of incoming links
    • Some generate traffic!
  • So next, you need to install the Redirection plugin into your wordpress site. 
    • Don’t have your blog on WordPress?
    • Move your blog over to WordPress and stop fooling around.  :)
  • Now, start redirecting those old links to either your home page or a category that is relevant for the post.
    • Essentially you are salvaging those backlinks.  yes they are over 18 months old in my example, but a backlink is a backlink.
    • I had a few hundred to do myself, not a job for one sitting.  So make sure you have a good audiobook to listen to or TV show to partially pay attention to, and then start copy/pasting/clicking away
  • Once your redirects are set up in full or either in a batch, go back and check your redirection logs. 
  • image
    • Look for old posts that are logging actual redirects to your home page or categories. 
    • If you have an old advertorial bringing traffic to your blog for ‘drug rehab’ and you don’t have a better destination for that traffic on your blog,
    • then log into one of your affiliate programs and search for a new affiliate program that has a high conversion rate for ‘drug rehab’. 
    • Get the link for the program, then go back to your site, and replace your redirection destination link with the affiliate link! 
    • Now all that traffic that was coming into your blog for an advertorial and likely bouncing away, screwing up your stats, and not doing anything for you is getting pushed to a high converting affiliate program where it might actually do that Google searcher some good and
    • make you a commission!  $$$
    • Pay attention to your redirect stats.  If it stops bringing people in, then change that redirect to a new 301 redirect back to your home page to salvage backlinks.  This puppy is harvested!
  • If for some reason you like the traffic on that particular topic, but don’t want to send it to an affiliate landing page cold, then write up a NEW blog article that covers that topic or category
    • Then change that redirect from over to your new article.
    • If you are smart, make sure the article includes an affiliate banner to something useful, or at least some chitika or adsense ads or something.  I don’t want you to starve!  :)
  • Sometimes a Rewrite may work too…
    • You will not want to rewrite every article, but every now and then your original article may be pretty damned good and still relevant.  If so, polish that puppy up, and republish it with a current date.  Remove the old sponsored/advertorial references and OWN that new article yourself.  Find some new way to mix advertising on that page for that article, especially if it is pulling in traffic! 
    • Plus, if it is pulling in traffic, do something on that new re-written post to really try and lock in those readers to subscribing with you.  You already know that it is bringing people your way, do something good for them, and try and get them to come back or stick around.
  • A large percentage of your old advertorial articles from years back will not be relevant, will not have traffic and will only bring you minor backlink boosts.  That’s ok, don’t sweat it, at least you removed the liability stemming from the doubt over the FTC’s poorly conceived and executed new rules.  :)
  • For that 10% that can do something for you, well more power and a little extra revenue to you!  :)

Bonus – if you do leave old deep links in any old article, make sure you put a rel=”nofollow’ tag on it if you hadn’t already.  Might as well please Google while you are at it. 

Upgrading RCA Pearl TH1611 Firmware for AAC

Sometimes the best technology gadgets are not the most expensive, take the RCA Pearl TH1611.  It is a little MP3 player that runs on a single triple aaa battery.  It gets hours and hours of play. Much to the surprise of most people RCA actually came out with the first MP3 player, which I owned way back in the dark ages before iPods.  It was the Lyra and with a really large card it could hold a whopping 48 megabytes of music.

This little Pearl, which is about a tenth the size holds a gigabyte and plays for about a work week of time (about 40 hours give or take based on my experience).  In fact it plays for hours after the battery monitor shows that the thing should be dead.

Firmware update needed to listen to AAC files

Way back when I got it, there was something on the box that said I would need a firmware upgrade.  The device worked for everything I needed it for at the time, mostly Audible books and some music for running.  I never got around to it.

Then a couple weeks back I was trying to listen to an audio book a friend gave me with an AAC file extension.  I think it was DRM free as opposed to the DRM not free type.

So today I’m finally getting around to a firmware upgrade from 3.001.005 to


After all this time it wasn’t very easy to track down the download of the firmware.  That might have stalled me when I bought the thing actually.

I mistakenly followed the RCA support links here and here both trying to get me to download some easy rip software that I don’t really need. Sure its free, but who needs more software clogging up their pc?

Finally after walking through the process to contact RCA support, I came across their last bastion of defense against phone calls, a FAQ that mentioned

TH1611 downloads

Where can I get downloads for my TH1611?

To update the firmware of the TH1611 mp3 player  click here

To update the firmware of the TH1611 mp3 player to enable DRM free AAC playback click here.

To download the latest version of EasyRip MediaTM Software  click here.

image As John Lovitz used to say in the 80’s, “That’s the ticket!” 

So I followed that link to the download page where I could actually download the firmware.  It doesn’t really make sense to me why they don’t update their product pages or support update pages with this information and save themselves the trouble of FAQ page updates or even phone calls, but I finally did find it (by luck and because it was early in the day and I was paying more attention, if this had been a middle of the night upgrade, I’d be on hold by now).


Couple tips about upgrade

  • I had to re-run the firmware upgrade software 3 times before I actually saw the infamous start button become clickable. 
  • This upgrade did threaten and probably will erase all of my device data including music and books, so I’ll need to upload those again.
  • I have no idea if this will enable my player to work better with Audible Manager which is one of the buggiest programs I’ve ever seen, but I’m hopeful.  :) (OK that’s an exaggeration but it is buggy as hell and has been for the last 10-12 years)

Post Upgrade Issues

Note, even after I ran this upgrade, my AAC files still would not play, got the same message.  :(


image So then I went back up and looked at the links again.  I noticed that I had clicked on the link to download the firmware that enabled AAC but not the firmware upgrade.  The file names are very very similar.  So this time I went back and uploaded the firmware. (click here)


This may all be a waste of time trying this again, because when I get to the firmware upgrade section it shows that I’m basically already upgraded.  :)


Note this time I tried to run the upgrade without formatting the data area.  It wouldn’t let me and in fact automatically checked the format data area and deleted everything without me really being able to stop it.  So be warned, if you hit Start it will zap everything on your player!  (sorry that warning is so far down in this article)


This time when the upgrade ran, it really deleted EVERYTHING on the player, didn’t leave any folders or anything like it did last time.  (First time it deleted files but left some of the folder structure).


It still didn’t allow me to play DRM free AAC on my Pearl

After thoughts & Shortcuts

Easily convert any music files to MP3, AAC or WAV formats. High speed. About halfway through this whole process, I was determined to figure out if it was even possible to turn on the AAC DRM free playback option.  I suspected that it wasn’t, so I also opted for the low tech solution.  I loaded up Sound Taxi (free trial download if you are interested and tired of fooling around too) and simply started converting the stupid DRM free AAC file to MP3 so I could load it on my device!  Note. I bought and use SoundTaxi Professional which supposedly runs faster (I don’t think so) but DOES allow you to convert more than 1 file at a time.

How to Design a WordPress Theme – Unconference WordCamp Boston

After catching up on my sleep after traveling back all night from Boston from one of the largest wordcamps that I have attended to date, I finally got around to editing and uploading some basic video I took.  The first video is a quick presentation i gave during an unconference session, showing people how to design their first wordpress theme using the software that makes it easy, Artisteer.

Videos of the WP theme design presentation in 3 parts

Note: Cross posted from Softduit Media.


Searching for the Flat World Collaboration Swiss Army Knife – MavenLink

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Mavenlink. All opinions are 100% mine.

For several years now I have been looking for a more efficient means of collaborating with people, working on projects with clients, managing the deliverables and changes to those projects and monitoring and collecting the remuneration.  Basically, I just want a tool that makes it easy for me to work my magic, keeps my customers happy and gets me paid without too much effort!

I found something that may fit the bill called Mavenlink

Old Broken Process

When I work as a consultant, I work on a prepaid basis.  I do this primarily to keep things simple.  It works, and the type of consulting services I provide can be completed soon after I am paid.  With more complex multi-phase projects I stagger the pre-payments for each phase.


Here’s how the process works.

  1. I create an Estimate in Quickbooks Online, a service that I pay about $25 per month for, which I find cheaper than buying and maintaining a full version of Quickbooks on my computer.
  2. I send out the Estimate to my Clients as a means to initiate the Review, Discussion, negotiation and Finalization of the Project plan.  Once everyone is happy with the plan,
  3. I create an Invoice which becomes the Project Requirement.  I Print this as a PDF and send it to the customer for their records.
  4. I then separately send a PayPal invoice for the same items, referencing the Invoice number in the PDF.  This enables my customers to pay via PayPal or Credit Card if they so choose and generally makes my life easier than waiting for a check in the mail.
  5. When I receive the payment, I then go back into Quickbooks and receive the payment and clear the invoice as paid.
  6. Finally I complete the project and deliver what is required to the customer.
  7. I repeat this process for additional phases of a project.

Its really a bit of a pain in the butt.  It is slow, cumbersome and can sometimes take more time than the actual project!  I purposefully DO NOT charge for small services because it is not worth my time to mess with the invoicing.

I’d love it if Quickbooks had PayPal Invoice integration, but they do not.  In general Quickbooks is overkill for my business needs on many levels, but it does provide me with scalability if business grows substantially.

So today I came across a service through a referral on SocialSpark.  The Service is called Mavenlink (which caught my eye as my first blog’s name is Maven Mapper’s Information).

This service provides consultants with the capability to manage a project, pitch the proposal to a client, lock up the terms of the project agreement, track the progress and manage invoicing and payments via PayPal.

Project Platform


Its a one stop shop not just for what I use for the Estimate, Invoice, Billing and Collection but also the interface with the customer, the negotiation and the project planning (which I do separately in spread sheets and mind maps, yet another step in my old process).

Brand Enhancement and Social Marketing

Another cool aspect about this service is that as it tracks what and how you are doing, this is used to market you, your company, your results and abilities to other potential customers both through Mavenlink and LinkedIn.

Build Relationships with People that Help you Get the Project Done

Plus, as you are working through projects, if I understand the information correctly, you can also work with other consultants as projects tend to change growing and shrinking during different phases, making it easier for multiple companies, consultants, contractors etc to come together deliver a good result, break apart and reform in a different configuration to fit a different client’s needs.

Result –> Working Smarter

imageSo that’s what I see with this service so far.  Proof is in the pudding, and maybe more importantly proof is in adapting your own work culture to any give system or tool.  I intend to try this service out.  At service rate plans of $20 and $39, I might even be able to save a little money if I drop my Quickbooks online service.  But if I could find a way to save all that time that I currently waste and dread wasting just to get projects off the ground, pitched and negotiated this service or any other that achieves my goal would be well worth this rate.

Sponsored Article Disclosure – I was provided compensation of $10 to review this site and service.  These funds are going towards my wife’s National Board Certification.  She teaches fourth grade for a title I school in North Carolina that needs the best teachers possible.  The state does not provide for this certification process.  So far we have paid over $2,500 for her boards and need an additional $1,700 to complete the next phase.  I do find this service interesting and will be trying it myself.  I am not being paid nor sponsored to actually try the service, the sponsorship simply provided for my new awareness of this service.

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