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2007 March

Are you the next Larry Page or Sergey Brin?

Venture Capital firm Y Combinator are using this innovative personality test for their next round of applications. So take the test and see if you have what it takes to handle a couple of million being thrown at you.


To apply for your Millions, just click the image that you prefer:

Note: Y Combinator apparently only want to fund cutting edge tech - so this test will not work in IE6



So how did I go?


Personality Test results

Hmmm, I thought this test was pretty accurate - if a little flattering. I mean, everyone wants to be Fearless, right? I was happy to see that I was counted as masculine (and much more manly than your average YC founder!), but the test said I don’t like reading & I read every night. I think that they must have tapped my webcam, though, how else do they know that my messiness is off the chart!?

This test was prepared by Pairwise, a new startup out of San Francisco. See a full article on the ideas behind the test at TechCrunch

Top 10 Fighting Robots

From the labs to the arenas to the battlefields, here are the Top Ten Real Life Fighting Robots.

10. Sewer Snake
Sewer Snake
Sewer Snake became the richest battlebot of all time when it won the $10,000 Combots 2005 Championship. Later the same year, Sewer Snake also won the RFL (Robot Fighting League) Nationals. In 2006 it went up a weight class to Super Heavyweight (340 lbs) and still managed second. Sewer Snake’s main weapon is an ‘Invertible Lifting Wedge’ (Flipper) which it uses to throw its opponents into the air and sometimes out of the arena. Robot fighting events go in and outta style each year, though maybe its on the way up - ComBots came in at #8 in ‘The Best 10 North American Geek Fests’ but was well behind the ‘World Championship Punkin Chunkin’ (pumpkin throwing) at #2.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duHe8g6Hdn8

9. VIPeR
VIPeR
Straight outta Israel comes the 9 inch tall VIPeR. Though it looks more dinky than dangerous, apparently it can be fitted with an UZI machine pistol or plant grenades. It can also do the standard bomb-sniffing and surviellence through its onboard camera.
http://israelitybites.blogspot.com/2007/03/viper-and-heron-israels-latest-war.html

8. Gladiator
Gladiator
Developed by Carnegie Mellon University for the Marine Corps, the Gladiator is currently in prototype stage. It is highly configurable, the weapons payload can be changed (or completely removed) depending on the mission and the locomotion can alternate between tracks or 6 wheels. It is designed to take a lickin and keep on tickin; the specifications state it can withstand small arms fire at point blank range and still be operable.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/gladiator.htm

7. Robart III
Robart III
Built by the US Navy, this research prototype is one of the most sophisticated of the robots. It features automated target acquisition; firstly it scans the area for pre-taught known objects and then zooms in to look for vulnerabilities. It also can navigate autonomously through unknown terrain while simultaneously mapping the area. Armament is an air-powered Gatling gun. Though the gun only fires tranquilizer darts “the spinning-barrel mechanism also imparts a rather sobering psychological message during system initialization”.
http://www.spawar.navy.mil/robots/land/robart/robart.html#Robart3

6. Land Walker
Land Walker
This one’s for the BattleTech fans. Standing at 3.4 metres (11.15 feet) tall and with 2 side-mounted guns, this robot certainly looks the goods. Before you go out and buy one (get your own custom walker for $313,000), you might want to know that the guns shoot rubber balls and the walking is more like a ’shuffle’. Still cool, but maybe a rent rather than a buy.
http://www.sakakibara-kikai.co.jp/products/other/LW.htm

5. Huitong
Huitong
Huitong (’the child’) is a human-shaped robot built by the Beijing Institute of Technology. Details in english are sketchy at best, though it has “sense of sight, audio dialogue, sense of force and sense of balance”. It can also perform Taijiquan (shadowboxing) and demonstrated its swordfighting technique at an “exhibition of major achievements of the national 10th Five-Year program “. Or something.

http://www.chinanews.cn/news/2005/2005-09-19/11146.html

4. Flameosapien - Robosapien Flamethrower Hack
Flameosapien - Robosapien Flamethrower Hack
So the other robots here are cool n’all, but a little pricey. Well, if you are up for a little DIY then this could be for you. All it takes is a standard Robosapien, about $100 for the flamethrower parts and to be not concerned if you “blow off a hand or burn your house down”. On the same site they also have instructions on how to add a coil gun to your robosapien.

http://www.evosapien.com/robosapien-hack/marcus/html/flameosapien_v2.html

3. MQ-9 Reaper
MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 is developed by General Atomics and is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long endurance high altitude surveillance. Armament is a combination of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles as well as laser guided bombs (depending on the mission). As well as the US Air Force, it has been purchased by the US Navy who have increased the fuel carried to stretch the flying time to 49 hours. It has also been used by Australia to prevent illegal fishing, presumably without the missles.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RQ-9_Predator_B

2. Intelligent Surveillance & Security Guard Robot
Intelligent Surveillance & Security Guard Robot
Catchy name. This Samsung robot is designed to protect major military bases and national borders - specifically the South-North Korea border (where it is currently in operation). It can detect and track targets from 4km during the day, and 2km at night with infra red cameras. It has a speaker to communicate with nearby personnel and can automatically ask intruders for a password once they are within 10 meters. If the password is failed then it can respond with an alarm, rubber bullets or something a bit more lethal. It isn’t clear from the articles if the response is automatic or not, but I am assuming a human controller needs to intervene before weapons are fired. Interestingly, the $200,000 units come fitted with an anti-theft alarm, possibly after Samsung read this.
http://www.samsungtechwin.com/product/features/dep/SSsystem_e/SSsystem.html

1. Talon
Talon
Foster-Miller builds the Talon Robot or Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) as it is also known. According to FM, the Talon has completed evaluation by the 5th Special Forces in Iraq and will be deployed in an armed reconnaissance role in 2007. It can be equipped with either machine guns, large caliber rifles and rocket launchers. It cannot engage targets autonomously, but instead relies on an operator to direct and fire the weapons.
http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=704

Some other notable bots that didn’t quite make the top 10 were:
Life-size Boxing Robot, Transformer Robot and Huge Russian Fighting robots (looks super-cool, and equally super-fake).

How to SEO your images for ‘long tail’ searches

If you post images to your blog/site then this little tip will give your ‘long tail’ Search Engine rankings a boost. Note: Though this tip is about optimising your images, this will boost your rankings in the normal Google Web Search - not just Image Search.

You should already be adding ‘alt’ and ‘title’ tags to each of your images. This tells the search engines what the picture is about. However the picture information has to compete with all the other content on the page - so why not give the pic it’s own page?

Say, for example, that you have a picture on your page (cartalk.html):


<img src=’Pics/FERRARI-SCAGLIETTI.jpg’ title=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’ alt=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’>

Add another page to your site:

<html>
<head>
<title>Black Ferrari 612 Scaglietti</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Black Ferrari 612 Scaglietti</h1>
<img src=’Pics/FERRARI-SCAGLIETTI.jpg’ title=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’ alt=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’>
<br>
<a href=’cartalk.html’>Back</a>
</body>
</html>

Save the page as ‘Black-ferrari-612-scaglietti.html’.

Go back to the image on cartalk.html and change it to this:

<a href=’Black-ferrari-612-scaglietti.html’><img src=’Pics/FERRARI-SCAGLIETTI.jpg’ title=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’ alt=’Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’></a>

So what have you done here?

  • » You’ve added a highly-optimised page for the keywords ‘Black ferrari 612 scaglietti’.
  • » Courtesy of the ‘Back’ anchor on the new page, when a visitor finds the new page through the search engines they can easily find the attached content page.
  • » You’ve added more content to your site, and SEs love new content & big sites.

The new highly optimised page is a bit bare, and you might be tempted to ‘wrap’ it in your site’s template - but I’d hold off on that. If you add the same wrapper to all your image pages then you have a good chance of Google thinking that all the image pages are the same (as the image & description HTML will be small compared to the site template). Then you can get canned by the duplicate content filter.

You might also be thinking:

Well, that’s terrific for the search engines, but my site visitors don’t want to keep clicking the images and get basically the same pics back at them.

2 choices

  1. Give them a high-res version of the pic to look at on the optimised image page. Not always possible, so;
  2. Hide the fact that the image is actually a link.

Change

<a href=’Black-ferrari-612-scaglietti.html’>

to

<a style=”CURSOR: default” onMouseover=”window.status=”; return true” href=’Black-ferrari-612-scaglietti.html’>

That way when your visitor hovers the mouse over the image the cursor won’t turn into a hand and the status bar won’t show the href location. You could even disable the anchor through javascript if you don’t mind the extra work.

Cabinet Bar opening

One of the cooler things about getting paid to drink is that I am also invited along to the openings of new bars.

Cabinet Bar is a brand new drinking spot situated upstairs off Rainbow Alley (just behind Swanston St, near Little Collins st). It is owned and managed by Kath Lunny (ex Hairy Canary) She was a great hostess on the opening night, running around & making sure everything was perfect. Too busy even to stop for a photo, so we grabbed Allan (also ex Hairy Canary).

Cheers!

How to wrap your Adsense in content for a better CTR

OK, so everyone knows that one of the best places for your Adsense ads is mixed in with your primary content. Even Adsense Help recommends it:

Adsense Help: Where should I place Google ads on my pages?

Here are 2 tips to really mix your Adsense Ads (or YPN) in with the content. The first is dead easy and the second builds on it.

Wrapping text to the right of your Ad block.

To get this:

Just use this:

<div style=’width:400px’>
<div style=’float:left;margin-right:5px’>
– Your Adsense Code –
</div>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi nisl. Curabitur euismod sagittis augue. Maecenas eget mi sed nisi pharetra faucibus. Duis consectetuer eros nec enim. Proin egestas luctus odio. Cras tellus lorem, porttitor sit amet, iaculis sit amet, luctus id, nunc. Sed rutrum est nec dolor. Curabitur blandit tempus nunc. Sed felis metus, tempus ac, tempor nec, ornare at, lectus. Donec vitae dolor. Sed lobortis ornare nibh. Morbi felis. Aenean at dolor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi nisl. Curabitur euismod
</div>

The important bit is the div that wraps around the adsense code:

The ‘float:left’ style will cause the div to go to the left its container, and allow text to wrap around it. The ‘margin-right’ style just adds some space between the ad block and the text so it doesn’t run together and look messy.

OK, super-simple. Next up:

Wrapping text to the right, and above, your ad block

To get this:

Use this:

<div style=’width:400px’>
<div style=’float:left;width:1px;height:50px;’></div>
<div style=’float:left;clear:left;margin-top:10px;margin-right:5px’>
– Your Adsense Code –
</div>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi nisl. Curabitur euismod sagittis augue. Maecenas eget mi sed nisi pharetra faucibus. Duis consectetuer eros nec enim. Proin egestas luctus odio. Cras tellus lorem, porttitor sit amet, iaculis sit amet, luctus id, nunc. Sed rutrum est nec dolor. Curabitur blandit tempus nunc. Sed felis metus, tempus ac, tempor nec, ornare at, lectus. Donec vitae dolor. Sed lobortis ornare nibh. Morbi felis. Aenean at dolor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Morbi nisl. Curabitur euismod
</div>

Again, floats are used. This time we are also using a another div to ‘push’ the wrapper div down the page.

<div style=’float:left;width:1px;height:50px;’></div>

This is the div that pushes the wrapper div down


<div style=’float:left;clear:left;margin-top:10px;margin-right:5px’>

This is the div that wraps around your adsense code. Note the ‘clear:left’, that makes the second div go under the first, rather than next to it. The ‘margin-top:10px’ was added because the text at the top of the ad was getting mixed in with it otherwise.

Done!

How I increased my Adsense earnings by 50%

This technique applys to everyone who has 2 or more Adsense blocks on a page (and who can stop at just one?).

First up, not everyone knows that Google always serves up the highest paying ads to the first ad block it encounters in your site’s HTML. This can mean that an Ad block that is getting all the clicks is worth .01 a click, while on the same page a block that is totally ignored has the big $$$s.

But how to find out? Channels.

Go to your Adsense account, and create a custom channel for each of the ads on your page. Call the channels ‘1st Ad’, ‘2nd Ad’ etc. Put the Adsense code on your site, making sure that the ‘1st Ad’ channel ad block goes to the first ad in your page HTML, ‘2nd Ad’ the 2nd spot in the HTML and so on. Now sit back for a few days.

OK, you’ve got some stats to check so lets see which ad gets the most clicks. If the first Ad gets the most clicks, then you can stop right here. If not (as was my case), then we have some work to do.

What we need to do is move the Adsense code around so that the Ad block with the greatest number of clicks is the first Adsense code in your site HTML. There are a few ways to do this, but I’m going to concentrate on 2.

CSS Positioning
If you use absolute positioning on your site, then moving the Adsense code around is trivial and I won’t go into it here. ‘Static’ positioning (the default) is tougher and worth a short mention.

Basically, I am going to use the negative margin trick (courtesy a list apart). This very simple example shows how to reverse the position of 2 elements.

Here is the code:

<div style='float: left;width: 200px;margin-top:70px;border:3px green solid'>
Block containing High CTR Adsense Ad, position this at the bottom
</div>
<div style='float: left;margin-left: -200px;width: 200px;border:3px red solid'>
Block containing Low CTR Adsense Ad, position this at the top
</div>

And here is the result:
CSS Positioning

Frames
Sometimes you are stuck with a complicated layout, or a site that uses tables, so CSS positioning is not an option. For this, you can always use frames.

Go to the first Ad in the HTML and copy the Adsense Code to a new text file. Make the code:


<style>body {padding:0px;margin:0px} </style>
-- Your Adsense Code --

The style command is so that the Adsense ad is displayed nicely within the frame. Save the file as ‘google_ad.htm’

Go back to your site, delete the Adsense code for this ad and replace it with:

<iframe DESIGNTIMESP="23032" frameBorder="0" style="width: 120px; height: 240px" id="google_adsense_iframe"></iframe>

(of course, adjust the height & width to the proper size of your ad).

Then at the bottom of the HTML for your site, add this:


<script type="text/javascript">
document.getElementById('google_adsense_iframe').src='google_ad.htm';
</script>

This last bit of javascript sets the source of the frame to your google ad, ensuring it is loaded after the first ad has been displayed. In fact, you might not even need this, and you could just set the src property in the frame & the 2nd ad would still be loaded first. Thats for another day of testing though, ’cause I’m using the method shown & it works for me.

Straight away after making this change, a site that was making $40 a day went to $60 - not bad for a few hours work :)

How to tell if they opened that email you sent

Email newsletters are a great way to connect with your site visitors, whether to tell them about new offers or remind them of existing features. If the emails aren’t getting opened though, then its a total waste.

So how to tell?

Ideally, you don’t want anything too intrusive or that causes the user to get defensive and block you finding out. Lets check out a few options. 

Return Receipts

This is the most common method. It comes built in to almost all email clients, but is very ‘in your face’. Whenever someone requests a return receipt I get a big message ‘This user has requested a return receipt. Allow Yes/No’. I always click ‘No’, and that is the end of that.

Requesting an Image

This method is only slightly more reliable, but a lot sneakier. When you send the email, make sure it is in HTML format and include an image tag that looks like this:

<img src='http://yoursite.com/UserOpenedEmail.aspx?UID=gathadams@gmail.com'>

What you are doing here is displaying an image, but actually requesting a page (UserOpenedEmail.aspx). You are also passing along the email address of the person - this should be the same address that the email was sent to.

When the website yoursite.com gets the page request for UserOpenedEmail.aspx it extracts the email address from the querystring and saves it - indicating that the email sent to that address was opened. The page must then return an image, otherwise the ‘image not found’ red cross will be shown.

So this method is great, right? As soon as the email is opened, or even displayed in the preview pane, then the website is alerted. Well, there are a few problems. The biggest is that all the newest email clients now default to not automatically downloading images. Or the email client could be text only. Less likely these days is the problem of not being connected to the internet when the email is read. Another big problem is that this method seems very underhanded - if your subscribers find you doing it, it is almost guaranteed that they ain’t gonna like it.

Get them back to the site

This method borrows a bit from the previous one, but gets rid of the sneakiness. When you send out the email to your subscriber, include a link to view the text on the website (or download as a pdf). In that link, add their user id. eg:

http://yoursite.com/newsletter.aspx?date=01012007&UID=gathadams@gmail.com

When the user clicks on the link they are taken to the site to read the newsletter. At the same time, you record the email address, indicating that they have opened the email. This method might require to to provide a snippet or teaser of the article to get people interested.

Of course, if you want to make it a little less obvious you are tracking the user then you can store the email addresses in a database & assign a number in place of it.

UID=123
looks less worrying than
UID=gathadams@gmail.com

Of course, don’t spam.

Canary Club

Upstairs at Canary ClubWhen I want to have some food with the drinks, then this is the place. Canary Club is down the end of Melbourne place - you can see the Barcelona-inspired mosiacs from Russell St. Not to be confused with the Hairy Canary (owned by the same people), Canary Club is a Spanish themed bar - think tapas, sangria and flamenco dancing (on Tuesdays).

Upstairs there is a wall of couches/beds which are made for couples. At the end is a large area where a bigger group can comfortably sit & talk to each other. I read somewhere that they have a private room, but I haven’t seen any entrance so that will have to go unconfirmed for the moment.

Richie and Erin from Canary Club Music is standard background bar stuff. No Spanish influence - just staff choice. As for the staff themselves - great. Friendly and attentive with zero attitude (’cept Richie - nah, only kidding). From the wide selection of food & drinks, to the cosy couches, this place has first date all over it.

3 links you must have in your Nav bar

Note: This is a repost of a thread I started on Digital Point

I want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find my sites, and to come back again and again. With that in mind, here are:

3 links you must have in your Nav bar

Make us your homepage
Only works in IE - but this is great. If they click this, then you have them as a constant visitor.

<!--[if IE]>
<a class=’NavHdr’ style=’cursor:hand;’ onMouseOver=”this.style.color=’blue’” onMouseOut=”this.style.color=’black’” href onclick=”this.style.behavior=’url(#default#homepage)’;this.setHomePage(’http://www.yoursite.com’);”>Set as homepage</a>
<![endif]–>


Add to Favorites
This is pretty obvious. Once you are in the favorites list, the chances that the visitor will come back get much higher.

<script type="text/javascript">
function bookmarksite(title, url)
{ if (document.all) window.external.AddFavorite(url, title);
else window.sidebar.addPanel(title, url, "")
}
</script>
<a href="javascript:bookmarksite('Useful Site','http://www.yoursite.com')"></a>
Tell a Friend
This link runs a script that opens up the email client and populates the subject body with info about your site and a link to it. The visitor then just fills in the ‘To’ address, and sends it. Great way to make it easy to spread the word about your site.

<script type="text/javascript">
function TellAFriend() {
var initialsubj="Check it out, this site is great";
var initialmsg="This site is so cool - http://yoursite.com";
window.location = "mailto:?subject="+initialsubj+"&body="+initialmsg; }
</script>
<A href="javascript:TellAFriend()" >Tell a Friend</A>

Introduction

Hi,

Before we get into the Meat, lets do some Greet.

My name is Gath (pronounced Garth, my parents were ‘arty’) Adams and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I create and manage websites for a living. These include:

http://sudoku.com.au - Sudoku puzzles

http://iwantthatflight.com.au - Airfare comparison to get the cheapest Australian airfares.

http://jigsawonline.net - Online jigsaws

http://kakuro.cc - Kakuro puzzles

http://freecrosswordpuzzles.com.au - Crosswords

As well as a bunch of other sites (70 or so, all up). Changing and adding to the sites, feedback from the visitors and working from home all make it a pretty sweet deal. Not terribly social, though. Which is why I also run (with my wife)…

Hidden Bars of Melbourne Tours

Every Thursday night we take a group of 10-20 people around the ‘Hidden’ bars of the Melbourne CBD. All the bars are in back alleys/rooftops/basements - really hard to find. Thursday is the new Friday for me, the tour gets me out of the house & is great fun.

You can check out some photos of the tour here.

Mostly on this blog, I’ll be going on about ways to make money on the web, as well as changes/improvements you can make to sites. But there needs to be some fun stuff too, and I’ll be reporting on some of the news in the bar scene of Melbourne.

Cheers,
Gath