Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Converting MKV files to MP4 with FFMPEG

ffmpeg in action

If you want to watch downloaded movies on your TV instead of on your computer you need to either buy new hardware or convert the movies into a file format that works on your media player. Today I decided to see how easy this was to do.

Why do this? While Blu-rays, for example, play on most computers, few people want to sit and watch the film on the computer. So converting it from a MKV format (after “ripping” the Blu-Ray) to MP4 allows you to pop it on a set-top box (often via USB drive) and watch from your sofa.

The software tested was Ffmpeg. They do a version for us Windows users. It is just a matter of downloading it, decompressing the file and then opening it. No install required.

You can get it here: https://www.ffmpeg.org/download.html for Linux and OSX, or here http://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/ for Windows.

I downloaded the 32-bit static builds (which gave ffmpeg-latest-win32-static.7z) and unpackaged them with 7-Zip (which gave a folder called ffmpeg-20140702-git-42a92a2-win32-static).

Then I opened the folder and double clicked the ff-prompt and this opened a command prompt for Ffmpeg.

Attempt 1

The most basic way to convert a file is to input a command such as this:

ffmpeg -i whatever.mkv whatever.mp4

However, this did not work for me. The file gave an error on my Sony box. It did work on VLC player I think (cannot confirm as I have deleted it).

Attempt 2

This worked, but poor quality (should be OK for ipads and other tablets):

ffmpeg -i input.mkv -acodec aac -ac 2 -strict experimental -ab 160k -s 1920×1080 -vcodec copy -f mp4 -threads 0 output.mp4

What settings to use?

I was scratching my head over the settings and my pal suggested looking at the properties of a file that does work and look good. One movie had these properties:

Video: Frame width 1920, height 800, data rate 1955kbps, total bitrate 2049lbps, frame rate 23 fps. Audio: dit rate: 93 kbps, channels 2 (stereo), audio sample rate 48 khz ……..

Attempt 3

I used some of the above ideas but this new one resulted in blotchy,  pixellated images at some points in the video (it was not bad, might have been OK on a small screen):

>ffmpeg -i S01.Ep03.mkv -acodec aac -ac 2 -strict experimental -ab 160k -s 1920×800 -vcodec copy -f mp4 -threads 0 S01.Ep03.mp4

>ffmpeg -i S01.Ep03.mkv -acodec aac -strict -2 -ab 160k -s 1024×768 -vcodec copy -f mp4 S01.Ep03.mp4

Attempt 4

Because the sound was good but the video poor, I Googled this issues and discovered the qscale setting. Qscale determines the quality of the video. I assume that unless you specify it some other method of compression is used and that over-eggs the video, making it pixellated.

ffmpeg -i S01.Ep03.mkv -acodec aac -strict -2 -ab 160k -s 1920×1080 -qscale:v 3 -f mp4 S01.Ep03.mp4

It took much longer to process and worked OK on PC.

What does this mean?

I only learned today, and admit that I am still a bit confused. But, this is how I understand it…..

  • ffmpeg – means use the ffmped program
  • -i S01.Ep03.mkv – specifies the file that is to be converted
  • -acodec aac -strict -2 -ab 160k – This is the sound conversion. Means use the AAC codec. Not so sure about the other stuff, bit rates, did not really understand what the strict bit does. But it worked.
  • -s 1920×1080 – This sets the resolution of the new file. This ended up being larger than the resolution of my tele, because I think I needed to keep the aspect ratio the same. My tele has a height of 1024 pixels (same width) so I went with a number close to that for the smallest pixel dimension (sorry about bad jargon!)
  • -qscale:v 3 – this is the bees knees. Adding this improved the quality of the image. Qscale works from 1 to about 40, where 1 is top quality and 40 is crap. I might try one with 4 or 5 to see how that goes, but unless you are converting loads it does not really matter. Smaller numbers mean larger file sizes, but 1.5Gb is pretty reasonable.
  • -f mp4 S01.Ep03.mp4 – this sets the destination (new) file.

Result!

Just watched the start of a movie that I converted from the MKV format (original file was about 6Gb) and it looked and sounded great. No pixellation, no blurryness, blotchiness or distorted images at all. What’s more, the resulting MP4 file in only 1.5 Gb.

Sound is Dolby Prologic instead of surround sound, but considering this allows me to watch ripped Blu-rays on my TV media centre it is well worth it.

Yesterday I thought I was going to either have to make do with a laptop connected to my television, or possibly purchase a new TV media player that supports MKV files, or God forbid, buy another cheap Blu-ray player that hums whenever a disc is spun.

But, at zero cost, I converted the files in the a usable format.

Ffmpeg in action

Pretty exciting huh?

ffmpeg in action

ffmpeg in action

 

Poor Memory? Don’t Worry, We Have An App For That

biomimetic device that mimics signal processing function of hippocampal neurons

By-pass of damaged brain region with a biomimetic device.

OK, not an app really, but an implant. Theodore Berger is a neuroscientist and biomedical engineer. He has been studying how the brain stores and transmits long-term memories, and he thinks that after 20 years in the lab he has finally worked it out. Now he is hoping to create an implant which can boost your ability to remember. Read On…

Why are people offering free Netflix accounts?

Free Netflix accountsAnother new spam message this week is for “free netflix accounts”. Netflix is a premium service which provides video streaming to a computer. It started out as a monthly DVD rental company but has since expanded to do streamed video. Some friends use it and love it.

According to their website, you can “Watch TV programmes & films anytime, anywhere” for “Only £5.99 a month”. And the first month is free. It is not exactly a huge amount of cash. So, who are these people offering free Netflix accounts?

Whoever they are, they are certainly up to no good. The first URL I checked returns a 404 page (“This web page is not available”). I guess they have been shut down. Searching Google for “free netflix accounts” brings up about 22 million results – a lot of people are at it!

I really cannot work out what some people are hoping to get in return for these so called free accounts. I assume it is a violation of the service agreement with Netflix too.

One thought is that it could be the result of phishing. People steal account login details and then offer them for free, but somewhere along start spamming the customer with their own products, maybe.

Or then again … I have just found on the Netflix.xom website a page for affiliates. Affiliates are people who sell Netflix accounts for a fee. Netflix also offer the first month free, so maybe it is just poor advertising from affiliates. They are not free accounts at all, just a normal account that is free for the first month?

I just watched a promo video (this is where I got the image above) and they use a computer to do the sales pitch. A sure sign that English is not the first language, but they are selling to an English speaking market nonetheless. Suspicious …..

Next person to say “gta 5 cheats” gets a slap

GTA cheaters are all thick as fu ...I have never played Grand Theft Auto, and certainly do not intend to. A game that is designed to glamorize gang culture where the main player has to go about beating, killing and abusing people to win the game. Not my cup of tea! But, judging by the extraordinary about of spam that has been hitting this blog in recent weeks, I can only assume that a lot of people are playing it, and many are rubbish at it.

In the last week I have had around 100 spam comments from people with names like “gta 5 cheats”, “gta five cheats”, “gta 5 cheats ps3″ and “gta 4 Cheats pc”. Very odd names. They all also just happen to have a blog that talks about …. cheating on Grand Theft Auto, part 5.

I have never understood why people cheat in games. The fun of a game is solving the puzzles, isn’t it? Unless most players just enjoy thrashing pedestrians to within an inch of their lives, and then a little more, and cannot get a bigger stick without solving the boring puzzles!

I just took a look at one of these sites – it is a one page Blogspot blog, and they offer a download to get “All the Awesome GTA 4 Cheats You’ve Been Looking for”. Another weirdly interesting quote from that site:

“No, I don’t find it quite baffling that every bit of my social life is about finding cheats for GTA 4. I play the game quite a lot. Okay, that’s wrong. I play it all the time. It’s the one thing that’s constant because I’ve made friends from talking to people about GTA 4 cheats. And I’m not ashamed about admitting that either.”

A person plays the game all the time, but still cannot work out how to play it properly? I certainly find that baffling.

And, I have just noticed, a mix of GTA 4 and 5. Seems that the last game was hard to complete without cheating too.

If you are reading this and licking your lips at the opportunity to get a link to your GTA 5 cheat page, stop licking. I have just added “GTA” to the auto-spam list. Bad luck. Although I am now wondering what other words will land in the spam bucket now …. pigtails, ragtag, ringtails ….I think the community will survive.

 

 

You may have disabled javascript. Please enable javascript before leaving a comment on this site. : Error Code: nc03

If you see this error when trying to leave a comment on a website it is caused (at least in some cases) by the Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin:

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I was alerted to it by a commenter who tried and failed to comment. I have updated the rowmap Anti Spambot Plugin to Version 1.5.5 but the problem still happens. So it has been de-activated on all blogs where I run it.

No idea of a solution at the moment, other than to not use it.

Facebook buys WhatsApp

Facebook are buying WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia, according to their website description. See Whatsapp.com to learn more.

Only the other day I heard that most messages sent via Facebook are now mobile to mobile messages. They must be hurting mobile provider revenues now. Almost everybody I know has a smartphone and most chat via Facebook instead of SMS.

Mark Z said:

I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire WhatsApp and that their entire team will be joining us at Facebook.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want. WhatsApp will help us do this by continuing to develop a service that people around the world love to use every day.

WhatsApp is a simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service that is used by over 450 million people on every major mobile platform. More than 1 million people sign up for WhatsApp every day and it is on its way to connecting one billion people. More and more people rely on WhatsApp to communicate with all of their contacts every day.

WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook. The product roadmap will remain unchanged and the team is going to stay in Mountain View. Over the next few years, we’re going to work hard to help WhatsApp grow and connect the whole world. We also expect that WhatsApp will add to our efforts forInternet.org, our partnership to make basic internet services affordable for everyone.

WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.

WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I’m thrilled that they chose to work with us. I’m looking forward to what Facebook and WhatsApp can do together, and to developing great new mobile services that give people even more options for connecting.

I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected. I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s.

Jan and the WhatsApp team have done some amazing work to connect almost half a billion people. I can’t wait for them to join Facebook and help us connect the rest of the world.

Most stupid guest post request of the day

I get a lot of people asking to publish their content on my website. Why they think their drivel is more valuable than my domain is beyond me. Today’s request is really a masterpiece in how not to suck at asking for a guest blog.

I am in two minds here. Do I show the full email or remove their name and website? Hmmmm.

Here it is. Added some *’s to disguise the Blogger.

Hello Admin,

Hope you are doing great..!!!

I am Alice M*s*n,Writer and Blogger.

I was gone through some  of the sites yesterday , from there I came across your site and I read your  site thoroughly. I came to know that you are also accepting guest post so that I am pitching you to share some new and unique ideas with your readers.

I like your blog very much and also wondering to be a part of your blog by sharing my articles on your blog.

I have articles on “Health” and I like to publish my articles on your blog. Please let me know your response so that I can send you a draft for review. If you need, you can check my articles on this sites :

http://thespiritualhealth.com/the-benefits-of-the-daily-prayer/

thespiritualhealth.com/what-are-the-ultimate-benefits-of-creatine-kinase/“.

Please review the links and let me know your response ASAP.
Waiting for your quick and positive response.

Thanks
Alice M*s*n

So, where did Alice go wrong?

Everybloodywhere!

My name is not admin. This would be really apparent to anybody who had looked at the site she was referring to (hint – not this site, but one related to healthy living).

Writer and Blogger? OK, good on a CV, maybe, or LinkedIn. But in an intro? Nah. I want to hear about skills and qualifications, e.g. I am a registered dietician and triathlete. That would be interesting person to have writing for me.

“I was gone through some  of the sites yesterday , from there I came across your site and I read your  site thoroughly.”

First line is poorly written, has double spaces in sentences, space before a comma, and makes little sense. Reads like crap and stinks of bullshit.

“I like your blog very much”.

This is the guest blogging equivalent of “Me love you long time

But the Pièce de résistance are the examples. “The Benefits of the Daily Prayer”. Ignoring the fact that it looks like they bought the web template from a eight year old on Fiverr, what a bizarre article to choose to give as an example. My health site attempts to cut out all the BS from health, and releigion certainly has no part (other than the importance of positive thinking in performance and the placebo effect of course).

But even that article is total nonsense.

“finishing it off with a daily prayer can be as relaxing and as re-energizing as a hot bath or even a short nap.”

Apart from being utter bollocks, why would anybody wish to finish off the day with a something akin to a power nap? Surely that would leave you suffering from insomnia.

This article was such tripe that I almost forgot to read their insightful review of creatine kinase, which is on the same website. This is more on topic, so lets see how good this expert in nutrition is….

Well, the article is poorly written drivel, with insights such as “CK plays a vital role in increasing hormonal growth to a greater extent” and “It truly adds up to speed and strength to recover number of diseases such as muscle atrophy, dystrophy and can also interact with caffeine and alcohol.”

But the most intriguing part is the author bio line:

“Steve Broomes is a health blogger, fitness entrepreneur and also works as a gym instructor”

Hey? So Alice is also called Steve?

All too confusing,

In the words of Duncan Bannatyne, I’m ooot.

This Is The Web, Not The End Of The Line

One thing that has really struck me in the last couple of years, mostly since I started guest blogging and receiving some guest posts, is that so many people seem to have forgotten that this is the web.

This series of HTML pages hosted on various computers for public viewing was termed the web because of the way websites would link to each other, so that people could find other related (and sometimes unrelated but interesting) sites to look at. Before the rise of the search engines and their predecessors, the web directories, this was how people discovered new websites – along with “word of mouth” of course, which would have been done via email and chat rooms.

However, today so many webmasters (why never the term web-journeyman or web-apprentice I wonder – everybody is a master from day 1?) consider the rest of the web to have one single purpose – to deliver visitors to their site, and end point on the web.

The trend of people writing about topics which they are not an expert in and then not referencing where their facts and opinions come from continues to rise. I receive so many requests for guest posts these days, and just the suggestion that they reference what they write sends most writers (or are then all content marketers now?) running.

I say, stop this silliness now! This is the web. If you wish to be favoured by it, ensure that you are a part of it.

Link to others as you would have them link to you! Do you really think that if you do not link to other websites all your readers will really respect that and stay forever on your site, clicking your ads and buying your products? No, of course not – they will still leave.

Linking out to other sites ensures that people can still surf the web - an art which is surely dying. Many newspapers are as much at fault for not linking out these days, it is not just affiliate bloggers and MFA webmasters. 

That’s all I have to say. Be a part of the web and maybe the web will like you the better for it.

Creating An Image Map With GIMP

Today I decided it was time I learned (or re-learned, I did it once before) how to make an image map. I searched the web for options and GIMP seemed to be the best one to go for as I use it for my image editing.

Here is the result:

Click the Place You Want To Go To

How To Make The Image Map

  1. Open an Image in GIMP
  2. Resize so that it fits on your web page – if your CMS auto-shrinks image this will screw it up (I think). I made mine 480px to be sure it would fit nicely
  3. Go to Filters > Web > Image Map
  4. Choose your shape – in the above example I just used rectangles.
  5. Use the mouse to place your shape. If using circle, start in the centre of the circle area.
  6. Once the shape is made, double click. This opens a box where you can add the URL (or other link) in the Link Tab and a onmouseover message in the Javascript tab.
  7. Once all shapes and URLs are added select View > Source
  8. Copy the source and paste into your website. Add the image URL where it says “<img src=”Untitled” width=”480″ height=”600″ border=”0″ usemap=”#map” />”
  9. If using WordPress you can upload an image to the Media Library and take the URL from there, or upload to the page and then strip out all other code to get the image path URL.
  10. Publish.

Problems and Annoyances

  1. The image map code below the image it creates a blank space which looks naff. Trying to find a solution to this. >>> I have moved the code to the bottom of the article, will see if WordPress has a post/page level footer insert plugin …. 
  2. I am struggling to get the onmouseover working. Solution / workaround:
  3. In WordPress use title=”” instead of onmouseover=”” to show text on hover.
  4. Some WordPress themes break image maps, e.g. Webologist usually uses Magazine Basic, but the position of the image if off line. Now using Twenty Twelve, which is a bit naff tbh.





The Past, Present And Future Of The Mobile Gambling Industry

Mobile gamingThe mobile gambling market is a massive industry and one of vital importance to gambling and sports betting brands alike. Although the mobile market is relatively young, its popularity has already been hugely influential on gaming trends.

Players have begun to move away from their PC devices and have focused their attentions on smartphones and tablets. Experts are predicting a huge influx of mobile gamblers, with combined mobile and tablet sales reaching 1.9 million last year, and outperforming traditional PCs by five times. According to Gartner, 470,000 tablets and 2.1 million mobiles will be sold in 2017, meaning that mobile gambling could outperform more traditional methods of betting.

Mobile experts Juniper Research have revealed that mobile gaming is the fastest performing sector in the gambling market as a whole, with the mobile gambling market expected to be worth over $100 billion by 2017. This growth is due to the increase in smartphone access, with two-thirds of the British population now owning one of these mobile devices.

Prior to the rise in smartphone technology, access to online gambling products was limited. According to Poker.co.uk: “The advancement in technology and rise in popularity of smartphone devices has allowed… players to enjoy their favourite games through mobile applications that are downloadable straight to their phones.” The site went on to state that this move has boosted the online gambling industry, as “not only does the move into mobile gambling applications give players easier access to their favourite…games without having to compromise on their gaming experience, but it also provides financial benefits” for the gambling operators.

However, as the online gambling industry in the UK approaches the £2 billion mark problem gambling is set to increase. The number of British people at risk of developing issues with gambling has reached almost one million, whilst gambling addicts have doubled in the course of six years, standing at nearly 500,000. However, new proposals to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill were announced in the Queen’s Speech. These changes increase the regulation that gambling operators face and will give players better protection, as for the first time UK and overseas operators will have to inform the UK Gambling Commission of suspicious betting patterns and help fund efforts to stop them.

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and Tourism stated that the changes “are an important measure to help address concerns about problem gambling and to bridge a regulatory gap, by ensuring that British consumers will enjoy consistent standards of protection, no matter which gambling site they visit.”

As legislation adapts to protect consumers from the possible effects of easier access to real money gambling, the mobile gambling industry continues to grow despite increased regulation, thanks in no small part to constant technological advancements.

As technology improves all the time, we may soon get to the point where [mobile] outperforms the traditional PC as the preferred mode of placing a bet, playing poker or enjoying various casino-type games,” states Brian Wright, the Director of the Remote Gambling Association. “Ever since the launch of 3G data services, mobile gambling has been a key priority for operators as they concentrate on delivering new betting experiences for their customers. In terms of the future, the rollout of 4G phones, with its ultra-fast wireless connection will only see the importance and popularity of mobile gambling grow further in the years to come.

Extending Your Internet At Home And Connecting Your TV iPlayer

Victoria Wood's Nice Cup Of Tea on iPlayer

Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup Of Tea – on iPlayer, my Television, downstairs far away from my Internet router!

Last month I return to BT. In fact, it is the first time BT has been my ISP (Interner Service Provider). Anyway, as Entanet could not offer me unlimited broadband I bought BT’s new Unlimited Infinity service. It means my Internet speed has increased from 16Mb/s to around 36 MB/s too. Although so far I have not actually noticed any major difference. So, to the set up.

Like all BT Infinity customers I have my Internet coming through a new face plate on the wall. Main bonus of this means that there is no longer a need for an ADSL microfilter for each telephone.

Now, my Internet comes into the upstairs office. I have a Netgear Wireless Access Point connected to the BT Home Hub 3 (free with Infinity, it comes with 4 ethernet ports – I use 2 for computers, 1 for wireless access point and 1 for the powerline homplug), because the wireless connection on the Home Hub was not good enough to reach the living room (at least, not a strong signal). But this did not allow me to connect my Humax Foxsat HDr 320Gb Freesat Hd Recorder + Iplayer to the Internet so I could not watch BBC iPlayer or the ITV player on the box.

The Solution – Powerline Homeplugs

I think “Powerline” and “Homeplug” were actually 2 different standards but they are now one and the same, at least that is what I understand from reading Wikepedia’s page on HomePlug Powerline Alliance and also the www.homeplug.org/home/ website.

These plugs allow you to extend your Internet over your electrical wiring at home. They come in various shapes and sizes, from simple 85Mbps plus to 200Mbps and 500bps. Some also have wireless on them too, and some are “pass through” which simple means that you can plug other devices into them, so do not lose a plug socked.

I was a little worried that it wound not extend downstairs as I have a few circuits in the home, but I think now that all plugs is on the same circuit (kitchen may be separate).

 TP-Link AV500 Powerline

TP Link AV500 Powerline

I ignored the manual and the cd (a really little one!) and just plugged in. All works fine.

After a lot of reading around I opted for TP-Link AV500+ Gigabit Powerline Adapters with AC Pass Through (Model TL-PA551KIT). I got the starter kit with two in, which is the minimum.

I chose the TP-Link AV500 because it is the fastest one on the market and has the AC pass throughs. As I also had a spare wireless router there was no need to pay extra for built in wireless. It also means that I have another 3 ethernet ports on downstairs which can be used for other computers if I need a faster connection.

You simply connect one it to a wall socket near your Internet router and the other in a wall socket wherever you need it – behind the satellite box / television, by another computer etc. Connect the first to your router and the other to your PC or television / set-top box as normal. Hey presto, instant Internet!

Adding Wireless

Belkin router with wireless

Note: only the Router and Wireless lights should show, not the ADSL as it is not picking up the external Internet connection, just extending from your other router.

I had a spare router, so I added my Belkin wireless router to the downstairs socket, and then connect the router to the Humax box. I had to set up the wireless again though, so had to reconnect it to my PC, go to http://192.168.2.1/index.htm (where the Belkin router settings / admin are available) and enable wireless. I decided to change the router wireless ID to “Downstairs” so that it was clear which wireless was which (although the other is still NETGEAR).

If you chose a powerline / homeplug with wireless this will all be set up for you already. I only chose one wihout as I have a spare wireless router.

That is it really. So to recap:

Your Internet Router Connects to the first Homeplug (as well as your PC, wireless router etc.).

Your other Homeplug connects to a Wireless Router

The Wireless Router connects to your television / set-top box.

Of course, if you do not want extra wireless, you just connect the homeplug straight into your television / set-top box which has iPlayer or similar.

See iPlayer on the Downstairs Tele in Action!

This is possibly one of the worse videos you will ever watch. Blurry, shakey, no sound etc. The aim of the video is to demonstrate that iPlayer does indeed now work on the downstairs TV. I put on The Adventures of Abney and Teal as that is one of my son’s favourites at the moment. Big bonus – I no longer need to fill up the hard drive with Cbeebies programs!

How To Succeed At Crowdfunding

A Guest Post from Midwest Investment NetWork.

Entrepreneurial finance has seen rapid changes in the past few years. The future is very bright indeed for crowdfunding or rather reward-based crowd funding. In reward-based crowdfunding, you cannot offer someone a share of your company’s future profits. In return for contributions, you can either offer your supporters an intangible benefit (such as a thank you, a mention of the contributor’s name in credits, inclusion of name in online supporter list, etc.) or a tangible benefit such as T shirts, an autographed book copy, a download of your movie or music as a reward for contributing to your project.

While crowdfunding is a great way to raise capital, a lot of preparation and thought must go into creating a crowdfunding campaign that will actually bring in the money.

Speak to people who have crowdfunded

If you know someone who has succeeded in raising money through crowdfunding, you can speak to that person and get some advice. The most important ingredient that most people who were successful at crowdfunding will attest to is hard work. Before your campaign goes underway, try to get a team together and share responsibilities. Someone should always be available to speak to people and answer questions that your supporters may raise online.

All contributions should be public

Let’s consider that you want to make a short film and you need money to produce it. Normally, you would approach your family and some friends to back your project financially. You can approach your family and friends but wait for until the project is launched and then ask to contribute to your project through your online page.

Unlike traditional businesses, with crowd funding, people often contribute to your project publicly. Note that more raised inside of your campaign, more traction the project achieves and more support you get from people who are yet undecided whether they should support your project or not.

Don’t Be Anonymous

Note that your supporters are not only interested in your project; they also want to know about you. Crowdfunding campaigns should never be run anonymously. Upload pictures. Better still connect through Facebook. Update your profile. If it is appropriate, you can also reach out to groups who might take a special interest in your project, not only for financial support but also to promote your project in their areas of influence.

Prepare a Break-Even Analysis

If you are crowdfunding through a popular portal, and you have decided that you want a certain amount of money, note that you may have to pay transaction costs and commissions to the site, after the campaign gets funded successfully. You may also have to produce the rewards (especially tangible ones) and deliver them.

A break-even analysis can help you understand if your target is too low. Keep your rewards unique. As the funding is underway, post updates regularly, and keep your supporters involved throughout. Address their concerns and answer questions promptly. Note that if you plan another campaign sometime later, you might need their help again.

Featured images:

The guest post was written by Mike from midwestinvestmentnetwork.com. Mike is an expert in raising start up capital for companies online and offline as an entrepreneur himself. 

5 Fundamental Link Building Mistakes In 2013

It’s an unfortunate reality that SEO isn’t an exact science. It’s also a skill in an industry that is constantly evolving. We’re all taught different strategies during our careers; however these are often dependant on either budget, or the previous experience of your superiors.

As an affiliate marketer my initial understanding of link building was non-existent, but over the years I focused on uncovering “the secrets of link building” which progressed very quickly from directory submissions to outreach, link bait and other strategies that are still working to this day.

In this post I’d like to dispel some of the most common link building errors that I still see on a regular basis. In a post-penguin world we all need to be a bit more careful and acknowledge that link building en-masse simply isn’t a sustainable strategy.

1 – Not Linking Out

It’s a common misconception that linking to external sites is bad for your SEO. This usually manifests itself in three forms: A loss of organic visibility, loss of pagerank or losing the user to an external site.

However most sites brand and authority sites link to external resources. Below is a snippet from one of the BBC’s latest news articles. It contains 4 external links, none of which are “nofollow’d”. Wikipedia includes citations and external links whenever appropriate as well.

As long as you’re not linking out to malware infested, pop-up loving sites that revolve around adult entertainment and illegal content, odds are you’ll be increasing your visibility within the SERPS rather than decreasing it.

2 – Focusing on One Link Building Strategy

A few years back directory submissions were the flavour of the month, article submissions had their 5 minutes of fame and blog commenting pre-nofollow days resulted in outstanding results.

Diversity is key when actively building links. Natural profiles usually consist of a mixture of all types of links, earned and built as well as anchor text diversity (covered below).

What’s the current strategy of choice?

A lot of SEO strategies are now increasingly reliant on guest posting. While there is no fundamental issue with high quality guest posts submitted to on-topic sites with genuine reader bases, the issue occurs when agencies and service sellers start trying to mass-produce guest posts, cutting costs and quality suffers.

Diversify your link building strategies, aim to get editorially earned links, share your content freely and encourage sharing both socially and via outreach.

3 – Lack of Anchor Text Diversity

In high competition niches, anchor text abuse is a common sighting. Insurance websites are particularly guilty of heinous crime.

Looking at the top 10 results for Car Insurance in the UK you can see just how heavily they weigh on exact match anchor text.

Larger brands will get away with this to a certain degree, but those that are too obvious will be penalised. Try to build brand led links and semantically related anchor text, and don’t forget your “junk” terms like “click here” etc.

4 – Focusing Heavily on “DoFollow” Links

Matt Cutts has stated on numerous occasions that the nofollow attribute results in a link not passing along PageRank, it also results in the anchor text being ignored, except on the odd occasion due to a bug.

However, one could argue that having a link profile that consisted entirely of “dofollow” links would also look abnormal.

Once again I’ve taken a look at the top 10 results for “car insurance” in the UK and you can see the percentage of NoFollow links varies wildly from 1.41% up to 30.86%.

Other case studies have shown that building NoFollow links has resulted in an overall increase to visibility. This could however be due to another algorithmic factor that takes the number of do/nofollow links into consideration. When building links, where possible, try to get a dofollow link, but don’t neglect the benefits of a nofollow link from certain sites.

5 – Using Public Link Networks

It seems a given, but every few months Google comes around and wipes another popular link network of the face of the planet. The Russian SAPE network is rumoured to be one of the next networks to be taken down, but as of yet it still seems to be working.

@dannysullivan @seocom just another day at the office for me. :) Okay, gotta look at some really naughty Russian link selling software now.

— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 13, 2013

It should go without saying, but using network links on your client sites is not only immoral, but it reduces the credibility for other SEO’s that put the hard work in. If you can’t rank the site legitimately, then don’t risk your client’s livelihood over a couple of bucks.

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Sebastian Cowie is a freelance SEO expert and founder of SebastianCowie.com. He spends most of his time focusing on link building strategies and working on his affiliate projects. He occasionally comes of out of SEO hermit hole and if you’re lucky, you may catch one of his contributions on SEO sites around the globe.

E-Faux Pas: Wonderful Blunders Of The Tech Kind

The E-Faux Pas is one of the most painfully embarrassing developments of the technological age, and one of the most common, too. We’ve all been there: The colour drains from your cheeks, you break into a cold sweat and that the rush of panic runs through your body like a freight train. And it usually happens because you’re not paying attention or using your common sense when you’re using technology.

There are great stories out there about the technological social faux pas, and more often than not, they are absolutely hilarious. Texting your Mum instead of your girlfriend? Ouch. E-Mailing your boss instead of a work colleague when you’re feeling particularly venomous towards them that day? Painful. When it’s not you who’s committing these crimes of social embarrassment, they make for fantastic tales to tell. When it happens to you, the likelihood is that you are likely to disappear from the face of the earth for a while. If people want to find you, they should check under the sand, because that’s where your head will be buried.

Text Message

“Hey sexy, how r u? Looking forward to seeing you later for a party for two. Xxx”

Text sent.

To your Mum.

Time to look for somewhere else to live.

Mobile phones should come with an Artificial Intelligence ‘Don’t Be an Idiot’ function that is somehow able to work out when you are being a muppet and sending a text to the wrong person, because human beings certainly don’t seem to have this function.

How many times have you been sent a text message that simply reads: “I don’t think that text was meant for me” and felt the sickness and panic take over your body, before quickly running through your sent box to find the incriminating evidence. This is sometimes down to a lack of awareness, but often it is because of alcohol, the arch-villain of common sense and instigator of the worst e-faux pas’.

Social Media

Once a couple of Shandy’s have found their way into your bloodstream, you may suddenly feel the urge to tell everybody on your phone and on your social media profiles that you love them… or the opposite. Looking through a drunk persons Twitter feed or Facebook statuses reads like the ramblings of a person who is desperately aiming for an entry into the Stupidity Hall of Fame.

When you wake up the next day and check over your activity, it is not uncommon to find a few Likes or Retweets, a few ‘Tut-Tut’ style responses, a few declarations of war, and a few less Followers… And that’s if you’re lucky. It’s from this moment that the awkwardness and apologies begin.

Leaving the alcohol induced stories out of the equation; there are plenty of social media faux pas that can happen without being intoxicated. There is the now legendary cautionary tale of the girl who took to Facebook to complain about her boss, only to be met with a response from the boss, who she had clearly forgotten she had added as a Friend. D’oh. So many other people have made similar errors; they just haven’t gone quite as viral as that social media cock-up classic.

E-Mail

E-mails – like text messages – can quite easily be misconstrued if they are short and to the point or use words that could come across as aggressive or negative. Spelling and grammar errors certainly don’t help. In 2007, whilst working for a Business Travel company, James Francis was sending an email to a client about a particular booking that he had arranged with a hotel, and the purpose of the email was – for all intents and purposes – to show off and seek praise.

This would have been great, had the email not been signed off with: “Kind Retards, James Francis.”

Political incorrectness aside, it must have been slightly confusing when the client checked his emails and found a nice long email detailing his hotel booking, only to be met with an admission with James Francis was very complimentary about the mentally challenged.

Did James get a response?

“It was completely ignored,” he said. “But I wanted to die. I kept reading the email in my Sent items, hoping that the next time I looked at the email it would somehow change to ‘kind regards’ and my heart could go back to less than a million beats per minute. It was horrible.

There you have it, three different kinds of social faux pas crimes, all committed via technology. We’ve all been there, and the chances are we’ll be there again. Let us know your e-faux pas (if you dare) below:

Sophie works alongside Abtec (www.abtecnet.com), a company specialising in IT support in Leicester, Birmingham and Leeds. Over the years she has fallen foul of a few tech-based blunders herself, therefore understands the importance of checking before you send!