ghacks – gHacks Technology News http://www.ghacks.net The independent technology news blog Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:43:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Help us test the new Ghacks theme http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/help-us-test-the-new-ghacks-theme/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/09/help-us-test-the-new-ghacks-theme/#comments Thu, 09 Mar 2017 11:38:55 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131041 You have probably read about it already: we are planing to release a new theme for Ghacks soon. Since this is a rather delicate thing to do, not only to avoid angering or irritating users of the site, but also making sure that functionality is retained, that everything loads fine, that there are not any […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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You have probably read about it already: we are planing to release a new theme for Ghacks soon.

Since this is a rather delicate thing to do, not only to avoid angering or irritating users of the site, but also making sure that functionality is retained, that everything loads fine, that there are not any breaking issues, and that the site will do fine SEO-wise just like before, it is important to test the new theme thoroughly before release.

I'd like to ask you to give it a try, and let me know what you think of it. Also, please let me know of any bugs or issues that you encounter, as well as improvements that you would like to see.

To test the site using the new theme, use the following URL: http://www.ghacks.net/?theme=ghacks

Please note that you need to append ?theme=ghacks manually to URLs as it is not carried over to pages that you open.

ghacks new theme

Here are four links, one to the homepage, one to an article page, one to a page, and one to a category page for your convenience:

What I'm particularly interested in:

  1. If the fonts used, new article width, and other article related changes work for you.
  2. If a page does not load or looks problematic in one way or the other (e.g. sidebar not on the right, but below the article).
  3. If you encounter any issues while browsing the side, e.g. stuttering, images not displaying, comments not working properly.
  4. The loading time on your end (faster, slower) If slower, help us out by pressing F12, and checking the network tab of the Developer Tools to find the elements that took the longest to load.
  5. Your overall opinion on the theme and the change.
  6. If you are proficient when it comes to SEO, if you notice any issues related to that (e.g. nofollow links, robots text incorrectly configured, redirects, missing tags, bad use of headlines, aso).

Why a new theme?

You are probably wondering why I have decided to launch a new theme. We have used the old one for a couple of years now, and while it works fine, it is not suitable anymore for a number of reasons when it comes to the tech it uses.

First, it is rather heavyweight, with lots of scripts and CSS code that prolongs load times and is heavier on the resource side of things than it should be.

The new theme has been designed from the ground up, by Daniel Pataki, a former Ghacks author, to be modern in regards to technology, and super efficient when it comes to the use of images, JavaScript and CSS.

It is much leaner than the old one using fewer requests, fewer JavaScript libraries, fewer images, and the loading time should be a lot better because of this.

I wanted a theme that retains the overall feel of the site however. I know, as a user, that new designs that change everything around are not liked a lot. We tried to retain much of the look and feel of the old site.

Some things are different of course, but the changes are, in my opinion, not overly drastic or problematic.

I also wanted to move the main ad displayed underneath the title. This is an experiment right now. I don't really like the location of that ad at all. It depends however on whether the new placement for the ad -- in the rightmost header area -- works earnings wise. I'm prepared to accept a dip in earnings, but if the dip is too large, I will have to move it back to the original location.

I'd like to thank each and everyone of you who will help me test the site.

Issues that we are aware of:

  1. The comment form does not show up if there is no comment yet.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Ghacks in 2017, and a look back http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/31/ghacks-in-2017-and-a-look-back/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/12/31/ghacks-in-2017-and-a-look-back/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2016 05:31:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=127938 It is the last day of the year, a good time to look ahead at what is in store for Ghacks in the year 2017, and to look back at the last year. I'd like to begin with the last year, but before I do, I'd like to thank each and every one of you […]

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It is the last day of the year, a good time to look ahead at what is in store for Ghacks in the year 2017, and to look back at the last year.

I'd like to begin with the last year, but before I do, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for making this site what it is.

I was overwhelmed by the support I got when I wrote about this site potentially dying in 2015. I cannot thank each and everyone enough for their support.

I'd like to update you on that. First, things are better right now as Google seems to have made some tweaks that for once benefited this site. I also did make some choices in regards to advertisement here on this site that helped improve revenue generation.

While that is very positive, things may and probably will turn to the worse eventually again. My drive to make this site independent from search engine traffic continues because of that.

The ad-blocking situation has not gotten any better, as more than 46% of visitors of this site block ads currently. My take away from this is that I have to concentrate my efforts on other means of revenue, as this will probably only get worse with any passing year.

For now, you can support Ghacks with a PayPal or Bitcoin donation, or by becoming a supporter on Patreon. I'd like to explore other options, especially since I'm not that fond of how Patreon is handling things (and they get a cut as well). If you have any suggestions in this regard, let me know.

Ghacks in 2017

The financial outlook is quite good. Again, this may change any moment, but assuming that it does not, this site will do well in 2017 and won't just disappear from the Internet.

I have a couple of plans for 2017 which I would like to discuss with you. Also, I would like to hear your opinion on how things are, and what you would like for the site in the coming year.

New Theme

Yes, that reads almost like a joke right now. We have been working for a long time on the theme, and if things don't get complicated, it will be rolled out in January 2017. It is a modern remake of the classic theme of this site, optimized for speed by cutting most third-party connections, images, and other code that is not required. So, no third-party fonts, emojis and stuff like that.

Once it is up, I have to monitor the site's metrics to make sure the theme change did not affect them.  If that is not the case, it will be the new theme for the site from that point going forward.

Article Updates

ghacks articles

17295 articles are currently published on Ghacks Technology News. I try my best to keep important ones up to date, but this is quite difficult as Ghacks is not backed by a multi-million or even billion Dollar company that has dozens of staffers for that.

I want to update articles, and will do so continuously throughout the year. You may have noticed the new "recent updates" section in the sidebar already. This will feature important updates only.

I'm looking for help with improving older articles on the site. You have two options for that. First, you can contact me about any article you came upon that you think needs an update. Ideally, you'd let me know why you think it needs an update (e.g. new version out with new functionality, broken links, software is commercial now, no longer needed..)

I put it on the list, and it will be updated eventually.

Second, you could update articles yourself, and mail me the updated version. This would be of tremendous help, especially if you are proficient when it comes to a topic. Many of you are probably more proficient than I'm, so getting your input on topics would be invaluable.

HTTPS

ghacks https

The main reason why HTTPS is not the default on Ghacks right now is because of advertisement. Or more precisely, because of a single advertiser who has yet to support HTTPS fully. A test revealed that advertising revenue from ads by that company dropped by 50% after switching to HTTPS.

For now, both HTTP and HTTPS are available. I removed the enforcement of HTTP recently. You should be able to browse the site via HTTPS by changing the protocol in the address bar, or by using a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere.

I'm waiting for this advertiser to support HTTPS fully, and will make it the default afterwards. If the advertiser happens to wait too long with that, I'll enable HTTPS anyway as companies like Google and Mozilla will make life difficult for non-HTTP sites in 2017.

Suggestions

I'm always open for suggestions. If you have ideas for this site, let me know. I plan to write more Linux articles in 2017 for one.

I'm also always interested in your articles. If you like to write articles, and their quality is good, I would be more than happy to publish them here on this site. Obviously, they had to fit with the content but that is the only restriction.

I'm especially interested in someone taking over the Linux section. Jack wrote more than a thousand articles in the past, but they have not been updated for years. It would be great if those articles would be updated if necessary.

Anyway, if you have suggestions, I would love to hear them.

I wish you a great 2017.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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This Is Ghacks (Stats April 2016) http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/05/this-is-ghacks-stats-april-2016/ http://www.ghacks.net/2016/04/05/this-is-ghacks-stats-april-2016/#comments Tue, 05 Apr 2016 18:41:19 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=120768 I have published quite a few articles over the years in which I analyzed the rise and decline of operating systems or web browsers, but never really revealed how the situation looks here on Ghacks. What's the top web browser that visits Ghacks, the number one operating system, or the top mobile operating system? This […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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I have published quite a few articles over the years in which I analyzed the rise and decline of operating systems or web browsers, but never really revealed how the situation looks here on Ghacks.

What's the top web browser that visits Ghacks, the number one operating system, or the top mobile operating system?

This article answers some of these questions (and a few more). Stats have been collected by Google Analytics in the past 30 day period. Please note that users who run ad blockers are usually blocking Google Analytics as well which means that this is not a 100% accurate representation.

More than 40% of Ghacks visitors use adblockers which means in worst case that about 40% of visits are missing from the stats.

ghacks-technology-news

Operating systems

The Windows family is in the top position with 71.70% of all recorded visits in the past 30 days followed by Google Android with 10.05% and Apple Macintosh with 6.28%.

  1. Windows: 71.70%
  2. Android: 10.05%
  3. Macintosh: 6.28%
  4. iOS: 5.80%
  5. Linux: 4.44%

Macintosh seems surprisingly high considering that I don't write about Apple or Mac systems at all. The only explanation I have for that is that Mac users are interested in browser, privacy and Internet coverage that is done here on this site.

Fun facts: 0.02% use Nokia devices, 0.11% BlackBerry, 0.26% Chrome OS and 0.51% Windows Phone.

A look at the Windows editions reveals that Windows 10 is the most used operating system, followed by Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

  1. Windows 10: 42.56%
  2. Windows 7: 41.02%
  3. Windows 8.1: 10.91%
  4. Windows XP: 2.79%
  5. Windows 8: 1.55%
  6. Windows Vista: 0.99%

Windows 10's high ranking comes as a surprise but may be explained by the articles that I have published in the past months covering the operating system.

Most usage tracking services see Windows 10 at less than 20% currently. The only exception to that is Steam which sees Windows 10 at about 40% as well.

Fun facts: 0.01% use Windows 2000 or Windows NT

Web Browsers

The most popular web browser used to access Ghacks Technology News is Google Chrome, followed by Firefox, and then Internet Explorer.

  1. Google Chrome: 53.53%
  2. Firefox: 21.96%
  3. Internet Explorer: 8.20%
  4. Safari: 7.07%
  5. Edge: 4.19%
  6. Opera: 1.69%

Please note that mobile and desktop browsers are mixed which explains why Chrome and Safari are doing better / well.

Also, many Chromium-based and Firefox-based web browsers such as Vivaldi or Pale Moon are not listed separately but included in those ratings above.

Edge is not doing overly well if you consider that more than 40% of Windows users who visited the site use Windows 10

Fun facts: SeaMonkey sits at 0.04% and Maxthon at 0.16%, and there have been some Netscape connections as well.

Screen Resolution

This is probably not as interesting as web browser and operating system stats.

  1. 1920x1080: 21.83%
  2. 1366x768: 18.09%
  3. 360x640: 5.42%
  4. 1600x900: 5,16%
  5. 1024x768: 4.77

Surprisingly enough, many visitors run lower resolutions than I expected.

Fun facts: The largest resolution that is statistically relevant is 3840x2160 with 0.09% of all visits. There were connections with a resolution of 1600x20000 but that sounds kinda fake. There are some weird resolutions in the report, for instance 1067x600, 962x601 or 403x617.

Now You: Did you expect this result?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Ghacks turns 10: a look at the past, present and future of the site http://www.ghacks.net/2015/10/03/ghacks-turns-10-a-look-at-the-past-present-and-future-of-the-site/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/10/03/ghacks-turns-10-a-look-at-the-past-present-and-future-of-the-site/#comments Sat, 03 Oct 2015 07:04:55 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=116414 When I posted Welcome to Ghacks on October 3, 2005 I did not know what to expect from this site. It was my first blog and initially designed to provide information about software that a friend of mine was creating. I had previous experience on the Internet, ran a successful web forum for instance for […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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When I posted Welcome to Ghacks on October 3, 2005 I did not know what to expect from this site. It was my first blog and initially designed to provide information about software that a friend of mine was creating.

I had previous experience on the Internet, ran a successful web forum for instance for a long time, but the blog was different and about to change my life.

I began to write about things in tech that interested me, tweaks, how-to articles, news, all that good stuff. One day I decided to add Google Adsense to the site, and it was on that day that the site got promoted to the Digg frontpage for the first time.

Remember Digg? It was great in the beginning and could throw tens of thousands of visitors to your site in a couple of hours.

Anyway, the earnings jumped through the roof and I realized immediately what a chance this was.

The site became popular quickly after that initial push and made the frontpage on Digg, Slashdot, Delicious and other sites fairly regularly which I think helped a lot to establish it.

I made the decision to do this full time in 2006 after carefully evaluating all options, making calculations and going over worst-case plans more often than you can imagine. I quit my job at the end of that year and started working full time on the site ever since.

This turned out to be the best decision that I ever made. In those years, I learned a lot. While research and writing are important, there are other things that I learned or had to do on a daily basis including keeping an eye on SEO and social marketing, moderation of comments, WordPress development and updates, communication with third-parties, and web server administration.

The ride was not always pleasant. For instance, the site was hosted by GoDaddy in the beginning. GoDaddy suspended the site one day without informing me (due to it hitting another frontpage at that time). I had to call them in the US to get things sorted out and find a server for the site on the same day to get the site transferred to it.

I moved the site to Hetzner first, a German provider which did not offer managed Linux servers at the time. This meant that I had to setup up most of the server by myself.  While that worked mostly through trial and error in the beginning, it taught me a lot, including that Linux administration was not pleasant back then.

Hetzner is a great company but servers were still my responsibility back then. I made the decision to move the site again, this time to Wiredtree which offered managed solutions. The main benefit of the move was that this freed up time that I could spend in other areas.

Wiredtree takes care of security updates and server availability, and their support is just awesome.

The Present

The site had its ups and downs in the past couple of years (mostly downs) ever since Google introduced Panda, Penguin and other algorithmic changes to its search engine.

I still have issues with Google's approach and how it determines quality and ranks sites and articles based on it but have given up on the idea that I can find out why they made the site tank so much.

The situation was so dire that I wrote Ghacks is dying back in February of this year. I received incredible support afterwards and things have become better since then thanks to a number of changes I made and an uptick in traffic from search engines.

One core goal that I had back then was to reduce the site's reliance on a single traffic source. Ghacks Deals and Patreon are two of the major efforts that help me with that and both are off to a good start.

I know that some readers may not like these deals posts and I can understand that. I'll never post more than two or three deals per week which means that they make up less than 10% of posts on the site.

I try my best to find deals that should be interesting to a number of readers (and usually myself as well), and think I did a good job so far doing that.

The Future

ghacks

I don't know what the future holds and if I'll be sitting here in ten years from now writing the site's 20th anniversary post just like I do today.

I hope I can do that but things are changing so quickly on the Internet that one never knows. Will blogs still be a thing in five or ten years from now? What about independent sites, will they still exist and be able to compete with well-funded company-operated sites?

The current trend seems to steer away from technical sites like mine as the majority of Internet users seem to be less interested in topics like privacy, security, Windows programs or web browsers.

I'll do my best to keep this site up and running, and if that means that I have to adjust it somehow, I'll do that to the best of my abilities provided that it won't effect the integrity of it or its core.

We (that is Daniel Pataki mostly, great guy) are working on a new theme for the site that will move the current one to the modern age. It won't make changes for the sake of making changes, but there will be important improvements that I would like to point out right now.

  1. The new theme will do away with Font Awesome and other icon fonts. In fact, we try to reduce the number of outbound calls for design purposes to Zero.
  2. We will switch on HTTPS for the whole site.
  3. Usability will improve thanks to better colors, fonts, line width and such.

This will be a massive undertaking but if everything goes well, it should improve the site by a lot without taking anything away from it that you have come to love and enjoy.

Thanks

Ghacks would not be there without you. Regardless of how you read the site, whether you are a regular who reads every since article or just an occasional visitor who comes by every now and then, whether you spread the word to others or not, support this site on Patreon or by sharing articles, or by being a silent reader.

If it were not for you, the site would probably never come take off and I'd be sitting in some office doing mundane boring things all day long to earn a living.

I'd also like to thank all past writers of the site and blog owners that I have been in contact with over the years.

And now, onward to the next ten years.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Adobe just lost over 50 links pointing to their site after legal threat http://www.ghacks.net/2015/09/19/adobe-just-lost-over-a-50-links-pointing-to-their-site-after-legal-threat/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/09/19/adobe-just-lost-over-a-50-links-pointing-to-their-site-after-legal-threat/#comments Sat, 19 Sep 2015 07:29:48 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=116069 I received a legal document from Adobe Inc two weeks ago requesting the removal of deep links pointing to Adobe's own official FTP server. The article referenced in the document linked to Adobe Reader X downloads on the FTP server which Adobe requested to be removed immediately. Failure to comply would result in them throwing […]

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I received a legal document from Adobe Inc two weeks ago requesting the removal of deep links pointing to Adobe's own official FTP server.

The article referenced in the document linked to Adobe Reader X downloads on the FTP server which Adobe requested to be removed immediately. Failure to comply would result in them throwing all legal power they had at their disposal at the site and its operator.

The letter had some glaring issues, for instance that Adobe mentioned only Adobe Flash Player in the letter but the article the company referenced in the letter was not about Flash Player but Adobe Reader.

I was left with a couple of options (and little time)

  1. Seek legal counseling to find out if the request would hold in court. The links pointed to public locations on the Adobe FTP site and while I'm not a lawyer, I would assume that they cannot sue you for those.
  2. Comply and remove the links.
  3. Do something else.

If I would have selected option one, it would mean that I would have to spend time and money. While a ruling would not only be beneficial for my site but for other sites on the Internet as well, I decided not to pursue this option due to time and money constraints.

Option two sounded like the easy way out and I first thought about it as it would be the fastest option, but several of the articles would not be useful anymore as the only recourse would be to either link to Adobe's official download page, which meant online downloads only of the latest versions, or not link at all which would not help users.

adobe links legal

So, I decided to pick option three instead which had me go through Ghacks' vast archive of articles and remove pages referencing Adobe Flash Player or Adobe Acrobat updates, news and downloads.

I moved more than 50 articles to the trash in the process and redirected them via htaccess to the following two posts:

You will still find some articles on Ghacks about Flash or Reader, but those are mostly troubleshooting guides to fix issues in browsers.

In addition to this one-time cleaning of the site, we have a new policy in place that prevents us from linking to Adobe sites ever again or reporting about Adobe news. We will still cover issues that users may experience in web browsers and such, but everything else is off the table.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Introducing Ghacks Deals http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/19/introducing-ghacks-deals/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/05/19/introducing-ghacks-deals/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 14:42:11 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=113673 One of my core efforts this year is to reduce Ghack's dependency on a single service or traffic source. Ghacks Deals is a new optional service here on this site that lists -- discounted or even free  -- software packages, services and tech gadgets. I think it is a great fit for the site not […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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One of my core efforts this year is to reduce Ghack's dependency on a single service or traffic source.

Ghacks Deals is a new optional service here on this site that lists -- discounted or even free  -- software packages, services and tech gadgets.

I think it is a great fit for the site not only because deals are usually closely related to the topics covered here on Ghacks, but also because I have used the service before on another site to purchase several Android development courses.

Actually, the core reason why I agreed to running deals on Ghacks was that I bought from the service before and liked the experience and the courses that I bought a lot.

The deals website lists various interests and categories that you can explore. There is also a free section linked at the top if you are interested in getting free stuff for the time being.

ghacks deals

Tip: Use the coupon code GHACKS10 to get 10% off any item (expires 5/31).

Here is a selection of free products that are currently offered in the store (there are more):

The following e-learning courses are not free but discounted (often by 80% and more):

Last but not least, a selection of products from other categories (all discounted)

I'll be showcasing two deals each week of which ones is either free or a giveaway of sorts at the very least.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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2 Months later: Ghacks is still dying, but there is hope http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/18/2-months-later-ghacks-is-still-dying-but-there-is-hope/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/18/2-months-later-ghacks-is-still-dying-but-there-is-hope/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 05:35:36 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=112609 I wanted to give you all an update on my original post about Ghacks is dying from February this year. I don't want to rehash all the post to put those up to speed who have not read it but summarize what is being said in the post. I founded Ghacks back in 2005 and […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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I wanted to give you all an update on my original post about Ghacks is dying from February this year.

I don't want to rehash all the post to put those up to speed who have not read it but summarize what is being said in the post.

I founded Ghacks back in 2005 and quickly realized that I could do this full-time. I quit my day job and started blogging round the clock.

Everything went well for the next couple of years. The site depended (and depends) on search traffic and there especially on Google's and when Google introduced algorithms that would compute a website's quality, traffic began to drop by a lot.

This did not happen over night and I was not the only one affected by the change. Looking around, other tech blogs, with the exception of a few, were affected negatively by this as well.

This led to sites being closed or put on hiatus (Freeware Genius, Raymond CC, others) because the earnings of those sites would not allow their owners to continue writing for them regularly.

The effect of this was that unique sites vanished which left mostly bland corporate sites to dominate search.

While I, and many others, tried to improve the quality of sites affected by this change, by cleaning it up and following suggestions, it appears nearly impossible to get out of this as you don't know why a site is perceived as being low quality.

The main gripe I have with this is that Google does not provide you with a clear definition of what its algorithm perceives as quality.

For me, it is all about serving the best content to visitors. If I have a question and a site answers it in a single sentence, then this is quality. For Google, this seems to be a sign of lack of quality because the article is too short (the general consensus is that too short articles are bad).

Anyway, the situation is bad enough that another drop in traffic or revenue would force me to make life-changing decisions as this site cannot produce a sustainable income anymore.

The site faces two major and several minor challenges right now:

  1. Dependency on Google search traffic
  2. Huge use of ad-blocking scripts.

That's the main reason I decided to try Patreon, a service that allows you to support the site (and me) directly.

This not only takes care of the traffic issues, as one-day I may not rely on it at all anymore thanks to direct support, and also ad-blocking as ad-revenue is also not an issue anymore then.

Where we are now

After I wrote the post I received an immense number of comments and incredible support from many long-time and new readers of the site.

Many whitelisted the site, others became supporters on Patreon or supported the site with a one-time donation instead.

There was unexpected support as well. Kevin offered to write articles for the site which worked out great so far. You can check out his wireless networking articles here.

As it stands right now, there are 110 patrons on Patreon that support Ghacks regularly. That's a fantastic start in my opinion especially since about the same number made a one-time donation instead.

It is clear that self-sufficiency cannot be achieved in a short amount of time and that it is rather a slow but steady walk.

We have almost reached the first milestone goal, server and hosting expenses, on Patreon alone which would ensure when reached that Ghacks remains online no matter what happens.

Since the hosting costs are expensive, I plan to find a cheaper host for the site without sacrificing speed or availability in the process.

The ad-blocking situation has not changed much. About 40% of all visitors use ad-blockers and it is unlikely that his is going to change anytime soon. I believe that this is to get worse even in the coming years.

On the traffic side of things, traffic has remained stable in the last six month period or so which is somewhat of a relief. While that is the case, there is always a chance that it will get worse and by then, I need to have found a way to keep this site up and me running it.

The future

I'm still working on the site. Currently, I'm testing HTTPS and will enable it once every last quirk is gone.

Another change that is coming soon is that I will implement a feature to promote exceptional comments which are highlighted then similar to how it is done on Arstechnica.

Working on adding Bitcoin as an option on the donation page as well which should happen soon. If you have any suggestions for additional options or services, let me know please.

I'm updating a lot of posts, recently for instance the best Chrome and best Firefox extensions and add-ons which still require work as I'm not satisfied with the overall layout of the page.

I plan to publish more of these extensive guides in the future.

Last but not least, there is a secret project that I'm working on with Andrey (Rarst) right now that would complement Ghacks in a great way.

What you can do

There is lots that you can do to help out:

  1. Spread the word about the situation and share articles that you find useful on social media sites and elsewhere.
  2. Whitelist this site in your ad-blocker. Since some of the ads are impression-based, money is earned even if you don't interact with the ad in any way.
  3. Become a patron on Patreon or make a one-time donation.
  4. Help out in other ways: if you find an article with inaccurate or old information, let me know about it so that I can update it. If you have suggestions for topics to write about, or even want to contribute articles on a regular basis, let me know as well.
  5. Leave valuable comments on this site.

Things are looking brighter than they did two months ago thanks to you. It is such a great feeling that something that I have created has such a dedicated and loyal following. Thanks so much!

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post 2 Months later: Ghacks is still dying, but there is hope appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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Help us test the new comment system http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/02/help-us-test-the-new-comment-system/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/02/help-us-test-the-new-comment-system/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 12:13:20 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=112087 Update: We have deactivated the commenting plugin for now as it had too many issues. We will take another look at it once it offers missing features. The native WordPress comment system is limited in many ways. There is for instance no option to subscribe to comments or edit your own comments once you hit […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Update: We have deactivated the commenting plugin for now as it had too many issues. We will take another look at it once it offers missing features.

The native WordPress comment system is limited in many ways. There is for instance no option to subscribe to comments or edit your own comments once you hit the submit button.

Over the years, I have added various WordPress plugins to the site to improve the commenting system. That's why comment editing and subscriptions are supported.

But limitations don't end there and plugins can only go that far to remedy some of the issues.

I started to test various commenting plugins or systems for WordPress and while I liked features of some, I could not really find one that fit all requirements.

For instance, while I liked some of the features that third-party commenting systems such as Disqus or Livefyre offer, I disliked that comments were stored on third-party servers. This not only required migration of comments to those servers -- and back from them should the need to leave the service ever arise -- but meant that the commenting system depended on that service functioning properly at all times.

Plus, it had privacy implications for commenters since their comments, and thus email addresses and other information, were stored on third-party servers.

This left a local comment system as the natural choice. While that takes care of privacy and dependency issues, it meant having to compromise in some regards.

After evaluating what was on offer, I selected wpDiscuz for this website. It is a free commenting plugin for WordPress that integrates well and keeps everything locally. If you want, it is a frontend for WordPress comments that changes a couple of things and adds others.

One of the things that I wanted was to limit the initial comment count on article pages. The reason for that was that search engines might see comments as low quality content on websites which in turn can have the effect that the site's visibility in search engines is lowered.

For now, the three newest comment threads are displayed when you load a page. This should speed up the loading of the page in general and reduce the load on the server as well. A link is placed to load all remaining comments at once which takes a couple of seconds on pages with hundreds of comments but should be near instant on most.

load all comments

example

The new commenting system adds features that you will benefit from as well. First of all, it is now possible to edit the editing time. I have modified the time to 30 minutes which means that you can edit your comments for 30 minutes before that option expires.

Second, the subscription options are better now. Instead of having to subscribe to the all comments like before, you can now subscribe to replies to the comment you are writing or all of your comments in a thread.

comment subscriptions

subscriptions

The plugin supports more features than that but I have not enabled all just yet. It supports voting for example which could be useful but since it does not order comments based no votes, I made the decision not to enable that feature right now.

I have tested the comment plugin as thorough as possible but there may be issues. If you encounter any while leaving comments let me know please so that I can fix them.

For now, this is a temporary switch to find out how well the system runs on Ghacks. If no negative side effects or issues are found, it will become the permanent comment plugin on the site.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Ghacks is dying and needs your help http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/27/ghacks-is-dying-and-needs-your-help/ http://www.ghacks.net/2015/02/27/ghacks-is-dying-and-needs-your-help/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:36:49 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=110770 When I started ghacks.net in 2005 I never imagined what a ride it would be. The site became popular quickly and allowed me to quit my day job to become a full time blogger. This worked well for the first years and Ghacks went from one high to the next. I have always operated Ghacks […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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When I started ghacks.net in 2005 I never imagined what a ride it would be. The site became popular quickly and allowed me to quit my day job to become a full time blogger.

This worked well for the first years and Ghacks went from one high to the next.

I have always operated Ghacks on my own. When the site took off, I was able to hire others to add different perspectives to the site. Jack Wallen for instance who ran the Linux section here on this site and contributed more than 900 articles to it.

But 2011 changed that.

Google introduced new algorithms that turned the world upside down. Popular great sites such as Freeware Genius or Raymond.cc fell victim to that as well and many others are suffering up until this very day from what Google introduced back then while some don't even exist anymore.

Ghacks felt the change as well and traffic dropped since then by more than 60%. This was also the time when it became clear that the site could not sustain multiple writers anymore.

It felt undeserved seeing great sites being affected by algorithms that use a definition of quality that feels far off from reality at times, especially since massive networks and sites that cover every imaginable topic thrived even more than before.

I tried a lot to increase the perceived quality of the site. Removed some advertisement, rewrote hundreds of articles, installed a new theme, removed more than 10,000 tags and a dozen other things but none brought the desired result (a reversal of the process).

In addition to that, ad blockers and script blockers became increasingly popular. Since advertisement is what keeps this site alive, a yearly increase between 5 and 10% in ad-block usage is not something that you can endure for long especially if it goes hand in hand with a decline in traffic.

Currently, between 42% and 44% of all users use blockers when they visit the site and if the trend continues, more than 50% might before the end of the year.

ads-blocked

If you take these two factors together, it is only a matter of time before ad revenue won't be sufficient to pay for the site's upkeep anymore.

Advertisement is dying in its current form. While I could make a quick buck throwing popups, auto-playing videos or other nasty stuff at you, I'd never do that.

Heck, those are the things that make people use ad-blockers in the first place and as much as I like this site to survive, I like to protect the integrity of this site and you from these diabolical monetization methods even more.

Advertisement won't be sufficient to keep this site up and there is not really much out there that I could implement or try instead to make sure this site is not taken off the Internet in the next year.

I could sell blog posts, and believe me I get enough offers for those, but never ever sold a single blog post here on this site.

The Solution

Don't get me wrong, I won't give up easily. I thought about possible solutions and there is one that I think could work. In fact, it is the only viable solution that I think might work as it makes this site independent of advertisement and traffic.

Patreon is a relatively new service where people support content creators by giving money directly to them.

It starts as low as $1 per month and gets as high as you want it to be. This money is independent of advertisement revenue or search engine traffic.

If 5% of all visitors of this site would give $1 per month, we won't have this conversation ever again and Ghacks will be there until I'm too old to write articles for it.

This link takes you to the Ghacks Patreon page

Update: If you prefer to make a one-time payment feel free to send money using PayPal. The ID is martin@mysega.de

I understand that this is not for everyone and that is fine.

But if you like this site and would like to see it be there for you in the future, then this is probably the best option to ensure that.

I don't know if this will work at all, if enough of you are willing to support me to keep this site alive but I will do my best to ensure that you will never regret it if you decide to do so.

Other options

Patreon is certainly not an option for all visitors of this site. If you don't want to become a member there then there is still something that you could do to help this site out.

  1. If you are running an ad-blocker or script-blocker, you could whitelist ghacks.net. This site has never run annoying ads: no popups, popunders, audio or video ads that play automatically, full page ads, overlay ads and god knows what else there is that annoys Internet users. Whitelisting helps as many ads pay per cpm. Even if you never click on those ads, it helps pay the bills of this site.
  2. Spread the word about this site. Tell friends, colleagues and family about it if you think it is a good fit. Share it if you are active on social media sites and don't mind doing that.

Both of these options help out tremendously as well.

Closing Words

I had a great time running this site and met lots of great knowledgeable people, and for that I'm forever thankful. I'm not only talking about the authors who wrote for this site throughout the years but also each and every reader who left a comment on this blog, via email or social media sites.

While I have not responded to each individually, I read them all and will continue to do so.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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The tech I use daily as a freelance writer http://www.ghacks.net/2014/01/13/tech-use-daily-freelance-writer/ http://www.ghacks.net/2014/01/13/tech-use-daily-freelance-writer/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:20:36 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=97811 The other day my colleague Martin Brinkman wrote a bit about what he uses every day. Surprisingly, given we both do essentially the same job, we are somewhat separated in what we use. While Martin touched on software, I wanted to mix things up a bit and mention the hardware as well. This isn’t, by […]

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The other day my colleague Martin Brinkman wrote a bit about what he uses every day. Surprisingly, given we both do essentially the same job, we are somewhat separated in what we use. While Martin touched on software, I wanted to mix things up a bit and mention the hardware as well.

This isn’t, by any means, everything I use, but it is what gets me through most days. I’ll mention other favorite technology at the end.

Google Chrome

Martin and I separate right off the bat here. He uses Firefox and, while I like the browser and have it installed, Chrome is my go to. I use several extensions to manage tabs, including Tab Cloud (which works with Firefox also). Grammarly aids me in writing, by highlighting any typo – helpful, given we all tend to make them.

tabcloud

Microsoft Office

I don'’t write in WordPress or Drupal or any other CMS, I’ve learned to not trust them -- I lost too many stories in the past to browser problems. Instead, I write everything in Word, and then copy it over when completed.

I pay for a subscription to Office 365 Home Premium, and the $9.95 per month fee nets me five licenses, so I can run it on multiple computers and, when I change a device, I can cancel a license and get it back to install on the new system.

PicPick

I have a rather obvious need to take screenshots, multiple ones on a daily basis. For this I use PicPick, a free lightweight program that springs from the system tray whenever I tap Alt-PrtSc, or any similar combination. It has sufficient editing features, such adding arrows, boxes, text and highlights. It’s more than enough for my needs.

Computer

I own a desktop. It sits right next to me on the semi-circular desk I use. But honestly, it functions more as a home server, with terabytes of storage, holding a collection of ripped music CDs and DVD movies. It serves this media out via Plex to tablets and Google TV in the living room.

t630-edge

For my work, I prefer my laptop – an Acer Aspire M5 with 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB internal drive. It has a 15.6-inch screen and no optical drive -- it’s an Ultrabook without the SSD. I also prefer not to use a touchpad, so I have a Logitech T630 Ultrathin Touch Mouse (seen above). It’s Bluetooth, uses gestures, and has built-in Windows 8/8.1 functions.

The Rest

I have a lot around me on this rather large desk. There’s a Chromebook (the HP 11), which I like, but only use occasionally. There are three tablets – a Kindle Fire HD (last year’s model), Kindle Fire HDX and Asus MeMO. A 2013 Nexus 7 went to my son

Similarly, there are three phones, consisting of a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 5 and Nokia Lumia 928. The Galaxy Nexus is the one I spend the most time using.

Conclusion

I could go on with a bunch of little details about USB drive, routers and switches, and other stuff that would likely bore you to tears. But, I’ve covered what gets me through my days, and that was the goal of this. I should probably mention Google Play Music All Access -- otherwise I'd go mad in an office of one.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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New Ghacks Theme Live Beta Test http://www.ghacks.net/2013/08/13/new-ghacks-theme-live-beta-test/ http://www.ghacks.net/2013/08/13/new-ghacks-theme-live-beta-test/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 12:25:08 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=93269 You have probably already noticed that we have a new theme here on the site. It is not really that different from the old theme in regards to looks, I think, so that it should not be too uncomfortable getting used to it. I plan to run the theme for a week to see how […]

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You have probably already noticed that we have a new theme here on the site. It is not really that different from the old theme in regards to looks, I think, so that it should not be too uncomfortable getting used to it.

I plan to run the theme for a week to see how it performance and what you all think about it before I make any decisions to keep it, or switch back to the old theme.

For now, I'm trying to sort out all the little bugs and issues that are still there, and optimize the theme to improve page loading times for all of you.

I'd like to know what you think of the new theme, especially if you ran into any issue with it. If something is broken, I'd like to fix it asap so please leave a comment below or use the contact form up top to send me an email so that I can start to analyze and repair the issue right away.

I'd also like to hear your opinion in regards to what you think is missing, features that you would like to see here on Ghacks Technology News, or those that you do not like at all.

ghacks theme

I had a couple of reasons to switch to a new theme:

  1. I wanted a responsive theme design so that the site looks fine on smaller and larger screen resolutions.
  2. Ghacks has been plagued by Google algorithm updates (Panda), and I have the hope that a new theme may change that.
  3. I wanted to modernize the theme technology, as the old theme that I have used here on the site was rather plain in this regard.

You find a couple of modifications and new items on the site. I did remove several categories from the top menu and moved them to the sidebar instead. They are all still there so no need to worry about that.

Each category displays an RSS icon on top now that you can use to subscribe to its feed. This has been possible before but only if you knew that you had to add /feed/ to the url.

The sidebar lists a top and latest posts, and latest comments module now. The top posts are set to include only articles made in the past 180 days so that you can expect fresh contents to be displayed here regularly.

I'm really looking forward to your comments, so keep em coming please.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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The workflow of a tech geek (aka how I work) http://www.ghacks.net/2013/05/02/the-workflow-of-a-tech-geek-aka-how-i-work/ http://www.ghacks.net/2013/05/02/the-workflow-of-a-tech-geek-aka-how-i-work/#comments Thu, 02 May 2013 07:05:57 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=87968 I was asked about my daily workflow in regards to this site and also about the services and programs that I use throughout the day. While I do not think that you will find anything spectacular in my workflow, it may still be interesting to some. First to see how I as a full time […]

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I was asked about my daily workflow in regards to this site and also about the services and programs that I use throughout the day. While I do not think that you will find anything spectacular in my workflow, it may still be interesting to some. First to see how I as a full time blogger spend my workday, and second which programs I use that assist me in that task.

I'd like to start with the systems that I currently use for that task. I have two desktop PCs underneath my computer desk that are connected to their own 24" screen. The PCs are not brand new but both are well equipped. My main work PC is powered by an Intel Core i7-860 cpu, 8 Gigabytes of RAM, a GeForce GTX 470 video card, a 128 Gigabyte M4 Solid State Drive and a 3 Terabyte data drive.

The second PC is powered by an Intel Core i5-2500K cpu, 8 Gigabytes of RAM,  a GeForce GTX 560 Ti video card and a 256 Corsair Force GT Solid State Drive. The first PC runs on a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Pro, the second on Windows 8 Pro.

I also have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 that I use for my Android tests and development, and plan on getting a Windows Phone soon to add tests for that mobile operating system as well.

How I work

I'm working from home which gives me lots of freedom and I could theoretically sleep in, sit in underpants in front of the computer or play video games or watch movies throughout the work day. That's however not what I'm doing as I would not get things done properly if I would.

I see it as a regular job and handle it exactly like that. I do get up between 7 and 8 each day and spend about 30 minutes or so eating breakfast, showering and getting dressed. I never really had any issues getting up at that time even though it is sometimes tempting to sleep in as no one is waiting for you or going to fire you if you do so.

I usually start the day by going through emails that I received during the night, replying to them immediately if necessary, and then moderating all the comments on Ghacks that accumulated while I was sleeping. Once that is out of the way, I start to fire up my RSS reader GreatNews to find out what's new in the world of technology.

RSS is just one source of information that I use to find inspiration for stories and articles. I hang out on a couple of sites regularly, Reddit and Hacker News for example, and also do lots of testing and tweaking on my own, especially when it comes to programs that I use regularly. So, if Firefox or Chrome have a new feature or changed in any way, I'm usually able to spot it and write about it. My motivation to write about these things is higher for programs that I use daily, as I'm interested in their development more than I'm interested in the development of programs that I use every now and then only.

That's the reason why you see more Firefox, Chrome or Steam posts here on the site than posts for Opera, Internet Explorer or Origin.

I try to publish one or two articles - at least - in the morning before I take my first break. I usually go out at around noon for about an hour to do some walking (great exercise) and grocery shopping. It helps me stay fit - sitting in a chair all day is not really the best way of achieving that goal - clear my mind and relax during that time. Combining a necessity (grocery shopping) with an activity helps me a lot and I usually buy only as much as I need for a single day so that I have to go out again and buy food the next day. It is a mind trick but it works fairly well for me. Plus, I tend to get fresher food on the table this way.

One of the things that I came to understand in the past years is that I do need these breaks from work to avoid burning out. The one hour break is great for that, as is my decision to spend less time on the computer on the weekend. I only publish two or three articles on Saturdays and Sundays, and try to spend the rest of the day doing things I like or need to do. It can happen that this means playing a round of Dota 2, but also to meet friends, play board games, go out and drink a cold German beer or simply go to bed very early. I do sports three times a week on top of that to stay fit (Krav Maga and Football), and some basic workout routines when I'm at home (pushups, situps, pullups and the like)

I try to post at least two articles in the afternoon, and another one or two at night. I do regular breaks throughout the day, to eat and spend time doing other things that need to be done.

When I work, I tend to do so in silence. I do not listen to music and try to blend out all distracting elements like my smartphone or things that happen on the computer screen. So, no email checking every five minutes during that time or checking out new messages on Facebook or Google Plus.

Main software that I use for work

  • Firefox both Nightly and Stable
  • Chrome Canary and Stable
  • Snagit 10 for screenshots
  • Great News for RSS feeds
  • Thunderbird for email
  • KeePass for all password needs
  • True Crypt for encryption
  • Paint.net for basic image editing
  • WinSCP for connections to my web server
  • Dropbox for file storage
  • F.Lux to avoid eye strain

As far as my desktops go: I prefer a minimalistic approach to that. I have pinned the important programs to the taskbar and prefer not to use any desktop shortcuts or anything like that. I usually work with two windows aligned next to each other so that each takes up 50% of the workspace. This is usually Firefox on the left with my site open, and another program on the right. The program on the right can be another Firefox window or a program that I'm currently testing.

I do not use many of the fancy tools that other bloggers and journalists make use of. I do not use a calendar, no to-do list, and stay away from social media as much as possible. As far as my smartphone goes, I use it mostly for app testing and development these days, and try to avoid it as much as possible otherwise. So, barely any messaging or calling while I'm working as it is too distracting.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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What to do when you are down with the flu, but need to work http://www.ghacks.net/2013/02/27/what-to-do-when-you-are-down-with-the-flu-but-need-to-work/ http://www.ghacks.net/2013/02/27/what-to-do-when-you-are-down-with-the-flu-but-need-to-work/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 15:58:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=85118 Yesterday I started to show flu symptoms from one minute to the next. My body was aching and feeling heated up, then cold again, headaches, and a sore throat. While it came abruptly, it did not really interrupt work on that day. I did not feel good, but I decided to work through that as […]

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Yesterday I started to show flu symptoms from one minute to the next. My body was aching and feeling heated up, then cold again, headaches, and a sore throat. While it came abruptly, it did not really interrupt work on that day. I did not feel good, but I decided to work through that as this is what I do for a living.

In situations like these, I wish that I'm not the emperor of my little online realm, but someone working a regular job. If that would be the case, I'd probably call in sick, spend the day in bed and get back to work as soon as the flu is gone.

Things got worse the night, I started to have fever, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, a general weakness and the worst hot and cold body temperature changes of my life.

My grandma died about a week ago and I needed to attend the funeral today no matter what. I also had to work on my sites, respond to emails, post a couple of articles, and be there for emergencies.

Even without the funeral, I knew that I had a tough day ahead. I knew that fever usually meant that staying home was the best option, but for the most part of the day, I was at home as I work from there. So, exposing co-workers was not an issue. That's obviously a major concern, and if you are contagious, you should stay at home to avoid spreading the flu at work or among clients you are in contact with that day.

I'm not a fan of pills and medicine in general, and refuse to take them unless instructed by a doctor to do so. The only exception that I make is when I have headaches. I use Aspirin to get rid of it, usually either by going to bed right after taking it, or showering which also seems to get rid of headaches most of the time.

So, what I'm doing today is the following to get work done.

  • I drink a lot.
  • I'm using a hot-water bag all the time.
  • I rest whenever needed, yes, this can mean sleeping for an hour or two.
  • I try to work whenever the situation improves slightly. I listen to my body and start to work whenever it is possible. This sometimes means interrupting work, going to bed, or taking a bath, before returning to work to continue where I left off.

This usually works pretty well for me, and I made it past the first half of the day.

Please note that this should not be taken as medical advice. This is how I continue to work when I'm sick, and what works for me, may not work for you.

I'm interesting in what you do when you are down with influenza. Do you work? Use a miracle medicine or a trick grandma taught you to get by? Let me know in the comments.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Ghacks wishes you all a happy new year 2013 http://www.ghacks.net/2012/12/31/ghacks-whishes-you-all-a-happy-new-year-2013/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/12/31/ghacks-whishes-you-all-a-happy-new-year-2013/#comments Mon, 31 Dec 2012 17:59:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=81813 Some of you may already be in the new year, while others may be waiting patiently for the clock to reach midnight to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Looking back I have to admit that it was a year of ups and downs here on Ghacks which I can almost solely attribute to […]

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Some of you may already be in the new year, while others may be waiting patiently for the clock to reach midnight to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Looking back I have to admit that it was a year of ups and downs here on Ghacks which I can almost solely attribute to Google making that many changes that even experienced webmasters ran into troubles keeping up with all of them.

I have been working on the site for the past two months to improve it a lot, and while I'm nowhere near finished, I hope this was the right decision. I do not want to bore you with technical details, but I did reduce the amount of tags this year from about 15k to now less than 800. I did not just delete the tags obviously as it would be a bad sign for search engines, I did redirect them to the most appropriate location on site.

I also started to do a massive category cleanup which is also still underway. Categories too were redirected to the most appropriate target, the spyware category for instance was moved into security to give you one example.

Besides that, I'm also going through all articles posted here on site to clean them up, rewrite them if necessary, add alternatives to them if old programs or services are now broken or no longer available. You may have noticed that I'm trying to add more contents to each article these days, and that I removed a couple of nuisances like in-content text ads that many users do not like.

As I said, a massive undertaking that is tiring me out a lot. That's one of the reasons why I won't go out today to party. I prefer to turn off the computer in a couple of minutes to watch some television and go to bed early.

Ghacks would not be what it is without its reader and I hope that I will see you soon again here on the site, leave comments, send me tips, refer the site to others or spread its word just to help me out.

I can't thank you enough for that and hope that you will have a nice night where ever you are in the world, and that the next year will be better than the one ending today.

Thanks again. Martin out, for this year.

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Happy Birthday Ghacks http://www.ghacks.net/2012/10/03/happy-birthday-ghacks/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/10/03/happy-birthday-ghacks/#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2012 08:54:58 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=70278 October 3, 2005, that's when it all began. Back then I had no idea that this little pet project of mine would turn into something that would change my life fundamentally forever. Ghacks back then was my first blog. It was not my first Internet site, as I had been running a popular hacking related […]

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October 3, 2005, that's when it all began. Back then I had no idea that this little pet project of mine would turn into something that would change my life fundamentally forever. Ghacks back then was my first blog. It was not my first Internet site, as I had been running a popular hacking related forum with a friend of mine for some years before that. The blog was something new, and I did create it for a number of reasons. First, to promote free software to do advanced Google searches, and second, to play around with blogs to learn all there is to know about them.

I'm not really sure why I applied for Google Adsense and added ads on the site, it was my first attempt at monetizing Internet sites and probably an experiment just like the blog itself. When I checked the account a few days later I noticed that on one day, the site made almost $100 after being online for just a few days. Another coincidence, as one of the articles got picked up on the then-popular website Digg. Thousands of visitors came to the site to read it which skyrocketed the earnings. It also got me kicked off Godaddy hosting, one of the unpleasant experiences of which several were to follow in later years.

Once I knew that I could earn money from a blog, I started to take the experiment serious. It took me about six months to realize that I could do this fulltime, and another six to convince myself to resign from my job and jump in at the deep end. It was a huge risk at that time, giving up a safe monthly income to become a fulltime blogger.

The what ifs kept me up at night in that time. What if someone hacks the site and deletes all data. What if Google kicks me out of Adsense. What if the site gets punished in the search engines. After a while though the questions became less frequent and I realized that everything ran smoothly along. There were a few bumps in the road, no question about that. Google banned the site from Adsense twice, but I managed to get it back after 1-2 weeks after making changes to comply with the program's terms of service. I also had to switch hosting twice only in that time, first from Godaddy to German company Hetzner - which offers great value - and then to a managed Wiredtree server in the US.

I met a lot of cool guys and girls along the road that helped me a lot. I'm trying to give some of that back to others who may be at a similar crossroad in life.

Looking back at those seven years, I have to say that this was the best decision that I have made in my life so far. Without further ado, happy birthday Ghacks. Lets hope this ride continues for the next 30 or so years to come ;)

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Godaddy is down! Sorry for the downtime, connection issues http://www.ghacks.net/2012/09/11/godaddy-is-down-sorry-for-the-downtime-connection-issues/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/09/11/godaddy-is-down-sorry-for-the-downtime-connection-issues/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2012 22:18:57 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=69497 You may have noticed connection issues to websites such as ghacks.net and thousands of others in the past couple of hours. Responsibility for this has been claimed by a Twitter user associated with Anonymous. Fact is, the main Godaddy website and DNS servers are down, affecting sites that are hosted by Godaddy and domains that […]

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You may have noticed connection issues to websites such as ghacks.net and thousands of others in the past couple of hours. Responsibility for this has been claimed by a Twitter user associated with Anonymous. Fact is, the main Godaddy website and DNS servers are down, affecting sites that are hosted by Godaddy and domains that use Godaddy as their DNS provider (we are one of them).

The main godaddy.com website was offline for some time and the only source of information about the issue were available on Twitter and other social networking sites. Godaddy has managed to upload a static page to their main domain explaining to customers that the company is currently experiencing problems and working "to restore all sites affected".

godaddy down

Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are buzzing with activity; webmasters are venting, customers and site visitors are irritated, and other webmasters and networks post story after story to benefit from the situation as much as possible.

The issue here is that even if you wanted to change right now, you can't as Godaddy's domain management pages are not accessible as well. Webmasters affected by the issue can do nothing but wait and sit this one out and hope for the best.

When Godaddy is up again, there will certainly be some who will switch hosting providers because of it. But if an attack has caused this, there is no guarantee that the new hosting provider is not the next one on the target list.

Here is what I plan to research once servers get back online. I'd like to separate the domain hosting from the DNS service, which are both currently maintained by Godaddy. I will have to do some research first to find a third party DNS provider that is offering great response times and does not cost a fortune. If you have a tip in this regard let me know in the comments please.

I'm also considering moving some domains over to Namecheap which offer a discount right now, honor the renewal data and add a free year on top of that. Again, I'm open to suggestions so fire away.

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Microsoft believes a Ghacks page is infringing on its copyright http://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/18/microsoft-believes-a-ghacks-page-is-infringing-on-its-copyright/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/18/microsoft-believes-a-ghacks-page-is-infringing-on-its-copyright/#comments Sat, 18 Aug 2012 06:25:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=68687 I'm always a bit nervous when I receive emails from Google, as it is more often than not a bad thing if it is webmaster related. I received a notice of DMCA removal from Google Search this morning about this page on Ghacks. The company sending the DMCA? Microsoft. It is a tag page that […]

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I'm always a bit nervous when I receive emails from Google, as it is more often than not a bad thing if it is webmaster related. I received a notice of DMCA removal from Google Search this morning about this page on Ghacks. The company sending the DMCA? Microsoft.

It is a tag page that is listing two articles with no outgoing links and four lines of text each. There is no image, download link or anything else that Microsoft may have identified as infringing on the company's copyright.

When I try to open the notice on Chilling Effects I get the information that the notice is currently not available and that it will be posted after it has been processed which may take weeks.

Google has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that some of your materials allegedly infringe upon the copyrights of others. The URLs of the allegedly infringing materials may be found at the end of this message. The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, may be found at http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=508157.

I'm no expert on US copyright law, but I can't really see anything wrong with this page. My best guess would be that Microsoft is - once again - sending out notices in bulk and that the page has mistakenly identified by the company.

While it is likely that the company is going after sites that post links pointing to downloads of the recently released Windows 8 RTM build, it feels like a huge oversight if sites get dragged into this that have nothing to do with this kind of behavior.

infringing page

 

I do have to take this serious though as Google a few days ago announced that copyright removal notices have been added as a ranking signal to the search engine's ranking algorithm.

Before I file a counter-claim, I'd like to ask you to take a look at the page to let me know your opinion on the removal request. Thanks in advanced for your help.

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How deceiving Ads trick you on download sites http://www.ghacks.net/2012/06/17/how-deceiving-ads-trick-you-on-download-sites/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/06/17/how-deceiving-ads-trick-you-on-download-sites/#comments Sun, 17 Jun 2012 08:05:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=65784 Many download sites, and it does not really matter if they are download portals like Softpedia or Download.com, or file hosting services like Turbobit or Mediafire, use ads to generate revenue. That's a perfectly fine business model and all, and I do not think a lot of Internet users would criticize them for that. I […]

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Many download sites, and it does not really matter if they are download portals like Softpedia or Download.com, or file hosting services like Turbobit or Mediafire, use ads to generate revenue. That's a perfectly fine business model and all, and I do not think a lot of Internet users would criticize them for that.

I recently paid a visit to Download.com and noticed that the site went a bit overboard with the amount of deceptive advertisements on its download pages. I counted a total of five download links on the page above the fold, of which four were ads for other products unrelated to the one that I tried to download.

downloadcom

The top two Start Download banners are obviously ads, and unrelated to the product that I tried to download.  The textual ads underneath the right banner also contain the term download, and may deceive some users as well.

Experienced users usually know what link they have to click on and which better to avoid. I decided to take a look around how other sites' download pages are designed. Before I start I'd like to mention that ads may and probably will change if parameters change. This can be the user's IP, language or other factors, the time of day, the budget of the company or limits that have been set. Keep in mind that I'm not criticizing the use of ads as a revenue source.

Softpedia did not display that many ads on the page. I received an offer to try a 30-day trial version of Windows Intune, and an offer to download an unrelated program on the same page the download button was displayed. Especially the ad right underneath the title could be seen as relevant to the requested download.

softpedia

On Major Geeks things changed to offers to scan my PC before downloading the file. They may look like recommendations from the site operators. A text link is displayed in the content area as well that is leading to an offer to scan the PC for driver updates.

majorgeeks

Downloadcrew once again displayed a Download Now banner in a premium location on the screen.

download-crew

FileHippo actually looked like one of the cleanest sites to me. While it displayed a Google Adsense banner on the left, and a banner on the lower right, they could not really be mistaken as download links.

filehippo

File Hosting Sites

Now that I have looked at some popular download portals, it is time to take a look at how file hosting services handle these things.

FilesTube is using two different kinds of advertisements. First the banners that only consist of two large buttons to play now or download. But you also have ads at the top of the results, just like Google does in their search engine. All three links there lead to a commercial offer that suggests that you can download the desired file right there (which is unlikely if you look at the search term).

filestube

Mediafire displays many ads on its download page. At the top a download ad, and then around the actual download option additional ads, which at the time of testing, did not display download buttons or options.

mediafire

4Shared displayed ads around the requested file, and a second download button for the company's own 4Shared Desktop application.

4shared

Turbobit finally went overboard with the ads by displaying a total of five download buttons on the screen, plus additional ads.

turbobit

Finding the right download button

On most download portals, you should not really have that much troubles finding the right download button. One of the easiest ways to locate it is to know all standard ad formats to ignore those automatically. Formats like 728x120, 468x60, 300x250, 160:600 or 336x280 are commonly used to display ads, and it is unlikely that the "real" download button uses those formats.

You can obviously automate the process with ad blockers like AdBlock Plus or the excellent NoScript.

Another option that you have is to right-click a button or ad which often helps you identify whether it is an add or not. If you see About Adobe Flash in the context menu, you can be almost certain that it is an ad and not the real deal.

adobe-flash

You can also hover over the element to take a look at the link. If it points to a third party site, or looks like the one you see on the screenshot below, you can also be certain that it is indeed an ad and not the real download link.

ad-link

While not always possible, you can also try and find a download site that is lighter on ads, or at least does not use deceptive ads.

For file hosting sites, you could alternatively use a program like JDownloader to avoid the ads and confusion completely.

Closing Words

As far as download portals are concerned, it is often better to download the files directly from the developer website and not the portal. While this works well most of the time, you sometimes can't download from the developer site, for instance if they have decided to cooperate with a download portal.

What's your take on the situation?

I'd like to thank Raymond for his article on the subject, as I used it for inspiration.

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The Perfect Software Download Portal http://www.ghacks.net/2012/05/09/the-perfect-software-download-portal/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/05/09/the-perfect-software-download-portal/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 07:42:49 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=63386 When I'm thinking of download portals, I'm usually thinking of big sites like Softpedia or Major Geeks, that host millions of applications and other computer related downloads on their servers. There are specialized portals, smaller in size, like Betanews for instance, or the excellent Freeware BB. I'm currently considering creating a software portal of my […]

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When I'm thinking of download portals, I'm usually thinking of big sites like Softpedia or Major Geeks, that host millions of applications and other computer related downloads on their servers. There are specialized portals, smaller in size, like Betanews for instance, or the excellent Freeware BB.

I'm currently considering creating a software portal of my own, as I feel that many portals have gone a way that I do not like a lot as a user. Besides wrapping downloads into installers to make an extra buck, some software portals have also started plastering their pages with ads, and forcing the user to click through to the download page multiple times, to artificially increase page views and ad impressions.

I'm not a fan of these practices, and think that a clean portal could carve out a niche for itself quite easily.

Since I'm just getting started, I would like to use this ask the reader post to ask you what you would like to see in a download portal. While I can't guarantee you that I will create the download portal after all, or manage to please all of you and your demands, I'm determined to make this the perfect software download portal when I make the decision to go ahead with it.

Here are requirements and features that I have thought of so far:

  • Only free software, at least in the beginning, each program with extensive reviews and tests. This means that the portal won't list software that has not been tested. While this improves the quality by a lot, it also means that it won't cover as much software as the other portals out there.
  • Virus check, all software will be checked extensively with multiple scanners before it is uploaded and served.
  • Links to developer site placed prominently on page
  • Lite advertisement, placed discreetly on site, no popups, no download wrappers, no doorway pages, or having to load five pages before a file can be downloaded. The main goal with the advertisement is to cover the running costs, which is hosting and bandwidth, as well as site administration and management (reviews and such).
  • User interaction. I would like to see comments and a rating system at the very least.
  • Clean design, easy to navigate. Make it easy for the user to find software.

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to post suggestions, comments, or criticism. If you think this is a terrible idea, let me know why, I'd love to know.

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Is it Time to Offer an Alternative to QWERTY? http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/25/is-it-time-to-ditch-qwerty/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/25/is-it-time-to-ditch-qwerty/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 17:24:23 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=56423 The QWERTY keyboard layout has been used in most western countries now since the late 1800's.  Though there are differences in some countries, such as AZERTY in France, this keyboard layout remains with modern computers even though it's not always the quickest way for people to type. It was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes who […]

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The QWERTY keyboard layout has been used in most western countries now since the late 1800's.  Though there are differences in some countries, such as AZERTY in France, this keyboard layout remains with modern computers even though it's not always the quickest way for people to type.

It was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes who was an American newspaper editor.  Sholes wanted to find a way to stop the hammers in typewriters from getting clogged up all the time.  This happened because the layout that was being used allowed people to type more quickly than the mechanical parts of the typewriter could respond, with the upstroke of one letter completing before the downstroke of the previous one had finished.

And so in October 1867 he patented the QWERTY keyboard layout to solve the problem by moving letters that were commonly used together further apart so that the typewriter hammers wouldn't need to overlap.  He sold the idea to Remington and in 1878 their Remington No. 2 typewriter popularised the layout.  Since then the uptake for this keyboard layout has been enormous and it remains the most popular keyboard layout around the world today.

Why do we still use QWERTY though with modern computers where mechanical hammers are no longer a problem?  The simple fact remains that we have all grown up using this keyboard layout and, as such, we know our way around it and changing it now would cause all manner of problems, slow everybody down and no doubt cost the worldwide economy billions in lost productivity.

The rise of the touchscreen computing device however does present the next generation at least with a solution.  Software keyboards can be laid out however you want them to be and as these are probably going to be the way that the children of tomorrow will learn to use computers, by using smartphones and tablets primarily, could and should the operating system manufacturers now be offering an alternative keyboard layout for us to use, such as an alphabetic one?

Many people believe that a standard alphabetic keyboard is easier and quicker for people to use, and that it makes it quicker for people to learn.  It would be a simple job to put an alphabetic software keyboard into modern touch-enabled operating systems, and the actual hardware keyboard equivalents wouldn't need to follow for some years in all probability.

This way we could give children an opportunity to potentially type more quickly on their computers, increasing their own productivity.  Also anyone who prefers using an alphanumeric keyboard already, and they can be found for sale in a few places and I'm certain that some apps already exist for some platforms, will finally have the option to use one on all their devices.

So what do you think?  Could the next generation of computer users benefit from Microsoft, Apple and Google adding alphabetic or other keyboard layouts to their operating systems now?  Do you already use a keyboard layout like this or do you have experience of doing so?  Would you like to try an alphabetic keyboard on your tablet and smartphone and do you think it would be easier to type on and also, do you think that your children would benefit form typing alphabetically, or would it be better for them to learn the traditional QWERTY layout?  Why not let us know in the comments here what you think about the future of typing on computers.

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How to Write a Windows 8 Book, a Quick Guide http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/16/how-to-write-a-windows-8-book-a-quick-guide/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/16/how-to-write-a-windows-8-book-a-quick-guide/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 16:38:11 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=55878 Yesterday I threw down the gauntlet to any gHacks reader who might want to write a Windows 8 book, perhaps with the long term goal of signing your own book deal with a big name tech publisher.  You can read my article here.  Lee Whittington made a very interesting comment... I have been turning the […]

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Yesterday I threw down the gauntlet to any gHacks reader who might want to write a Windows 8 book, perhaps with the long term goal of signing your own book deal with a big name tech publisher.  You can read my article here.  Lee Whittington made a very interesting comment...

I have been turning the idea in my head on writing a Windows 8 Book and aside from writing the book I have no idea where to go from there. You would think with all the information you can find on the internet, you would find everything you need. Lately though, the overabundance of information has actually become an issue, leaving me with alot of information but nothing that really helps.

This is a very good point, that many people who would want to write a Windows 8 book might not have a clue where to start.  I thought then that I'd follow up yesterday's article with a guide to doing exactly that and getting started writing.

Audience

The first and most important decision to make, as it will influence everything else, is who your intended audience will be.  Who it is you're writing the book for will determine what type of language you use, the types of images and annotations you use, and how many, and how long and detailed the book might turn out to be.

For example, if you want to write for complete beginners, perhaps something for family and friends and people you provide tech support for, then the tone would be warm and friendly, with an absence of jargon and with every technical word you must use clearly explained at the time.  You will probably want to use a lot of colourful screenshots, with many annotations so that it is very clear to readers what they're looking at.  You would also want to use a fair few numbered and step by step guides that will help people perform tasks.  Lastly the content for this audience will largely fall around using the new Metro interface, downloading and installing apps and keeping things ticking over easily and quickly.  After all, people in this category simply don't want to hear anything about installing Windows or the Control Panel, it's just too complex for many of them.

We move on from there with more business-centric users, perhaps people in your workplace more interested in how to keep working on the desktop and what new productivity and power-saving features are available for them.  Enthusiasts will want to know how to install Windows 8 in different ways and how to configure it, with little in-depth hints and tips to help them get the best from it, and so on.

Size and Content

Now that you've determined who your audience will be you need to decide how big the book will be and what the content will be.  A book for newbies would be relatively short, perhaps between 50 and 100 pages, while one for business users might not be much longer and one for enthusiasts might run to 200 or even 400 pages.  It's important when writing for the first time, especially when you have all your formatting, page layout and editing to do as well not to set yourself a goal that's too high.  I found 170 pages when writing the Windows 7 Power Users Guide gruelling while also holding down a full time job.  By the time I wrote the 500 page Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out I was down to working only two days a week and writing the rest of the time.  There simply was no other way to do it.

With your page count in mind you should set about writing a draft table of contents, making sure that the page count is foremost in your mind all the time.  Think about how many paragraphs or pages it will take to decribe or walk people through specific subjects and use this as a basis for getting the content to fit your book.

Production

It's common to write a book in Microsoft Word, after all it's a writing tool, but Word and other word processors can be limiting in the page formatting they allow you to do.  I used Microsoft Publisher to write the Windows 7 Power Users Guide after quickly realising that I couldn't do something "visually appealing" enough in Word.  Using a desktop publishing package does present its own challenges with text run on from one page to another difficult among other problems.  Using DTP software though can make for a much more engaging book.  All that said there's nothing wrong with using Word and some of the advanced layout and imaging tools available can make for very eye-catching designs.  The layout and design can be a slow process to get right however and on the Windows 7 Power Users Guide probably one-third of the three months it took me to write was spent getting the formatting correct.

One very important part though will be the option to either export of print your file as a PDF.  There are many free PDF writers out there, some of which will also export as other eBook formats, but having written your book you'll want people to be able to read it in a non-editable format.

This is a short and probably simplistic way to look at how you can start writing your book.  It all comes from the planning, and that is why this article has focused so much on that.  Spend time getting your table of contents, page layout, design and voice correct and the rest will fall into place reasonably naturally afterwards.  So good luck and let us know here at gHacks if you release a Windows 8 book on the Internet.

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Psst! Fancy Writing Your Own Windows 8 Book? http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/15/psst-fancy-writing-your-own-windows-8-book/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/15/psst-fancy-writing-your-own-windows-8-book/#comments Sun, 15 Jan 2012 20:55:24 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=55849 Three years ago this month I began doing some very serious planning.  Back when Windows Vista was released I wrote a 68 page "Vista Power Users Guide".  It wasn't very in depth but was intended as a getting started eBook and was primarily written to help stop friends and family from calling me with tech […]

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Three years ago this month I began doing some very serious planning.  Back when Windows Vista was released I wrote a 68 page "Vista Power Users Guide".  It wasn't very in depth but was intended as a getting started eBook and was primarily written to help stop friends and family from calling me with tech questions when I was out with friends, each of which would "only take a minute"  ;)  It was very well received though and I decided early on that when the next version of Windows was released I would write a proper book for sale.

Getting a book contract at this point proved pointless, though I did try.  I hadn't proved myself so eventually in 2008 I decided that self-publishing would be the way forward.  Thus in January 2009 when the Windows 7 beta appeared I began designing page layouts, insert graphics and a draft table of contents for what would be my "Windows 7 Power Users Guide".  I went through several drafts and designs when writing the first three chapters but eventually found my stride and on August bank holiday, shortly before Windows 7 was released to manufacturing, I released my new eBook and paperback for sale.

As a way of making money they were never going to be the route to my next foreign holiday, and the eBook was made free a year later.  As a 170 page book however I felt that perhaps I could use it to prove my mettle and began contacting publishers through the submission links for new authors on their websites.

There were a few knock back emails I received, and some emails went unanswered but eventually a nibble came in the form of an email from a senior editor at Microsoft Press.  They were looking for someone to write a Windows 7 Troubleshooting book and wanted to know if I was interested.  Two months later the contract was signed and "Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out" was published in October 2010, one year after the release of Windows 7.

Since then I've been able to better enjoy the fruits of my labour.  I was given a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable professional) award in the Windows Expert category in January 2011 and this was recently renewed for a second year.  I've also spent the last year receiving review hardware from companies including Samsung, ASUS, Nokia and HTC and have had a great many Windows Phones, laptops and more through my door to play with (a very pleasant perk of the job).

Now my Power Users Guide has been formally picked up by US publisher APress and the "Windows 8 Power Users Guide" is scheduled for release this year to coincide with general availability for Windows 8 itself.  I'm also working on an eBook project for Microsoft Press' parent company O'Reilly for whom I am continuing to run a monthly series of help and how-to webcasts.  In addition I was last year signed by a new publisher, co-founded by the man responsible for making the Dummies books popular, and where Ed Bott is now Editorial Director, and my first eBook for them "Need2Know Office 365 Security Essentials" was released last November.

In short the last three years have been amazing (though very hard work too) and I thought I'd throw down the gauntlet and encourage you to get here too, after all, if I can do it anybody can!  Have you ever wanted a book contract of your own?  Do you want to write about Windows 8 or perhaps the next version of Microsoft Office?  If you do then now is the time to start planning as the public beta for Windows 8 will begin at the end of February.

Writing a book, even one as small as 170 pages (I know, it sounds ridiculous to me too) isn't easy, doubly so if you've never done it before.  It will monopolise your time and you can expect to spend three months writing it in your spare time.  If you have a book about Windows 8 in you though I strongly encourage you to write it.  After all, you never know what opportunities it might open up for you.  The rewards can be unexpected and very welcome, and the feeling you get from helping people is worth it on its own.  ;)  I'd love to read your Windows 8 books later this year and see your particular spins on the format.  Good luck all.

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What’s in the 2012 MVP Award Pack http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/10/whats-in-the-2012-mvp-award-pack/ http://www.ghacks.net/2012/01/10/whats-in-the-2012-mvp-award-pack/#comments Tue, 10 Jan 2012 21:55:44 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=55653 I was pretty delighted when my Microsoft MVP was reawarded on the 1st of January for a second year.  Microsoft award their "Most Valuable Professional" award each year to around 4,000 individuals covering almost all of their product lines.  In a statement on their website they say... We seek to recognize the best and brightest […]

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I was pretty delighted when my Microsoft MVP was reawarded on the 1st of January for a second year.  Microsoft award their "Most Valuable Professional" award each year to around 4,000 individuals covering almost all of their product lines.  In a statement on their website they say...

We seek to recognize the best and brightest from technology communities around the world with the Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award.  These exceptional community leaders come from a wide range of backgrounds. They are teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, as well as technologists, who actively share their high-quality, real-world technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft.  With the MVP Award, we thank these inspiring individuals for representing the voice of thousands in the community through the powerful and independent feedback they give us, and for helping our customers maximize the potential of their software.

Getting an MVP is pretty cool and my renewal came as a big though very welcome surprise and does come with some tangible benefits (software mostly) and access to product groups within Microsoft to feed back comments and ideas, and find out what's up and coming with their products in the coming months.

I received my award pack yesterday and I thought you might be interested to see the physical goodies that Microsoft give awardees.  They include a lovely glass trophy which you get in your first year with a small lug with the year written on it.  In successive years they just send you more lugs.  These include blue 5 year lugs for long-time awardees (some have been MVPs for as long as 17 years!).  Also in the pack you get a Microsoft ID card for when you visit company sites, a metal lapel badge, a framed certificate and this year, which seems a little out of place, a set of MVP stickers.

In fact I've been challenging people to come up with the most imaginative use for the MVP stickers and I'm offering a small prize for the best suggestions (why not give your suggestion in the comments below) and ones so far have included being stuck to a car dashboard so the traffic police in the Microsoft car parks don't give you a ticket, marking your coat hook at work or covering the glowing Apple logo on a Macbook (alas they're not quite large enough for this).  For now I've settled with one on my laptop lid.

I was renewed in part because of my writing here at gHacks and our sister site Windows7News and I'd like to thank all of you for your support this last year.  2012 is going to be great as I have at least two Windows 8 books coming out  :)

Despite the MVP renewal I will continue to call out Microsoft whenever they get something wrong and, in all honesty, I'm considering buying my first Mac this year too!  Photos of the 2012 MVP award pack are below along with the use I put at least one sticker to.

 

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The technology that still has to improve in 2012 http://www.ghacks.net/2011/12/16/the-technology-that-still-has-to-improve-in-2012/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/12/16/the-technology-that-still-has-to-improve-in-2012/#comments Fri, 16 Dec 2011 19:25:35 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=54482 If you look around at what technology has brought us in 2011 it's been a truly momentous year.  The iPad 2, new exciting Android tablets with the proper tablet version of the OS, Windows 8, the HP TouchPad with WebOS, Windows Phone 'Mango', Ultrabooks, cameras with GPS, multi-touch in laptops, new super-efficient Intel and AMD […]

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If you look around at what technology has brought us in 2011 it's been a truly momentous year.  The iPad 2, new exciting Android tablets with the proper tablet version of the OS, Windows 8, the HP TouchPad with WebOS, Windows Phone 'Mango', Ultrabooks, cameras with GPS, multi-touch in laptops, new super-efficient Intel and AMD processors and more.  These have all either been announced or released this year.  In short technology is moving ahead at a pace faster than ever before and amazingly the prices do seem to be tumbling.

This is all great news but there are still some technologies that have got to change in 2012 and they need to do this very quickly or else the technology we use will move so far ahead of them that innovation itself will begin to suffer.  Those technologies are all concerned with the Internet itself or with Internet communications.

Let's start with the ADSL or DSL broadband lines coming into our homes and offices.  Unless you're lucky enough to live in a country such as Sweden which already enjoys 50Mb/sec lines or faster you'll be lucky to get a stable connection on a tenth of that.  Indeed the old 2 miles from the telephone exchange line is wearing thin with many but telecoms companies and governments simply aren't doing enough to rectify the problem.  Here in the UK we think that people who live in countryside villages and who still have to use dial up or get a 512k/sec broadband line have a bad deal.  In some countries where the distances are far further such as the USA, Canada and Australia the problems are 100 times worse.

It's a similar story with mobile networks.  The USA was late to the 3G game but has forged ahead with 4G connections.  Many other countries however are still several years away from moving to 4G, but which time it'll be time to move onto something else in all probability.  The mobile networks also need to sort out the mess that is unlimited data plans and manage their networks in such a way as to allow people to use mobile broadband properly.  The pricing for mobile broadband also has to drop by at least 50% next year.  There's already more than enough money to be made and many people, especially those in isolated areas would love to move away from an ADSL line and onto a SIM contract.  At the moment though it's still far too expensive to do this.

Many people think that a universal wireless solution like a full roll-out of 4G or WiMax will solve the problem and make traditional broadband lines obsolete.  Telecommunications companies need to protect their bottom lines however and, as such, a lot of innovation is being stifled for reasons of profit and share prices.

When we actually are able to get online though using our sexy new devices we find that the web is still looking as old and outdated as it was in 2003.  Back then we didn't have the preponderance of smartphones, tablets and touch-screen PCs that we do now.  Even next year's iMacs are rumoured to be multi-touch but almost none of the world's largest websites have moved to a touch-friendly design yet.  I did this with my own website last month and firmly believe it's absolutely essential.  Some companies are making a move in this direction with the BBC launching a part-touch-friendly website recently but the new YouTube redesign is traditional menus and mouse control only.

It's one thing having new interfaces and new form factors that enable us to use the web in new and exciting ways, and new operating systems that are designed primarily around touch.  If we can't get good, quick and stable connections to the web though, or properly and effectively use the websites we visit when we get there all this technology is going to waste.  Here's hoping that 2012 brings us much more than just a move to IPv6 and some 4G radio spectrum auctions.  What technologies do you think really need to change in 2012 and do you agree with me here?  Why not tell us in the comments.

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Are the Patent Wars now a barrier to Technological Innovation? http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/22/are-the-patent-wars-now-a-barrier-to-technological-innovation/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/22/are-the-patent-wars-now-a-barrier-to-technological-innovation/#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 09:40:28 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=51776 If you look around the world at the moment you will see anti-capitalist demonstrations everywhere.  Here in the UK, the historic St Paul's Cathedral in London, which was built in 1677 and was the wedding venue for Diana, Princess of Wales is currently closed for the first time since the second world war because of […]

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If you look around the world at the moment you will see anti-capitalist demonstrations everywhere.  Here in the UK, the historic St Paul's Cathedral in London, which was built in 1677 and was the wedding venue for Diana, Princess of Wales is currently closed for the first time since the second world war because of protesters.  Now primarily these people are protesting against the big banks and finance companies and the fact that 40% of the world's wealth is owned by the top 1% of earners.

I wanted to get a debate going here though on capitalism in technology, with particular reference to the ongoing patent wars.  First some background.  Technology companies are different from other big business in that they were generally started by visionary people, like Steve Jobs and Clive Sinclair, who wanted to change the world for the better.  These people wanted to open up access to technology for everybody and largely they've done that.  This means that the entire basis for the big modern technology companies hasn't been money and greed, it's been helping people gain access to new opportunities.  This is something that sets technology companies apart from almost all of the rest of big business.

However the patent wars are getting in the way.  No better is this highlighted than with the ongoing battles between Apple and Samsung, with the cupertino giant trying to ban, worldwide, sales of any Samsung product that looks remotely like an iPhone or iPad.  These lawsuits, which cost money and therefore push up prices, also have the effect of limiting consumer choice.  The best thing about the modern computing market that we have now is that there is more choice than ever before.  There are more computing devices than ever before, more form-factors and more styles and colours than ever before.

Now it has emerged that some Windows 8 Metro app developers are concerned they may be targeted by a company called Lodsys for patent infringement of in-app billing.  The patent wars have now got to such an extreme state where small, independent software houses now have to worry about it.

These patents are a big problem now because there are so many of them out there, all being owned or traded by multinationals, and there's no way to be sure that what you do hasn't already been patented by someone else.   However, when you are creating a smartphone, a tablet or even an app, there are only so many ways to make it look, what size it will be or how certain features operate.  When you take into account operating systems like iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8 though that are trying to encourage app developers to make apps that look and operate in the same way the situation can only get worse.

Personally, I believe the the patent wars have now gone too far and the big players involved need to back off, stop focusing on the money and allow the innovation not only that people want, but that we all genuinely need.  This can only create more competition, drive down prices and open technology up to more people, the way people like Steve Jobs originally intended for things to be.  If we really want to create access to technology, access to the Internet and access to new opportunities, especially for the developing countries, we need to take this focus away from money now and go back to basics.

I'm very curious what your comments are about this as I feel you're all either going to agree strongly or you'll be completely polarised on the issue.  Please leave your comments below, it's free, it's open and anybody can take part  ;)

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I’m a Desktop, What are you? http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/20/im-a-desktop-what-are-you/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/20/im-a-desktop-what-are-you/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 14:53:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=51702 I'm becoming increasingly confused by the whole computing market with all manner of new and, relatively, affordable form factors coming to market.  There was a day not that long ago when you had a choice, Desktop PC or Laptop, indeed even laptops were commonly out of the reach of most people and it's only relatively […]

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I'm becoming increasingly confused by the whole computing market with all manner of new and, relatively, affordable form factors coming to market.  There was a day not that long ago when you had a choice, Desktop PC or Laptop, indeed even laptops were commonly out of the reach of most people and it's only relatively recently that they've become affordable.

Now however we have more types of computing devices than it's possible to shake a stick at, and one thing is becoming clear, the good old desktop PC is becoming sidelined.  I wanted to ask you all, which is quite ironic given Martin's post of earlier today, what your opinion is of these devices and what you think of them generally.

The main computing devices we now have include desktops, all-in-ones, desktop replacement laptops, everyday laptops, ultraportables, convertible tablets and traditional tablets.  In fact it's possible within all these types not just to get what is probably the perfect form-factor for you, but also something that fits perfectly with the aesthetics of where it will go.

To kick off the discussion I'll start with my own thoughts on my home and home office.  I have a desk in my living room with a desktop PC on it, as many of you will have too.  It is my aim to replace this with an all-in-one PC before too long.  The barrier here for me is that my desktop has a graphics card with the grunt to properly run modern games like Battlefield 3 and all-in-ones often compromise on gaming ability.  I also have a laptop, a desktop replacement Dell which I use for work in my home office upstairs.  This is a big, heavy machine and hardly portable.  It does offer me the storage and power to be a true desktop replacement however in every sense of the word, rather than some of the weedier desktop replacement machines that really don't offer a viable alternative for you.

I also own two tablets, a Windows 7 ExoPC and an HP TouchPad.  The ExoPC is now used only for work and presentations and the TouchPad is for lounging about on the sofa occasionally when I'm tired.

I have had a couple of Samsung ultraportables on test though, and I'm very happy with the form factor.  These new breed of ultraportables, pioneered by the Macbook Air, are sexy enough to suit the modern living room while small and light enough not to get in the way.  This is important for a laptop as I doubt many people really want a big grey block in front of them when they're watching the evening news.

If I had to pick one though it still comes back to the traditional desktop for me as this is the only form factor that really offers me the flexibility I need in terms of hardware and storage.  Much as I want to banish the desktop from my living room forever, I just don't feel that all-in-ones are there yet in terms of true power and flexibility.

So what's your preference?  Are you a desktop person or a laptop guy?  Do you prefer all-in-ones and why?  Do you have an ultraportable, or do you want one to replace what you have?  Have you indeed banished your computer upstairs forever and it's tablet all the way in your main living space?

In short, what is your perfect computing device and why is that?

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Comments, Please http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/20/comments-please/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/20/comments-please/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 12:47:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=51694 Recently I asked myself a question: How come that some blogs, like Lifehacker, ZDnet and other technology blogs get dozens of comments per post, while comments on other sites that I hold even dearer are close to zero. Some articles here on Ghacks for instance receive dozens of comments. A lot of the giveaway (which […]

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Recently I asked myself a question: How come that some blogs, like Lifehacker, ZDnet and other technology blogs get dozens of comments per post, while comments on other sites that I hold even dearer are close to zero.

Some articles here on Ghacks for instance receive dozens of comments. A lot of the giveaway (which is totally understandable) but also articles that are of interest to many readers (Windows Firewall Notifier is a recent example). Other articles here receive one, two or maybe even no comment at all. The same is true for sites like Addictive Tips and even Freeware Genius.

I'd like to discuss why it is like it is. Why are so many users commenting on company backed websites and less users on others? Is that a numbers game? Do those sites receive more visitors which then results in more comments? Or has it something to do with "trusting" those companies?

While the majority of blogs that get lots of user comments and interaction are company based, there are others run by individuals like the German tech site Caschy's Blog with ten, twenty and even more comments per article.

I'd like to get there, get more users involved here on Ghacks. I can think of a few reasons why Ghacks receives less user comments than other sites. It could be that the process is to complicated (which I personally doubt since it does not require registration to comment), that my articles are to boring, or that they "say it all" and leave little to discuss. Could also be the public perception or "image" of the site or that Ghacks visitors are more the passive type.

I'd like to start this discussion to get a better understanding of the reasons. Is there anything that I can change on site that would entice you to comment more often? Or is it something that is completely out of my control?

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Win a Windows 7 Tablet, Microsoft Press Books + a secret gHacks bonus Prize! http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/18/win-a-windows-7-tablet-microsoft-press-books-a-secret-ghacks-bonus-prize/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/18/win-a-windows-7-tablet-microsoft-press-books-a-secret-ghacks-bonus-prize/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2011 18:31:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=51650 I'm running a competition on my Facebook page at the moment to win a selection of Microsoft Press books and a fantastic Acer Iconia Tab W500 Windows 7 Tablet, which I can assure you is seriously quick!  The competition runs for six weeks and has some fantastic prizes.  Plus, if any winner says they're from […]

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I'm running a competition on my Facebook page at the moment to win a selection of Microsoft Press books and a fantastic Acer Iconia Tab W500 Windows 7 Tablet, which I can assure you is seriously quick!  The competition runs for six weeks and has some fantastic prizes.  Plus, if any winner says they're from gHacks there's a secret bonus prize!

Each week will see different prizes with a grand prize in the final week. The prize breakdown and dates for the competition are as follows.

Week 1

Monday 17th October to Sunday 23rd October 2011 – Prizes 1 copy of “Windows 7 Plain & Simple” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Week 2

Monday 24th October to Sunday 30th October 2011 – Prizes 1 copy of “Windows 7 Step by Step” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Week 3

Monday 31st October to Sunday 6th November 2011 – Prizes 1 copy of “HTML5 Step by Step” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Week 4

Monday 7th November to Sunday 13th November 2011 – Prizes 1 signed copy of “The Windows 7 Power Users Guide” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Week 5

Monday 14th November to Sunday 20th November 2011 – Prizes 1 copy of “The Windows 7 Resource Kit“, 1 copy of “Windows 7 Inside Out Deluxe Edition” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Week 6

Monday 21st November to Sunday 27th November 2011 – Prizes 1 Acer Iconia Tab W500 Windows 7 Tablet with a 10.1 inch multi-touch screen, 2GB memory, 32Gb SSD, 2 in 1 card reader, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3, 1.3MP built-in webcam, Windows 7 Home Premiun 32-bit and Office 2010 Starter Edition preloaded. 1 copy of “Windows 7 Inside Out Deluxe Edition” and 1 signed copy of “Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out” as a bundle for one winner.

Entry Rules

  • People following Mike Halsey MVP on Facebook may enter this competiton a maximum amount of once per week, duplicate entries will not be counted.
  • Competiton questions will be posted once on the wall of Mike Halsey MVP each Monday throughout weeks 1 to 5.
  • Entries can be accepted from people worldwide.
  • All entries MUST contain the full name, postal address and contact telephone number (required by some couriers) of the participant. Entries submitted without this information will not be counted. This information will be deleted at the end of the competition and will not be shared with third-parties.
  • All participants must be 16 years or older to comply with competition rules in some countries.
  • All participants must be able to receive packages via standard postal mail or by courier.
  • People may only win one of the weekly prizes (weeks 1 to 5) and the grand prize maximum. People cannot win two weekly prizes.
  • People who have won a weekly prize may still enter following weeks to increase their chances of winning the grand prize, though their entry will not be counted in the week they enter.
  • Each week’s competition will be slightly different to reflect the prizes on offer and may include open and multiple-choice questions and tip suggestions
  • Each person must submit a tie-break tip each week on the subject provided, this subject will change each week.
  • Entries must be emailed to mike@MVPs.org with the subject Competition during the weeky period of the competition, as stated above. NOTE: If this email address repeatedly fails (which it does sometimes) try mike_dot_halsey_at_live_dot_co_dot_uk
  • Lost, late or undelivered entries cannot be counted.
  • The winner of the grand prize will be selected from the best tie-break tip over the full course of the competition. There will be no separate way to enter during week 6.
  • Winners will be notified by email within 6 days of the end of each week’s competition and will be required to accept their win within a calendar week. Any person who is non-contactable by email, or who does not accept their prize within the time permitted will forfeit their prize, which will be reallocated to a new winner.
  • Prizes will be sent by a variety of methods including regular mail. No replacement prizes can be sent for any items lost or damaged in transit and no cash alternative will be available.
  • Delivery of prizes can take 6 to 8 weeks depending on the location of the winner and the delivery method used.
  • The winner will be chosen by Mike Halsey and judged on the quality of the answers given and their tie-break suggestion. Mike Halsey’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Entry to this competition constitutes acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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Ghacks Turns Six Today, Lets Celebrate http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/03/ghacks-turns-six-today-lets-celebrate/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/10/03/ghacks-turns-six-today-lets-celebrate/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2011 07:23:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=51051 When I first started the Ghacks Technology News blog back in October of 2005, I did not really have any expectations whatsoever. If it would be there after a year, that would be fine. If not, nothing was lost. I also did not really think about making money with the site, or even -gasp- quit […]

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When I first started the Ghacks Technology News blog back in October of 2005, I did not really have any expectations whatsoever. If it would be there after a year, that would be fine. If not, nothing was lost. I also did not really think about making money with the site, or even -gasp- quit my regular job to become a full time blogger. Well, everything changed when the site became popular.

In the beginning I worked two jobs, Ghacks and my regular one. This was a pretty hard time as I had to work before I went to work and after I went home on the site. I was lucky back then that I never experienced any serious down times when I was at work. I'd probably would have taken a sick day or day off then to be able to fix the site.

When the site started, it was all about a tool that a friend of mine had created to make advanced Google searches from the program. It was very handy at that time, but it somehow got dropped along the way. That's actually where the name Ghacks comes from, Google Hacks.

The day that changed it all was when the guide Using Google To find Movies made it on the homepage of the then popular service Digg. The site, only active for about a week, received tens of thousand of visitors from that exposure. I was lucky enough that I added Adsense some time before to the site. When I found out that the site made more than $100 on that day it made click and the idea was born to make this more than a hobby. Without that, Ghacks may have never become what it is today.

It has been six years now and Ghacks is still more or less a one-man show. Sure, I hired some authors to add different perspectives to the site, but it is me who administrates the site, watches over its financials and contributes to the site on a daily basis. It is a full-time job. Surprisingly though I'm still motivated and do not have that nagging feeling that I do not want to "go" to work because work sucks. I love it.

Now that the site has turned six, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for being a visitor, reader, guest, contributor or whatever it is you are to the site. Without your help, Ghacks would not be where it was today, and more importantly, I would still work my 9 to 5 job.

To celebrate the event, I'd like to provide you with the opportunity to win one of ten Ghacks t-shirts. You can take a look at both available shirt designs here:

ghacks red

ghacks black

The shirts are of high quality. I still have the first shirts I ordered a few years ago when I started offering merchandise.

All you need to do to win a shirt is to comment here on this thread, or mention the birthday on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or any other site on the Internet (that you are allowed to post on and where it is appropriate).

I pick the winners and contact them asking for their shipping address, t-shirt they want and size. Please note that some black shirt sizes are currently out of stock. It may take some time before they become available again. Good luck everyone.

Update: The winners of the shirts have been notified by email, they are: Paul(us), Ivan K., JFP, JimT, Tinwheeler, Kalmly, Mouser, Midnight, Johan Gustavsson and Matias.

Thanks to everyone for all the great wishes and praise, that was really nice for a change ;)

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post Ghacks Turns Six Today, Lets Celebrate appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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Ask The Readers: Mobile Access, Smartphone Coverage http://www.ghacks.net/2011/09/20/ask-the-readers-mobile-access-smartphone-coverage/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/09/20/ask-the-readers-mobile-access-smartphone-coverage/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 09:25:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=50661 With mobile access to Ghacks reaching new heights every month, I'd like to use this Ask The Readers post to get your opinion on a few things that I have been pondering about for a couple of months. First issue that I would like to throw into the room is mobile access to Ghacks. There […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post Ask The Readers: Mobile Access, Smartphone Coverage appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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With mobile access to Ghacks reaching new heights every month, I'd like to use this Ask The Readers post to get your opinion on a few things that I have been pondering about for a couple of months.

First issue that I would like to throw into the room is mobile access to Ghacks. There is currently no mobile version of Ghacks available. Mobile users access the same Ghacks site that desktop users access, which may be not the most appropriate version for them to view considering the differences in screen size and connection speed.

The first question that I have therefor is if you would like to see a version of Ghacks optimized for mobile devices such as iPhone or Android smartphones. Users who connect with those devices would benefit from faster page loading times and optimized layouts.

Are you accessing Ghacks sometimes from a mobile device? Let me know your thoughts about it please.

The second question that I have is about mobile coverage here on Ghacks. Roman recently send me an email which got me thinking that it would be nice to review great smartphone applications, tips, tricks and how-to guides as well as important phone updates.

I'm thinking of one article per day maximum to take into account the growing mobile niche. I was thinking of concentrating on iOS and Android coverage, but would like to get to know your opinion about it first. Do you think other phones or devices should be included in the coverage? Or would you want less coverage or no coverage at all here on Ghacks?

I'd also like to take the opportunity to ask writers who are passionate and knowledgeable in this field to come forward and apply for the job. Just leave a comment below and I will contact you. Please note that I need to take a look at a few sample articles.

Now it is your turn. Would you like to see a mobile version of Ghacks? And would you also like to see mobile coverage here on Ghacks?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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My Bank, Mastercard And My Annual Hosting Invoice http://www.ghacks.net/2011/07/22/my-bank-mastercard-and-my-annual-hosting-invoice/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/07/22/my-bank-mastercard-and-my-annual-hosting-invoice/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2011 07:06:42 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=48125 Have you ever tried to make a payment with your credit card that is a bit on the high side of things but still well within your limit? I do that once a year when I get my hosting invoice from Wiredtree. Well, to be precise, Wiredtree tries to charge the card directly. Still, it […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post My Bank, Mastercard And My Annual Hosting Invoice appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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Have you ever tried to make a payment with your credit card that is a bit on the high side of things but still well within your limit? I do that once a year when I get my hosting invoice from Wiredtree. Well, to be precise, Wiredtree tries to charge the card directly. Still, it never works. This is the second year in a row where I get the information that payment could not be processed and that my hosting bill is overdue.

First thing I did last year was to check in on the site to verify that my credit card information are correct. Which they were, not a huge surprise considering that I have not used or changed the data in one year's time. Next thing I try is to make a manual payment on the Wiredtree Grove website, with the same result.

I get the dreaded authorization failed error on the page. That's bad, considering that delays in payment of the invoice could mean that the server Ghacks is running on could be taken offline by the company until a payment clears.

So what can I do? I call the Mastercard hotline in my country where I have to wait a good ten minutes or so before I have to go through a ridiculous authorization process (card number, name, birthday, address, three digits of the linked bank account number). I then get the following explanation (every year, actually more often as I sometimes buy expensive stuff on the Internet, have to call them all the time).

Mastercard has an automatic fraud detection system in place that blocks payments that break a pattern or look suspicious. My payment to the web hosting company Wiredtree is apparently looking like a fraudulent payment. The only possible explanation that I have for this is that it is a four-digit payment to a foreign country. The service agent offers to disable the fraud protection for the next 24 hours or 3 days so that I can make the payment.

I'm curious and want to know if there is a way to whitelist select companies, but that is apparently not possible. The system is also not capable of learning from past year's payments. I mean, I pay the hoster once a year at the same time. Should not an automatic system be able to come to the conclusion that the payment is legit if it happened in past years as well?

I ask the agent about options. The only option for me to make sure that the automatic payment gets through is to call them a day earlier to remove the automatic fraud checking for three days from the account. That's ridiculous, don't you think? To make things worse, you have to pay for that call.

Have you ever had problems with your credit card and online payments? Let me know in the comments. Oh, and hosting for Ghacks is paid in full for a whole year, so no worries in this regard. Until next year, that is.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Ghacks Visitor Stats http://www.ghacks.net/2011/07/12/ghacks-visitor-stats/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/07/12/ghacks-visitor-stats/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 07:12:02 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=47711 We have heard a lot about browser stats in the past, how Firefox is plateauing, how Chrome is gaining market share and how Internet Explorer is dropping to new lows every month. I thought it would be nice to share some of the site stats with all of you. The stats have been taken directly […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post Ghacks Visitor Stats appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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We have heard a lot about browser stats in the past, how Firefox is plateauing, how Chrome is gaining market share and how Internet Explorer is dropping to new lows every month. I thought it would be nice to share some of the site stats with all of you. The stats have been taken directly from Google Analytics, and should hopefully paint a very clear picture of the people that visit the Ghacks technology news website. For comparison reasons, I made the decision to add data from 2009 to the mix. (It is June 2009, and June 2011)

Lets start with browsers, as this is something that is constantly in the news all over the world. Firefox was the number one browser here on Ghacks in 2009, with a share of 49.11%, followed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer with 34,90%, Google Chrome with 6.73%, Safari with 4.02% and Opera with 3.88%.

Things have changed noticeably two years later. Internet Explorer is now the most used browser with a market share of 34.59%, that is only .31% less than two years ago. Firefox dropped significantly from the all time high to 32.14%, a drop of nearly 17% in two year's time. Chrome managed to get market share and is now sitting at 21.01%, an increase of exactly that 17% that Firefox lost. Safari moved up .30 percent, Opera usage dropped to 2.27%, unless Opera Mini is included in the calculation which would add another 2.29% to Opera's market share.

browser market share

When you look at the different browser versions you see the following distribution:

Internet Explorer:

Internet Explorer 8 is the most used browser with 56.59%, followed by Internet Explorer 9 with 17.75%, Internet Explorer 6 with 13.83% and Internet Explorer 7 with 11.79%. Microsoft at least here on Ghacks has a lot of convincing to do to get IE users to switch to more recent versions of the browser. It is likely that the majority of requests that use IE6 or IE7 come from company networks.

Firefox:

The most used Mozilla browser on Ghacks in June 2011 was Firefox 4.0.1 with a share of 44.63%, followed by Firefox 5 with 16.07%, Firefox 3.6.17 with 11.25 and Firefox 4.0 with 4.18%. Many users are still using outdated versions of the browser, Firefox 3.6.3 for instance which is still having a share of 1.38% of all Firefox visits. This highlights one of the core problems of Mozilla: Getting users to update the browser to more recent versions. It needs to be noted that Firefox 5 has been released at the end of June. It is expected that the browser's market share will rise considerably in July.

Chrome:

Google Chrome is the clear winner when you look at market share gain in the past two years. Most Ghacks visitors run various versions of Chrome 12 and 11. Older versions are still being used, Chrome 10 for instance has a market share of nearly 2%.

Opera Mini:

Opera Mini had more connections in June 2011 than the desktop version of Opera. That's an increase of nearly 2% over the past two years.

Google Chrome, at least here on Ghacks, managed to snag away market share from the Firefox web browser, and not Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Operating Systems

Windows was the most used operating system back in 2009, with a share of 88.62% of all visits, followed my Apple Macintosh systems with 5.60% and Linux with 4.89%.

The situation has not changed by a lot in two year's time. Windows is still the most used OS with a share of 84.93%, followed by Macintosh with 4.17% and Linux with 3.66%. Android is having nearly double the visit rate of the iPhone, with 1.41% to 0.77%. This is followed by SymbianOS with 0.76% and iPad with 0.72%.

Mobile use is increasing a lot, and it may be time to get a special theme for mobile users to improve their experience on site.

Windows:

Windows XP was the most used Windows operating system in June with a share of 46.51%, closely followed by Windows 7 with 42.88%. Vista came in third with a share of 9.90%. That's a drop of 17% for XP in the last two years, and of almost 20% for Vista.

And there is apparently at least one user who is connecting to Ghacks with Windows ME.

Screen Resolution

The majority of Ghacks visitors operate a screen resolution of 1024x768 or more. When you look at individual resolutions you see 1024x768 at the top with a share of 20.59%, followed by 1366x768 with 13.85%, 1280x800 with 11.12% and 1280x1024 with 8.51%.

screen-resolution

Screen resolutions have - surprisingly - changed only little when compared to two years ago. In 2009, 1024x768 was the most used resolution with 22%, followed by 1280x800 with 19.26% and 1280x1024 with 16.16%. Only the 1366x768 resolution was nowhere to be seen back then. It has become popular in recent years only, especially on notebook systems but also on the desktop.

Other tidbits

Almost 80% of all Ghacks visitors have Java enabled in their browser. That's an impressive value, considering that it is likely that the majority does not need Java at all on the web.

The top five countries according to Google Analytics are:

  • United States
  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • Brazil
  • Canada

Most popular languages of the operating systems are:

  • en-us
  • en-gb
  • en
  • pt-br
  • fr

The top search engine is Google which refers 60.68% of all search engine visitors followed by Bing with 4.95% and Yahoo with 2.39%.

Anything else that's missing that you would like to know, or something that you want to add? Let me know in the comments.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post Ghacks Visitor Stats appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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gHacks Editor’s Tutorial Videos to go on Official Microsoft Support Website http://www.ghacks.net/2011/06/21/ghacks-editors-tutorial-videos-to-go-on-official-microsoft-support-website/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/06/21/ghacks-editors-tutorial-videos-to-go-on-official-microsoft-support-website/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2011 18:11:41 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=46785 Here at gHacks we pride ourselves on giving you the very best help and advice, and it seems that we're not the only ones who think so.  After an approach by the company, Microsoft have now confirmed that they will be putting my tutorial videos for Windows 7 on the official Microsoft support website at […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post gHacks Editor’s Tutorial Videos to go on Official Microsoft Support Website appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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Here at gHacks we pride ourselves on giving you the very best help and advice, and it seems that we're not the only ones who think so.  After an approach by the company, Microsoft have now confirmed that they will be putting my tutorial videos for Windows 7 on the official Microsoft support website at support.microsoft.com.

Additionally I will, at their request, be making more tutorial videos and providing how-to articles for their support site and for their TechNet newsletter which goes out to IT professionals.

The news has come about because of the publication of my first Microsoft Press book last year, Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out, which became one of the publisher's top 20 eBooks of 2010, despite only being released at the end of October, and has sat consistently in the top 2% of all paperback sales on Amazon since then.

tutorial videos

Personally I find it quite an honour that Microsoft consider my help, support and tutorial materials and videos to be of a high enough quality to be part of the official Microsoft support website.  I know this sounds a bit glib coming from the author of a Windows 7 Troubleshooting book that was published by Microsoft Press, but it really came as a very pleasant surprise that came out of the blue, and I'm genuinely thrilled.

The first five videos to go on the Microsoft website, about the Automated Troubleshooters, reading the Event Viewer, using the (oh so carefully hidden) System File Checker, the very useful Windows Startup Repair and finally how you can manually Repair Corrupt Boot Files were originally made to help promote the book.  Future videos will be made in collaboration with Microsoft and will focus on the things Windows users have the most difficulty with.  The next videos will appear by the end of this month.

There's also more exciting news coming in the next month or so, but at the moment I'm sworn to secrecy (and quite frankly it's driving me nuts!) but you'll be the first to hear, believe me.

You can watch the first five videos on my YouTube page and get the latest news on additional videos for the Microsoft website on my new Facebook page.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Software Developers: Host Your Files On Ghacks http://www.ghacks.net/2011/06/21/software-developers-host-your-files-on-ghacks/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/06/21/software-developers-host-your-files-on-ghacks/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:03:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=46754 I always wanted to go ahead with a download directory on Ghacks, but never had the time to ready the site for this. I have started hosting some files here on Ghacks, pre-dominantly software without a developer website. This is usually the case when a software gets released and the developer vanishes into anonymity after […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post Software Developers: Host Your Files On Ghacks appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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I always wanted to go ahead with a download directory on Ghacks, but never had the time to ready the site for this. I have started hosting some files here on Ghacks, pre-dominantly software without a developer website. This is usually the case when a software gets released and the developer vanishes into anonymity after some time. The homepage goes offline eventually and it can be hard from this point on to find a working software download, and not only a download portal that links back to the - now defunct - developer homepage.

Here is my offer for software developers and users alike. If you have a software that you would like to be hosted on the Internet, you can do so here on Ghacks. Just send me the program and I will host it on my server. You can link to the download directly from your website if you like, or to a post here on Ghacks that reviews the application. A link back would in both cases be appreciated.

You can also contact me if you are not a developer but have software on your hard drive that is hard to find and without developer homepage. I upload the program to the repository here so that everyone can download it more easily.

All programs are tripple-checked with online and offline antivirus applications to make sure that they are clean and do not contain malicious code. I have created a temporary download page here on Ghacks. Plan is to beautify it a little bit, as it looks pretty awful at the moment.

Please note that Ghacks is not offering hosting for web pages, only for software downloads at this point in time. This might change as well if enough software developers show interest in this opportunity. For now, if you have coded a program but do not know where to upload it to, let me know about it.

I'd also like to point out that we cannot host certain type of files, including cracking or hacking related applications.

Use the contact form at the top of the page, or leave a comment in this thread to discuss this further.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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gHacks Editor at Microsoft UK Tech.Days + Win a Tablet PC http://www.ghacks.net/2011/05/17/ghacks-editor-at-microsoft-uk-tech-days-next-monday/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/05/17/ghacks-editor-at-microsoft-uk-tech-days-next-monday/#comments Tue, 17 May 2011 11:19:28 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=45224 It's all go here at gHacks.net (as per usual) and just to show some of those other Windows, Microsoft and tech websites out there that they're not all as impressive as they might think they are we're doing more and more every week and bringing you bigger and better stuff. For all of you Tech Pros in […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

The post gHacks Editor at Microsoft UK Tech.Days + Win a Tablet PC appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

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It's all go here at gHacks.net (as per usual) and just to show some of those other Windows, Microsoft and tech websites out there that they're not all as impressive as they might think they are we're doing more and more every week and bringing you bigger and better stuff.

For all of you Tech Pros in the UK I'll be hosting some "Ask the Expert" sessions at Microsoft's upcoming "Deploying and Managing the Modern Desktop" Tech.Day event in London (23rd May) at the request of Microsoft UK. You don't get that from other tech websites!

Desktop technology has marched on: user needs and expectations are changing; the Internet is a different place to 10 years ago and we haven't even mentioned virtualisation!

You need to think about your desktop and the infrastructure behind it. You need a modern desktop to easily take advantage of all of these technologies, and to enable your people to be productive long into the future. In this demo-filled day, we will look at how to weave technologies like Windows 7, Office 2010, the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP), and desktop virtualisation technologies into a coherent sustainable, cost-reducing desktop strategy.

The day is split into four sessions. Modern Desktop, Deployment, Virtualisation and then a final session on Windows Server and Office 365. In addition there will be information on subjects including migrating from IE6 and application compatibility as well as introductions to some new Microsoft technologies including Lync, Office 365 and Windows InTune.

I'll be in each session and available during intervals to answer questions from delegates on desktop, deployment and virtualisation and, of course, Troubleshooting!

I'll be taking my camera too and grabbing people from Microsoft and other major players in the tech industry to ask them about all manner of subjects, and I'll post all that back here next week. It should be an eciting day with a great deal to see and interesting people to meet.

Win a Tablet PC + Free Books!

exo pcWhat's more the social event of Microsoft's whole UK Tech.Days week will be our Geek Meet (Sun 22nd May, 8pm) which will be held this coming Sunday at the Bavarian Beerhouse in Tower Hill at 8pm. It's open to everyone, people from Microsoft will be there to answer your questions and share a drink. What's more we'll be giving away £600 of tablet PC, courtesy of Exo PC. It's very easy to win too, and I'll also have a big stack of signed copies of my book to give away.

If you're already booked to attend the Techdays then feel free to come and give me a poke on the day but if not and you're anywhere near London then get yourself along to the Geek Meet. I'll be the guy in the gHacks t-shirt doing some very social networking :)

On the night you will need to bring along a printout (or smartphone) showing you’ve subscribed for your chance to enter and win.

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Things To Do When You Are Tired, But Still Need To Work http://www.ghacks.net/2011/05/14/things-to-do-when-you-are-tired-but-still-need-to-work/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/05/14/things-to-do-when-you-are-tired-but-still-need-to-work/#comments Sat, 14 May 2011 19:07:04 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=45130 It happens that I get tired in the late afternoons, so tired in fact that I'm hard pressed not to go to bed directly to sleep the sleep of the brave. This happens often after a restless night, or when I wake up too early. The following list contains tips that help me stay awake […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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It happens that I get tired in the late afternoons, so tired in fact that I'm hard pressed not to go to bed directly to sleep the sleep of the brave. This happens often after a restless night, or when I wake up too early.

The following list contains tips that help me stay awake in those situations. Remember that I work at home and that some may not be suitable for your situation.

Lets start with the things to do when you are tired and need to overcome that tiredness.

Take a nap

This sounds counter-productive at first, especially if you do not wake up after 20 minutes of power napping. I often lay down on the couch, close my eyes and try to relax. I'm pretty good at waking up at the time that I want to wake up, no need for setting the alarm. If you are a heavy sleeper you may need an alarm, or someone else waking you.

Sometimes I put on my headphones and listen to music, with eyes closed. The music gives me an understanding of the time that has passed since starting the nap.

Drink Coffee, Black Tea, Caffeine, Water

I do not drink coffee or other caffeine containing drinks after five in the afternoon though as I do not sleep well if I overdo it. If you do not care, you could get the much needed boost with a cup of hot coffee.

You may also feel tired because you are dehydrated. Try to drink enough water throughout the day to avoid this from happening.

Chewing Gum

I do not know why, but chewing gum helps me stay awake. Maybe it is because it stimulates face muscles, maybe it is because of something else. If you do not have caffeine around, you may want to try chewing gum instead.

Walk, preferably outside

A short walk, preferably outside, helps me stay awake as well. Sometimes I walk to the nearest market to buy chewing gum (haha). Walking in combination with fresh air and sunlight seems to push away the feeling of tiredness.

If you cannot leave, try tapping your feet or moving your body on the chair. Take a short break to go to the toilet. While there, get some cold water on your hands and face. You can also open a window and stick your head outside for a while to get some fresh air.

Eat something light

Light eating may also revive your body up to a point where you can get through the day without dozing off. Do not eat something with too much sugar though. Nuts, Vegetables like carrots, a wholemeal sandwich with cheese are all things that you can eat.

Talk to someone

If you have someone nearby, start talking to them for a couple minutes. If possible, get up and walk with them while doing the talking.

Turn up the lights, if light is dim

Working in half-darkness or full darkness is not only not good for the eyes, but it can make you sleepy as well. Make sure you work under excellent lighting conditions.

Open a window, change room temperature

You may want to open a window to get fresh air into the room. This can help if the room temperature appears to be to warm, especially if you do not have access to the heating system to adjust the temperature.

I know that this is not the usual article you find here at Ghacks, but please bear with me on this one. To make it better, let me know how you overcome tiredness!

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Blogging Lessons, 3 Years Later http://www.ghacks.net/2011/03/30/blogging-lessons-3-years-later/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/03/30/blogging-lessons-3-years-later/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2011 18:09:27 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=43271 My full time blogging career began back in December of 2007. Back then I wrote Full Time Blogging and My first 15 days as a Problogger which offered advice for webmasters who were blogging part time and not sure whether they should make the big leap forward to become full time bloggers. More than three […]

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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My full time blogging career began back in December of 2007. Back then I wrote Full Time Blogging and My first 15 days as a Problogger which offered advice for webmasters who were blogging part time and not sure whether they should make the big leap forward to become full time bloggers.

More than three years have past and looking back, I can firmly say that this was the best decision of my life. It was not always easy and I'm still struggling at times. This post is about the good things, bad things, and advice that I would like to share.

Full time blogging is not for everyone. You are from that moment on responsible for your well being and that of your family. You need to get up and write. I write 365 days a year which may be an extreme case.

I learned to reduce my output at times to recover and gain strengths. Regular Ghacks reader may have noticed that I started to write less on weekends and holidays. Those are my recovery periods. I still write between one and four posts on these days, but the reduced output gives me time to concentrate on other things.

I have not been on a lot of holidays in the past three years, my trip to Israel and Vienna have been the two exceptions. I try to write and schedule articles in advance to enjoy those trips. Still, I have to spend at least an hour or so per day to check the blogs, websites, servers and emails.

I met lots of great people, fellow bloggers, entrepreneurs and companies, and even more charlatans and thieves. When I began blogging in 2005 I read all the posts of the self-proclaimed problogging gurus. This stopped when I realized that they had nothing to offer but self-promotion.

I started concentrating on the business aspects and learned a lot about SEO and business marketing at that time. It took me more than two years to get there, a process from noob to someone who knows what he is doing online, what works, and what does not.

blogging

Being a fulltime blogger has other implications. Bloggers can make money in two ways: Advertisement or writing content. If you have your own website you usually combine the two. Managing the advertisement side of business takes lots of time, especially if you have a blog with visitors from all over the world.

Advertising wise, you usually make use of Google Adsense, because it can deliver ads to a world wide audience. Banner advertisements on the other hand are usually limited to a few English speaking countries. Some companies use low paying ads for the rest of the world, the majority tends to ignore it.

Another advertising related problem is that you often get emails from new companies who want to sell your ad space. You know have the option to try them out to see if they perform better than your current company, or deny the proposal outright. If you try them out you may end up with a big dip in revenue if they perform not as well as your previous advertiser. It seldom happened that a new company outperformed my active advertisers. I suggest A-B tests for those cases which give you better comparison options.

Then there is the webmaster side of things. If you run your own sites, you are responsible for your websites and servers. You need to make sure that they are accessible, that the contents are up to date, that they load fast enough, that bills are paid, domain names renewed and so on.

It is possible to automate a few of the things. I'm working with a company that monitors my websites and servers 24/7. If anything that is monitored goes down, I get an SMS no matter where I'm. (see Monitor Your Servers With Livewatch).

But you cannot automate everything. I spend about 30 to 60 minutes per day for webmaster related tasks. Fix broken links, moderate comments, update scripts, make changes to pages, design or structure of the site, check web statistics and reply to users and companies who contacted me.

This can become a fulltime job on some days, for instance if a site goes down, if a site is moved to a new server or if I have made the decision to change a site's theme (never change a running system).

You think that being a writer, webmaster and marketing expert is all that you need to be to be an independent full time blogger? Think again. Enter SEO.

Search engine optimization, love it or hate it. Still, it is one of the essential skills that you need. You could outsource your SEO, but believe me when I say that you will have a very, very, very, hard time finding a reliable SEO company that does your SEO for acceptable rates.

Don't even think of hiring a SEO on a webmaster forum. If you frequent there you may have seen the packages that they offer. 20k visitors for $x, Mininets, 10,000 backlinks for $49, profile links, web 2.0 links, comment links, autoblogs, private blog networks and more.

The core problem with the majority of offers is that they can hurt the site's rankings, besides that the majority of them rely on link building that many would call outright spam.

SEO is in my opinion the hardest part. If you do something wrong you can crash your site, get it banned in the search engines. If you want to do it right, you need to monitor every move which takes lots of time and effort on your part.

Without SEO on the other hand, your site won't take off. Sure, you may get lucky and see an article of your site promoted on sites like Slashdot or Reddit, or constantly mentioned on popular blogs like Lifehacker. But that's an exception, not the rule.

Traffic does not automatically come even if you have the best content about a certain topic. That's where SEO comes into play, to get that content into the open, recognized.

You can do a lot of SEO groundwork on the site, onpage optimizations, good internal linking structure and so on, but you eventually come to a point where you need to add offsite SEO. If you can afford it hire a reputable SEO company. Most bloggers, including me, cannot afford that on the other hand as you have to pay thousands of Dollars usually per month for that.

One of the options that I want to explore in the coming months is guest blogging on other sites.

Lastly, as a blogger you are also dependent on others; Especially on search engines, referring sites and your visitors of course. Ghacks experienced two huge drops in traffic after recent Google algorithm changes. A false positive so to say but nevertheless extremely hurting. both financially and mentally. It was never that bad that I thought about quitting, but it was close. The site recovered each time after three months.

The lesson I learned from that? Diversify your traffic profile. Get a newsletter, a Facebook page, Twitter. Get the word out on sites like Reddit, Yahoo answers, become a brand that people know and trust. You cannot be dependent on one main source of traffic.

I would do a lot of things differently if I would have to start all over again starting with the domain name. Should have picked .com and not .net. It is not a major thing so.
Still, blogging is fun and while it is stressful at times it is also very rewarding. I can work from home, and every other place with an Internet connection.

The post has gotten a bit longer than I wanted it to become. I apologize for that. If you have any questions about blogging, or Ghacks let me know and I try my best to answer them.

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Competition: Win HTML5 Step by Step in Paperback http://www.ghacks.net/2011/02/21/competition-win-html5-step-by-step-in-paperback/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/02/21/competition-win-html5-step-by-step-in-paperback/#comments Mon, 21 Feb 2011 21:13:57 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=40051 The web is moving towards HTML5 with all new browsers supporting the standard including Chrome, Firefox and the forthcoming Internet Explorer 9.  This new scripting language.  It adds new tags including <AUDIO><VIDEO> and the <CANVAS> tag that can be used for creating effective animation and text effects.  The language now allows you to embed all […]

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The web is moving towards HTML5 with all new browsers supporting the standard including Chrome, Firefox and the forthcoming Internet Explorer 9.  This new scripting language.  It adds new tags including <AUDIO><VIDEO> and the <CANVAS> tag that can be used for creating effective animation and text effects.  The language now allows you to embed all of this including full screen video without the use of any plug-ins such as Flash.

Here at gHacks we've got a copy of HTML5 Step by Step by Microsoft Press to give away.  It doesn't just cover HTML5 commands too, if you're new to either HTML or CSS it will guide you through what you need to know to create engaging and interactive web pages.

html5 step by step

Teach yourself how to create Web pages with the HTML5 specification—one step at a time. This book provides hands-on guidance for using HTML5 markup to add video, offline capabilities, 2-D graphics, and more to your Web pages—without relying on plug-ins or other technologies.

Experience learning made easy—and quickly teach yourself how to create Web pages with the HTML5 specification. With Step by Step, you set the pace—building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them!

  • Use a division-based layout to structure your Web pages
  • Include menu bars and hyperlinks for clear navigation
  • Apply colors, font sizes, and other formatting with CSS
  • Add graphics, sound, and video to your pages
  • Use the Canvas tag to render visual images on the fly
  • Build user-input forms with buttons, boxes, and menus

Your Step by Step digital content includes:

  • All the book's practice files—ready to download and put to work. See "Using the Practice Files," inside.
  • Fully searchable online edition of this book—with unlimited access on the Web. Free online account required; see inside book.

This is a simple competition too, all you need to do is the following.

  • Follow @Mike_Halsey on Twitter and Tweet about this competition
  • Don't Tweet? You can also enter by following Mike on Facebook and putting a link to the competition there.

You can enter as many times as you like as long as you don't spam people.

This competition will run until the end of Friday 25th February 2011 and the winner will be notifed by private message on Twitter or Facebook by Wednesday 2nd March 2011. Please allow 28 days (or so) for delivery of the paperback book. If you are the winner you will need to be able to provide your full mailing address (PO Boxes can't be accepted, sorry).

Good luck to all, but there can only be one winner!

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Lets Celebrate, We Received Our 1 Millionth Spam Comment http://www.ghacks.net/2011/01/29/lets-celebrate-we-received-our-1-millionth-spam-comment/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/01/29/lets-celebrate-we-received-our-1-millionth-spam-comment/#comments Sat, 29 Jan 2011 09:14:17 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=39393 Blog spam, in the form of manual or automatic comments, trackbacks or pingbacks, has always been a problem for bloggers. It is just to lucrative to run a software that spams links all around in the hope that some will stick and benefit the site that they link to. List of blogs that do not […]

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Blog spam, in the form of manual or automatic comments, trackbacks or pingbacks, has always been a problem for bloggers. It is just to lucrative to run a software that spams links all around in the hope that some will stick and benefit the site that they link to.

List of blogs that do not verify comments are traded on Internet marketing forums, services and websites. Webmasters fight a constant battle against spam. When I started Ghacks six years ago it was a small site, and I was able to verify all comments, trackbacks and pingbacks manually.

But a lot has changed since then. More and more tools that automate the commenting have been created, to the point that everyone can use them without problems. All that is needed is a big list of blogs that accept comments and that's it.

Advanced spammers use proxy lists, virtual private networks, unique comments with variables (for instance the author's name included or variations of phrases and words) and more to improve the chance that comments are accepted on spammed sites.

Ghacks today receives more than 900 spam comments per day. That still may not sound as much considering that other blogs may very well receive tens of thousands of comments per day. I moved from manually checking every comment to only checking comments sporadically, mainly because of time constraints.

Ghacks has received its 1 Millionth spam comment in this month, another blog milestone. Akismet did not record spam from the very beginning which means that the actual figure may indeed be a lot higher than the one reported. The one million mark has been reached in the last three years.

blog spam

I have tried a lot to reduce the amount of spam but have not found one reliable option to block spam before it reaches the blog. Tried a lot but nothing worked, or interfered with regular commenters who started reporting troubles.

Next to the one million spam comments are more than 79k legit comments, a ratio of 1:12.6 which I think is incredible.

Are you a webmaster? How do you cope with spam?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader.

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Why I love Arguments http://www.ghacks.net/2011/01/16/why-i-love-arguments/ http://www.ghacks.net/2011/01/16/why-i-love-arguments/#comments Sun, 16 Jan 2011 13:32:34 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=39005 One of these days, and I'll try this eventually, I'm going to write an article called "Apple" which will contain just a single word, that word will again be "Apple".  What will the reason be for doing this?  Simply because I know full well that some Apple fans will be up in arms and probably accuse […]

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One of these days, and I'll try this eventually, I'm going to write an article called "Apple" which will contain just a single word, that word will again be "Apple".  What will the reason be for doing this?  Simply because I know full well that some Apple fans will be up in arms and probably accuse me of being deliberately inflammatory about the company.

This is brilliant and it's just like being back in school in the heady days of the home computing revolution.  Then I had a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and those of us who preferred squidgy keys and colour clash got terrible batterings, in more ways than just figuratively sometimes, from those people with Commodore 64s.

It was brilliant that technology got people so hot under the collar, but then we hit the late 80's and everything became really dull and quiet.  In fact for a long period there was nothing to get excited about at all as the console revolution that we have today hadn't started, and PCs were still far too expensive for people to have in their homes.  If you had an ageing Commodore Amiga or Atari ST you'd use that.  If not you were in a non-technical wilderness.

When technology became more affordable again, which began with consoles, it was Sony that not only ruled the roost, but that had the entire market to itself and so far as PCs went, nobody dared get all excited about the horrible beige box they were forced to keep hidden away.

Now though things are much more exciting.  We've got all types of smartphones with competing operating systems, tablet computers with even more competition when it comes to operating systems, and home PCs that are finally funky enough, and with an operating system good enough, that their owners can start shouting at the Mac people again saying they got ripped off.

I'm a PC guy, I have a media centre PC under my TV, a Windows Phone and two Windows-based computers.  I also now have a Windows 7 tablet on the way to me as well.  Why do I have exclusively Windows-branded stuff?  It's certainly not for my job, as an author I could write perfectly well using Linux, as a tech blogger I could comment on all things Windows from a Mac and for my leisure I could be quite happy with an Android phone or an iPad.

We're back in the same situation were were in during the mid-1980's though when you find yourself, by hook or by crook, locked into a particular eco-system.  The reason I have all Windows stuff is that I need connectivity and for everything to work together in harmony.  It just so happens that this is the best way to achieve that.  This is in the same way that all my wireless networking kit is all from the same range and from the same company, it helps take the pain out of configuring it.

I have a good friend in London who has gone the other way.  He has a PC that I built for him but he never uses it.  He instead uses a Mac.  He's also had an iPhone for a while and has bought an Apple TV and an iPad recently.  It's all exactly the same kit that I have myself but, well, just different.  It will all work in exactly the same way as the kit I have here too.  Now I don't believe for a single moment that his choices were anything to do with brand loyalty.  I know him well enough to say with confidence that his primary concern was that everything worked well together and that each device didn't present him with a new, steep, learning curve.

It's interesting the way this has panned out because we're in a position now where the customers are once again doing much of the marketing and promotion work for the companies they buy from, just as my friends and I did in school singing the praises of Sinclair, Commodore and Acorn and even, once in a while, swinging someone else away from their own choice.

So occasionally I write things about Apple or Google but because people know me as a Windows guy I'll get flamed for it.  I have to write this stuff though because it's my job.  I love Apple and Google because, while I may not always agree with their business practices and products, they, like Microsoft have inspired a new generation of people to feel passionately about the technology that they buy and use.

What could be better then than a really good argument.

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