It’ll Be A Sad Day When iGoogle Is No More

Amongst the number of services Google provides, iGoogle portal has to be at the top of my list. It’s my one stop shop for daily news, weather forecasts and playing the odd game. I was surprised when Google announced they will discontinue the service from November 2013. I was reminded by the deadline on my iGoogle page today, reinforcing that this is going to happen. I was hoping Google would reconsider but it doesn’t look like that's going to happen.

iGoogle Discontinued

Google’s decision to discontinue iGoogle in my opinion is a little rash. They claim: “With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time”. And this is where the problem lies. Why does everything nowadays have to evolve around an app? Some things are best left accessible through a browser.

I like getting to work in the mornings and gazing over the days topics. It’s bloody informative! I’ve yet to find an app that matches what iGoogle offers. iGoogle is a one page where everything is displayed without having to click to another page. Google Chrome's substitutes require me to do exactly that. Big waste of time.

I’m not the type of person to be concerned about change and in most cases I welcome it with open arms. But this will take a little time to get use to.

Goodbye old friend, you’ll be sorely missed!

Google Needn’t Worry About Facebook’s Advertising

Today I came across this really interesting tweet on my Twitter timeline today:

Limited Run, posted on their Facebook profile stating that they would be deleting their account due to the amount Facebook is charging for clicks on their advertising. Here’s the interesting part: About 80% of the clicks Facebook charged Limited Run, JavaScript wasn't on. And if the person clicking the ad doesn't have JavaScript, it's very difficult for an analytics service to verify the click. Only 1-2% of people going to their site have JavaScript disabled, not 80% like the clicks coming from Facebook.

Interesting stuff.

Before Limited Run takes down their Facebook profile, I’ve attached a screenshot of their post below:

Limited Pressing Facebook Post

Reading this post today reminded me on a news article I read on “virtual likes” and how advertising through Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be any better off. It all comes down to the level of engagement user’s have with a profile page. If users are just liking the page and not interacting with your posts or general content, those likes are worth nothing. Some companies are wising up to the effectiveness of Facebook’s advertising strategy.

Limited Run isn’t the first to ditch Facebook ad’s, General Motor’s pulled away from Facebook ad’s earlier this year due to the ad’s Facebook produce do not have the visual impact needed to justify the cost.

I think certain aspects of Facebook is a joke filled mostly of people looking for attention, not an effective marketing tool.

To “.me”, or not to “.me”, that is the question…

Location HTTPEver since I decided to expand my online presence, I thought the best step would be to have a better domain name. My current domain name is around twenty-nine characters in length. Ouch! So I was determined to find another name that was shorter and easier to remember.

Ever since “.me” top level domain (TLD) came out, I snapped up “surinder.me”, partly because all other domains with my first name were gone (you know who you are!) and the “.me” extension seemed to fulfil what I wanted my website to focus on. ME! Having said that, I would have loved to get a “.com” domain, but I guess that’s what happens when you enter the online world so late.

I was ready to move over all my content to “surinder.me” until one on my techy friends told me that things are still undecided when it comes to “.me” TLD’s in general. Originally, the “.me” extension was assigned to Montenegro’s locale only. But it’s fast gained traction over the years due to it’s simplicity and wide range of possible domain names. Even companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Wordpress and Samsung rushed to register their “.me” domains. Hence the reason why I decided to get one.

Companies seem to be using “.me” extensions for either URL shortening services or redirects to partner sites with “.com” extensions. It doesn’t fill me with much confidence when “.me” extensions are used this way. Google’s software engineer, Matt Cutts wrote a reassuring post on his Google+ profile earlier this year by stating:

“…regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don't expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com…If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that's your choice, but you shouldn't register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you'll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

This should put all my “.me” fears to rest…right? Well it’s nice to know Google won’t penalise a site based on an extension. In the world of web, a search optimised site is king (as it should be). It’s nice that Google have given “.me” (as a country extension) global status given the nature of how its been used of late. But if you check Google’s Geotargetable Domains article, the text in brackets worries me.

Google’s Webmaster Tools Geotargetable Domains

 

I get the feeling you can’t go wrong with a “.com” domain providing you can find something meaningful to your cause. Steps are being made in the right direction for gccTLD’s. For example, Webmaster Tools gives you the option to geographically target your “.me” site. However, I can’t find anything concrete to alleviate my concerns in the long-run.

So where does this leave me? Well, we’ll just have to find out if my future domain contains a .me extension. Smile

The Ridiculous Price of A Domain

I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement domain name for a while now and even making purchases that has some reference to my name. Since I’m not having much luck with new registrations, I decided to snoop around for domains that are up for sale. Lo and behold I found my ideal second-hand “.com” domain: surinder.com. However, there’s a catch…

Currently “surinder.com” sales price is £5000! Whaaaa!!!!!?????

Ridiculous price for surinder.com

I know Surinder is a really cool name and damn right popular with the ladies, but seriously £5000. Even I wouldn’t have the audacity to sell my domain for that much (offers will be accepted though :-) ).

When reading numerous articles on how domain names are valued, it seems to evolve around the sum of the domains generic value and the value of its traffic. So its not exactly clear cut. I highly recommend reading this post on “How To Value a Domain Name”, it has some really useful information.

Finally! Google Shows My Profile Information In Search Results

Ever since Google+ came along, I noticed website authors were getting their picture displayed next to article’s they’ve written in Google searches. Not to be left out of this trend, I decided I would attempt to get my ugly-mug displayed next to all my authored content as well.

Having carried out almost all of Google’s requirements through minor HTML modifications and verifying my Google+ account is linked to this blog, it’s finally happened!

Author information in search results

You may find that it can take some time for authorship information to appear in search results. I carried out all necessary steps back in January 2012. So it’s taken a good 3 months to get picked up. I am sure times will vary depending on the popularity of your site and the number of authored content it contains.

Here are the four basic things I did to get my mug-shot in Google’s search results:

  1. Make sure your Google+ profile has a recognisable headshot photo of high quality.
  2. Link your site to your Google+ account by adding a badge.
  3. Verify your Google+ account with an email address containing your domain address.
  4. Add a link to your site in the “Contributor” box in your Google+ profile.

Time for a new chapter in my online presence

Moving blogAfter blogging under the “computing-studio.com” domain name for around 4 years, I think its time for a new chapter in my online presence. Last Friday I decided to buy a new domain name called surinder.me. At the time “computing-studio.com” domain seemed like a great idea where me and my fellow techy University friends would contribute. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out and decided to go it alone.

From looking at the number of blog posts I have written (95 at the time of writing), you would be forgiven to make the assumption that I am not the most persistent blogger. I believe the domain has a part to play. After all, “computing-studio.com” somewhat limits what I can write and doesn’t really give me the freedom to talk about things outside my technical field.

Even though I am a techy at heart (I guess being a web developer doesn’t help), I talk about other things non-code related through my Google+ and Twitter posts. I see having a new domain name is just the start. I am hoping to collate all my contributions from sites under the surinder.me address. So everything is about…well…me!

All exciting stuff! I am not looking forward to implementing all the redirects and having to work my way up Google’s page rank again. But its something that has to be done.

Watch this space!

Integrating Into Google Plus - Is it worth it?

Google PlusWhen I first heard Google were introducing their own social-networking platform, I was intrigued to say the least on what they could offer compared to the other social sites I use: Facebook and Twitter.

As I stated in one of my earlier posts, I am more of a tweeter since I can share my blog posts easily along with my random ramblings. I think Facebook will have a problem competing alongside Twitter or Google+. Facebook is seen to be more of a personal social network rather than a open professional network and that’s its biggest downfall. It’s quite difficult to cross the boundaries between posting professional/business content alongside personal posts. Thankfully, this is something Google Plus does quite well through its new “circle’s” feature allowing complete control on who see’s what.

I jumped at the chance of using Google Plus when I was offered an invite during the initial release. I was very impressed. Simple and straight-forward. My posts looked really beautiful within its minimalist user interface. Well what else would you expect from Google? Don’t get me started on the eye-sore that is Facebook’s new interface – I’ll leave that for another blog post.

For me, Google Plus is like an extension of Twitter with some added benefits such as:

  • Ability to make posts private/public.
  • Follow people by adding them to a circle.
  • No character limit on the length of posts.
  • Nice interoperability with the search-daddy that is Google.

For a new social networking site, I get a higher click-through-rate to my blog than I ever got compared to tweeting on Twitter. In the process, I managed to get more people adding me to their circle. So take any remarks regarding the inactivity of Google+ with a pinch of salt. I don’t buy it. Google encompasses a big community that you feel part of.

I briefly touched upon the interoperability factor with Google search. People underestimate the power of having the backing of Google search. For example, what if you wrote an article and linked it to your Google+ profile? This information will be displayed as author information within search results to help users discover great content and learn more about the person who wrote the article.

One thing that did surprise me is the fact that at this point in time there’s no advertisement. Unlike its predecessors (yes I that’s how confident I am in Google Plus), you always manage to find advertisement in some form or another. I can view my profile page without constantly having an advert rubbing my single relationship status to my face – something Facebook does far too often.

I trust Google more with my data over Facebook any day. I know Google can’t exactly be trusted either but unlike Facebook they’re not always in the the news on a monthly basis regarding some type of data scandal. At time of writing, it is being reported Facebook is now facing a privacy suit over internet tracking.

In conclusion, integrating ones self into Google Plus is definitely worth it. I only recently started to make more of an effort on Google+ and I find myself posting my content here over other social-networking sites. The key to making a good start is to make some of your posts public to show others your interests and even connect to these type of people either by adding them to a circle or joining a hangout.

On a final note, if you have a Google Plus account and like what I post then why not circle me. :-)

Has Facebook Redefined Friendship?

Definition Of FriendI was a late bloomer when when it came to joining the social networking giant that is Facebook (around late 2007). The only reason I can remember for ever joining the site was just because all people around me were submitting their profiles like crazy. Not wanting to miss out on this new trend, I decided to “pop” my social networking cherry and take the plunge!

Looking back on my first experience on Facebook I was amazed at how easily I could connect with friends and people I used to know from a past life (school, work etc). Within a few months my Facebook profile spread through the social networking vine in quick haste and found myself receiving friend requests. But it became ever so prevalent that the people who requested me to add them as a friend weren’t people I would necessarily call a friend. I knew of them and that is where my connection ends. So in some ways Facebook has redefined the term “friend”.

Facebook has broken down the friendship barriers considerably. Its made it really easy. Too easy in fact. It was only a couple days ago when my sister said: “Look! I got more friends than you!”. In all honesty I wasn’t really bothered…ok maybe a little. This is where personal feelings come into play.

One of the feelings I will call: “Facebook guilt”. Facebook guilt is when you receive a friend request and don’t act on it. You simply ignore it hoping they would just forget or even worse…remove their request altogether. Hoping by not accepting their friend request you haven’t made an enemy or caused emotional discourse.

Then there is “Facebook rejection”. An example of this is the following conversation I had with with a work mate of mine a few years back:

Anonymous friend: I’ve sent you a Facebook friend request.
Me: Ok cool.
Anonymous friend: How come you haven’t approved it yet?
Me: Mate, I’ve been on holiday for over a week and haven’t checked Facebook yet. I’ll do it today.
Anonymous friend: Thanks Surinder!

I was surprised that he took not responding to his friend request as a personal hit.

Social Networking sites have created a trend that makes us more interested in the number of people in our social circles rather than the relationships we have with them.

So where do I stand in the social networking medium? My Facebook activity has drastically declined over the years. Currently, I have 114 friends with majority of them I know quite well and only a handful of them I haven’t really met. Nowadays, I have become more of a tweeter. I just feel that Twitter has met my social needs over Facebook. Its just more flexible and open. If someone likes you they follow you, if not they don’t.

Back Up and Running!!!

crying-man Last week my blog was offline due to an unfortunate mishap. I won’t go into the details on what happened. I’d rather just forget.

After a lot of hard work, sweat and tears, my blog is almost back to its former glory. I was lucky enough to find a backup that was made a few months ago using BlogEngine’s BlogML export tool. Hooray!

Even though all my posts are back on display, I have unfortunately lost some user comments and ratings. It saddens me to know that I have lost this valuable information, since hearing your thoughts makes this blog a more exciting read.

There is still some work to do, but I am glad to say the difficult part is over.

Mobile for 4 Year Olds? This Is No Toy!

firefly When the mobile phone first came out, not surprisingly they took the world by storm. Over the years, the mobile has evolved and it was only going to be a matter of time before a phone for a child would be released.

The Firefly mobile phone for four-year-olds has the ability to take pictures, video’s and play MP3 files while allowing parents to have full control. They can restrict who can be called from the phone, who can call the phone and control how much is spent. This is all well and good, but I am finding quite hard to understand why a child of four would ever need a mobile? Isn’t it the parents, teachers or guardians responsibility to ensure that the child is safe? Targeting a mobile phone for four-year-olds raises the question on where the parents responsibility is going.

I remember back in the good old days when I was a kid, my parents were definitely the over-protected type (and they still are). But they always made sure they knew my whereabouts and I was always in the company of an responsible adult to keep an eye over my mischievous ways. Have things changed so much since I was a young kid (I am 24 now) that there is now a need for toddlers to have mobiles? The answer is NO! Only the bank balance of mobile phone companies will be benefiting from this idea.

I have to admit the Firefly mobile phone makers have a very clever marketing team. They are just playing on the fear that all parents have. Losing sight of their child. If you don’t know where your four-year-old is, will he/she know? Four-year-olds rarely have information to impart of such significance on their surroundings that will help in locating where they are.

We have all been made aware of the health concerns on the impact of mobile phone radiation. We as adults know the consequences of prolonged use a mobile phone can have on our brains and have the freedom of choice to decide how long we wish use them. What about a child? They do not have the knowledge to make such a choice? A disturbing study by researchers at Örebro University Hospital in Sweden last year indicated that children may be five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones.

I could carry on moaning about this mobile phone. I can see no reason a child young as four to have a mobile phone.