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Archive for February, 2009

Adsense Nonsense

February 12th, 2009 No comments

If you look around my humble little blog here, you are probably noticing a dearth of content.  Given that I’ve just started out in my blogging phase, something possibly every true tech head goes through, the short list of posts so far is perfectly understandable.  What is also understandable is my wish to make some kind of money off all this effort I’m putting into my literary work of vanity, a wish I took to the web in an effort to find an advertiser that would share their earning with me in exchange for some small share of real estate in my posts and on my front page.

Advertising on blogs and the like is a break-even to small comfort proposition, unless your name is Ariana Huffington.  Apparently, because I did not know this before my mental spewing venture, once you start advertising on your site, your entire existence consists of clicking the refresh button on your webalizer or statpress log pages like a rabid chain-smoking day-trader.  Actually posting  contents becomes secondary.  Given that the need to make even the small amount necessary to cover your hosting costs for your site, finding an advertising company that will both treat you right and pay you well becomes very important.  Keep those two things in mind as we go on…

After much research on the internet machine, I settled on Google Adsense.  There was a lot of information out there on their Adsense service, and even more pixels dedicated to get-rich-quick schemes using the service.  Signing up for Adsense for free and adding some JavaScript to my site and then collecting money sounded pretty good to me.  Even though I’ve just started, I’m knowledgeable enough and definitely egotistical enough to be sure that I’m going to continue adding content for a while to come, assuring me a growing number of clicks and therefor a growing check from the guys who claim the motto “Do no Evil”.   I make money.  Google makes money.  Google’s advertisers make money.  Everyone wins.

Well – no they don’t.  Let Me Explain — No, There Is Too Much.  Let Me Summarize.  I signed up for their service, got my account, created a few ads and even dared a channel.  I put the ads on my site using a WordPress plugin called Smart Ads.  After a day, the ads started matching the content on my site.  I told people about my new blog – friends, family, etc… After a week, I had about $18.00 in my account, spurring dreams of the blog actually paying for itself and possibly providing a little extra with which I could buy new tech.  I was very happy.  And then it happened.  I logged into my account one morning about a week after I opened it and I got the dreaded message:

Account Disabled

Your AdSense account for this login is currently disabled. We recommend checking your email inboxes for any messages we may have sent you regarding your account status. Sometimes our messages can be caught by email filters, so please be sure to check the Bulk/Spam folders of your email accounts as well. If your account was disabled for invalid click activity, please visit our Disabled Account FAQ for more information.

Well.  That sucks.

I Did What?

After the initial shock, my brain kicked into overdrive to asses the situation, running through hundreds – nay, thousands of options which streamed in front of me terminator HUD style, each being evaluated against a laundry list of variables to determine the exact cause of my embarrassment.  Only one conclusion rose to the top of my full statistical analysis of all the possible vectors.  That conclusion: “What the hell!?!”

Next stop was my email account, in which I found this wonderfully helpful missive…

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

You’re kidding me…  This site?  MyTechHell.com?  What was the significant risk? – that they might learn something about hardware?  Is the Java language anathema to the advertisers?  To quote one great American cartoon character – “What did I did wrong?”

Having exhausted my almost non-existent knowledge on the subject of getting rejected by online advertising companies, I turned once again to the internet machine to find solace and an answer as to how to remove the scarlet “R” from my account.  On my first page of results, however, I found a whole different story.  Go ahead – do a search with the words “adsense account disabled” and see what comes up.  You’ll find exactly what I did: Google seems to be running a grift of epic proportions.

They’re Doing What?!?

For the most part, you can figure out a lot by taking a look at the information on adsenseaccountdisabled.com.  The gist of that site and other sites, blog entries, and forums is that Google will suddenly and without warning cancel people’s accounts in what seems to be a completely arbitrary fashion.  In my case, this website was approved for an account, and a week later they suddenly found that it violated their T&C (Terms and Conditions).  The difference between when they approved my site and disapproved of it?  One post.  A post reviewing a Logitech Mouse.  I already knew that Google uses pidgeons to rank web pages,   but could it be that they are using cats to manage their Adsense business?

cat-on-computer funny_cat_pictures_pc_2

It is a sad fact that by all accounts, only about one percent of those so ejected from Adsense are ever allowed to return.  Using the link included in your rejection letter to get the appeal form is almost worthless given this statistic.  Even worse, most people have no idea what they did to incur Google’s wrath.  Oh, I’m sure there are a lot of people who say they didn’t do anything while they shut down their auto-click applications, but it is statistically improbably that the number of site owners having this problem would all turn out to be click fraudsters or porn magnates, and the only answer anyone has ever gotten from Google is this:

Because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection system, we’re unable to provide our publishers with any information about their account activity, including any web pages, users, or third-party services that may have been involved.

Riiiiggggghhhht…  So Google thinks my website is somehow harmful to their advertisers (even though they approved my site only a week before), but they can’t tell me exactly what they found that was considered harmful, and whatever it was was so egregious an affront to their terms of service that no warning was given before termination.  Oh – wait… I forgot.  There’s no evidence anywhere on the ‘net that warnings are ever given.  It’s the equivalent of telling someone out of the blue that they’ve broken the law and sending them directly to death row.

So here I am, a user of a great many of Google’s wares including Chrome, gmail, search engine (of course!), etc…  and yet as far as their advertising department is concerned, I’m a depraved villain trying to take their money.  Well, I’ve got three questions for them that they will probably never answer.

  1. If you can detect fraudulent clicks, why aren’t you just filtering them out?
  2. How in the name of all that is good and pure does one click on an ad on your own site constitute enough click fraud to dole out the same punishment you apply to people who spend years creating systems to hide thousands of fraudulent clicks a day from you to scam you out of thousands of dollars a month?
  3. I know you want to protect your “algorithm” (who’s name is probably Mrs. Whiskers) from the world at large, but what the hell did you find so offensive on a site about technology???

Keep in mind that I did not fall into the “click fraud” category.  I was summarily accused of posing “a significant risk to [Google’s] AdWords advertisers.”  Even if the risk was that I did not have enough content yet, I’d be fine with that (and very busy for the next few weeks), but there’s no way to tell what the problem could possibly be.

Where’s My Check?

And people are loosing major money because of this problem.  I lost $18.xx dollars.  Not enough for me to cry over, but there are stories on the ‘net about people loosing their accounts with thousands of dollars in them, and suspiciously, they almost without fail seem to have their account yanked only a day or two before a check is supposed to be cut.  Even more suspiciously is where that money supposedly goes.  Let’s go back to Google’s “You’re Screwed” FAQ:

According to our Terms and Conditions, publishers disabled for invalid click activity may not receive any further payment. The earnings on your account will be properly returned to the affected advertisers.

Please also note that we place stop payments on any outstanding checks for accounts that have been disabled for invalid click activity. We ask that you refrain from depositing any checks you may receive in the future, as your bank may charge fees for depositing a stopped check.

I challenge anyone reading this to find one advertiser that actually got a refund check or had their fees reduced due to click fraud.  It would seem no one on the ‘net can find one, with several helpful Adclick users chiming in that they’ve never seen a penny returned to them for anything.  What’s more, if Google can determine click fraud so swiftly that the advertisers are never charged for invalid clicks, then what’s the deal with disabling accounts where one or two misplaced clicks occurred?  I have two cats that live with me that love walking over keyboards, and sometimes I’d like to verify what the ads placed on my site are linking to, and several other reasons why canceling for even a click or two a day is absolutely ludicrous.

I Has A Sad…

This whole post may constitute a long, drawn-out rant, but considering the sheer number of people having the same problem, I feel that adding my voice to theirs can only help to keep bubbling this problem up to the top of the general consciousness, and hopefully spur someone who can actually do something about it (Lawyers? Start your class action lawsuit engines!), to call Google Adsense what it’s starting to look like – a major scam.

In the end, for me at least, what really galls me is that I have been accused of doing “wrong” when I do my very best to be a good netizen.  Even given all the evidence that Google is doing this to thousands of people and by all maths, making a LOT of money off of it, I still get a twinge thinking that just maybe I really did do something wrong.  Hopefully this “problem” with Adsense will be corrected in the near future and give me a little vindication, but then again, the posts on the ‘net go back as early as 2006, so I’m not going to hold my breath.  If you are reading this, I’d think long and hard before I signed up for Adsense, because there’s a good chance you’ll get that apologetic email and most likely right when you’re about to collect a check you were really counting on.

And now, for your clicking pleasure, here are a list of links to the sites I found most informative on this subject:

Addendum

I foolishly tried to get reinstated.  Google says to expect a reply up to 48 hours from when you submit your “I did what?” query.  I got mine a little under the 72 hour mark, and what a surprise:

Hello,

Thanks for providing us with additional information. However, after thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, we’ve re-confirmed that your account poses a significant risk to our advertisers. For this reason, we’re unable to reinstate your account. Thank you for your understanding.

As a reminder, if you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by visiting https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Do they realise what kind of animosity they are engendering on the ‘net with whatever secret policy they are using to cancel our accounts?

Categories: Blogging Tags: , , ,

GoldX PlusSeries QuickConnect USB Cord Kits

February 8th, 2009 1 comment
Review Info
Home Page goldxproducts.com
Price QuickConnect 12 in 1 Camera Kit – $15.84 (amazon.com)
Needs Nothing
Construction 10
Usability 10
Worthiness 10

Introduction

GoldX USB Cable KitsI was going to write a review of this super-extreme piece of ultra tech that fixes blue screens just by being near your computer. It is so versatile that at the same time it makes Windows actually secure, allows you to play your games without the disk, and stops spam from being sent to you at the source. It also reverses your hair loss. It is the Alpha, and the Omega

This is not that review.

In preparation for that review, I couldn’t find the USB cable that went with the digital camera I use to take pictures of reviewed hardware. You know – the USB cable that came with the camera, with the standard USB A plug on one end and the what-the-hell-is-that-gotta-be-proprietary plug on the other end? The cable that the camera manufacturer charges $30 to replace? The cable that’s easy to loose in a house with four dogs, five cats, two guinea pigs, eight horses, and two goats? Actually, the animals have nothing to do with it – I’ve got a seven-year-old little girl.  ‘Nuff said.

So what do I, the Alpha Geek, do when I can’t find a cable with the right ends on it? I bring out one of the most useful pieces of tech I carry, one of the few I don’t go anywhere without, and it comes from a company called JDI Technologies.

Construction

The beauty of the GoldX USB connectors is that they very well may save you hundreds of dollars. For a few bucks, you get a spiffy and sparkly gold cable with a female terminator on either end.  Those terminators allow you to plug the included USB connectors onto the cable in any combination needed to connect two pieces of electronics together.  There are three connector kits at last count.  I, of course, have all three.

Each kit gives you a number of tips, a sparkly cable, and a pouch with individual bands in it to hold each tip, making it easy to flip the top of the pouch and peruse the available tips within.  None of that raffle-type “stick your hand in and pull out a bunch” type searching.  The pouches are leather – probably fake, but sturdy, black, and sporting a single snap to close them, which, given the stiffness and construction of the material, works just fine.

The cables are somewhat stiff and sturdy enough that constantly changing tips has not weakened the cable or the terminators in any way.  The kits will last awhile – I’ve had mine now for a few years, and they are almost as good as new. There’s really not much more to say about it.

Usability

Simple and eminently useful, this allows you to connect everything from your Logitech Universal Remote, to your Cannon Powershot camera to your computer.  With the right kit, you can even form a Cat5 cable or a USB extender cable.  Being able to connect any USB device to your computer is so useful that you’ll probably add the GoldX sets to your pared down emergency kit that you take when you can’t take your whole equipment bag.

As I previously stated, the kits currently come in three flavours.  There’s the Hi-Speed USB 12 in 1 Camera Kit, the Hi-Speed USB 5 in 1 Cable Kit, and the Hi-Speed USB 5 in 1 Network Kit.  The “cable kit” is for normal folk, and is the only kit that has the USB A Female connector – allowing you to build an extender cable.  The largest of the three – the “camera kit”, is for geeks or photographers or normal people with a lot of digital equipment, and with it you will never worry about not having the right connector for whatever you need to connect – so long as it isn’t proprietary, like an iPod or Palm device.  The “network kit” has the same four USB plugs as the “cable kit” model, but replaces the USB A Female plug with two RJ45 plugs.  Yes, you can use the same cable to connect both USB devices and network jacks.  Yes, that is just too cool!

There’s also the looks you’ll get from people when they’re in need of a specific connector cable, and you pull out your kit and piece one together yourself.  My wife, borrowing one of my kits, had that happen to her.  A coworker of hers needed to get some pictures off a digital camera, but did not have the camera data transfer cable with her.  My wife claimed should could get the pictures off the camera, to which the coworker replied “What – you’ve got a magic trick in that bag?”.  My wife then pulled the GoldX kit she had borrowed out of her tech bag (I’m so proud of her!), and proceeded to build the right cable and get the pictures.  Her coworker’s response? – “Well, I was joking about the magic trick, but that was cool!”  To those of you not of the tech persuasion, that’s pure gold to us!

Conclusion

Get a kit – in fact, get two – the camera and cable kits.  That way, if you need to build a cable and it’s still too short, you can still build an extender cable.  Get the network kit as well only if you’re like me and need to be the Alpha Geek wherever you go – or if you find yourself needing to connect to a wall RJ45 plug for network connectivity every once in a while.  Whichever you get, trust me, you WILL use them.  You’ll have a USB mouse cord too short, or a USB camera or gadget with a missing or destroyed cable, and these kits will save your bacon.  If only JDI Technologies would make iPod and Palm connectors, I’d come up with an award to give them. (They probably don’t want to or can’t pay the needed licensing fees)  I’ll have to come up with that award anyway for Radio Shack’s iGo line, but that’s another review (coming soon!).  In the meantime, enjoy the complete lack of stress that comes with having a GoldX kit around to ensure you never again get that sinking feeling in your stomache that comes with a lost proprietary USB cable.

Categories: USB Tags: , , , ,