I don’t normally keep this up to date… well, I haven’t for a year, but I was so incensed by my recent discovery that I had to voice my distaste. It seems that CJ.com, for whom I am signed up as a publisher affiliate, have decided to remove my account willy-nilly; without warning, without opportunity or right to appeal – nothing. CJ had deleted or deactivated my account.

And how did I find this out? Because I went to go and log in to my account. I couldn’t. Thinking it was just because I’d forgotten my password, I requested a reminder. No dice. It appears that my registered email address did not belong to an active account. “Strange,” thought I. “I could have sworn this was the right email address. Oh well, let’s go and check.”

I checked. It was right. Confused, I decided to try the other link on there that is supposed to help people with login problems contact CJ’s customer *ahem* service. I received the following email:

From: no-response@custhelp.com
Subject: Assistance Request Denied

Your request for assistance cannot be accepted because your email
address is not registered with an existing account.


Was I mad?! Yes, I was. CustHelp.com? Expletives.

A little internet research leads me to the conclusion that my account was closed due to inactivity. Yes, I hadn’t logged in for a while because I was unlikely to be clocking up large figures of sales… and quite possibly no sales at all. But I DID have funds in there – I HAD made some sales at one point. Those profits are gone now – and though $20 might not mean anything to some people, it means a hell of a lot to me. It’s a starting point. It’s somewhere from which I can grow.

I don’t like this no-right-to-reply deletion of online accounts. I’ve heard horror stories before, particularly from webmasters (boy does that phrase sound corny) who rack up money only for it to disappear before their eyes. I’m leery of going back to Commission Junction now, a company which I have previously recommended to others for the excellence of their affiliate programs. I guess I probably will still recommend them – but with a very significant caveat.

- Don’t dare stop making sales or they’ll delete your account!

(PS. For anyone who’s interested, the few “sales” I made were from GoDaddy’s affiliate scheme that I had set up on my domain name manager website – in case you’re looking to manage your domain name lists.)

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Woo! I’ve just launched a single page website about the zodiac on a domain I registered through Godaddy auctions. Nothing at all special, the domain doesn’t have any particular attached kudos, but I wanted to run the experiment to see how well it did compared to a “blank” domain purchase.

The URL is www.zodiac4u.com – simple enough, quite easy to remember and ripe for content. At this point it’s just the one page, setting out a kind of mission statement about what I want to do with the site. Effectively I want to give people personalised horoscopes so at some point I’ll create a full enquiry form. Horoscopes are a particular pleasure of mine.

So the Godaddy thing – yeah, it’s alright. I’ve done it before, bought the expired domain name www.nottheonion.com – this did have some kudos with existing pages which I replicated (not content wise, just page name wise). It seemed to do very well for that reason, already has a pagerank (I think 2). I think it’s worth checking it out – it’s not as cheap as buying a domain name from scratch but with so few decent .coms available these days it’s a decent solution.

For anyone looking for SEO reasons, I also did a fair amount of research today about purchasing .net domains instead of .coms – my feeling is that seriously – it’s not worth it. If you can’t get the .com you want, unless your site has a particular reason to be particularly geo-centric (eg. .co.uk because the site is about the UK), you’re stuffed. My advice would be to keep looking, keep dancing around the domain registration places typing in keywords that kinda match, making sure your eventual URL isn’t going to be super massive.
The other thing to keep in mind, of course, is that at first of course you’re unlikely to get a high percentage of “type-in” traffic – that is, traffic from people typing your domain name straight into the address bar. Instead people are going to be searching for your site and that’s how they’ll find you. But DO people bookmark? In my experience, no, they don’t. Instead they remember the domain name and search for that!! If you haven’t got the .com, you’re scuppered! Definitely, buy the .com, not the .net (well, BOTH, if you can get the .com).

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Jade Goody – is there any one person in the UK who is simultaneously so loathed and loved by he public? Yeah, probably. Truth is though that she is someone who has divided opinion so greatly over the years that there’s a certain amount of feeling within me that’s forcing me to be really think about whether it’s fair to “have a pop” when someone’s dying? Why not? Why do I have to suddenly think that she’s a wonderful person *just because* she’s dying?

Well, I should, because like her or not, she has a family, she has friends, she genuinely does have a lot of people who love her around her. Sure, I can be skeptical about people like Max Clifford but really I have no real reason to suspect his motives of being anything but friendly in the lady’s last days or weeks. Frankly I feel a bit uncomfortable, it’s not like she’s stabbed anyone, or destroyed anyone’s future, or really done an awful lot but take advantage of our own society… if anything should be done on the back of feeling anything negative towards the Goodie, then it should be to take on the most deplorable “media” aspects of our selves.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of the whole thing. She is one amongst thousands who are suffering in exactly the same way, she’s not special in that respect.. and to be honest, I have no idea if she herself would like the attention she’s getting. I just don’t know, and it’s not fair to assume that she would.

The amount of vitriol and humor being poked at her around the internet is immense. There’s a pretty good summary of all this shown here: Jade Goody funny stories and jokes. Don’t blame that site, by the way, it’s just aggregating all the stories around the internet.

It’s a weird state of affairs. The way I see it is Jade Goody is OK. She’ll die, people will mourn, and hopefully Cancer becomes even more pressing in people’s lives as something that needs funding, in terms of research, and hopefully anyone who has profited from Jade Goody’s life (and death) will put some money – if not all that money – that way.

When the time comes – because I won’t blog about it again – RIP Jade Goody.

This review isn’t going to have a “rating” – it doesn’t seem appropriate.

A review of MSN Messenger

MSN People

Message away!

I’m not really into social networking, social bookmarking, social…ising. Anything really that involves me having to interact with other humans is not really something I do. Which makes it all the more important that my communication tool of choice really does the job well.

I use MSN Messenger. It might not even be called that, exactly, but I don’t much care either. Messenger is a Microsoft product, which doesn’t immediately mean it’s evil or that it’s buggy or that its Terms and Conditions forced me to give up my first born or the deeds to my eldest Stallion. Nope – it just means it works pretty much half the time and almost certainly contains a lot of functionality I’ll never use.

Personally I think out of all the instant online chat machines, Messenger is the best (out of interest, ICQ was the worst). It’s functional, it lets you have your own avatars, it’s quick, it lets you have privacy (I’m always in “appear offline” mode). Yeah – it’s a good product.

Appearance: 8/10 (It hasn’t ever changed much but personally I *like* that)
Functionality: 7/10 (It doesn’t do much, really, but what it does it does well)
Funk factor: 4/10 (It won’t do much for your street cred)

Overall I give MSN Messenger a healthy but not stunning 6/10

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Google Chrome Reviewed

Google Chrome LogoAs a web developer I have to constantly be looking at new technologies, of course Google Chrome has been around for a fair while now but after the initial techy-geek pickup immediately after launch, I’m starting to see an increasing user base for this particular web browser and it’s about time I took the time out to look at it properly.

Speculation about Google releasing a web browser into the market had been around for years since it was confirmed and it was eventually released in September 2008. It launched with a pretty big “hoo-hah” and had zillions of downloads before the day was out. However, many skeptically (and probably rightly) suggested that a great number of these downloads would then sit as unused desktop items that your OS would kindly remind you should be tidied at regular intervals. There was, many said (and I was amongst them), no real room for a new browser in the market. Internet Explorer was going to be used by anyone who had no real reason to look elsewhere, whilst FireFox had the market of those who needed to look under the hood of websites. Safari had fairly recently been available to download for Windows users – and so what need was there for a new browser?

Chrome – the fast browser

In my use of Chrome one of the best things I can say about it is: Whoa! This thing’s fast. I don’t just mean at loading itself, although that is fairly nippy, but the actual rendering of web pages is very impressive. True, I must temper this with the confession that I have a silly number of “add ons” plugged into FireFox at any one time, but nonetheless I’ve never seen a browser render a page quicker. And it makes a difference you know, I never really thought about it but it makes the internet feel a heck of a lot slicker. I spend a decent amount of time in my job working out how to make the back-end behind websites process quicker, whilst at the same time ensuring that the front-end developers around me are also producing slick code and well optimised imagery. But all this work is heavily diminished if the browser itself is sluggish, and Chrome has pointed out (hopefully) to the big-boys exactly how it’s done. Yeah, I’ll call Mozilla’s FireFox browser a big-boy because it really is now.

Another feature of Chrome that I’m really impressed with is that each browser tab or window is (apparently) a separately running application, meaning that if one tab crashes, the rest doesn’t go with it. This might sound stupid but I’m sick of losing the dozen or so tabs I’ve got open with IE or FireFox, even if FireFox does offer to open them up again next time… and crash for the same reason :)

Speaking of tabs, I LOVE the way you can drag a tab outside the tab-line and it turns into a new window. That’s magic, that’s exactly what I wanted from FireFox, especially when you’ve got 2 monitors. The ability to create a new window from an existing tab is such a simple one but something I’ve genuinely missed having!

Chrome – the ‘meh’ browser

However, when trying to think of other positives, I’m kinda struggling. It’s not that Chrome’s doing much wrong, it’s just that I get everything it does, more or less, from either FireFox or IE. With IE I know I’m going to find the website I’m looking at (probably) looking as it was designed 1, with FireFox I know I’m going to be able to get the functionality expanded, that everything I already use it for works really well, and I can rely on its rendering engine to displays things exactly as programmed.

In terms of what it’s actually missing, there’s not a great deal, I’d suggest. The only thing I have noticed is a lack of internal RSS reader – a bit weird when you open up an RSS/XML file and have it load in the page like an HTML file (ie. tags invisible, content spewed).

Overall, I mean, I like Chrome. I’d give it a home, maybe in the garage, but I suspect there’ll be others who’d give it the couch, maybe even offer it a beer. But I just don’t care enough. Y’know?

Score: 7/10. It’s not its fault, it’s just a bit meh.

1 NOTE! I know perfectly well that IE renders things very poorly indeed. What I mean by this is that developers are pretty good at making sure that their websites work in the browser that 80% of people use. Sadly.

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