Sunday, October 29, 2006

Late and Working

... could describe what I am doing all day and night long. And this is the reason why I cannot write so often any more on the blog. Oh well, better fewer articles but with high quality than many and with poor quality. This post is one of the second category... I just wanted to let you know.

Anyway, this situation will not stay here for long (I hope... since I never know what tomorrow will bring).

On November 2nd and 3rd I will go to Microsoft Days here in my town. I will get back to this topic afterwards. If there will be an Internet connection available I will blog live.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

AdSense Heaven?

OK, some of you may already know about Google AdSense. Wow! What a great idea! Well... actually it really is. But there is a catch... You need to provide high quality content to your site so you can:

  1. generate more traffic on your site (more visitors)

  2. get higher CPC (Cost-Per-Click) ads on your site

1st will increase your CTR (Click-Through-Rate) on ads, therefore your revenues, and 2nd will increase the revenues per single clicks. Thus combined you can make a great deal of money just by running the site.
However, providing such site to the public is challenging. And don't cheat! Follow the TOS (Terms Of Service) "by the book" or you will for sure get banned.
There are a number of articles describing how you can optimize CTR by following some rules like:
  • positioning of ads on the page - there are researches that indicates the hot-spots for ad clicks

  • blending the ads into the page by manipulating the color scheme in which the ads are shown (such as the ones on my business site)

  • ... and not last, lots of experimenting

I suggest for a beginner to look first into the official Google AdSense FAQ and forums. They provide all those tips in details.
Now the "heaven" part... If you surf the Internet you will find lots of sites that sell you stuff for "increasing" the revenues on AdSense. Such "products" are:
  • books and articles, usually collections of how-tos (some of them refered as "the black book of AdSense", which show you all sorts of tricks that are in clear violation with TOS)

  • software for site promotion and monitoring (which may be violating the TOS, thus get you baned)

  • ready-made sites or site collections, "already optimized for AdSense" (which by the way, Google knows about and will eventually get you baned)

  • affiliate programs that will increase your site rank (which may for the moment, however Google is "hunting" those type of sites and... assigns them negative ranks, so in the end your rank is lowered)

And they are many more out there. They all look fancy and promising and most of all they look "fool-prof". This is not the case. There is no such thing as an "AdSense Heaven" coming from such products. Most of them have a single purpose: find fools to click on the ads in their pages and buy they products (all which will only generate revenues to the site owners, not to you). Google has all sorts of algorithms that raise red flags to the teams in certain cases, such as:
  • sudden increase of site traffic

  • spikes in CTR (normal variation is OK, spikes almost always raise red flags)

As my recommendation, read first the official AdSense forum. Look at others problems and transpose them in ideas and warnings for your own site. A red flag from Google is a very bad thing for your whole program. Better to avoid it.
And the golden rule is: do not spend time optimizing AdSense revenues, spend this time optimizing your site content, writing good quality articles and satisfying visitors/customers. Do not get blinded by the shining descriptions of whatever third parties. Chances is that if they are not listed by the official AdSense documentation they are in direct violation with TOS. Good quality sites generate in the end good quality ads, with high CPC and high CTR.
However! Some products may be 100% legit! So, do the necessary research before, and if in doubt mail Google or ask in the official AdSense forum. Better safe than sorry!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Toolbar Button Available

I've created a button for Google Toolbar. I've also put that to the button gallery, I wait for it to show up in there.
To install it just click here and it will install automatically.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Little Fun...

... does not hurt anyone ;) If you know what a MMORPG is, then you may want to read the 220 (and coming) episodes of the comic "The Noob" located at Once I've started, I could not stop reading... I staid up until over 2 AM to finish the story... Now that's a laugh...
And being a programmer I was thinking in making a 3d animation of the slides and publish the movie on YouTube, but the work involved is too much for me as I don't have the required time... Maybe someone else has it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Create Strong Passwords in XP

Here is an interesting article I've found on the net (on TechRepublic).
Computer users consistently use very simplistic logic when creating passwords. For example, many of us choose meaningful words, personal dates, or a word commonly found in the dictionary because it makes the password easy to remember. These common practices cause us to sacrifice the security that passwords are intended to provide.
If you're really at a loss when it comes to thinking of a strong password, you can let Windows XP create and assign a random password to your account. To let Windows XP generate your password, follow these steps. (Warning: Before you follow these steps, please be sure that you are paying careful attention and are ready to actually use a password that might not be as memorable as you're accustomed to! Also, you cannot use this tip on a Windows Server domain.)
Open a Command Prompt window and type:
net user user_name /random
Windows XP will randomly generate a secure password, as well as assign that strong password to your account. Windows XP will also display the strong password so you can remember it.
At your discretion, you may want to create a Password Reset Disk at this point. This disk will allow you to gain access to your computer in the event you forget your password. Here's how to create the disk:
Open the Control Panel and double-click the User Accounts tool. Click your account icon. Select Prevent A Forgotten Password under Related Tasks. Follow the instructions provided by the wizard.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Firefox and Unicode

Firefox (version at least) is sometimes really stupid...
- file 1, HTML, saved in UNICODE (FFFE marker)
- file 2, CSS, saved in plain ANSI
- file 3, JS #1, saved in plain ANSI
- file 4, JS #2, saved in UNICODE (FFFE marker)
What would happend in Firefox? It will apply the UNICODE encoding from the HTML file to... all of the 4 files, resulting in the CSS and the JS #1 to be garbage after such decoding and therefore not usable by Firefox. Only the JS #2 is decoded OK since it is in the same UNICODE encoding in the first place.
I've found this after hours of "stupid debugging" (== change the code just to see "what if", even when you know the outcome)... My resolution? Save the HTML file in plain ANSI and... voila! It works!
All this time, Internet Explorer worked OK...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Service Controller Control from Command Prompt

Again with XP commands... "sc" is a command line program used for communicating with the NT Service Controller and services.
Some commands based on sc are:
sc /query - displays the list of services and information about their state and flags
sc /queryex - displays the list of services and the extended information about their state and flags
sc /start service_name same as net start service_name; starts a service
Similar the /pause, /continue and /stop switches will pause, resume and stop a service
Now comes the interesting part...
sc /delete service_name deletes a service from registry
sc /create service_name creates a service into registry
To get extended help type sc at the command prompt...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

System Information

In XP there is a nice utility called "winmsd" which is a handy system information tool... It provides a not-so-basic level hardware and software information. Of course it cannot compete with professional system information tools, but the provided information should be enough for a quick overview or diagnostics. And after all... it comes with XP...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kill Processes from Command Prompt

Yes, you can do that in Windows XP. The command for that is "tskill" (Terminal Services End Process Utility). For example:
tskill mspaint - will kill all Paint windows
tskill 1234 - will kill the specified process
The switch /v will output some extra information (verbose mode) like:
C:\WINDOWS\system32>tskill mspaint /v
End Process(208)
End Process(3656)

Now sky is the limit...
Note: it does not work in Windows 2000 and I didn't checked in Windows 2003. Let me know if it works on it and on Vista.

Update June, 24 2009

There is another tool as other have commented: taskkill. I have studied it a bit, and in turn it is much more complex than tskill. It can terminate processes on remote systems as well. Just type taskkill /? and read the help. To my example how to kill mspaint, here is the required syntax:

C:\>taskkill /im mspaint.exe
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 8836 has been terminated.
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 7612 has been terminated.
SUCCESS: The process "mspaint.exe" with PID 9036 has been terminated.

or if you know the process id:

C:\>taskkill /pid 7760
SUCCESS: The process with PID 7760 has been terminated.

For Windows 2000 users:

The techniques that I’ll be showing you involve using the TLIST and the KILL command. These commands are a part of the Windows Support Tools, which are not installed by default. Instead, these tools are kept on the Windows 2000 installation CD until you manually install them. Installing the support tools requires a little over 18 MB of hard disk space.To install the Windows Support Tools, log on as an administrator and insert your Windows 2000 installation CD. When you see the Windows 2000 splash screen, select the Browse This CD option. When the browse window opens, navigate through the CD’s directory to the \SUPPORT\TOOLS directory. Next, run the SETUP.EXE program.

With the support tools installed, without looking to Task Manager, a way of determining the process ID is by opening a Command Prompt window and entering the TLIST command.

The command line syntax of the KILL command is as follows:
KILL [-F] < >

As you’ve probably already figured out, the PID is the process ID and the pattern is the name of the process. Therefore, you can shut down a process by simply entering the KILL command followed by one of the two parameters. For example:

kill 2304

kill mspaint

The -F switch parameter will force a process to shut down. "Most of the time, you won’t want to use the -F switch. It’s intended for emergency use only." But that's the point right? To kill the process...

You can actually use the KILL command combined with the -F parameter to shut down critical systems services, thus resulting in the Blue Screen of Death. Coincidentally, several years ago I was at Microsoft’s TechEd conference, and one of the speakers had developed a virus based on the KILL -F command. He had used a common utility to create a service that issued the KILL -F command followed by the name of a critical system service. He then configured his service in a way that would cause it to load on startup. The result was that every time the machine would boot, it would instantly go to the Blue Screen of Death because he was killing a low level service. The only way that the speaker was able to undo the damage was to use ERD Commander to disable the virus service from outside of the operating system.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fake Antispyware: SpySheriff

"SpySheriff is among the best-known rogue programs disguised as spyware protection. It might look like a useful security program but it actually isn't - it's typically pushed on systems through vulnerabilities, after which it reports nonexistent infections in order to scare you into registering the software for a cool $59.95 or so."
I don't recommend anybody to go and use this software, neither the antivirus companies like F-Secure.
So, please be careful of what programs you use. If you want antispyware software use consecrated names like:

Or any good antivirus with antispyware built-in. (this is not a full list, they are only examples)
Personally I use Spybot as resident protection and when in trouble all of the three. Why I don't use only one? Because there is no such thing as the best antivirus or antispyware software, there are only "the best ones" and sometimes you may need to use tools from different vendors to get rid of an unwanted infection. Overtime, they will add to their signatures for virus and spyware all known definitions, but viruses are simply one step ahead.