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What to shoot in black & white
If your scene is already bland, removing color totally could elevate a boring snapshot to an interesting landscape. Or perhaps you want to recreate the nostalgia of a bygone era. Black-and-white photographs have a way of conveying an antique, sentimental feeling that isn’t possible in color photographs.

Effective use of contrast

Lighting and contrast go hand in hand...

Color vs. gray tones
Learning how film and pixels convert colors into gray tones is perhaps the hardest part of black-and-white photography. Then again, if the perfect Kodak moment occurs while your toddler is wearing totally mismatched clothing, black-and-white quickly becomes your best friend.

Ask yourself whether the scene before you would look better in color or black-and-white. For instance, flowers almost always look best in color. But if your emphasis is on a dew drop hanging from the flower, perhaps black-and-white is the answer. You might also imagine a stop sign against a green background. If you want to emphasize the sign, keep the color. To minimize it, use black and white, because green and red convert into nearly identical gray tones.

Contrast & key
If you are using picture-editing software or a traditional darkroom to make your black-and-white photos, contrast and key are aspects you can emphasize or minimize in ways that are impossible in color pictures.

High-contrast (an extreme range between bright and dark) scenes may confine a viewer’s attention to one element, while a low-contrast (with a narrow brightness range) scene may convey serenity and peace. You may also hear the terms high key (predominately light tones) and low key (predominately dark tones) in relation to black-and-white photography.

Contrast and key are not synonyms. A photograph may be low in contrast, yet high in key, such as a blond, blue-eyed girl against a white background.

Texture, line, & shape
Maybe there’s an interesting weave in your son’s sweater. Or the leaves of your hosta plant have an interesting texture. Imagine how the lack of color would emphasize the texture, and how that might change the visual impact of your photo.

Likewise, lines and shapes lead our eyes through a black-and-white picture in ways they do not in a color picture. A meandering fence, rows of corn growing in a field, and layers of rock on a cliff wall all have strong lines, and removing the color from these scenes may improve them.

Take the color away and light does become a much more important part of your picture. Imagine a weathered picket fence with an old barn in the background. Waiting for an overcast or even foggy day will result in a soft, romantic landscape. However, shooting it late on a sunny afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon and the shadows from the fence are long and dark will accentuate the texture of the fence. The mood in this picture will be totally different.


Thanks to the media, the word “hacker” has gotten a bad reputation. The word summons up thoughts of malicious computer users finding new ways to harass people, defraud corporations, steal information and maybe even destroy the economy or start a war by infiltrating military computer systems. While there’s no denying that there are hackers out there with bad intentions, they make up only a small percentage of the hacker community.

The term computer hacker first showed up in the mid-1960s. A hacker was a programmer — someone who hacked out computer code. Hackers were visionaries who could see new ways to use computers, creating programs that no one else could conceive. They were the pioneers of the computer industry, building everything from small applications to operating systems. In this sense, people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were all hackers — they saw the potential of what computers could do and created ways to achieve that potential.

A unifying trait among these hackers was a strong sense of curiosity, sometimes bordering on obsession. These hackers prided themselves on not only their ability to create new programs, but also to learn how other programs and systems worked. When a program had a bug — a section of bad code that prevented the program from working properly — hackers would often create and distribute small sections of code called patches to fix the problem. Some managed to land a job that leveraged their skills, getting paid for what they’d happily do for free.

As computers evolved, computer engineers began to network individual machines together into a system. Soon, the term hacker had a new meaning — a person using computers to explore a network to which he or she didn’t belong. Usually hackers didn’t have any malicious intent. They just wanted to know how computer networks worked and saw any barrier between them and that knowledge as a challenge.

­­In fact, that’s still the case today. While there are plenty of stories about malicious hackers sabotaging computer systems, infiltrating networks and spreading computer viruses, most hackers are just curious — they want to know all the intricacies of the computer world. Some use their knowledge to help corporations and governments construct better security measures. Others might use their skills for more unethical endeavors.

Zombie computers are computers that have been taken over by a hacker without the knowledge of the owner. See more ­computer pictures.

­Imagine that the Internet is a city. It would undoubtedly be the most remarkable and diverse city on the planet, but it would also be incredibly seedy and dangerous. You could find the world’s most comprehensive libraries there alongside X-rated theaters.

Inside this city, you would also discover that not everyone is who they seem to be — even yourself. You might find out that you’ve been misbehaving, although you don’t remember it. Like the unwitting agent in “The Manchurian Candidate,” you discover you’ve been doing someone else’s bidding, and you have no idea how to stop it.

A zombie computer is very much like the agent in “The Manchurian Candidate.” A cracker — a computer hacker who intends mischief or harm — secretly infiltrates an unsuspecting victim’s computer and uses it to conduct illegal activities. The user generally remains unaware that his computer has been taken over — he can still use it, though it might slow down considerably. As his computer begins to either send out massive amounts of spam or attack Web pages, he becomes the focal point for any investigations involving his computer’s suspicious activities.

­The user might find that his Internet Service Provider (ISP) has cancelled his service, or even that he’s under investigation for criminal activity. Meanwhile, the cracker shrugs off the loss of one of his zombies because he has more. Sometimes, he has a lot more — one investigation allegedly discovered that a cracker’s single computer controlled a network of more than 1.5 million computers .

How Google Works

Google’s search engine is a powerful tool. Without search engines like Google, it would be practically impossible to find the information you need when you browse the Web. Like all search engines, Google uses a special algorithm to generate search results. While Google shares general facts about its algorithm, the specifics are a company secret. This helps Google remain competitive with other search engines on the Web and reduces the chance of someone finding out how to abuse the system.

­Google uses automated programs called spiders or crawlers, just like most search engines. Also like other search engines, Google has a large index of keywords and where those words can be found. What sets Google apart is how it ranks search results, which in turn determines the order Google displays results on its search engine results page (SERP). Google uses a trademarked algorithm called PageRank, which assigns each Web page a relevancy score.

A Web page’s PageRank depends on a few factors:

* The frequency and location of keywords within the Web page: If the keyword only appears once within the body of a page, it will receive a low score for that keyword.
* How long the Web page has existed: People create new Web pages every day, and not all of them stick around for long. Google places more value on pages with an established history.
* The number of other Web pages that link to the page in question: Google looks at how many Web pages link to a particular site to determine its relevance.

Out of these three factors, the third is the most important. It’s easier to understand it with an example. Let’s look at a search for the terms “Planet Earth.”

As more Web pages link to Discovery’s Planet Earth page, the Discovery page’s rank increases. When Discovery’s page ranks higher than other pages, it shows up at the top of the Google search results page.

Because Google looks at links to a Web page as a vote, it’s not easy to cheat the system. The best way to make sure your Web page is high up on Google’s search results is to provide great content so that people will link back to your page. The more links your page gets, the higher its PageRank score will be. If you attract the attention of sites with a high PageRank score, your score will grow faster.

Hitting the Links
Google uses lots of tricks to prevent people from cheating the system to get higher placement on SERPs. For example, as a Web page adds links to more sites, its voting power decreases. A Web page that has a high PageRank with lots of outgoing links can have less influence than a lower-ranked page with only one or two outgoing links.

Google initiated an experiment with its search engine in 2008. For the first time, Google is allowing a group of beta testers to change the ranking order of search results. In this experiment, beta testers can promote or demote search results and tailor their search experience so that it’s more personally relevant. Google executives say there’s no guarantee that the company will ever implement this feature into the search engine globally.­

Google has more deeply integrated its Web search history product into the mobile version of its search home page. Users in the U.S. who are accessing Google from a compatible mobile phone will see a new history option on the bottom of the page that takes them to a mobile-friendly version of their last 10 searches, along with what time they were queried and from what device. Additional results can then be loaded in 15 at a time.

To use the new listing, which is simply an optimized version of the Web history product that’s been around since early 2007, users first have to opt in. After that, it begins tracking searches from any computer or mobile phone where you’re signed in.

Besides a listing of all your history, the mobile version of search history also lets you browse through result pages that have been starred. This is something you can do on either the mobile phone or on a normal browser since early March, when Google dumped its SearchWiki project in favor of a more traditional bookmarking system.

The mobile-optimized Google search history page shows you where you’ve been, and what you’ve bookmarked–even if it was on another device.

One nice feature that’s still there and still quite easy to access from the mobile interface is a delete button. While you can’t delete a whole group of searched for items at once (like you can on a desktop), it’s a one-touch affair to delete items one at a time after hitting the “edit” button on the top of the search history page.

All in all this is a handy addition and certainly a no-brainer for Google to custom tailor for touch-screen devices. On the company’s Android handsets, search history is a more deeply ingrained part of the Web and phone search experience, so it’s no surprise to see it show up as a more prominent part of a start page where users on other handsets have a chance to see it too.

Google announced the beta version of Adsense for mobile applications. With this new service, developers will be able to better monetize their applications and games. What’s more, the revenue generated should be enough to encourage developers into spending more time on their Android projects.

In order to qualify for the beta service, a developer’s application must generate 100,000 impressions per day. The developers generate revenue based on the number of people who click on an advertisement they display. The click-through rate, or CTR, is often higher on mobile ad units because they are highly targeted toward their audience.

The other important metric in determining payout is CPM, or cost per thousand impressions. Desktop websites can have a CPM as high as $3 since publishers are allowed to display three units on one page. But for mobile ad units, you’re only allowed to display a single ad at a time. Ads are displayed at the bottom of the screen in the game menus, and are not visible during gameplay.

Since the service has yet to fully launch, it’s hard to determine what rate the developers can expect to earn from their impressions. For example, a CPM of $1 on 100,000 impressions would result in a profit of $100 a day or roughly $3,000 a month. That’s a nice bonus for the developer in exchange for placing a few lines of code in their application.

Adsense will be a direct competitor for Admob. Google has a large Adwords customer base, and I expect they will be able to move these ad sales. It will be interesting to see how the rates compare between the two services, though it is my experience with Adsense that they pay pretty well versus the competition.

Cestos from Chicken Brick Studios is an example of an Android game that is trying the mobile ad unit revenue model. Downloads for the free game range from 10,000 to 50,000. In comparison, many of the best selling Android games fail to pass 10,000 downloads.

As one of the first multiplayer titles, Cestos has become wildly popular among Android gamers. Included with the game are many community features such as buddy lists, chat rooms, private messaging, and player rankings. Using the game lobby, it only takes a few clicks to invite your friends into a quick challenge match.

Each match lasts only a few minutes or sometimes even seconds, so it is easy to play 10 games in a row. At the end of each game, you are returned to the main menu that display ads. By increasing their player community and encouraging more play time, they will continue to grow their impressions each month.

Since sales of a static game eventually stall in sales a developer will need to update their game with new content and features to attract new players and retain current customers. Chicken Brick has responded by adding new maps, support for soft keyboards, and a feats system to unlock extras that is similar to Xbox achievements.

The game is an absolute blast, and I hope that Adsense succeeds so developers like Chicken Brick can justify offering some titles for free. In the end, though, it all comes down to the advertisers and what they are willing to spend. I have yet to discover any Android app that has generated a high income–we’ll have to wait and see if Adsense will have the first success story.

1. Stop encouraging refunds.

The Android Market lacks a formal application prescreening process and we’re cool with that. We also like the clearly stated return policy of 24 hours.1 The problem is that the Android Market almost encourages customers to seek a refund. Upon downloading an app, a screen with two large buttons of equal size is presented: open and uninstall. This poor UI presumes disappointment. Worse, there is no confirmation if the uninstall button is accidentally touched.
2. Allow developers to promote apps through promo codes.

The ability to grant a promo code in the Apple App Store has proved to be valuable for app exposure. Developers cannot buy promotion within the Android Market, a stance of neutrality which we appreciate, but we need other tools to aid marketing elsewhere. Google Checkout’s coupon feature should be exposed to the Android Market. Bloggers have contacted us asking for evaluation copies and giveaways. Our only current option is to throw the apk around the internet and that’s just asking for casual piracy.
3. Improve browsability.

Google accounts are required for the Android Market, yet customers can’t go anywhere on Google’s site to browse and purchase applications. The App Store within iTunes offers a fun browsing and impulse buy inducing experience. With no phone to computer syncing, Google should build an equally elegant Android Market for the full web browser where purchases could be pushed to the phone for download.

The Android Market should aid app discovery with features like similar purchase lists and product screenshots. The more information available about an application, the less likely it will be returned. Just under half of Rejoinder‘s purchases have been refunded. We know that we have a great app, but it’s not targeted at tech savvy frat boys. Unfortunately, Android Market doesn’t help us convey that.

Mixing free and paid app listings also hurts app discovery. Applications in the Android Market are listed by popularity and release date. Free applications had a long lead time over paid applications and dominate the popularity list. For a paid application to break into the top popular listing, it needs over 5,000 downloads. This is a difficult chicken and egg situation: our app can’t be found unless it’s popular and the Market does little to promote new apps.
4. Improve license enforcement.

Protection offered to app developers was broken in less than a 12 hours of release and has never been improved.2 We don’t believe in DRM because we know that most people who pirate software never would have paid for it anyway. This, however, does not mean that Android Market should ignore piracy. It wouldn’t be difficult to do a check upon installation or first run to confirm that an app has been licensed to the Google account of the phone.
5. Realize the potential synergy within Google.

Google Search: Yes, really. Search within the Android Market isn’t up to Google’s standards. When looking for Bejeweled, the search could not do a partial match of the application name and did not offer suggestions of potential intended spellings. This is just inexcusable for the world’s most popular search engine.

Google Analytics and Google Checkout: these two products have an existing, powerful integration that allows online retailers to track a customer from ad click through purchase.3 As a developer, I would love to know where our customers are coming from, which blogs customers who don’t return our app read, and other demographic factors that influence purchases. Extending this integration to Android Market would offer insights to help developers better market their existing apps and make wiser business decisions about the next apps to develop.

On a similar notion, Google Analytics should add a _trackPageview like API4 to allow developers the ability to track user interaction within apps. Aggregated data about how customers use an app is useful for improving usability and measuring post sale satisfaction.

Google AdSense: Some people will never buy an app. AdSense for Android would allow developers to justify more feature complete lite editions of applications. AdMob’s runaway success on the iPhone should have Google worried that it’s going to miss the next great ad medium.

The Apple App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch isn’t perfect, but the Android Market must learn from its competitor’s success if it wants to attract serious development. The immaturity of the Android Market makes us hesitant to pursue further Android application development. We have lots of great games coming that shouldn’t be exclusive to Apple products. If Google builds as great a marketplace as it has a mobile platform, great app offerings will follow.

There are lots of internet marketers and even affiliate marketers today who put in a lot of effort into building up a website domain.

They build it with content, get it indexed with the search engines and get website traffic on a daily consistent basis.

At the end of the domain registration, they sometimes let these domains expire. Only the website owner knows why and one of the best ways to market your business is to purchase an expired domain name.

Why You Should Consider Purchasing An Expired Domain Name

When a domain name expires, this is an excellent opportunity for you to jump onto a name that fits your website business. After you purchase this expired domain, you inherit everything the previous domain owner has done for it. This is worth every penny you invest into it.

As an example we purchased our domain name once it had expired, it cost us a little more money through a broker to do this but it already had many one way back links pointing to it so some of our marketing for the domain name was already done.

Sometimes these domain names can range from $10 to hundreds of dollars or even higher depending if there are domain brokers behind it. Each day there are thousands and thousands of domains expiring and you will be sure to find something that will help grow your online business just with the domain alone.

You Need To Research Everything Before Getting Any Expired Domains

Remember, not all expired domains are great. You need to do your research to find out what expired domain to take advantage of. First off, you want to choose an expired domain that has positive feedback on it. If you do a Google search and type in the domain name, you can find out if there are any negative comments against the domain name.

It would be terrible to buy an expired domain that already has a bad reputation and the back links to it are customers slamming the domain from their own blogs.

It Is Better If The Domain Name Has An Established Traffic Flow

When you are looking for a good expired domain name, the website traffic to it is key. The domain name may have expired awhile ago to just recently but there could still be traffic because of the search engines. If the domain is expiring soon and the website owner is actually advertising it, you can ask for traffic stats.

Professional website owners will follow through with screen shots of daily to unique visitors. This should give you an idea of how much traffic the expiring domain has been getting for the time it’s been out in cyberspace.

Make Sure The Domain Name Is A Good Match For Your Niche Market

Choose an expired domain that fits your niche. With so many online entrepreneurs cashing in on niche topics, it’s best to find a domain that will fit your niche business. For example, you definitely don’t want to buy a generic domain such as “craft supplies” if you specialize in the niche of organic screen printing supplies.

Always research what is marketable in your niche marketplace and go from there when choosing an expired domain name to buy.

You’re choosing a domain name that your existing traffic can be led to. When you are Purchasing the expired domain make sure you do it as quickly as possible to ensure that you can benefit from it quickly. Have that domain in your sales letters, blog, newsletter and whatever else you are using to market your business.

This post is going to give you the resources you need to block spam comments and trackbacks on your wordpress blog without having to use Akismet to do it.

Firstly however lets talk about what happens if you use Akismet to handle your comments and trackbacks.

Akismet is a useful tool in the right hands but what has been happening with all the hype surrounding spam comments and spam trackbacks is that if other Bloggers do not like what you have added to their post by way of your comment you can end up being flagged as a spammer on the Aksimet web server.

And they do this simply by clicking on the spam link below your comment as illustrated below.

Once you do this what happens is that you click is then recorded and placed into the Akismet web server where it is then processed as a spam comment.

However after reading the Akismet FAQ page they also state that if you think you made a mistake marking a comment as spam you can also then simply go back to that comment and approve it.

I don’t know how you handle comment spam., but once I make the decision not to allow the comment I delete it, so for me the option to recover the comment and remove it from the Akismet spam filter has already passed.

Many are doing this without really knowing or understanding what the implications are to the commentator such as being blacklisted in the Aksimet web server where all their future comments are treated as spam.

If you want to know more about this then check out this post Growmap’s blog Akismet Deletes Comments Bloggers Never See…

You Should Have Control Of Your Online Community

You have to remember one thing when creating a blog: it is your online community and the people who visit and comment on your blog are the ones that are helping you to succeed online. Why would you want them to post a comment on your site only for them to see a blank white screen appear, which then can lead to you continuously receiving emails with people saying that they are not able to post comments on your site.

So as you can see by allowing this to happen you are potentially losing customers from your site by making their experience an uncomfortable one. It is in your business interest not to let others control it for you…

So How Can You Set Up Your WordPress Blog Without Using Aksimet And Block Spam?

Over the past month we have been testing different plugins to see what will best suit our needs in regards to comment spam as well as trackback spam and we have come up with some additional plugins that will not simply make your comments disappear without you ever seeing them but will also eliminate all the unwanted comment and trackback spam without putting extra work onto you.

The first wordpress plugin that we are going to suggest you use is Si CAPTCHA . Once this is installed and setup your commentators will simply need to enter a code to then have their comment submitted into moderation or published immediately depending on your own blog preferences.

The Si Captcha options page is very easy to use and understand. The only thing we needed to change was the setting for the difficulty level. The default is set to medium and we changed that to high.

As you can see from the screen shot above, the options panel is very easy to understand and has additional options such as activating the Captcha on the log-in page of wordpress as well, which we did not need to use.
One Problem Remained However Once We Disabled Akismet…”Trackback Spam”

This was a problem that was very easily solved with another free wordpress plug-in called Simple Trackback Validation. This is a very useful plugin that stops a lot of your trackback spam.

What Is Trackback Spam?

Trackback spam is virtually the same as comment spam but has the ability to get around some of the safeguards that spam filters put in place. And for those that do not know what a trackback is, it is simply an automatic acknowledgment which is sent over the Internet indicating that another blog has linked to you.

The Simple Track Validation Plugin is very easy to setup on your wordpress blog with the default settings being enough to stop virtually all trackback spam – at least for our site anyway.

Hopefully this post has given you another alternative to consider when selecting which plugins are right for your WordPress blog and online business. We are not saying that there is anything wrong with using Akismet, but it was not suitable to our needs.

We want to be in control of what happens on our site so we decided to join other Business Friendly DoFollow Blogs who are not using Akismet. If you have found other plugins that can be just as effective as the ones we have mentioned above please join in our discussion.

As an affiliate marketer I am sure you have heard many times that it is a good idea to cloak your affiliate links…

But do you really know why?

In this post i will be giving you some of the reasons why you would want to cloak affiliate links and how to do it for using a wordpress blog.

SEO Cloaking And Its Benefits

The first and foremost benefit for any affiliate when wanting to cloak affiliate links is that the URL looks much more pleasing to the eye. Then you have those that say there is a very positive SEO benefit to having a much cleaner URL rather than some of the affiliate links which are automatically generated, and I would have to agree with that.

Another reason is to stop what is called link hijacking this used to happen with clickbank affiliates but has been reduced considerable by their new hop-links. This is simply when a person wants to buy a product and changes the clickbank hoplink to their own depriving the initial affiliate who did all the pre-selling of any commission.

Ok Let’s Show You How To Do It

For this example I will be creating an affiliate link that is cloak for Keyword Elite 2.0 which I use and also promote as an affiliate… And I am assuming here, that you already know how to create a wordpress post in the dashboard of your site.

You now need to create a new post in your word press blog and place the title in as Keyword Elite 2.0 or whatever it is that you want to target remembering that this will be the URL as well of the page which is what you want the product name in the link you will be using to promote the product.

For seo purposes it is always a good idea to have links coming off your site with the keywords in them…

Now that we have created the page and decided on the URL link we need to scroll a little further down the WordPress Dashboard until you find where you can add another URL. This will be your affiliate link that you are going to be redirecting to.

If you have used clickbank before you will also notice that I am using their new hoplink as this will also help to hide your affiliate ID from anyone who has an issue with buying a product through an affiliate link.

Ok We Are Nearly Finished Just Two More Optional Steps

If you scroll to the very bottom of the post you are editing you are going to see another function you can use to do one of two things…

You can choose to exclude this post in any features on your blog that will automatically create a listing for you on the site such as site maps, and even recent post widgets. However it is not really important as you want people to click on the link and go to the product page right, so why not leave it on your blog just make sure to complete any required fields so that it appears in widgets as a real post.

Make Sure You “Nofollow” Your Affiliate Links

There are two ways you can do this, the first being with your robots.txt file like this… And why do you need to do it simply for this reason what is known as the “thin affiliate site penalty” which can be applied to your site by Google™, so it is better to take no chances and simply add the “nofollow”.

The first one is for GoogleBot

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /keyword-elite/ (this is the page url) that is why it is recommended to place this in a separate category so you can add all your affiliate links to that category and simply “nofollow” everything in that category like this using the /category/*, the asterisks will “nofollow” everything in that directory.

For all the other robots you need to simply do this…

User-agent: *
Disallow: /keyword-elite/ or if it is a /category/

You can also just a do an inline search to find out a lot more information about how to block the search engine spiders from indexing certain parts of your site, or you can use plugins that are free to download from the wordpress site such as the Google Sitemap Generator.

However there is an easier way to do this directly from your dashboard using a wordpress plugin called Script Manager from Semiologic a very good seo configured wordpress theme.

This makes the complete process much easier to do without the worry of editing your robots.txt file or having to manually add “nofollow” commands within your blog.

And for those that find this to hard to do there is one more solution you can use with a program called Gotrythis where you can cloak affiliate links within a separate hosted dashboard which even tells you how many links and what IP addresses are clicking those links which is what we use on our blog here.

Gotrythis is an industry class marketing tool that helps to manage all of your affiliate campaigns much easier and without having to be competent with editing any html code.

These are just some of the ways you can go about cloaking your affiliate links, there are many others and if you would like to add your own suggestions and comments for my readers please do so.