Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
Amazon has recently started classifying certain smaller and cheaper products as "Add-On Items." These are items that are inexpensive and not cost efficient to ship individually so Amazon will now only ship add-on items with other items if the total cost is over $25. If your order is less than $25 they won't ship any items that are marked as add-ons. On one hand I could see how this could save the company money and if they save money they can offer lower prices and better products and services. However this is also frustrating for customers who don't understand and don't like this new policy.
Personally I think this is a good idea in theory but I don't like it how it is right now. I think that they should offer a discount if you ship with other items or even charge a premium for shipping add-on items individually. I was searching for a cable that was about $5 and was marked as an add-on item. I tried to checkout but when I was in my shopping cart I couldn't understand why there was no way for me to check out yet. It seriously took me about 20 minutes of going back and fourth, trying different items, different browsers, I even tried using another computer! Then I finally actually read what it said for add-on items. Since this cable was so cheap I couldn't even order it by itself. I either had to order $20 worth of more crap or buy a more expensive cable! This is pretty frustrating when you spend a while finding the best item at the best price and then finding out you can't even buy it. I wish they would just let me buy it and even charge me a little more for shipping and handling. It's almost like a teaser price saying "this product is cheap - so cheap you can't even buy it!" If they just offered the option to buy it on its own and pay a little more I would have bought it already. But since they don't allow me to I will look for a better deal elsewhere. I might end up buying from Amazon but I doubt it after this. I might think twice about buying from Amazon next time because of this. And I am an Amazon affiliate so I don't like talking negatively about them, but when I see something I will comment how I feel about it no matter what. It just goes to show that any thing that looks too good to be true, usually is. Any time you are shopping, either online or in a store, always look out for deals that are too good and prices that are too low. Most times there is either fine print that you need to know about or the product is inferior. Amazon is a great retailler and most of their products and deals are the best anywhere, but this is one thing that I do not like about Amazon.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Blog Comments For Backlinks No Longer Provide Link Juice, Most Blogs Using NoFollow For Comment Links
A few years ago when SEO just started to become very competitive most people were scrambling to get as many links to their sites as possible. They didn't care about the quality of the links, if there was relevant content on the page, anchor text, page rank of the linking domain, etc. But now things have changed, no longer do people want as many links as possible. Many SEOers believe that too many bad quality links actually do harm to your site's SERP results. And since Google has started the "NoFollow" tag which means that the spider doesn't follow the link or give you any credit for it. One of the easiest and quickest ways to get some fast back links was to comment on people's blogs and use links in the body of your comment and for your name. But now most blogs automatically use the NoFollow tag on any links in the comments section making this practice pretty much futile. There are still a few blogs out there that pass on their link juice to links left in the comments section but for the most part the only good a comment link will do is if somebody reading that blog clicks on your link. Some search engines count these links, and of course nobody knows exactly what is in the search engine's algorithms but most people in the SEO field seem to agree that NoFollow links don't count for anything in the top three search engines - Yahoo, Bing, and of course good old Google. So next time you see an offer for 10,000 backlinks from blog comments for $10 you know that it isn't even worth that. The better way to get quality links and real organic traffic is to take your time to get high quality links. Submit press releases to attract links and articles from real people, not automated scripts. Create useful articles that are relavent to your site and the site you post it on. Post good answers to people's questions in forums and other sites. Submit to high quality web directories like DMOZ. Create a real blog with lots of good content for your site with news and info about your products or services. Don't spam the entire web just to get a few crappy links. It won't help and many people claim it could actually harm your SERP rankings. So just like they taught you in school - don't follow the crowd, just say NO!
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
A few days ago I wrote a blog post about how I could not access the Mt. Gox online bitcoin exchange site. Every time I tried to go to the Mt. Gox online homepage it would redirect me to a 503 error page that read 'Service Temporarily Available' so of course I thought that the site was down. At first I thought it was only a temporary service disruption due to upgrades or high traffic loads. I tried a dozen or so times within a few minutes at first but I still got the same error each time so I decided to try again later. The next day I tried again a few times and still got the 503 error every single time, I thought that something else was going on besides a simple hardware upgrade or software update. I speculated there was a problem because Mt. Gox was being attacked by malicious hackers with a DDoS attack.
I don't know for sure but I don't think that that was the cause of the error. This was a few days ago that I first encountered the error. I have checked it a few times since then and still got the error page every time. That is when I tried a few things to see if the Mt. Gox site was definitely down or not. I finally figured out that if you type in exactly http://mtgox.com (not www.mtgox.com, http://www.mtgox.com, or mtgox.com) that the home page loaded immediately. I have no idea why this is but if you enter the www prefix or if your browser adds the www when you type in only mtgox.com. The only thing I can think of is that there is a problem with the www subdomain or the server that the www subdomain points to. So there you have it, if you are trying to access Mt. Gox and it gives you the same 503 error try entering http://mtgox.com and it should work fine.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
As an avid computer user I have multiple computers and usually I leave at least one on around the clock. Today I heard somebody claim that leaving a computer on 24/7 will cost $600 for an entire year, which equals $50 each month, just by leaving your computer running constantly. I tried to argue this claim but they stuck to their guns and claimed that they knew it to be true. So I tried to calculate the power usage and cost myself.
Of course all computers use different amounts of power and the price of electricity differs depending on where you live and your local electric company, so we will use averages to reach a estimated conclusion. Most desktops use at maximum about 400-500 watts of power for the computer itself and monitor. Other equipment such as printers, routers, modems, etc. all use extra power too, but no more than a few watts each so they aren't too big of a deal. Laptops are designed to use much less power than desktops so that they can have maximum battery life. Many components in a laptop are smaller and use less power, such as the fans and hard drives. Also the processor, video processor, ram, bus, and other components also use much less power, and modern laptops employ advanced power management techniques, such as lowering the screen brightness and slowing down or turning off components when not in use like the hard drive, processor, screen, networking chips, etc. Because of the power saving features, most laptops use less electricity, usually about 75-100 watts for the entire system. So in order to find out how much it costs we need to know how much power costs. Again this varies from state to state and city to city. The state with the lowest electricity cost is Washington at 8.66 cents per kilowatt, and the most expensive electricity is in Hawaii, where it costs 37.11 cents per kilowatt hour. The average price for electricty in the US is 12.40 cents/kwh. What exactly is a kilowatt hour? A kilowatt is the amount of electricity that would be consumed by something that uses 1000 watts over the period of an hour. So if a computer uses 400 watts that would be equal to 0.4 kwh each hour. In a day the cost would be $1.19 for the computer at maximum power, and over the course of a month it would cost $35.71, and $428 for the entire year. Of course most computers are not running at maximum capacity all the time. If the screen and other components such as the fans and hard drive are set to go to sleep after no activity for a while it would probably average about half of the maximum power so this price would drop to about $17.80 a month. In a year it would amount to $214. Many people these days have laptop computers for their only computer, and as previously mentioned they use a lot less power than regular desktop computers. At an average of 75 watts with power saving settings, it would cost $6.69 a month and $80.28 a year.
So most full sized computers use about $215 worth of electricity a year and most laptops would cost $80 per year. So where did the $500 figure come from? If a computer uses a full 500 watts around the clock and the price of power is still 12.4 cents per kwh, it would end up costing $535 per year. I would imagine that whoever came up with this calculation thought that the 500 watts that some high end computers use is being used consistently over the entire time the computer is on. But that is not true at all, many high end gaming PCs are rated for 500 watts or more but that is the maximum amount of power that can be drawn at one time. A lot of these high end computers have components that drawn whole lot more electricity than a standard consumer PC. Many gaming computers have more than a few very large powerful fans, as well as multiple graphics cards that could use 75 watts each, 1 or more hard drives that spin at speeds up to 10,000 rpms, a central processor that uses 50-100 watts alone, and other extras like lights and liquid cooling systems. But the maximum power is only used when the computer is under full load such as playing a very graphics intensive game, and still the amount of power is always going to less than the maximum amount the power supply puts out, otherwise ther wouldn't be enough power and the computer would crash. Even high end computers use less than maximum power most of the time. If you aren't playing a game the graphics cards use way less than their max. If you aren't using the processor to 100% capacity it uses less power as well. And if the hard drive hasn't been accessed in a while it is turned off to save power as well. And when the CPU and other components are not at full capacity they produce much less heat which means that the fans don't have to go as fast and can run at a lower speed or even be turned off if the temperature is low enough. So even a high end PC, such as those used for gaming, don't use their full amount of power around the clock. Even a top of the line machine with a 600-700 watt power supply and all the top components would use about half of that amount of power on average. So it would take a computer with a power supply rated over 500 watts and components that add up to 500 watts total working at 100% efficiency 24 hours a day 7 days a week to end up costing more than $500. Which backs up my first claim that the figure stated is an exaggeration and that it usually costs much less for an average computer to be left on all the time and being actively used for many hours each and every day. If you don't use your computer that much, say only a dozen or so hours a week, then your computer won't cost an arm and a leg to run, even if you leave it on all the time. So in conclusion it does cost money to leave your computer on all the time but it really matters how much you actively use it. If you run programs in the background, like constantly downloading files or streaming or sharing files with other systems or devices then it would use much more power, but most of us do not. And even if you do leave programs running that use the hard drive and networking devices, the CPU probably won't be running at peak and other components like the fans, graphics chips, and monitor will be using less than their maximum amount of power consumption. Of course turning off your computer will use no power and therefore cost you nothing, but leaving it on won't likely break the bank either.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange on the internet, has experienced service outages on and off for a few hours now. DDoS attacks are nothing new for Mt. Gox, but no site is fully immune to these types of attacks. If you don't know a DDoS, or distributed denial of service attack, is when an attacker uses multiple machines across the internet to flood a server with traffic which causes it to slow down to the point where it can no longer serve legitimate visitors. DDoS attacks are hard for site owners to contend with as attacks can come from all over the world simultaneously. This makes it hard to ignore attackers while still providing service to actual users. Mt. Gox has had these attacks before and usually they start to die off as the machines used to attack get taken down or blocked, but how long before this attack stops? Who is doing this and why would they attack a site like Mt. Gox? Well anybody who wants to affect the price of Bitcoin could use an attack like this to their advantage. An attacker could cause a site to be unreachable for most visitors which would cause the price to change. They could then buy or sell huge amounts of Bitcoins at different points during their attack and theoretically end up making a lot of money. Attackers could gauge when prices will fluctuate and act accordingly, trading when necessary to make profit, in the end making a lot of money and destabilizing the Bitcoin value as a currency, as well as causing uneasiness among Bitcoin users.
Hopefully this attack won't last long and won't upset the value of Bitcoin. The value of Bitcoin is at a good level right now. It is just high enough to keep interest among users and prospective investors and still easy enough for many to get into the Bitcoin world. If attacks like these keep happening and the attackers are able to game the system enough the Bitcoin market could collapse. Although the Bitcoin currency was created with this in mind, its value could plummet to the point where it is almost invaluable. People would stop mining and therefore stop using Bitcoins altogether. Once the value drops to a certain level everyone will rush to sell and the value will drop to near nothing. Hopefully this won't happen, hopefully the existence of multiple exchanges and users around the world will keep the Bitcoin currency alive. However only time will tell if the Bitcoin has a future or if it will become another internet fad. I'm hoping the former, not the latter.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard or read about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin murder case. I'm not going to go into details about it because I'm sure 99% of the people in the country know at least a little bit about the case. Basically Martin was walking through Zimmerman's neighborhood acting suspiciously. Supposedly he was wearing a hood over his head so it was hard to see his face and was walking close some of the houses in the neighborhood. That particular neighborhood had recently had a few robberies and other crimes recently and Zimmerman was a member of the neighborhood watch. When he say a somebody who he thought looked and was acting suspicious. He proceeded to call 911 after he grabbed his pistol and started to follow the person who he later found out to be Trayvon Martin. There is conflicting stories about what happened at this point, but apparently the two ended up getting into a fight and Zimmerman pulled out his gun and shot Martin. Zimmerman claims that he was attacked and that he ended up on the ground with Martin on top of him, punching him in the face multiple times similar to how a UFC fighter would attack in what is called a 'ground and pound' position. At this point pulled out his gun and ended up shooting Martin. The next day Martin took pictures of his head and it was all bloody and had multiple wounds as if his head was being slammed into the ground repeatedly. Of course Trayvon is not around to tell his side of the story, but the evidence and the witnesses corroborated Zimmerman's story.
Zimmerman was not immediately arrested and charged, this only happened days later after people around the country demanded that he be arrested and charged with murder. This all happened months ago and the trial was started recently. Some parts of the trial were televised, but a lot of media outlets either tried to spin the story so it appeared that Zimmerman was being racist and only shot Martin because he was black. To me the racism accusation is totally unfounded. I believe that Zimmerman didn't care if he was black, white, Asian, Indian, native american, green, blue, or even purple, he wanted to see what he was doing and so he approached him. Why would Zimmerman get into a fist fight if he had a gun? It makes more sense that he would flash his gun to intimidate Martin to explain what he was doing and where he was going. I don't think that he would try to attack Martin only to end up on his back to end up being hit multiple times and get his head bashed into the ground. However many people seem to think that Zimmerman is a racist and he was out to kill a black person that night, for what reason I don't know.
The defense and the prosecutors were both in on the jury selection and they both agreed that the jury they picked was competent and would make a fair ruling. A few ago the jury finally came to a conclusion that Zimmerman was not guilty of murder as he was only acting in self defense. When this news came out, people around the country started to protest. They were upset that Zimmerman would be freed because they all believed that he was guilty. But the thing is just about everyone in the public seemed to already have an opinion about whether Zimmerman was guilty or not, and then when the trial was over everyone complained that the jury wasn't fair and that the trial was somehow flawed. But nobody except the 6 women on the jury were in the court room every day of the trial to see and hear all the evidence and testimonies. Only those 6 women heard the jury instructions. Only those 6 women were briefed on the law and the case in particular by the judge. Nobody outside of those 6 people can say whether he was guilty or not because we don't know the full story. You can't judge a book by its cover because you haven't read the entire book yet. The same goes for a case such as this. Sure they might hear a few short clips of the trial on the news and think they know the entire story. But how could anybody but the jurors know everything that happened? How could anybody be sure of his guilt or innocence if they weren't on the jury?
There was nothing racist about the case at all. The only person who mentioned race was Trayvon Martin's friend that he was talking to on the phone right before the altercation happened. She testified that Trayvon told her that somebody was following her and called him a 'creey ass cracker'. But somehow everybody who was not part of the trial seems to think that race played a huge role in Martin's untimely death. Of course it is sad when anybody loses their life, especially at such a young age, don't get me wrong. But to claim that it was a hate crime only commited because Martin was black is ignorant, and racist in itself. The people who claim that Zimmerman acted due to his supposed racist tendencies are the racist ones. And it just so happens that every single black person that I've seen talking about the case believes that Zimmerman was guilty. Not every caucasian person thinks that he was innocent, so why do all black people think he's guilty? Why do they all think that he should be tried again. And again. And again. But none of us can decide if he was innocent or guilty because we weren't in the courtroom everyday to see and hear all the evidence that was presented. All the public has to go on is what the media reports to us, and that is not at all accurate because the news media is always trying to spin stories so that they get people's attention, they don't care about the facts. For example, NBC edited the original 911 call and cut out the part where the operator asks if he was black or white so when he says he's black it sounds like he's being racist and only cared about the color of his skin when the truth is that race is not a part of this case and it never was. the media tried to spin it that way so they could sensationalize it and be provocative. the only racist thing about the whole case is when the kid called the guy a creepy ass cracker, so if anybody was being racist it was him.cv
By the way, I'm not saying that George Zimmerman is innocent, and I'm also not saying he was guilty. I don't know if he was or not because, you know what, I WASN'T THERE FOR THE TRIAL so I cant prove it either way. In this wonderful country of ours, the burden of evidence is on the state and everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The jury couldn't prove without doubt that he committed the crime of murder and therefore they had to find him innocent.
Yesterday, fox news host and former lawyer Greta Van Susteren had Trayvon Martin's family's attorney on her show, and Susteren tried to explain why people outside of the jury can't judge the case for themselves and that just because they are unhappy with the verdict doesn't mean that they are right or that he should be tried again. On her show last night, Van Susteren said, "Millions of people who may not like a verdict whether its for it or against it in this case or any other didn't watch the case, didn't sit in the court room, didn't weigh the evidence, didn't listen to the jury instuctions... That's why we have court systems, so both sides have a chance to be heard... Justice is presented in the court room with a jury deciding and both sides having an opportunity. That's justice." I think she the nail right on the head. We can't decide without all the evidence. Which is exacly what many people have already done with catg
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Rosetta Stone is a software package that touts the ability to teach users new languages quicker and more thouroughly than any other method. How is this possible? In one word: immersion.
Think about the way that babies learn their first language. They don't constantly have written definitions and translations thrown in their face in an attempt to memorize as many meaningless words as they can. Babies learn by being surrounded by words every day since their birth. They hear others talking before they even open their eyes. So of course within a year or two they already know a good amount of the language, even if they can't exactly speak it properly. Rosetta stone attempts to teach users a new language the same exact way. There are no translations and no definitions. They don't use English at all in the language lessons. They use only the language you are trying to learn and everything is in that language. It may seem a little daunting at first, but you quickly start to learn the basics of the new language and in no time you can start flying through the lessons. There are different courses that you can take within the Rosetta Stone software, varying in length from a few short lessons all the way to a full year. You can become fully fluent in a language if you use the Rosetta Stone software to its full capability. There are many languages to choose from so whatever language you want to learn, Rosetta Stone is the way to go.
Rosetta Stone is like having your very own language tutor inside your computer. The words are displayed on the screen and the software plays a sound of somebody speaking it so you know how to pronounce it properly. There are also sections that have you repeat the words and with the help of voice recognition software, it tells you if you are pronouncing it correctly or not. This way you can learn the words and be sure that you are saying the words properly.
I took a Spanish course in high school but I never learned more than a few basic words. So when I tried Rosetta Stone I wasn't really expecting much. I thought that it would be more of the same, learning only a handful of words after hours and hours of listening to and reading translations and definitions. But to my surprise it actually worked much better than I expected. I have only used Rosetta Stone for a few basic lessons and I already know about as many words as I remember from an entire year of high school Spanish class. Of course it helped that I already knew how to count to 10 and a few basic colors, but I really learned some new words very quickly. I plan on using the software daily so that I can slowly learn more and more of the language so that I can eventually speak with native Spanish speakers. I live in the South West United States so there are many people here who come from Latin America and are native Spanish speakers. I would love to be able to converse with them in their native language and be able to fully understand them and carry on a conversation. I've been wanting to learn a second language since I was a kid. I went to Spain when I was about 12 and I had a Spanish dictionary but I never learned more than a few words and didn't even know how to properly pronounce them. I went to Mexico a few years ago on a cruise and couldn't understand any of the people who didn't speak English. I'm hoping that next time, with the help of Rosetta Stone, I can finally be able to converse with people in Spanish without any trouble. If you want to learn any language I would definitely recommend that you try Rosetta Stone. I think it is better than any other method, including having a personal tutor!
Thursday, July 4, 2013
When running a website, you get natural organic traffic from search engines. The search engines have spiders that crawl the entire web and catalog everything so that when people search for keywords they can get the best, most relevant page to their search. Naturally some of the things that people search for are a little weird. I always like to see where my traffic is coming from, so I use programs like Google Analytics and even the built in logging functions for different web servers and applications. I have been running web sites for over 6 years now and I've seen all kinds of keywords that people search for. Some of them I want to be listed for, while others are pure surprises. Some of them are just downright weird. But lately, since I've started this particular blog under my own name, I get traffic from search results for all kinds of keywords. It's a little strange when I see people constantly searching for my name, as well as my name along with some weird keyword. The latest one that I couldn't figure out is "Jared Connell needs money". Well I like money, and I guess you go as far as to say that I need money - just as everybody in this world needs money to live. But why the hell would someone be searching for that? Who is so interested in my financial situation that they would go to Google and search for that? I can't figure this one out. I can see who searches for what and I can even narrow the results down to geographical location via their IP. But I can't go so far as to see the name of the people sitting in front of the computer typing the keywords into the search engines, so I'm a little baffled as to who would search for this term. So whoever you are out there, why not leave me a comment below or send me an email or something. Heck, drop me a line of Facebook if you want. Or even Twitter. It doesn't matter, I just want to know who it is and what they want to know about me. I'm not very secretive, but I would like to know who is that interested in me. Heck, maybe it is another Jared Connell that they are looking for. I think there are about 7 of us in the country with the same name. So maybe I'm the wrong Jared Connell, maybe I am the right one. Whatever the case, I would like to know why you are searching for my name so often, and if you are finding out what you want to know. If not, just tell me and I'll tell you firsthand. No need to lurch behind the computer monitor, just drop me a line! If you have the time to search for Jared Connell on Google then surely you have the time to write a simple blog comment or to message me.
I've seen a lot of movies; some good, some not so good. But I don't think I've ever seen something so bad as the movie Spring Breakers with Selena Gomez and James Franco. Not only could the entire script be written on a bar napkin, the plot is about as thick and the acting is about as flimsy. James Franco's character is supposed to be a gangster who bails out the four main girls after they commit some crime that I already forgot about. Then he introduces himself and eventually takes them home, where his bed is full of stacks of cash and a wall full of weapons from nunchucks and shurikens to uzis and machetes. Somehow they come across Gucci Mane's character, another gangster in town who is apparently Franco's rival. Some things happen and some people die and the movie ends. I wont give away the ending, not because I don't want to spoil it for you because I hope nobody sees it after reading how bad it is. No I won't tell you the ending because I wasn't really paying attention and I already forgot what happens. Really. That's how bad this movie is.
The characters are horribly written and their dialouge is so forced that I don't believe anything they say. It's pretty bad when the non actors are better than the lead actors in the film. The background extras are more believable than the entire main cast. The only one who is remotely believable is the rapper Gucci Mane. Franco's character is the sterotypical whigger who is trying so hard to be black that it is just pathetic. He has a fake set of teeth with corn rows braided in his hair and he drives an older Camaro on floating rims with dollar signs on them. Yes, dollar signs on his rims.
But the movie doesn't stop there. No, that isn't even the worst part. After he shows him his bedroom with all the guns and other outrageous weapons, the girls take two pistols with silencers on them and puts them into Franco's mouth. Does he push them away, being the gangster that he is? No, he proceeds to deep throat the guns like they are, well you know. And he actually likes it. He takes two guns in the mouth and actually likes it!!! Yes this actually happens in the movie. I wouldn't believe it either, so here is a picture so you know I'm not making this up.
So if you want to watch a soft core porn with Selena Gomez and some other hot chicks that has absolutely no story and is almost unwatchable, this movie is for you. Don't forget to turn down the volume though. The music isn't bad, the soundtrack was made by the hit dubstep artist Skrillex and rapper Gucci Mane who plays Archie the rival gangster. But there isn't that much music and most of the time you are subjected to listening the ramblings of James Franco trying to act ghetto. Some how the ratings on the movie are above 0 stars. On Rotten Tomatos the movie got 65% and on IMDB it got 5.9/10. I don't know how anybody in the world could give this more than a 1. Maybe all the reviewers were deaf and just liked the hot chicks. Maybe the production company bribed every movie reviewer in the country. Or maybe they are just so dumb that they don't realize how fake and lame this movie really is. Whatever the reason, I am surprised. But then again I hardly ever agree with critics on movies. Although 5.9 is not a good score by any means it is about 5 points higher than I would have given it. If I haven't made myself clear enough: THIS MOVIE STINKS! DON'T GO SEE IT! I'd rather gargle with sulfuric acid than watch this abomination of a film.