Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting Outlook password prompt with Google Apps mail

This evening I was having trouble access a Google Apps hosted email account in Outlook 2003. It kept prompting me to confirm my account details, even though I knew they were correct. After a bit of Googling I discovered I wasn't the only one with this issue. Anyway, a quick thanks to this post for the solution, which is to visit www.google.com/a/yourdomain.com/UnlockCaptcha - remember to replace yourdomain.com with, well, your domain name - obviously!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My review of A4U Expo 2009 - Excel, London

Back at work now having spent the last few days attending this year's A4U Expo at Excel in London. As with last year's review, I'm going to review it through the use of handy bullet points. Please take the negative comments with a pinch of salt as overall I had a good time, but I think there's always room for improvement ;)

Launch party and day one

  • The launch party on Monday night was good, if a little quieter than 2008's I thought. The food was not that great (think thick school style pizza squares!) and ran out quite quickly, perhaps best to give up on that and use money towards the free bar, which dried up by 9.15, not that I was timing it or anything ;)
  • This year they had projectors showing a Twitterfall of the #a4uexpo tag, which was a good idea and encouraged people to tweet a lot more. However, I wonder whether the speakers might have felt slightly depressed looking out across a room of people playing with their mobiles and laptops the whole time!
  • Some good sessions in the morning, but perhaps a little 'samey' to those in 2008. The first one that stood out (for me at least) was Landing Page Success Story by Ben Jesson of Conversion Rate Experts. A very interesting look in to the detailed work which goes in to analysing customer paths, decision making, etc. Bottom line (for SEOmoz at least) was a long, long sales page was the answer to better conversions!
  • Food at lunch time was a big improvement from the airport style sandwiches in a paper bag from 2008. This time around they had chilli and rice in a box as well as cheese and nachos. There were also plenty of drinks and snacks and I didn't see the food run out even after everyone had eaten - which was great.
  • I think everyone who attended this year's show was grateful to John Myers of Mediavest who seemed to be moderating just about every presentation. I'm not sure how he was in two places at the same time, but he seemed to be! He did a good job of mixing a sense of light heartedness with also keep thing ticking along, just how a good moderator should.
  • Another couple of people who seemed to be in two places at once included Bas van den Beld of Search Cowboys who was twittering away in most seminars, including one when I sat behind him - he turned around to spot the mystery person who tweeted him, and looked straight past me... oh the games you play when you're a bit bored, lol! There was also another busy Twitter user @crashone (aka Sander Tamaela) who did a good job of keeping everyone in the loop. Finally there was Mike Evans (@mike20) who, like me, wasn't too afraid to Tweet if they weren't enjoying a session - which led to me (and possibly others) swapping half way through and therefore proving a very useful live service!
  • I tried sitting in on the Google Site Clinic in the afternoon, but it didn't seem (initially at least) to be very well organised with them not collecting URLs for analysis until we were sitting down - I think an improvement for next year would be to ensure that URLs are collected and looked at well in advance, not just for this presentation but for all 'site review' style sessions, of which there were a few. Otherwise you just sit there listening to the panel going "hmm", "errr" and "whats that url again" - which isn't much fun.
  • Having bailed on the Google guys (don't slap me, you seemed like nice guys, lol!) I went next door to see Nadeem Azam do a great talk on the 12 biggest mistakes he'd made over the last 12 years. He did a great job and had the audience laughing away. He somehow managed to include a reference to Hitler (don't be one), Only Fools and Horses, a homeless guy offering to code for money and more!
  • In the evening I met up with a few guys and had some food at the 02 before heading in to the 'official' party (Breakout) at the Inc Club. Walking in past about 6 bouncers, despite the 02 virtually empty, was a bit of a strange introduction. We went upstairs in to a very dark and noisy room. Finally got a drink and took in the surroundings (including strange dancing robot women 'feature'!) before realising there was no chance of hearing each other, let alone doing some networking. Also, unlike the launch party, no-one had bothered to wear their badges which made things even tougher. We left pretty early and checking Twitter when I got back I discovered a number of other affiliates (Chris Clarkson, Clarke Duncan, & Co.) had set up their own party back at the hotel where they could actually hear each other. I'm hoping that Matt and the A4U gang picked up on this and will either have an actual networking area next year, or just go for a different setting.
Day two review
  • Thanks to the lack of networking available the night before, I didn't wake up with a bad hangover and therefore was feeling pretty fresh for the first sessions of the day - Killer Link Building Strategies which I was keen to catch due to Patrick Altoft (of BlogStorm) being on the panel. Interesting session, although it started slightly slowly and heavily (for me least) with the talk by Lyndon Antcliff - perhaps it was just the fact it was first thing in the morning!
  • Next session was on earning more from PPC campaigns by Sri Sharma, and was probably the best session over the two days. He got straight on with actual screen shots and how-tos of tools and techniques that made a lot of sense, such as trying to find patterns in the days and times you make the most sales and then linking that to the day/time you run the ads, or changing the wording of the ads at these times.
  • The Extreme SEO Moderated panel was ok, but a bit of a let down due to a lack of structure and at times it was more like listening to a bunch of guys in a pub chatting about amusing internet related stories, rather than 'extreme' SEO. It was fun enough and David Naylor did a good job of making it entertaining, but I'm not really sure that anyone looking for actual tips and techniques would have been satisfied. Another quick thanks to Ciaran Norris for doing a good job of moderating this, especially his professionalism of dealing with the slightly awkward Tesco suggest thing on Google!
  • Lunch was again another good improvement on 2008 with a choice of 3 generous pizzas, not just a slice or two, but an entire pizza in a box per person, yum!
  • Attended the Affiliate Apocalypse session in the afternoon but didn't really enjoy it. The main outcome from the entire hour was that there is no straight forward answer to replacing last click wins, which we all know anyway. One bit that stood out was when Julia Stent of Vodafone appeared to suggest that people don't visit cash back sites after content sites, instead they go direct to the cash back site to shop, which had both myself and Jason Dale shaking our heads - although I think, judging by his body language, Jason was a little bit more wound up than me ;) But that's why it's great to have him around as he's not another nodding dog and isn't afraid to speak up.
  • Finished off the event at the Fox, which was great. Lots of choice of free drinks and tons of bar staff meant no queues. This is kind of what the Breakout party should have been like...!
So, all in all another great year at A4U Expo. Matt and Co continue to host a great event and I'm intending on going back next year. I hope they continue to look for and accept constructive criticism and continue to tweak and improve A4U Expo so it continues to get better and better.

Update: I'm going to list other blogger's reviews, starting off with SEO Gadget and Top 10 A4U Expo Quotes (from Search Cowboys).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Preview of A4U Expo 2009

Just about to head off to A4u Expo 2009 following my first trip last year. Looking forward to attending a few more talks this year and doing a bit less drinking, shame there's no boat trip - but then I guess that would have been a bit 'samey' two years in a row. Not quite sure how we're meant to get back to hotels from 02 once the DLR closes, but sure I'll work something out.

A full review will follow, I'm looking forward to seeing Nadeem's talk on My 12 Biggest Affiliate Marketing Mistakes in 12 Years having met him a few times over the years, including one late night drip to McDonalds in Leicester Square! It'll also be interesting to see if I can meet up with Kieron to discuss content writing, as well as listen in on Meet the Super Affiliates

Want to keep up with developments as they happen? Check Twitter for #a4uexpo and also I'll update my twitter account from time to time at www.twitter.com/geoffblog

Cheers

Monday, September 28, 2009

Show actual URL in phpMyDirectory

Just making a quick note of this here for future reference. If you use phpMyDirectory (v1.x) and want advertisers to benefit from a direct / plain link to their web site (rather than a redirect through the script) then you need to do the following (at your own risk, etc. etc).

In listing.php add the lines in red

} else {
if (MOD_REWRITE) {
$template_content->set('www_url',BASE_URL.'/out-'.$listing['id'].'.html');
$template_content->set('www_url_full',$listing['www']);
} else {
$template_content->set('www_url',BASE_URL.'/listing_out.php?id='.$listing['id']);
$template_content->set('www_url_full',$listing['www']);
}
}

And then place in listing_default.tpl

< ?php echo $www_url_full;?> (remove space before ?, did that to show in blogger)

Thanks to 'Anneliese-PMD' on their forums for sharing that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nvidia GeForce "Cannot start device" (error 10)

At the weekend I thought I'd try and update the drivers for a GeForce FX graphics card in an old computer kicking around at home. I duly went to the Nvidia site to grab the latest driver and went through the recommended procedure of removing the old driver first, running Driver Sweeper in safe mode, and then installing the new drivers.

Cue about 6 hours of back and forth (including losing the screen completely at one point!) as I discovered that neither nVidia driver 175.19 or 175.16 worked - despite their site saying my card (5900XT) was supported!! Both of these drivers produced "device cannot start" errors when viewed in the Device Manager.

I eventually stumbled across a blog (sorry can't remember where, it was a few days ago) which stated the last driver that didn't produce this Error Code 10 (cannot start) was actually driver 169.21. So, I uninstalled (following procedure above), and installed this one and hey-presto it worked again. You can find old drivers for your nVidia card via this link http://www.nvidia.com/Download/Find.aspx?lang=en-us

I hope this helps anyone else who is Googling like I was for most of Sunday!

New Adwords Interface, Over-Engineered?

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' is something you hear from time to time. Anyone who develops web sites or applications will have been guilty of it from time to time, you think you're going to improve something but then rapidly discover you've take a step backwards by mistake. I certainly have this feeling with the new Google Adwords interface that they've started push on to advertisers. It's chock full of AJAX (although may be something else, my geek powers are weak) and generally seems to be as cluttered as possible - with yellow "Dismiss" boxes left, right and centre. The old system worked fine for basic stuff and anyone doing advanced operations should have been using the excellent Adwords Editor application instead. I can only hope, although it will take time, that Google listen to the feedback (assuming it's negative like this!) and improve the GUI to make it easier to navigate and streamline / remove some of the bells and whistles they've introduced - like pop-out menus on roll-over etc. Anyone else got an opinion on this?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Online Marketing Show 2009, Olympia

Blink and you'll miss it. Sorry, that might be a little bit harsh, but this was probably one of the smallest industry shows that I've ever been to. The show was part of Marketing Week Live! (you gotta love adding exclamation marks to things) held at highly impractical location of London's Olympia. Why/how is this still a venue? Going to Earls' Court and then waiting up to 15 minutes for the special Kensington Olympia tube is a really annoying waste of time.

Anyway, having skipped the chaotic looking registration hall I strode up the steps and in to the show - or was it a music video? Immediately through the doors are your presented with a black corridor with brightly coloured lines painted on it and equally bright fabric 'waves' hanging from the roof. All very grand indeed! There were actually 3 other shows in the Grand Hall in addition to the OMS, each taking up a corner or so of space.

The OMS area was very small and full of the increasing number of bland companies that claim to be experts in virtually everything and anything, using lots of buzz words like "integrated campaign management","multi-channel", "SEO specialists", etc. I guess that these one-stop-shop companies are the only ones that can afford stands at the moment? It's a shame though not to see some slightly smaller, more focused, companies there.

Anyway, didn't stay long. I saw Keith Budden wearing some amazing yellow Hawaiian shirt but not too many other familar faces today. Perhaps they're busy in sheltering from this heat in their homes / offices waiting for the A4UExpo instead!

Other reviews:
http://blog.tamar.com/2009/06/online-marketing-show-09-oms09/

Monday, June 22, 2009

Add author's photo & biography to Wordpress

Just making a note of this for my future reference and for anyone else interested. This is based on Wordpress 2.8 but may possibly work with both older and newer versions.

To start with I wanted a way for an author to upload a profile photo directly to a Wordpress installation without having to sign up to a 3rd party site (Gravatar, etc.). I then wanted to display their picture on the author.php page. The fix for this was simple thanks to the 'Author Image' plugin (developer's site).

Next I wanted to put the author's description/biography on the page too. This is achieved by adding the following line in the appropriate place in the author.php file: (sorry it's an image as Blogger didn't like me trying to put it in to my posting :( )



I'm not sure who to credit for that as it's something I put in an older version of my modified templates, but thanks to whoever provided it originally and I hope this is useful for anyone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Emails stuck in Outlook Outbox? Solution

Using Outlook 2003 I often get in to the situation where my browsing is working fine, but for some reason Outlook refuses to send emails. They just sit there in my Outbox and it informs me that it's trying to send them. The cause of this is when you accidentally have Outlook.exe running twice, normally because you forgot that you minimized it so you start it again. Anyway, to solve the problem simply close down Outlook (and ticking yes to the you still have items to send pop-up). Then do Ctrl-Alt-Del together and closed down Outlook.exe that will still be running (i.e. the 2nd instance). Then re-start Outlook and it should now send those emails :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Solution for Vista USB stick not recognised

I've been pulling my hair out this morning as Vista was refusing to recognise my USB stick. I tried everything from installing updates to reinstalling the storage device drivers. At one point I could see the device in File Explorer but it reported that it was blank (mild panic!). Anyway, after the usual Googling for 'USB device not recognized' I came across a solution and had a sudden flash back to having done all of this before.

The solution is:

To shut down (not hibernate/sleep) your laptop
Unplug it from the mains power
Remove the battery
Wait a few minutes
Put it all back together and plug it back in again
Boot up Vista and plug in your USB stick

So there you go, a slight twist on the old "turn off and on again" trick. But it really does work. Obviously this advice is provided in good faith and should be used at your own risk, etc. etc. Also a quick thanks to this blog for reminding me of the solution and for sharing it, as I've now done, with the world :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review of Internet World 2009 by a 'VIP'!

Just returned from visiting Internet World 2009 at Earl's Court in London and though I'd post a review, to go alongside my A4U Expo review from last October. For some reason I was made a VIP ticket holder this year, which was far less exciting than it might sound - but more on that later! As with my previous reviews, I'll stick to some easy-to-read bullet points on the good and bad features of the show.

Good things...
  • No queues and quick entry. Unlike Ad:Tech London last year (which somehow I forgot to blog about) there was no queuing in the rain at Internet World. In fact they did a good job with clearly signed entry points for badge holders, returning visitors, etc.
  • Usual mixture of companies, including a few new names (but not many small/start up types - more on that later!)
  • A couple of good seminars (i.e. ones that weren't pitches in disguise!). One that stood out was the Webcredible presentation on usability which consisted of slide after slide of practical and real life examples of good and bad pratice. One example they gave which made me chuckle was about a lady who entered 'yes' in the Confirm your Email box on a sign-up form - makes you realise the importance of wording on such things.
  • Chatting to the guys at the Branded 3 who came dressed as if they were going to the beach (at least I hope that was the intention!). Patrick wasn't around when I got to the stand, but I passed on the thanks for his excellent work on the BlogStorm blog and I'm seriously thinking of hiring these guys to help promote a TV related project which I mentioned to them on the day.
  • Talking to the guys at Rackspace and learning more about their Mosso cloud hosting service, although I'm still a little concerned that it's going to be good enough to host a busy forum which can have some pretty high CPU usage. Hmm...
Bad things and/or room for improvement!
  • Seminar rooms (or 'theatres' !!) were way too small, hot and stuffy. The queues for virtually all the presentations were massive and a lot of people ended up having to stand. Considering they would have known how many tickets they normally issue (this is hardly their first year!) they should have predicted the need for bigger venues.
  • I was given a VIP ticket this year which, according to the Internet World web site, would get me access to the "VIP Lounge" for complimentary refreshments in an 'oasis of calm'. This area was sponsored by the guys at WebOptimiser and I'm not sure it will have given them any good PR. The 'lounge' was a small square area with a waist height fence surrounding it, so you had people and stands on all sides - hardly an oasis of calm! Furthermore they couldn't get the refreshments sorted out and the coffee/tea stand was often completely empty. I heard a few people grumbling about this, but to be fair it did seem a bit better stocked on the last day.
  • The layout of the show was shockingly bad. I'm sure they previously had much clearer 'zones' for the various sectors (CMS providers, hosting, sales, etc.) but this year I found myself going around and around trying to find certain stands. Furthermore, the guy from Webcredible even made a joke that giving out his stand number wouldn't help us find him, so he pointed in the rough direction and wished us luck (I might have embellished that last part, but you get the idea!).
Might not be IW's fault, but...
  • I guess this is more a reflection of the industry maturing and the worldwide recession, but I felt that this year's show lacked any kind of 'buzz'. Beyond the guys at the Peer1 stand, there was very little in the way of razzmatazz of previous years. The whole show felt a bit dull and it seemed to be reflected in the mood of some of the exhibitors and guests.
  • There weren't many startups or upcoming companies. They had a French Pavilion (again think artistic license in terms of it being a 'pavilion') - but this just seemed a bit random. Also there weren't any affiliate companies or many of the larger ad networks (no Ad.com, Value Click, etc.).
Closing thoughts

Given the absence of the large ad networks, the affiliate companies and a general "here's Internet World 2009, take it or leave it" atmosphere, I wonder whether this show will continue without a radical shake-up of either their pricing for exhibitors, or without a clearer focus on the types of companies that are meant to be there.

Shows such as Ad:Tech (despite the queues last year!) and A4U Expo appear to be stealing not only the limelight but also the lion's share of exhibitors.

Other reviews of Internet World 2009...

"Once I had finished my £6.95 Jacket potato and beans I rushed back to the theatre as I most certainly did not want to miss the talk from Mark Watts-Jones of Orange. I arrived (30mins early) to a queue reminiscent of the toilet queues for the London marathon." - Social Media Mashup

Friday, April 17, 2009

Error 2739 when installing Google Adwords Editor

If you're getting the Error 2739 message when installing Adwords Editor from Google, then don't panic - here is the solution and it's pretty straight forward. This is based on my experience using Windows Vista and I see that other bloggers have also shared the solution, so thanks to them and I've written my own version of the instructions here for future reference and because we've these ones you don't get any errors :)

Solution
  • Start button > (All) Programs > Accessories
  • In that list *right* click on "Command Prompt" and select "Run as administrator"
  • When the black box (command screen) loads first type in:
  • regsvr32 vbscript.dll
  • then press the enter/return key on your keyboard ... wait... then type in:
  • regsvr32 jscript.dll
  • press enter and wait again.
That's it! Now try installing Adwords Editor and there should be no more 2739 error!

PS. For some reason I didn't get a shortcut on my desktop for the editor, this can be fixed pretty easily, click the Start button > Run then in the box that appears type in:

explorer.exe C:\Program Files\Google\Google Adwords Editor\

Click "Ok". A window should then load showing you the contents of that folder. Right-click on 'adwords_editor.exe' and select "Send to > Desktop (create shortcut)'. Hey presto! :)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wordpress htaccess clashes with sub-directory

The situation:

Wordpress installed in root / with its default .htaccess file
I had another script installed in /otherscript sub-directory with .htaccess/.htpasswd protection.

The problem:

Trying to access the /otherscript sub-directory creates a Wordpress 404 error, rather than the pop-up login box you'd expect to see.

The solution:

Simply edit the Wordpress .htaccess and at the very top of the file add:
ErrorDocument 401 default
All thanks for this solution go to Andrew Rollins who blogged about this back in 2008 - I have merely made my own record of it here just in case anything ever happened to Andrew's page. Also if you check his blog posting you'll find some alternatives to the line above, such as specifying a custom 401 page.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Epson scanner web site fail

Looking for a new scanner, I searched Google for information on the "Epson Perfection" range. Trusty old Google returned a product page from the official Epson.co.uk site as the first result - so far so good...

I clicked the result, read the review of the Perfection 4990 Photo scanner and then decided I wanted to see what other scanners they had to offer. Right there, at the top-left of the Epson web site, was the conveniently named "Back to Scanners Link". Great... or not as it turned out.

Someone thought it would be a good idea to make this a Javascript history.go(-1) link, which in layman's terms, makes your browser go back a page in your history, in my case back to Google.

Whoever programmed/designed the page must have assumed you would only get to a product detail page from within the Epson web site and therefore going back a page would be fine!

Have a go yourself, before they fix it (err, how long will that take?). Simply visit this product detail page on Epson UK and then click the "Back to Scanners Link" to return to, wait for it... to this very blog posting - doh.

Let me know where you want to send the free scanner for noticing this ;)