Voice Search In Google Chrome

Most of the smartphones today have the ability to accept voice commands and perform actions. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just speak something and get things done on your PC too?

Google Chrome Voice Search

Well, if you use , here is a great feature which will allow you to search several search engines by speaking. The called Voice Search is an experimental add-on which allows you to search Google or any other search engines by speaking out the words you want to search.

This is a really amazing add-on and goes on to show the capabilities built into Google Chrome. I tested this feature out to demonstrate how this works, the video is a bit grainy due to bad lighting; will upload another one shortly. Of course, the extension is not perfect and does not recognize all the words, however, once fully developed it would become a really good way to type text without having to use the keyboard.

(Click here if you can’t see the video)

Voice Search comes pre-loaded with the following default services: Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Wolfram|Alpha. You can also add your own user-defined search engines. It also integrates a speech input button for all websites using HTML5 search boxes, all of the default search engines’ websites, Facebook, Twitter, reddit, and GitHub.

Of course you require a microphone for this to work. Excited? Go ahead and download the Voice Search extension for Google Chrome now.

Hey Google, Here is How You Can Make Google News Spam Free

Google has been removing publishers from Google News index for vague reasons because of new policy reviews. This was confirmed by a recent tweet from @mattcutts where he said:

@AuctionBytes I’ll mention this. The news folks are actually starting a nice crackdown on low-quality/spammy news sources.

So what is low-quality and spammy according to Google? Search Engine Land has an answer for that where they got an update from a Google News spokesperson who said “Yes, we recently removed a number of websites from Google News that we determined were not following Google’s quality guidelines”

Google News Spam

So what exactly are those quality guidelines? According to several forum posts on the Google News forum, quality websites are those who write original content. And what is original content? A post on a site which does not reference anyone else through links or otherwise. So sites which link to other sources provide low-quality news?

Google News Spam Gaming Websites

In my experience, one of the biggest spamming in news occurs for trending topics in Google search. Several hundred websites follow these trends and then post accordingly about them. Now the problem here is not those websites, it is with Google who display “Google News listings” above organic listings in Google search results.

Anyone with a bit of brain can game Google and write original pieces of news without attributing anyone and get tons of traffic. The throw in your face news results acts like a tonic for spammy publishers to push content and game the system.

I have been counting thousands of sites which do this everyday along with posting duplicate content on the same topic to get on top of the listings once they have been forced down by another site. This was a known fact but was more in news after CNET and Search Engine Land wrote about it.

This is one of the biggest reasons why sites which are originally good become spammy after they have tasted the traffic dose from Google. My one and only suggestion to Google is to not display Google News results in search results. Give everyone a level playing field and you will automatically see less spam in your index.

Of course, Google wants to do all the real-time fancy stuff too, so just display the Google News results there or post a link to the Google News search or provide it as an option, that too opt-in and not opt-out.

Once Google does this, we will all see less spam in the index. Removing websites from listings is just a way of telling publishers that we control the internet and will do as we want without caring about you. Sadly that is the attitude Google has right now.

View Google AdSense Earnings for Different Geo-locations/Countries

is no doubt one of the biggest ad networks which is used by millions of websites. Google AdSense’s reports are real-time and provide a comprehensive view of the impressions and number of clicks a website generates. However, one important thing missing in Google AdSense is geo-location based reporting which will help a webmaster to know how AdSense performs in different countries.

Don’t Miss: Useful Tips and Tricks To Grow Your AdSense Income

In my experience, knowing country wise performance of advertising networks has helped me to replace certain ads in certain countries with higher performing ones, thus helping me increase my revenues. I do that using Google DFP, for which I am writing a guide, you might want to know the benefits of using Google DFP too.

Coming back to the topic, is there a way to find AdSense performance based on geo-location? Yes, there is, using Google Analytics. Before you use this trick, there are two requisites:

  1. You have to use Google Analytics for your site. If you don’t sign up here.
  2. You have to link your Google Analytics and Google AdSense accounts. If you don’t know how, read this help forum topic.

If you fulfill both of these requirements, dive straight into knowing the performance of Google AdSense based on geo-location below. If not, you will have to wait a few days before you can start seeing this data.

Google Analytics Map Overlay

To see how AdSense is performing in any country, head over to your analytics account and view the analytics for the site you want to get this data for. Click on the “Visitors” link in the right hand side and then click on the “Map Overlay” link.

Google Analytics Country Breakup

On the Map Overlay page, scroll down till you see links for the countries and click on the country you want to see the AdSense performance for. Once you do that, you will see a city/region wise breakup for that particular country.

change_google_analytics_country_dimension

In the country view, click on the “None” dimension link and select any of the dimensions from the available list. You can click on any one of them. Once you do that a new report will load based on that dimension.

On this page, you will now see an additional tab which displays the AdSense revenue for that particular geo-location or country to you. This data might be an estimate but it does provide you with a way to check on how AdSense is performing in a particular country, city or region.

Google Analytics Country AdSense Revenue

With this data in hand, you can easily replace Google AdSense units with higher performing ones in those countries. Of course, everything is trial and error so you have to make your own judgments here. However, hopefully this guide should help you target your ads better and maximize your revenues.

Google Translate Beatbox Rocks, Listen and Rock

If you haven’t heard it yet you should do it at-least once. It’s a fascinating way to understand how a computer can do something as good as a human being.

Google Translate apparently dishes out music in a beatbox format when you try to convert "pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk" from German to German, however the fun is only when you hit the Listen button

Don’t believe me? Go ahead to this link and hit the listen button then. Have fun.

Well you can have more fun with beatbox, try this out "pvz zkz pvz pvz zkz pvz zkz kzz zkz pvz pvz pvz zkz pvz zkz zkz pzkz pzkz pvzkpkzvpvzkz kkkkkkz bsch "

Best Places to Find Black Friday Deals

Black Friday 2010

Everyone from the East to the West coast is waiting for Black Friday, right? You’re not? Stop lying! Smile with tongue out. That’s right, mark 26th November Black Friday falls on this date and it’s the perfect excuse to get that gadget you’re craving for! Bonus points go for not spending as much as you would usually. With that in mind, we have devised a small list of the best places to find Black Friday deals.

Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com

Black Friday Gotta Deal

Touting itself to be the official Black Friday deals site, this website has collated mostly every ad from AAFES to Walmart for Black Friday and promise to send you email notification as soon as they get to know about the latest deal. They also have a really useful Deal of the Day sidebar arranged by shop.

BFads.net: The guys over BFads have also collected all the major (and some minor) Black Friday deal ads and have conveniently organized them for the sake of you, the Black Friday Shopper! They also have a neat monthly giveaway for users of their site. Their blog also publishes about some fabulous deals that you must go for!

Black Friday Info

BlackFriday.info: This site also claims to be the official site dealing with Black Friday ads. The minimalist, streamlined site posts high quality ad scans as and when they are released along with a friendly icon of the store.

Amazon: Though technically not in Thanksgiving mood yet, Amazon has already put up a huge Holiday Savings toy list for shoppers. They have also put up a "Prelude to Black Friday" video game deal list with a new game up on sale everyday.

Newegg: The good folks over at Newegg have had a blowout November deal list, with a new 24-hour-only deal throughout the month. They also have some special deals lasting for more than a day.

Best Buy: The retail giant has put up the preview of all the great deals that will be valid on Black Friday. Named "Doorbusters", I wouldn’t be surprised if their doors are busted with the influx of deal-crazy shoppers!

SavyGamer: This video-game-deal only site is regularly updated with all the latest digital distribution and retail discounts on video games. It’s sure to be well updated throughout Black Friday. Hang on to this site!

Apple Black Friday Deal

According to Apple Insider, Apple has also posted a sale teaser for this Black Friday where they will be having a one day sale at the Apple Online Store. It couldn’t get more exciting that this, could it?

So do you have any other sites you shop or watch Black Friday deals at? Join the club and add your favorite Black Friday deals to the comments.

Statistics Is A Joke, Not Reality

Statistics is not only for junkies. It is used by businesses, webmasters, mobile industry and practically everyone who has access to some sort of data, inventory or anything tangible or intangible. However, Statistics in general has been biased towards data one agency has and does not reflect reality in general. I could not think of any industry where statistics was not based on speculation or was based on what one company has to say.

statistics_measuring

In webmaster’s world, Alexa is a base of ranking in many cases. However, Alexa ranking is highly biased. A site which receives 300K page views per month is ranked higher than a site which receives 2 million visits. How is this possible? Because, Alexa uses their own data which is collected through their toolbars and other hidden methods to judge the ranking. If people don’t install a toolbar to visit your website your website will be ranked lower.

This is not a problem, it is a very big problem, because advertisers use this data to judge your site. And it is an irony because it does not in any way display reality.

Today, Hit Wise an analytics company says that 1 in 4 users in US are referred through . This data is not wrong at all, but the bigger question here is how many users in US are being tracked by Hit Wise? It is 1 in 4 or is it 1 in 100? Though these companies make their data public, it is really hard to sit and figure out data from hundreds of sources to put two and two together.

This is why statistics is a funny business. One company will walk up and say Facebook does well. Then a second will come in and say Google does well. Who should we believe in? People have to understand that this data is coming from individual companies which do not have access to more than 10% of the entire data (see I added my own 10% here) and in no way represents what is actually happening in the US or anywhere else.

So What Is The Big Problem?

The big problem in every industry including television is that no one controls a right to ascertain who visits which website or watches which television show. However, no central agency can step in here and assert that they want this data too. This is of course done to protect a user’s privacy. But several individual services/agencies track views across websites. One of the things these services track are referrers which is where this type of data comes from.

So assuming that a company tracks 100 million users a month, they will determine that out of it 30 million came from US and out of it 10 million came from Facebook and then say that 1 in 3 users in US came from Facebook. Now there is no problem in that data, it is only based on the data that company has and not the entire US internet traffic. So saying that 1 in 3 visits came from Facebook is true for that company. However, in a pure statistical view that data is speculation at it’s best when you take the entire traffic into consideration.

Imagine 10 companies have a survey to determine something. Each company can only target 100 people. Each of this company will have something different to report, however, it does not mean that each of these companies are right. However, when you take the data from all these companies and collectively measure it, it will have a true measure of what all of those people wanted.

What Is the Second Big Problem?

The second big problem is that none of the big companies including Google, Facebook or actually make their traffic public. So everything is left to speculation. Considering how many companies run analytics we will always see different results from different companies. If this is not a joke, what is it?

Agreed that we have to use some sort of data to judge popularity of websites and it has been done successfully throughout all these years, but the way we determine it is always based on partial data accumulated by one company or the other, which might be a fraction of the entire industry in general and will never lead to a fair conclusion.

If we need to really determine who is ruling in this industry, let’s just base data on one thing or nothing. There is no point in sitting up every morning to see that one stats company say that this one is the biggest one and then the next morning having to read some other site saying that this is the big one.

Let’s have these statistics company contribute basic data to a central agency/source and then let’s figure that out by adding two and two up. Let’s make this joke some sort of a reality where we can truly measure something rather than having conflicting reports come up everyday.

(Image Credit: http://www.stat.columbia.edu)

Find Black Friday and Other Deals/Coupons While Shopping Online

Since I started shopping online, I have used several websites to find deals and coupons before I purchase online. This has helped me saves thousands of dollars over the last few years.

PriceBlink Amazon Discount

However, browsing each and every website to find a deal can be very time consuming so I started using a which would allow me to find deals for products I wanted to buy.

PriceBlink GoDaddy Coupons

Thought the Price Blink extensions for and is not new, considering that holiday season is coming up I thought it would be useful to users if they aren’t already using it. Price Blink is a money-saving extension, in the sense that it will find lower prices for products you are buying, coupons for websites you are browsing and user reviews.

With Black Friday coming up next week, it would definitely mean a lot of savings and deals served up to you while you are making a purchase decision. So go ahead and give this extension a try and you will definitely not be disappointed.

You can download the Price Blink extension for Chrome from here and for Firefox from here. While you are at it, catch an explanatory video on how this extension can help you save money below.

Also See: 15 Chrome Extensions Worth Installing

Why WordPress Needs To Overhaul Their Plugin Repository and Introduce Safety Checks

I have written quite a few plugins including WordPress Automatic Upgrade and understand how things work within WordPress.

Earlier today, I wrote about a very dangerous plugin doing the rounds of the Internet called BlogPress SEO. The plugin is nothing but a Trojan horse which siphoned sensitive data to a third party and allowed them to login to the plugin user’s admin interface without having access to the admin password.

WordPress Security

That plugin is not in the WordPress repository and will never be, but there are thousands of plugins which are already in the repository and thousands which will eventually be part of it. Here is the catch, adding a WordPress plugin to the repository is as easy as sending an email, you just create a legitimate plugin, upload it to SVN and it’s there in the repository for everyone to use.

Now, here is the problem. As far as I believe there are no checks on what code is added to a plugin and to top that there are no checks at all to future updates. In plain words, I can create a legitimate plugin and introduce it to the repository. After that, whatever updates I make to it will never be checked (other than by clever WordPress users who sift through code), since the WordPress plugin updates are based on SVN trunks.

Any new trunks you create will be made available as a update to the end user, regardless of what code you put into it. Now, this may not be alarming since there are hardly any scams related to WordPress plugins within the repository, but today’s event goes on to show that it can be exploited. It does not take much effort to get in a plugin into the repository itself, so a scammer/hacker will be able to create multiple plugins and then add exploit code to it and offer it as updates. By the time the exploit is discovered, it might be too late for users who have already updated and sent out sensitive information to the hacker.

Now, while I am making a valid point here, there is really no foolproof way to stop this problem. Of course, it would help if there are safety checks and maybe a community based checking of code before it actually is made available as an update to users. Community based code checks are hard, if not impossible, because it will involve people to actually check the updated code before it is made available to users. This will also add a hassle to developers who are contributing for free, however, in the end it will be beneficial to everyone.

Once again the approach of checking code is not exactly foolproof. A recent example involves and , who now have a very strict process of approving extensions and it causes problems to developers. However, both of them did let through/had or which snooped on sensitive information and passed them on to third parties, some without even you having to install those extensions. The most recent example being Firesheep, an extension which allowed you to extract cookies for and and then used it to login to these networks (P.S. Install BlackSheep to stay safe from Firesheep).

Now here is the big problem, none of these harmful extensions are available through the repositories, if they are, they are quickly taken off, but people can still go ahead and install these. Just like Firefox has the ability to block extensions (they blocked .NET and WPF add-ons from Microsoft), and Google Chrome has developed features in the browser to block unsafe extensions, WordPress has to take steps to block harmful plugins at the core. They have to have the ability to inform users or explicitly block plugins which are harmful.

Considering how huge a community WordPress has, it would be easy to have a system in place to report unsafe extensions, no matter if they are present in the repository or not, along with providing a friendly warning to users that the plugin they are about to install might be unsafe. In addition to that, they have to move towards encouraging more and more developers to use the WordPress repository for plugins. I had written about the benefits of users adding their plugins to the WP repo on WLTC and saw many developers unhappy with the system, so this might take a while.

If they add this feature, and it works on the fly, it would be one of the best features I could use. Though I am a experienced plugin developer and have coded plugins such as WordPress Automatic Upgrade, I fear for the millions of people who might start adding plugins which are really bad.

Hope WordPress does something about this as this could easily get out of hand. The coder of BlogPress was foolish, he wrote code that could easily be identified, imagine intelligent people being able to write code which cannot be identified and the threats just multiply.

(Image Credit: Clickonf5.org)

Complete Guide To Using Google DFP: Part I – Advantages

A few months ago, I started using Google’s Double Click for Publishers (DFP), which is an ad serving solution for website owners. Google DFP is a bit overwhelming at first and it took me few days to get around to using it. However, I have now made a successful transition to using Google DFP and serve all the ads using it.

Google DFP Logo

In my experience Google DFP is a bit complicated at start, however, it does have several advantages over traditional way of adding advertisements to your website. In this series, I will talk about the benefits of using Google DFP and also how to effectively use it on your own website with some handy tips and tricks thrown in.

Advantages of Using Google DFP

There are several advantages of using Google DFP over traditional ad insertion. I will list a few here which I have found beneficial to me and might come in handy to you too.

Less Code and Easy to Maintain

Once you start using Google DFP, you will notice that you are dealing with much lesser code while inserting or positioning advertisements. This is one thing I have found beneficial as I am able to insert ads into code with just a single click.

Create Once and Use Forever

Unlike traditional advertisement code, you can create a line item and insert it into your theme. The next time you want to display advertisements from a different network, you don’t need to create new code and that can be handled within the DFP interface itself. This makes it much more easier to experiment with different networks and quickly remove/change them if you are not satisfied with the revenue. I will talk about this in more detail in the future parts of the series.

Geo and Demographic Targeting

One of the best features of DFP is that it allows you to geo-target your ads. Using this feature you can display different ads to different locations to maximize your revenue. Another good feature is demographic targeting which allows you to target people using certain browsers or operating systems.

Demographic targeting can be very useful when you want to say advertise a certain browser; for example ; to users using , or want to pitch to someone using Linux or Mac OS X.

Serve Your Own Ads/Promotions Without Worries

With the help of Google DFP you can serve your own promotions or promote your own content without having to worry about delivery or assets. You can create custom In-house ads on Google DFP and upload images etc. to Google’s servers and directly display them on your website.

In addition to that, you can also serve ads that you have directly sold on your site and provide advertisers with detailed statistics along with tracking clicks and more.

Track and Compare Impressions

Sometimes advertising companies may not show correct impressions. With the help of Google DFP, you will be able to cross-check and verify impression counts displayed by advertising networks against your own inventory.

Target Ads To Advertisers

Google and Double Click have a huge advertiser base. When you use Google DFP, you will be able to target your ad-slots to these advertisers and sell your inventory to them.

Google AdSense Integration

Using Google DFP, you will easily be able to integrate in your ads and maximize your revenue. In the future parts we will talk about how to do this and also create Link units for Google AdSense and serve them using Google DFP.

Rotate Ads and Banners

With the help of Google DFP, you will be able to easily rotate ads and banners without having to worry about logic. I will talk about rotating ads using Google DFP in the next part of the series.

Concluding Part I

As you can see, there are several advantages of using Google DFP over traditional advertising code. In my experience, managing advertisers has become more easier. With the ease with which I can target specific users, I am able to maximize my revenue and almost fill-up the entire inventory.

In the next part of the series, we will take a dive into Google DFP and learn how to create and manage ads using the service. Do feel free to ask questions/doubts if you have any.

Top 5 Halloween Apps For iPhone/iPad

Halloween is about kids wearing scary costumes, trick-or-treating people, jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, attending parties wearing wacky costumes, watching horror movies etcetera. Now that Halloween is almost here, we list out the top 5 Halloween applications for your , and to get you into the spirit of Halloween on your iDevice.halloween_Costume

Also Read: Halloween Apps, Themes and Ringtones for Android

#5 Costume Ideas Halloween: Need to attend a Halloween party but confused what to wear? Confused what your kids should wear for that yearly Halloween party? Then Costume Ideas Halloween is the perfect application for you. The application suggests you what to wear every time you shake your iPhone/iPod Touch. The application also has some spooky sound effects for that Halloween feel. The application also suggests where you might find the Halloween costume the app just suggested you. Download this application from the iTunes App Store for $0.99.

#4 Halloween Sound Box: So you will be playing a spooky prank on your friend but can’t find some spooky tunes? The Halloween Sound Box application comes to your rescue then. The app contains 16 spooky Halloween tunes to fulfill all your scary’ requirements. Download the application from the App Store for free.

#3 Halloween Sniper: Halloween is all about ghosts, zombies and other Halloween monsters. Fulfill all your dreams of killing all these Halloween Monsters by playing the Halloween Sniper HD game on your iPad. Who will win this battle between you and Halloween? Buy the app for $0.99 from the App Store and find out the answer.

More Halloween Goodies: 10 Spooky Halloween Screensavers | 25 Places to Get Creepy Halloween Wallpapers