I’ve been having a hell of a time recently trying to organise and collate my lists of domain names and was looking initially to create some kind of excel spreadsheet or database with them in so that I knew where my domains were at all times. Eventually I decided that this was a bit of a drag – keeping the domains up to date and managing the information was more of a hassle than I thought it would be.

I started looking at creating a good domain name manager and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I don’t do much web development nowadays and don’t get round to creating many web sites. The domain name manager, however, is a full professional web site created for anyone who has the same problem as I do – managing long lists of domain names and getting reminded about upcoming expiries as they happen.

One of my biggest problems was not knowing who the admin contact was for all my domains. Not only does the Domain Name Manager get those for you (where possible) but it also allows you to input your own email addresses so that any number of people will get emailed if the domain is coming up to expiry. Great stuff! Now (hopefully!) I’ll never lose another domain name again!

I hope you enjoy using the site – register for a free account and manage your domain lists from today. Yay!

As a webmaster I do question whether I should look into other ways to enhance the pagerank of my websites. It’s not an easy thing to do, and even if it was, it’s still incredibly time-consuming. I was never meant to be an SEO genius because I simply don’t have the patience to be involved in the nitty-gritty of SEO: the keyword investigation, the link exchange requests, ensuring site-wide optimisation – all three are beyond my patience limit! However, it doesn’t stop me (every so often) getting a bee in my bonnet and “blitzing” my site(s) and emailing people and websites I think may be interested in back-linking, or exchanging links.

It’s tricky – we know that Google doesn’t like a lot of what SEO guys get up to, and I hasten to add that I am not an SEO “guy”, just an interested amateur. Google is, however you look at it, the bread and butter for a lot of people. That being the case we have to listen to its guidelines and recommendations.

The title of this topic is “Shoud I buy text links?” and I mean it as both a question for myself, and as a title for a discussion. That probably doesn’t make sense, what I mean is that I am not yet decided. I have a feeling that I’ll err on the side of caution, but one never knows.

Text links are certainly valuable, no matter how you source them. The text of the link is given a higher weight if it contains keywords that your site focuses on, eg. examine these 2 links to this very page:

#1 muckybubbles.wordpress.com

#2 should I buy text links

The second example is a much better link for your site and this page. All this is fairly obvious, but it’s also worth noting that a text link is also more valuable than a graphical link or banner simply because of this potential keyword text. (It is suggested that ‘alt’ information on a graphical banner will also pass on importance in the same manner, but this is less well investigated.)

So certainly text links themselves are valuable. The next thing to think about is: where are these text links going to be placed?

In order to get the most out of a text link, the link needs to be on a page or site that is actually related to the page or site it links to. Google knows that a link to a hair care product’s website from a hairdresser’s website will be more important that a link from a telephone sanitiser’s website and will therefore “value” the back-link higher. How easy is it, when buying a text link, to ensure that you are purchasing from a relevant site? Well, from what I’ve seen (and I’m not going to be advertising the sites that allow you to buy links) adverts to purchase links are usually categorised according to sector, along with some information regarding page-rank, Alexa rating, and sometimes a brief description of the page you might be advertising on. So, with a little nous and time, it seems entirely possible to cover this area pretty well.

Indeed, it seems like these text-link brokers have everything just about covered. So why the hell wouldn’t I buy text links? There are two reasons that I can think of:

1) Money. Naturally it can be as cheap or expensive as you care to make it, dependent on the quality of link. I’d say that on average you’re looking at a 6 monthly spend of between $150 and $600.

Remember, you’re doing this for pagerank so you simply have to advertise in the same place for, at the very least, 6 months. Be honest with yourself: are you going to make that money back? And if you do, will you have many any extra profit from the pagerank boost?

Also, this example assumes that you’re requesting a link from only 1 page. This isn’t going to have a huge effect on your PR (look at examples of page rank calculations for more details). Therefore, you’re going to have to request links from (I reckon) about 4-5 pages with PR5-7
2) Pagerank is only one factor in your SEO. It is no substitute for content and it’s worth considering whether simply spending the money on content development would be a better way to spend your money. After all, the more content you have on your site, the more likely you are to have people naturally linking to your website!

3) Are you willing to “run the risk” of Google finding you out? To be fair, it’s probably a low risk since it is alledged that Google will not penalise you for incoming links (since you don’t necessarily have power to control who links to you). At worst, realistically, I can your bought text link having zero effect on your own page rank…but hey – are you a nervous webmaster?

At the end of all this I’m more resolved than ever that buying text links is a pretty much risk free venture…but at the same time I could probably buy myself a lot of content for similar prices (or keep my money and develop the content myself!).

A bit late, this one, but I think I should write a little about Steve Irwin. You know – the Crocodile Hunter – the Australian with the cheeky grin, even though he’s just nearly lost his arm to a snake as big as a house…you know?

Very sadly, Steve died earlier this week when a Stingray (a kind of flat fish with a massive pointy poisonous tail) stabbed him through the heart. I don’t know whether Steve would have wanted “to go” like that, but I suspect he would. Well, kinda, I bet he was certainly happier that it was a genuine mistake rather than a foolish one.

His genuine enthusiasm for animals and his infectious way of giving us, the viewers, information about them, will be sorely missed.

I have, sadly, been forced to add a few “joke pictures” to my main website, Laughsend.net, and this blog entry is something of a penance for that.

Rest in Peace, Steve. Many more important people than me have wished your family more comfort and support than my wishes will – I only seek to add another voice to the crowd.

I’m obsessed by eating. I realise it now, more than ever, that I am obsessed. I suppose it’s not that hard to do if an effort is put into ensuring one’s diet is conducive to weight loss. Obviously. I’m trying to lose weight so I am interested in maintaining a diet that is as healthy as possible, thus obsessing about what “goes in”.
I don’t think I tend get particularly obsessive about things ordinarily, but food is really plaguing me. I’m constantly thinking about it, even when I’m overruling myself and drinking my seventh beer.

I love talking about it, I find it very therapeutic. I’m overwhelmed with happiness when I find like-minded people who agree with the idea that:

Inputs (food) – Outputs (exercise) = weight gain/loss

I absolutely love that equation, it’s so simple and makes so much sense that it’s just really cool.

I’m not someone who thinks a lot of “fat excuses”. The truth is, almost certainly, that if you are fat it is because you consume more calories than you burn. However, somehow this has become a very divisive argument and I am surprised at how easily arguments are started when discussing overweight people. The physical medical problems that some blame to excuse their weight, are not a good excuse. It is my understanding that they simply cannot cause the level of obesity of a great number of those who use the excuse. Genetic predisposition and “glands” (in particular thyroid) are two of the main excuses I hear. However, these, in combination, will not account for the many stone overweight the people who use them, are.

At this point it’s worth saying: if you’re offended by these comments, then it’s entirely plausible that they are not intended for you. I cannot see how any right minded individual would be offended by these arguments unless, for them, they simply were not true. If you’re in this category, please let me know why I am wrong. Politely, if possible. :)

So, what we’re left with, is instead of targetting physical problems for causing obesity, we instead need to look at the psychological reasons for being overweight. This, I think, deserves much closer and more attentive scrutiny and understanding. I think it would be worth, in the UK, the NHS spending as much money on psychological help for the obese, as any other form of help.

Why did I get fat? Well, truth is, I drank too much beer over too long a period. I also didn’t have the best diet, but that’s probably a much lower factor. What is a bigger factor is, that during this period, I also had a very, very sedentary lifestyle. But I’m changing that now (I hope).

Anyone seriously disagree with me? Cool – lemme know!

Seems that a lot of my recent work-based investigations have focused on features already available on lots of other software packages (including this blog!) but it’s always satisfying to recreate ones own version of important features.

Over the last week I have been developing an “auto-save” function for use in our corporate Content Management Systems. I have to admit, I don’t know if there’s a great call for auto-save functionality, but it always seems to me that it’s a nice feature. Like they say, the best features are those that you don’t even know are there…until you need them – a maxim that is very true of auto-saving.

In this blogger software that I’m using to type this (WordPress), the auto-save creates what it calls “Drafts” which it saves as fully fledged posts. My system is somewhat different, for various reasons.

I wanted my programming to be “plug-and-play” with any of the existing CMS that we have across multiple clients. Clearly, the forms that I will be saving information from are very varied and so I needed something that didn’t care what it was looking at – it saved the form information, no matter what it was.

I had the idea then that what I needed was a centralised database for my software, rather than using the individual databases for each CMS. It seemed to me that an auto-save function that is made for a specific website could save “draft” directly into the same DB table as did the fully formed item when saved naturally, simply add a flag (eg. bit field) to say whether the item is a draft or not. However, this wouldn’t work for me and my needs.

Therefore, I created a separate database called ATS (AJAX Timely Save, as it was christened).

I wrote the AJAX script that would loop through all form fields on the current page (using getElementsByTagName) and append these to the URL with various tokens. Posting this to my controller page, the information was decoded from the tokens and added to a unique database table (the naming convention I chose was ‘SERVERNAME_FILENAME_QUERYSTRING’) and saved the field name and value as data pairs.

The AJAX script then executes on an interval of 30 seconds, auto-saving all the form information. Bingo!

If the user enters a page which has been previously saved, a modal* dialog box pops up asking if the user wishes to load the auto-saved draft.

It’s neat! And it works! I don’t know how quickly we’ll roll out the functionality to clients but I’m getting the buzz for AJAX in a bigger and better way than I had previously. Much of my skepticism was borne from the way in which various companies (including Microsoft and Yahoo!) have used AJAX inappropriately.

* – it was initially a modal dialog box but for various reasons I decided not to bother. IE has a proprietry function called showModalDialog which was too restrictive for my needs – eg. it couldn’t talk to window.opener. Mozilla uses a modal=1 option in window.open to provide a pseudo-modal pop-up, but I decided that I might as well not bother. The mozilla box is actually an “always-on-top” type switch and does not prevent the user from navigating to the parent window.

This weekend I have been mostly drinking…beer. Yeah, too much, I’ll be honest. One thing is helping though; I’m starting to enjoy reading again, and in order to be able to read before I go to bed, I have to stop drinking earlier. Well, it works for me, anyway.

I guess I’m doing something wrong anyway: over the last week I managed to gain around 1lb. Which is a bit disappointing, I at least thought I would have stabilised over the week. Ah well, back to the drawing board I guess. Of course, while I’m typing this I’ve got a bad of crisps (chips) open. Here are there statistics:

Energy:    238kcal

Fat:          12.5g (4.0 saturates)

To be fair, this doesn’t scare me – 250kcals is not too bad considering the rest of my lunch has been 1 medium sized banana and 2 pitta breads with cheese (and a little mayo). I reckon altogether so far I’ve had

248+550+90+350 =  1250kcals (as you can see I like rounding up :))

My BMR is around 2500kcals, so I’ve had around half my allowance. Since we’re about mid-way through the day this looks fine to me!  Actually… doing the maths there has made me realise why I gained a pound last week – I’ve started eating breakfast!!

A startling revelation, only if you know me. I don’t “do” breakfast, or rather I didn’t. But for some reason I’m finding I have a little more time in the mornings than I used to, hence I have 10 minutes to spare for eating that morning meal I’ve been hearing so much about. It’s becoming habit (I can tell!) already, so that’s good too.

I have gone through periods of doing calorie calculations for a week or so…but they’re so difficult to do that I don’t generally bother. It’s always eye opening but hardly ever useful.

Going to go for a walk now to burn off 100kcals or so.

Yeah, I’ve officially reached that point where I’m thinking “Jeez, I’ve got to keep this up for another 3 months?!?” I am, of course, talking about my exercise and diet regime.

It’s not that I’m really struggling or fighting with myself. I’m not in any pain or anything like that. I’m just…bored and frustrated. It’s nice to be able to nip to the cupboard and eat some food if you want it. It’s nice to go to the shop, buy some beer, and veg out in front of the TV till either you, or it, is all gone. It’s freedom, that’s what eating and drinking whatever the hell you like is, and it’s my lack of freedom that’s irking me!

I know, I’m a terribly spoiled person and that’s the root of a lot of these problems. I have money to spend on beer and food: sweet, fatty food that is no good for me but tastes great.

The gym is fine, it’s still not coming naturally to me to go but I’m trying really hard. Food-wise I’m doing less well; the struggle is as follows:

I find that the difference between the fatty, terribile foods and other “less tasty” foods is not as wide a chasm as I had always assumed. For the average dieter, assuming that I am one, the first check is calories. In terms of calories, the difference is not always so pronounced, perhaps a difference of 100 to 150KCals per “item”. It seems to be that the wider difference is in the other “breakdowns” displayed on the pack, such as fat (in all its guises), fibre, vitamins, etc.

So why does 100KCals per item feel like it’s not a big deal? Two reasons:

1) I burn over 2000KCals a day by doing absolutely nothing. My sedentary lifestyle pushes that up to around 2500/day.

2) Cycling for 20mins burns 100KCals. I can go for a walk today, or even tomorrow, my brain tells me. And, to be fair, I usually do make up at least half the calories if I “binge”.

3) If I’m working on 3500 to lose for the week then any day that I don’t feel like lopping off 500 from my BMR doesn’t matter! I can just make sure I spread the 500 over the other 6 days and then everything’s cool!

I’m pretty annoyed with having to call eating a few extra things a day, a “binge”. It’s not bingeing, it’s just relaxing. Bingeing would be eating the whole 3500KCals you’re trying to lose a week, in a 1 hour food marathon. Sounds gutbusting! :)

So…it’s probably fairly clear that I’m struggling with myself. I keep saying to myself “I’m not obese, I just have a fat belly!” Luckily the other voice that says “Yes, but that’s unhealthy and you’re causing extra strain throughout your body on the inside!” is still pretty loud and clear. I wonder how long that voice can stay unmuffled?

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