Friday, September 28, 2012

Don't Fall For the New Twitter Follower Scam!

I don't know about you, but a lot of people I've heard of tend to follow back fellow Twitter users who "follow" them.  But I have news for you folks.  Not everyone cares about following you and are pretty much lying through their digital teeth to you.

I have a Twitter account that seems to get a few new followers an hour or on slow days, I'd say 3 or 4 a day.  And yet, oddly enough, my follower numbers barely inch up.

That's because these folks are what I call spam followers.  All they want is for you to feel compelled to follow them back and then they get the numbers.  Accounts with a high number of followers get more umph in the social stratosphere.

I don't follow people back immediately.  I wait.

On another account, I tend to direct message my new followers with a thanks.  I've noticed that some of the accounts I direct message, despite being just a few minutes old, have already unfollowed me.

That's when I first started noticing this effect.

But then I have this other Twitter account, whose email I check about once a week.  And I usually have around 25 to 40 new followers.  Or at least that's what I've been seeing in my inbox for new followers.  But today I checked my numbers and my followers on this particular account was 2.  This, after deleting about 27 emails informing me of my new fan base of adoring followers.

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The internet can be an opportunistic place to hang out.  I for one don't like supporting the shallow character people or organizations like DISH TV, so I have a few practices I try to adhere to.

One of those practices is to sit back and wait before following someone back.  That way I'm not giving them more internet power juice than they deserve.  Most people don't care, so this is moot, but I think it's at least an interesting internet tidbit!

-b

Consumer Product Recall for Divers and Some Wrist Computers

The voluntary product recall involves the Atomic Aquatics Cobalt Dive Computer Due to Impact and Drowning Hazard

It's being recalled with the warning of an Impact and Drowning Hazard

via press release:

The issue is that the unit can leak and cause the lens of the computer to blow off suddenly, which could result in impact injuries, and can cause a gas leak, posing a drowning hazard.

There have been 23 reports of leaks caused by the lens being forcefully expelled from the computer due to excess air pressure inside the computer, but no injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Atomic Aquatics brand Cobalt dive computers. These handheld, console-style dive computers have LCD screens and four magnetic control buttons located below the screen. A fitting at the bottom of the computer connects to the high pressure hose of a scuba diving regulator. The name Atomic Aquatics logo is imprinted on the front of the console, below the screen. The recalled products can be identified by the manufacture dates, which are determined by the first four numbers of the serial number with the first 2 digits signifying the week of manufacture (01 through 52) and the second 2 digits signifying the year of manufacture (10, 11 or 12). The dates of manufacture are between May 31, 2010 and April 16, 2012. Serial numbers, 2210-XXXX through 1612-XXXX, can be found by scrolling to the "System Info" screen on the computer.

The recall affects all Cobalt computers with serial numbers that start with any of the following numbers:

10 Series:   2210, 2910, 4010, 4710, 5010

11 Series:   1111, 1711, 2611, 2811, 3211, 3311, 3411, 3511, 3611, 3711, 3811, 3911, 4011, 4111, 4211, 4511, 4611, 5211

12 Series:   0812, 1112, 1212, 1312, 1412, 1612

Sold at: Authorized Atomic Aquatics dealers sold Cobalt dive computers from November 2010 through July 2012 for about $1200.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dive computers and return the unit to either an authorized Atomic Aquatics dealer or the Atomic Aquatics factory for inspection and repair.

For additional information, contact Atomic Aquatics toll-free at (888) 270-8595 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or on firm's website at www.atomicaquatics.com. Consumers can also email the firm at sales@atomicaquatics.com

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled product, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12286.html


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GoDaddy Says Sorry For The DownTime

I don't know if you've noticed, but on September 10th, if you have a website hosted or served through a DNS scenario from GoDaddy, your site was down.  I myself had a few issues too. 

(So I was glad to have reflected back to when I switched my primary website to HostGator!)

And on this day, you could see what major websites also used GoDaddy... I encountered it on an NBC based press site and others.

But if you do use GoDaddy, you might want to check your email's inbox.  They've issued a public statement/apology, AND have done something I've always wanted to see Cable providers do, and that's offer a credit for the down time experienced.

So check your email and look for your "gift" of apology.  They only  give you seven days to redeem it.

(I've always wished when I've experienced service outages from various companies, like cable providers, that they would step up and offer customers a rebate on the lost time.

Think about it, if you pay for 24/7 uptime, you should get it.  When you don't, you should be owed money back for that time you were supposed to have service!  I've had to call my providers every time I've lost service to get this out of their hide!

Food for thought)

Below, GoDaddy's statement:

We owe you a big apology for the intermittent service outages we experienced on September 10 that may have impacted your website, your email and other Go Daddy services.

We let you down and we know it. We take our responsibilities — and the trust you place in us — very seriously. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced.

The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented a series of immediate measures to fix the problem.

At no time was any sensitive customer information, including credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised.

Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999% uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level of performance we expect from ourselves. Monday, we fell short of these expectations. We have learned from this event and will use it to drive improvement in our services.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Death Prompts Window Blinds Recall

In a sad state of affairs, Blind Xpress recalled over 450 thousand units due to the strangulation death of a two-year old child.

If you have a young one at home and have these blinds, or know someone who does, you might want to check this information out:

via press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Blind Xpress of Livonia, Mich. is announcing the recall of about 139,000 custom-made vertical and 315,000 horizontal blinds. In 2009, a 2-year-old girl from Commerce Township, Mich. reportedly strangled in the loop of a vertical blind cord that was not attached to the wall or floor.

Blind Xpress custom vertical blinds have an adjustment cord that forms a loop that is not attached to the wall or floor. In some instances, this loop has a weighted device at the bottom. The custom horizontal blinds do not have inner cord stop devices to prevent the accessible inner cords from being pulled out. A child can become entangled in a cord loop and strangle.

This recall involves all Blind Xpress custom-made vertical blinds that do not have a cord-tensioning device that attaches to the wall or floor, as well as all horizontal blinds that do not have inner cord stop devices.

The blinds were sold at various blind specialty stores in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana from January 1995 through December 2011 for between $16 and $380. These blinds were manufactured in the United States.

CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using the window coverings and contact the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) to receive a free repair kit. For more information, contact the WCSC toll-free at (800) 506-4636 anytime or visit www.windowcoverings.org

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12273.html

For The New Blogger: Suggestions For A Successful Blog, And Prepping Your Thick Skin

Ways To Run A Successful Blog, Including Collaboration?

Over on ProBlogger (A great site for new and experienced bloggers), they put out a great piece on tips for having a successful Blog.  It's a positive-minded piece showing some basic premises to running a blog.  It's not a comprehensive list, but a list of decent points to keep in mind.  The one set of tips they don't have are some of the precautionary practices or mindsets you should be ready for.

The tips they do include, in a nutshell, are

-Having a system in place as far as how often you want to write, then tweet, then FB then whatever other social time sinks you want to employ to help your blog grow.  (For either to work, it sometimes feels like you need to spend more time tweeting and FB'ing than writing for your blog.  But that's a beginner's take on the issue.)

-Reviewing older posts to see if they can use some sprucing up and what not.  (It's been my experience/observation that rather than sprucing up old posts, some blogs just cover the same subject over and over, usually on an annual basis.)

-Experiment with different strategies to attract traffic.

-Try selling your own product, if you have one.  That makes sense... or "advertise" your other blogs on your primary blog.  This idea has many different aspects that can be explored.

-It's suggested to monetize your blog.  They talk about advertisers looking to sell.  Beware the offers out of thin air that land in your inbox, and don't hold your breath for the advertiser of choice.  Google Adsense is a great start, as is the Amazon Affiliate program.  But be prepared.  Some advertisers out there require a specific amount of sales/traffic or they close your account and don't let you know about it.  Unless you log in to the site constantly)  All the while the ads you've put in place for them continue to generate income or traffic for them.  (That reminds me, I should go check my Commission Junction account.)

-The point that got my attention and sparked my "fingers of opinion," was the point about "Blogger collaboration."  This particular aspect is a tricky one, depending on the subject or niche you're in.

The primary point that Mei of CCFoodTravel makes in her guest post on ProBlogger is trying to guest post on other sites. (Hmm...) And that's cool, but there's something you need to be careful of.  I've made huge mistakes sacrificing opportunities out of loyalty to others and other oops on my part.  Stay true to your own personal goals.  That's the big one.  (I totally support the guest blogger premise though as I reflect on one of my bigger flubs.)

If you want to make friends or peers, one suggestion is if you see a typo or word-o in someone's post, don't leave a comment.  But rather, find their contact info and send an email.  Comments are like public flogging.  It sucks to have your screw ups pointed out for all to see.  But there are those out there that will appreciate the quiet nudge.  (Well, a few.)

As far as networking, well, that's an interesting aspect of the blogging community.  Some blogs turn their nose up at ya, saying they won't have anything to do with websites whose traffic doesn't meet certain criteria.  There are others that look like they took a can of paint and threw it on a wall to see what sticks.  You need to be picky about this aspect.  And yet, willing to be ready to cross-pollinate with similar ranked sites like your own.

There are millions of blogs out there with just as many niches.  With my consumer related blog, I've met some great and willing peers.  My NASCAR/sports blog is surrounded by a tight knit world of peers and fans and are some of the best. 

The entertainment niche is another beast altogether.  There you'll encounter frustrated niche chasers, devious editors, lazy site owners, sites that bash on each other or writers that take pot-shots at each other.  Every now and then, you'll even get a Twitter skirmish going.  And then there's the surprise when you find yourself ignored/dissed when you do need help and reach out to folks you thought you established a connection with.

If you're looking to just make money, there are some blogs out there that seem to break all the SEO rules and do just that, from sourcing themselves or running short articles while 70% of the page is stuffed with ads.  And of those, there are some that could give a crap if their info is right or wrong with what they've reported.  All they're looking for is traffic to come by and click on ads.  I found one site that posted foreign based artwork, suggesting a movie was coming out abut the subject.  I translated the words (meaning I did their homework) and saw it was only fan art.  I let them know.  They didn't change a thing.  'Nuff said there.

My point is if you're a small fry blog, you're going to be at a huge disadvantage you need to be ready for. 

My biggest nit or I should say observation, is that if you come up with a good idea or subject while covering your niche you WILL see it pop up on other sites that "quietly" follow your blog.  And there's nothing you can really do about it.  You could point your finger... but it's hard to prove.  You can quietly point it out to your circle of peers you've developed, just so they know or see the patterns.  Or you can just think that it's just plumb "luck" that they consistently come up with the same ideas or cover some of the sub-niche pieces you do. (And that is possible too) 

But in the long run, it's somewhat moot.  I like just "mentioning" it to a circle of folk, and that can act as your list.  If you ever have to do this.

I have a few "fans" of my feed that do generate articles and ideas off me consistently.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  If you make noise, some site owners wash their hands of it and tell you it's between you and their staff.  Others won't even address or answer your emails.

But more than likely, a site that scrapes your ideas or articles will be a known site that does this to everyone.  Those too, are the cheap, annoying sites.

But what you can do if/when someone credits you, and it's not a scrapper site, is to try and return the favor as best you can.

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But these situations are just the small part or ugly side of the blogging world.

If you're just starting out, and you've got some patience under your belt or a thick skin, you should be fine!  This is a slow, grinding crawl of a hobby.  It can be fun and infectious, and there will be days where readers or the competition can create upsetting situations.  You have to take the gruff and roll with it. 

The big rule of thumb that I think is pretty critical is don't let some of your commenters rub you the wrong way and get the best of you. There are some real winners out there that speak their mind due to the anonymity of the keyboard.  Over on another website, I had written about the 80k head injuries bicycle riders receive each year because they weren't wearing helmets.  I suggested precautions about riding a bike and one reader piped in with threats at me and anguish about how his life is his to choose what to do and he doesn't want anyone controlling him.  Hey, like I said, it takes all kinds.

So keep your head down and do your best to have fun.  And in the end, you'll find yourself with a core of readers and when some of your stuff is shared at just the right time, by just the right people, every now and then, you'll get a huge amount of attention.  That, you need to be ready for.  And also know that if something goes viral, you can probably expect to retain maybe 1/2 of one percent of everyone who goes bonkers about your viral piece.  Most web surfers are in a huge hurry and don't stick around and have no need for loyally returning to your site unless you've touched a chord with them.

And if by some fluke, you find yourself on the receiving end of being interviewed, be ready!  Do your homework on the subject.  Read up on your old posts on whatever the subject is and do some quick research to make sure there haven't been any updates on the matter.  Then you might just sound pretty smart.

Anyway, that's a piece of what I've experienced over the years.  It's not applicable to everyone, but heck, I thought it would be something to toss out there for the new blogger to see, just in case.



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