Archive | Internet

Internet – who can live without? If I find something incredibly interesting, I will blog about it.

Empire Avenue, a cool stock market simulation social network game.

Nowadays it’s rare that you miss out on something, thanks to the internet and its many sudden notification systems. The more stunned I was when I stumbled upon “Empire Avenue”, which is an awesome stock market simulation. The twist is, you are a stock, and so are you friends.

Wikipedia explains it better than I could: “Players have their own portfolio in a virtual economy. The price of a player’s share depends on the ticker’s stock buying and selling, along with social networking activity. Players can choose their own ticker symbol. The players can have multiple investors, which will garner them a higher share price, and they can invest in other players.
Players win Achievements for their actions, such as advertising and adding services such as Twitter. Players gain dividends from the other shares in players they invest in, which are counted as Credits. Social networks supported by Empire Avenue currently include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, WordPress hosted blogs and the player’s own blog and RSS feeds.”

Those mentioned achievements are lots of fun, and keep the game interesting. After a while, you don’t need to check in so often anymore, your stock will just grow in the back. But it’s so much fun to see it grow, then to see it drop and to make it grow again by helping it back on its feet.

“Empire Avenue is designed to drive social media activity and social media interaction between the registered members. Players’ value increases, in part, as a result activity on social media sites and their own verified blogs and rss feeds. In addition, a player’s value increases through dividends paid-out by other members he or she has invested in.
Thus, the social media activity of a player’s investments also contributes to his or her game wealth. It is in players’ self-interest to follow, favorite, or otherwise contribute to the social media activity of those they invest in.”

“Much like other social media games, Empire Avenue uses a strictly virtual currency called Eaves as a means of purchasing shares in other players, additional rights within the exchange, advertising and services. Eaves can be purchased with real-world currency via PayPal, but cannot be exchanged for real-world currency.
The founder and CEO of Empire Avenue said there are plans to introduce features that will allow players to exchange Eaves for real-world rewards.”

Here’s my ticker:


You can buy my stock at http://www.empireavenue.com/yakobusan – I’ll make sure to buy you back in return.

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Getting disconnected…

Sweet Jesus! I need to clean my keyboard

Since a certain government decided that websites such as Facebook or Twitter could harm the harmony, they were unavailable here in Shanghai. When that happened in 2005, I actually asked my wife to call the internet company and to tell them that I am a foreigner, hoping that they’d ‘unblock’ my line completely. Well, that didn’t happen. And they tell you always the same thing, anyway: The website is offline. Facebook is offline for weeks now? Yeah, sure.

So, to access the websites – that’s one of the ways I’m staying in touch with friends and family – I used to use a certain software which would open me a gateway to the country of the free, from where on I could access anything: Facebook, Twitter, YouPorn YouTube.

But yesterday, something weird happened. After the little icon turned green and I surfed around for about three minutes, my internet got disconnected. It simply stopped delivering data, the modem said it is connected. After an hour, the connection was back. I thought it was an error in the line, probably someone somewhere was fixing a cable or something.

Wrong. It happened again, as soon as I turned on the proxy software. Damn. 60 minutes later the censored web worked again.

I used my iPod touch to connect by some random neighbors open WiFi signal – worked for a couple of minutes, then he went DOWN! Jesus. It just happened again today. I was out most time, but just now I was off for 60 minutes again after turning the shield on. Damn it!

I mean, that’s just great. Now I’m really disconnected. Thank you, dear Hu. It’s more and more enjoyable here.

Better City, Better Life. Definitely.

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The growing Entrecard phenomenon.

I’ve been using the Entrecard service for half a year or so now, and I still think it’s a cool way to advertise on other sites and to get advertised on by others. Especially, because some really big blogs added the service to their websites – it’s not only small blogs in their portfolio, but also big ones.

And now they’ve started to cooperate with SezWho, a commenting service, which makes the whole thing even better. Because now you can also receive Entrecard credits by simply commenting on other blogs! And other people will comment on your blog, to get points, too! Of course, there’s a rating system, so that you can mark people who comment only for points as spammers. That’s really good.

And that alone is not all – for me, it’s really interesting what other blogs my readers visit. The SezWho plugin gives me the opportunity to find out just that! It’s easy to install with WordPress and works without any problem so far.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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SEO Tip: There’s not only english (and America)!

While looking through some older posts of mine, I realized that even some chinese people wrote comments. Why? Because I live in Shanghai and sometimes I write something in chinese characters, just for fun of it mostly. So I just realized, in order to gain a broader audience, why not add more chinese in future posts? Thanks to UTF-8 the encoding of different language characters is no problem at all. And with sites like Wikipedia or the Google Language Tools, it’s easier than ever to have keywords or names translated to a foreign language (please write a WordPress blog on-site plugin, anyone?)…

But there’s more to it than just translating key words or phrases. In other countries, other cultures, other things are considered as important and discussed. This is where Googles Zeitgeist comes into play. I mean, it’s actually so easy to write posts that get many visitors… You just need to check out what people find interesting!

Let’s use the Google Zeitgeist of February 2008 as an example from now on. This post is not going to be a SEO Tip entry only, no, I will keep an eye especially on the visitors of this entry and report later on what kind of audience it found. I hope to attract readers from all over the world!

To attract readers from Afghanistan, you should have written about ako, which sounds like some music band? Or about Afghanistan itself, which is of course written فغانستان in arabic characters. They write from right to left, did you know that? They also like poetry a lot, which is why فال حافظ is another search term that seems important. And love, of course! عشق is the word for that. Poetry and love, that’s already a lot to write about.

Australia on the other hand seems like a bored country. They search for terms like grace kelly, optimus prime, pikachu or james dean. So bored, only watching movies all the time? I guess I am an Australian after all. Timekiller is a word many Australians searched for. Funny! They also care about israel, oakley and nrl sharks. So many topics to get their attention!

In Brazil, the people seem to love celebrities. This is why they search a lot for danni carlos, marco feliciano, caetano veloso and… gwen stefani?! Okay. So open yet another celebrity site and get their attention. Or you write about topics such as lua cheia (full moon), favela (slums), resumo das novelas (soap opera summaries) or ciclismo (cycling). Cycling? Isn’t it too hot for that there? Anyway, many unwritten stories to gain a brazilian audience…

Cold Canada dances itself warm, searching a lot for disco. They’re also interested in craigslist calgary and Bleach, which is a famous Anime if I recall correctly. Canadians also care a lot about the toronto stock exchange, infinity, adecco, viking and footlocker. Well, okay, maybe not the most interesting stuff. Then again, Canada is not that big. Which leads us to…

China! That’s my thing. Looking at the Zeitgeist China list, I have to admit though that me myself is not doing everything right. There are so many topics that seem to interest the chinese people, yet the only thing I wrote about was the Edison Chen sex-scandal. Shame on me! I should have focused more on this stuff: 郭德刚 (a famous crosstalker), 成都小游戏 (small games of Chengdu), 楚留香传奇 (a TV program), 音乐在线 (music website), 旗袍 (Chinese traditional female dress, qipao), 安以轩 (actress), 英超 (premiership), 花样少男少女 (a TV program), CCTV5节目表 (program list of CCTV5), 同济大学 (Tongji University), 化妆品批发 (cosmetics wholesale), 花与蛇 (a movie) or 爱转角 (TV program). Another thing that seems to interest many chinese people is the stock market, as many people searched for the stock codes 600839 and 000532. China is one of the biggest, if not the biggest country in the world, and you should care about getting people from there to visit your website.

Not that interesting or important is Chile, but here’s what you should’ve written about to attract readers from that country: barra los cruzados (Soccer fan club), shangay (huh??!), melipilla (Chilean town), huevos cartoon (cartoons), celulitis (cellulite), radio romance (local radio station), iori yagami (video game character??!), DIARIO LA CUARTA (local newspaper), el exorcista (the exorcist), el tabo (Chilean town), ENAMORADOS (in love) or mu magdalena (online game). Okay. Wow.

No, Cocaine is NOT in the Zeitgeist list from Colombia. Instead, Columbians googled up the following stuff in February: distrital, GRAFFITIS, carolina, espectador (Colombian newspaper), camion (truck), balon (ball), musica clasica (classic music), angeles (angels), modernismo (modernism) and presupuesto (budget). What is also interesting is that Brad Pitt seems to be written with one t only in Colombia, brad pit. So, run a culture blog and the Columbians are yours…

As for Costa Rica and the Czech Republic, they search a lot for music, actors and video games. No need to feature them here big time. Nothing spectacular…

People from Denmark must be real stylish, as the top search term was evisu (Japanese designer brand). Other important things for the Danes: rd (Danish mortgage company), papillon, dolphin olympic (wtf?), ingeniøren (The Engineer, Danish weekly engineering paper), wozniacki (Danish tennisplayer), krone (the Danish currency, DKK), fredericia kommune (Danish municipality), morten andersen (multiple record-breaking Danish NFL kicker) and det moderne gennembrud (Nordic literature in the late 19th century, Georg Brandes). Jesus, these searches seem pretty focused on their own country! It’s gotta be pretty difficult and tough to gain a big danish audience on your blog if you are not danish yourself or live there.

Finland… Well, they like big asses, which is why ‘kim kardashian’ is their number 1 search phrase in February 2008, right? But that’s about it with celebrities. Maybe Kim’s sex tape arrived there late. The other 14 search phrases seem rather random: rockabilly, gilmore girls, kansallismuseo (national museum), hernekeitto (pea soup), bob dylan, julisteet (posters), talent, rap, dementia, puola (Poland), sähkön hintavertailu (comparison of the price of electricity), disco ensemble (Finnish rock band), madrid and Mona Lisa. Gee, that must be the most random and unfocused country… yet. Let’s see if any other country is even weirder than Finland.

Baguette, Crossaint, France. The french seem to be into money and brands, as the Zeitgeist tells us: suivi colissimo (French equivalent of UPS), eastpak (backpack brand), VIDEOPOSTE (banking online service), resultat du loto (national lottery results), deblocage participation (company bonus information), jsl (local newspaper), cnas (national committee of social action), astro, joker, supinfo (engineer school), yu-gi-oh (manga (and anime, dear Google)), fifa, gerardmer (international movie festival) and shopping. The french seem a bit self centered, as the only person who made it to the list is Heath Ledger. Looks a lot like Denmark, France’s search phrases are pretty national. Difficult market…

Now to my roots, ze Germanz. Germany has some pretty weird searches, too: nail art? brandenburger tor? biene maja (German cartoon bee)? borussia mönchengladbach (German soccer club)? bbl (German basketball league)? vw käfer (vw beetle)? Man, am I happy to be an expatriate… On the other side, they also searched a lot for playstation, pink floyd, liv tyler and dwayne johnson aka The Rock. Now that’s something anyone can write about.

The roads in Greece must still be shitty, this is why the top search query there was ‘smart roadster’. They also like bentley. The other stuff is in greek characters: χαρταετός (kite), Αθήνα (Athens), εστιατορια (restaurants), φιλία (kisses), Μιχαλης Χατζηγιαννης (Greek Singer), δασος (forest) and κυπρος (Cyprus). Well, Greece is more an cultural country, so interpret these searches in whatever way you think is right.

Okay, writing this takes a lot more time then I thought in the beginning. I’ll skip the following countries but write their top search term behind them, as they are small and more or less unimportant: Guatemala (sagastume (SMS site from MoviStar)); Hungary (játékok (games)); Indonesia (akatsuki (manga character), sasuke (manga character), samurai x (Japanese anime), naruto shippuden (Japanese anime), one piece (Japanese manga)); Iraq (صو (pictures), العاب (toys), كاظم الساهر (singer Kathim al Saher), حسام الرسام (Hussam al Rasam), ابراج (horoscopes)); Peru (moderato (Mexican rock band), hermione (Harry Potter character), quimica suiza (local company)); Poland (walentynki (Valentines), plemiona (online game), jozin z bazin (viral video), pity 2008 (tax forms 2008)); Puerto Rico (clasificados el nuevo dia (classified ads site), vertebrados (vertebrates), amor de Dios (God’s love)); Serbia (mts mondo (portal), mojenagrade (Coca-Cola’s sweepstakes), leto 2008 (summer 2008)); Turkey (fulldizi (online tv series site), burç uyumu (horoscope harmony), sarışın kızlar (blond girls), panik atak (panic attack)); Ukraine (грузовик (lorry), подростки (teenagers), загранпаспорт (international passport), тернопільський чат (Ternopil chat), Гаррі Поттер (Harry Potter), художественная ковка (art iron work)). Now let’s go back to bigger countries.

Hong Kong, officially belonging to China but with their own Google, searched for: 陸詩韻 (celebrity name), 中信嘉華銀行 (Bank), 民族服裝 (fashion), 全盒 (festival item) and 世界上最大建築物 (the biggest building in the world) as well as 天空之城 (Sky City). They are into skyscrapers, hmm? How about an architecture blog in cantonese?

India is pretty important, as they have over a billion people! So make sure to blog about something that they find interesting, such as: filmfare awards 2008, budget highlights, aishwarya (actress), concept cars, dhoom2 (Hindi movie), causes of global warming, peta (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), gladiator, punjab university, italy, travel guru, dehradun (a hill town in northern India), reliance industries, cricketnext, nauheed cyrusi (actress)… Ah, just start a Bollywood blog and you’ll be rich in no time.

The war in Israel doesn’t stop them from googling: פורים קטן (Small Purim), ברכות לבת מצווה (Bat-Mitzvah greetings), אזרחות (citizenship), איגוד הטניס (tennis association), מכבי חיפה (Macabi Haifa – soccer team), משפטים מצחיקים (funny sentences), משחקים לגיל הרך (games for young children), וינוגרד (Vinograd – National Investigation Committee), עשרת הדיברות (Ten Commandments), רפואה משלימה (alternative medicine). Boy these characters look cool. You’ll get them to your blog if you write about religion, it seems to me.

O Google mio… Italy is in search of amore, on the 2nd place. Number one is san valentino (Valentine’s day), because that’s always hard to remember. Other things the italian people care about: scusa ma ti chiamo amore (italian movie), caravaggio, i cesaroni (Italian sitcom), marco carta (Italian singer), partito democratico (italian democratic party), carnevale (carnival), sanremo 2008 (TV music festival)… Culture and politics, that’s how to find a way to the italian audience.

Kso sounds funny and means shit in Japan. That’s one of the 10 words I remember from my trip there. The japanese people searched almost only for people – so the next time you blog a star, make sure to include his japanese name somewhere in the post! Here are the people they googled up: 新垣結衣 (Yui Aragaki, actress, model, and singer), 倖田來未 (Kumi Koda, singer), 芋洗坂係長 (Imoaraizaka-kakaricho, comedian), 藤井彩子 (Ayako Fujii, broadcaster), 長谷川静香 (Shizuka Hasegawa, voice actress), 一色紗英 (Sae Issiki, actress), 岡村靖幸 (Yasuyuki Okamura, singer), 真木よう子 (Yoko Maki, actress), ロバート・メイプルソープ (Robert Mapplethorpe, photographer), 柳美里 (Yu Miri, writer). Besides people they google up tourist attractions, I think: 南大門 (national treasure in Korea) and 平壌の凱旋門 (gate in North Korea). I recommend a celebrity blog for japanese readers.

Korea makes quite good movies in the last time and their search queries show that they care a lot about entertainment: 조인성 (Korean actor), 퍼펙트케이오 (computer game), 미스코리아 김주연 (miss korea), 이화선 (Korean actress), 장백지 (Hong Kong actress), 프리즌브레이크 (drama, Prison Break), 박진희 (Korean actress)… Okay, let’s just say that a multi-language celibrity blog for the asian market would be a bomb, really.

Let’s finish the list and this experimental entry with Taiwan – once again I seem to be right with my celeb idea: 陳冠希 (Hong Kong celebrity), 張柏芝 (Hong Kong celebrity), 楊永晴 (Hong Kong celebrity), 阿嬌 (Hong Kong celebrity), 陳文媛 (Hong Kong celebrity), 顏穎思 (celebrity) and 長江七號 (CJ7, a new Chinese movie).

Okay. I think there is no other blog featuring so many different languages in a single entry. Anyway, I’ll update this post in some days or weeks and report how the visits were. Be sure to subscribe to my feed, then you wont miss the update.

And here’s something else: Zeitgeist 2007. It’s also very interesting, as it shows last years most used search phrases – and also the ones that are not interesting anymore. So blogging about one of these topics in 2007 should’ve brought you a lot of visitors: Apple iPhone, badoo, facebook, dailymotion, webkinz, youtube, ebuddy, secondlife, hi5, club penguin, tmz, transformers, myspace and Anna Nicole Smith.

Not that interesting are now: The world cup, of course, it only lasts one year always… Mozart, fifa, rebelde, kazaa, xanga, webdetente, sudoku, shakira and – mp3? Wow, mp3? Really? Good to know. Hope you had fun with this article and found some inspiration.

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Crazy Contest.

The website winning the web is holding a contest for webmasters who are really in need for some free advertising: Over 6.000 dollars worth of various internet and advertising related stuff can be won. The biggest prices are $650 Cash from Azoogle Ads, $500 Cash from PepperJam Network and $250 Cash from NeverblueAds. If you win one of these prices, some visitors are for sure yours!

All you need to do is subscribe to a E-Mail newsletter and add a feed to your newsreader. There are also some other ways to gain more chances to win – that is basically why I am writing about this contest! I could really need some advertising, you know… Mac Pro’s don’t come for free.

Anyway, if you want to be one of the at least 39 winners that will be drawn on March 31, then better get started now!

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Office Speedtest.

Yeah, that’s about four times faster than at home:

Now I spend more time working and less time downloading – great!

I’ll blog some more about our new office next week.

Too busy with other stuff these days…

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BlogBackupr: Awesome!

There’s a new web 2.0 service in town: BlogBackupr! It’s, as the name tells, a blog backup service. For free, daily backups!

BlogBackupr

Currently, WordPress as well as Blogger.com are supported. All you need to do is register, put in the address of you blog and then give it the admin credentials, so it can perform backups. It’s still in the beta phase, and that has a good reason: Only text is backed up, not the theme, the plugins et cetera. But still, there are never enough backups, are there?

After registering, this is the first thing you see after logging in:

BlogBackupr Main Page

So the system understands what CMS you’re on and you can easily add more than one blog.

If you click on export, you can download the Backup as a WP RSS, normal RSS, Text or HTML file. Nice!

BlogBackupr Export View

You can also view the backup posts:

BlogBackupr View Posts

All in all, BlogBackupr is a great service. It’s great that it saves all posts, but I guess in the future, when it will be able to do even more (backup templates, wp-content, plugins, comments, …), I would even be willing to pay for it.

Backups are always necessary (I got 3 different plugins backing up this blog) and the more, the better!

So don’t waste any more time and back up your blog now!

blogbackup

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CSS Text Shadow added.

I tweaked around the blog some more and decided to add a nice text-shadow to the headlines. If you’re using a 3rd-world browser, you probably wont see it though, it’s a Safari only supported CSS thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been using FireFox myself for quite some years, hell, we even organized a release party for it back in, uhm, 2003? for the very first release in Heidelberg, Germany.

But when digital friend Ben introduced me the Safari plugin Saft, I tried it out and sticked with it, never looking back. Safari & Saft together kick the Fox really in the nuts. It has so many features, check it out here. It costs near to nothing for all the brilliant features offered and is a must-have for serious bloggers and surfers.

The thing is that Safari makes websites look so much better by using some kind of anti-aliasing on the text. If you surf a lot and read a lot it’s so much more comfortable.

Anyway, back to the CSS. So how do you use the CSS declaration in your style sheet?

Here are some examples.

You can only read this with Safari.

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #000 0px 0px 3px; color:#fff;.

How about a red shadow?

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #f00 2px 2px 2px;.

Elegant headline shadow needed?

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #aaa 1px 1px 1px;.

Here’s some shadow above the text…

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #666 0px -5px 1px;.

Blue shadow far off? No problem!

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #00f 15px 15px 3px;.

Last example: Extreme blurred shadow!

Above paragraph uses the following text-shadow settings: text-shadow: #6f0 3px 3px 5px;.

Nice, right?

It’s quite easy to apply, generally you have four values to set up your shadow:

1. First you set the color of the shadow. #f00 for red, #0f0 for green and so on. Any hex color is possible.

2. Now you set the horizontal space to the text (the x-axis), 5 pixels for example (5px). Can be any number, I suggest using px here.

3. Then the vertical space relative to the text (the y-axis), 3 pixels for example (3px).

4. The last setting is the amount of blur that the shadow should have. A value of 0px gives the shadow no blur at all while any setting over 5px makes the shadow completely unreadable. I suggest a setting between 1px and 3px.

Oh, and Safari is also available for Windows now, if you want to give it a try… Download the beta here!

As you can see (if you use Safari), this is quite a cool declaration and quite useful for styling headlines and such without having to use images. If only other browsers would support it, too…

Let’s see what the future brings!

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