To Post or Not To Post?


That is only one of the questions.


As I check my feed reader I see most bloggers not posting very much real content. Just some light content posts and such.


I've got a few good ideas for posts but I honestly don't want to use them when nobody is online. I mean, I know how I am when I check my feed reader after a few days and it's got tons of posts in it. I scream through them and barely read anything.


I think I'm going to just hold off on the real content for a little while. Besides, I'm pretty busy with a couple of other projects I'm working on ;)


I hope everyone is enjoying this slow time and getting some quality family time in.



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Awesome Teen Bedding


What a wonderful time of year to spend curled up in a warm bed while watching TV and blogging or some other spectacularly unproductive activity.


Adults are happy with just about anything on their beds as long as it is warm and fluffy. It will usually have some generic flower print or geometric design.


Little kids will be content with the latest offering of princess or fairy motif for girls and cars and trucks or camouflage for boys.


Teenagers are a whole different ball game. They want to be able to express their individuality in everything they are associated with especially their bedroom and its decorations. This is where Vision Bedding comes in. They offer some of the most unique and exciting Teen Bedding I have ever seen.


Not only do they have some very cool stock patterns available, they even offer the ability to completely customize your design to fit your teen's tastes with personal designs, photos or anything else your teen can come up with.


You know, letting your teenager design their own bedding probably wont solve all your household arguments but it will eliminate at least one gripe, right?

Universal Wishes


Sometimes I have to remind myself I'm not just speaking to an American crowd. Some of you guys are from places I would probably not feel safe traveling in. Of course, that's nothing against you personally, it's just a fact.


Recent history has shown us instances of entire cultures going into uproar over perceived insults and I wonder, as we approach the time of year Christians find sacred, do people of other faiths feel offended when a Christian wishes them Merry Christmas?


I can only speak for myself but I would find no offense in a Muslim wishing me a Peaceful Ramadan, a Jew saying Happy Hanukah or even a Pagan wishing me a Happy Solstice.


I don't see these wishes as being some form of proselytizing or forcing their faith on me. I see it as someone simply sharing the good will and love of their faith with another person. In that spirit, I wish you all a


 Merry Christmas


Almost Christmas!


Well, it's almost Christmas. Everyone is really getting geared up and the tension level is rising proportionally.


I'm not quite done yet myself. I'm going to make one more shameless money grab before I take a couple of days off.

Tracker on the Trail


It's traveling time for the Tracker. I'll be unplugged for a few days but I should be back before Christmas.


Make yourself at home, keep your feet off the table and replace whatever you eat out of the fridge. I'll see you in a few days.


Instead of having to check in all the tie to see when I'm back, you could just grab my feed. Then you wouldn't have to worry about missing anything ;)

The Blog Before Christmas


This is a wonderful rework of "The Night Before Christmas" from a blogger's perspective. Since I was tagged in this meme I have the right to reprint this outstanding work from one of the smartest and most humble guys in the blogosphere, Mark Sierra from Me And My Drum. You can see the original post here.


'Twas My Blog Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the ’sphere
Me and some bloggers were spreading good cheer.
All the ads were hung in my sidebar with care
In hope that my readers would soon click some there.


I wrote a few posts and scheduled ahead,
Awaited my traffic, while I was in bed.
Next morning I woke to find my stats low.
“What happened?” I cried, “Why didn’t they show?”


When I asked Adsense Tracker for her to help me
She said “
Stumble Trolls are the answer, you see?”
So I stumbled and stumbled, then stumbled some more
I searched for one hundred, but only found four.


Scary they were, all angry and wrinkled
Some consumed donuts (some of them sprinkled).
“Can you bring me my traffic, and make it real high?”
I awaited their answer, while swatting a fly.


“Get lost, little blogger, we serve only ourselves.
If it’s help that you want, find some blog elves!”
“Blog Elves” I repeated. Do they really exist?
So I sailed to Kyle’s Cove, to see what I missed.


“No Blog Elves are here,” Kyle said with a grin.
“What you need my good man is a
WordPress plugin.”
I scratched my head thinking who else I should ask,
I began to fret over this challenging task.

My adventure it took me to a friend I call “K”
So I stopped at his home page to see what he’d say.
“Glad you asked me, good buddy, I have lots I can mention,
But what you need now is a
browser extension.”


I said, “Thank you, friend K, but I have far too many.”
So I sailed and I paid the toll man his penny.
Penny! That’s it! The answer is money!
So I went to the man whose wife calls him “honey”.


Security was tight and the line was quite long.
To close on my goal, I had to stay strong.
When I finally approached his shiny gold throne,
I felt very small, I felt so alone.


“Excuse me, kind sir”, my voice it was squeaky,
“Can you help my young blog?”, I said rather meekly.
The man, he walked toward me, I quickly grew wary.
When he stopped just before me, his name tag read “


“Dude, what you need is my frequent reminder.
It’s a very cool tool called Micro Niche Finder.”
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
His jet-pack flared on, up the chimney he rose.


I peered out the window as he floated and flew.
“You need awesome content and Google AdSense, too!”
So I went back to blogging, and wrote this here post,
Not knowing to Google if I would play host.


Would search engines find me? Would people stay here?
Would the Feedburner chicklet go into high gear?
Blogging Gal Tish and some ThingsbyMike
blogs that they love, but mine would they like?


Then finally it happened. There arose such a clatter,
I ran to my blog, to see what was the matter.
G’Analytics showed numbers aglow.
I was thrilled and ecstatic. Oh what a show!


Readers left comments, told friends far and wide.
Bush stopped to say, “That is quite a tide
Of traffic you have here, my gosh that’s so cool!”
I love it when I have caused others to drool.


But I know that to keep it involves lots of work.
Keep writing good posts and not be a jerk.
So as this year closes, I say to the ’sphere,
Thanks for your comments and coming back here!


The man on his jet-pack, I could hear flying by,
And as he drew near heard him utter this cry:
Christy, now Bobby, now Colin, and Baron,
Christine, on Marzie, on Tish and now Aaron


These are the bloggers who I travel with most.
And to each I assign this “Twas” Christmas post.
Just copy and paste, and tweak as you like,
Remember to link to others you like.


Merry Christmas everybody!


And for those of you who aren’t tagged, feel free to copy and paste and modify with blogs you like.


Created by MeAndMyDrum.


If you liked this, and I know you did, why not go over to the original post and show Mark some Stumble love? While you're there subscribe to his feed so you don't miss any of his great posts.

Online Discounts and Deals


This is NOT a paid post. (But it should be)


This is an introduction to my newest online endeavor; DiscountDealFinder. Discount Deal Finder dot com is a site where you can find the best online discounts and deals available. I scour the internet trying to find really good deals to post in a wide variety of categories. So far I've been able to locate and post Computers Discounts, Electronics Discounts, Sporting Goods Discounts and Footwear Discounts.


Instead of posting everything at once, there will be a new post every hour or two just to drive the search spiders bonkers :) You don't have to check in constantly though, you can just check once a day to keep up and eventually I'll probably set up a RSS feed.


There is still a bit of tweeking left but I felt like it was ready to introduce to you. Check it out if you get a chance and let me know what you think.



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Another Round of Contests


Let's enter some contests!


$250 Amazon Gift Voucher


Well, the benevolent bovine, John Cow, has conned another sucker convinced another sponsor to provide a cool contest prize. This time around the generous sponsor,, is kicking in a $250 gift voucher from That's enough moolah to make almost anyone's Christmas a little bit more merry. is an advertising outfit where you can buy a PPC campaign for yourself or sign up as a publisher and make some money. They even have a decent affiliate program if you're interested in that end of it. It pays 20% commission on profits from advertisers for 90 days and 10% on profits from publishers for a whole year.


This contest is a little bit more difficult to enter than some of the others they have run in the past. The good thing is, that often means fewer people are entering because most of them won't take the time to follow all of the directions like writing a 200 word blog post and all of the other requirements.


So, once again, all you have to do is follow the tips I gave you to win a contest. If you will take the time to read all of the directions and follow them to the letter you will find yourself in rather limited company among the people who have actually qualified to be potential contest winners.


Don't take too long deciding to get involved with this one though, it ends December the 20th. If I were you I wouldn't wait until the last minute because I don't know how well cows can read clocks or calendars.


Blog About Your Blog


Matt, from BlogAboutYourBlog, is running a very cool contest with several sponsors including yours truly. The primary sponsor this time around, NeverBlueAds, is kicking in three $100 cash prizes for the top three winners with several other sponsors providing prizes that pay all the way to 8th place. Here are the sponsors:


First-Third Place 100$ Winners from NeverBlueAds
Fourth Place Website Review on BAYB by Adsense Tracker
Fifth Place 25$ from Blogging4Everyone
Sixth Place Website Review from Nspeaks
Seventh Place Website Review from SelectIndex
Eighth Place Featured Blog Spot on A Links Blog


Don't tell anybody but the word is there aren't very many entries in this contest so your odds of winning are pretty good ;)


Win A Wii


Contest Beat is giving away a Nintendo Wii just like the one I won from John Cow earlier this year. is the sponsor for this one also so I'm not going to enter but I did want to tell you about it. This one is pretty easy to enter so check it out.


$5000 Dell Laptop


I saved the big boy for last. I like to reward you guys that hang around to the end :) is giving away a super tricked out Dell laptop dressed out in the World of Warcraft theme. Now, I'm not a WoW participant but, hey, this is one cool computer. Entering is super easy, just make a comment on this post. The odds are a little long on this one. I'm betting they end up with about 40-50 thousand entries or more but you can enter every day from now until December 21st to improve your chances.


It's a $5K computer package, it's worth a shot.



That's it for now, good luck!



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Sivatar Yourself


I've been meaning to write about this for a while now, so here you go.


Sivatar is the latest incarnation of the avatar wall. Basically it consists of a front page display of 40 random avatars out of almost 400 that have been registered. When you click on one that looks interesting you are taken to that blogger's site.


The system is pretty straight forward and seems fairly simple. I'll tell you, I only put an avatar up on a whim. I really thought it would be a waste of time. It turns out I was wrong. I have actually been getting a few hits almost every day from Sivatar and have even picked up a few new subscribers from that little icon.


I know you're just dying to see my Sivatar. It can be found here. I know, it's lame but I was in a hurry and I really didn't think it would ever be seen. Sue me ;)


Anyway, do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to set yourself up with your very own Sivatar and see what happens.



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Web 2.2 - Virtual Meets Reality


I guess it was bound to happen, social media is getting ready to take the next logical step; into the Real World.


Web 2.0


By now most people are familiar with the concept of Web 2.0 but for those who aren't, here it is in a nutshell. Web 2.0 took the static world of web pages (Web 1.0) and added the social and potentially viral nature of community sharing and bookmarking. Examples of Web 2.0 sites are MySpace, FaceBook, Digg and StumbleUpon among hundreds if not thousands of others.


Web 2.1


The social networking aspect of Web 2.0 sites quickly took the obvious next step of Social Media Alliances and voting groups. The purpose of these groups is to work as a community to introduce their members' content to the social media public. These alliances are frowned upon by the Web 2.0 sites, therefore, even though their existence is common knowledge, few will admit to participating in them.


Web 2.2


The next logical step for social media and networking is to bridge the online and offline world.





Next2Friends is a mobile based social network who's hope is to bring the best of FaceBook and MySpace virtual worlds into the real world. This paragraph from a promotional email describes how it works.


You set up a Next2Friends profile detailing all your likes, dislikes, quirks and everything that makes you who you are. Then, as you move about in the real world, if you have the Next2Friends software loaded onto your Bluetooth and or P2P WIFI enabled mobile device, Next2Friends will automatically collect and match your data to other Next2Friends users you came into close proximity with. When you next sign into your account you’ll receive notification of all the people you passed throughout the day who share your likes, dislikes, and yes, even your quirks. The rest is up to you! After a while you might find yourself wondering, “are you Next2Friends?”


So, as I understand it, you turn your Bluetooth or WIFI mobile device into a tracking beacon and at the end of the day you can see if that guy or girl you sat next to on the buss likes the same things you do. Hmmm...


Is anyone else starting to feel a little creepy?


I mean, if I'm seeing this about them, they're seeing it about me too. I don't want some guy with B.O. who doesn't brush his teeth regularly thinking we were made for each other just because he knows we both like the same band and enjoy watching football.


Can you see it now?


"Hey man, I thought you were going out to the club?"

 "Yeah, I did. When I got there I checked my phone and there were only three girls there I had anything in common with and they were all ugly, so I just came home."


Granted, Next2Friends will offer some interesting features like the ability to stream live video from your phone to any or all of your friends, if it works. Another feature is Ask A Friend. It goes like this,


Say you’re out shopping for shoes and you find 3 really great pairs of shoes but you’re not sure which ones go best with your jeans. With Ask-A-Friend you can snap photos of yourself wearing all three pairs and then create an instant opinion poll to send to all your friends for a vote. The results are then sent directly back to you.


I can see some girl telling the saleslady, "I'm waiting for my friends to vote on my poll and tell me if these pants make my butt look fat."


They promise their network is secure.


Worried that this could become a way for people to track you throughout your day?  Fear not! Next2Friends’ patent pending technology insures both anonymity and privacy via a highly secure implementation methodology and exclusive encryption algorithms so you will only be seen if and when you want to be seen!


Right. And credit card companies never get hacked either.


Next2Friends is scheduled to open Beta testing on Christmas eve and go live eight days later on January 2nd. It might be interesting but I think I'll pass for now.


I wonder what the next step will be. Any ideas?



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Hooker Fight!


You may think I'm a whore. Garry Conn certainly seems to.


In his opinion, anyone who accepts sponsored reviews or paid posts is,


"accepting money from a pimp daddy for doing whorish work."


He seems to enjoy the "Pimp Daddy" reference because he returns to it again when he declares that after a blog gets google-slapped for paid posts,


"...your pimp daddy will no longer want you and you'll be left in the dark with no job, and no PageRank to come crawling back to."


Wow! Got drama?


I have no intention of arguing the issue of whether or not I'm a whore. Quite frankly, I don't care what anyone thinks and I'm quite certain this was just one of Garry's experimental posts where he tries to stir up controversy and get attention. In fact, I was a little hesitant to reward him with a PR4 link but, hey, it's Christmas.


The irony of the whole thing to me is, these over-the-top statements came from someone who makes their living off of a network of over 100 sites who's sole purpose is to lure in searchers in the hopes that they will click an ad or affiliate link.


In that context, doesn't it start to sound a bit like a hooker yelling across the street,


"You may make $15 a trick but your pimp's gonna dump you one day!


My pimp promised as long as I work for 50 cents a pop, he'd keep me around forever!"


We might as well be standing on a corner in downtown Memphis.



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How To Review A Blog - Revisited


A couple of months ago I posted a reasonably well constructed and fairly well received article entitled, "How To Review A Blog". It even tied for second place in the How-To Group Writing Contest/Project at Blue Jar dot com, netting me $62. (Thank you Sarah and thank you voters)


The problem is, I have come to the conclusion the article is terribly flawed. If a writer were to follow the formula I laid out, they would end up writing more of a critical analysis than a review.


Having written quite a few blog reviews since publishing that article, I have come to understand there are a couple of things we must think about before we begin any review.


  • Unless we are a guru (writing/site building/seo) who has been asked to analyze the site for improvement, we should stay clear of these areas except for the most glaring issues that effect readability.
  • A blog is a collection of entries that together form the content. As a reviewer, we are there to review the blog, not the color pallet of the theme, the type face or the widgets.


Somewhere in our culture we have come to expect a review, be it product, performance or otherwise, to slice and dice the reviewed item. Peeling back all the layers to the absolute core, leaving nothing for the reader to discover for themselves. I fell into this trap with the original article and with some of the reviews I've written.


I guess the point I'm trying to make is; a blog review should review 70% Content, 20% Usability and 10% Everything Else.


Just remember, a blog review is an editorial article, it's all opinion. We should spend our time expressing that opinion about the parts that matter.



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Online Discount Coupon Finder


After the popularity of the Black Friday Bargains Search Tool I put together I decided to go ahead and build another custom search engine for you guys.


Three Ways to Search


This tool searches a huge database of online discount coupon codes and can be searched by product, merchant or type of discount.

  • Product Search - To search by product simply enter the name of the product and click "Search". If you want to find discount codes for domain names, just search "domain names".
  • Merchant Search - To find discount codes available for a particular merchant just do a search for the merchant name. To find all of the online coupons available from Old Navy, simply search for "Old Navy".
  • Discount Search - This option is great for finding certain types of discounts. To find merchants offering free shipping just search for (you guessed it) "Free Shipping".


Once again, be as specific as you can because the database is huge. If you have any questions feel free to ask, I'll do my best.


This tool can be used from the form below or you can use the link to go to the form on Google's site. Enjoy and Happy Savings!


Online Discount Coupon Finder


Custom Search



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I almost for got to congratulate Christine Senter for completing that NaNoWriMoHoJoThingaBo dooda dooda day thing where you write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. Just the idea of writing that many words makes my head hurt. In fact, I don't think I've written that many words in this whole blog.


I know, some of you are wondering, "Christine who?" That would be because you know her as Sapheyerblu. She writes under that name here and here and under her real name (Is it really? hmm) here and here and here and several other place I can't remember but you get the picture.


Anyway, swing by one or two of her haunts and tell her congratulations!


Oh yeah, she's a pretty darn decent writer too :)



Here we are at the end of another week and what an interesting week it's been! Not only has there been all of the regular stress, drama, homicidal thoughts, fun and excitement that go along with getting close to Christmas, it's been kind of exciting around here as well.


We just got through with the highest traffic ten day period ever on this blog. We went ten straight days with over 100 unique visits each day. (We actually broke 200 once) Gotta love those trolls :)


Comment Links


By now I'm sure most of you are aware of the new comment system for Blogger blogs like this one. Google claims the change is a measure to stop comment spam but I don't believe it. I think it's just one more way to try to control outbound linking but that's a post for another day.


I think if someone takes the time to comment on this blog they deserve to have a link to their own blog. As you may have noticed I have implemented a response to this change. Until I can come up with a better plan and as long as I can keep up, I am manually linking to each commentator in my response. It isn't the best solution but it will do.


New Gig


So, I'm going to be writing a weekly article over at Blog About Your Blog, hopefully starting next week. It's going to be a blog review article and we're calling it, "In The Spotlight". I still have to coordinate with the other authors to determine the best day for my article but I'll be sure to let you guys know. I have the first few weeks scheduled but if you would like to recommend a site for a future review, let me know.


Sites Worth Seeing


I am the worlds worst at doing a speedlinking post. I'm trying to work on that. It's not that I don't find tons of stuff I feel is worthy, I'm just lazy. There, I said it. Acknowledging the problem is the hardest part of correcting it, right?


Steven from Vandelay Website Design consistently produces high quality content for bloggers. I have a separate bookmark folder just for his articles. If you don't already subscribe to his feed, you should. Steven is also one of the most generous bloggers I'm familiar with. Every Friday he posts a speedlinking article like this one that will usually include between 10 and 20 links. Thanks Steven, you make the blogosphere a better place.


Chanya from Blogstruk wrote a new song this week. I nominate it for the Blogger's Anthem!


Chris from Chris Bloczenski came back from the dead this week and produced some great content. I particularly liked this post about writing styles. Great to see you back among the living, Chris!


Pearl from Interesting Observations wrote another great article  this week in which she shared the rather nerve wracking experience of having a post hit the front page of Digg and all the community help that went into making it happen.


If you aren't a regular reader of these blogs I wholeheartedly recommend checking them out. If you don't, you have no one but yourself to blame.



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The John Cow Effect



That other J.C. is always crowing about the effect he has on web sites when he mentions them in a blog post or review. Since this blog has been the beneficiary of bovine largesse for the past month from a free banner ad, I felt it only fitting to show the effect it had on my traffic.


On November 4th I won a little impromptu contest on John Cow dot com for one month of free advertising on his site. I was totally unprepared and had to throw together a 300 x 250 banner in about 15 minutes including thinking of the copy. The banner at the right is what I came up with. I know, no sense of urgency, blah, blah, blah. I thought it looked kind of cool and hey, I'm not selling anything anyway, right?






Over the course of the month this blog received 123 hits from 90.24% were first time readers and it looks like a few stuck around. Welcome!


The banner ad I ran was in a rotation with several others (I'm thinking ten) and the traffic came in waves with never more than eight in a day but never less than one. The traffic may seem a little low for an ad that retails for $75 but the reality is, other than being unique, the ad doesn't beg to be clicked.


I'm sure if I were planning to spend $75 for a banner ad, I would put a lot more time into the design and sales copy. That said, I am tickled to death to have received over a hundred first time visitors in the last month and thank John Cow dot com, the Make Mooney Online place, for the exposure.



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Use StumbleTrolls to Boost Your Stats

This article will not show you how to get the magical thousands of hits from StumbleUpon. It will, however, show you an unusual way to improve your daily hits, pages per visit, time per visit and subscribers (in short; how to increase website traffic), while performing a public service.

Improving these statistics will increase the value of your ad space, raise your RealRank and increase the sale value of your blog.


Two weeks ago I posted this article in response to a personal attack I witnessed on StumbleUpon. The article received several "Thumb Downs" and negative reviews on StumbleUpon from friends of the original offender. While studying the analytics of that post's traffic, I noticed some interesting facts I had never heard anyone talk about before.

The Observation

The traffic stats revealed the post was receiving very few direct referrals from SU but was receiving quite a bit of indirect SU traffic. This indirect traffic was coming from Stumblers checking out the negative reviews by members they were fans of or from the negative reviewers using the "Send To" feature to spread the article.

Every negative review would send a wave of new traffic, some of which would leave negative reviews and/or send it to their friends who would come leave a negative review, etc., etc.

The viral nature of social media wasn't really surprising, even in a negative context. What was surprising was these were "quality" visitors. They were staying longer than normal, viewing more pages than normal and subscribing to my feed. They were boosting my stats!

The Experiment

I could not bring this to you without first discovering if it was just a one time thing or if it could be repeated. In order to try to duplicate the results I wrote a follow-up article and linked to it at the bottom of the original article. It worked better than I had expected it might.

The Result

Right off the bat, a troll helped me out by "Thumbing Up" the article and burying it in The "AIDS" category. This made my job considerably easier because I didn't have to filter out any regular StumbleUpon traffic.

Just as I had expected, the negative reviews started coming and with them, the steadily increasing traffic. The more vicious and personal the attack, the more traffic it sent.

The Numbers

For comparison purposes, I have included the numbers for a different post that was receiving traffic from StumbleUpon at the same time.

Article 1 - This is the article with no negative reviews on SU. It is included for comparison.

Article 2 - This is the original article which drew the negative attention to begin with.

Article 3 - This is the experiment article which was written to attempt to duplicate the results of article 2.

Thumbs Up + Rev - Rev Direct Hits Indirect Hits Pages Per Visit Time Per Visit
1 32 8 0 270 8 1.6 1:43
2 17 8 9 22 311* 2.1 2:01
3 5 1 16 0 221 2.3 2:41

* This post was linked to on two different forums.

As you see, Article 1 received the most direct referral traffic from SU while Articles 2 & 3 received almost none but still got some very respectable numbers.

The chart also shows the negative referral traffic to be "quality" as well with higher page views and time on site.

While it is not indicated on the chart, seven of the readers referred by the negative reviewers subscribed to my feed.

It should also be pointed out, at the time these numbers were put together, Article 1 was 8 days old, Article 2 was 15 days old and Article 3 was only 6 days old. While Article one is not getting much SU traffic anymore, Articles 2 & 3 are still getting steady traffic.


Writing a post to attract the attention of the trolls is really easy and covered extensively in this article. Basically, you simply take on an air of righteous indignation and condemn the trolls and their personal attacks. Declaring that they don't belong on StumbleUpon will push them over the edge and they will have to attack.

Once they attack, just sit back and watch your stats go up.


The experiment post concluded with the question "Why?" with no answer. This answer is simple; It's something that needs to be done and it has positive results for you.


Everyone's first inclination is to think being attacked online is a negative thing. This article is simply pointing out some positive things that can result from these attacks. Aside from the boost to your stats, here are a few positives of this tactic.

  1. You receive very few comments on your actual blog. It pretty much all takes place on SU.
  2. SU traffic is usually a few days late. If you post regularly, the drama, if any, takes place off the front page and away from your regular readers.
  3. You are pointing out a legitimate issue that has no place on SU. If you reap a benefit from it, good for you!


Long time readers know I don't care about traffic here, at least not traffic just for the sake of traffic. I don't have ads and I don't sell anything. I just bring things to your attention for you to use or not.

While I don't necessarily recommend the use of manipulative tactics like these, I feel this is legitimate information I have not heard anyone else point out.

Be forewarned, you are playing with fire and must have a thick skin before attempting this. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of verbal attacks. You will be maligned and your words will be twisted and taken out of context so the trolls can feign offence and play the victim. You should also be prepared to delete a few comments.

If, however, you want to use the StumbleTrolls to boost your stats, the process is easy, just walk up and thump one on the nose.

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Trackers Traveling Blog-Healing Show


In my post Sunday I declared 5  blogs dead, 3  blogs on life support and 4  in critical condition. The criteria for getting on the list was simple.


Dead - No posts for at least a month.

Life Support - No more than three posts in the past month.

Critical Condition - No post in the previous two weeks.


Now, since I don't believe in coincidences, I am left to conclude my post is directly responsible for four of those blogs becoming active within 24 hours.


Behold, the blog healing powers of AdSense Tracker



Chris Bloczynski


Pure Blogging


It would be unfair of me to keep this power to myself so, in the interest of all blogkind, I will direct these healing powers onto any blog you bring to me. Simply leave a comment with the name of the afflicted blog and I will mention them in a post.


Of course, as with any healing service, I can only direct the power toward the blog. It remains up to the blogger to use this boost of power for good. I cannot be held responsible if the blogger does not have enough faith in themselves to use the power to correct their infirmity.



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Watching A Death


It's a painful thing.



Waiting for the final breath.



Hoping with each gasp that it might not be the end.






waiting again.



Wondering with each growing silence if the end has finally come.



"Was that it?"

 "I don't know. Just wait, we'll know soon."


"Can't somebody do something?"

"No, it's all up to them now."



Comforting one another.



Wishing the departed "good luck" in their next life.



"I hope they're OK."




"I'm going to miss them."

 "We all will."



"I just wish they would make an announcement or delete the blog or something. This waiting is killing me."



"Yeah, I know."





Blue Jar

Sam Breadstone

Chris Bloczynski

Dana Wallert

Neon Scent


On Life Support


Pure Blogging




Critical Condition


Average Joe Blogger

Blog Grrl

Susan Suarez

Top Secret Blogger (Partially my fault)


We really hope you guys pull through.




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List Contest List of Lists


List articles seem to be all the rage these days. So much so, a whole list of analysis articles have been written describing how many points on a list have the best chance of success on social media sites.




Luciano from Litemind put together a group writing project/contest with a top prize of $100.


Well, you guys know I can't pass up a good contest and since I've had so much fun with writing projects and won money in the past, I entered with a list of my own.


That was the easy part.


Now I have to read all of the lists and vote for my favorites.


"Why is this so difficult", you ask?


I have a confession.


I don't like list posts.


When I say, "I don't like list posts", I mean I REALLY don't like them.


But, I made a commitment when I chose to participate in the contest, so, I waded through 67 entries and came up with my list of winners in no particular order.


  1. Best 101 Lists by Pearl - How could a list of lists not be a winner in a list writing contest? If you're a list freak, this list is a 'must read'. Is there any wonder Digg loved this one?
  2. 5 Ways to Crack or Reset a Forgotten Windows XP Administrator Password by Aseem Kishore - I love useful articles and this is definitely one. The only problem is I bookmarked it on my XP computer :P
  3. List of Why Blogs are A Female Gender by Domtan - This list was too funny not to be included, plus it's not a numbered list. I just don't see what the problem is.


This is the point in the post where I'm supposed to have something witty to say to wrap the article up and bring it to a close. I'm sorry, but I find lists to be draining so,


The End

How To Attract StumbleTrolls


What is a StumbleTroll?


In the fairytale a troll was a disfigured monster with a bad attitude who lived under the bridge and waited to hear the sound of someone crossing. A StumbleTroll is a, presumed, human with a bad attitude who cruises StumbleUpon while hiding behind a nondescript avatar, searching for articles that express an opinion they disagree with.


What do they do?


The fairytale troll would jump out from his hiding place when he heard someone approaching and attempt to "Eat them up!" The StumbleTroll leaps from the shadows swinging a big red "Thumb Down" club and leaves juvenile playground taunts in the review section about wishing you would get boils on your eyes and your entire family die of AIDs.


They compare you to Hitler or some other oppressive figure and claim you are trying to suppress free speech if you express concern or, God forbid, condemnation of their use of foul language and threats.


Amazingly and almost without fail, they will end their sophomoric, foul mouthed attack with an admonition similar to,


"Diversity of opinion is what makes the world go around. If you can't handle people disagreeing with you, get the F___ out of StumbleUpon, you (insert generic put-down name here)!"


Who  are they?


That's one of the beauties of the whole thing. The vast majority of StumbleTrolls hide behind marginally original, mostly generic avatars, leave anonymous blog comments and have messaging blocked on SU.


They simply pull up, hang their flame thrower out the window, fire at will and cruise away, comfortable in the knowledge they can't be followed and have the same thing done to them.


Why do they do it?


That one is hard to answer but I think it has to do with showing off in front of and being accepted by their friends. One habit I noticed while studying the analytics of the StumbleTrolls was they almost all click over to check the SU reviews before they thumb it down and give a bad review.


This tells me they are desperately seeking social acceptance from that peer group. I would imagine they meet periodically on a forum somewhere, compare hate-filled responses and give virtual high-fives for the most vulgar.


How do you draw them out?


This is easy. just do what I did and shine a light into the cave where they hide. Write a post on your blog about them and why you think they have no place on StumbleUpon.


Once the post is written, it needs to be submitted to SU, or Stumbled, preferably in the "StumbleUpon" category.


These steps if followed correctly, are guaranteed to bring the StumbleTrolls running.


But, why would you want to?


Ooops! Sorry, I just realized I'm out of time today. I'm truly sorry but I'm running really late. I'll have to finish this post up later.


'Till then, Happy Stumbling ;)


**If you like this post you'll LOVE this one!



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Of Blogs and Bird Feeders


My grandmother had a bird feeder that was the envy of all her friends. Well, not the feeder but the birds it attracted.

Oh, she had the garden variety sparrows and blackbirds but what was so impressive were the beautiful, brightly colored Cardinals, Bluebirds, Finches and others I don't know the names of.


It's not that she drew in a few of these special birds, they flocked.


Her friends loved coming over to sit at her breakfast table sipping coffee and admiring the birds through the bay window.


Her friends all tried, at one time or another, to put up feeders and attract my grandmother's birds to their yards but with no luck. They would always get the fanciest feeder at the store but still, no luck.

Eventually her friends all gave up trying to learn her secret. I watched many times as they would ask her what she did to attract all the birds. She would just smile and say, "I just feed them." This always baffled them. I always found it amusing.


You see, I knew her secret.


She did feed the birds, but she did so much more.




Her first rule was to never, ever let the feeder get empty. She said when a bird found your feeder empty it would go find another feeder and might decide it liked it there better and not come back.




She had experimented extensively with the bird seed combinations she would use. She never used anything "off the shelf" because as she said, that was plain and the birds could find that anywhere. She had developed a custom mixture of feeds that would attract the special beauties while keeping the mass of ordinary birds happy.




You see, her neighbors would make a fuss over the beautiful exotic birds and kill themselves trying to get them to come to their feeders. She, on the other hand, loved and valued every single bird that showed up at her feeder and would do everything she could to keep them all happy and coming back. 




She put in a lot of effort to hold "her flock", as she called them, and I never once saw or heard her try to get anything in return. She considered her reward to be being able to watch the birds..., and maybe being the envy of the neighborhood ;)




Your blog is your bird feeder and your content its seed. How seriously do you take it?



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Can Google Even Do This?


In response to the recent outcry, primarily from the blogging community, Google announced it has reworked the current PageRank policy toward paid linking.


As many people are already aware, the previous response to web sites that accept payment for linking has been to remove all PageRank from these sites, thereby removing all value from their links.


Google Executive VP of Blogger Relations, Allistair Paid, admitted this tactic may have been an over reaction.


"The initial response was probably a little heavy handed, a bit like swatting flies with a sledgehammer."


Paid said that, in coordination with Junior VP of International Ad Sales, Shaniqua Poorly, a new system has been developed. This new rank designation system will run in tandem with the current PageRank system.


Initially called the PaidPoorlyRankingSystem, the title eventually became, simply, PaidRank. This title was determined to cause the least disruption and could be easily integrated into the current system.


How is PaidRank different?


Link Strength


The old algorithm of measuring incoming links and content quality will still be used to determine a site's rank, however, the new algorithm will not assign as much value to the site's outgoing links.


Bar Colors


The new PaidRank designation will be noted by a subtle, yet easily recognizable, difference in the toolbar field. Where PageRank is displayed with a Green Bar, PaidRank will be displayed with a Red Bar as seen below.




Improvement with AdWords and AdSense


One of the most unusual differences will be the ability of publishers to improve their site's PaidRank through participation in the AdWords and AdSense programs.


By bidding on Keyword Advertising through AdWords, the site will receive a double benefit. Not only will participation in this system allow the ad links to contribute to the organic PaidRank, but the PaidRank will also be improved in proportion to the AdWords bids.


In an effort to help the small publisher who has limited funding, another option was also developed. The site owner may choose to run AdSense ad blocks and accept a reduced payout, thereby improving their PaidRank proportionately as well.


By fully utilizing both of these options, a publisher can improve the PaidRate of a site to the point that it passes along as much downstream link strength as a site under the PageRank system.


Opting In


Inclusion in the new PaidRank program is strictly voluntary and requires the publisher to specifically request inclusion by email.


Simply send an email to requesting the opt in forms. The forms will arrive in PDF format so you can easily print them for your records and then email them back to the proper address depending on which program(s) you choose to participate in.




Chief  Executive of Media Relations, Mujibar Kandlewhozit, had this to say about Paid and Poorly's new program;


"The Google team hopes this compromise will be seen as a fair and equitable middle ground between the owners of the internet and the masses trying to gather a few crumbs from the passing traffic."


That pretty much says it all!



*On Edit*


It has been brought to my attention that some or all of this information may not be completely accurate. My advise, as always, is to do as I do and research it yourself and stop believing everything you read on the internet.



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* Thank you to all of you Stumblers and Sphinners!

This article went HOT at 9:51 am!

Camping Pros & Cons


Back to the real world... at least for a while.


I've got one more post on the camping theme. For those of you who never escape the concrete jungle, sorry. All I can say is, you really should try it sometime. At least once.



 Pros & Cons of Going Camping


Pros Cons
No Computer/Blog/Email No Computer/Blog/Email
Coyotes Singing Bugs
Sunrise/Sunset Getting Up Early
Cooking Out Cleaning Up
Eating Junk Food Shower/Toilet Facilities
Time To Think  
Camp Coffee  
Admiring Nature  



Pros & Cons of Coming Home from Camping


Pros Cons
Comfy Bed Feed Reader (OMG!)
Cat & Kittens Back to Routine



There you have it. Back to regular blogging tomorrow.



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10 Life Lessons Learned While Camping


I love to go camping in the woods. I look forward to Autumn every year because that's when I get to spend some quality time out doors. is running a group writing project/contest of lists. I decided to participate with a different kind of list. It has nothing to do with blogging but much to do with life.


Here is my list of 10 things I would not have learned without going camping.


  1. How to roast the perfect hotdog.
  2. How to survive on my own with almost nothing.
  3. How to build a fire.
  4. To be a conservationist.
  5. To accept and relish solitude.
  6. Why aerosol cans say "Do Not Incinerate". (Don't ask)
  7. I'm tougher than I think I am.
  8. How to toast a marshmallow so it is perfectly brown (Not Black!) and crisp on the outside and completely soft on the inside. (Mmmm!)
  9. How to make do with what you have.
  10. To truly appreciate the wonder and beauty of God's creation.


There you have it. 10 things I would not have ever learned if I had not gone camping.



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What I Am Thankful For


At this time of year we Americans like to examine our lives and express thanks for the blessings we have accumulated. We go to great lengths to gather with friends and family so we can often put ourselves in ultra-stressful situations we can only bare once or twice a year for no better reason than a sense of tradition.


I'm sure you've already read countless posts enumerating the usual thanks for family, health and fortune. Here is mine.




I'm thankful for my faith. My faith gives me the strength and wisdom to know that my financial success or failure in life is only marginally important in the end. It keeps me grounded.




Is it wise to claim to possess wisdom? I think I am mostly thankful for the wisdom to wish for and pursue more wisdom.




I am deeply thankful to have been blessed with American birth. America isn't perfect but I am as free as any person ruled by a government. My American birth has placed me in a position of possession such that the whining about a few dollars of advertising income is just plain silly.



I am thankful for much, much more. These are just the things that well up in my heart the most right now. I hope you have many things in your own lives of which you are overwhelmingly thankful.



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Something About The Pilgrims You May Not Know


This post will give a brief explanation of the origins of the holiday we in the U.S. call Thanksgiving, while pointing out a detail of the story many Americans are unaware of.


The Story


The Pilgrims were members of the Puritan faith who fled England in the early 1600s. The church of England, under the rule of King James I, was hunting down, imprisoning and sometimes even executing those people, like the Puritans, who refused to submit to its rules.


They initially established a community in Holland. Several years later, forty of these Puritans made a contract with a group of venture capitalists to finance their travel to the New World and on August 1, 1620 the Mayflower set sail with the forty Pilgrims and their families totaling 102 people led by William Bradford.


They arrived at Plymouth Rock in November of 1620 to what Bradford's journal refers to as, "..a cold, barren, desolate wilderness..." There was no shelter and the first winter was devastating. Almost half the original group, including Bradford's own wife, died from either starvation, sickness or exposure.


In the spring an English speaking Indian, Squanto, helped the Pilgrims by giving them food and teaching them how to build shelters, catch fish, grow crops and other survival skills. With these newfound skills, the settlers were able to survive, but only barely.


The Pilgrims eventually became prosperous but few history books explain why.


What You May Not Know


You see, the Pilgrims' original contract with the European merchants stipulated that the Plymouth Plantation would operate as a collective, with all production going into a common store and all land cleared and buildings built would be commonly owned. In short, a socialist commune.


I'll let Mr. Bradford's journal explain.


"The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God. For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort."


 This proved to be a disastrous plan. There was no incentive for the able bodied to work to their potential. In fact, the young bachelors greatly resented having to support the older men's families.


"For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice."


The settlement began to truly prosper only when Bradford scrapped the original contract and assigned each family a parcel of land to farm with the understanding that any surplus they produced was their own.


This scrapping of communism in favor of capitalism ignited the entrepreneurial spirit and brought about great gains. In fact, they soon found themselves with more than they could consume. Trading posts were established to barter with the Indians and the debt to the European investors was paid off early.


The success of the Plymouth Plantation was so profound it attracted more European settlers and began what came to be known as the "Great Puritan Migration".


That's right, centuries before Marx, Lenin or Mao, the Puritan settlers in the New World had proved that communism stifled the individual's desire to excel while capitalism encouraged it with obvious results.


Thanksgiving - Yesterday and Today


The Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving feast was to give thanks to God for helping them to survive as well as a celebration of the first harvest. On October 3rd 1789 President George Washington signed the first Thanksgiving Proclamation and the holiday was eventually codified into law by congress on October 6, 1941 as the 4th Thursday in November.


Today's Thanksgiving celebration is quite different from the first Pilgrim feast in many ways but in many ways it is similar. We gather with friends and/or family and remind ourselves of the many ways we are blessed.


We feast and overindulge as we prepare mentally for the coming shopping season when we take part in the very system of capitalism that helped found this country.


I truly hope that you, no matter where you live, have many blessings in your life to be thankful for and hope you take the time to recognize those blessings in life money can't buy.


If you are traveling, please be safe but, above all, have a Happy Thanksgiving!



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StumbleUpon - No Place for Bullies


While some social media sites like Digg have become known for users with arrogant attitudes and sharp tongues, eager to belittle an author for content unworthy of their time, this seems to be a relatively new phenomenon on StumbleUpon and it should be nipped in the bud.


The Problem


I realize the internet is a rough and tumble place but the meanness and venom I have seen recently should be unacceptable. I have actually witnessed a StumbleUpon user wishing an author to "die painfully" because they didn't like the article.


Excuse me? You didn't like the blog post so you felt it was OK to wish it's author to "die painfully ... and don't forget to blog about it..." in a public forum? A public forum known to be used by children?


The History


There have always been bullies on the internet, hanging around chat rooms and trying to dominate forums. It only stands to reason their kind would gravitate to and flourish on the social media sites as well.


They use the anonymity of the internet to push people around in ways they never could in a face to face environment. People who get bullied warn one another privately, "Be careful, you don't know who or what you're dealing with."


The Solution


The first responsibility for policing behavior on a site always falls to the site owner and that should be the case here. StumbleUpon should not tolerate obnoxious and abusive behavior from its users and should have an easy method to report it along with a system of penalties for it.


Partial responsibility belongs, however, with the community as well. As long as we, the community, sit by and quietly ignore the behavior, we can be guaranteed it will continue to get worse.


If we point out the intolerable behavior and demand action, we will have, at least, done our part. It is then up to the powers that be to correct the situation.




StumbleUpon is a wonderful community and the Stumble Bar is a wonderful tool. Together they allow us to discover and share items online in ways we didn't even dream of only a few years ago.


It would be a shame for a disruptive minority of users to be allowed to create an environment where people were not comfortable participating.



* If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in this follow-up.



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Black Friday Bargains Search Tool


If you're like me you're getting a little bit overwhelmed by all of the ads for special bargains this Friday morning. After a while the flyers start piling up and I can't remember what was on sale where and for how much. Wouldn't it be cool if there was a search engine just for Black Friday Bargains?


Have no fear, Ol' Ad Tracker has got you covered. That's right, dear readers, I have built a custom search engine that only searches for Black Friday Bargains.


I have combined the largest Black Friday Bargain sites I could find into one database for you to search.


Do you want to find out if that camera you were going to buy is on sale cheaper somewhere else? Just search for that specific camera and it will show up everywhere it's on sale. Cool huh?


Since you will be searching through literally thousands of ads, I recommend trying to be as precise as possible. In other words, search for "DVD Player", "Digital Camera", "GPS" or "HDTV" not "electronics".


Do you want to know what a particular store has on sale for Black Friday? Just run your search by store, such as "Old Navy", "JC Penney" or "Wal-Mart" and see the ad flyers or specials from each store.


This search will return online bargains as well as in store bargains so you can find things that aren't listed in the ad flyers.


Go ahead, give it a try. It's totally free to use. My Christmas shopping gift to you.




Tracker's Black Friday Bargains Search Tool

Google Custom Search





If you notice any sources you feel should be included in the search database, let me know and I'll get them added.



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