Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hard Drive Benchmarking and Information - HDTune

HD Tune is a hard disk utility that can burst speed test, temperature, reference and information. You can use it to measure the raw performance of your drive, including transfer rate, burst rate, access time and much more. In addition, it provides detailed information about the features supported disk, as well as the current temperature, SMART information (if available) and an error scanner.

HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:

  • Benchmark: measures the performance
  • Info: shows detailed information
  • Health: checks the health status by using SMART
  • Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
  • Temperature display
HD Tune may also work with other storage devices such as memory cards, USB sticks, iPods, etc.
Users reported that this software is able to find bad sectors on the HDD, when chkdsk fails to locate and report them.

You can make this utility portable to run it from your USB Drive, but software will right some registry settings. If you leave the default options/configurations intact (at the options, just DO NOT click OK), the only registry entries left will be the regular entries for recently used documents, recent files, MRU, etc. But these cannot be avoided because they are Microsoft generated, and their impact is insignificant.

Download the installer and extract to a folder of your choice. The application files are located in the {app} subfolder. Copy the folder content to the desired location and launch HDTune.exe. If needed, you can uninstall the utility from your HDD. Anyway, I have loaded both versions for your use. You can choose which one you want.

Operating Systems: Vista/ Win2k/ WinXP

Developers Website: http://www.hdtune.com/

Saturday, August 16, 2008

50 Questions you answer evaluating Website

Recently, I was asked to evaluate several Websites for one agency. Since it was my first serious evaluation task, I decided to create a list of the questions I should ask myself, while I am reviewing each site. Whether I will use of the checks outcomes in the final report, or not, the detailed comparison should be performed, and all the results should be included in the table. However, I found it is not easy to compile the list “from scratch”. As usually, Internet comes handy for every occasion. In this case, it helped me to find the article of Carsten Cumborsky, who created a list of 50 Questions to Evaluate the Quality of Your Website.

Today, I am sharing this list with you:


  1. Is content structurally separate from navigational elements?
  2. Is the website cross-browser compatible?
  3. How compliant is the website with W3C coding standards? Valid HTML/CSS?
  4. Are ‘alt’ tags in place on all significant images?
  5. Are text-based alternatives in place to convey essential information if this is featured within images or multimedia files?
  1. Are links labeled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead.
  2. Depth - what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
  3. If a splash screen or navigation feature is provided in a Java/JavaScript/Flash format, is a text-based alternative also available?
  4. Responsive on Click feedback - Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
  5. Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
  6. How intuitive is it to navigate? Are signs obvious or obscured? Buttons/Links Like Text, that are not clickable and vice versa, links/buttons that cannot be identified as such.
  7. Readability (somewhat addressed already), type face, font size.
  8. Clear statement of PURPOSE of the site? Purpose must become clear within a few seconds without reading much or no text copy at all.
  9. Call to action on every page, no dead ends.
  10. Is a logical site map available? If not, is a keyword-based search feature available? Note: Large (multi-thousands of pages) sites should have a search form.
  1. Is the site’s design aesthetically appealing?
  2. Are the colors used harmonious and logically related?
  3. Are the color choices visually accessible? (For example high enough in contrast to assist the colorblind and visually impaired in reading the site appropriately).
  4. Is the design audience appropriate?- The standard text size should be readable, for visitors who don’t know how to adjust their browsers.
  5. The fonts should be easily readable, and degrade gracefully.- Should look OK on various screen resolutions.
  1. Is the website copy succinct but informative?
  2. Does the copywriting style suit the website’s purpose and ’speak’ to its target audience?
  3. Are bodies of text constrained to < 80 characters per line?
  4. Can text be resized through the browser or do CSS settings restrict size alteration?
  5. Is the contrast between text and its background color sufficient to make reading easy on the eyes?
  6. Is text broken into small, readable chunks and highlighted using headings, sub-headings and emphasis features where appropriate to assist in skimming?
  7. Within articles, there should be links to more detailed explanations of subjects, or definitions of jargon terms. Are you doing that?
  8. Do you have an “about page” that identifies the author of the content, credits to source for content that was not written by the site owner himself
  9. Do you have testimonials and publish them on the site?
  10. Do you update the content regularly and don’t live by the phrase “set it and forget it”?
  1. Any obvious security flaws?
  2. How resilient are forms to special characters?
  3. Private directories password protected via .htaccess?
  4. Are public non-document directories (cgi-bin, images, etc) index able or are blank index.html pages or appropriate permission settings in place to block access?
  5. Is customer data stored online? If so, is this database appropriately safeguarded against external access?
Other Technical Considerations
  1. Does the site load quickly - even for dialup users?
  2. Are all links (internal and external) valid and active?
  3. Are scripts free from errors?
  4. Is the website free from server side errors?
Other Marketing Considerations
  1. Is the website properly optimized for search engines (essential text emphasized, title tags relevant, title text presented in H1, outbound links reliable and contextually related, etc)
  2. Does the index page entice a visitor deeper into the site or shopping cart?
  3. Does the website contain elements designed to encourage future or viral visitation (i.e. a contest, newsletter, tell-a-friend feature, and forum with subscription option, downloadable toolbar, RSS feed or similar)? - Different Title for every page that start (or at least have it as 2nd or 3rd word) with the single most relevant key phrase that describes the content or function of the page the best. (if you have to explain what the page is for and can only use 1-3 words as Keyword or Phrase, what would it be?)
  4. Robots.txt configured?
  5. Site Map available?
  6. Is every page accessible at least via a single plain HTML Link (no JavaScript or Flash Link)?
  7. Does every page have at least some text in the content? (How much Text remains on the Page if you remove all Images, Videos, Flash, Java Applets and JavaScript Code? Anything? Is the remainder still states the pages purpose?)
  8. Is every individual page only accessible via a single URL or are several URLs available (and worse, used) to access the same page? Duplicate Content Issue, Canonical URLs.
Legal Stuff/Re-Assurance/Legitimization
  1. Contact Page with Real Address, Phone Number (Toll Free for Business) and Contact Form or Email available, basically a clear and easy to use feedback/contact mechanism? A visitor might not assume webmaster@ or you might want them to write elsewhere, or you might prefer to give them a form to structure their communications.
  2. DMCA Notice up? Terms of Use page available where you specify what you do and why and what visitors have to agree on if they want to use your site? This is to protect yourself from complains or worse regarding things that you cannot control properly, such as links to 3rd party websites or Ads from automated systems such as Google AdSense etc.
  3. Privacy Policy up (especially if you collect data, email, names, and web analytics tracking cookies)?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How rich you are on the Worldwide Global Rich List

You, probably, have seen lists of the richest people in the World. But, few of you, readers of this blog, could find your own name on these lists. I wish everybody eventually get there, but if you are not inside, you do not know, what your actual rating on the hypothetical worldwide list is. Why do you need that? Just out of curiosity, I guess.

Global Rich List is a simple registration-free service that can tell you your current rating on the Global Rich List, based on your income. It is fast and easy. Just enter your annual earnings and hit “Show me the money!” button. Following image show the result. If, for example, your annual income is $100,000

  • You are the 39,615,049 richest person in the world.
  • You’re in the TOP 0.66 % richest people in the world.

How do they calculate it?

The Global Rich List calculations are based on figures from the World Bank Development Research Group. To calculate the most accurate position for each individual they assume that the world’s total population is 6 billion and the average worldwide annual income is $5,000. The world’s distribution of money can also be displayed as the chart below.

As you see, if you are reading this blog, probably, your financial situation is not so bad. Cheer Up! It will be even better soon! I am sure of that!

Website: http://www.globalrichlist.com/

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Having Free Fun with Photofunia

There are number of online tools, allowing you to have fun with images. Photofunia will allow you to apply funny effects on your images with couple of clicks, with no need to know any basic of the image editing.

No downloads or registration is needed. Just upload your picture, select the desired effect from the list, and it is done. Now, you can simply download the resulting funny image to your Hard Drive. There are more than 50 very different effects to choose from. An additional use for the free service is making a nice striking avatar for your forums or social sites profiles.

Web Site access: http://www.photofunia.com/


Update 12-27-13: As of today, Photofunia offers almost 400 hundreds effects to help you to make a lot of fun with your pictures the way you like. 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Windows XP Password Reset Disk Creation

The amount of cases, when customer complains on inability to login to the computer is growing fast. Sometimes, it is caused by the main login changes by employee, who was laid off or left a job. Sometimes, computer is left for sometime unemployed, and when it comes to use it again, nobody remembers the login particulars. Anyway, ho we are shipping computers with one spare administrative account, as used as a backdoor entrance if needed.

But what can you do, if you do not have backdoor entrance? There are multiple ways to recover or reset administrative account particulars, but none of them are easy to apply for the average user, or they require special utilities, which are not free for users.

In this publication, I want to show you the way how to preventively secure you entrance to the computer, no matter what. Using these recommendations, you will always have a tool to reset your password: fast and simple. But, you have to be proactive by creating a password reset disk, before problems happen. It is like having a spare key from you house, hidden in the secure place “in case…”

The method is easy, suitable for everyone, and takes no more than 5 minutes of your time.

  1. Click on Start and choose Control Panel.
  2. Click on the link to User Accounts.
  3. Click on your Windows XP user name.
  4. In the Related Tasks area on the left, click the Prevent a forgotten password link.
  5. When the Forgotten Password Wizard window appears, click Next
  6. Insert an empty Floppy in the Floppy Disk Drive.
  7. Verify that a blank Floppy disk is inserted properly and click Next to continue.
  8. Enter your current account password in the text box and click Next.
  9. Windows XP will now create the password reset disk.
  10. When the progress indicator shows 100% complete, click Next and then click Finish in the next window.
  11. You can now remove the Floppy disk from your computer.
  12. Label the disk "Password Reset" and store it in a secure place.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

26 Steps to Make a Profitable Website

The following post was written in 2002 by Brett_Tabke. It presents 26 real doable steps to prepare a nice marketable profitable website to your satisfaction, and make money from it. I hope, you like it, too.

A) Prep work and begin building content. Long before the domain name is settled on, start putting together notes to build at least a 100 page site. That’s just for openers. That’s 100 pages of real content, as opposed to link pages, resource pages, about/copyright/tos...etc eg: fluff pages.

B) Domain name:
Easily brandable. You want "google.com" and not "mykeyword.com". Keyword domains are out - branding and name recognition are in - big time in. The value of keywords in a domain name have never been less to se’s. Learn the lesson of "goto.com" becomes "Overture.com" and why they did it. It’s one of the most powerful gut check calls I’ve ever seen on the internet. That took serious resolve and nerve to blow away several years of branding. (that is a whole another article, but learn the lesson as it applies to all of us).

C) Site Design:
The simpler the better. Rule of thumb: text content should out weight the html content. The pages should validate and be usable in everything from Lynx to leading edge browsers. eg: keep it close to html 3.2 if you can. Spiders are not to the point they really like eating html 4.0 and the mess that it can bring. Stay away from heavy: flash, dom, java, java script. Go external with scripting languages if you must have them - there is little reason to have them that I can see - they will rarely help a site and stand to hurt it greatly due to many factors most people don’t appreciate (search engines distaste for js is just one of them).
Arrange the site in a logical manner with directory names hitting the top keywords you wish to hit.
You can also go the other route and just throw everything in root (this is rather controversial, but it’s been producing good long term results across many engines).
Don’t clutter and don’t spam your site with frivolous links like "best viewed" or other counter like junk. Keep it clean and professional to the best of your ability.

Learn the lesson of Google itself - simple is retro cool - simple is what surfers want.

Speed isn’t everything, it’s almost the only thing. Your site should respond almost instantly to a request. If you get into even 3-4 seconds delay until "something happens" in the browser, you are in long term trouble. That 3-4 seconds response time may vary for site destined to live in other countries than your native one. The site should respond locally within 3-4 seconds (max) to any request. Longer than that, and you’ll lose 10% of your audience for every second. That 10% could be the difference between success and not.

The pages:

D) Page Size:
The smaller the better. Keep it under 15k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 12k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 10k if you can - I trust you are getting the idea here. Over 5k and under 10k. Ya - that bites - it’s tough to do, but it works. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.

E) Content:
Build one page of content and put online per day at 200-500 words. If you aren’t sure what you need for content, start with the Overture keyword suggester and find the core set of keywords for your topic area. Those are your subject starters.

F) Density, position, yada...
Simple old fashioned seo from the ground up.
Use the keyword once in title, once in description tag, once in a heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic, once high on the page, and hit the density between 5 and 20% (don’t fret about it). Use good sentences and speel check it ;-) Spell checking is becoming important as se’s are moving to auto correction during searches. There is no longer a reason to look like you can’t spell (unless you really are phonetically challenged).

G) Outbound Links:
From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).

H) Insite Cross links.
(cross links in this context are links WITHIN the same site)
Link to on topic quality content across your site. If a page is about food, then make sure it links it to the apples and veggies page. Specifically with Google, on topic cross linking is very important for sharing your pr value across your site. You do NOT want an "all star" page that out performs the rest of your site. You want 50 pages that produce 1 referral each a day and do NOT want 1 page that produces 50 referrals a day. If you do find one page that drastically out produces the rest of the site with Google, you need to off load some of that pr value to other pages by cross linking heavily. It’s the old share the wealth thing.

I) Put it Online.
Don’t go with virtual hosting - go with a stand alone ip.
Make sure the site is "crawlable" by a spider. All pages should be linked to more than one other page on your site, and not more than 2 levels deep from root. Link the topic vertically as much as possible back to root. A menu that is present on every page should link to your sites main "topic index" pages (the doorways and logical navigation system down into real content).
Don’t put it online before you have a quality site to put online. It’s worse to put a "nothing" site online, than no site at all. You want it flushed out from the start.

Go for a listing in the ODP. If you have the budget, then submit to Looksmart and Yahoo. If you don’t have the budget, then try for a freebie on Yahoo (don’t hold your breath).

J) Submit
Submit the root to: Google, Fast, Altavista, WiseNut, (write Teoma), DirectHit, and Hotbot. Now comes the hard part - forget about submissions for the next six months. That’s right - submit and forget.

K) Logging and Tracking:
Get a quality logger/tracker that can do justice to inbound referrals based on log files (don’t use a lame graphic counter - you need the real deal). If your host doesn’t support referrers, then back up and get a new host. You can’t run a modern site without full referrals available 24x7x365 in real time.

L) Spiderlings:
Watch for spiders from se’s. Make sure those that are crawling the full site, can do so easily. If not, double check your linking system (use standard hrefs) to make sure the spider found it’s way throughout the site. Don’t fret if it takes two spiderings to get your whole site done by Google or Fast. Other se’s are pot luck and doubtful that you will be added at all if not within 6 months.

M) Topic directories.
Almost every keyword sector has an authority hub on it’s topic. Go submit within the guidelines.

N) Links
Look around your keyword sector in Googles version of the ODP. (this is best done AFTER getting an odp listing - or two). Find sites that have links pages or freely exchange links. Simply request a swap. Put a page of on topic, in context links up your self as a collection spot.
Don’t freak if you can’t get people to swap links - move on. Try to swap links with one fresh site a day. A simple personal email is enough. Stay low key about it and don’t worry if site Z won’t link with you - they will - eventually they will.

O) Content.
One page of quality content per day. Timely, topical articles are always the best. Try to stay away from to much "bloggin" type personal stuff and look more for "article" topics that a general audience will like. Hone your writing skills and read up on the right style of "web speak" that tends to work with the fast and furious web crowd.

Lots of text breaks - short sentences - lots of dashes - something that reads quickly.

Most web users don’t actually read, they scan. This is why it is so important to keep low key pages today. People see a huge overblown page by random, and a portion of them will hit the back button before trying to decipher it. They’ve got better things to do that waste 15 seconds (a stretch) at understanding your whiz bang flash menu system. Because some big support site can run flashed out motorhead pages, that is no indication that you can. You don’t have the pull factor they do.

Use headers, and bold standout text liberally on your pages as logical separators. I call them scanner stoppers where the eye will logically come to rest on the page.

P) Gimmicks.
Stay far away from any "fades of the day" or anything that appears spammy, unethical, or tricky. Plant yourself firmly on the high ground in the middle of the road.

Q) Link backs
When YOU receive requests for links, check the site out before linking back with them. Check them through Google and their pr value. Look for directory listings. Don’t link back to junk just because they asked. Make sure it is a site similar to yours and on topic.

R) Rounding out the offerings:
Use options such as Email-a-friend, forums, and mailing lists to round out your sites offerings. Hit the top forums in your market and read, read, read until your eyes hurt you read so much.
Stay away from "affiliate fades" that insert content on to your site.

S) Beware of Flyer and Brochure Syndrome
If you have an ecom site or online version of bricks and mortar, be careful not to turn your site into a brochure. These don’t work at all. Think about what people want. They aren’t coming to your site to view "your content", they are coming to your site looking for "their content". Talk as little about your products and yourself as possible in articles (raise eyebrows...yes, I know).

T) Build one page of content per day.
Head back to the Overture suggestion tool to get ideas for fresh pages.

U) Study those logs.
After 30-60 days you will start to see a few referrals from places you’ve gotten listed. Look for the keywords people are using. See any bizarre combinations? Why are people using those to find your site? If there is something you have over looked, then build a page around that topic. Retro engineer your site to feed the search engine what it wants.
If your site is about "oranges", but your referrals are all about "orange citrus fruit", then you can get busy building articles around "citrus" and "fruit" instead of the generic "oranges".
The search engines will tell you exactly what they want to be fed - listen closely, there is gold in referral logs, it’s just a matter of panning for it.

V) Timely Topics
Nothing breeds success like success. Stay abreast of developments in your keyword sector. If big site "Z" is coming out with product "A" at the end of the year, then build a page and have it ready in October so that search engines get it by December. eg: go look at all the Xbox and XP sites in Google right now - those are sites that were on the ball last summer.

W) Friends and Family
Networking is critical to the success of a site. This is where all that time you spend in forums will pay off. pssst: Here’s the catch-22 about forums: lurking is almost useless. The value of a forum is in the interaction with your fellow colleagues and cohorts. You learn long term by the interaction - not by just reading.
Networking will pay off in link backs, tips, email exchanges, and it will put you "in the loop" of your keyword sector.

X) Notes, Notes, Notes
If you build one page per day, you will find that brain storm like inspiration will hit you in the head at some magic point. Whether it is in the shower (dry off first), driving down the road (please pull over), or just parked at your desk, write it down! 10 minutes of work later, you will have forgotten all about that great idea you just had. Write it down, and get detailed about what you are thinking. When the inspirational juices are no longer flowing, come back to those content ideas. It sounds simple, but it’s a life saver when the ideas stop coming.

Y) Submission check at six months
Walk back through your submissions and see if you got listed in all the search engines you submitted to after six months. If not, then resubmit and forget again. Try those freebie directories again too.

Z) Build one page of quality content per day.
Starting to see a theme here? Google loves content, lots of quality content. Broad based over a wide range of keywords. At the end of a years time, you should have around 400 pages of content. That will get you good placement under a wide range of keywords, generate recip links, and overall position your site to stand on it’s own two feet.

Do those 26 things, and I guarantee you that in ones years time you will call your site a success. It will be drawing between 500 and 2000 referrals a day from search engines. If you build a good site with an average of 4 to 5 pages per user, you should be in the 10-15k page views per day range in one years time. What you do with that traffic is up to you, but that is more than enough to "do something" with.

Author: Brett_Tabke

Source: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/2010.htm

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thumbs.db files in Windows XP

I got a question from one of the blog reader with request to clarify the need for the thumbs.db files, which could be found in all directories of the hard drive, where pictures are present. Reader complained that he is annoyed by these unneeded files, and he is deleted them all the time, but they always come back.

So, why do our computer need these files, and can we get rid of them?

Thumbs.db is a cache file, collecting data on the thumbnail pictures in a directory, where it is located. The file can significantly speed up the showing of thumbnails when you are viewing a folder in Thumbnail view.
However, if you do not use option of viewing Thumbnail view to show your files, you may disable this option in Windows, and delete all existing cache files. This might save you some hard drive space as well.

To turn this feature off, perform the following simple operational steps:

  1. Open My Computer ® Tools ® Folder Options ®View Tab.
  2. Place a check in the option "Do not cache thumbnails" and click Ok.

To remove the thumbs.db files from your hard drive:

  1. Start ® Search ® Click on All Files and Folders.
  2. Type the following in the section called "all or part of the file name": thumbs.db.
  3. In the Look in box, make sure Local Hard Drives are chosen.
  4. Click Search.
  5. A long list of thumbs.db files should appear, click on Edit ® Select All.
  6. Click on File, and choose Delete.
  7. Close the Search Results window.

Bye-bye, thumbs.db files…

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