January 13, 2013

Is YouTube Allowing Accidental Ad Clicks By Design?

Like many creatures of the web, I've been known to watch YouTube videos every now and then. For the last year or so, I've noticed something strange going on with Google's advertising approach within YouTube. Initially, I just thought I was witnessing a mistake that their developers made, and I waited to see when they'd fix the issue. To my surprise, that day never came - so today, I'm going to describe the problem, as I perceive it. Let's start with a screenshot: An example of the pre-roll ads that appear on YouTube, with a countdown. Notice the message to the bottom right? It says "you can skip to video in," and then has a countdown, in seconds. There's nothing wrong with such an approach…
Tips & Tricks
December 16, 2011

Using Google Alerts to Fight E-mail Spam

I was recently reminded of the existence of a particular Google service, one which I had completely forgotten. To my surprise, it turned out to be a significant discovery, as the product can be used to improve one's privacy on the web, while reducing spam. The service, Google Alerts, allows users to choose specific search queries that they'd like to monitor. When new results appear in one of these queries, the user can be automatically notified by e-mail. Here are some suggested uses, according to Google: monitoring a developing news story keeping current on a competitor or industry getting the latest on a celebrity or event keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams All very interesting, sure - but what does it have to do with privacy,…
Personal Stories
August 1, 2011

Google AdSense: Banned for Life?

Back when I was a 19 year-old college student and still living with my parents, I was really enthusiastic about video games. So much, in fact, that I felt the need to create a clan, website and all. At the time, we went by the name "Infamous Butchers", also known as Team IB. Yeah, I was pretty serious about it... it all seems somewhat silly today. After a while, I decided I would put advertisements on the website, in an effort to support the team. Naturally, I looked to the most recommended service, AdSense, as offered by Google. I signed up, and despite how small the site was, I received a confirmation e-mail a couple days later. Shortly thereafter, I had the advertisements working as expected, and for…
July 11, 2011

Visual Feedback in Google+

I've been using Google+ for about two days now, and I have to say - I'm impressed. While they certainly still need to iron out a few things, I'm happy to see they've put some serious thought into polishing the social experience. While testing out some of their features, I noticed a "Feedback" button that appeared on the bottom right of all their pages. When I clicked it, I expected to see a fairly standard feedback form, where I could describe the problem, and then submit. Boy, was I wrong.   Sure, the feedback form was there - but they also added the ability to highlight or black out elements of the page. With the highlighting controls, you can easily point out the area you're…
Tips & Tricks
January 6, 2011

Google’s Cache Feature Improved By User Script

When looking at search results in Google, you may have noticed a link titled "Cached" that appears alongside most results. Here's how Google explains the feature: Google takes a snapshot of each page examined as it crawls the web and caches these as a back-up in case the original page is unavailable. If you click on the "Cached" link, you will see the web page as it looked when we indexed it. The cached content is the content Google uses to judge whether this page is a relevant match for your query. Whenever I encounter a search result that isn't loading when clicked, I try using the "Cached" link. As Google warns, it isn't necessarily up to date, but it usually reveals what I need: the…