Articles in general

  1. Google AdSense Ready for HTTPS? My Experience Says No

    Is Google AdSense supporting HTTPS? Google says YES -- since September 2013 you can use both synchronous and asynchronous Javascript code on your HTTPS website to embed AdSense ads. However is AdSense really ready for HTTPS? Not really.

    AdSense's support page suggests the same. While HTTPS is most certainly supported, Google does not recommend it for their publishers due to potential lower earnings.

    We don’t recommend that publishers with HTTP sites convert their sites to HTTPS unless they have a strong reason to do so.

    If you do decide to convert your HTTP site to HTTPS, please be aware that because we remove non-SSL compliant ads from the auction, thereby reducing auction pressure, ads on your HTTPS pages might earn less than those on your HTTP pages.

    "Strong reason" can be a subjective term here, and I believe HTTPS is more than just for protecting the packets transmitted between browsers and web-servers, but also validating the web server against MiTM attacks. In this case if you are a publisher using AdSense to monetise your website, you will need to weight out the pro's and con's before doing the "switch" to HTTPS-only. So, how much less is "might earn less" here? My current experience says "a significant pay cut".

    I have been an AdSense user since 2005, and when OzBargain was launched in late-2006, AdSense was the first (and the only) contextual and display advertising network used. Over the years it provided the bulk of revenue to keep the website going. Last December we moved to HTTPS-only as I thought it would be best for our community, but the switch wasn't all smooth-sailing.

    Performance issue? Not a big deal with today's multi-core Xeons. Slow down? You can hardly notice. Our Alexa ranking dropped significantly since last December (despite having more traffic than last year), but who still cares about Alexa anyway? The biggest problem we had was actually the reduced revenue from AdSense. Comparing March this year verses March 2013, here are the relative stats from AdSense:

    • Page Views: +13%
    • Earnings: -29%
    • Clicks: -13%
    • Page CTR: -22%
    • CPC: -18%
    • Page RPM: -37%

    So despite having more page views, the earnings dropped by almost 30%. Lower Click-Through-Rate translates lower number of clicks. Compounding with lower Cost-Per-Click, I am getting a very sad RPM drop. Lower CPC can be explained by lower auction pressure. Less advertisers also result the same boring ads showing up all the time, resulting lower CTR.

    Going deeper into the stats gives you a clearer idea of what's going on.

    • CPM bids dropped by 97%. It was 25% of the revenue before and now almost nothing.
    • Non-AdWords bids dropped by almost 100%. Basically other than AdWords, almost no one on the supply side of advertising network meets the HTTPS requirement.
    • Rich media and Flash ads dropped by 81%. Again, most of them are served from networks that are not compatible with HTTPS.

    We used to have quite a few big retailers advertising on OzBargain last year (through AdSense), but you can hardly see any this year. It's probably not Google's fault though, and I am not sure what they are able to do here. It's the advertising networks, the media agencies, the advertisers -- the whole suite needs to move onto HTTPS, which might take a while unless there's a crisis or strong demand (just look at IPv6 migration).

  2. Skynet

    Without intelligent design, bootstraping Skynet would be something like this:

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    #!/bin/sh
    while [ 1 ]; do
      dd if=/dev/urandom of=skynet bs=1M count=1024
      chmod u+x skynet
      ./skynet
    done
    

    Run that infinite loop for a few million years and we ought to get a Terminator at the end, right?!

  3. Absolute URLs in Feeds in Pelican

    I am still tinkering with Pelican 2 weeks after migrating this blog from WordPress. There are a few things just aren't right but fortunately it is written in Python, has a basic plugin architecture and is easy to mock around to produce the result I am looking for. One issue I had was absolute URLs in the feeds. I much prefer to write with relative URLs if possible, and previously wrote URL Absolutifier WordPress Plugin to fix up links in the RSS / Atom feeds. Googling around I couldn't find anything similar for Pelican so I decided to roll my own.

    Here it is. A bit hack'ish with monkey patching the feedgenerator library, but hey, it works :)

    Installation steps:

    1. Download the plugin file urlabsolutifier.py

    2. Save it to your plugins directory.

    3. Add 'urlabsolutifier' to PLUGINS in your pelicanconf.py

    That's it! If you are not sure how to install plugins for Pelican here is the doco. All your relative anchor tags and image tags will now have absolute URL in the feeds.

  4. Omnipotent in the 10th Dimension

    Saw Rob Bryanton's Imagining the 10th Dimension on YouTube tonight, and the 10th dimension has been described as infinite possible beginning plus infinite possible ending of universe + time as a single point. That reminded me of someone, who is omnipotent in all these...
  5. Facebook Advertising - Effective?

    Thanks to Andrew from Niphal who posted these $250 worth free advertising coupons for Facebook on OzBargain, I went and got some free credits, spent 3 minutes in Gimp doing up a 110x80 logo, created a campaign on Facebook Ads Manager and sat back to see the flood of traffic …
  6. Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood on Learning C

    Stackoverflow Podcast #2, where Joel Spolsky argued that all developers should learn C starting at around 39min. His argument is, that it is like driving with a stick and know about the mechanics, coding in C (or easy-to-use assemble) helps you to understand what's going on under the bonnet, where …
  7. Alexa Updates Its Ranking System

    TechCrunch: Alexa overhauls ranking system where it now uses multiple sources rather than just their toolbar data. I actually noticed the change in Alexa ranking before I spotted the post at TC. Good move I think, at least Alexa is now in the position of competing with Compete and Quantcast …
  8. Securing Your Blog, or Else...

    Deep Jive Interests: TailRank Exposes Massive Number Of Blogs Hacked -- turns out all the latest spam sites are legitimate but hacked WordPress sites. I have also experienced a surge of trackback spams over the last couple of days, from hacked WordPress sites with their wp-content populated with static spammy content …
  9. Update - Permalink Redirect and ESVPopup

    Two small updates on my code snippet collections. Permalink Redirect 0.8.4 I have updated Permalink Redirect plugin to 0.8.4. The main functionality of this plugin has been replaced by WordPress' redirect_canonical() function since WP 2.3, but somehow some people are still using this plugin for …
  10. LinkedIn for Clergyman?

    C'mon. There got to be a website that's like LinkedIn for the clergyman. You know. You go up there. Tick on the box "Anglican", put "Moore College" under education, and put "MTS" and "student ministry" under experience, click on Search, and voila! Print out the list and off you go …
  11. auDA Giveth, auDA Taketh Away

    ZDNet: auDA took away a domain from Sydney-based web-business after dispute, with only 24 hours notice, and it wasn't even that poor guy's fault! His business lost the domain name because 12 months ago NetRegistry mistakenly registered the dropped domain for them, although the original owner has renewed it. That …
  12. Google Weirdness - Blank PageRank and Sitelinks

    A few Google weirdness discovered today. See Mum! No PageRank! I was shocked this morning when the SearchStatus Firefox plugin shows the Google PageRank of this blog as -- nothing! It was 5 last time I checked which wasn't that long ago. It wasn't even a zero -- the PageRank bar basically …
  13. Danny Sullivan on Microsoft Buying Yahoo

    DailySearchCast: Microsoft Wants to Buy Yahoo! Some of the best commentary from Danny Sullivan the Godfather of "search" on the whole Microsoft offering $45b to buy Yahoo event.
  14. Chinese New Year on Google

    If you google for Chinese New Year right now, you'll see the AdWords engineers trying to be creative. This does not occur with other search terms. Thanks for reminding me that it is indeed the Chinese New Year eve today!
  15. Upgraded to WordPress 2.3.3 'Coz of Security Issues, Again!

    Went to the Aussie Bloggers forums this morning and spotted this post on an urgent WordPress upgrade (yes, I usually troll in the forums early in the morning instead of reading RSS feeds). WordPress 2.3.3 has been released fixing a few minor bugs and a security issue. Yes …
  16. Java is Considered Bad for Computer Science

    Via Reddit, Who Killed the Software Engineer? "One of the most ill-considered steps that universities took was to adopt Java as the most widely used language in introductory programming courses..." Why are the universities replacing Miranda/Haskell/Modula-2 with Java/C#? Because that's what the IT industry uses, but not …
  17. Don't Panic!

    SMH: Worst day in Australian stock market in more than 18 years, where All Ordinaries fell 408.9 points, or 7.26 percent. Tomorrow is probably going to be ask bad, if not worse, after US starts trading this week. It was RED on the trading screen throughout the day …
  18. NEeew Toy

    Bought a new toy today off eBay. Yes, the ASUS Eee PC 701 with 4GB SSD and 512MB RAM, for a bit over 400 bucks second hand. First impressions: Small. Not tiny, but very small. The above picture shows its size comparing to my Dell Latitude D630. Booting up and …
  19. Steve Jobs' 90 Minutes Keynote in 60 Seconds

    Via Jason Calacanis, thanks to Mahalo Daily for compressing Steve Jobs' 2008 MacWorld Keynote into 60 seconds, I have just saved 89 minutes of my life! Yes, it is better and better.
  20. The Ultimate Portable Notebook - Air or Eee?

    All right. I guess everyone has seen the new MacBook Air when Mr. Stevie pulled it out from the brown paper bag. Wow, it is thin! According to the Apple website, MacBook Air is ultrathin, ultraportable, and ultra unlike anything else. But you don't lose inches and pounds overnight. It's …