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Archives for: September 2008

MIME talk

September 28th, 2008  · stk

Article updated with new information from the W3C - July 2009

I've advocated for XHTML and CSS, thinking it was the future of the web. I'm no longer convinced of this. We've decided to go back to well-formed tag soup XHTML after realizing the price for serving the "application/xhtml+xml" MIME type wasn't worth the cost. Find out why

mimeBack to XHTML v1.0 Strict and text/html
In other words: "Well-formed Tag Soup"

Since late 2005, we've been serving our pages as XHTML v1.1, using the application/xhtml+xml MIME type for those browsers - notably FireFox, Opera & Safari - that understand it. (To do this, we used server-side scripting to set the MIME type in the header. For more about the technique, read this 2005 article - "Are You Serving XHTML with the Wrong MIME Type?")

XHTML v1.1 has only negligible coding changes from XHTML v1.0 strict. However, unlike XHTML v1.0, its supposed to be served as an XML document (hence the MIME type). So what? Well, serving XML-based web documents (XHTML v1.1 as application/xhtml+xml) comes at a huge price and we're tired of paying it (and our readers are too - *cough* most notably ¥åßßå).

Originally, we viewed XHTML v1.0 as predecessor of HTML, since it was standard-based and eliminated the problems of proprietary tags and sloppy coding. We blindly migrated to XHTML v1.1, thinking we were further future-proofing our pages. HA!

The future direction of the web (XHTML and HTML) is muddled. Consider: HTML isn't being phased out; developers of browsers such as FireFox, Opera and Safari are lobbying for (and developing) HTML 5; the W3C has renewed the HTML working group; and the Chief Technical Officer of Opera says, "I don't think XHTML is a realistic option for the masses. HTML 5 is it." [sources]

To find out what price our readers will no longer have to pay, and more about XHTML v2.0 and HTML 5 ... read on

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Updated: 27-Jul-2009
Web View Count: 24735 viewsLast Web Update: 27-Jul-2009

Friday Buzz

September 26th, 2008  · stk

If you're sick of Obama, McCain (politics in general) and the gloomy economy, college football is an excellent diversion! Demonstrating why college football is so fun, last night unranked Oregon State toppled the number one seeded USC in a stunning upset. Find out more and what it means for Penn State and see a preview or their game against Illinois, which will be shown regionally on ABC, Saturday night.

College Football: Oregon State Stuns #1 USC

I just happened to turn on the television last night and noticed there was a Thursday night college football game on (this must be a new thing, aren't college games played on Friday night or Saturday?). Oregon State and USC were playing, but what caught my attention, was the score. It was late in the 2nd quarter and Oregon State was ahead: 14 to nothing!

Hey, wait a minute.

Isn't USC the number one team in the nation? Isn't Oregon state 1-2 on the season? Didn't Penn State play Oregon State in their first-ever meeting, in week 2, running them all over the field, whipping them with a 45-14 win?

Gee, it be sweet if Oregon State could beat USC! It'd be like a double scoop of my favorite ice cream ... USC loses a game and its #1 status (I've never been a fan of that private school) and the team that Penn State played, is the one to do it! Kinda makes Penn State's football light shine that much brighter! :D

So I grabbed a beer, sat down and convinced my five year old daughter that we were rooting for the guys in the dark-colored jerseys (it was either that or I'd be stuck watching cartoons, while this important upset might happen!)

Fortunately for me, Alex rooted right along side Dad (for a while), then became pre-occupied with toys, until her bedtime. I got to watch college football history in the making!

For more Friday football buzz (and a Penn State -vs- Illinois Game Preview) ... carry on ...

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Updated: 28-Sep-2008
Web View Count: 18732 viewsLast Web Update: 28-Sep-2008
Filed in:Site News
Web Dev

Cashing in on Clicks

September 24th, 2008  · stk

We've been running Google AdSense Adverts (shown only to search engine visitors) for nearly a year and a half. Revenue has increased, over time. We figured we'd take another stab at increasing our stake, so we revamped our adverts, their placement, how they show and focused Google ad bots onto more relevant text. Learn more about our Google AdSense Advertising Empire! (lol)

Randsco Revamps Google Advertising

Back in February, we talked a bit about the history of Randsco and how it's become a calling card for web development work. We also talked about monetizing the blog and on our philosophy about Google Ads. The revenue from these context-related advertisements has been modest, but it has grown, as Randsco readership has increased.

Google Ads were added in June 2007 as "a test". We've been pleased with the results from these - relatively unobtrusive - ads and as a consequence, thought it time to revisit our Google Ad strategy. We're hoping to catch more paid clicks.

New Google Ad Strategy in a Nutshell

We've increased the number of Google Ad blocks to four three & a video Google Adsense Rules google adsense logo LOL ... four turned out to be a violation of the AdSense "Terms of Service" agreement (you can have, at most, 3 ad blocks on a single HTML page). So ... we've replaced the 4th ad block (bottom of the page, 728x90 banner), with a YouTube video block. (Might be entertaining ... or not.) Click the link (or in this box if it comes up over the link) to see the Google AdSense Rules , instead of one ad block. As before, we're only showing them to visitors who land on Randsco from a search engine (Google, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) We don't want to shove advertising at "loyal" readers - anyone landing here by typing "" into a browser address bar, bookmarking us as a "favorite", or linking in from a non-search-engine link. Originally, we only showed Google Ads to search engine visitors on their landing page, but we've now expanded that to every page they click through to see. We've also pointed the Google Ad bot to only look at the body text of each article (and comment text), which - in theory - will yield more relevant ads.

To learn about Ad revenue growth, Google Ad tactics and the specifics of the Randsco Google Ad policy changes ... read on ...

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Updated: 28-Aug-2009
Web View Count: 18088 viewsLast Web Update: 28-Aug-2009

Hack Attack

September 12th, 2008  · stk

Randsco Hacked - Hackers gained FTP access and uploaded two .htaccess files, both attempted to redirect search engine visitors to another website. One failed, the other was successful. Read the postmortem on how approximately 15,000 Randsco visitors were hijacked over 5 full days, last month.

Hackers Hijack Search Engine Visitors for Five Days

This wasn't the first time our web server has been hacked. Last year, while we were hiking the West Coast Trail, Randsco was hacked, along with everyone else on our (then) shared server.

What is it about hackers? They seem to know when you're away on vacation and nowhere near a computer! Grrr.

Fast forward a year and we're now on a VPS host. This time, (as far as I know), it was only Randsco that was hacked.

For five full days in August - and a couple of partial days - all visitors clicking through to Randsco from a search engine, weren't connected to Randsco. Instead, they were automatically redirected to a spammy website that was selling "anti-virus software". The site loaded a "virus scanner" and a JavaScript alert window, which popped up in the middle of the screen. Closing these pop-ups was also difficult, as they spawned further pop-ups.

Visitors typing in a Randsco address into their address bar, weren't affected. The hackers were targeting major search engine visitors only (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.)

I don't know if that website was legitimately selling marginalized software or if it was a ploy to get unwary visitors to download something malicious. One is definitely worse than the other, but for me, a moot point. The fact that hackers were successfully able to redirect search engine visitors, was an egregious violation of our privacy and goal of providing helpful, relevant content and a positive visitor experience.

To learn more about how hackers gained access and what they did (a postmortem, if you will) ... carry on.

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Updated: 13-Sep-2008
Web View Count: 18298 viewsLast Web Update: 13-Sep-2008
Filed in:Alexandra

Starting Kindergarten

September 10th, 2008  · stk

Today is Alex's first full day of kindergarten, although a week ago, Alex had her first meeting with her kindergarten teacher. It was an hour-long "meet-and-greet", involving a few kindergarten kids and their parents. We all got a tour of the kindergarten room and Alex got to meet a few of her classmates. Oh boy! Alex starts SCHOOL!

These are Exciting Times for Alex!

Today is Alex's first full day of kindergarten. One week ago, we took Alex in for her (official) first day of kindergarten, which amounted to an hour-long meet-and-greet between a few kids, their parents and the kindergarten teacher. Then, starting on Monday of this week, Alex began attending kindergarten, but it was only for one-half the time (one hour, instead of two and a half) and with only half of the class.

The new way appears to "ease in the kids into kindergarten". I guess some kids have a difficult time being away from home, in many cases, for the first time.

Not Alex. She is hugely excited about kindergarten and loves going. When I picked her up yesterday afternoon, she explained that there were, "So many kids there, dad!" (Alex loves people, so will have no problem adjusting to school.)

She even has "homework" to do, every day (including weekends)!

For more about Alex's kindergarten class, her very first day, the teacher and even a slide show about "A Day at Kindergarten" ... use your "inside mouse" and click "Read Full Story"

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Updated: 21-Aug-2012
Web View Count: 169514 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Aug-2012

Alex at Watch Lake

September 5th, 2008  · stk

Alex stayed with maternal grandparents, during our recent canoeing adventure on the Bowron Lakes. They took her camping to Watch Lake, in the southern Cariboo Mountains of central British Columbia (not too far from where we were). Alex went on her first horseback ride! See the nice photo scrapbook that her grandmother made for her (viewed in the new AstonishMe! Photo Gallery)

Grandparents Take Alex Camping

Mom and Dad couldn't have gone on their 6-day canoeing adventure on the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit if maternal grandparents hadn't been willing to look after Alex, during this time. Alex had fun in Vancouver, but it was the camping trip to Watch Lake, near 100-mile House, that Alex really enjoyed.

"Gran" and Grandpa took Alex in their Volkswagen Westfalia camping van to a recreation area in central British Columbia, just a few hours south of where Mom and Dad were canoeing on the Bowron Lakes. The area is in the Southern Cariboo Mountains and is renown for fishing, wildlife and contains a plethora of small lakes. Apparently, they've been visiting Watch Lake and staying at the Watch Lake Lodge cabins and/or campground, for years. It's the kind of place that fosters a long-term relationship with customers, reminding me of some of the summer resorts in Pennsylvania and Upstate New York.

Alex enjoyed swimming, horseback riding, campfires, playing with other kids, playing games, feeding the ducks, walking the dog, eating roasted marshmallows and a BUNCH of other things!

Her "Gran" took lots of pictures and made Alex a scrapbook of her time at Watch Lake. It was very well done and Alex decided she wanted to share it. (It doesn't hurt that my AstonishMe! mate, ¥åßßå, has nearly finished the alpha-release of a very spiffy bit of jQuery-based photo gallery code!)

To see Alex's scrapbook at Watch Lake (and a cool online photo gallery) ... sally forth!

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Updated: 21-Aug-2012
Web View Count: 67774 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Aug-2012