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Ask.com Launches BigNews Multimedia Site

February 8th, 2008

ask-big-news.jpgA review of the latest search engine marketing news today revealed that Ask.com has unveiled a new site that functions as a news gathering hub, combining traditional news outlets with newer “Web 2.0″ sources such as blogs and social media. The site, actually a subdomain of Ask.com, is called BigNews and uses a rating system known as BigFactor to determine which news stories are shown on the front page and considered most important during the particular snapshot of time when you are visiting.

The “BigFactor” is actually a composite rating calculated according to four components:

  1. Breaking: This measures the “freshness” of a news story. Presumably newer stories are given more weight than older ones.
  2. Impact: This is an indicator of how often the story appears in other articles and in various multimedia, measuring its overall impact on the Web.
  3. Media: This is based on the number of images and videos that are associated with the story.
  4. Discussion: This factor measures the number of mentions in forums, bulletin boards, comment sections, and other discussion-oriented venues.

The BigFactor rating is a numerical range from 1 to 100, and is continually updated as new stories are found and Ask.com recalculates its algorithms. If you mouse over the BigFactor number beside each headline, you can view a bar graph chart that shows the relative importance of each of the four components in that story’s overall rating.

In addition to the rating, each headline block also includes links to a separate page that displays relevant articles, blogs, images, and videos along with the headline and snippet of the story itself. There is also a “Day History” link to the same type of page, but with a little bar graph above the list of images that allows you to track the story’s BigFactor rating for previous days, assuming the story is more than one day old.

Both the front page and single story pages include a section at the bottom where relevant articles that have been submitted to Digg are listed. At the bottom of the front page, this section is subdivided into two columns; the left column displays the top five news items with the most diggs, while the right column shows news stories that have been submitted very recently and thus have zero diggs.

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Chinese New Year Begins Today

February 7th, 2008

chinese-new-year.jpgToday marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year due to its derivation from the cycles of the moon. It is an important day of celebration for many people in the eastern countries of Asia and for many Chinese migrant communities living outside of China. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2008 is the year of the Rat, the first in a series of 12 cyclical animal-named years. It also correlates to the year 4706 according to the ancient Chinese calendar.

In most regions that celebrate it, the first three days of the New Year are considered public holidays. In fact, I have noticed that many calendars found in Chinese restaurants here in America have these three dates colored in red, as opposed to black for the other days. In China, the holiday is officially known as the Spring Festival, and is a period of various traditional festivities that continues for 15 days, culminating in the Lantern Festival on the final day.

Because the Chinese New Year signifies the beginning of the spring season, many of the traditional customs revolve around an “out with the old, in with the new” theme. In the days before the new year actually begins, many families will perform a thorough house cleaning, as this is supposed to sweep away the bad luck from the previous year. It is also a time for payment of outstanding debts and the forgiving of old grudges so that everyone can start with a clean slate and hopefully have plenty of good luck and prosperity in the new year.

Many families hold reunions during this period, often celebrating the occasion with relatively elaborate, multi-course meals in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of American Thanksgiving Day feasts. One custom that is unique to this particular holiday is the giving of little red packets called “Hong Bao”. These are small envelopes that contain various amounts of money ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred and have Chinese characters printed on the outside of them. They are typically given to younger family members by older ones and to unmarried people by those who are married.

Fireworks are also a significant part of the festivities, traditionally used along with the color red as a way of repelling the legendary monster Nian. Hundreds of small firecrackers wrapped in red paper are strung together and ignited with long fuses, making lots of loud popping noises to scare away evil spirits and perhaps a few unsuspecting bystanders as well. Unfortunately, in recent years sporadic accidents associated with the handling of fireworks has prompted governments in several regions to ban private ownership of them, although they can still be used in most rural areas and even in some cities where the rules are sparsely enforced, such as in this video of this year’s fireworks celebrations in Shanghai:

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AdBux Program Returns, Moves Toward Recession

February 5th, 2008

The popular pay per click program AdBux released its February newsletter yesterday, signaling a commitment to longevity and new features while also showing signs of economic recession for the next few months.

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At the end of last month, many members became concerned about the future of the program when the site was inaccessible for a few days after the owners decided to switch servers and hosting companies. The site itself has made a full recovery, but there are still significant problems on the financial side.

Around the same time as AdBux was making the server move, PayPal began limiting its accounts along with those of many similar PPC programs due to multiple chargebacks and problems with too many fraudulent transactions. Although the program has now implemented AlertPay for processing payouts and Google Checkout for handling incoming advertising purchases, many members who were expecting PayPal payments are left in temporary limbo until they can get set up with AlertPay.

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Non-Surprise of the Day: Google Sees Microsoft Bid for Yahoo as “Troubling”

February 4th, 2008

google-yahoo-microsoft.jpgUnless you have been living under a virtual rock (or is the proper term “asteroid” since we’re posting in cyberspace) for the past week, you probably know by now that Microsoft has made a $44.6 billon bid to buy out Yahoo and merge the two companies. This article at CNET News.com has a pretty good recap of the relevant events if you need to catch up on the latest news.

Meanwhile, on the official Google blog yesterday, Google’s senior vice president David Drummond was less than thrilled about the merger proposal and expressed concern that another Microsoft acquisition could cause problems for people who want a more innovative, open market style Internet:

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies — and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

This is not surprising because it is clear from Microsoft’s letters and statements that it seeks to compete more seriously with Google in the search engine market by essentially swallowing up Yahoo and combining the two companies’ market share. The combined company would have more resources to scale up its computing power and provide both search results and advertising markets that are more comparable to Google’s current services.

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AdBux Releases Brief January Newsletter

January 8th, 2008

The original AdBux program released its newsletter for January today. It is fairly short content-wise, but it does contain some interesting tidbits about upcoming features. They are looking at adding a cash rebate shopping program to include in the already successful AdBux offers section that I reported on back in October. Also in the pipeline is support for AlertPay and MoneyBookers payment options; the program currently does payouts via PayPal.

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Meanwhile, I can now confirm that the offers are crediting properly and being added to our earnings balances. I have had four such offers that have gone through the 32-day waiting period and have been successfully credited. I have also had two recent offers completed by referrals, which has added another 38 cents to my pending balance.

There never seems to be any shortage of available offers either. When I logged in this morning, there were 232 of them waiting. Not all of them were really feasible for me to do because they required credit cards or some type of hassle that would mean having to cancel memberships in order to avoid recurring billing, but there were still plenty of completely free offers there that were relatively quick and easy.


January 2008

Updates & Announcements

December was one of our biggest months, the payout is at over $40,000 with over 60,000 new registrations. The Cashback Shopping program is almost complete, we’re anticipating it will be ready by the end of this month. The AdBux team is diligently working on new methods of getting payouts on time for this year and we hope to introduce AlertPay and MoneyBookers soon. A lot of you have also asked about the status of the support ticket system and it’s slowly but surely coming. 2008 will be a great year for AdBux! Help us become the #1 “get-paid-to” site online!

December Jackpot Winners Announced

- First place goes to cootas who won 25% of the jackpot @ $199.00!
- Second place goes to pally
- Third place goes to maquessime

To find out the full list of prizes that each winner received, check out the jackpot page.

Incentrum, LLC
665 East Main Street
Lake Butler, Florida 32054



Australia Enacts Partial Censorship of the Internet

January 2nd, 2008

internet-censorship.jpg While searching through some Internet news articles, I noticed this article from Mashable.com reporting on a disturbing move by the Australian parliament that forces Internet service providers to block pornographic sites or any other material that the government deems “inappropriate”. Fortunately for freedom lovers, individual users will be able to opt out of the government censorship and still receive unrestricted access upon request.

Although no amount of State censorship could be considered a good thing as far as I am concerned, others have pointed out that this latest insult to our liberty is still not as onerous as restrictions imposed by other countries such as China, where the censorship is so widespread that it often suppresses opposing political views. However, it still gives the government unnecessary power to determine exactly what constitutes “appropriate content” and what doesn’t, while the possibility of governments tracking opt out requests could raise privacy concerns. It also sets a bad precedent that other governments may be encouraged to follow, especially since Australia is considered by many to be relatively free and democratic.

The bottom line is this: no government should be trying to block access to the Internet, period. Things like filtering pornography from children are simply not in the government’s purview, as these issues rightfully belong in the realms of parental choice and individual responsibility. Although the apparently sheepish Australians seem oblivious, it is actually the responsibility of the people in a so-called democratic society to determine what is “appropriate content” for the government, not the other way around.


Related article: Pornography, Free Speech, and the Internet


The Owl Post Payment Report

December 15th, 2007

Although I wound up writing a “book” of an email to request it, I finally received my first payout from the Owl Post PTR program yesterday. It was not for my entire balance, but I did manage to get most of it:

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In case you’re curious, here is the relevant excerpt from my email where I requested payment. The first (unquoted) part was some discussion about advertising and clicking through on the site support links.

Now that you seem to be caught up on November payouts, I would like to put in a payment request for December. Amazingly, I’ve never requested payment at this program since I first joined back in 2004, so this will be my first time. Part of the reason for this is that I have had problems with trying to request payment from the Owl Post site. Whenever I click on the link from there, it launches some sort of Outlook Express application that I can never get to work. I never use Outlook Express and cannot seem to configure it for sending mail, so I have never been able to get a request to go through from the site. It might be a good idea to set up a regular contact form for the payment requests so that we don’t have to worry about issues with different email clients.

Alternatively, you could just do a rotating random payout system where members who reach a certain minimum threshold are paid out for whatever is in their cash balance as long as funds are available. If there are not enough funds available to pay out all members, then those members who have waited the longest (as determined by the date of their last payout or the date that they joined the program for those who have never received a payment) are paid first, and everyone else is eventually paid according to date order.

This would save members the hassle of having to make actual payment requests and would give you a system that would insure an element of fairness even when funds are limited. Members who do not want to be paid their cash balances because they want to redeem for advertising in the future can indicate this in their interest section or profile (many programs allow members to do this by checking or unchecking a box).

Well, this email is starting to get longer than I had originally planned on, so I guess I had better wrap it up. Hopefully your recent progress with revenues and payouts will stimulate more interest in the program and lead to an overall increase in the active membership. Now that I’m running an active blog and getting more seriously into Internet marketing, I need all of the advertising potential that I can possibly muster!

Later that day Michele Ballard replied (again, this is only the relevant excerpt):

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TIB Announces New Reverse Auction Site

December 13th, 2007

tib.gif Online business network Take the Internet Back, a division of WLPP, has announced the launch of its latest website venture, Bidsnarf.com. It is being billed as a “reverse auction” site, but after studying the program’s rules and FAQ, I have determined that it is effectively more of a raffle ticket and sweepstakes system. The way that the auction works is that the lowest unique bidder on each item wins. In other words, if two people both bid 1 cent on an item, neither would win because the bid is not unique; however, if only one person bids 3 cents on the same item, then that person would win.

The catch here (yes there has to be a catch, considering the value of some of the prizes!) is that in order for people to place bids, they have to register at the site and purchase “bid credits” for $10 each. Each bid credit entitles the member to place one bid. Therefore, in effect bidding on an item is much like buying a raffle ticket for $10 plus a small amount for whatever your guess is for the lowest unique bid price. There are also odds of winning listed for the prizes, which makes it seem more like a sweepstakes or drawing type of system than a regular auction.

Membership in the TIB program is free. Members are awarded profit shares for reading email advertisements and receive cash earnings based on the number of shares owned approximately once per month. Earnings are derived from the sale of advertising at TIB and other businesses that are part of its network. Here is the full update about their latest project:

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Myster-E-Mail Confirmed as Paying Program

December 4th, 2007

Today I received a rather unexpected commissions payment from a PTR program that I joined two days ago, Myster-E-Mail. Although the payment is only 14 cents (PayPal) because I haven’t had a chance to do much clicking here yet, it is always a good sign to see a program owner that is able to pay out so quickly and keep member accounts current:

Sue Roley just sent you money with PayPal.

Sue Roley is a Verified buyer.

Payment Details
Amount: $0.14 USD
Transaction ID: XXXXXXXXX
Subject: commission payment
Note: myster-e-mail

Myster-E-Mail

According to the site, the program has about 3,300 current members, which represents a significant potential advertising base. There are some country restrictions on joining; allowed countries include USA, Canada, and most of the European “search friendly” countries with the exception of Italy. For some unknown reason, members from Italy were banned from the program about three months ago. My guess is that there was some kind of cheating ring that was found to originate from this country, but I will probably need to contact the program owner to find out the exact reason.

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Google Set to Invest in Alternative Energy Solutions

November 28th, 2007

alternative-energy-solution.jpgIn a press conference yesterday, Google executives announced plans for their company to make its most significant investment to date in alternative energy solutions such as solar, wind, and geothermal power.

They have put together a project called “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal”, with the goal of eventually producing electricity from sources such as solar and wind power at a rate that is cheaper than traditional coal-burning plants. If successful, Google’s initiative hopes to reduce the cost of solar power by 25 to 50 percent. More specifically, their overall goal is to produce one gigawatt (one billion watts) of electricity from alternative energy sources over the next few years, which would be enough power to supply a city approximately the size of San Francisco, California.

Google’s recent foray into the alternative energy field is being motivated by a combination of philanthropic desire and the search engine giant’s need to power its ever-growing array of computing centers. By moving from a consumer to a net producer of energy, Google could also realize substantial profits by selling surplus power to other entities or by selling licenses to use any new technologies that are developed as a result of their investment.

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AdBux Delivers First Weekly Newsletter

November 14th, 2007

The ever-popular advertising program AdBux sent out its first weekly newsletter today, hoping to generate more readership and interest in the site and its new features. Last month I reported on their new AdBux offers section that promises to substantially increase the earnings potential of the program. I can now confirm that they are approving offers; I have had two of them confirmed so far. Now I just need to increase my activity here and this should allow me to receive payment soon. Meanwhile, you can read the content of the newsletter below:


Our First Weekly!
This is our first “AdBux Weekly” update. With nearly 600,000 members and only 20,000 monthly newsletter subscribers, we felt it was necessary to let every member know what is happening with AdBux on a weekly basis as part of their membership agreement. Lots of you joined AdBux to see what the hype was about, viewed a few ads and then left. We want to change this. The earning potential with AdBux is amazing! We recently introduced the AdBux offer program which allows you to earn money by completing free registrations, free trial memberships, filling out surveys, etc. This has greatly increased the earnings of many users! Before the offers, the average payout was $10-$20 with a top payout of a few hundred dollars. Now, we expect the average payout to be around $30-$50 with a top payout of $600-$700.

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