Windows 7 rescues Guild Wars 2

I have recently been playing Guild Wars 2 and really enjoying the game.  Tonight I’ve been updating my security system and cleaning up my computer.  In the process I cleaned up my desktop which tends to get cluttered at times.

Guild Wars 2

Finally, after a night of updating my computer and cleaning it up a bit I decided to play Guild Wars 2.   I double click the Guild Wars 2 icon on my desktop, only to get the following dreaded error:

Unable to located Guild Wars 2
Unable to locate Guild Wars 2 executable

My heart sunk.  This stinking game took over 10 hours to download the first time and I didn’t want to have to do it again.  I purchased the digital download version of the game that apparently unbeknownst to me automatically installs itself to a folder onto your desktop.  This folder, which I assumed was leftover junk from the install, was recently put into my recycle bin and emptied!

Frantically, I fired up an old friend of mine named UndeletePlus and did a scan for recently deleted files on my harddrive.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would fine my guildwars2 folder.  However, it failed and was unable to locate any Guild Wars 2 information.

Now I’m seriously crushed.  But in the back of my mind I was hoping that Windows would have a solution for this.  Ah-ha! I remembered enabling the “previous versions” setting in my Windows 7 install.

Windows 7 Previous Versions

I simply navigated to my desktop folder via windows explorer.  After locating my desktop folder (C:\Users\David\Desktop), I simply right clicked and went to properties.

Windows Explorer Right Click Menu

Once inside the properties window, I located the previous versions tab.  This tab lists old versions of your folders that Windows 7 saves at restore points and other important times.  Luckily, I was able to browse a version of my desktop folder that was saved at 5:15PM today!

Windows 7 Previous Versions
Windows 7 Previous Versions

Windows 7 Recovery

Inside the desktop folder saved from 5:15PM today, I was able to locate the Guild Wars 2 directory and copy it to my root C:\ drive where it should’ve been installed in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 Folder
Guild Wars 2 Folder

Oddly enough, I deleted this folder initially because I thought it was leftover junk from the Guild Wars 2 install.  Apparently, however, the Guild Wars 2 install only consists of a few files:

  • Gw2.exe (21 megabytes)
  • Gw2.dat (~14 gigabytes)
  • Gw2.tmp (very small)

The moral of the story: Windows 7 saved the day.  I’m by no means a windows fan boy, but the previous versions feature is extremely nice.

Android IP Security Camera

IP Camera LogoIn a previous post, I outlined how I used open source software and an older HTPC to serve as a web 2.0 cloud security camera hub.  My wife and I have loved this setup so much that we’ve added another non-traditional ip camera to our security setup.

A friend at work has been talking this week about how he is trying to re-purpose his old android phones into useful gadgets and it got me thinking.  I have a Sprint Epic 4g that is not being used due to the fact I’m not a Verizon customer.  This Epic 4g is a powerful small phone that has potential that is wasted just sitting in my junk drawer.

Today I charged the Epic 4g and connected it to my wi-fi network.  Browsing the Google Play store, I stumbled across an app that utilizes an android phone to create a IP web camera.  So I immediately downloaded the app and started setting the app up.  The IP web camera app is appropriately titled “Android IP Webcam”.  The webcam essentially turns your phone into an ip webcam that is accessible via a browser, skype, iSpy, and a multitude of other media streaming players.

Webcam web access served from Epic 4g

In my case, I utilized iSpy to connect to the camera and set the Epic 4g in an inconspicuous place in my home.  When properly set up, iSpy will detection motion from the IP camera and record the motion into a playable video file [more about this can be found in my previous post].

In less than an hour, I have an extra IP Security camera at no cost to me.  The Epic 4g is small, hardly noticeable, and has an amazing camera.

IP security camera system

This last weekend was labor day and unlike most Americans I didn’t spend it drinking and partying.  I spent it preparing an ip security camera system for my home.  If you read my blog, you recently became aware that I have built a cheap windows HTPC.  Since I now have a server-type computer that is powered on 24/7 I wanted to put it to use.

IP Security Camera Setup

I had a few wireless IP security cameras sitting around and decided to upgrade the firmware and install them.  The cameras are very similar to the Cisco-Linksys Wireless-N Internet Home Monitoring Camera’s that are available via amazon and work perfectly.  As a standalone camera, they’re pretty nice and can email you motion detection updates and have various other features.

Standalone, they’re pretty nice, but I wanted great.  So I searched the internet for a camera monitoring software to install on the HTPC that would save the motion detected video clips.

Wireless IP security camera software

I came across iSpy, an open source ip camera monitoring software solution that was perfect for my needs.  The free version of iSpy provides the ability to detection motion and record the clips where motion is detected.  If you upgrade to the paid service, you can send SMS alerts and even upload detected video to youtube.

I wanted a solution that would put my motion detected video clips into the cloud, and iSpy provided the recording aspect of the solution.

motion detection in the clouds

In the iSpy settings, there is an option that lets you choose the folder that you wish to be utilized to save motion detection clips.  Here’s where web 2.0 savy-ness comes in to play. I chose the public folder of my dropbox account for the security motion detection clips to be saved.

This allows all motion detection video to be uploaded to the cloud instantly.  If a home intrusion begins, the theif may turn off my power or unplug my computers to steal them.  By the time this is done, my motion detection clips would already be stored in the cloud thanks to dropbox.

Now I can view my clips via the anrdoid dropbox app and know that all motion detection is uploaded immediately.  Talk about peace of mind for a super cheap price!

Take it a step further with IFTTT

IFTTT is a web 2.0 service called “If this then that”.  Basically it’s a simple programming if statement that utilized web 2.0 services.

Currently my setup looks like this:

  1. Motion detected
  2. Video file recorded to public drop box folder
  3. Video file uploaded to cloud storage

I wanted to take it a step further and receive email updates with the video files attached.  Gmail offers a ton of storage for free and the ability to send and receive email from mobile devices easily.

I set up an IFTTT recipe that simply checks for new files added to my public dropbox/security camera/ folder and then attaches those files and emails them to my gmail account!  This adds a second layer of video backup and instant notifications to me when motion is detected on any of my ip cameras.  I have shared the IFTTT recipe with the world and can be viewed by clicking here.

Summary

My final setup looks like this and is all ran from a low end HTPC that I built on the cheap.

  1. iSpy running in taskbar on HTPC
  2. iSpy detects motion on one of my wireless IP Cameras and records the video clip
  3. The video clip is stored onto my harddrive in my dropbox public/Security Camera folder.
  4. IFTTT web 2.0 service detects a new file in my dropbox folder.
  5. IFTTT attaches new file to an email and sends it to my personal gmail account.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and feel free to let me know how you have your home security systems set up.

UPDATE: I have added a free Android IP Security webcam to my security system and made a blog post about the process of setting it up.

Dropbox two step authentication

Dropbox has finally enabled it’s two step authentication for it’s users.  This is an important thing to do for everyone here!  If a hacker gets your password he could read all of your files unless you have this two step authentication enabled.

The way it works is a simple process that a hacker would have one hell of a hard time to overcome.  Basically anytime you log into the web version of dropbox or want to add a new computer to your set up a secure code is sent to your mobile phone that you will be required to enter.

This is brilliant! Even if my best friend had my password, he wouldn’t be able to add a dropbox account of mine to any of his machines without also having stolen my cell phone. I suggest everyone head over to dropbox and turn this on immediately!

Above shows how to enable two step authentication

If you haven’t signed up for DropBox yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It’s free cloud storage and a TON of it!  It’s by far the best cloud storage in my opinion.  Click here to sign up now.  Dropbox is available for Windows, Mac, linux, android, iOS and even Blackberry.

WordPress twenty eleven featured scroll

Twenty eleven doesn’t scroll!

I’m a huge fan of wordpress and use it for most of my websites.  The software is dead on and so configurable that it can literally do anything that I need it to.  I’m a wordpress geek and I’m proud of it!

If you enable the WordPress showcase, you’ve probably wondered why the developers didn’t automatically scroll your featured “sticky” posts. This is totally annoying, but luckily we can do whatever we want with open source software!

Many sites that you vist (like mine) will feature a few posts and scroll them with an image scroller.  Twenty Eleven features the posts in text format, but does not scroll your sticky posts.  With the below code you can have your featured posts scroll and not worry about creating a wordpress image scroller.

WordPress featured scroll

I stumbled across a piece of code that will automatically scroll your featured posts. The code is:

<script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[
// Auto-advance the showcase slider
 // Source: http://pastebin.com/s6JEthVi
 jQuery(document).ready(function(){
 var change_every = 5; // The number of seconds that the slider will auto-advance in
 var current = 1;
 function auto_advance(){
 if(current == -1) return false;
 jQuery('.feature-slider a').eq(current % jQuery('.feature-slider a').length).trigger('click', [true]);
 current++;
 };
 setInterval(function(){auto_advance()}, change_every * 1000);
 });
// ]]></script>

Installing the twenty eleven scroll code

To get the code working, simply navigate to your dashboard. Once in the dashboard, edit the page that you’re utilizing the showcase theme on and paste the above code into the HTML section of the page. Save the page and you should experience immediate SUCCESS!

Windows Media Center Streaming

I’ve recently came upon a problem that required some thought and ingenuity to overcome so I thought I would make a blog post about Windows Media Center and how it has solved my problems.

Slingbox SB260-100 Overview

I have a need to watch TV over the internet from a location that has no televisions.  I know there are illegal avenues for doing this, but I wanted to stay legal.  I researched slingbox, and ended up purchasing the SlingBox SOLO from amazon.

The Slingbox is a device that confuses some people, but serves a rather simple purpose.  You can connect your cable connection to the slingbox via RCA/component inputs and then connect the output to your television as normal.  The slingbox, when connected to your home router, will provide a way for you to watch television on the go from your android phone, iphone, web browser, etc.   It’s a fantastic idea that I wish I would’ve thought of.

After receiving my slingbox, I realized the inputs do not include a coaxial input.  Go ahead and laugh now, I realize that many people don’t even use coaxial inputs to their televisions anymore, but I’m not a huge TV addict nor do I care about HD quality.  The way a slingbox works is almost the same as if you were sitting in front of your TV.

For example, say I’m at a remote location and wish to watch my cable subscription.  I can remotely log into my slingbox via the internet and control my cable from a remote location. In turn, if my wife is at home she would be unable to use the cable port/DVR box that I was remotely controlling.  She could watch the same channel as me, but hopefully not change the channel.

Slingbox Streaming Problem

So here’s where the problem arises.  I have a coaxial cable in the room I wish to place the slingbox and the slingbox does NOT have a coaxial input.  I could purchase an additional DVR box from Cox Communications for $7.99/month + $9.99/month for the DVR “service”.  What a huge F*&ing rip off.  If I was an idiot and wanted to purchase a DVR for the slingbox it would cost me $18 a month and I would be plugging a HD input into a SD stream.  This makes absolutely no sense (too bad for Cox since their prices are so astronomical).

I had an old computer laying around that had Windows 7 Home Premium installed and I happened to find a Conexant 23880 Video Capture card in the bottom of a dusty box in my closet.  I installed the Video Capture card into the computer and fired up Windows Media Center.  Viola! I now have a computer that can Play/Record/Pause Live TV from a coaxial input in SD format.  Not only can it watch TV, it can also play any clips, music, or videos I’ve downloaded from the internet BONUS!  All this for the price of whatever it costs me to provide electricity to this computer.

Windows Media Streaming Slingbox Solution

Now that I have a computer with Windows Media Center that will play my coaxial connection, my problem still remains that I need to provide RCA input into the slingbox so that it can stream my cable via the internet.

Welcome the solution from amazon! Say hello to my little friends:

The Belkin Audio Y cable will provide a way to input the red and white RCA connection from the media center computer to the SlingBox SOLO.  This will provide the audio for the slingbox video stream.

The PC to TV video converter is the workhorse of the operation.   This bad boy takes VGA output (monitor output) from the media center machine and converts it to RCA (yellow) video input to the slingbox.

Since the slingbox is equipped with an IR blaster, it will be capable of controlling the media center computer remotely when a Windows Media Center IR remote is installed.  This Remote was less than $20 and will do the job nicely!

This solution isn’t complete yet since the parts are on order, however once they arrive I’ll update with the final working solution.  You may be wondering how I’ll control the computer if the outputs are sent to the slingbox.  The answer is two part:

  1. I’ll have a small 19inch tv hooked up on the output side of the slingbox.
  2. I will be able to remotely control the computer with logmein.com’s free services.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, please feel free to ask any questions or provide input in the comments below.

Questions answered about SEO Fightback

I wanted my questions answered so I went to the source! I PM’ed the owner of SEO fightback on the warriorforum and here are the results:

Q: How are posts submitted to my wordpress blogs that I open up to the networks from the SEO fightback network?

A: Other people in the same network (we have many networks) as you create posts, sometimes (randomly) they will be sent to your blog via the WP plugin. Don’t put money sites into the system. You put “feeder” blogs in, and then use your posting points to create links to your money sites.

Q: If I cancel my subscription do my links get deleted from the blogs that I have submitted to?

A:As you as you don’t delete other people’s links, we won’t delete yours, even if you leave. If you delete other people’s links after leaving, then that’s cheating and we don’t allow that

Q:  What plugin/access do I give to SEO fightback for my wordpress blogs?

A: WP plugin. It’s in the WP directory, and has been vetted by WordPress.org.

Q:  When I submit an article to a network, who decides what blog it’s posted on? Does the owner of the specific blog have to approve my post?

A: The system allocates the content somewhere. No, the blog owner does not approve the post, we do!

By going to the source, I’ve directly answered my questions and am ready to take the next step.  SEO fightback seems like it will provide the means necessary to help attempt to fix my google sandbox issue with the Amazon Associate Experiment!

If you want to “play along”, feel free to use the following affiliate link to sign up for SEO Fightback!

Amazon Affiliate Experiment Update #1

As I was updating some web 2.0 sites with some manual linkage with website “S” I was multi tasking and doing some research on the build my rank blog network.  Apparently, the latest panda update from google has successfully taken down the buildmyrank blog network by de-indexing all of their host sites.  What a bummer!

This will set me back a few days as I do some research to find an alternative to buildmyrank.  I guess I could always create my own blog network, but that could take a while.  For the sake of this experiment I’ll attempt to find a similar product to test results.

As a side note, this goes to show how important it is not to put all your SEO eggs in one basket.  If you were on the first page of google and all you had backing you were links from buildmyrank you could potentially see all your profits decline in one day! OUCH!  As a professional you need to protect your income with multiple streams of traffic and backlinks.

I’m considering signing up for SEO fightback which is a network of blog networks.  When I attempt to do research on the product, the SERPS are littered with garbage affiliate spam.  However, from what I understand it works by users providing the real estate (wordpress blogs) to categorized networks within the network.

Here’s an example of how I think it works:

  1. I sign up and search for a blog network that will accept my wordpress blogs [alternatively, I could start my own blog network and accept membership].
  2. I submit my wordpress blogs to the networks I wish to join and get “credits” for the blogs that I submit.
  3. I can use these credits daily to create posts on the blog network.  The networks do NOT spin content and do NOT dupe content.
A few questions I have:
  • How are posts submitted to my wordpress blogs that I open up to the networks from the SEO fightback network?
  • If I cancel my subscription do my links get deleted from the blogs that I have submitted to?
  • What plugin/access do I give to SEO fightback for my wordpress blogs?
  • When I submit an article to a network, who decides what blog it’s posted on? Does the owner of the specific blog have to approve my post?
With all of the affiliate spam and garbage out there, I can’t get good answers to my questions.  If you can answer my questions, please provide some insight in the comments.

All in one SEO

All in one SEO wordpress plugin is a great addition to any wordpress blog, and one of the many plugins that I highly suggest get installed with every wordpress installation.  The all in one SEO provides SEO optimization for wordpress blogs.

The features that I enjoy are:

  • One click installation and works out of the box without much configuration.
  • Automatically optimizes titles for search engines
  • Has the ability to avoid duplicate content errors generated when google crawls your website.
  • Provides canonical URLs for your blog navigation
  • Automatic generation of unique META tags.

This is a fairly simple plugin to set up and install and with a little configuration, this plugin can be made fantastic.

 

WordPress Page vs Post

WordPress contains pages and posts.  In general a page is something you wish to be static, such as a contact me page , about us page, or other important informational page.  A post is generally a typical blog post that doesn’t contain information that each visitor to your site may require.

Category and Tag options 

Each page and blog post can be categorized via category names and tagged with tag names.  This is very important!  When setting up your blog, you need to determine 7 – 10 category names and NEVER overly exceed that number of categories.  Tags can be used an unlimited number of times and do not need to be predetermined.

It’s also important to note that you should not have a category that is the same as a tag name and vice versa.  This could provide some sort of small confusion to users or the search engine crawlers.  The best way to do this is to consider tags as a way to fine tune your categories into smaller niches.

All in One SEO configuration

Now to the good stuff, let’s configure All in One SEO and get our blog to a point where the SEO will be optimized and not generate errors from the google crawler in the google webmaster dashboard.  The most important section to understand correctly is the checkbox area that allows you to index vs noindex certain features of your wordpress blog.

All in one SEO configuration

In general I prefer to index my categories and noindex my tags.  I also noindex my archives.  By doing this, it decreases the chance that google will send users to pages that I don’t value as high as other pages. It creates a better experience for the user and also a better experience for the bot that’s crawling your webpage.  This helps avoid duplicate content.

Also in order to decrease duplicate work on yourself, you can generate your meta tags based upon the tags you manually tag onto your posts.  This may seem confusing if you’ve never written a wordpress blog post, but those who have will appreciate not having to type the same keywords in multiple times.

Since I’m not really targeting a specific niche with this blog.  It’s generalized to the most point and I could care less if I get traffic or not. Because of these reasons, I chose to autogenerate the meta descriptions on my posts.  If you are writing a very specific amazon affiliate targeted blog, you may wish to manually enter your meta descriptions (I would suggest it.)

The rest of the configuration

It’s important to carefully fill out each part of the All in one SEO configuration.  Properly type your title, overall description, and main keywords.  It’s okay to leave the variable title tags the way they are, but they are highly configurable.

 

Hopefully I’ve scratched the surface enough to get you to want to configure All in one SEO on your blog.  If you have any questions I’ll help you anyway I can, just ask in the comments.  Good luck!

Amazon Affiliate Marketing

I have embarked on a new journey for my afterhours, online hobby time.  I initially though I would be spending most of the year playing SWTOR, but SWTOR failed.  I have now began attempting to start making money online as an amazon affiliate advertiser.

What is the amazon affiliate program?

The affiliate program is a way for advertisers to make money selling amazon’s products.  Put simply, I make websites advertising amazon products and if a user visits my site and clicks through to amazon to buy something then I get a percentage of the sale.  Sounds great in theory, but requires a lot of work for the typical Internet Marketer.  In order to get kick started into this world of amazon affiliate marketing, I started an experiment.

Amazon Affiliate Marketing experiment

My experiment is this: I started two websites, both advertising an extremely specific category of products on amazon.  I won’t specifically state what I’m advertising to prevent unnecessary competition, but let’s just say that they are items any homeowner would need and utilize on a daily basis.

The two websites are based on wordpress and are themed around reviewing amazon products and providing detailed information about the category of items I’m selling.  For example, if I was selling “beaches”, I’d review the different beaches you could buy and provide posts about sandcastles, how to build the best sandcastles, sunbathing, etc (I’m hoping you get the point.)

The goal

The goal of the whole experiment is to get one of these sites ranked on the top page of google for the two specific keyword I’m targeting.  This way when someone google’s “how to buy a beach”, I’ll be on the front page of the results trying to lure the potential client to my website full of reviews and useful information.

What I’ve done so far

I won’t go into exact detail about what I’ve done, but I will provide an overview for the sake of the experiment.  Mainly because it’s boring and second because it possibly provides me a competitive advantage over my competition.

So far I have:

  • 2 unique domain names pertaining to each category I’m attempting to promote.
  • 2 wordpress websites reviewing and providing information on two different product categories
  • Both websites full of product reviews, product information, category information and videos
  • Over 14 pages of unique content for each page.

Initially my pages were ranking well in the google SERP (Search engine results pages), but have recently dropped into really far no man’s land (200+).  Internet marketers call this “getting sandboxed”.  After doing some research, I discovered why I was sandboxed.

I mistakenly purchased two fiverr jobs to blast out links to my websites.  The anchor text for these links were the exact title of my blogs (A BIG NO NO after panda updates).  Google saw the blast of links with all the same anchor text and has sandboxed me, thus allowing me this great opportunity to do an experiment!

Experiment Details

Since I have a good idea of why I was sandboxed, I’m going to attempt two different methods of getting back into google’s good graces and see which works.

On one website (we’ll call it G) I will use buildmyrank.com to blast out links and articles pertaining to my blog with unreleated anchor text such as “click here” or “this website”.

On the other website (we’ll call it S), I will buy another fiverr job to blast out links to my blog with unrelated anchor text such as “this website” or “website about <amazon category>”.

I’ll track and post the results to hopefully shed some light on how other marketers can recover their webpages from google sandbox hell.

Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal is to get the websites ranking well and making money with amazon associates!

Make money on amazon
Click to make money with amazon associates