Google PlusFacebookTwitter

Note to webmasters – update your Google AdSense privacy policy

By on Mar 25, 2009 in Tech Takes | 0 comments

Google has notified all webmasters using the Google AdSense program for displaying ads on websites to update their privacy policy, to reflect some changes. Google has now decided to start showing ‘interest-based ads’ on Google AdSense to surfers. What this means is that while earlier Google Ads were based only on the content of the page, Google will now be tracking your visits to other sites and may show you ads on the basis of that. As a webmaster you can opt-out of this (go to My Account under AdSense), but this is not a good idea since I believe a major chunk of AdWords publisher will hop on to the interest-based ads bandwagon for better return on investment. You need to edit the privacy policy on your blog / site to say this (under the Third-Part Advertising section): We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here. Google’s use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to you based on your visit to this site and other sites on the Internet. You may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy. As you can figure out Google got this technology from its acquisition of DoubleClick. DoubleClick isn’t a privacy advocates’ darling but Google tapping into DoubleClick for better monetization (in these ‘recession times’) was inevitable. DoubleClick by no means is the only ad network to use this kind of technology though. Many of the advertising platforms using this targetting are a member of the Network Advertising Initiative. You can go to the Network Advertising Initiative Opt-out page to see if you currently have any such ‘tracking cookies’, and opt-out of them if you want. Note this this opt-out preference itself is stored using a cookie, so when you clear cookies in your browser this preference will be lost and you’ll have to opt-out once again if you want to. Specifically for Google’s case you can go to the Google Ads Preferences page. Here you can block the DoubleClick ‘tracking’ DART cookie using a cookie-based opt-out; or if want to opt-out permanently then install a small plugin to do so so – this is for Mozilla Firefox / Internet Explorer users only. Losers Users using Safari and Chrome can read the instructions for their case. Oh, and just case you want to see ads based on your interests, you can choose areas of interest from the same Google Ads Preferences page (obviously, don’t choose the ‘Opt-out’ option if you’re doing...

WordCamp India

By on Mar 18, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 23 comments

“All your participants are belong to us!” Phew…I finally get down to writing my post on WordCamp India (#wci on Twitter). This was held on 21-22 February 2009 (the first day of WCI was clashing with the second day of freed.in) at the Adobe India office in Noida. WordCamp is conference similar to BarCamp (except for the ‘un’ bit) for WordPress users. The organizers hit jackpot by getting the founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg himself to come for the event – along with top blogger Om Malik of GigaOm fame. We had free WiFi courtesy Adobe so a lot of us did live tweeting / live blogging there. (Signing on to that network was another story. We all had to read agree to a long EULA, sign up for a guest account on the Adobe network. All pretty cool, when you consider that their network was rock solid.) Guess what? Our collective effort made it the most discussed topic on Twitter throughout the world on both days! You can check out all tweets tagged #wci related to WordCamp India on Twitter. I’ve also uploaded photos from WordCamp India in my photo gallery here (mostly contributed by Prashanth), and you can see photos clicked by other people at WordCamp India here. WordCamp India – Day 1 Reached the Adobe office somewhat late because I had trouble finding where it was. Once you know what it looks like it’s kinda hard to miss because of the funky color scheme the building has (see picture above). The souvenir we got turned out to be…pencils. Now that was a dampner. But they were also giving out WordPress tattoos, stickers and badges. I had one tattoo of Mozilla Firefox on one cheek (from MozillaCamp Delhi). At WordCamp, I got some WordPress tattoos, the other cheek was populated soon. Some called me ‘cheeky’ (pun intended), but everyone did recognize me as ‘The Tattoo Guy’ – including Matt Mullenweg. I was also wearing multiple multi-coloured badges. You see, when these goodies are distributed people jump on them as if they’re hungry refugees getting aid from the World Food Programme – as evidenced by how greedily they were ‘attacking’ the box where the badges etc to be distributed. Yet, not a single person apart from me bothered to actually wear these. (Even for that matter, nobody other than me used the stickers given at MozillaCamp Delhi.) Love it? Flaunt it! When you’re a user of an open source project it is your duty to be an evangelist. There is no corporation full of moneybags to sponsor any publicity. YOU, as a user of open source software, have to contribute in any way you can. (This is the same sick mentality as those who order multiple Ubuntu CDs via ShipIt – or forget multiple, even single CDs for that matter – and never bother to distribute / use them. Morons. A lot of money goes into that programme. The least you can do is have a conscience and not misuse it if you plan to sit on the CD like a hen for eternity.) Adobe Noida seminar hall (free bald head included) On Day 1 there were around 200 people who were attending – most of them bloggers. I found it surprising that hardly any developers were present. Sessions on Day 1 were: Keynote session by Om Malik; welcome session by Twilight Fairy: I missed both these because I reached the venue late. Implementing a radio site using WP (by Shreyas): This session was about how RadioVerve customized WordPress (the website currently runs on that). I refused to listen to this session on principle – because he had used Comic Sans font for displaying code in his presentation. How to get started after installing WordPress (by Abhijeet Mukherjee): This was a useful session for those who hadn’t used WordPress – and quite surprisingly there were quite a few of these folks. The presentations touched base with the most important stuff and was a good beginners’ guide to WordPress. (Partial video of Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word” session) State of the Word (by Matt Mullenweg): Matt Mullenweg spoke of how WordPress started of, it’s current state, and where it’s headed. The quick history lesson included screenshots from a bygone era when WordPress was young, goofy photos of Matt, photos from other WordCamps, statistics et al. There was this one photo of Matt from when he was in high school – and very geeky looking. Implementing SEO in your WP blog (by Abhinav Gulyani): Totally lame session. It prompted a many to comment that screening of speakers should have been done at WordCamp, apart from inspiring many caustic tweets. I’d have given a howlarious picture here if it wasn’t for SlideShare not working properly. Even the presentation he used was copied from here! You can see the presentation which Abhinav gave here. That bring me to my other point – too many people seem to be using boobs to get a point across. Now now, I’m not complaining against hallowed traditions such as booth babes at CES (or any expo) but inserting pictures of Ah-Tah every second slide doesn’t make sense. That guy didn’t even have the balls to show this slide! (As soon as he came to this slide, he switched to the next one and ended his presentation.) Optimizing Google AdSense on your WP blog (by Amit...

Free web hosting (for life!) from Dreamhost

By on Mar 7, 2009 in Tech Takes | 29 comments

Edit: Whoops! It seems like I made a mistake. Dreamhost is systematically blocking access to the plugin installer function. Specifically, it has made the directories where plugins / themes are stored as read-only. However, it does come with many good themes pre-installed. It also has some of the more useful plugins pre-installed. Dreamhost Apps thus can be a good way to test a full-install of WordPress and then make the jump to full hosting. Use MAXCASH as the discount code if you’re buying from Dreamhost. No godammit, this post is NOT sponsored by anyone. (I’m glad that I got that out of the way.) I don’t use Dreamhost myself. I have reasons why I don’t like it and / or use it, but that’s a different story. I’m making this post because the free hosting offer that Dreamhost is giving away is SO useful that you should take it. If you’re still feeling skeptical then you can check for yourself that the links I’ve given in this post are not affiliate links or campaign tracking links. Dreamhost is one of the most popular and best website hosting providers. Recently, they’ve started a new service called Dreamhost Apps. Dreamhost Apps is a service which is designed to make getting started with hosting easy for new users. Even in the era of one-click installs using a normal webhost will require at least a minimum level of technical knowledge on the users’ end. Dreamhost Apps’ USP is that Dreamhosts’s backend takes care of tasks such as installing, maintaining, and keeping software up-to-date. This is a new service, so inititally they were giving away free accounts using invitation codes. Now they’ve decided to give away 10000 accounts for free. ALL people who sign up during this period get free hosting for life. Head to the Dreamhost Apps website and signup. They’ll install all the supported applications. At first you can use a subdomain on dreamhostapps.com and then buy a domain – either from them, or buy a domain somewhere else and point it to your account. (It’s a simple procedure.) Domains are cheap – $9.95 from Dreamhost, which works out to around Rs 500 per year. If you take it from GoDaddy and use a coupon code (simply search for ‘godaddy coupon code‘) then you can get it for around $7.5 (works out to around Rs 400). You may get discounts on Dreamhost too, search for ‘dreamhost coupon code‘. Difference in price is not much and setup will be easier if domain is from Dreamhost itself. “Is there any catch?” – Yes, there is. The free account doesn’t allow you FTP / SSH access to your web server. But the good news is that you don’t need this! If you want to host your blog on Dreamhost Apps, running WordPress then this solution is perfect. You don’t need FTP access any more since WordPress 2.7 to install themes and plugins. WordPress now comes with built-in plugin search and automated install capability. To install themes easily and upgrade all you plugins, search out and install ‘One Click Plugin Updater‘ using WordPress’s built-in updater. Once this is done, you can use this plugin’s installer to install ANY plugin / theme (copy-paste plugin URL, it will do the rest). Also takes care of all upgrades. If you’re currently using WordPress.com or Blogger.com, WordPress (self-hosted) has import scripts which can import ALL your posts and comments (images too, for WordPress.com blogs!) to your new blog. If you want the WordPress blog to be your main part of domain, then just ensure that you install it in ‘www’ subdirectory (you’ll get to choose this when signing up for Dreamhost apps). Shifting to ‘full’ WordPress will give you complete control over your blog. Admittedly, WordPress has lots and lots of beatiful themes, and extremely useful plugins – not to mention a rocking blog management system. I’m seriously, you guys. Don’t let go of this opportunity to shift to self-hosted WordPress – that too for free for life! Migrating visitors from existing blogs will be easy. If you’re on WordPress.com: Import your blog in the self-hosted WordPress. Check that everything has been successfully migrated. Delete ALL your posts on WordPress.com (this is important for search engine ranking reasons). Make a post telling people about your new blog URL. If you’re on Blogger.com: Same steps. (Except that I think you can do a redirect to yout new blog using JavaScript.) WordPress also has importers for many other blogging platforms. Also, many of you use FeedBurner, so even RSS subscribers can be migrated easily! Simply edit the source feed URL in FeedBurner…and you’re done! All your subscibers stay subsribed to your feed. (You can also redirected you brand new WordPress’s own feed at example.com/feed/ to your FeedBurner using a plugin called ‘FeedBurner FeedSmith‘.) When signing up, I would advise you choose NOT to install whichever software you don’t want. By default, Dreamhost Apps sets up ALL the apps in your portfolio, including MediaWiki, phpBB, Drupal et al. Uncheck all the ones you don’t need; there are valid reasons for doing this. Among the list of applications to be installed, there’s just one more app you can consider installing. I don’t think anyone will need phpBB or MediaWiki. Drupal you may want to test-drive, but capability will be limited without FTP / SSH access. (This is an issue in Drupal because Drupal does...

MozillaCamp Delhi

By on Feb 17, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 10 comments

MozillaCamp Delhi was held last week on 10th February 2009. Lots of blog coverage listed on the MozillaCamp Delhi wiki. Kinshul Sunil has also put up some videos from MozillaCamp Delhi on Vimeo (more to be encoded and uploaded soon). Photos have been uploaded too. And you can read a blog post from Seth Bindernagel (see wiki for more details). The event was at Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road. (No, you aren’t the first guy to say “What Where the fuck?!” on hearing this.) Without a hot-or-cold GPS navigation system I had to resort to calling people up to find where it was. The only thing that I could positively make out was that it was somewhere near India Habitat Centre, but that still does leave an effing large area to cover. Dilliwallahs habit of saying “Seedha jaake left” for the directions to any bloody place you ask for makes your blood boil rather than providing guidance. After a lot of running around in circles I did reach the venue…to find a few bored people sitting in the same room and Twittering with each other. I joined in (Twittering) with great gusto and scaring my followers that I had Twitterhea. Seth Bindernagel and Arun Ranganathan were supposed to turn up later, so the discussion fluctuated to every topic under the sun. Someone started talking about large font sizes (in images, I might add) as the defining moment of Web 2.0. That should give an idea of how lame the morning sessions were. We had some interesting free-ranging discussions on Twitter (as in about Twitter) and social media in general. I was shocked to find that the organizers hadn’t arranged for a lava pit so that we could round up a few Internet Exploder users, beat them about a bit (though not very much) and then throw them into lava to let The Cleansing begin. (Even the tagline ‘Taking the Web back one user at a time’ is astonishingly appropriate for The Cleansing.) Seriously, next time, we need to budget for the Airport Hilton. Nothing kicks an conference into high gear other than good ol’ fashion mob beatings. Anyway, the morning session was also spent in making new friends like Kumar Gautam, Sayantan Pal (of Linux For You) and Mohak Prince. We broke for lunch soon at the ISI cafeteria where I got to eat pieces of charcoal under the guise of a ‘burger’. Discussions here were about a) Macs and Why They SUCK – a Me vs Them debate; b) Shiretoko (not a variety of Japanese pr0n); c) nothing else. Also recorded video testimonials (but had to leave before I could collect my kewl T-shirt). Seth and Arun arrived around 2.30 pm for their sessions. Arun (with his fiery jacket, sorry for the pun) very much looking like one of those guys you see on AXN shows who jump over 27 dumpster trucks ‘for entertainment’ on a lazy afternoon. A Skype conference was initiated with Pascal Finette, but I got to see only a small part of it. Most of that ‘small part’ involved setting up the Skype conference. I had to leave for the Power of Ideas panel discussion for which I had been invited by Economic Times. (That’s a story for another day.) I didn’t want to leave MozillaCamp right when actual discussion were taking place – but I had to. (You’ll get to know the reason in my Power of Ideas post.) Mosey along now. No more content to write about the interesting bits of MozillaCamp. PS – Are the presentations which Arun / Seth made available online on Slideshare / Google Docs / anywhere? I’d love to see them, so would many other Firefox fans. PPS – Those awesome stickers are from Pringoo. PPPS – Whoops! Those stickers are actually from Mozilla, and not Pringoo! Only ONE sticker – the big MozillaCamp Delhi one – is from Pringoo. The ones from Mozilla, of course, are the awesome ones I was talking...

Fixing Gallery2 Login Error / Pics from Chandernagore

By on Feb 16, 2009 in Tech Takes | 0 comments

A few days back I needed to upload a lot of photos to my Gallery2 photo gallery. No, not for the photos from Surajkund Handicrafts Fair, I’m talking of a time before that. I’m talking of my trip to Kolkata. I wanted to upload photos from Chandernagore in an album. (You can see these now, BTW.) I had recently upgraded my Gallery2 installation directly using the auto-upgrade facility provided by my host. Post that event, this was the first time I needed to upload something. The first thing to do, of course, is to login. This is where I encountered the first signs of trouble. You are not authorized to view this resource. You need to login. Annoying, because the username / password were most definitely correct. (Stored in my password manager.) It was most definitely my Gallery2 install which had short circuited somewhere. I thought of re-installing, but before I did that I thought I should run a manual upgrade once to see if it solved the problem. (Maybe the auto-upgrade wasn’t ‘clean’?) I backed up my database and the ‘g2data’ folder (just copy it to another folder on your server). First, I tried to run the upgrade process manually (without overwriting files with a fresh copy). To do this you need to go to http://www.yourgalleryinstall.com/upgrade to initialize the web-based upgrader. The upgrader will guide you through all the steps. Fortunately, this solved my problem. It turns out that a few of the themes which I was using hadn’t been upgraded. Once that was done (automatically by the upgrader), logins worked again. This, however, broke the permalinks module on my Gallery install. After you’re able to successfully login, post-upgrade, upgrade any other plugins from the plugin administration page (remember to update plugin repositories first). Then, re-enable the plugins URL Rewrite and Permalinks. You will need to re-edit and upload the example .htaccess files to the folders as specified by Gallery2 (modules/rewrite/data/mod_rewrite and …/mod_rewrite_no_options), but after that it should work. Unrelated to the above, but this might be helpful for some. For those who’ve got Gallery2 installed on their server root, you need to enter the path to the example .htaccess file folder. That bit is made clear by the placeholder file itself. But for ones who’re running Gallery2 in a subdomain using a virtual DocumentRoot you need to remember that the path you enter in the .htaccess file for URL Rewrite needs to be relative to the virtual DocumentRoot. To give you an example, on a ‘normal’ server where Gallery2 is hosted you’ll enter something like RewriteBase /html/username/gallery2/modules/rewrite/data/mod_rewrite/gallery2/ …while if you’re using a virtual DocumentRoot, then you’ll enter the line to be edited as RewriteBase /gallery2/modules/rewrite/data/mod_rewrite/gallery2/ Do remember to uncomment the line because in the placeholder file it it commented out. Hope that solves some of your Gallery problems! Enjoy the photo albums on Chandernagore and Surajkund...