Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Adsense Link Units

If you use Adsense, make sure you check out the new report type that was released today. You can now view link units separately and get a lot more information. Previously you had to create channels to track link units, which was a pain - this new report is much easier and better. You can find it under "Choose Units" in the Advanced Reports tab.

If you don't use link units, now is the time to try. The thing I've found is that their value varies a lot depending on the site content - some of my link units earn a $15 ePM, while others fail dismally at around $0.03. It's especially important to experiment and tweak link unit settings for maximum effect. In some sites they just don't work and traditional ads are better. In other cases they can be worth many times what you'd get from traditional ads.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

UK Fraudulent Mediums Act

In the UK, 'genuine' mediums have been protected since 1951 by the Fraudulent Mediums Act. Only mediums or psychics who have been proven to be frauds could be convicted, which is difficult, and only 10 have been convicted in the past 20 years.

Next month the old act is set to be replaced by the new Consumer Protection Regulations. Under the new law psychics are to be held accountable for the quality of their service just like any other industry. This is assuming they charge for their services, which most obviously do.

Psychics aren't happy. They say it will necessitate various disclaimers about what they offer, and leaves them open to malicious lawsuits by skeptics. I imagine skeptics are much more happy about the situation.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Skeptologists

The Skeptologists is a new reality TV show that is currently in production. At this stage it's only a pilot episode being made on spec but I'd be surprised if it wasn't picked up. The show takes a decidedly skeptical stance so it might struggle to find a primetime slot (which are notoriously biased toward more credulous shows). Still, if it's done well I think this could be another Mythbusters.

Hosted by Brian Dunning, the impressive cast is made up of Phil Plait (, Michael Shermer (The Skeptic Society), Yau-Man Chan (Chief Technology Officer at UC Berkeley College of Chemistry and contestant on Survivor: Fiji), Kirsten Sanford (neurophysiologist and host of This Week in Science), Mark Edward (mentalist), and Steven Novella (medical doctor and host of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe).

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Yahoo! AMP! ad management system

Today Yahoo ramped up the publicity surrounding its new AMP advertising management platform. The press release is everywhere and the video can be seen at From the press release: "AMP! from Yahoo! aims to transform the online advertising industry by dramatically simplifying processes for advertisers, agencies, ad networks and publishers".

First, a word of warning: I found the video stream incredibly slow and frustrating. There's no way to pause and buffer the stream either - when you pause it just stops. Poor effort Yahoo!

Anyway, the product itself looks like it might be attractive to large publishers and advertisers. Small publishers can probably ignore this development for now. To be honest, even most large publishers aren't going to be reviewing their strategy or jumping ship from Google based on what I've seen so far. The product is quite specific, applying only to those who deal with site-targeted advertising.

In other words, if a solution like Google Adsense/Adwords already works for you, AMP probably won't offer anything new. AMP will help you target large numbers of specific websites easily, but if you are happy to let the algorithms do the work for you, you're probably better off sticking with a fully automated system.

I notice that Yahoo is making quite a fuss about this service before it's ready. Could they be feeling the heat from Google's ad management service?

Don't get me wrong here - I'm not writing off Yahoo's option. My advice would be to investigate if you are a large operator who likes full control over ad placement, but if you're with another company, don't go out of your way to switch just yet. Yahoo has been behind the 8-ball for a while now, and with all the current posturing over takeover bids, I'd be reluctant to jump in bed with them right now.

BTW Yahoo, you have enough exclamation marks already. Don't be greedy.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


I've just finished a fairly major revamp of the homepage at I've changed the navigation structure slightly so you can now browse either by category or alphabetical index.

I've finished tidying up all the substandard articles that were commissioned last year. They are at least readable now but they still need a lot more work before they can be considered "encyclopedia quality".

I mentioned previously that I had commissioned a new researcher/writer. She's doing a great job providing the initial articles for the main sections of the website. Her articles are well-researched and balanced, and I'm really looking forward to building the site with more of them.

The site still has a lot of gaping holes but I do believe it's looking good. The structure is falling into place and I can see exactly where it needs to go from here. I'm optimistic that it will be ready for wider promotion some time in the second half of this year.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

UFO over Canterbury

I thought I'd include this story about a UFO over Canterbury (New Zealand) mainly because it's close to home and it's such a great photo. There doesn't seem to be much genuine UFO appeal - according to Alan Gilmore of Mount John Observatory, it appears at first glance to be a plane. That's how I see it too - maybe a vapour trail lit by the setting sun. Still, awesome photo.

Original story at

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Changing URLs for Blogs and Feeds

I'm having a nightmare trying to sort out my blogs and RSS feeds. Now that I've been using blogger for a while I can see that I've done a few things wrong. My biggest mistake was not setting up permanent URLs for the RSS feeds from the outset. Now that I've figured out how to do all that and brought into the mix, I've realised I need to change the URLs of the blogs and RSS feeds.

My main blog has moved to and all the new URLs are shown there. I'm sorry for the hassle but I'll have to ask all subscribers to go there and re-subscribe to the appropriate topic feed(s). These URLs should be permanent now so I hope I don't have to go through this again.