Monday, September 24, 2007

Testing email scheduler using Time Cave

I have previously made a post How to schedule post to be published in the future, but the site I use went offline, back online and now offline again. So I am testing a new site Time Cave to see if the same thing can be done with this site. It is now 24 September 2007, 7.37pm GMT+8, preparing the post to be published to Generating Revenue from your website, scheduled to be sent (published) at 12.00am, 27 September 2007. If this test is successful, I will update this post if the test is successful.

UPDATE: The post was published to Earn by adding Mpire widgets to your sites on 27 September as scheduled, but with problems. There were long, unbroken line of URLs which extended to the right sidebar. See screenshot below:

problem post dated (scheduled) post using Time Cave with problems

The HTML hyperlinks were not converted to clickable links, but became long unbroken URL extending into the sidebar (highlighted by arrows). I will have to edit the post from within Blogger post editor, so by the time you click on the link to go to that scheduled post, it will be different from what you see in the screenshot.

When I went into the post editor window, I found the reasons. Special characters were added into the HTML like addition 1 and and and

For clarity, I will paste one of the changed HTML for a hyperlink I got in the post editor window for that scheduled post before editing in the scroll box below:

addition 1 href= target="_blank">Mpire: Everything you need to find the best deals online</aa onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="">

Perhaps one thing I need to test further is to just put the URLs into the message editor box of Time Cave without converting it to HTMLs for hyperlinks and test again. If I do that, I will test if posts containing images can be scheduled for future publishing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mpire: Alternative to AdSense: Testing

I am retired and loved blogging, in fact spend practically all my awake hours online. I also have to support a son through college (used to be 2 sons) with my pension, and I need to supplement my pension to meet all the expenses of putting children through colleges. Google AdSense just fit in nicely as I love to blog, I enjoyed participating in Google AdSense plus they put ads RELEVANT to the content of my blogs, and they practically automate the whole process for me.

I have a blog AdSense Alert which had AdSense products on it for a long time, that is, until they contacted me and told me I can't put AdSense products on that site because it contained the trademarked "AdSense" in it. The answer is still no even after I changed the title of the blog to Earning Online because "adsense" is in the URL and I didn't want to change the URL. That started me on a search for alternatives to Google AdSense.

Recently, came across one more - Mpire: Everything you need to find the best deals online. This site is not only for people looking for ways to earn some income online, but also for those who want to search for products, compare prices online, seek trends, and get the best deals.

Testing earning as a Mpire affiliate

We will deal with the first part first, that is, earning some income online by becoming an affiliate of Mpire. On that site, if you want to join as an affiliate, you can click on the "Widget" button and you will be taken to Mpire: Make money on your site page where you will see an example of the types of widgets you can install on your site. The example I saw was an Mpire Trend Watch widget

where you can see the product names, the price trends, buy new (retail) prices and auction prices. There are other widgets you can install. Just click on the "See more Mpire Widgets" See more Mpire Widgets link link and you will see more examples of the kind of widgets you can install. I saw 4 - the one shown above plus "Mpire Price Check", "eBay Movers and Shakers" and "eBay Top Searches". To install the widget, you can either click on the "Add to your webpage" button below any of the 4 example widgets or click the "Register" link at the top of the page. Depending on which one you click, you will be take to a page where you will be asked for information like eMail address (optional) and password. Apparently, registration is optional and you can chose to "Skip registration", but the site explained that by registering, you can track how many people view your widgets, easily modify your widgets and be notified of updates and new widget skins. I was surprised that you can chose not to register, for in my mind, without registering, how are you going to be paid? The answer I found out later is that you can register later, or depending on which widget you chose, you will be required to give your eBay affiliate PID: (Optional) and/or Amazon Associates ID: (Optional). It is optional because you can add that later when you have it.

Anyway, since I want to test how one can earn via Mpire, I registered and I gave my Amazon Associates ID as I already have it. I did not want to install eBay widgets because eBay affiliate program work through Commission Junction, and the CJ terms state that if you do not get a commissionable click within a 6 months period, there will be a charge (forgot how much). I don't like that. What if I become indisposed and unable to manage my sites and thus become inactive? I don't want to become indebted to Commission Junction. Anyway, I installed 2 test widgets at Natural Remedies ("Mpire Price Check" near the bottom of the left sidebar) and Computer, Internet and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ("Mpire Trend Watch" near the bottom of the left sidebar). There will be a graph or arrow showing the price trend at the top and the categories you selected when you generated the script for the widgets at the bottom. Try clicking on one of the categories and see what happen. I tried clicking on "Search Engine Optimization" category with the FireFox browser with pop-up enabled. A bar at the top gave the message that pop-up was blocked and I had to click "Option" and then select to allow pop-up for that site. When I next click on the category again, and this time a new tab opened (I had chosen to make the page open in a new window when generating the script, but in Firefox, I had set it to open in new tab instead) displaying the Amazon page with a long list of products related to SEO.

Let us see if these two Mpire widgets will generate any income and it it is a viable alternative and/or addition to Google AdSense

Searching (shopping) online for products with Mpire

At Mpire: Everything you need to find the best deals online, near the top, there is a search box where you can shop for things online:

empire shop for search box

I tried searching for "computer" and found 28 items, out of which 6 are actually computers and the rest are computer related products. But just quoting the number of items found is deceptive, for at the right side of the items would be displayed a price range plus a button to click to "See All Stores". A search for "digital camera" got me 823 items. If you want to see the actual search result page, click on mpire search result page for digital camera. The number of items you will I would suppose will be time dependent, so you may see more or less than 823 items. In any case, if you are really searching for digital cameras, and you add in the number of choices you will get by clicking on "See All Stores", that would be a huge range of choices for you.

Searching (shopping) for products using the search box is not the only option. Below, that is a constantly changing display of products with accompanying price chart beside it, and below that chart, a link which may read "Price check iPhones", depending on what product is being displayed, and a list of products will be displayed, the number of products depending on the item being displayed.

And below this are a huge range of categories, with the panel of categories constantly changing from Panel 1 to Panel 7 (there is a button to pause it). Click on Computer hardware and a page of computer hardware related stuff will be displayed.

Below that again is a section displaying "Shop Popular Products" and if those lists of products is not enough for you, below the list is a link that may perhaps say "See more digital cameras". In that list, if a particular item interest you, say Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, clicking on it will display a list of that item from eBay or from other online merchants.

That is not the end. Right at the the bottom of the page, you will also see a section "Get the Best Deals and Coupons". If you want to try your luck, go ahead and click on something that interest you and you may get a real bargain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Will Blogger blogs be deleted?

Blogger says their blogs don't expire. This mean that if you set up a Blogger blog, don't even make a single post or make one or more and never update it for years, it is supposed to be still there.

Gmail Policy is different. Here is the Gmail Policy, last updated on June 28, 2004:

"Account Inactivity: Google will terminate your account in accordance with Section 9 of the Terms of Use if you fail to login to your account for a period of nine months."

Yahoo only have a Privacy Policy. I have not been able to find a Yahoo mail policy. I do remember when I first sign up for a Yahoo mail, the set up pages says Yahoo mail is for life. Whether that is still so I do not know as no such message is displayed when you sign up for Yahoo mail. I have only mangaged to find Yahoo Terms of Service which says "You acknowledge that Yahoo! reserves the right to log off accounts that are inactive for an extended period of time." What that means exactly I do not know. I do know if you do not sign in your Yahoo mail for extended time, it is inactivated, and you have a chance to reactivate it again. But how long such thing will last I do not know.

Now that Blogger have introduced New Blogger, a Blogger account is tied to a Google account which is the same as the Gmail account. Now if you start a Blogger account with a Gmail address as the username, and you don't sign into your Gmail for 9 months or more, what will happen to the Blogger account with its blog or blogs? This is what I to test.

I have set up 3 blogs:

Test Blogger Permanency

Test Blogger Permancy 2

Blogger Yahoo Permanency.

The first two were set up with Blogger accounts using Gmail addresses. I will not log into both the Gmail addresses, and not update the first, but will occassionally update the second occasionally. The third blog was set up with a Blogger account using a Yahoo email address as the user name. The first was set up yesterday - 19 September 2007. The other 2 were set up today - 20 September 2007. I will not sign into any of the emails Inbox used. I will check to see what happen to the blogs on 19 September 2008.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Read private blog with Google Reader: Test

Update: Blogger changed something and the work around I gave in this post no longer work.

I have a test (and demonstation) Blogger private blog Peter's Private Blog which is also used to demonstrate how one can make provision for visitors to request for an invitation to the private blog.

Now I want to test if it is possible to read the content of that Blogger private blog using feed and Google Reader. I signed into Google Reader, click "Add subscription", then typed "" into the "Add subscription" box. When I click "Add", I got the error message:

[No feed available for ""]

This is despite the fact the the feed option had been set to "Full". This test shows that it is not possible to read the content of a Blogger private blog using Google Reader.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Testing LaTex document

LaTex is, from the very short time I got to know about it, a program most suitable for producing academic papers, especially those with scientific and mathematical equations, symbols and notations. It is not a word processing program and the authors just concentrate on the content while the formatting is left to the program creaters. Testing to see if documents produced by LaTex as a PDF file can be embedded in a blog post:

You can find the instruction at Embed PDF file into blog post or website. It was written for embedding PDF file in general, but the same would be applicable for a LaTex document in PDF format.

Note: I have not the time to learn how to use LaTex yet. Will like to do so, especially play around with authoring documents with scientific notations. The above is a one-page high-level overview of LaTeX by Mike Unwalla of TechScribe Software Documentation who has given permission to use the document.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Testing Paypal online purchase again

I am sore at Paypal. I am a non-US resident and reside in a country where I can't withdraw funds from Paypal to a local bank, only to US bank. As a non-US resident with no social security number, there is no chance for me to open a US bank account. I don't understand because eBay. Paypal parent company, started operation here, though I think they are still a loss making operation because there is already an established local online auction site. They are finding it difficult to get people to switch from that local online auction site to theirs. I complained to eBay, but their support staff couldn't help. One said as local eBay user themself, they too would like to see Paypal allow withdrawal to local bank. But it looks like Paypal is not going to help their parent company's foreign operation get our of a loss making venture by making it easier for their sellers to use payments Paypal for their auctions, as proceed will be difficult to withdraw.

I discovered later that residents in China can withdraw by check, and I have written numerous times to Paypal about withdrawing by check. Invariably, the reply is the complexities of international banking poses a problem. I have asked what is so complex about sending a check. Invariably there is no answer, except one occasion. The Paypal staff suggested using the fund to make online purchases. So I am going around looking for online merchants that accept payments via Paypal.

My daughter and son-in-law had their honeymoon in Greece paid of Digi, the mobile phone operator. They held a contest asking suggestions on how to improve the company. My son-in-law (then future son-in-law) won the contest, and for that he got to go to Stockholm, Sweden for a conference plus a vacation to anywhere in the world for two. He reserved the second for the honeymoon. My daughter chose Greece for their honeymoon. When the time came for them to go, I specifically told them not to buy anything for me. But they still went ahead anyway and bought a picture frame for me. It was in the form of an ancient Greek building, just perfect for framing my family photo. That whetted my appetite for stuff Greek.

There is this site Greek Merchandise that sells Greek related stuff. Stuff they sell include Greek Wear. They sells custom made T-shirts. I am a retired scientist, and we use Greek alpahbets like alpha, beta, gamma, etc., very often. They can put Greek alphabets on my custom made T-shirt. I can wear that to gatherings with former colleagues. I think perhaps I can make them green with envy.

They also sells Greek Gear. These version of Greek stuff don't interest ms as much. They will lead to further clutter in my already cluttered house.

Finding the custom T-shirt with Greek alphabets appealing, I starting look for ways to pay for them on line. I found they accept payments via Paypal in addition to credit cards. So test number one passed.

Unfortunately, when I tried to calculate shipping charges, I found that they only ship to US and Canada. So test number two failed.

Looks like my choices are pretty limited. I will have to continue to pester their support staff with enquiries for payment by check. Let's hope they are responsive to customers requests, especially to persistent pesterer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Testing uploading animated gif image

This is an animated gif image uploaded direct via Blogger:

gif image uploaded direct from Blogger post editor

13 July 2008: looks like something has changed. The above image uploaded direct from Blogger photo upload icon wasn't animated before. It is now. Looks like Blogger has upgraded.

This is an image uploaded via Photobucket:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This is an image uploaded via Photobucket and centered:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Conclusion: To upload an animated .gif image and for it to remain animated, you must host it with Photobucket. Instruction on how to do it (writing the HTML, getting it centered, etc. will be published later and a link to the post put here.

UPDATE: The instructions for making the above thumbnails are at Make thumbnail with Irfanview. There are other methods. When I have the time, I will test them and make a post giving instructions.

Related post: Animated gif image, Blogger and Photoshop

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Make thumbnail using Irfanview: Test

A reader requested for a post on publishing thumbnail in post. I have never done it before, going to try a test first. Below should be a thumbnail of places and activities of interest in Malaysia:

Amazon products for digital photography

These are photos of Malaysia which are copyright of Tourism Malaysia. The photos can be used to help promote Malaysia which is having a Visit Malaysia 2007 now. If you want to use the photos, please write in to Tourism Malaysia. You can find their website by typing or copy-pasting the search term "tourism malaysia" into the search box above, tick the box next to WEB and search.

I was not happy with the thumbnail above, so I did it all over again. I changed the background color to white and reduced the height to 200 pixels. The resulting thumnail is below:

Irfanview thumbnail done second time

I don't know about you, but I think the second thumbnail is better. Anyway, hope to see you in Malaysia.

Update: On second look, the height of the second thumbnail should have been made slightly taller as part of the word "Malaysia" is covered by one of the image. Instructions on how I did it is at Create thumbnails with Irfanview. I will be doing more tests on creating thumbnails when I find the time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Testing embeding PDF file into post

I am testing embedding a PDF file using Scribd. This is a small PDF file. I will test embedding a larger PDF file with images later:

Result: Success. Even though I tweaked the script for embeding the file to fit the width of the main column, part of the embeded PDF file still extended into the right sidebar. I will have to check the width of the main column (posts) again and try once more.

Update: Turned out there were 2 places in the script where I had to change the width and the height, just like the script for embedding a Youtube video. As you can see above, the PDF file fits the main column nicely and does not extend into the right sidebar anymore. I will do a post on how to do this in my main blog and post a link to that post later.

Update 9 September 2007: Instruction on how to do it, including tweaking the script to make the PDF file fit into the post, is give at Embed PDF file into post

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Testing Paypal and purchasing light and lamps online

I have a grouse. I have a Paypal account and some balance in the account. I appreciate their service in providing a convenient way of sending and receiving payments via email. However, Paypal only allow withdrawal to local banks in certain countries, and mine is not included. For me, I can only withdraw to a US bank account. As a non-US resident without a social security number, there is no way for me to open a US bank account. Sure there are people offering information on how non-US residents can open a US bank account. Some of them charge quite a bit for their information. I did manage to find someone offering an e-book containing information on how a non-US resident can open a US bank account on eBay, the parent company of Paypal. I found I could "Buy now" for $0.99 and I bought it immediately via "Buy now". What I got was an email telling me I could open a US bank account with a certain investing and trading company which also happens to offer banking service. No e-book. I wrote to the bank. They replied saying that I can use their other services, but to open a US bank account, I need to be a US resident or have a social security number. I lodged a "dispute" with Paypal. To Paypal's credit, they ruled in my favour and I got my $0.99 back! Well, $0.99 is still money.

I found out that China residents can withdraw by check. I wrote to Paypal many times asking about withdrawing by check, but usually got a standard reply that Paypal is actively seeking to expand their services, but because of the "complexities of global finance"? no time frame can be given. Complexities of global finance? If it is EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer), I can understand. But what is so complex about writing out a check to send oversea? Google and other US base companies can do it, why can't Paypal do it, I asked. I have even received and banked in checks from US, Argentina and United Kingdom for work done with no problem. Without exception, I never get a response to this question about Paypal withdrawing by check. There was one exception. The support person suggested I used my balance in Paypal to make online purchases. I wrote back that that is as good as forcing Paypal customers to make online purchases and I considered that unethical. I never got a response to that.

It is fortunate that I have a niece, nephew and a sister-in-law in the United States and once enlisted my niece to withdraw my Paypal balance. But I hate to trouble them and I am now looking at how many merchants are willing to accept payment via Paypal. I live in a 30 plus year old house and some of the light fixture and lamps need to be changed. I found a site that sells lighting. I found that they have fine art lamps. I like fine art, so I thought I would try that. I found something I liked: A Midsummer Nights Dream Chandelier Moonlit Patina. Chandeliers are expensive in my country, so I thought I would try that. Unfortunately they never state what form of payments they are willing to accept, so I have to complete the rest of the steps of filling in the name, address, phone number, etc., to see if they accept Paypal. I found out they only ship to US and Canada, so I put a California address. This will be how much that online purchase will cost me:

Chandelier: $ 7,380.00
Shipping: $ 1,734.30
Total: $ 9,114.30

Their contact information indicated they are located in Florida, so I supposed that is where they will be shipping from. Shipping charges turned out to be 24% of the cost of the item. Looks like for e-commerce to really take off, some bright spark got to solve this problem of high shipping costs.

It is only at checkout time that I found out that they only accept payment my:

American Express credit card
Discover credit card
Mastercard credit card
Visa credit card
Mailing of Faxing Payment
Call me for Card Information

I suppose the last two are for sending credit card information by means other than using the Internet.

Now that I know how much shipping will cost for high priced items, I want to check shipping charges for lower priced items. I tried forecast lighting. This item Handcrafted Red Cirrus Glass Shade Only don't look too expensive. It says the price is $46.80 and ground shipping is free within Continental US. Well, perhaps e-commerce is not doomed after all.

I decided to look at one more: sea gull lighting because I was curious how a sea gull lighting would look like. Turned out they were just the normal range of lighting fixtures and Sea Gull is just a brand name, like "Apple Computer". Just as you can't eat an Apple Computer, you would see your money flying away after you spend your money purchasing Sea Gull lighting fixtures and installing them in your house. Your investment is safe.

Looks like there are not too many online merchants willing to accept payment via Paypal, other than peddlers of downloadable goods like PDF books. In any case, I doubt I would be willing to accept the shipping charges for tangible goods to my country even if they accept Paypal. So looks like I will continue to pester Paypal support or trouble my relatives in the States again.