Archive for Internet

Facebook for Celebs

If you want to use Facebook and you happen to be Paris Hilton, well I guess it might be kinda tricky. You want to be able to stay in contact with real-world friends, avoid a deluge of messages and requests from weirdos, and all whilst finding a way to drum up some PR with a presence fans can connect with. All of which is quite possible, but it’s pretty hard to navigate around all the various tools and requires settings.

I reckon there’s probably an untapped need for a specialised agency focused on offering consultancy or acting services for celebrities (and their agent/management) who want to crack the wave of new social tools. If I can muster the time and energy, it’d make an interesting project to create a flashy webpage and put together some decent white papers; creating the illusion of a fully fledged agency, and then waiting to see if anyone takes the bait.

In the meantime, if any celebrities (of the A/B list variety) would like some free in-depth consultation, please get in touch.

 Tags: Business, Internet   Published: 21st September '10

Social Media Abacus

Several months ago, Facebook opened up an API call that allowed developers to query how much a piece of content had been shared.

I figured it’d make for a nice Sunday morning project (the geek within prevails) to hack together a quick tool to query this data though a simple gooey. I figured that something worth sharing and engaging with can be used as an indicator of its value (handy for us VRE folk).

It’s uber simple: plug in the URL and in return the tool spits out the number of times the content has been shared, liked and commented on. In action:

It’s dubbed the Social Media Abacus. As I note, it could be interesting to develop this tool further to track sharing over time, mix in sharing data from other social platforms and do a bunch of other magical stuff. In reality, I won’t be touching this any further anytime soon (more to come on that).

Anyone eager enough to take on the baton is welcomed to email me and I’ll hand over the source code.

Update: Facebook has rolled out another wave of developer tools to bring social across the entire interweb. is kinda similar to what my tool does – it aggregates the social activity (with a focus on your friends) across the most popular sites on the web.

 Tags: Internet   Published: 26th April '10

Password Protection #101

I recently made a rather shocking observation. On one of my sites (I’ll gloss over the finer details), I ask users to register with an email address and a password. As you’d expect, many email addresses were from simple webmail providers such as Gmail and Hotmail. So, for educational purposes only (I must stress), I switched over to one of these said providers, popped in some random soul’s email address and password, and surprise surprise, it worked like a charm. In around 10-minutes of trial and error, I had successfully infiltrated around a dozen email accounts.

Now, most people’s inboxes are pretty unexciting, but once you have access to one’s email you effectively have access to every web service they use, and well, pretty much their entire identify. How? Well, practically every site with a login has some sort of ‘Forgot your password?’ feature. Hit that a few times across the web, and you’ll quickly find yourself with login details for dangerous things like Paypal, Facebook, or an ecommerce site (which may have your credit card details stored). From there, an unscrupulous character can cause all kinds of havoc.

Of course, this lesson is nothing you’ve not heard before. Most experts recommend using a super-difficult-to-crack but insanely-difficult-to-type-and-remember password – oh, and make it unique for each site you use. This is somewhat unrealistic, so I guess I’d recommend the following practical measures:

  • Use super duper cryptic passwords for really important financial sites like Paypal and your bank. Don’t even think about using these passwords for anything else.
  • You’re probably best having a completely unique password for your email too. If it’s never compromised, it doesn’t make all that much sense to change it regularly.
  • Use a simple throwaway password for simple websites where any risk is really small.
  • Never use a password for a random website, however innocent it may look, that you’re also using for something potentially damaging (email account, Facebook, etc.).
  • Perhaps keep track of your passwords in a handy spreadsheet (mine has 254 entries, which is somewhat disturbing) or a notebook.
 Tags: Internet, Random   Published: 9th September '09

Optimise My Site & Win a Prize

I’ve finally started to lift my finger a bit with Mafia War Secrets, the info-product site I acquired a couple of months ago. It’s performed far better than I had anticipated, yet it’s fate is far from certain. The Mafia Wars game is likely to fade into non-existence as quickly as it has risen to stardom, and five competing products have suddenly hit the market, all trying to attack the same niche segment. For these reasons, VRE veterans typically opt to build upon evergreen sites – and I’m starting to see why. Nevertheless, there is plenty of opportunity for me to squeeze more potential from the site.

Therefore, it’s pretty imperative that I maximise the site’s potential while times are good. I see this being best achieved pursuing two goals; seeking out as much ROI-positive traffic as possible (I’ve made good inroads here already), and improving conversion rates to make the most out of the inbound traffic. I now intend to focus my efforts on the latter. As previously discussed, it’s incredibly easy to develop and roll out simple A/B tests and steadily increase conversion rates through continues iterations on the sales page. I’ve kicked off by testing the title copy that appears right at the top of the sales patter:


Version B was the original copy (the control). Conversion rates are shown first, followed by the percentage increase relative to the control. Versions A and C performed less favourably, but version D proved to generate an increase to conversion rates.

The impact is staggering: 5-minutes of labour gave way to a 3.86% uplift in the conversion rate. Annualised, the absolute value of this roughly equates to say, a return LHR:JFK flight, not bad at all.

What next? There are zillions of variables that could be tested, but in truth I seem to lack the mojo to make any real inroads. Hiring the services of a professional copywriter could prove expensive and risky. That got me thinking; why not run a risk-free contest whereby I award anyone who can provide demonstrable results? And so I will.

It’s simple: suggest a small change to a title, some additional text, new images, or a completely new design altogether – whatever really. I will then pit your entry against the existing page. If your ideas produce a >10% increase in the relative conversion rate (ie. 2.69% to >2.96%), you’ll instantly win $100 via Paypal. This winning entry will then become the new control which would need to be bettered by future contestants.

I’ll be happy to provide a log-in to the conversion tracking software so that you will have full transparency on how your entry performs. Reverse A/B testing will also be used to verify results.

To take part, just jot me an email with your entry and I’ll get it going within a day or two. Be sure to spread the good word!

Update: The one and only Mr. Zilic has entered the ring with 6 different tweaks to the sales letter. Despite best efforts, he’s yet to push me out of pole position – although one or two are in with a running chance. Anyone else up for the challenge?

Update #2: I’ve taken the plunge and hired two professional copywriters to see what they can muster together. Risky procedure.

Update #3: Danny has pulled off the impossible and beaten me. $100 is now winging it’s way to him. Nicely done sir.

 Tags: Business, Internet   Published: 1st September '09


I’ve acquired a new site that peddles another informational product, although this time it’s not cleaning related. is geared towards fans of the popular Mafia Wars game that has taken Facebook and MySpace by storm in recent months.

For a mere 20-bucks, I can tell you a few tricks to get the edge in the game and become the don. You have to wade through the sales copy first, of course. Competition is fairly non-existent and there is already a small but strong band of affiliates taking the brunt of performing promotional activities. Fingers crossed.

 Tags: Business, Internet, Introducing   Published: 30th May '09

Facebook Connect

Fellow Facebook users can now interact with using their Facebook profile, thanks to the WP-FBConnect WordPress plug-in. When commenting on a post, you can opt to skip entering your details and instead connect your Facebook account with the site. Providing that you’re logged into Facebook, you’ll then be automatically logged into the blog each time you return.


Moreover, when you leave a comment, you’ll have the option to share the story with your friends via the news feed on Facebook. I already syndicate the blog via my own news feed, but this feature will allow me to reach both friends of friends, and friends of strangers. Plus, with the combo of the Facebook Comments plug-in, any comments left on Facebook are copied back onto the blog, keeping everything nice and tidy.

It’ll be interesting to see if this expanded distribution will bring a new audience to the blog and foster greater interaction.

 Tags: Blog, Internet   Published: 1st February '09


As an experiment, I wanted to try my hand at creating a niche-content from scratch. I grabbed one of the domains I registered a few months back, outsourced the research and creation of the content and after around a week I have, a site providing advice and tips to help prepare for an interview. Screenshot

The site cost a grand total of $95.15 to create ($88 for the outsourced content writing & $7.15 for 1-years domain registration with GoDaddy) and took around 2-hours to project manage. Admittedly, I did also spend some 5-hours to fiddle with the site’s design. However, this would be a one-off task and additional sites could be launched with the same template in under 3-hours in total.

My goal is that the site might earn $1/day in advertising revenue. I suspect that this is overly ambitious. But if it can be done, then this could be a profitable model; whereby sites could be quickly churned out (a site a week would be certainly feasible) and bring in lots of small amounts of revenue.

Update: I couldn’t help but give the site another aesthetic update. A gray colour scheme is a bit easier on the eye than the lime green. Do you think it’s better?

 Tags: Business, Internet, Introducing   Published: 13th January '09

Check Your Links

If you’re in the affiliate game, I highly recommend that you take 20-minutes and double-check your links every once in a while.

I finally was able to debug an anomaly in recent site earnings to discover that I was using an invalid affiliate link. A wee mishap that has left me missing out on ~$575 of revenue. Very sour experience indeed, but a valuable learning lesson nevertheless.

Update: The amazing folk at Glispa were able to do some of their own investigating and reassign some missing sales to myself – an amazing service. Special thanks to Brian & Andre.

 Tags: Business, Internet   Published: 6th January '09

Backups in the cloud

Time to embrace the cloud. I previously had a script on my server performing a daily backup of the SQL databases (a mysqldump) that operate many of my sites. It didn’t make much sense to dump the backups on the same server; for the obvious reason that you’re unprotected against server problems, but also because it eats into the relatively more expensive hosting bandwidth and hard disk space provided from a typical VPS service. came to the rescue once again. For just $10, a new script that was created which carries out the same database dump, but now moves it to Amazon’s S3 platform. The service is ridiculously cheap – it’ll probably set me back around a buck a month.

Some brief instructions to get you started:

  • First, download the free Amazon A3 PHP class.
  • Grab my MYSQL Backup Dump on Amazon S3 Script
  • Get yourself a Amazon S3 account.
  • Edit the script to include your Amazon S3 credentials and database details.
  • Upload the files on to your server.
  • To test or run, hit the script from the browser or through SSH.
  • Optionally, add a task in Crontab to execute the script on a periodic basis.

Drop me an email if you require help, have feature suggestions or bug reports.

Update: I’ve added a buy-me-a-coffee donation link to this and other posts where I’ve provided something that can offer value to others. One donation so far!

 Tags: Internet   Published: 14th December '08


Feast your eyes on another oddball addition to Mander Enterprises. offers an ‘information product’, a posh way of saying a paid-for PDF.

For a mere $9.95, I’ll tell you how one can remove the nasty residue left from cleaning products such as Orange Glo. However, you’ll first have to navigate through the multi-colour/font wonder that is the 1,500 word sales letter.

Traffic is purely organic and sales continue to trickle in. Interestingly, it has a tendency to pick up on Sunday’s – the holy day for DIY.

I’ve long fancied to operate one of these sites as it requires two essential tasks: buying as much traffic as possible that can provide a demonstrable ROI; and improving conversion rates through split-testing techniques I’ve previously talked about.

 Tags: Business, Internet, Introducing   Published: 5th December '08