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Google is Tracking where you Click, by Name, but you Can Opt Out

See the article Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking, by Julia Angwin. Apparently, Google no longer takes Internet users’ privacy seriously.

. . . means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.

To opt-out of Google’s identified tracking, visit the Activity controls on Google’s My Account page, and uncheck the box next to “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.” You can also delete past activity from your account.

There is an old story about two guys standing in the front room of a house, looking out the window at the street. Suddenly, police cars and SWAT vans race up, their lights flashing, and cops rush out and point guns at the window. Bullets begin to fly, and the glass shatters. One guy drops to the floor and puts his hands over his head. The other guy just stands there and watches. The guy on the floor shouts, “Get down, you idiot!” The one standing up says, “Why? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Do you hate Google (or any brand)?

I recently received an email from a researcher at the University of Glasgow, asking me to complete a survey directed at people who hate a brand. I replied, explaining that I don’t actually “hate” Google, but that the name of this blog is rather tongue in cheek. I offered to publish his email here, in case any of you felt like completing the survey:

Hi Dan,

My name is Laurence and I’m a researcher at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

I’m conducting a project trying to understand why people engage in anti-brand movements and more specifically, why and how it manifests online.

I would be extremely interested in having your opinion and know more about your experience of Google “hater” if you don’t mind sparing a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire I designed?

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/antibrand

The survey takes 10 minutes to answer and is quite straightforward. It would be of great help if you could fill it in, and maybe spread it to people you know hate Google as well?

Again, many thanks for your help and dedication to hating Google :) Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this further.

Regards,

Laurence (redacted)
PhD Researcher
(contact info redacted)

Between Google and Microsoft, Which is More Evil?

Ordinarily, I would admit that it is no contest–Microsoft is more evil than Google. But this web page, Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was, may change my mind. It lists several quotes from Eric Smith, former Google CEO, of which my favorite is:

“We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

The page then goes on to describe Google’s fall from grace, beginning with the ubiquitous “geek love” that nerds around the turn of the millenium showed the behemoth. Of course, Google’s motto, “don’t be evil” is duly mocked. Then the page describes Google’s descent into arrogance and arbitrary and punishing treatment of its users.

So, is Google more evil than Microsoft? Ahem, of course not ;-)

Maybe I should buy the domain “ihatetheTSA.org”

IhatetheTSA.org is available (as of March 18, 2012). I find myself surprised that this is so, considering how most people seem to feel about the TSA. Below, I have embedded an infographic created by an Internet acquaintance which I think accurately portrays how the agency manages to simultaneously squash our civil rights and squander our resources, all while accomplishing virtually nothing.

TSA Waste
Created by: Online Criminal Justice Degree

Pay a dollar — get a great razor

Razor blades are so expensive I practically need to take out a second mortgage to finance my baby-faced, clean-cut, Ritchie Cunningham look. So, when I saw the Dollar Shave Club video, I had to check it out. Basically, pay a dollar a month (plus shipping), and they send you razor blades. If you want fancier blades, you can get them for $6 or $9 per month, and in those cases, the shipping is included. The video is entertaining.


The company gives away free months of service to those who send new customers their way. So, in an effort to subsidize my need to remove unruly facial hair, I have prominently displayed this link:

Dollar Shave Club

Please feel free to click it at your leisure.

Law Review Article Published

Attention all law nerds:

I recently had the honor of having my law review article published in volume 72 of the Louisiana Law Review. Here is a link to an online version of the article:

An Uncertain Prescription–Medical Malpractice Actions in Lousiana

Top 10 Black Hat SEO Techniques

Black Hat SEO techniques are methods webmasters/marketers use to get a leg up on the competition in the search engines. Whether they are fair or unfair, legitimate or illegitimate is not up for discussion here. This is just a list and explanation of ten of the top black hat SEO techniques.

10. Buying Links

Is buying links a black hat technique? Of course it is. When a marketer pays for a link, they are essentially “buying a vote” for the page they are promoting. That link would not exist except that it was paid for. This gives extra weight to the promoted page in the search engine algorithms. The paid-for link does not itself add extra value to visitors, so the technique must be black hat. More Info

9. Cyber Hoaxing

Hoaxing is a way of “creatively” making news. First, create a fake news website that looks real. Second, write a sensational but false news story. It helps if it is difficult to prove the veracity. Third, create multiple accounts on various social networking sites such as Digg, Stumbleupon, Del.ico.us, etc., and submit your story there. Fourth, be ready for emails and phone calls from actual big-time media outlets with questions about your story. You will generate buzz and get links to your fake news story. Eventually, when it is discovered your story is false, try to capitalize on the outrage. How you monetize the whole situation is up to the webmaster, but it is commonly done with affiliate programs. More Info

8. Keyword Stuffing/Hidden Text

This technique involves picking a bunch of keywords for which a marketer wants a page to be optimized, and then placing them on the page in such a way that they will be read by search engine spiders, but not by human visitors. They can be located in a hidden div tag, colored so that they blend into the background, or even placed within HTML comment tags. This is truly an oldschool technique, and is not nearly as effective now as it was back in the day. More Info

7. Doorway pages

Doorway pages are web pages created solely for the purpose of being spidered by search engines and included in the search engine results pages (SERPs). They are usually optimized for placement in the SERPs by being stuffed with keywords and created in bulk. Often, you will see that the pages are named after the primary keyword being targeted. Also, doorway pages will likely have a form of redirection involved sending visitors to the “money site”. The redirection can be a meta refresh tag or javascript. Most webmasters using this technique will have software which cranks out doorway pages by the thousands. More Info

6. Web Page Cloaking

This technique goes hand-in-hand with the doorway pages technique. The idea behind cloaking is to show a doorway page to search engine spiders but the “money page” to human visitors. Both pages are accessed using the same URL. Software is used to identify the search engine spiders and serve the doorway page to them. There is a dual purpose to web page cloaking: competitors are kept from scraping the content of the optimized doorways, and human visitors are kept from seeing the ugly doorway pages (the redirect is unnecessary in a properly executed cloaking solution). I may be a little biased about web page cloakingbecause I am the author of KloakIt, a cloaking software application (note: KloakIt is no longer for sale to the public, unless you make me an offer I cannot refuse).

5. XSS Injection

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a technique used to take advantage of certain pages with a special security flaw. They accept input from the HTTP GET request and display it on the page. Therefor, it is possible to construct a URL to one of these pages which will be displayed as a link to the site you specify, with the text you specify as the link text. The constructed URL can be set up as a link somewhere that a search engine spider will follow, getting the XSS-generated page indexed. Very sneaky. More Info

4. 302 Redirect Hijacking

This technique is a really nasty black hat trick where the evil webmaster creates a web page on a high-page-rank domain with a 302 redirect to the page he is trying to hijack. Googlebot (or another search engine spider) follows the redirect to the second page and indexes it, but on the SERP, the URL of the indexed page will be that of the page with the redirect. In other words, the evil black hat webmaster will own the SERP, and the page with the content will be de-indexed. A truly evil hijacker builds cloaking into the redirect so human visitors to the page will go to his “money page”, while search engine spiders will still see the 302 redirect.More Info

3. Scraping and Spinning

Scraping and its cousin spinning are a black hat technique that uses software to spider websites, grab the content, mix it up a bit, paraphrase, randomize, and generate “new” content from it. Often it will contain links to sites the marketer is trying to promote. Or, it will contain Adsense or other ads which are used to monetize the content. Spinning content into duplicate-content-penalty-avoiding text is the holy grail of black hat techniques. Programmers who come up with methods for doing this on-the-fly have created true money machines for themselves. Here’s an excellent scraping and spinning story.

2. Splogs

Close cousins to scraping and spinning, splogs are simply blogs with worthless, automatically generated content. Many splogs read RSS feeds and create blog posts for themselves from them. Splogs are the framework into which scraped and spun content is laid out to create made-for-Adsense (MFA) sites. Also, splogs can be used to get other sites indexed or their Pagerank increased, by including links to them. A large percentage (some say 20% or higher) of the blogs on the web are actually splogs. More Info

…and the number one black hat SEO technique is…

1. Link Spamming

King of black hat techniques, link spamming is just a way getting links to the websites of your choice through the use of automated software which accesses unprotected blogs through anonymous web proxies and leaves links in their comments. Long, frequently updated lists of proxy IP addresses are necessary, as well as decent comment generation software. Blog software developers have fought back, however, such as the the development of the Askimet comment filter for WordPress. More Info

Now that you are an expert on black hat SEO techniques, go out and make your millions. But wait! I’ll through in one more technique as a freebie… “churn and burn”. This is actually not a technique, but a strategy. Churn and burn means you have to be prepared to lose domains to penalties in search engine rankings as Google or other search engines discover they are spammy. The real secret to black hat success is to always be developing new domains and campaigns. If one is slammed, you should have two on the back burner.

Google+

I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I have been using Google+. It is more than just a Facebook knockoff and the Circles feature is truly useful. Yet another great service from the Big G.

Don’t Track Me, Google!

If you don’t like how Google keeps track of your searches and clicks, visit this site… http://donttrack.us/

Our Tax Dollars at Work

Well, to be honest, it is not our tax dollars at work, but printed and/or borrowed money at work.   Nevada spent $812,448,468 which came from the “Federal Stimulus” programs of 2009. Out of that, a grand total of 39.39 jobs were created.

Source: http://nv.gov/DETR_Default.aspx?department=90&description=EMPLOYMENT%20TRAINING%20&%20REHABILITATION