Thursday, September 28, 2006

Googling for gold

While most of us know Google as THE Internet Search company, it is no less THE advertisement services driven company. Most users who have an internet presence, whether as a company or a personal web page such as a weblog (blog), already place Google's context sensitive ads into their web pages. This is a free affiliate program that anybody with a decent web page can apply for and obtain relatively easily. Money is generated for the web page owner through metrics such as CPM (cost per thousand) and CPC (Cost per Click). Many are just happy that the dollars and cents are trickling into their affiliate accounts with Google to bother too much about these metrics.

Are there any other means of earning money besides ads with Google? Do you know the inner workings of your Adsense membership programme and how to maximise your earnings? How about profitting from Adult sites? These, and many other less well known facts of Google advertising is explored in the the book, "Google Advertising Tools" by Harold Davis. The book is divided into 4 parts. The first 2 parts delves into how the Google uses the internet surfing habits of people to generate advertising eye-balls, which leads to part 2 on the details of Google's Adsense programme and how to maximise the amount of money you make.

Parts 3 and 4 focuses on how advertisers can maximise eye-balls through Google's AdWord programme and its related API (Application Programming Interface).

I suspect that Adsense users would not be that interested in AdWords and vice versa. But therein lies the attraction, or the bain, of this book - it is good for people who are more interested in making more money advertising or for people who want to drive business to their web sites through effective and customized ad placements. One doesn't have to read this book cover to cover before coming away with a few useful tips either way although I suspect that both parties would have preferred if their interest (making money advertising or advertising to make money) enjoyed greater coverage. As it is, both areas receive fairly even coverage.

One thing I learnt is that your website's Google Pagerank will increase the more other websites' webpages (and that include blogs) link to your website. So the next time you find other pages linking to your website or blogs (even deep-linking ones), be happy. That only means that someone values your content. This comes at the expense of bandwidth, of course, but then, that's why you publish, isn't it? On the other hand, if you have got Google adsense code, it can only be a good thing, right?

As always, O'Reilly titles are worth the time and money spent.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Living and leaving Singapore

Final Notes from a Great Island - Humphreys is very well-known among the Singapore newspaper reading public. For the last few years, he has been entertaining and informing Today readers through his regular columns. I must say that I am a fan of his, having been tickled often by his observation and experiences of life in Singapore. However, he has just left for Australia's Geelong to start the next phase of his life with his wife though, thankfully, he still writes the weekly column for Today. And why not. The internet has made communications so much more convenient. The only thing that the internet cannot do is to give a person a feel of life in a certain place while being in another. Neil certainly will not be able to write about Singapore as often and as intimately as he used to. But he has left behind for Singaporeans, and the wider expatriate community in Singapore, and perhaps the world, a book about his travels and observations in the oft neglected parts of this tiny island of Singapore.

In his inimitable way, "Final Notes from a Great Island - A Farewell to Singapore" relates his journeys and discoveries into places such as Lim Chu Kang where all sorts of farms, such as organic farms, goat farms, frog farms, etc., still exists in this otherwise highly urbanised island. Locals as well as expatriates should give Orchard Road a miss on weekends and public holidays for these farms, if nothing else, as a therapy against the hustle and bustle of city living. In the same vein, Neil writes about his Singapore Challenge of 'circum-navigating' Singapore's lush rainforests of reservoirs and nature reserve smack in the middle of the island. Indeed, as he notes, this is the green lung of the island. If quaintness is what you are looking for, then follow him through Queenstown, the Chua Chu Kang cemeteries and Haw Par Villa Park. If for titillation, then Geylang is a, ahem, must-go.

Personally, I was delighted that Neil visited Sembawang and wrote about the many places that I am familiar with, including Sembawang Park and the Jetty at the end of it. It brought back a lot of memories of my childhood. But I do have a gripe with his history. Neil mentioned the Terror Club as originating from the Americans. While the Terror Club near Admiralty Road East is now the domain of the American military personnel, the name originated from his countrymen during the time Singapore was its impregnable fortress and the Naval Base its home. 'Terror' was a wholly British invention. My dad used to work in the Naval Base in the 1950s and 1960s for the British, and he would often mention 'tear-lah', which is the Cantonese transliteration of 'Terror', in his conversations with mother. I didn't understand who or what he was referring to until much later. I have some links in my singaporelifetimes blog which document all these.

Notwithstanding this slight historical inaccuracy, Neil has done Singapore a favour with his book. I only discovered that he had written two other books, "Notes from an even smaller island" and "Scribbles from the same Island" on the same subject earlier, and they are probably well worth reading too.