The Google Adwords Maple Music Redirect Mystery
Published by Toronto Mike on October 26, 2008 @ 21:07 in Technology
I've never met Buffalo Boy, but I helped build his blog and I help him out now and then. Earlier today, I received an S.O.S. email from him. A visit to buffaloboymike.com was resolving at maplemusic.com.
At first I didn't believe it, because it didn't happen in my Firefox. Then, I tried it in IE and saw it with my old eyes. There was clearly a redirect from Buffalo Boy's blog to the official Maple Music website. I tried it in Chrome and saw the same thing. I was intrigued.
I reviewed every line of the source code looking for a redirect script that may have piggy backed its way in there with an image or video Buffalo Boy put on his site. Everything was clean. I checked out the Movable Type templates, deleted the commented out countdown script to Spring Training 2008 and trouble shot this sucker to death, scratching my head the whole time. Then, I had that eureka moment.
Buffalo Boys displays Google ads on his site, as I do. My Firefox suppresses these ads because I use Adblock. That would explain why I wasn't redirected in Firefox but was redirected in IE and Chrome. Lo and behold, when I took out his AdSense code, the redirect stopped.
I've never heard of this, and Googling the issue isn't shedding any light on the subject. How the hell was a Google ad from Maple Music automatically redirecting visitors to maplemusic.com? Does anyone have a clue?
A Father's Guide to Reclaiming the Wii
Published by Toronto Mike on September 15, 2008 @ 09:08 in Technology
We got a Nintendo Wii for Christmas last year. Well, in reality, James got a Nintendo Wii. He's been hogging the thing, occasionally throwing his old man a bone by letting me take him on in Wii Sports baseball or tennis.
This weekend, I reclaimed the Wii. Follow these three steps and you too can take back the Wii.
Step One: Cough Up a Little Cash
Assuming your Wii is on your wifi network, and if it's not it really should be, visit the Wii Shop from the main menu and go to WiiWare. For $10 US, you can buy 1000 credits. This will be the best $10 you ever spend. Whip out the credit card and cough up the coin.
Step Two: Download a Browser
For 500 credits, you can download an Opera web browser for your Wii. Do it. You'll be sharing YouTube videos with everyone on the television, browsing Flickr pics, checking the news and getting more personalized content on demand. Your Wii is already on the net, it's time to bring down the web.
Step Three: Go 8-Bit
This third and final step is the most important one of all. The quickest and most powerful way to reclaim your Nintendo Wii is to make it your old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. There are many retro games available in WiiWare, and this weekend I downloaded Ice Hockey for 500 credits. Ice Hockey is making me very, very happy and 15 years old again.
Now that I have Ice Hockey back (and it's exactly as I remember it, which is a good thing) I just need to score RBI Baseball.
I've got my Nintendo back!
Google Chrome Beta Test
Published by Toronto Mike on September 1, 2008 @ 19:31 in Google Chrome, Technology
I just read the great Google Chrome comic book that so clearly explains Google's new open source browser, Google Chrome. The beta version of Google Chrome launches tomorrow. Once again, it appears Google gets it.
All of us at Google spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends -- all using a browser. Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.
On the surface, we designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple. To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go.
We'll see how Google Chrome matches up against Firefox 3. I'll leave a comment after I give it an initial spin.
Cuil Search Engine
Published by Toronto Mike on July 28, 2008 @ 10:52 in Technology
Cuil, pronounced cool, is the newest search engine out to steal a slice of Google's pie. I just checked it out for the first time by searching for toronto blog.
The results were fantastic! I mean, look at what's #1 in Cuil when you conduct that search. That's pretty cuil.
Rogers Hijacks Our Web Browser
Published by Toronto Mike on July 21, 2008 @ 12:56 in Technology
At home, our ISP is Rogers. Judging from the analytics I receive for this site, many of you are also Rogers customers. It appears Bell and Rogers dominate the residential internet access space in the Greater Toronto Area.
When you put a term like "cnn" in the address bar, your browser typically adds on the .com for you. When you put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar, your browser typically treats it like a search and renders the results for that keyword in your default search engine. This is how the browsers work because it makes for the best user experience.
Rogers has decided to hijack that practice. Rogers customers who now put a term like "torontomike" in the address bar are automatically redirected by default to a Rogers-branded Yahoo search for that keyword, complete with obtrusive graphical advertisements at the top and right hand side, not to mention the textual sponsored links beneath that Rogers logo. Below is a screen cap of what you see with Rogers.
If you're a Rogers customer, here's how you stop the hijacking. At the very bottom click "Learn More About This Page" and agree to opt out of this madness. The opt-out is cookie-based, so if you clear your cookies you'll need to do it again.
What pisses me off is that I pay Rogers for access to the Internet, not for messing with the content. Take my money and give me a pipeline to the net where I can use whatever browser I choose and visit whatever sites I choose. I'm not paying for jerkware.
How The Blogosphere Works
Published by Toronto Mike on June 29, 2008 @ 12:47 in Technology
Yesterday afternoon, before heading over to East Side Mario's to celebrate a couple of birthdays, I asked for help finding three Canadian songs in MP3 format. These are three songs I adore but have never had in my collection. That fact alone tells you're they're a little obscure.
By the time I got home, I saw a comment from Jason on that entry required my approval before being published. To combat comment spammers, I moderate all comments with 3 or more links in them. Jason was linking to his blog and two music blogs that he thought might be able to help me in my search.
I manually approved Jason's comment and, as people clicked through my site to the music blogs he linked, those blog owners saw traffic to their blogs from TorontoMike.com. As any good webmaster would do, they clicked over to see who was linking to them. I do this as well when I check my referral logs.
Miss Parker from Rave and Roll saw what I was looking for and was able to share with me the Demics and Diodes tracks. Shortly thereafter, at about 12:19am, the 3rd and final track came through thanks to Brian. In less than 12 hours I had the three songs I was unable to find on my own.
This is a great example of how the blogosphere works. It takes a great big world and connects it digitally via search engines and referral logs. It's much clearer in the chart below I just threw together.
Things the Web Replaced
Published by Toronto Mike on June 21, 2008 @ 16:14 in Technology
My kids will never know a time before the World Wide Web. I was already in university when the web arrived, so I have many memories of doing things that I no longer do as a result of this communications revolution. Here are some things that the web has replaced.
Encyclopedias - I think everyone over the age of 30 remembers the encyclopedia as the definitive reference point. It's where I'd start when doing an assignment or writing an essay. The thing about encyclopedias was that they were heavy and expensive and out of date so quickly. Furthermore, you could read them at the library, but you couldn't take them out. The web means I don't even think about encyclopedias any more.
Maps - I remember those big maps that were impossible to fold. You had to have one to plan your route, and you needed a Perly's or MapBook for driving directions. Now, it's all Google Maps for me and the paper map you buy in stores may rest in peace.
Letters - Remember when you had to write a letter, put it in an envelope, slap an address and stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox? My friend spent a year in Sweden and we communicated in this archaic fashion. That wouldn't happen today, we'd keep in touch via email.
Reference Books - It's not just encyclopedias. I used to have one book with info on movies, another with info on rock bands and others with baseball statistics, hockey players, not to mention the good ol' dictionary. IMDB killed the movie book, AllMusic killed my rock band anthology and BaseballReference and HockeyDB killed my sports stats books.
I'm sure there's more, but these are a few things that the web has replaced. Oh yeah, throw the fax machine in there. Who's faxing anymore?
The Best Firefox Yet
Published by Toronto Mike on June 17, 2008 @ 18:15 in Technology
With more than 15,000 improvements, Firefox 3 is faster, safer and smarter than ever before. I've been using Release Candidate 2 of Firefox 3 for a couple of weeks now and I'm loving it. It's faster, that memory leak seems to have dried up and there are neat enhancements all over the place.
It's been four years since I gave Internet Explorer the boot for Firefox 0.9 and I've been converting family, friends and colleagues ever since. Try it for two days and you'll never go back. After all, it is Download Day.
CRTC, Get Your Damn Hands Off My Web
Published by Toronto Mike on May 17, 2008 @ 10:24 in Technology
Canadian Thinker is calling it "scary stuff". I think that's an understatement. The CRTC has reversed it's 1999 promise to stay out of the realm of cyber space and is now looking at limiting Canadians' access to online broadcasters and Internet-based radio stations. It may also see a levy charged to Internet service providers to pay for the creation of more Canadian content online and they're looking at the practice of "traffic shaping" by ISPs in this country.
Net neutrality is important and our right to view content regardless of country of origin via this medium is now threatened. As Canadian Thinker said:
The CRTC has enough trouble handling what's on it plate already, without wading into the murky waters of cyber space.
As it stands, the CRTC is nothing more than a lackey for the major broadcasting companies in Canada, I'm sure Canadian internet providers would like to have their competition squashed as well.
Before it's too late, let's tell the CRTC that CanCon has no place on the world wide web.