Monday, August 30, 2004

School Begins --

With the onset of school I wanted to remind everyone about the Wired Pages Reference page. I recently updated the broken link for the Guide to Grammar and Writing. This guide is an excellent language reference tool. There are also other resources provided on the Wired Pages Reference page which can be used for school, business, or in general -- everyday life.

I have left comments on for this post -- let me know about your favorite reference site or language tool. I really like adding to the array of resources on the Reference page -- so drop me a line and tell me about yours...

Friday, August 27, 2004

Public Notices...

It has become commonplace for me to announce anomalies relating to business occurrences or issues with my sites. This announcement concerns my ever present counter issues and growing evidence that what is reported is not factual. Yesterday after returning from my errands, I linked to my blog and noticed that the counter had not changed from earlier in the day. Why is this a red flag -- because though I may have had no hits while I was away -- it should have incremented the counter based on my recent retrieval of the blog. And this has happened before, a lot [too often for the infrequent sampling that I perform]. The cgi counter would not be so important if this were not also a strong indicator that the transaction was not logged by the Apache server which provides service to my website.

The difference in counts as of 10:32 a.m. on August 27, 2004 -- between the two visible counters on my blog is depicted in the diagram below. Refer to the earlier post on counters -- Converging Counters, the CGI Server Counter was well ahead at that time. I have not reset this counter in anyway after the initial occurrence -- discussed in the earlier post.


One other interesting tidbit about the External Counter -- every night that I am up until 1:00 a. m. ET [which is often], this counter appears to stop working. When trying to retrieve the stats page for the counter -- an ASP/SQL error is issued and the count is not produced for my blog page. I am not sure at this time why. Why not replace it? Well even though it appears to disconnect every night -- it has more hits recorded than my server counter and I did place an invisible counter on the page.

My blog template is used for all of the posts from my blog which are generated separately by blogger.com. Every html file generated has the same side bar with the same counters as the index page. The counter should be incremented for each separate post requested. For instance sometimes I insert posts into forums. I do not insert the entire blog -- just the post I want referenced. If the user selects "home" at the bottom of that page or "current posts" the main blog will be provided with the same counters. Both of these pages should increment the counters on the page. There are not separate counters for each post. This however does not account for the referrer issue which has always been high for the blog. I just started the blog June 1, 2004 and in the beginning only averaged one post per week. So all of the posts were already on the page and I wasn't using forums then. Now I average about two posts per week.

Another use for your online journal -- public documentation of business transactions and anomalies that may be useful in the future. You know how newspapers sometimes run ads that explain that an individual is not responsible for any debts incurred... known as Public Notices. Well this is kind of the same thing -- A public journal to say I am not sure what to do about these problems -- but let's note it in rather a public manner.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Other Legal Stuff --

My online name is R. D. Thomas -- nickname Q... I currently publish two news services, Wired Pages and Maryland Wired. See my last entry -- QiSoftware Advertising for other related matters.

Maryland Wired will stop publishing in December 2004. I have never nor will I ever accept advertising for the Maryland Wired site other than the affiliate links that are already present on the site or that may have existed in the past. At no time, have I ever received monetary benefit or otherwise from placing affiliate links on any of the sites discussed in this weblog entry or anywhere else.

Both the Wired Pages and the Maryland Wired sites -- for the most part, reside on an AOL hosted server. A lot of the programs [e.g. search engines, news headlines, etc.] found on each of the sites' pages are maintained on my business site -- qisoftware.com. I am soley responsible for these sites.

Also noteworthy -- I use the AOL screen name qisoftware [I began using the qisoftware screen name, November 14, 2003 -- qisoftware.com, registered, June 2002]. I seldom login with this screen name nor do I have a site located at this screen name. The AOL qisoftware screen name redirects to my business site qisoftware.com. My business domain -- qisoftware.com is not located on the AOL platform.

Why discuss the qisoftware AOL screen name? On two separate occasions my AOL service has been interrupted with the claim that there was a violation of the AOL Terms of Service (TOS) with regard to my AOL qisoftware profile. What that was I was never able to ascertain. [I sent a couple of emails and made several phone calls to AOL customer service.]

On November 27, 2002, I began using the Maryland Wired screen name. Although the Maryland Wired news service has always been called Maryland Wired -- the AOL screen name first used -- in December 1999, was mdnewsservice -- the Maryland Wired screen name was not available at that time. I still have the first screen name -- mdnewsservice, however it redirects to the marylandwired site.

I also use Yahoo! chat quite a bit. I use a family account to allow minor family members access to this account if the need arises [mostly games]. Other family members may also use, from time to time the Yahoo! account(s), however not where business matters are concerned.

QiSoftware Advertising...

QiSoftware has established advertising rates for some of our pages and sites -- Click on the Advertising link to preview the rates in effect. In addition, there is a permanent link -- Other Advertising Options located on the lower side panel of this blog. I can personally attest to the fact -- that there are a lot of referrals produced by this blog.

Please keep in mind that we are in the preview mode and if all goes according to plan -- we will start advertising October 1, 2004.

In addition, I am a sole proprietor and as such have not hired, contracted, nor employed in any manner any agent or person to conduct business on my behalf. If I have not met with you -- see photo to the right -- then we have no agreement. Why this caution? My unsolicited emails of late are of a nature that suggest I may wish to safeguard my identity. I do not think it will be that difficult to conduct business in the future -- I simply want to add a note of caution.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

What Is A Webalizer Referrer? -- The Deleted Post...

In an earlier post: [ Web Counters] I discussed ongoing issues with my logging. In the last paragraph of this post I discussed referrers. The following is the definition of a referrer as provided by this link -- [Webalizer Quick Help]:

Referrers are those URLs that lead a user to your site or caused the browser to request something from your server. The vast majority of requests are made from your own URLs, since most HTML pages contain links to other objects such as graphics files. If one of your HTML pages contains links to 10 graphic images, then each request for the HTML page will produce 10 more hits with the referrer specified as the URL of your own HTML page.


The above implies that graphics files and other "objects" are counted as part of a url's referrer tally. I remember reading on two separate occasions, information that specifically claimed the referrer was a "page" and not graphics or other requests. Only pages. Now I cannot find that reference and I am wondering if anyone else read that claim.

Webalizer reports a "direct request" under the Referrers section of the report -- for those pages accessed via the Java applet menu I use on the main pages of the qisoftware.com site. [I ran a separate test to confirm this]. This applet menu is "graphical" in appearance ...

Because I have ongoing issues with logging I am trying to gather all the evidence that supports the claim my server stats are not correct.

As of August 19, 2004, the blog [yes this blog] has made over 6800+ referrals [referrers] to my server -- for the month of August and it has only been requested 1350+ times for the same time period. If Webalizer [report provided by my server] is counting the external objects that make up the index page of the blog then this figure is still out of whack because most of the graphics found on my blog are from the blogger.com server. The only external files on my server are the search engine script, my QiSoftware logo, and my photo [other than the graphics I recently started adding to my posts -- discussion later -- not even the Wired Pages logo is not located on the qisoftware.com domain]. The blogger profile has a photo too -- but the referrer in question is "www.qisoftware.com/blog/" and not a blogger.com url.

In addition, I do not have enough bandwidth coming off my server for the same time period to account for the number of graphics and other requests that the 6800+ referrers would suggest -- and in any case most of the graphics are not located on the qisoftware.com domain. My bandwidth usage thus far is only 110 Megabytes --[through August 19, 2004]. As I stated -- I recently started adding graphics to the blog entries and the ratio of referrers to hits has always been about the same. These recent graphic additions to my posts are not enough to account for the ratio difference.

The really interesting "object" to study is the cgi server counter used on the blog. It is (1) a top url hit getter (2) a referrer and (3) part of the overall number of items referred to by the blog url [this according to the poorly worded definition above]? Why would Webalizer a program used by many -- count this object so many ways? This is illogical might even be illegal. My cgi server counter does it all... Can it walk on water?

One other tidbit -- the Wired Pages home page also uses a cgi counter. This url has 283 referrers thus far for the month of August -- [thru 8/19/2004]. It also has three programs that are served up from the qisoftware.com domain -- each time this page is accessed 11 hits [this is right -- only ten if accessed directly] should be logged to my raw access files. Let's see -- 283 divided by 11 is only 25 times this page would have been accessed according to the above definition [wording a little shaky] of referrer. My webalizer reports that this subdomain [wiredpages.qisoftware.com] -- which is an index redirection -- has been accessed almost 200 times this month [thru 8/19/04].

If I am right [about the definition of referrer], why is the ratio off -- my links do not open in new windows. I always open links in the same window -- and I still do not have enough logging to accomodate the news service page requests. Most of the links on my blog are links to my news service which only have a redirect index file on my qisoftware domain server. This would correlate with the low bandwidth. The news service programs [applications maintained on the qisoftware server] have very small foot prints [bandwidth wise] -- but are not being logged. This was the first problem I noticed --

Something is really out of sync... Anyone else have a similar problem? In my last post [recursive reference here -- something that cgi counter should not be able to do --- ], I showed why the only other way to account for the ratio [6800:1350] difference between referrers and requests is not applicable in this case.

By the way I never use redirection to access my news service pages -- I access the pages directly in hopes of keeping my logging [qisoftware.com domain] to a minimum. So although I may account for some of the hits to the blog, I am not clicking on links found on the blog -- thereby causing no change in the referrer count total. The only logging that should occur when anyone accesses my news service pages directly -- is program and script usage for those applications maintained by the qisoftware.com domain and referenced by a page on my news service. [I use a lot of server side programs and AOL does not support server side applications and scripts on its platform.]

Friday, August 20, 2004

I Am Wrong...

I removed the last two posts because I was "mostly" wrong about the first. There are issues with my logging... I could discuss the same issues with my Doing Business ... post [this link was picked up by forum members, there is a 3:1 ratio here] because there is only one post -- but I am no longer in the mood. I will have to address my logging issues more carefully in the future. There is a problem with my redirects which is correct. The problem with the main blog is not a problem because each of my posts is a separate file that is included in my main blog page and each is a page that Webalizer would understand as a page--

I have this nagging concern -- the other day I had so many problems with inserting a table into one of my posts My Hardware Tools that I "viewed source". I was able to see the source from the main blog page --- now I can't because it is a post file. I didn't change my blogger settings... I even posted a forum question on bloggerforum.com. I also wrote to blogger support about the problem, could they have changed a setting and not informed me? In which case my deleted posts would have been correct --- hmm... DELETED POSTS ARE CORRECT --- FTP'ed main blog file and edited with vi.... all text there... no file inclusions [iframes]. I will repost the deleted post after I have done more investigation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My Hardware Tools...

I develop a lot of applications for use with the Internet. Cross compatibility issues are a big concern when developing these applications. In addition my news service requires certain equipment, e.g. cameras, scanners, etc. I have at my disposal the following hardware tools:


HardwareUseNotes
Pentium class 233 MHz Desktop Windows 98 PCApplication development, graphicsOld and reliable, completely rebuilt, provides a hardware platform for me to tinker with...
Pentium class 500 MHz Desktop Windows 98 PCDevelopment, testingNewer
Pentium class 800 MHz Notebook Windows XPTestingNewer
Macintosh 1 GHz Desktop G4 PPC OS XCross compatibility testing, some development, more and more graphics, on the fly updates. I make quite a bit of use of the underlying OS provided by this platform (tcsh shell).Recently installed an additional 512MB of memory
HP Laserjet 4 Plus PrinterHeavy duty printingOld and reliable workhorse
HP Inkjet Color Printercolor printing-
HP Inkjet Color Printercolor printing-
HP Inkjet Color Printer/Scanner/Fax/Copiercolor printing, faxing, etc.-
Brother Fax Machineblack and white copying, faxing-
HP 5100 Scannercolor reproductionsGreat older scanner
Olympus Digital CameraImage workLow resolution - used mostly for Internet work - great camera
Sony Digital Video CameraImage work/video, video conferencinggreat video camera
Nikon 35mm CameraImage work (detail)No dark room so minimal use.


My tools are not the latest, but I have some great older pieces that I rely on and upgrade whenever the opportunity presents itself. Next time I will discuss my software tools...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Affiliate Reports - August BiMonthly Report

There seems to be a lot of interest in affiliate marketing, so I thought I would provide bi-montly reports on my results and findings. These reports will be produced on the 1st and around the 15th of each month. I hope it helps you to decide whether or not you wish to particpate in this arena.

Mid Month August

To date I have not sold anything, and for the month of August I have had a total of 3 click throughs. I have had more click throughs on the blog entry discussing this issue than anything else.

QiSoftware.WHO?

While searching Google recently, for all references of my business name, QiSoftware, a new domain name -- "qisoftware.net" caught my attention. The range of emotions that I experienced on seeing this new entry in "my" Internet space was -- mild irritation to utter disbelief that someone had the audacity to use my name...? This of course is a tongue in cheek exaggeration -- over this new turn of events.

After following the link provided by Google, I was presented with a page that proclaimed -- "This Site Is Under Construction and Coming Soon". In consolation, the page offered free use of the registration entity's search utility until such time the site becomes operational.


My "oh so clever" business name was being used by someone else. %#*#&$^## -- [Sorry, the only part I can translate is the "&" -> and]. I picked out my "clever" new business name over two years ago [qisoftware.com, registered June 2002], after deciding that my former name RDT & Associates, sounded a bit too much like a law firm. [In the process of choosing a new business name, I checked search engines and with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office which produced no results or references for the name "qisoftware". ] It is a good thing that I am not a magician -- because that new domain name would have been no longer if my wishful glare had -- had it's way.

After my momentary disbelief, I went in search of the owner of this new site [register.com provided assistance here] and the answer to -- what could be done about removing it from the Internet. The site had been registered earlier this month [August 2004] and absolutely nothing could be done about it.

All kidding aside, I have found one other site [qi247inc.com, registered January 2003], that uses a "qisoftware.html" as part of its content. This page sometimes gets a higher ranking in search engines than does my "qisoftware.com" when "qisoftware" is the search query. I guess I will have to look on the bright side -- maybe someone will find my site because they were looking for his...


Friday, August 13, 2004

The Elance Advantage...

I recently became a "browsing member" of the widely acclaimed Elance program. The premise by which this service procurement organization works, is this -- there are buyers and there are sellers [or bidders]. The buyers list their projects and the sellers install a presence online, a sort of company résumé. The buyers are then able to invite specific service providers to bid or allow all qualifying members to bid if the project is unsealed. You must subscribe to the service to bid on any project and depending on your area of expertise the subscription cost can range from $5.00 to $245.00 a month. Other determinants factor into the subscription cost so it is best to review and select the plan best suited for your needs. [My current membership provides me with an online presence.]


I have looked into other online networking organizations but this one is a little different. It is the eBay of the service procurement process. In a recent interview with Plug In Magazine, the online e-provider's founder, Beerud Sheth --responded in part, when asked about Elance's top competitors.

Our top competitor is the status quo - the traditional way businesses buy and hire external service providers.

----- Beerud Sheth, Founder Elance
May 2004 Plug In Magazine


I am very interested in this concept. The way in which services are sought and procured especially in my line of work has changed drastically since my entrée into the business world [I define this as being the moment I completed my undergraduate work]. I am not sure if bidding for services is for everyone, but I think Elance is worth looking into from both the perspective of service providers and those businesses requiring external services.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wired Pages-- AOL Advertising

I am considering establishing advertising rates for Wired Pages. I have had a bit of inquiry from local business about listings and this would provide a vehicle. Site content, of potential advertisers will have to be of a nature suitable for a general audience and able to fit in with one or more categories already existing on the service. Don't rush in to take advantage of this amazing deal just yet-- she says with a smile.

The problem is Wired Pages is hosted on the America Online (AOL) network. Wired Pages' server side applications are hosted on my business domain-- qisoftware.com, this includes the Wired Pages search engine. I have searched high and low for more specific information pertaining to AOL's Terms of Service (TOS) and whether or not members can put advertising information [rates] directly on an AOL page. Click the following to see AOL's Rules of User Conduct.

Item 4 under § 1 reads:

4. constitutes unauthorized or unsolicited advertising, junk or bulk e-mail (also known as "Spamming"), chain letters, any other form of unauthorized solicitation, or any form of lottery or gambling;


AOL has a Hometown Business Directory, teeming with home pages and online business cards of those AOL members that promote their businesses through this venue. Many of these home pages are storefronts for affiliate links or other business endeavors of the AOL entrepreneurial set. My site such as it is, is in keeping with this allowable promotional climate. At issue is whether I can place an advertising rate card directly on the AOL site, or will it have to be maintained elsewhere?

I will probably put the advertising rate information on a separate page on the QiSoftware.com site. This weblog and the pages on the main QiSoftware site will each have links to to the new information page. If anyone has a better understanding of the AOL terms of service I would love to hear from you... Telephones are useless instruments these days when it comes to contacting anyone for more information. I have other legal issues that I want addressed so I am looking into a lawyer. Oddly enough I have known a few socially but none with whom these issues can be addressed.

Another question some of you have asked-- Why is the site maintained on AOL?

Wired Pages is maintained on the AOL network because I like the environment that AOL offers the site. I am not a web or graphic designer. I am a software developer/engineer/consultant whichever you prefer and I do all of the work myself. Most think the site should have a more professional appearance. The site was developed to promote my software tools not to show off my nonexistent talent as a graphic artist. I do not want people to be confused by what it is I do. I develop software.

Can an AOL maintained site command an advertising audience?
We shall see...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Weblog... Asks More... Than It Answers...

This weblog is a bit disjointed and kind of meanders from one topic to another with each new post. In a lot of cases the entries ask more questions than they answer. This journal is meant to log my daily musing or thoughts about business matters [whether they are issues relating to Wired Pages or QiSoftware] that grab my attention.

Business...? Thought she was a software consultant?
Where are the technical discussions?

Based on my research I have found most bloggers have varying opinions about what a weblog or blog should be. I see my blog as an open business discussion that everyone is invited to take part in. In most cases I leave post comments off because I provide a general email address Blog eMail for anyone to contact me. Which tends to suggest it is not so open. Let me explain. I use chat quite a bit. My dialogue manner is a bit formal and the Internet has spawned a whole new way of communicating. Though I find these new communication techniques interesting and in many cases hilarious, sometimes they are a bit off color and I would like the look and feel of my blog to remain uniform in the manner in which it is presented. And in any case, to date, though many of you have read my blog, and a few of you have even come back, not one of you has provided me with direct feedback via email or otherwise.

Responses that I receive via email will show up as inline comments and quotes in my blog entries with credit to the author if that permission is granted.

Software development is often challenging but seldom an interesting discussion avenue.
Now business issues are another subject entirely...

Monday, August 09, 2004

Converging Counters...

As some of you may have noticed I have two counters on this weblog. The upper counter [server counter] was discussed in an earlier post. The lower counter was placed on this weblog shortly after the first to give me an external reference. At the time the second counter was inserted it was set to the value of the first. These two counters quickly became out of sync, with the upper counter taking the lead...

On Saturday, August 7, 2004 with the start of the day, the upper counter registered 23 points higher than the lower counter. [This difference in the counter readings was a gradual evolution taking place over a period of just under 3 weeks.] By the end of the day the counters were 18 points apart. The convergence had begun.

On Sunday, August 8, 2004 I had a brunch date. Before I left, I watched as the lower counter ticked off about 5 clicks, without any movement from the upper counter. I know my server counter was not incremented because nothing was being logged. I confirmed this by bringing up this weblog and yes the counters were converging. The lower counter is a "freebee" provided by an external source. I can access a separate stats page for detailed information [this is how I know the counter was being incremented]. The upper counter is a server counter and is logged every time it is activated. Upon my return there was only a 2 point difference remaining of the once diverging counter readings with the upper counter still in the lead. This is where the count difference stands as of this posting.

Web page counters can be notoriously unreliable, however I have had the lower counter on this page since the 20th of July and this is the first time I have noticed this anomaly. The lower counter erased 16 points of an 18 point difference between the two counters with absolutely no response from my server in a matter of hours. Was this external counter somehow being incremented by an outside force.. I don't know... All I know is that I was not refreshing the page. In the past, I have watched as both counters have recorded 5 hits in short order with no problems.

The only other time I notice counter increment issues is when I am updating this weblog. I perform quick edits and the counters [oddly both] will stop responding as I continually refresh the page to see my changes. This may be in part, due to the browser that I use to verify these updates. The counters do not always suspend during these edit sessions. I cannot reset the external counter [lower counter]. I can reset the upper counter and did so on one occasion after one of these editing sessions. I knocked off two hits in hopes of accurately reflecting the number of web surfers viewing the page. I stopped this practice, because as I explained in the earlier post, the methodology used in arriving at the initial counter setting, was by means of a very conservative approach.

Can my server become so busy that it fails to log server hits and increment counters? I have asked my web hosting service about this and they claim everything is being logged. Periodic tests reveal the absence of logging at times [this was not one of my tests]. If ranking services [e.g. Alexa] were to rely, in part, on logging data for rankings how would they be able to get accurate results with the somewhat faulty logging issues outlined here? In my case this happens to often for me to ignore it...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Forums...

Forums are a great way to network, learn new things and help others when and wherever possible. I belong to several of these virtual communities-- two of which I am going to discuss here.

The first, the Lunar Pages Forum is a good forum for me because they are also my web hosting company. Issues specific to Lunar Pages' customers are addressed here. They even have a Pre-Sales Topic area, where anyone thinking of joining, can pulse the community on whether or not their needs can be satisfied as a Lunar Pages' customer. However, these are not the only topics covered by this forum. Discussions on a wide variety of subjects are also addressed. Site owners can find useful information that may help them with their website or online business. Check them out...

The second is WebMaster-Talk.com. This is a widely used forum and many topics are covered. I myself recently joined this forum. I like this forum because of the many topic areas covered by the wide variety of users. This forum also features a lot of useful links for webmasters.

Before joining any forum, read all of the membership and posting rules associated with each forum. Though I joined the Lunar Pages forum in July 2002, [right after signing with Lunar Pages], I rarely used this forum [until now-- see my late introduction] and so I am really a newbie in the forum world. In my case, I read the rules after joining and therefore may have made one or two mistakes...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Affiliate Feedback...

It appears that a lot of you are either affiliates or are interested in becoming one. I have enabled comments on this entry to allow you to respond to this and the last entry --> http://blog.qisoftware.com/2004/07/doing-business-as-affiliate.html. I invite you to share your experiences... or post your reaction to my entry... All comments will be displayed... so please respond accordingly.

I have also temporarily suspended the Travelocity search dialog on the Travel page until further notice. I am researching issues concerning my agreement with Travelocity. I hope to have it up and working with any necessary adjustments as soon as possible.