New worm spreading through Skype

It was only a matter of time before Skype, the popular VoIP software was made a target by virus authors. Websense, a leading internet security firm has discovered a worm that propagates through Skype Chat – the inbuilt instant messaging tool.

The worm which probably originated somewhere in the Asia-Pacific region (with a high likelihood of being Korea) prompts users to download and run a file called sp.exe. Once run a spyware gets installed – which can then steal login credentials and other sensitive information. It can even connect to remote servers to download additional malwares.

Reports about the number of affected people are yet to come in.

Empower your Clipboard with Ditto

For a long while I’ve been plagued by the limitations of the Windows Clipboard. First of all you can copy only one object at a time (once you copy a second one, it replaces the first) and absolutely no retentivity. For instance, if I needed to copy a couple of things over and over again, I’d no way of making them stick to the clipboard and switching between them while pasting. This gets extremely annoying/frustrating at times – specially during forum moderation.

There are loads of Clipboard Enhancement Utilities that allow you to store multiple items.. namely CLCL, Clipboard Magic, Clipboard Recorder, Clippy 2001, DzSoft Paste & Save, and Yankee Clipper III etc. However, most of these have big limitations when it comes to the number of items you can store and/or the type of data stored in the clipboard.

If you’re willing to shell out about $34.95 you can always get ClipMate, which is the leading shareware in this category. Now, that’s now what we want, do we ?? 😀 A free, preferably open-source option seems a much more viable option, albeit without compromising on the features. What we need is an all rounder Clipboard enhancement solution and Ditto provides you with just that.

Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time. Ditto allows you to save any type of information that can be put on the clipboard, text, images, html, custom formats, …..

Ditto relies on the fast & compact SQLite embeddable database engine to store an unlimited (or user-defined) number of clipboard items. A simple hotkey (Ctrl + ` by default) brings up the Ditto window which lists all the copied items till date. You can scroll through the list and perform quick-searches to get to any particular item too. You can even neatly categorise the copied items into folders of your choice.

Ditto Screenshot

You can assign hotkeys for the first 10 copied items too making pasting them a breeze. Ditto captures every kind of data from the clipboard – be it formatted or unformatted text, graphics, files – virtually anything.

The location of the SQLite database can be specified from the Ditto configuration panel – enabling you to maintain the database at an alternate location. This means, in case you need to reformat the partition containing Windows and/or your Program Files directory – none of your clipboard data is lost. Once you reinstall windows, you can make Ditto point to the old database location and all your previous items are back in a jiffy.
Moreover, Ditto doesn’t limit the copying to a single computer. If you’re on a network, you can setup Ditto to transmit and share your copied items with others on the network (running Ditto of course). Copied data is transmitted in encrypted form for added security. In effect, your clipboard is reflected on whichever computer on the network you want making Ditto a truly unique solution. Here’s the standard list of features from their site:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Search and paste previous copy entries
  • Keep multiple computer’s clipboards in sync
  • Data is encrypted when sent over the network
  • Accessed from tray icon or global hot key
  • Select entry by double click, enter key or drag drop
  • Paste into any window that excepts standard copy/paste entries
  • Display thumbnail of copied images in list
  • Full Unicode support (display foreign characters)
  • UTF-8 support for language files (create language files in any language)

Note: Ditto requires DAO to be installed.

This tool is a hot favourite of mine and another of the must downloads.

AdSense: Blocking out unwanted and miserable CPC sites to improve your earnings with same CTR

I’ve been using AdSense over quite sometime (almost an year) – though I can’t really claim my average income to be anything great. It’s just borderline decent. Now I’ve got a unique advantage in terms of sites. I help maintain a bunch of sites/faqs/forums etc and have direct access to their hosting accounts, thus enabling me to spread my AdSense content over a whole lot of sites rather than concentrating them all on my own homepage. For each site, I create a separate channel and keep track or the income through them and upon payment share a percentage with my friends. This deal was working out pretty effectively and I was happy with the context-relevant ads that AdSense handed out for all the sites till it came to my own site.

Problem:

You might have noticed that my own site is still in it’s infancy.. I launched it just a couple of weeks back. I tried putting in a lot of varied content right from the beginning to make it interesting for a wide range of readers as well as to get diverse ads related to my content. The ads that started coming up were mostly irrelevant and dealt with either RSS, Blogs or some totally unrelated subject. I ignored it for the first couple of days, giving AdSense it’s own sweet time to properly index my content. However a week down, to my utter surprise, I kept getting the same block of ads on almost all of my pages and both my CTR (Click-Through-Rate) and CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and thus my earnings were at an all-time low. I’ve rarely seen AdSense repeat the same ad-block for more than 2-3 days, let alone a weeks time.

Now the low CTR was self-evident as I wasn’t getting good & relevant ads. Studying the CPC reports revealed that none of the clicks had fetched me anything above $0.01 !! Extremely strange since I didn’t have any dearth of keyword-rich content that I’d get such lousy ads with miserable CPCs. I’ve managed to do far better on sites with lesser content than me.

A little investigation revealed that quite a few of these were what’s known as MFA or Made For AdSense sites.

If you’re not familiar with term MFA (Made for Adsense), the shortest explanation is this: it’s a website with content that is primarily made of adsense ads, or any other advertisement system. So you might ask yourself, what does this have to do with me? Well, these webmasters pay loads of money to advertise their MFA sites on Google Adwords which then serves their contextual ads on your own website(s) through Adsense program.

Both of them (Google and the MFA Webmaster) make some serious money while doing what they’re doing, at cost of your visitors and reader who’re turning their backs to contextual advertising because of the bad reputation caused by these advertisers.

The rest were simply lousy low paying ads for single-paged sites. Quite often these sites hook up their ads with a bunch of unrelated but highly ranked keywords so that they keep showing up persistently on all your pages – as it happened in my case. The result is that visitors mostly don’t find the ads appealing and there’s a sharp decline in your CTR. On top of that the few clicks that you get fetch horridly low returns thus lowering the overall CPC of the whole site.

Solution:

There’s a little used (to your best advantage) tool called Competitive Ad Filtering provided by Google, that can be found under the AdSense Setup section in your AdSense account. While it helps you block out ads for competing sites, this tool can come in handy here. All I had to do was enter the display URL of those low-paying sites into the Ad Filter and instantly they were GONE from my site 😀 However, there was still the question of weeding out the MFA sites, which kept coming up every now and then.

Delving further into this, I came across this site called AdsBlackList which really helped me along the way. The folks at AdsBlackList maintain a pretty large database of MFA and badly-behaving low CPC sites. All you’ve to do is enter your own site’s URL in their search engine which then analyses your site and based on keywords concentration of your content, provides you with a list of such rogue sites which are likely to show up through AdSense. You can then simply take that list and add part/whole of it to your Competitive Ad Filters, as you see fit.

Note: Keep in mind that the maximum number of sites you can add to the Competitive Ad Filtering is 200. So choose your targets wisely.

If you register with them you’re given of the option of enlisting any such new sites that comes to your notice. They analyse the site and if your claim is true the site is flagged in their blacklist and made available for public viewing. If this tool is used wisely it’ll greatly benefit the whole AdSense earners community.

Coming back to the point – once I started using the Ad Filtering, not only the unwanted sites went away… my CPC took an immediate jump although I had about the same CTR. While for the whole of last week I earned a meagre $0.02, now with the filtering in effect, my returns totaled to some $1.83 in just a days time.

Hopefully with the filters in place, once my site starts drawing big traffic there should be a big boost in the returns, for good ads or bad ads – the ultimate key to success is high traffic.

All the best 🙂