Archive for April, 2007

SOLUTION – ‘/bin/sh can’t access tty; job control mode off’ error

Hi Everyone,

Recently I had the displeasure of trying to install the latest version of Ubuntu – Feisty Fawn.

Displeasure, you say – isn’t Ubuntu the easiest Linux distro to use? Well, yep – it is easy to use but there seems to be a common problem heaps of people are experiencing with version 7.04.

The “/bin/sh can’t access tty; job control mode off” error

This error pops up when you first boot Ubuntu. I’ve been grovelling around the net trying to find one single solution to the problem, but it seems there are several solutions. Basically, what’s happening is Ubuntu is looking in the wrong place for your installation. There are some complex and time consuming solutions to the problem to do with editing grub and the/etc/fstab file, which I’d recommend you avoid.

Some Solutions to the ‘job control mode off’ error

So, here I present my summary of the ‘non-technical’ things you can do to correct the “/bin/sh can’t access tty; job control mode off” error and get your distro working. I’d suggest you follow these various alternatives step by step.

  1. Pop a blank floppy disc in your drive at bootup.
  2. and/or enter your BIOS (often achieved by pressing escape at system startup) and change the boot order of your system such that your hard-drive boots first, then CD-ROM and then Floppy (if you have them).
  3. Ditch the LIVE CD/DVD – and make sure you have the right distro for your system.. are you running an AMD x64 system like me? Try this version of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn. If you are running an INTEL based system, try this version
  4. Little known fact – there are ‘alternative’ iso’s available that (I believe) has different drivers that often correct the problem, and handle installs on older systems better. You can get the Feisty Fawn Alternative Version for AMD64 systems here, or the Feisty Fawn Alternative ISO for Intel systems here.

A More Technical Solution..

If those tips don’t work, try the more technical alternative here.

The actual error presented is usually as follows –

Loading Ubuntu, please wait…

check root = bootarg cat /proc/cmdline
or missing modules, devices: cat/proc/modules ls /dev
ALERT! /dev/hda3 does not exist Dropping to shell!

BusyBox v1.1.3 Built-in shell (ash)

/bin/sh can’t access tty; job control mode off.

All the best,


25 comments April 30th, 2007

April 2007 Pagerank Update is Underway!

The April 2007 Pagerank Update

It’s official – as of a few hours ago new PR’s are starting to filter through the system – the April 2007 Toolbar PR update is underway! Here’s a few insights about the update and what it means to you, and some tips and tricks you might not know..

Why is my Pagerank Jumping Around?

When a toolbar PR update happens, it doesn’t happen all at once – Google has many ‘datacenters’, and your new PR will ‘percolate’ between those datacentres over the next few days to a week.

The PR shown in your toolbar is usually taken from a relatively random datacenter – for that reason, you’ll tend to see your toolbar PR jumping around alot – this isn’t an indication of any kind of penalty, or anything unusual – it’s just an indication that the PR update is underway.

You can see your PR over the various datacentres at

What is Pagerank (PR)?

PR, or pagerank is one of the factors used by Google to calculate the importance of your site. Importance is different to relevance – you can have a very low PR site and still outrank much higher PR sites that don’t have content that is as relevant to the user’s search as yours.

People tend to get fixated on PR as it is one of the most visible forms of ‘feedback’ from Google about how your site building efforts are going – and since it only gets updated 3 or 4 times a year, people with active sites (including me) tend to look forward to it.

Should I worry too much about PR?

No. A few reasons:-

  • RELEVANCE almost always beats PR if you want good search engine positioning – such things as the words that people use to link back to your site, words in your page, your page title and headings, and words in your url all give Google clues about the relevance of your site. Some people claim that their are 200+ factors such as these that Google uses to calculate relevance.
  • Pagerank is generally out of date – it is really, in its most basic form, just a snapshot measure of how many other sites link back to you (and how many sites link back to them).
  • You can have a PR 0 site and still beat much higher PR sites in a Google search if you concentrate on RELEVANCE.

As time has gone by, Google has got much better at gleaning ‘relevance’ from a page – and with that enhanced functionality, the relative importance of PR (which was probably once the major contributor to search engine positioning) as a factor in calculating your search engine positioning has been diluted by these other factors – but it is still a factor, and it is worth aiming to improve your PR.

Tips and Tricks to Improve your PR

Well, it’s too late now for this update, but if you’d like to work towards improving your PR (and site traffic) you need to get more sites linking to you, and preferably sites with high PR. Here’s some tips off the top of my head:-

  1. LINK OUT – link to sites that interest you. This has two effects – it makes your site much more informative for your readers, and it also helps other sites (the target of your link) learn about you. Whilst it is counter-intuitive that linking out will improve the number of sites linking to you, it does. Why? Because it tends to increase your readership. A site with lots of readers becomes a site that people want to link to. Also, people with active sites tend to spend alot of time monitoring who is linking to them – write an interesting article which links to their high PR site, and it’s likely they’ll come and check out your site – if you are lucky, you might get a link from their high PR site back to you as a thankyou.
  2. WRITE UNIQUE, INFORMATIVE, INTERESTING ARTICLES – if you ever do a Google search for something and you can’t find what you’re looking for easily you have a great opportunity. Find the answer, and write about it. Chances are other people are asking the same question – and you’ll attract links if you write a good quality blog entry about it. Sites that just regurgitate / duplicate information easily found elsewhere won’t tend to get lots of links.
  3. WRITE SOMETHING CONTROVERSIAL – this is one strategy fitting under the general banner ‘link bait’. My best performing pages are those that have controversial content :).
  4. USE SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS – Things like mybloglog, feedburner, digg-it etc are a great way to improve your following and traffic. I can pretty much guarantee that links to my site increase proportionally with the amount of traffic I receive.
  5. MAKE A USEFUL TOOL – many of my links come from my wordpress theme, Blix-Krieg. If you put something on your site that is useful, you will attract links.
  6. USE YOUR HOST– Many web hosting companies have online forums for their users – often, these forums have obscenely high PR. Write something genuinely interesting, and link back to it from your host’s forum. This is also often a great way to help trigger an initial crawl on a new site (see my series on the supplemental index for more info on this).
  7. BE A GUEST POSTER. Many sites (including mine) allow users to submit their own articles for inclusion – take advantage of the opportunity – write an interesting, relevant article and ask the owner of a high PR site if they’d like to include it – with a link to your own site in the body.

Also check out this page on the top 13 things that won’t effect your pagerank by JLH. Actually JLH is an example of a successful blogger that applies alot of these principles – He writes great articles that are often interesting, controversial and informative all at the same time. He links liberally. He uses a broad array of social networking tools.

Now – could I please ask you folks a favour? I’ve written a WTF at technorati – I’d appreciate your votes – it’s my first experiment with social networking 🙂  Click this link to vote.

Any other suggestions, feel free to post – hell, why not add your url to your comments – I remove no-follow from all comments after 14 days if they are relevant.

All the best,


27 comments April 28th, 2007

Personalised Search and Google Spookiness..

Hi everyone!

Well, I am part way through my mega-week. I had the interviews I discussed. The job interview went really well, even though I had NO SLEEP the night before as I kept on having more thoughts about what I could say in the interview whenever I tried to go to sleep, and this continued all night – so I gave up about 2am and just stayed up all night brainstorming 🙂

Long and the short, interview went great, and I’ve been invited to have a face to face in a few weeks to a month. It’s an exciting little company is all I can say for now, and I’ll keep you up to date when I know more.

Speaking of exciting little companies, one, of course, is everyone’s favourite search engine – Google. I think I wrote a few posts ago about the cool (and topical) suggestions it has been giving me in the daily ‘how-to’ section of their personalised search.

It is ultra spooky, but today I was writing my stage two PhD, and I was having some problems with that old question of their, there and they’re… they’re is easy for me, but I always get their and there mixed up.. so I thought, why not go and google it?

This is what happened – without a word of a lie – I typed in, up came my personalised search box, and what was sitting there in the daily how-to. Guess. “How to Use There, Their and They’re“. I shit you not. Maybe I am working for the wrong company, it seems Google has the ‘mind reading’ algorithm worked out too 🙂

Cheers, and for those in Australia, happy Anzac day.


Add comment April 25th, 2007

To Work, or to the beach? Hmmm…

Another ‘Off-Topic’ non-seo related post. To keep food on the table while I’m studying, I do some consultancy work for a few companies – I worked in the Sugar Industry for some years as a scientist / engineer, and enjoy my occassional trips North and catching up with some of my old colleagues – also, it’s a suit and tie free zone, which can be refreshing 🙂

Following on from my chat yesterday about my trip to North Queensland, I thought I’d show you a few photos..

Fun In North Queensland 1

Muscle-Man (NOT) celebrating – we had just fitted a flattened dipole antenna to the top of an old tobacco shed in an elevated section of the Herbert valley.

Interestingly, previously we had a standard dipole on the top of a 20 metre mast on the roof this picture was taken from, but we found we got better signal and better coverage by moving the antenna almost to roof level – di-pole antennas tend to radiate more energy horizontally than other areas, and we think the existing antenna may have been too high – essentially overshooting the valley below.

It was definitely a ‘shirt optional’ day – I think the photo was taken about 10am, and it was already about 90% humidity and 35 degrees celcius – plus their wasn’t anybody around to get blinded from the glare of my ‘office tan’. It can get uncomfortably hot this time of the year – it’s cyclone season.

About this time last year, one of the largest cyclone’s I can remember (Cyclone Larry) crossed the coast just North of where this photo was taken (At a place called Innisfail, between Townsville and Cairns). It was a category 5, and Innisfail is still cleaning up to this day. MIRACULOUSLY no one was killed – probably mostly because of the fact that whilst Larry was incredibly intense, it was also very fast moving – the winds were destructive, the cyclone was massive in size, but the cell itself moved rapidly – about 30km/hr. If it had moved more like a typical cyclone (about 5 km/hr) I think there would have been massive fatalities, and I don’t think the town of Innisfail would still be with us.

Fun in North Queensland

This is a photo of yours truly adjusting some sensors in the ‘elevator’ section of a Sugar Cane harvester. See the blue sky in the background?

The sky in North Queensland is some of the clearest, bluest sky I’ve seen in the world – it’s really noticeable. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend taking a trip to North Queensland – it has beaut places like Townsville, Dunk Island, Mission Beach, Port Douglas – if you like long romantic walks on the beach, warm tropical waters, coral reefs and great fishing, this is your paradise folks.

This was a sugar cane harvester owned by a fellow by the name of Eric Girgenti. We had just completed fitting an advanced prototype of a yield monitor I’ve been helping a company called AgGuide develop over the last 6 months or so. Kudos to Michael George and the other Engineers from AgGuide – you’ve done a great job.

Add comment April 23rd, 2007

What I’ve been up to..

Where to from here?

Hi Everyone!

Just a mixed bag to keep the spiders interested 🙂

I’m still alive – I spent the majority of this past week in North Queensland doing some installations of new hardware I’ve helped develop (see my sugar mechanisation consultancy site for more info).

Flew into Townsville Tuesday, got back Friday. Was a really successful trip. If you ever happen to get a chance to see Townsville – do it – it’s one of my favourite holiday destinations.

In other news:-

  1. When you do a search in Google, there is now an option under each search to ‘make a note of this’ – I believe it’s a new feature from Google, think it was only launched within the last few days.
  2. Google has launched a few additions in its webmaster console.
  3. Expect a toolbar pagerank update any day soon – last one was in Jan and I think they are usually every 3 or 4 months, so it should be coming real soon. I’m hoping for a PR6 for this site, but we’ll see 🙂
  4. Had a little fun with trying to work out whether having the F-word on a website will trigger the ‘safe’ filter in Google – see here for more info and a bit of a laugh.
  5. My Google custom search page has offered me up a few interesting suggestions this week, including ‘how to wear makeup as a man‘ (I don’t know what they are trying to suggest 🙂 – maybe this is along the same lines as Google recently revealing to Sebastian that he is actually a gay man in disguise or maybe they’ve just seen me pre-gym in the morning) and how to make a Spam Nori Roll :).

Got a busy few weeks ahead of me, doing lots of interesting things I’ll probably blog about down the track:-

  1. Tomorrow I have a visit to the dentist to finish a root canal on a back molar that the dentist (mistakenly) thought was dead.. bloody dentists.
  2. Tuesday I have two interviews – one with one of my PhD supervisors and another with a little company that hs piqued my interest enough to consider actually leaving the world of study and consultancy and getting a ‘real job’ again. Undoubtedly both of these interviews will be rather interesting as (if my last trip to the dentist is any guide) I’ll be unable to speak :).
  3. Wednesday-Friday – writing, writing writing… I have a major PhD milestone due in 8 days and am yet to start writing it (yikes – it’s great having so many things all happening at once – but have you ever had that overwhelmed feeling before?)
  4. Another trip to North Queensland with some datalogging equipment to do some site surveys in Ingham and Mossman – a company I’ve been consulting for uses UHF band radios to enhance the quality of GPS positioning on their equipment, and has been having probs with coverage – my job to sort it out quickly before the season starts.
  5. Further developing some algorithms I’ve been working on pertaining to payment systems in the sugar industry – aaargh.

Have a great week folks!


2 comments April 22nd, 2007

5 Reasons Why I Blog

I’ve been tagged – by two people in fact – John Mueller (softplus) and JLH (John Honeck) – By the way, all people tagged in this ongoing meme are detailed here.

Softplus asked me to confirm my real name –  and whether I use it on my blog – no specific reason i don’t use it on my blog, John – just find theDuck more catchy 😉

I’ve also been asked why I blog, and what are ten things about me you may not know.. so, here goes..

5 Reasons I like to Blog

1. Only so much can fit into my peanut sized brain. I got annoyed with having to go back and search for something I knew I already knew, but had forgotten, so I figured I’d start writing down what I learnt. UtheGuru became that place, and it just happens to be mostly about search as that’s what I’m fascinated about at the mo.

2. I’ve got a scholarship to do a PhD – it’s all about organising data from an industry (sugar). During my Masters Degree (computer and comms engineering – making gadgets) I made a gadget that could collect and send all sorts of data about what a sugar cane harvester was doing to a central point for processing.

It’s a huge long story, but basically I did really well at that Masters (90% plus – it was largely coursework), the silly buggers thought I must have been a bit bright (since my undergrad was science and I’d just blitzed an engineering degree) and offered me a PhD. At the time I accepted because we had some great industry partners.

The PhD was about how to organise the data in such a way that we could combine it with data from the sugar mills and start paying the harvesters in a way that better rewarded the quality of their job – ie, taking quantitative measurements from a disparate range of largely unrelated / competitive sources and trying to distill the data into a quasi-quantitative measure of a qualitative ideal (the quality of the job done) to come up with a payment scheme that will pay participants in such a way that the industry has a long term future. Sounds a bit like Google’s task – except I have a staff of one. Feeling flustered? Yep – me too.

PhD’s are all about bite sized focussed research. Originally I was just going to concentrate on the ‘how’ of getting the data back from my little black boxes in real time in rural areas (I was thinking of using self healing wireless mesh networks made up of cheap 802.11g PCMCIA cards).

The problem is, since I had worked in the Sugar Industry as a Scientist, I also have a really good understanding of the mechanics (political, financial etc) of the industry, so there has been a growing pressure for me to advise other researchers / the industry about how to utilise the data and let the other propeller heads sort that out – but we had a major industry partner pull last year, and so I’m now left with the baby and a limited prospect of success – their is only so much that one person can do.

So I’ve taken a leave of absence while I think about the PhD, and while I’m on the LOA, I blog… Since I have an obvious interest in the how of organising data using qualitative measures, obviously search engines (and particularly Google) fascinate me – so that’s what I blog about.

3. To make contacts – the sum total of people studying anything remotely related to what I am in my University is 1 – me. Whilst I’ve spent alot of time working alone (as an Ag consultant – see some of my work at

I’m a gregarious person, I like working in a team, and sitting in an office alone isn’t my favourite activity. I like to hear about what other companies / folks are doing – gives my ideas about a) either jumping ship from PhD to real employment and where that might be or b) finessing the PhD and getting it back on track to serve a real commercial purpose, perhaps for a different industry.

4. To keep sane during my leave of absence to consider the above..

5. To make a few dollars helping other people handle website problems / modify code. My first paid programming stint was a football stats package written in basic when I was about 10 – so this is kind of like falling back to my first trade 🙂 While I am decadently enjoying my ‘time-off to think’ I still have to pay the bills.

There! Prob not such a quick simple answer as others – but that’s why I blog.. 🙂

10 (actually, 11, sorry, 12) things you probably don’t know about me..

  1. I, like Vanessa Fox and John Mueller, love coffee – I have a special blend I make from Papua New Guinean Arabica Beans.
  2. I am a director of a lingerie business, and I know all about mobilon, different grades of lace and what effect the ratio fo cotton and elastane will have upon the durability of a pair of knickers.
  3. I love the outdoors – passions and skills of mine include horseriding, skydiving and orienteering – I have gotten as high as the state championships in orienteering, and I’ve made over a hundred jumps skydiving.
  4. I have travelled or lived all over Asia, the South Pacific and Europe, and LOVE cooking – especially Indian and Chinese Cooking. When I travel, I usually stay in backpackers – not because I can’t afford a hotel, but rather because I find backpackers have all the good tips for places to go that ‘only the locals’ know.
  5. I was once held ‘hostage’ by a Japanese crime gang in Shanghai – but made my escape by leaving my shirt behind (long story).
  6. I starred as an extra in the Harry Connick Jr / Glen Close remake of ‘South Pacific’ – my American accent was crap but I can still sing ‘ain’t nothing like a dame’ :).
  7. 95% of people rate public speaking as their greatest fear – I love it – the bigger the crowd, the better – gives me a buzz.
  8. My favourite food is lasagne and I think that the words ‘too much garlic’ shouldn’t exist in the english lexicon.
  9. I love red wine and single malt scotch whisky.
  10. I speak a little known south pacific creole fluently, even though I am an Australian born caucasian 🙂
  11. Special bonus thing you didn’t know – I do (occassionally) passionately argue a contentious point of view I don’t actually believe in myself. It’s a great way to engage the 80% of people that usually stay quiet in any discussion and get their views heard. I can be a fink ;).
  12. My dream job would be to become a Googler – that company has the diversity, support (both financial and intellectual) and broad focus that would really suit my aptitudes.

What about the other names?

Why am I called theDuck?

It’s detailed in my about me page, but to cut a long story short, I paid my way through my undergraduate (agricultural science) degree by being a DJ. My manager thought DJ’s had a tendency to take themselves too seriously, so he suggested I do something ridiculous to keep the atmosphere in my venues a bit fun – so I bolted a rubber ducky to a hat, and wore it every night. It wasn’t long before I was known as the Duckman.

Why am I called Dockarl?

I like reading – alot – and do pretty well at trivia nights etc. I think it’s fair to say I tend to learn new things pretty quick – I have a thirst for knowledge – I’m a knowledge-a-holic. I like to learn about anything and everything and get a buzz out of explaining all about what I’ve learnt to other people – like it or not 🙂

There is a well known guy here in Australia by the name of Dr Karl Krusielniski who has various degrees (I think Astro-physics, Medicine and Surgery amongst others) and spends his time appearing on radio and TV promoting popular science in a fun way – one of his best ‘popular research’ pieces was about Belly Button Fluff – where it comes from, where it’s been and what it does. He won an ignoble prize for that tome – read more about it here.

I had a girlfriend that thought that I reminded her of Dr Karl – she used to find it funny that while most people would be reading paperbacks at bed-time, my read of preference was new scientist or something in-depth about my latest hobby.

She was a great girl, and liked to poke fun. As such she started giving me a playful jibe (so where’d you read about that Dr Karl?) every time I started talking about some weird off-topic thing I’d learnt about recently. It all ended up being an in joke between us and our circle of friends and she gave me a hotmail address – dockarl – for me to use with pride 🙂 It stuck – I like using the name because it (like theDuck) is playful and takes-the-piss.


1 comment April 10th, 2007

Men Posing as Women – the fall of MyBlogLog?

Mybloglog is being abused

The honeymoon is over – Spammers have found mybloglog

Has any body else using mybloglog noticed the relatively new trend towards people using attention-grabbing pictures (usually of women, usually blonde, and usually with cleavage included) in their mybloglog avatar?

I noticed this recently when I was going through my mybloglog stats, and saw that a large number of my users were being drained away after a blogger with an animated ‘baywatch style’ mybloglog avatar, mostly centralised around the thoracic region of a surgically enhanced female form, visited my site.

Upon further investigation, I found that the blogger in question was a 26 year old male.

Upon further further investigation, I found that a large proportion (50%) of all recent visitors on his site were also males with sexy blonde avatars.

MyBlogLog – A great social networking tool – or a traffic drain?

Well – I’m thinking of removing mybloglog from my site. Whilst I love to see who has been visiting my site, it irritates me a little bit that my mybloglog sidebar box occasionally resembles the ‘mens interest’ section in my local newsagency.

Another interesting fact – I think a few of these are actually automated robots – often times the attention seeking blogger’s site ends up having some form of prominent link on their front page to another site (usually myspace, I have found) which is simply a thinly veiled gateway to porn.

These people are essentially using my site (and others) to advertise smut. What’s more, the majority of myblogusers put their mybloglog sidebar in a prominent place on their site – often prime position.

I’m no prude – but if I wanted to advertise smut on my site, I would, but I don’t, so it might soon be bye-bye for mybloglog on my site, I’m afraid.

A Descriptive term for these MyblogLog Spammers?

What to call these new attention grabbing mybloglog users.. hmm – I’m not feeling all that creative at 2 in the morning but here’s a few suggestions:-

  • Blogvestites.
  • Blimps (Blog Pimps)
  • Blogasites.
  • Attention Seeking Trolls..

Help me out – someone with more creativity – please 🙂



Addendum – I noticed that Eric Marcoullier of MyBlogLog dropped by to check out this article – Eric, if you’re around, why not leave a comment? Cheers – M

Add comment April 10th, 2007

Google-Bombing Still Works

A Google Bomb

Well – that’s a provocative title – but at least they do work sometimes.. let me explain more..

What is Google Bombing?

Some argue that the first widely known Googlebomb was created by a men’s magazine, which used the anchor text (anchor text is the words I use in a link) ‘dumb motherfu**er’ in a link to a site selling George W Bush merchandise.

In fact George seems to have been the target of quite a few Google-bombs.

My first experience of a Google Bomb was when I was sent an email suggesting I type the words ‘miserable failure’ in a google search back in about 2003 – the resultant page was, of course, George W. Bush’s Whitehouse page.

Definition: GoogleBomb

Strictly defined, a good Google Bomb should be constructed in such a way that a site returned for a given phrase does not even have that phrase in its content. The theory is that if enough sites link to a site using a particular word or phrase, Google will simply assume that the site must in fact be about that phrase – even if the phrase isn’t on the target page.

So, of course, George Bush’s site doesn’t in fact have the words ‘miserable failure’ on it at all, but it (once) ranked first place for that phrase in any Google search because of the viral campaign launched to get thousands of webmasters to link back to that site with those words.

The coining of the actual phrase ‘Google Bomb’ is credited to a fellow by the name of Adam Mathes, who linked the phrase ‘talentless hack’ to a friends website.. this was documented on the site, which unfortunately seems to be down now.

Google bombs the GoogleBomb

I used to love the Google Bomb so much that I registered and still own a site that I hoped would become a place where people could suggest and democratically vote upon potential political / humerous / educational googlebombs.

I was intoxicated by their potential power to educate and cause giggles, and perhaps even lead to real change – but, alas, on January 25th, 2007, things came to a premature halt.

On that day, Google announced in this post on their official blog that the glory days had come to an end – Google had created an algorithm that would curtail the impact of Google Bombs. Matt Cutts also spoke about the algorithm change in this article..

I was very sad and disappointed – but all good things must come to an end.

Some practical examples of good anchor text selection in action

These aren’t really examples of ‘Google Bombs’ per-se, but they do show the power of good anchor text selection.

For example, linking back to my lingerie site with the anchor text ‘brassiere’ brought my site from 5th page to 2nd position very quickly for that highly competitive word, even though I don’t have it on my site anywhere.

As another example, I once had an occassion where the inventor of a product which I was manufacturing and promoting (and had sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and man hours as seed funding) was becoming difficult / adversarial towards us, and had appointed a competitor without our knowledge.

The person was interviewed on national TV, and through sheer pig-headedness, chose to promote the product under a different name to what we had been promoting it as for several years. It was just a spiteful attempt to send search traffic to a competitor who had been appointed without our knowledge.

GoogleBombs / anchor text work very quickly

This taught me a little lesson about Google Bombs (or more specifically in this case, good use of anchor text) – because they are distributed in nature, they can work very, very rapidly to alter search results.

Luckily, in this case, we had a head start. I had noticed in my logs about three days before that we were receiving hits from the website of a media organisation.. this led me to the website, and I noted that it was a ‘draft’ page detailing the upcoming interview, in which this person referred to our product by another name.

Subsequently, I went to the person’s website and discovered that the ‘buy this product’ link pointed to a new site, with a url containing the ‘new name’, which was in fact 302 redirecting to our site in what I suspected at the time (correctly) was an amateurish attempt to nick our PR in preparation for an assault upon our business – on consulting my site logs I discovered we had been receiving hits with this site as HTTP_REFERER for at least 3 months..

Their cover was blown. I spent the next few days starting to optimize my site for ‘our new name’, and had 301 redirected their 302 redirect using some clever .htaccess tricks to a site I knew was likely to get their new site banned or at the least seriously retard their hijack attempt.

I also got some friends with regularly crawled sites to link to the ‘rogue site’ to give Google a clear shot at indexing the ‘new’ content – this might seem like a low act – but, remember, this was a defensive action rather than offensive.

Through the use of googlebombs (it helps having webmaster friends) and the fact I already had an established brand and high crawl rate, I was able to quickly (in less than 24 hours) rank first place for the products ‘newly invented’ name, and take advantage of the media exposure.

I noted on the night before the interview aired, that the 302 redirect was removed – but the damage had already been done. It actually took them about 3 months to get reincluded in Google, so my counter-attack seemed to have worked.

We also ranked first place for the person’s name for about the next 6 months, which, of course, made us the villains, not the person attempting to steal our rankings 😉

So – how does the new anti-GoogleBomb algo work?

I thought possibly Google may have changed their algorithm in such a way that a googlebomb for a word or phrase that either seemed contextually irrelevant, or didn’t exist on the target page would no longer rank. This made me a little worried that what had been a previously powerful seo tool for some of my commercial sites would no longer work.

As alot of you know, I have a pretty successful WordPress theme called Blix Krieg.

When people install my theme, there is a link in the footer back to this site, and also one of my commercial sites ( The anchor text for the link back to my other site is ‘by theDuck’.

Just recently, I was checking Google Webmaster tools and I found that a fair percentage of traffic coming to my other site now comes from people searching for the phrase ‘theDuck’. Who the hell searches for “theDuck” – I dunno – but it seems quite a few do.

Sure – it’s not a highly competitive phrase, but it does prove to me that Google hasn’t deprecated the value of inbound link anchor text outright – and whatever their new anti-googlebomb algorithm is, it probably has very little to do with contextual relevance.

Certainly, my Jaisaben site does not have the phrase ‘theDuck’ on it anywhere, it has nothing about ducks on it and yet it now ranks in second place for a search for the phrase ‘theduck’ – purely and simply because of anchor text.

Lessons I have Learnt

This has taught me a few lessons:-

  • Next time I release a wordpress theme, I’ll use non-nonsense words in my footer anchor-text, preferably valuable ones (mesothelioma anyone? – see this link ).
  • Anchor text should still be in anyone’s SEO arsenal.
  • It would appear (at least for uncompetitive phrases) that having heaps of sites linking back to you with the exact same anchor text doesn’t cause any penalty, contrary to what other seo’s have said.
  • However the new Google-bombing algorithm works, it is not simple, and it still leaves enough latitude to use anchor text in clever and powerful ways.
  • Never form a business partnership with a mad person, no matter how good their ideas seem to be, unless you have the patience of a Saint and the bank account of Bill Gates. The same probably also applies to personal relationships 🙂

All the best!


7 comments April 9th, 2007

One for you, flu for me..

This is 99.9% of my makeup at the moment..

Well – it is official – for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is coming, for those of us in the Southern hemisphere, Winter is coming – and whilst I love the cool nights (it lets me turn off the aircon – by gosh it has been a hot summer here in Brisbane) I hate one thing about Winter.

See that picture above? Thats my head at the moment. The flu – and right now, I have to say, it’s got me.

Yep – Probably the only thing that is more congested than my head at the moment is the M1 Freeway – and that’s saying alot, as it’s the last day of the Easter long weekend here.

What really irks me about this is that I’ve been hitting the gym twice a day for the last two months and getting some great results – lost about 8kg so far, and, more importantly, I can run a mile in about 5 minutes.. not quite as good as the four or so minutes I once could, but getting better.

The gym kind of gets addictive, so I’m feeling a tad peeved I can’t go there without bursting into a caucophany of coughing fits.. ah well – I’d better eat some more easter eggs instead 😉

While I’m off topic, I’m going to drop this link to another of my sites – I’ve made some changes to one of my commercial sites and want to get it crawled – one of the best ways to get a site crawled in my experience is to link relatively deeply to it from another site – so, here goes 🙂


1 comment April 9th, 2007

Solution – No Sound in CNN Video

Have you lost the sound when watching videos? In particular, have you lost sound when watching videos from This tutorial might help you!

The problem seemed to start quite randomly – One day I hit the website, and all of a sudden I found to my suprise that I could watch, but not hear, CNN video – I tried mucking around with the speaker volume – no avail.

At first I thought it might have been some sneaky ploy by CNN to get me to subscribe to their paid video service, but I’ve since learnt it is a codec problem caused by an automatic update to windows media player.

I found the following solution, and it seems to have brought back the sound in CNN videos..

No Sound when Watching Video

Recently I mysteriously lost all sound when I clicked on video feeds from the CNN website. It was quite strange, as I didn’t have the same problem from any other news website, just CNN.

I have found the solution. Apparently the problem is caused by a faulty / deprecated codec in an update to windows media player.

The Cure? A new Codec!

To get around the problem, you need to install a new codec.

The best one I have found is called codec all-in-one – it is free, and it seems to work well, but a google search may turn up other alternatives that work equally as well.

You can download the all-in-one codec here – please let me know if the link doesn’t work.



18 comments April 8th, 2007

Happy Easter!

Hi everyone –

Happy Easter!

I hope you have a great weekend (it’s a 4 day weekend here in Australia, so everyone tends to go away with the family).

My Easter advice?

Pick a random person and do something sweet and selfless for them – be it your children, your partner or some stranger on the street – make this an Easter to remember for them. I’m linking to someone trying to start a website to give them a kick start –

And naturally, if you happen to have a hound, tie him up – things are tough enough for the Easter bunny :).

Even hounds look forward to easter…

Best Wishes,


1 comment April 7th, 2007

Video Tutorial – Make Page Titles SEO Friendly in Joomla

Joomla CMS

Joomla is an easy to use content management system (CMS) but it isn’t all that search engine friendly.

Joomla is Not SEF (Search Engine Friendly)

One particular problem is the page titles – by default, titles are displayed in this way

Site Name – Site Description – Page Title

Since Google uses what’s in your Title Tag in its search results, this means that people often won’t see the page title when your page is returned in a search, they’ll just see your site name. This doesn’t really encourage people to click on your site, as they can’t be sure what it’s all about.

A Tutorial – Making Joomla Search Engine Friendly Pt 1

In this video tutorial, I’ll tell you how to change the situation.

The secret is editing a file (/includes/Joomla.php) to rearrange the order of your title.

You need to change the line that says this (it’s on about line 508):-

$this->_head[‘title‘] = $title? $GLOBALS[‘mosConfig_sitename’] . ‘ – ‘. $title : $GLOBALS[‘mosConfig_sitename’];

to this –

$this->_head[‘title‘] = $title? $title . ‘ – ‘. $GLOBALS[‘mosConfig_sitename’] : $GLOBALS[‘mosConfig_sitename’];

I hope you enjoy the tutorial!


2 comments April 6th, 2007

Make Your Blog Search Engine Friendly – Permalinks

Hi Everyone!

Well today I’m doing my first ever video blog – about one of the keys to a successful blog – good search engine positioning.

Even though search engine optimization (or SEO) is veiled in a certain mystique, and many SEO professional are paid hundreds of dollars per hour, a great deal of it is actually common sense.

In this, the first of hopefully many video blogs, I give you a short tutorial about wordpress permalinks.

Permalinks, WordPress and Achieving a High Search Engine Ranking for your Blog

In this tutorial, we’ll answer the following questions for you:-

  • What is a permalink?
  • What is one of the major factors in achieving good Google positioning for your Blog?
  • How can I make my blog url Search Engine Friendly?
  • What is an .htaccess file?
  • What do the question marks (?) after my URL mean?
  • How can I make my own .htaccess file?

Achieving High Search Engine Ranking is Easy, if you know how

Good Luck!

NOTE: If you’re changing your permalink structure on an existing blog, you’ll also need to install Dean’s Permalink Migration Plugin (Download it here) to ensure that links from other sites to your existing URL’s are redirected.


5 comments April 4th, 2007

8 Ball Aitken ‘Sagas and Dramas’

8 Ball Aitken at Tamworth

One of my local watering holes, Cafe Bello (now unfortunately closed) used to do some great live music.. One of my faves is 8 Ball Aitken, who is a particularly gifted musician (his steel guitar stuff is absolutely awesome).

One of his albums (8 ball in) become my music of choice to help me cheer up during a recent agonisingly prolonged (2 years of long distance crappola) split with a girlfriend of 7 years who shall henceforth be known only as the psychotic lesbian.

8 Ball is One of My Favourite Musicians

8 Ball comes from Far North Queensland, where the crocodiles roam in a Steamy locale called Mareeba. It’s right smack bang in the centre of the huge area (1500 square kilometres) that I used to service in my days as a research scientist with the Sugar industry, so we hit it off pretty much straight away.. Plus he’s of Irish ancestry, and known for being a bit eccentric – things I’m familliar with too :).

I used to immensely enjoy the nights he came along to play, and couldn’t help but think that I was witnessing a real blues genius in the infancy of a great career.

8 Ball’s New Video Clip

I was visiting 8 Ball’s website recently and came across his latest film clip – Sagas and Dramas. It is a bit more ‘main stream’ than alot of the stuff that 8 Ball does, a bit less bluesy, but shows off his talent as well as his unique dress sense pretty brilliantly.

(and congrats to Nancy for starting a fan site – the 8 ball aitken fan site)



Add comment April 3rd, 2007

More April Fools Silly Stuff..

April Fools Report

Cutts’ April Fools Joke

Well – I admit it – I was totally had by Matt Cutts Little April Fools Trick – in fact, I’m still partially had, as the April Fools page is still up – Luckily, it seems that Matt’s got his own back on the ‘DarkSEO team’ – see this page (sorry removed it) where Matt Hacks the hackers (ostensibly).

Also, see this thread on the Google Webmaster Forum for a bit more witty repartee about this..

In other April Fools News and Events..


Fried Fish Anyone?

I got an early morning phone call from my Step-dad, Gary. Gary makes artificial rocks (see for his embryonic website) and waterfalls, and has been doing this very successfully for almost 20 years.

Gary usually puts in automatic water level controllers in his ponds and waterfalls – he pays a bloke about $300 to make up the controller boxes, and installs them himself – it’s simply three wires – a low level wire, a high level wire and a common wire. If the water level drops below the low level, a pump starts, and continues until the water again reaches the high level.

Anyway, the guy Gaz has been doing this for has gone overseas, so I had to pull my trusty soldering iron out and devise another solution. I have come up with a good one, and Gaz has been installing them out at a large project during this last week.

Anyway, back to the phone call.. Gary rang me to tell me that his client had rung him up to complain that all the fish in his pond had been electrocuted by my cool new water level controller.

Luckily I only stressed out for about half an hour before he let me off the hook – April Fools.. the bugger..


TISP – Free Broadband From Google.

Google has announced the launch of it’s new TiSP service, which offers self-install free wireless broadband for anyone and everyone.

You can learn more about it here.


Anyone else have any good jokes played on them?


Add comment April 3rd, 2007

Matt Cutts Blog has been HACKED!

<!--enpts-->Dark Seo has Hacked Cutts’ Site<!--enpte-->

Hi everyone – sorry for the long time between drinks 🙂 I’ve been working hard getting back into my PhD…

Matt Cutts Blog Hijacked

Just an interesting little tid-bit today. It seems that Google’s famous unofficial blogger, Matt Cutts, has had his site hijacked by a bunch of hackers calling themselves the Dark Seo Team.

It may be that the Hijack has been resolved by the time you read this, so just in case, if you click the thumbnail above, you can see what his site looked like when I visited today.

Is this a WordPress Vulnerability?

It seems that no-one, not even Matt, is immune to being hacked.I wonder whether this has anything to do with Matt’s recent upgrade to the latest version of WordPress?

I guess we will see soon enough!

Dark SEO

It’s interesting that the hack is from a mob calling themselves Dark SEO..

Interesting, I say, because I think I saw warning signs that they were planning something funky about three weeks back.

Dark SEO had Cloaked Copies of Matt Cutt’s Page Weeks Ago

How? Well I was having a brief look at my Google webmaster tools ‘links’ section back then, and I noticed that one of my pages (Damn Ugly Websites) was being linked to from a site with a fairly suspicious URL (click here to see the site). I checked out the site and pretty quickly realised they were running a cleverly cloaked copy of Matt’s Site…

What is Cloaking?

What’s Cloaking? Well, basically, if you follow the link, you’ll see it looks like an innocuous web page to us, the human reader, but it seems that if you happen to be googlebot, that site presents completely different content – a copy of Matt’s Site. The perpetrators? None other than, who have now Hijacked Matt’s Site.

I did send a message to Matt suggesting he should check it out.. I think my exact words were “Matt, I found this URL – you should probably check it out” – Wow – if it turns out that was the first stage in their hack attack, I will be feeling very prescient indeed :).

But DAMN – If they were clever enough to hack his site, surely they should have been clever enough to put some adsense units on there as well 🙂

NOTE: He got the better of me.. this was an April Fools Joke from Matt 🙂



5 comments April 1st, 2007

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