Here's a short tutorial for those of you looking to install Fail2ban on an existing CentOS server or VPS.
First of all, you will have to determine which CentOS version you have, with the following command after starting a SSH session using a terminal window:
The response will probably be something like this:
CentOS release 6.8 (Final)
Now that we know the CentOS version is 6, we will have to get the latest EPEL yum repository, using the following command:
rpm -Uvh https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/epel-release-latest-6.noarch.rpm
Next step is to install Fail2ban with the following command:
yum install fail2ban
Is this ok [y/N]: please type
y and then hit enter.
This may take a few minutes, so sit back and relax waiting for the installation to finish.
The reasons you might want to protect your server or VPS using Fail2ban is because you are experiencing too many false logins attempts for WordPress, Proftpd, Exim2 or sshd4/sshd5 for example. To do so you will have to create the following local configuration file, using an editor such as nano:
(Don't have Nano? You can install Nano with the following command:
yum install nano.)
Here is how to set-up a sshd jail to catch failed login attempts to SSH:
enabled = true
port = ssh
filter = sshd
logpath = /var/log/secure
maxretry = 3
findtime = 3600
bantime = 86400
Here is how to set-up an exim jail to catch failed login attempts to Exim:
enabled = true
port = smtp,465,submission
filter = exim
logpath = /var/log/exim/mainlog
maxretry = 3
findtime = 86400
bantime = 31536000
Now that we have created these jails, and saved our configuration file (ctrl+x) we have to restart our server or VPS with the following command:
service fail2ban start
If everything went as expected you should get the following response:
Starting fail2ban: [ OK ]
Using Fail2ban to block login attempts to WordPress
If additionally you also would like to protect your server or VPS from failed login attempts to WordPress, you should first create a filter.
Your filters are located here:
Create a new filter named wordpress.conf using Nano as follows:
Copy and paste the following code into the newly created wordpress.conf filter file:
# Fail2Ban filter for wordpress
before = common.conf
_daemon = wordpress
failregex = ^%(__prefix_line)sAuthentication failure for .* from $
^%(__prefix_line)sPingback error .* generated from $
# Author: John Doe
Now that you have created the wordpress.conf filter, you will need to add a new rule to your jail.local file which you have previously created:
enabled = true
filter = wordpress
logpath = /var/log/secure
maxretry = 3
findtime = 86400
bantime = 31536000
action = iptables-multiport[name=wordpress,port="80,443"]
Finally, you will have to restart Fail2ban using the following command:
service fail2ban restart
If everything went well, this is what the response should look like:
Stopping fail2ban: [ OK ]
Starting fail2ban: [ OK ]
Congratulations, your server of VPS is now protected against scum trying to make your life misserable!
OK, since I kind of promised, when I wrote my last post nearly a year ago, to write a new one a little bit sooner - which I didn't, I am going to start by saying that I'm not going to make any other promises again. The affiliate life is like a roller coaster ride, even worse, a roller coaster ride but in the dark, as you'll never know which turn will be coming up next.
One month you're celebrating and thinking of buying that new Audi, the next one you'll be set back to where you were before. And usually this goes along with the amount of time and money you are willing to invest into your sites. Don't get me wrong though, I'm still far better off being on this crazy ride than working as a corporate slave from nine to five - besides making better money, I can honestly say that freedom is what makes being an affiliate so great.
Another factor that always comes around to mess things up when things seem to go well is good old G. Most of you know that I have been hit pretty hard by the Google Panda update last year, and that I am still struggling and stuck with lower rankings for my main site www.pokerforfree.org today. I hate to say it, but Google is doing a lousy job! The SERPs are filled with thin affiliate sites, where mine has grown to a very decent resource with great content, including:
- a comprehensive World Series of Poker guide,
- an ongoing European Poker Tour guide, which includes my best page of the site, the yearly EPT Grand Finals coverage,
- a completely new Poker Rules section, with well written in-depth guides,
- and much much more... in fact, still adding as we speak.
For anyone who doesn't understand the impact of the Panda update, the following graph reveils everything.
This actually means that it takes much more, to recover from the Panda update, than just locating and rewriting a bunch of bad pages. The examples I outlined above are just a small portion from what has been 'fixed'. I literary spent thousands of dollars to improve the quality of my site, with the result I am aiming for still lacking. One thing I have to admit though, frankly most of the content on my site sucked, so it should have been penalized in the first place. But it's time to reward good sites, with great content, not just sites with a shit load of links!
To continue on the subject, other things I did in my best effort trying to recover from the Panda update, was moving the Italian version of Poker For Free to it's own domain www.giochipokergratis.co, and as well the German version to www.kostenlospokeronline.de. The reason to move these sections was that I suspected them to have a negative impact of the total quality of my site. Unfortunately it didn't make a difference, or not yet at least.
Furthermore I also bought myself a licence for a free poker game, which I am hosting on one of my own servers. It's pretty cool actually, since I was able to create custom tables and card decks, and it would be even cooler if there were any active players, but with a limited amount of traffic the only thing I can do is keep dreaming.
Of course, all the trouble came during the aftermath of dealing with the douche bags from Stickyeyes, but that chapter is closed and I'm not going to touch it again. (Alright, for the sake of it, one more time: Stay away from dealing with Stickyeyes. They do more harm than good, or if your budget is sky-high, they will certainly abuse it by taking much more than needed! In fact, I'll do the same for half the price if you want me to!)
Finally I have been examining my site inside out, and tried to fix any flaws that could possibly have a negative impact on SEO. For example, I fixed a bug that redirected non existing pages to my File Not Found page, without generating a proper 404 header. Instead, I am no longer redirecting pages, but parsing the content and a 404 header right on the spot. So no more Soft 404's in Google's Webmaster Tools soon!
Hereby I am concluding this post with a short message for anyone who would like to add a free poker game to their site. I've developed an API for my free poker game, to use it throughout my own network, and could offer this to the public. If you're seriously interested and think you have the audience for it, please get in touch with me. I can definitely use some players!
Thanks for reading, and 'till the next, when I've finally recovered from Google Panda. (I know... just wishful thinking.)
WOW, has it really been that long since I wrote my last post on Pursuing Success? Almost six friggin’ months! And I was so determined to post more frequently..... oh well... guess that’s what my life looks like, like a roller coaster.
At least this gives me something to write about, since so many things have happened since my last post. I remember being all excited moving pokerforfree.org to Rackspace – it’s still there, but I recently got a Virtual Private Server, or VPS, at myhosting.com. All together it comes down to Rackspace being more expensive, and dirt slow. I still have to move everything over, but didn’t find a spare moment yet.
Let’s see what (the fuck) happened after moving my site. It didn’t rank any better, I can tell you that, in fact I lost about 60% of my traffic, but I will get to that later in this post.
Take my Advice for Granted!
Most who know me have heard I terminated my contract with Stickyeyes.com, the self proclaimed SEOs from Leeds, United Kingdom, which have a booth at most iGaming Shows to lure unexpecting affiliates into their scam with nasty contracts.
Yeah you got that right, Stickyeyes.com are scammers. I have paid them a total sum way over $30,000 over the course of a year, and all I got was a bunch of excuses why my site would not rank any higher. First time I got suspicious was when my friend Alon told me about my link on some site that was offered to him from some Indian guy for $5 a year, a link which was a premium link according to Stickyeyes.com. Of course they had an excuse for this specific link, but the fact of the matter is that over time more links like these would show up.
I also talked to more of their customers, and everybody I spoke to had the same story: Stickyeyes.com are worthless. Someone else I know told me he heard my budget was too low, so I guess their bigger clients pay lots more, and get stolen from lots more too, without them knowing of course as they retain their top rankings anyway.
Past January, at the London Affiliate Conference, I stepped up to Paul Hill, the one actually responsible for making me sign the contract after we met for the first time at the Budapest Affiliate Conference in September of 2009. I asked him man to man about my site failing to rank better after spending that crazy amount of cash, and his answer was that it was something technical on my site, but he wasn’t completely sure. He told me he was going to find out and get back to me personally – obviously I am still waiting. But wait a minute… if it really was a technical issue on my side, WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T THEY TELL ME SO?!?
Ok, enough ranting about Stickyeyes.com, I guess I needed this. I can go on and on about my negative experience with them, but let me end with giving you some free advice. Have you ever considered, or are considering doing business with them, take this for granted: Don’t do it, or you’ll be sorry.
Post Stickyeyes.com Adventures
So what happened after the Stickyeyes.com debacle? First of all, I ended up paying a some more months, as they keep you to your end of the contract, which means a three months termination period. Of course, they only did the bare minimum of work, if at all. After these three months went by, they took down most of the links they created, and you know what that means, right? Yes, you are abso-fucking-lutely right: My site dropped from rank #7 to rank #12, for “free poker” that is.
So the drop in rankings meant the loss of some like 4,000 unique monthly visitors, but if that wasn’t worse enough, Google came with the Panda algorithm update, also known as the Farmer update, that basically ruined my good mood, and positive look at the future. Pokerforfree.org dropped from 20,000 unique visitors to less than 10,000, and that means I lost half the revenue my baby was generating. Ending this part of the post, the Panda/Farmer update bounced my site from rank #12 to rank #26, for “free poker” in Google.com.
Killing the Damn Panda!
Everybody who knows me well also knows I am a fighter, not a quitter. I have never learned the meaning of giving up, hence I decided to pump all my funds into Poker For Free to enhance the quality of the site’s content. If Google’s really became this smart as they try to make us think, it should also be capable of figuring out that I am now only doing things that are valuable to my visitors.
First of all, I decided to make Poker For Free a real free poker site, not just a site where visitors can find a free poker bankroll. I acquired the pro license for a poker platform, which is fully hosted and controlled by nobody else but myself. I completely integrated it into Poker Club - pokerforfree.org’s members zone. Unfortunately my free poker game doesn't have much traffic yet, as Aweber.com, which by the way are great for newsletters, didn't allow me to import my existing member base of more than 8,000. In the mean time, a couple of hundred new members have signed up for the free poker game already, but I still have to find a way around to let my former members know about it, whitout the risk of beeing seen as a e-mail spammer.
Furthermore, I improved the site’s structure, and all of the sudden it came to my attention why Google has been so harsh on me. I had many pages in the first layer of the menu that didn’t make any sense - they were indeed of very low quality, and not valuable for my visitors at all. So I told my writing team to take care of this. Elizabeth – she’s one of the best writers you can think of – has taken care of the European Poker Tour pages, and Ken has written a comprehensive Guide to Winning Poker, as well as written an in depth World Series of Poker section. I estimate the site now has 50-some newly created, or rewritten pages of 1,000 words on average, and the end is not in sight yet. Take that Google!
My current rankings are a tad better, but still nothing to brag about. The Panda hunt, however, will go on, as I believe I still have some trump cards in my pocket!
Fortunately, my business doesn’t solely relay on Poker For Free anymore. I can still support my entrepreneurship. Remember some posts ago that I was going to move into my new office? Well I have in September of 2010, and frankly I am enjoying and loving every single moment of it. Working from home, or going to work makes such a difference. Efficiency and productiveness must have doubled to say the least - or at least as long as my brother in law Theo doesn’t pay me visit for an espresso out of my full automatic Saeco espresso machine.
Time for a Much Needed Break
Even I need a break away from everything every now and then, and to be honest, everything could use a break away from me too. So, I agreed some time off with my girlfriend on Wednesday, booked my flight on Thursday, and left for the States on Saturday.
I booked business-class seats using up 50,000 air miles to spent a week with my best friend Terry, his wife Ada and their newborn daughter Maya, in DC, my second hometown. Boy, I friggin’ love that place, though I hated the day after we went to Ozio on M street drinking with the fellas. We had a great night, on which I met my Scottish friend Paul who’s now an assistant coach next to Joe Wootten – yes Morgan’s son - at Bishop O'Connell High in Virginia, one of the nations top basketball programs. My man Greg-a-lirous also came over to meet me, and so did Kenny and Ron – which I already met earlier in the week when we went to the driving range for some swings. That’s actually as early as they told me about Crown Black, that it was going to be really nasty, but I never thought it was going to be this bad. Boy, did I suffer the day(s) after. Oh and Ron, if you happen to read this at some point, please don’t ever participate in American Idol – but please do keep singing for us, as that was fucking hilarious!
On my way back the Dutch customs made me open my case, after I told them I had nothing to declare. Fortunately they guy bought my story and I was free to walk with about 21 Kilos (like 45 Lbs.) of new goods worth almost as much as $2 grand!
Even though I am not telling half of what I did during my stay in DC, it was just long enough to get the much needed rest, but I have to admit that I was dying to see the loved ones who came to pick me up at Schiphol. ‘Till the next time!
A New Project, Bigger and Bolder than Ever Before
My latest project is quite amazing. I joined ventures with Andrew, someone I have been working closely together with lately. I believe he has all the skills that I have lack off. I think that this project could turn out to become my/our biggest ever, not only because it covers all gambling niches, i.e. casino, poker, bingo and sports betting, but mainly because our joint partnership.
Can’t wait to launch this sucker with a big bang, probably somewhere next week, as the domain is already getting some traffic. I don’t like to post the URL on this site, as you never know if there’s anyone willing to sabotage it after this post, but please feel free to poke me privately and I’ll tell you all about it.
After spending nearly two hours on something that doesn’t generate any revenue, I am going to keep the conclusion pretty short. The Donar semi-quarter series against Eiffeltowers Den Bosch are tied 1-1, but we have home court advantage. My guts tell me that Donar will come to their senses and advance to the finals, not losing another game.
Today I picked up going to the gym, after a two weeks period of rest. I was surprised to see that I was still bench-pressing the same amounts of weights as before, although I am pretty sure I will suffer from severe muscle pain either tomorrow or the day thereafter.
Finally, I can’t tell if I will post again any time soon. I might, or not, but if you like to read my blog, just make sure to subscribe and you don’t have to miss out when I do. However, I do believe my blog could use a new look and feel, so I might at least update the theme sometime soon.
Oh crap, before I forget. Play Poker Online <- There you go, some link-love to my friend Akhilesh, the goat herder from India.
So, my current host, where I have a reseller account for ages, are acting link a bunch of bitches, after I've e-mailed them about a serious issue I encounter while loading my sites. It looks like something's messed-up with the server, as I frequently get prompted a message if I want to download a PHP file. Now, as I am not accessing any PHP files directly - I'm talking about random files which just make up the site, or even files that make up WordPress for that matter, and since PHP are not meant to be downloaded at all, I asked them how this could be, and if there was any chance that this would happen to others (my sites' visitors) as well. Well, well, these ignorant scumbags told me that it ain't their problem but mine, as no other clients noticed them about this. IMO, what seems to be the case is that their PHP set-up is hesitating, and that it randomly treats PHP files as plain text files, but only every now and then. The PHP file, by the way, is completely blank if I confirm to download it.
Enough ranting... it's really not important anymore! In fact, I am so happy to stand where I am standing momentarily.
Long story short, they keep ignoring there is a problem, and I ended being fed-up with them. So I am in the process of changing hosts, hence I contacted my best buddy (<- notice your first link love) for advice. He pointed me to Rackspace, whom have several kinds of hosting products, for very reasonable prices. After some investigation, I ended up with a Rackspace Cloud Server account, which I will describe in-depth as this blog continues.
What I am going to do from here, is describing how I am going to move PokerForFree.org to the new Cloud Server. This means that I will go through each step of process and write about everything that comes along, until the site has been moved and runs smoothly. I'll be straight, it's will be a true challenge, as most of the work is done in a Terminal (Unix Shell), and I really have no experience at this moment. Hopefully, at the end of this blog post, I will 🙂
Setting up a Cloud Server
So yesterday night after we came back from a Donar, who got upset by Galataseray (Istanbul, Turkey) in the final seconds of the game, I went to the Rackspace Cloud website and created an account. As this was post research, I knew exactly what I was looking for: a Linux Cloud Server, Fedora 14 to be precisely. I chose the cheapest, starting at $11 a month, but as it is completely scalable, and paid by the hour, you can upgrade at any time you want. (Any time? Yes, any time...)
So what I got is 256 MB of RAM, and 10 GB space - that's a plenty for just one site I guess. This goes together with a private IP address, and all the freedom I need.
After a few minutes I received the verification e-mail containing my root user name and password, and I was set to go. As at this point I really didn't have a clue, I contacted support - which are around 24/7 through live chat and phone. Curtis, the Rackspace representative, helped me getting started by pointing out some Linux set-up guides, and telling me the basics of working with the Terminal on my Mac. Before you knew it I was logged in at my own instance - it felt like victory!
All of this together brings me to this very moment. I am about to continue setting up my Cloud Server. I am going to take you live through the next steps, bear with me...
Cloud Server Step by Step Guide
Step 1 - First you will have to log-in, hence you'll have to use the following command in my Mac Terminal:
Obviously, I rather keep my IP address to myself. When you log-in from a certain location for the first time, you will get a warning, which you can simply ignore by typing 'yes'. An RSA Key Fingerprint will be added to your local computer, so that your computer becomes authenticated.
Step 2 - The first thing you want to do when you're logged-in is changing your default root password.
passwd root (You will then be promoted for your password of your choice.)
Before we start with the hardcore work that is needed to set-up the Cloud Server as a host, we will have to customize it a little but.
Step 3 - With the following command we will be able to set-up a package of tools called development tools which come together with Fedora release 14.
sudo yum groupinstall 'Development Tools' (Answer 'y' when prompted in Terminal.)
sudo yum install links (Answer 'y' when prompted in Terminal.)
Are you still following me, you ol' nerd? Well then, there's only one more step to take before we get to the most important part of this Cloud Server Set-up Guide.
Step 4 - The following command will install the Screen application. Honestly, I have no idea what I am talking about, except that it's used to allow virtual terminals to be opened in one console. If you follow the link you will find an in-depth Screen Tutorial.
sudo yum install screen
After actually playing around with the
screen command, I found out that it lets you switch between instances of Terminal, but using one single console.
Now, after reading some more I found out that we needed to update the software between Step 2 and 3. As it doesn't seem to hurt, we will be doing it now by using the following command.
sudo yum update (Answer 'y' when prompted in Terminal.)
Securing a Cloud Server
To keep douche bags, a.k.a. hackers, outside we want to secure our server as much as possible. Fortunately there's a build-in Firewal for Linux called iptables, which is pretty straight forward setting up.
Setting-up iptables on Fedora 14
If you are setting up a new Cloud Server at Rackspace, it is wise to have a look at the current firewall rules. What we want to accomplish is opening ports 80 (regular) and 443 (secure), which are closed by default. You can use the following command to have a look at the current iptables settings.
sudo /sbin/iptables -L
Let's assume that you are setting-up up a Cloud server from scratch, just like me. That means that we want to get rid of the default settings. Use the following command to flush/delete them.
sudo /sbin/iptables -F
Here's a default set of commands to install the proper iptables settings to open up the ports I just mentioned. Copy them as a whole and paste them into your Terminal.
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i ! lo -d 127.0.0.0/8 -j REJECT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A OUTPUT -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW --dport 30000 -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -p icmp -m icmp --icmp-type 8 -j ACCEPT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -j REJECT
sudo /sbin/iptables -A FORWARD -j REJECT
At this moment I decided not to discuss the meanings of each of the commands, but I might get to it in an upcoming post. If you really need more information as we speak, I suggest you visit this page.
There's actually one more line that should be added. As we need to be able to access the server over SSL, we need to keep port 22 open. You can use the following command. The '-I' makes sure that it will be added to the top.
sudo /sbin/iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT
Finally you will need to save them, so they also remain intact when you'll reboot your Cloud Server. Use the following command to do so.
service iptables save
Setting up a Apache on a Rackspace Cloud Server
In this part I will try to explain how to set-up Apache on Fedora. Installing a basic set-up of Apache is really nothing to worry about. Please use the following command to install Apache together with the most common options (httpd and SSL).
sudo yum install httpd mod_ssl (Answer 'y' when prompted in Terminal.)
With the following commands we will customize our web server.
sudo mkdir /etc/httpd/conf/custom (The 'mkdir' command creates the directory - in this case 'config'.)
sudo nano /etc/httpd/conf/custom/servername.conf (The 'nano' command creates a file - in this case 'servername.conf'.)
We will now have to give our web server a name, which will be stored in the config file we have just created.
ServerName 123abc (It goes without saying, but '123abc' shall be replaced with whatever the choice of your server's name is going to be. Hit CTRL-O to write the file, and CTRL-X to return to the command-line.)
The final step in this setting-up Apache on Fedora guide is editing the main Apache configuration file. Execute the following command to open the file that you'll need to edit.
sudo nano /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf
Scroll down to the far bottom, or hit CTRL-W to search for '*.conf', and find the line where
Include conf.d/*.conf is written. Replace this line with the following, correct path, to the custom config file created above.
Include /etc/httpd/conf/custom/servername.conf (Save and exit the file.)
Congratulations! You have set-up a basic instance of Apache on Fedora. The only thing left is checking if the httpd service starts up automatically by using the following command.
sudo /sbin/chkconfig --list httpd
Your desired result is:
httpd 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off
After each and every change, it is wise to test if our config file is free from errors. Use the following command to do so.
sudo /usr/sbin/apachectl configtest
If everything is alright, we can now restart the web server with the following command, which will gracefully restart Apache on Fedora for us.
sudo /usr/sbin/apachectl graceful
If everything went well, at least it did for me, you will now be able to access the server in a browser. Open a browser of choice (as long as it isn't Internet Explorer - avoid at all costs) and enter your Cloud Server's IP address. You will see now see an empty index page, since we didn't upload any files yet. I guess I can say I now understand some more about working in a Unix Shell, and setting up Apache, as well as making it accessible, but secure. I will definitely review this Cloud Server Guide during the following days, and probably end up extending it some more, or adding a few images. The next step, however, is setting up the individual modules for Apache, as there are many of them that I'll need before I will be able to physically move Poker For Free.
If you appreciate this guide, and have become interested in Rackspace's Cloud Servers, please use my affiliate link: http://www.rackspacecloud.com/1724.html.
I have been moving around, and moving out, in the past few weeks.
First of all I have finally switched gyms, almost four weeks ago already. From Fit For Free, the dump I used to go, I now became a member of the luxury Plaza Sportiva, really nearby from where I'm residing. Being a member of Plaza Sportiva comes with tons of advantages; it's nearby (I already mentioned that, didn't I?), it has Fitlinxx, it's nearby (didn't I say that before?), you can actually take a shower without having to pay for it, and for those who like it, they have Saunas and Turkish Steam Baths as well, and finally it's really nearby (hmmm...). NEARBY aye!!! So, I start bringing Mauro to school, then bring Dante to pre-school, and only 5 minutes later I find myself enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee before I start my daily workout.
During the first week I had a consult with a PT (Personal Trainer), and we determined quarterly goals and three different routines; chest and shoulders, back and arms, and lower body (legs 'n stuff).
The three months goals we've determined are:
- Reduce body fat percentage from 16.4% to 15%
- Gain strength with 10Kg lifting weights (Bench Press 70Kg)
- Extend Chin-Up repetitions to 5 x 10 with a wide grip (Currently only able to do 3 x 10 with a front grip)
Reducing the body fat percentage will most probably be the easiest of all, also because basketball season has begun, and I have been practicing twice a week over the past three weeks. It's been really great to be back on the court, especially after the groin surgery that kept me on the bleachers for almost whole the previous season. I have to admit though, that my body starts to act-up a bit, and that I'm considering to cut one of my weekly fitness sessions, probably the one on Fridays. However, as long as I can walk, just the thought makes me feels like I'm cheating.
And there's been more moving around, as September 1st I received the key to my new office. Good news for my competition, as I have been painting, thus not working on regular stuff, for a little bit over two weeks. Everything is done, and I have to say that the place, sizing approximately 28 m2/300 square feet, looks really nice and clean. Extra locks have been added to the outside door too, and this week the alarm system will be installed as well - rest me to move over my valuable hardware.
Best story of the year, I am using the same Internet connection as the one I have at home -> my neighbors' unprotected WiFi Router. KIDDING of course. Hey, what were you thinking, I am not THAT cheap! Anyway, after doing some proper research I've bought myself a new EnGenius M35, a multifunctional Access Point that gives me enough range to save me the additional costs from setting up a new connection. This alone will save me about €500/year. I'm considering to get myself another one of these suckers which I can set-up as a Repeater, that way I can have - hands down - the best possible WiFi signal I can get over there.
My former in-house office is now turning into a indoor playground for our spoiled kids. Sometimes I wish I was one of them, looking at all the toys kids have these days, not even talking about the game consoles. Fwiw, we have the XBOX 360 and the Nintendo Wii (thanks to Greg who drew my business card out of a hat at CAP Barcelona a couple of years ago), but they are both collecting dust, as fortunately Mauro is still unaware of what they actually are. He's just one happy kid with his second hand Mac he got when he was only three, so I wait telling him what consoles are until we can actually play NBA Live together.
The bright reader has noticed I haven't been able to do much business wise the past few week, however I managed to do the regular things. There's one thing that has been bugging me, and that is my site DepositPoker.co.uk. No matter what I try, I can't get Google to give me any respect and have it indexed. It's really frustrating, and I even posted about a possible Google penalty at PAL. Even Michael Martinez from SEO Theory chimed in, and I have followed some of the suggestions he advised taking. Hopefully I can tell you good news about the site in my next post!
I know I promised to write a comprehensive guide on how to implement a new, and better converting design into an excising site with decent amounts of traffic, but you have to take a rain check for it for the time being. It is highly exceptional that I write, and usually at this time of the day I don't feel like going in depth too much. At some point, however, the day will come...
Today I've spent some time chatting with Jan Teilhof aka "Newjabber". He's a fellow affiliate, forum member, and even a semi-professional poker player, but most of all a proud father and a nice fellow to chat with. He gave me some great advice, which I will most definitely give a try, and if right probably will save me several hundreds of dollars every month. On my turn, by random occasion, I helped him discovering a malfunctioning affiliate link. On the other hand, he also left me with a dilemma, as he showed me one of his niche sites... ah, I should rather keep my mouth shut as I just came up with a marvelous idea, which I will have to talk to Jan about first. In each case, he should profit from my idea, or I will leave it alone, because I am definitely not that kind of guy.
It's almost midnight, so I'm calling it a day now. Not sure when the next post will be... I guess when the time is right. See ya then!
The summer is nearing its end, and the 'good times' are coming. Just like most other gambling affiliates, I suffer badly during the months of July and August - less traffic, less rake, and so on. During the 2009 summer I lost about 50% of my income, which scared the crap out of me, but thankfully this year, mainly because of investing a fair amount of money into SEO, I managed to keep a stable income. Fair to say, I hate the summer just as much as I love it!
Thursday we came back from our family vacation. This year we've spent two weeks in Estepona (15 km from Marbella) South of Spain. This is also the region we are planning to move to, at least in our dreams (until I convince Lydia that there are plenty of decent schools for our children). The climate is very good all year around, the Spanish people are really friendly, and life over there seems to be a real bargain compared to the Netherlands. And let's not forget, with a possible government ran by Geert Wilders' party... who wants to be here after all.
Anyway, the vacation was rather good, although the hotel could have been much better for a four star hotel. The room was nice, the hotel looked nice too, including the pool side, but these douche bags were charging us for about everything you can think of! If you ever think of going to Estepona, think again before booking the Pierre et Vacances - Calendonia Golf Resort.
Three weeks before leaving I decided to do what Tim Ferriss says, the author of the 4-Hour Workweek. I decided to focus on projects that are currently generating the most of my income, to make even more with them, instead of putting my energy into newly launched projects. So I redesigned Poker For Free, the site got a complete overhaul. While I was doing so, I was split testing the homepage to see if the new design outperformed the old one, and it did. So after working day and night for three weeks, I decided to put the site live just before flying to Spain. Quite a risk, but I was so excited that I didn't want to wait. Fortunately it didn't turn out to be a bad decision.
While I was gone I used my iPhone to periodically check my e-mail and my statistics, and was happy to find out that Poker For Free's traffic went up by 50%!!! Of course this had nothing to do with the new site, but all with the $20,000+ which I invested into SEO over the past 8 months. With my site performing so well, I couldn't wait to get back and work, but on the other hand I was really enjoying the time off with the family - so I let it rest.
As Pursuing Success is my personal and marketing blog, it's about time that I should write somethings interesting about affiliate marketing, right? So my next blog will be about the new Poker For Free, and what I did prior to merging hundreds of pages into the new site. That's a promise! But for now I will keep it a little bit more personal though.
While in Spain, I kept going to the gym every other day while Dante went to bed for his siesta. Since I started working out in February, it has become one of my favorite pass times. I managed to lose 7 kg already (my current weight is 82 kg), but I think that it must be at least double as much in fat effectively, as I gained quite a bit in muscles too, obviously. I am now proud to announce that I have a Four-Pack, and it won't be too long before I get to that much admired Six-Pack!
August 18, 2010 - I'm continuing where I left off 10 days ago, and of course many crazy things have happened in the mean time. God, don't you love the affiliate life! One of the things that worries me is PokerStars. They are so big and powerful, and think they can keep screwing affiliates... over, and over again. And the shittiest thing about it, is that I have just reinstalled them on Poker For Free, as a service to my US visitors, about 40% of my total traffic. Want to know why I don't feel comfortable with my recent decision to continue working with PokerStars, please have a look at this PAL thread: PokerStars Partners are Fucking You Over. Read, or scan it, but you will get the point.
Before I left to the South of Spain, I received an email from Barry with Heaven Affiliates. One of my domains, pokerheavenreview.com, infringed their registered trademark, and he politely asked me to take it down, either by handing over the control to them, or redirect it to another domain. I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to get something out of it, and asked them for a compensation of $250. Unfortunately they denied it, but in a very decent matter, so I let it rest and told them I would take it down after I got back from vacation. So today I finally moved my Poker Heaven mini-site to its new location, and 301 redirected the old URLs. The new location, DepositPoker.co.uk, is a site I bought from a guy at the forums, which I already wrote something about in one of my previous blog posts.
During my daily workouts sessions at the gym, I have given some special thought to my next blog post. As you could read earlier in this one, my next post will be about redesigning an existing website with reasonable amounts of traffic. I think I might have found a few ideas to come with an interesting article, and with the transition of PokerKamers.nl the other day, the Dutch equivalent of Poker For Free, I also managed to refresh my own memory a little bit. I am actually looking forward to writing it, but I have some other real important things on the agenda first, such as the translation of the almost 3,000 words counting Poker Crusher Review. I shouldn't be making any more promises, except to my kids!
Last topic, before I call it a day and visit my brother in law for a cup of coffee, is something I discovered while exploring my site's statistics. I noticed a lot of hits coming from two specific freeroll forums. I am not mentioning their URLs on purpose, because I believe password thieves are about the lowest scum of the affiliate industry you can get. Back to the point, it came to my notice that the hits from these specific referrals were occurring because of an externally linked image causing a 404 error, an image that was deleted when I launched the new Poker For Free site. Today I gave them a Dutch treat, and replaced my image with a new one telling their visitors: "Type pokerforfree.org in your address bar." I don't know, and honestly don't care if I actually get any traffic of it, I just had some fun doing it. Next time you steal from me, or which ever hard working affiliate, think again bitch!
Today was the day Argentina was playing the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter final game versus Germany. Where I would usually would cheer for Argentina, I kept my fingers crossed for Germany today, as this game would mean the difference between climbing to the first place in the PAL World Cup Pool, or falling further behind to Niko de Jonge. Niko, a young aged internet entrepreneur from Canada, who was first on the ladder up 'till now had Argentina win over Germany, and I picked it the other way around. I now have a five point lead, and have to say it must get really awkward if I am not going to end up with the win. With three more games to come, there are 2 x 16, and 1 x 32 points to earn, but with Brazil out - favorite to many ones - the only real threat is the Netherlands losing from Uruguay in the semis, plus Spain winning it all. I remain unbeatable in any other case, and will strike up a fair amount of money.
Of course you should never count yourself a winner too soon, but looking forward to the new office I will lease as of September 1st, any additional cash is more than welcome. And of course, we're all looking forward to a final where the Netherlands beats the crap out of Germany. I might have been just one year young in '74, but our revenge will have a darn sweat taste.
So, again there's been a lot of time between my last post and this one. I just didn't have a moment any time sooner. It's past midnight now, and even though I have planned a Sunday morning session at the gym tomorrow morning, I decided that I didn't want to go to bed just yet. One thing that writing entries on Pursuing Success helps me with is making me think about the things that currently keep me busy, and that's exactly what makes me focus on the right things tomorrow and the days thereafter.
Let's start with a few business updates. You might have read in a previous blog that I am working on something big. Well, I am still working on it, and this in fact could become the biggest thing I've done to date. Thank goodness I am not into this all by myself, as this is something I am setting up with my friend, my basketball team mate, and my workout buddy Shandell. We both have completely different backgrounds, and especially that's what intrigues me about this project, which by the way has nothing to do with online gaming. Unfortunately I am not in the position to undisclosed the details yet, but once I am I will be dedicating a separate post to it.
Furthermore, the affiliate business has been level the past few months, and quite frankly, that's not what I expected after injecting almost 15,000 euro into SEO over the past 6 months. Caffeine seems to be the troublemaker, and I hope that we can surpass this dang problem in the upcoming couple of months, say the summer. The whole situation has given me a lot of stress, as I had to come up with all kind of funky ideas to generate extra cash to keep paying the respectable fees to Stickyeyes.
The biggest news from the past few weeks must have been the acquisition of internetgamblingsites.net, an exact match domain for a phrase which I was targeting since the time I was still working together with fellow entrepreneur John Holloway, who owns OnlinePoker.org. I was delighted when I found it up for sale, and didn't hesitate buying it. I had a bargain buying it from Jim a.k.a. Poker Prop for just $175!
So I created a complete new website, and moved (yes, I 301'ed all the old locations to the new ones) over the good old English version of Casino Warehouse, since I never got the .eu domain to rank well. Together with this move I decided to drop all casinos that I was promoting and were performing (way) under the limit... shocking to say, almost all Playtech casinos. As I had so much left-over content I created another new website to store it. With some more content that I got in exchange for links, I had a new casino portal done in the matter of a few hours: CasinoWarehouse.net. Opposite to Internet Gambling Sites, which is going to end up as one of my main sites, this reincarnation of Casino Warehouse will function as another one of my supplementary sites.
There's always more to tell about my projects, take iDEAL Poker for instance, another one of my numerous forgotten treasures. I have teamed up with my buddy Alon and his Colleagues from Reef Media to make this one work, without the need to spend tons of money to make it rank myself. Can't say too much about the deal, but this is a typical win-win situation.
Last but not least I acquired another pair of websites - Deposit Poker, and Deposit Bingo. The former owner moved to Dubai where gambling is against the law, and needed to get rid of his sites asap. I was lucky to pick them up for just $150. However, Weycrest (stay way from this crap UK hosting company) was pretty screwed up and that's why, after finally being able to transfer the domain names, I eventually received the contents of both sites in chunks, which I had to assemblage myself. Not a very difficult job, but still a little bit time consuming in my overwhelming schedule. The site as we speak is far from ready, no call to actions and such, but in the mean time I am just letting it age in piece.
Despite the fact that business has been great - don't get me wrong, it is far from going bad, but nothing more than steady - I can't complain about my personal live. I am still going to the gym about five times per week, and am still loving every bit of it. When I am walking down the street, I feel really good, and when I look into a mirror I can see the results of working out consistently for a straight half a year. Healthy wise could be much better though, as my back has become a serious problem, and even my neck starts to act up a lot lately. After all kinds of treatments I now have an appointment at the hospital next week. Several specialists are going to examine my back, and hopefully they are able to diagnose what's causing the tremendous pain, and come with some sort of a recovery plan.
Enough for now! Time to get some sleep, but before I am going in, and since it's only football that matters these days, I would like to share a quote from manager Bobby Robson - which hopefully applies to me one of these days!
"He’s very fast and if he gets a yard ahead of himself nobody will catch him."
In a perfect world, I would have written tons of posts between my last post, and this one, but I didn't. Fuck that, the world is far from perfect, but you have to make it as good as you can, don't you agree? I think I finally ended on the right track, after looking around to find my way. For one, I am going to the gym so frequently that my body is starting to change, but more about that later. Business wise I seem to have my things going the way they should. I can basically do what I want, and by the first of September one of my dreams will come through, but more about that later as well.
First, you should know that I have been using my brand new 27 inch iMac Core i7 for quite some time already, and I love every bit of it. Every time I have to turn on my old PC to transfer some files or so, I experience the difference in first person. Boy o boy, do Windows machines suck! I also installed Parallels to be able to use my former Windows applications, as in the past I have acquired many (useful and, oh well... not so useful) licenses to different kinds of software. This is a superb tool which enables you to run Windows programs in your OSX environment. It also gives me the opportunity to test my sites in Internet Explorer, which most of us Internet entrepreneurs know can cause a lot of problems.
Best of everything is my new Mac's speed. I can run as many pieces of software simultaneously as I wish. Starting up a new application happens in just a heart beat, and you can even automate all kinds of processes. For instance, I needed to convert tons of GIF files into PNG's - all I had to do is creating a workflow using Automator, and I was ready within a minute! The more and more I get used to working with OSX, the more efficient I become. It was an incredible investment, money wise, but it's been all worth it up to now. My new iMac is the perfect computer, no discussion possible!
So, my world has become pretty close to perfect, although it doesn't look that I am going to make my goal to become a Super Affiliate, which I set 5 months ago. Last week I felt totally different, as I was climbing high up the ladder, without the end in reach, but this week Google deployed Caffeine over all their data centers, and since the world wide release of it, I have dropped about 30% in unique visitors. Imagine this crap happening after hitting one of my most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for ranking with a specific phrase. I'm sure that Stickyeyes will help me to get back on track, but at this moment my investment (which is quite a sum all together) seems to have vanished.
Even if the world would be perfect, it would still suck if your body isn't in a perfect condition. Perfect makes perfect! Health, physical strength, and fuck it, the shape of my body, have become one of my top priorities. I didn't give up going to the gym, in fact, I am even going more frequently than when began. I estimate that I am averaging five times per week, including some occasional physio sessions at the gym across the street to work specifically on my back problems. I now have been working out 13 weeks in a row. A little bit of math tells you that I've been going to the gym 65 times. I managed to lose 2-3 kg, which might seem too much to you, but take in account the muscleman I've become and you can understand I must have lost a tremendous amount of fat, especially around the belly! Honestly, I never imagined myself becoming a gym junkie, but I did and I love it, and now even Lydia, my girlfriend, has become one. While she currently works out three times per week to get her pre-pregnancy shape back, I'll continue to work on my six pack, and we'll definitely form the perfect couple this summer! Say bye-bye to David and Victoria, 'cause here come Giorgio and Lydia!
Yesterday I have placed an order at Bodybuilding.com for a new shipload of supplements. The $183.52 are well spent on 5 Lbs of Optimum 100% Whey Protein, 2.25 Lbs BSN NO-Xplode creatine, 40 packs Universal Animal Cuts (a fat burner to cheat away the remainders of my love handles), and 200 caps of Multi Pro 32X vitamins to complete. Until now I was using supplements which I got from a local fitness and health store, but IMO these seemed a bit overpriced. I also switched from Kre-Alkalyn to NO-Xplode creatine, as I didn't really notice an increase in strength while using Kre-Alkalyn.
I will try to post the results of my new supplements, but for those of you who don't know Jack about it, let me describe them to you first:
- Whey Protein - Helps the basic building of muscles. I use this 3 times a day - mornings, post workout, and before going to bed. It's powder to be mixed with (preferably skimmed) milk to be consumed as a shake.
- Creatine - Helps with increasing of muscle mass and explosive power, hence more reps and weight. Until now I was using Kre-Alkalyn, but am switching to NO-Xplode to see if I will notice any difference. I plan to use this supplement for a period of 12 weeks and will consume it about an hour before working out.
- Fat Burner - I simply hate cardio, and only do it to warm up my body and loosen up my muscles. After 13 weeks I clearly have lost a lot of fat, but the summer is nearing and yes, I want to show off my six pack! Animal Cuts should help me get quicker results. People on Bodybuilding.com have rated this a 7.8, and from what I've heard you really get pomped up from this shit - so we'll see.
- Vitamins - Working out or not, no matter what you do, using vitamin supplements will help your body to become more resistant.
Let me tell you one thing: Before I finally decided to start working out, I used to be sick all the time - say one time every two weeks. In the past 13 weeks, I have been sick just once. After the whole family has been sick, I couldn't avoid it - but I was back on my feet after just one day! See why my world is nearing perfection?
Okay, so my biggest announcement has yet to come. I already mentioned the gym across the street, right? This place is literary across the street, not even a 10 seconds walk from our front door! I can even see people sweating from my in-house office. Dang, I can even see if the chicks working out are nice looking or butt-ugly!
Anyway, once about every week I have a physio session to work on my back problems, and during one of these sessions I ended up in a conversation with my therapist about the things I'm doing for a living. One thing leads to the other, and before you knew it, a few days I was talking to the landlord about renting an office in the same building. Guess what, I was lucky and one's becoming available coming September. I can't be more happier, renting an office space so close to the place I live that I can probably use the same WiFi connection.
The space is about 60 square meters (approximately 200 square feet) and can easily store 2-3 persons. Time for growth baby!
In the mean time I will have to start saving for the interior and supplies, because I really want to make my office the place to be! One of the things on my wish list is a Herman Miller Aeron chair. I want this chair so badly, and had the opportunity to win one in this years' PAL NCAA Bracket Contest, but unfortunately my bracket didn't do very well. Next to the Aeron chair, I want a big-ass plasma screen on the wall. Since I primary work by myself, it can get awfully quiet sometimes - so I want to be able to come to work, turn on the TV and have a NBA game playing in the background. Furthermore I NEED to have a Nespresso machine (really can't live without it at home, so I need another one). Last but not least I will get a pretty dang good security system - probably one connected to some kind of security firm.
What more has been cooking?
In one of my first posts you could read that I promoted in Hattrick. Well, my stay in the 6th division didn't last for very long, as I ended in the final position and degraded back to the 7th. I am now facing a couple of teams with similar strength, and have to start thinking of renewing some of my players as well, as they are getting a tad bit too old to keep performing well. Nevertheless, I was able to pull a couple of great youth players in a row, which I either sold or added to my selection. I am thinking to replace my trainer, but have to save up some more money to be able to acquire a good one.
Furthermore, I have been wasting a few days in creating a new site, but I already pulled the plug as it was too much of a risk to fail. The site would have been a sports book related portal targeting the 2010 World Cup Football in South Africa. After consulting with an expert in the field of sports betting I finally decided that I'd better concentrate on something different - which you will soon be able to read more about.
It's a perfect world afterall, but seriously time to stop blogging now and get some sleep, as the sun (<- sons) will rise early tomorrow morning. Speak soon, and don't forget, if you ever want to chat, either business, about working out or casual, you know where to find me!
Even though I have been ranting about Apple products in one of my previous posts, I am still a big fan of their products. I happened to have some bad luck... so what! And now that my four year old PC has started to give up on me lately, I've decided that it's time to replace it with the best possible I can get.
So yesterday morning I left the house. First, I had to run by my dad's house to take care of his mail, as he's spending the cold winter times in BsAs Argentina. Once I was done, I drove to MacMe, our local Apple store. Oh boy, I was just as excited like a little boy getting a brand new toy! Since I had to wait another 15 minutes before they opened up, I headed to a coffee shop nearby called Kaldi, for a double shot espresso and some cake (and yes, I'll work out extra hard to get rid of those dang calories). Nearly half an hour later I finished my coffee, my cake and reading the paper, and walked back to MacMe.
With a budget of €2,000 in mind, it didn't took me long to decide what to get. I already mentioned it, only the best would qualify, and 10 minutes later I was ready ordering a 27 inch iMac Core i7, which is tested and crowned as the fasted stock Mac model ever. I well exceeded my budget with €400, because I added Apple's Care Plan for 3 years (no surprises this time), as well as some additional software, but alas...
Unfortunately I have to wait another two to four weeks before my baby arrives, and I can finally say farewell to PC's for good. My new Mac will surely benefit my efficiency while I'm working.
What's the iMac Core i7 all about? Good question, I even called MacMe this morning to find out myself, as I had no clue what I bought for my hard earned €2,400 (approx $3,200). First of, it's a Quad Core processor featuring a new technology called Turbo Boost. Secondly, the i7 Core features a technology called Hyper Threading. Technically it's really a complicated thing, butin a few words it comes down to this: it's lightning fast and can handle tons of apps at the same time!
When it arrives, I will create a dream set-up that includes my iiyama ProLite E2607WS (26 inch screen), the iMac 27 inch, and hopefully soon the Herman Miller Aeron chair which I hope to win in Poker Affiliate Listings' NCAA Bracket Contest. I know the competition is fierce, but with a little help from Terry I know I have a more than decent shot to win!
The count down has started...
The past two weeks have been awesome. I have invested much more time into my business, than in the past months. I've been really working hard to get things done - and I did. It really feels good, and we all know where it eventually will lead to: more money, hence a bigger car.
Besides working harder, I finally took the step to get back at the gym. It must have been more than a year, and since I didn't play any basketball since September, you can imagine the current shape of my body. I'm currently working out harder than ever before. Four time a week, from Monday to Thursday, I'm lifting weights to work on my arms, shoulders, chest, back and abs. Unfortunately, I have to skip the Friday session, as Mauro has swimming lessons and I have to stay home to take care of Dante. I actually came up with a very cool idea when I was searching the web for supplements such as protein and creatine. I'm probably not the first with what I've in mind, but if you can make it in the gaming vertical (which is one of the most competitive), you should be able to make it in any vertical.
It's already the second year in a row that we have a real winter in the Netherlands. It's been freezing and snowing a lot since December. I've been building igloos in our garden, together with Mauro, and also took him skating a couple of times. Last year he could hardly stand still on the ice, but this year he was seriously moving around. You can imagine how proud I am, and happy to see him enjoy to skate just as much as I do.
When I was a little fellow, I used to play hockey. I was totally crazy about it, I lived hockey during the winters, and was always hanging around the ice court, which was very nearby where I grew up. When I was about 16 years of age, they demolished the skating rink and build a new one on the other side of town. This, and the reason that I was still the shortest (and lightest) kid amongst the other team members, made me decide to quit playing the game I loved so much (a decision I still regret today). I hardly ever went skating again, until five years ago, when I decided to buy a new pair of Bauer (Supreme 5000) skates out of the blue. These were the type of skates I could only dream of as kid. So, every time the opportunity arises to skate on a lake, I'll take it, and I'll bring my son along.
In my last post you could read a little bit about how PokerStars Partners are screwing affiliates. Even though they are the official affiliate program for the biggest online poker room in the world, the fact of the matter is that they run the worst possible program for affiliates. Commissions are much, much lower than anywhere else, and now that they have adjusted the terms and conditions, many of us are down up to 65%, hence I finally decided that I don't want to deal with them any longer.
I (re)moved all PokerStars related content from Poker For Free. However, it would be a shame to junk tons of quality content in four different languages (which is also good for traffic), so I created a new website, which I named my supplementary site, to store all the content I no longer use. Besides PokerStars, I also decided to get rid of two other poker rooms performing way under the limit. This, all mixed up with a good domain name from the shelve, and taking some more content out of retirement, gave me plenty of pages to have a more than decent website right from the start. Even though I am not planning to do anything major with it, I do have to say that I really love what it has become. Curious? Have a look at Poker Bonus Help, and judge for yourself!
I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got.
Oh by the way, I also gave Online Casino Blackjack [sold] a makeover. It still lacks content, but that's a matter of time. If you happen to own a Dutch casino related website and want to do some contextual link exchanges, feel free to get in touch.