... 39 days to be more precisely. Many things have happened in between my last post and this one. Oh first of all: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Where have I been? Actually nowhere, but I just didn't feel like blogging. I really don't feel like it now either, but alas... I owe you one.
So let's start where we left off, my Apple Sucks post. You won't believe what happened after I've written that post. As you could have read, my girlfriend's MacBook was having all sorts of problems, so we were planning to drop everything off at MacMe, our local Apple dealer.
In the Dutch language we have a saying that sounds as follows: "Van uitstel komt afstel." I'm not sure if there's a comparable saying in the English language, but it translates to something like this: "To delay is to cancel." Now, this saying relates to us bringing her MacBook, as well as my Time Capsule to the store to have them fixed. We didn't, and then the following happened.
Something like three weeks ago, Lydia was working on her MacBook at the dining table. I was working upstairs as usual, until she called me to come down immediately because her MacBook made funny noises, and it didn't want to boot after she restarted OSX. It was definitely a familiar sound. I couldn't be wrong, it couldn't be anything else than a failing Hard Drive. Dammit, I hate that sound!
This meant that at this point we didn't have access to her data any longer, including thousands of family and vacation photos. Even worse, the Time Capsule containing the back-ups also died, remember?
A week earlier, Lydia went to MacMe to see what they could do for us, for our broken Time Capsule, and her broken keyboard. At the moment they were really helpful and offered us to extend the warranty period, so we could get a new Time Capsule. Great!!! This was still possible because our Time Capsule died before it turned 2.
But it got even worse, much worse. As the Hard Drive in Lydia's MacBook completely died, we brought everything in for reparation. Then the phone rang. Her HD was not accessible anymore, it was deader than dead! The only thing left they could do was ripping the Time Capsule apart, getting the Hard Drive out, placing it into a external storage case, so at least we didn't lose our data. But, this meant that we would lose the option to extend warranty and get a new Time Capsule.
It was no matter of discussion. We just wanted our data back, more specifically the pictures of our two beautiful boys; Mauro and Dante. And that's exactly what they did.
I can't be more sad about our bad luck, but I have to say that I am really happy about how MacMe helped us out. In the end, they didn't make us pay for L's new keyboard, as well as for the research and repair. We only had to pay the hardware, i.e. a new 5Gb Hard Drive and the external storage case. Just €238.95, yet we still have to buy a new Time Capsule.
Now, that's is superb customer service! Something you won't frequently see at a regular mega/computer store.
All that's well, ends well. So, I'm currently planning to buy the 27 inch iMac computer. I just want this sucker to replace my slow as hell PC. These babies don't only look good, you can run Windows just as easy on a Mac these days, so who needs a PC. Who was talking about alternatives again?! Apple is awesome! (Until it breaks down.)
What more has been cooking?
I have been playing some online poker (and have been losing some), so I self-excluded myself from playing and save myself some money, but more importantly time and frustration. I still believe I have the required skills to beat the damn game, but I'm just the unluckiest player in the world! (And don't you dare to call it variance!)
In the affiliate business, PokerStars Partners has been fucking with affiliates. I'd say screw those bastards! I already have put them in final positions and am seriously considering to completely remove them from all my sites. Their numbers are totally ridiculous! Seriously, my advice if you're considering them: stay away from them and team up with Full Tilt Affiliates for your US traffic.
I didn't go to the London Affiliate Conference past weekend. Firstly I was planning to go, especially because I've never been to London before, but I had no valid reason business wise of being there. Since I'm not a super affiliate yet, I don't feel like making all kinds of promises to my partners. I rather wait until the moment I can show them some real numbers, and sit and talk then. Stickyeyes is helping me out to make it happen and we're now seeing some progress.
Last but not least, my dad left for the heat in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was planning to pay him a (surprise) visit, but it's just too complicated leaving a family back home when mommy has to work. He will surely enjoy his stay in BSAS without me.
Time to call it an end. I'll try to write my next post sooner.
Hey, that's a strange title for an avid and long time Apple user! But I've completely had it with Apple products. They look great, they're ease of use... but their life time is simply ridiculously short. Let me briefly describe to you how I came to the conclusion that Apple products suck.
I bought my first Apple product, a 15" Mac PowerBook G4, a little over four years ago, when Apple was nothing compared to what it has become to date. The large crowd didn't use these higher priced notebooks yet. I'm still using the same Mac, but had some significant problems with it over time.
The first problem was actually one that Apple handled really well, when they recalled all batteries for replacement due to a safety risk. My second problem however was one of large scale, as my hard drive crashed. I tried several recovery programs, but gave up after trying for a few days. I finally accepted the fact that I lost all my files, including irreplaceable photos and movies, and replaced the hard drive with a new one. Besides the frustration, the repair also turned out to be quite expensive.
Because I never wanted to experience such a situation again, I decided to invest some money and bought a 500Gb Apple Time Capsule, which is a storage device that makes backups on the fly combined with a wireless network router. The perfect solution!
In the mean time, we bought more and more Apple products, including an 8Gb iPod touch which we hardly use. My girlfriend, just as brand minded as I am, also bought a her first Apple computer, a 13" MacBook. We even convinced my dad, who was 75 years old at the time, to buy a MacBook, and so he did. My dad is a renown tango DJ, but that's a whole different story that I'll surely cover in one of my future posts.
My girlfriend's MacBook started to act up really soon after she bought it. First her keyboard failed working properly, but luckily it was replaced by the local Apple dealer for free, as it happened within warranty. When we returned home from our family vacation to Mallorca, she tried turning her MacBook on, but apparently her battery died. The reason they gave us was that "it sometimes happens when batteries are completely discharged". New batteries cost about 10% of a new MacBook, hence we didn't buy a new one yet, as buying a new MacBook might be a much better choice.
Not long thereafter, a few keys of her keyboard stopped working. Besides these hardware failures, the plastic of her MacBook began to crumble off. After googling this on the web we found out that it's a common thing that more MacBook owners are experiencing.
Two weeks ago, something bad happened again. It was a Monday morning, my girlfriend went to work, and I sat down in my in-house office to begin my daily routine, when I noticed that the WiFi network was down, I went downstairs to check on the Time Capsule, and it turned out to be completely dead. Since I had a huge todo-list, I decided to use the wired network instead, and started working.
Up to this morning, I didn't pay too much attention to it, as the occasion didn't occur, but somehow this morning I felt like searching for more information about dead Time Capsules. It turned out that tons of other Apple Time Capsule owners ended up with the same problem. From one to another website, I stumbled upon the Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register.
The Memorial Register for Time Capsules is a website where owners can register their dead Time Capsule. It turns out that the 1562 registered Time Capsules had an average life span of approximately 18 months. Hmm, I bought mine in April of 2008... and that is really close to average!
After doing some more research, it appears that more Apple products seem to die after approximately 18 months. Weird stuff! The worst part, Apple ignores there is a problem at all, and owners of dead Apple products are left behind neglected.
Until today, despite the problems I've encountered, I used to be a big fan of Apple products. For one, I love the iPhone, and there's really nothing close to an iPod either! But from now on I'll resist being part of the Apple hype and go with the flow. Many Apple owners I happen to know have one thing in common, they don't dare to admit that Apple sucks, because to them there are no alternatives.
Anyway, coming Monday I will pay a visit to the local Apple dealer in person and see what they've got to say about it. If it can be fixed, I guess I'll have to convert my Time Capsule it into a really handsome gift-box.
Would I buy another Mac again? Probably so...
Most Internet marketeers I know struggle to stay focused. So do I sometimes. Staying focused when working from home can sometimes be really hard, as there are so many things which may keep you from working, and being your own boss doesn't really help either. In fact, many of the fellows I know from the online gaming industry play online poker while they really should be working. Even though I have done it too, and when the occasion occurs, I still do, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. While some people make a decent living from playing online poker, only a sparse group are really that great that they reach all the way up to the high stakes tables.
Thus the majority of entrepreneurs is simply better off working! Take PokerStrategy, the biggest affiliate in the world, as an example. There isn't a living sole on earth that makes that kind of money playing online poker. From what I've heard, they have a monthly turnover of approximately $8 million dollars. Personally, I'm not working as hard anymore compared to when I just started working for myself, although occasionally I still have my moments. Averaging 60+ hour work weeks will eventually burn you out. Then again, I don't have to as I've learned to be more efficient. For instance, I have outsourced all my writing, and I try to come up with neath things that help me to do more in less time.
Take statistics. Checking your statistics can be a very time consuming action, that's why many marketing blogs tell you to only do this once every week or so. I know this rule by heart, but still, the first thing I do after making coffee in the morning is checking my stats. I confess, I'm a stats addict!
This morning I decided to invest some time into creating something that I had on my mind for a while, something that helps me out being more efficient in regards to the previously mentioned addiction; a dash board. Since I make use of Piwik (open source analytics program) for all my mini sites, and Piwik has all these handy little widgets which can be implemented and used externally, I created a dash board which displays the most important statistics of the previous day. Besides statistics, my dash board also contains links to the home page, CMS, and the Piwik installation. I predict that my dash board will save me up to 10 minutes a day.
Another thing I once created to become more efficient is LinkAdmin.net. I will dedicate a post to it some other time, as it still isn't finished for the public, however I'm already using it myself. In a nutshell, LinkAdmin.net helps me to manage my links; paid links (shame, shame, everybody knows my name), and exchanged links.
Conclusion. Us entrepreneurs enjoy the most of freedom, nonetheless we still have to pay our bills at the end of every month. Loosing focus is easy, but staying focused really pays off. Learn how to do your work more efficiently, and you'll be rewarded with plenty of time off to spend however you like it.
Let me end this post with a quote.
Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.
Today, while enjoying a nice cheese and pesto sandwich that my girlfriend Lydia's made for me, I was dreaming out loud until my she interrupted me. She told me that I might be better off if I stopped dreaming and would focus on things that will be easier to accomplish. For one, she brought up my vision board. "You're adding new things before even fulfilling the things you've put on there, say 2 years ago." But to me, a vision board is not about things that are in reach. My vision board is about extraordinary things, and she's right, some of those things might never become reality.
Not so long ago I was reading Graham's blog. He posted a movie with a speech by Nick Vujicic. For those of you who don't know Nick, he's an Australian fellow without limbs. Imagine yourself! And no, that didn't happen while swimming with crocodiles, Nick was actually born without both his arms and legs.
Anyway, my post isn't about Nick Vujicic. (Google his name if you want to know more about him, it's worth it.) My post is about dreams, more specifically my dreams. Nonetheless, I like to mention two things he said in his speech that kind of inspired me.
"I have many dreams and goals that I have set to achieve in my life."
Nick doesn't only dream, he makes dreams come through. He is persistent. I personally like to go one step beyond. I've made many dreams come through already. I was a bum, and look at me now, only 10 years later, and guess what... my life has just begun!
"As humans, we continually put limits on ourselves for no reason at all!"
I love the idea of a limitless life. When I look around me, at my in-laws for instance, they tend to think things over way too carefully. They rather think in problems, instead of possibilities. Many people do. I, on the other hand, I don't like boundaries. I don't risk my life, or my family's, but I completely agree with Nick's statement. There is no reason to put limits on ourselves.
So, I'm a dreamer... Big deal! I've always been dreaming, and besides my girlfriend, my mother loves to remind me whenever she can. But guess what, without my dreams I would still be a corporate slave in a 9-5 job!
I've dreamt of having a family, I've dreamt of being financially independent, I've dreamt of being in control... and I'll keep on dreaming! I like to dream for myself, for my family, and for my friends. In fact, what would it all be for, without dreams?
Google is one big mystery, this is something that all Internet marketeers, and search engine experts know. I don't consider myself to be an SEO expert, nonetheless I do know the most important things to make sites rank pretty well. But sometimes, I remain clueless about what's going on with my rankings.
Take one of my mini sites, Online Casino Roulette [sold], as an example. As I stated in one of my previous posts, I am not actively working on casino related sites anymore, however I make sure to check all of my sites' statistics every morning. So this site is not a highly trafficked site, but it had a nice and steady average of 7 unique visitors per day. Then last week it happened... I could already see a downfall, but when my site hit rock bottom, I started to worry about what Google had against it.
At first I thought of some sort of penalty, but that was not the case as my site was still fully indexed. I performed several tests, amongst them checking the site's current rankings with SEOBook.com's Rank Checker, and discovered that I was no longer ranking in the top 20 SERPs for my most prominent keywords.
But as mysterious my rankings disappeared, today they reappeared. After analyzing my positions, I can say with confident that everything is back to normal. Once again, I remain clueless.
Yesterday I've been mostly busy moving the German Max Poker Bonus to a new environment and upgrading the scripts to our latest's. When Kurt and I started working together and created our first Max Poker Bonus site, we decided to host it on a server located in Austria (instead of Germany) because of a German law that prohibits sites linking to online gaming sites. This law is also the reason that we chose to use a .com, instead of a .de domain. So we found a small, but reliable host, where the wires are short when you're in need of assistance. Host Austria that is.
Unfortunately, Host Austria's infrastructure was a little bit outdated, and because of that many of the scripts I've created for the Dutch Max Poker Bonus and UK Max Poker Bonus didn't work. We could easily have moved to another host, but we decided to stay, as quite frankly we were more than satisfied with their service.
Long story short, yesterday was the big day! Christian from Host Austria copied our site and database to a new server, and I made sure that all scripts got upgraded and verified that everything worked as it should. After changing the DNS over night, I woke up this morning to find our site running flawless. Great!
Today I will finish off the big overhaul.
As many of you already know, Google recently released Site Performance, a tool that you can find under Labs in your Webmaster Tools. This, together with Google's Page Speed tool and Yahoo's YSlow tool, both add-ons to Firebug, gives you advice in which areas you can adjust your to improve it's performance. Things like enabling Gzip compression, or parallelizing downloads can really speed up your site. I've done this (and more) for a few of my sites already, and I really recommend doing it if you own a site with a fair amount of traffic. Case studies have proven that a faster loading website drastically improves user experience, thus conversions, and we all know what that means!
Yesterday evening I could feel that my body would not be in best shape today. I felt a cold coming up, as my nose started dripping and every joint in my body was hurting. But as an entrepreneur, a one man show in particular, you don't want to be in bed. Every lost day is a day behind in schedule.
Fortunately this morning I felt OK. It's not that I feel great, but at least good enough to do the most important things (and write at least one post in my blog).
However, four weeks ago I had a groin surgery, more specifically a right inguinal hernia surgery, and the surgeons applied the mesh repair method. Basically, this means that they implanted a patch into my right groin to fix a weak spot.
After surgery I expected to be out for a day, or maybe two at most, and then back to work.
Boy, I was so wrong. I've camped on the couch for nearly two weeks. Even though I had my laptop, I decided to do the bare minimum. My body obviously needed the rest, and it was actually fun to watch TV. Discovery Channel helped me through the day. I watched programs like Overhauling, Extreme Lodgers, How It's Made, and such.
Another positive consequence from taking a break was that I had plenty of time to think things over. It actually made me come to the decision to temporarily cease working on my casino and bingo sites, and focus on projects that actually make up my paycheck.
As an Internet marketeer, you have many decisions to make. Many times I've made the wrong decision, those that actually have cost me money, in fact if I was smart enough to choose another term than 'free poker' years ago, I would have been in fat city. Then again, I had zero experience. But this time I'm confident that I made the right one!
So two weeks ago I started working again. Full throttle. And I'm really glad how things are going, and best of all, I'm much more motivated than I was before my break.
I found this e-book written by Seth Godin, writer of several marketing books, thanks to Greg's post at Poker Affiliate Listings.
You can download the What Matters Now PDF here. I will post my 2 cents about it when I'm done reading it, probably next week or so.
Here's a picture of my vision board. For those who don't know, a vision board is a collage of ideas and goals you have set out for yourself to accomplish in the near future. I got inspired quite some time ago after reading a post about vision boards on Justin Goff's blog.
As I am a very materialistic guy (I really can care less about the environment, I just want to ride the biggest car possible), you see all kind of grownup toys that I am determined to buy in 2010. Just have a look at the BMW GT5, isn't she adorable? My goal is to make at least $15,000 net profit half way through May, owning a vacation home on Mallorca is definitely a dream, and I want to be traveling up and forth to New York for shopping, eating out and making life less boring.
OK, to be honest, I don't like the idea of owning an Infinity FX anymore. I would rather own a Audi Q7, or at least an Audi Q5. Rest me to update my vision board and making things happen!
Last week, I finally started working with the guys from Stickyeyes. Stickyeyes is a leading SEO agency from the UK with a multi million dollar yearly turnover and loads of experience in the online gaming industry. I've met Lee and Paul at their booth at the Budapest Affiliate Conference, past September, where I had a free consultation of 30 minutes for Max Poker Bonus based on what they call a SEO surgery report. I applied for this free consultation ahead to see if I could learn something from it.
The free consultation exceeded all my expectations. They really did their homework well, and because of that (yes I know, that's of course the whole idea behind it), they're now hired to do SEO to take Poker For Free to the next level.
As I'm sick of the permanent struggle, I've set a goal to become a super affiliate withing 5 months. Of course I have a really nice income, in fact I doubt that any of my former school peers make even half of what I do, but after years of consistently working 60+ hours per week, it's time for a change! And I promised Kurt.
Anyway, I won't disclose all the details of the deal, but I will post about the progress frequently.