Smokes your problems, coughs fresh air.

Tag: Google

Goosh

For a Vimperator user like me, Goosh (the unofficial Google shell) is an obvious replacement for Google’s normal search page.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever really use it, because I tend to start my Google queries from Vimperator’s command-line, but nice to know that it’s there.

And there’s another bookmark deleted…

Modern self-hosted, open-source web statistics software

I’ve been using Google Analytics for most of my websites for quite some time. Philosophically, I’d prefer a self-hosted solution though. In the past I’ve used Webalizer and I still use awstats for my ad-hoc, static website, but these programs are a bit primitive and limited compared to Analytics.

Of the newer programs that I’ve been looking into Piwik looks the most promising to me, but there’s also Obsessive Website Statistics which looks pretty reasonable. W3Perl looks pretty, but seems rather spartan.

An example of Piwik in action

An example of Piwik in action

One of the things that has made me a bit shy of Google Analytics is its reliance on JavaScript, a dependence that means that I can’t gather statistics about robots or other user agents lacking JavaScript support. On the other hand, this method lets you gather much more data for the clients that do support JavaScript. Piwik depends on JavaScript in the same way as Google Analytics does. This can be seen as either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your view on this issue.

I’d have to install Piwik to determine my view…

Customizing Google AdSense alternate ads

When AdSense runs out of inspiration (i.e.: no targeted ads are available), it displays public service ads by default. You can choose to replace this with a custom ad of your own choosing. To do this, you have to put a HTML page somewhere and change the alternate ads settings for the appropriate ad unit:

AdSense unit: alternate ads settings for HardhoutWiki leaderboard

Alternate ads settings for HardhoutWiki leaderboard AdSense unit

Instead of the public service ads, I wanted to serve a banner ad to promote our beautiful family vacation home. I created this image a few years ago for an AdWords campaign started by my uncle because he wanted to reach more potential vacation goers.

Schuilplaats banner ad

The 728x79 banner image

I put put up a page with the image at http://www.bigsmoke.us/schuilplaats-banner-ad/. The HTML is very simple:

<html>
  <head></head>
  <body>
    <a href="http://www.hugovandermolen.nl/schuilplaats/startpagina.php"><img src="schuilplaats-banner-ad.jpg" /></a>
  </body>
</html>

If anyone wants to promote our vacation home for free, all they have to do is to change Alternate ads or colors to Show non-Google ads from another URL and fill in http://www.bigsmoke.us/schuilplaats-banner-ad/.

Although I put the alternate ad up over a year ago, I was prompted to blog about it because two months ago, for the first time, I suddenly saw the ad actually being serviced on my Dutch HardwoodWiki:

The alternate ad in action

The alternate ad in action

Google AdSense + Postbank’s name registration rules = $0.0

In November I had expected my second AdSense payment. Simply, because they told me I would get it. But, I didn’t.

The reason was not very specifically given. The electronic fund transfer failed: “EFT not successful”. That was it. The help wasn’t very useful either: I could find only one somewhat relevant entry.

My guess was that it had something to do with the name associated with my bank account in my AdSense account, because my particular bank, the Postbank is known to be very picky when it comes to accepting names. I’m not the first AdSense publisher to suffer this kind of problem.

The name I had used in my AdSense profile was Rowan Rodrik van der Molen. When I log into my bank’s online banking service, I see R.R. vd Molen very big on top of the screen. However, nowhere it mentions if this is indeed the name I should use to receive an electronic fund transfer. I want to find out for sure and I can’t find this information anywhere on the bank’s website. So I grab the telephone and I call their customer support service. I have four questions, only two of which were provided with a somewhat clear answer:

  • Question one is: do you indeed not accept transfers where the name does not match the name you have on file, or rather the string that you derived from the name details that I supplied when opening an account?
  • Question two: how do you derive that string? How can I know for sure what the proper name is to give out to people?
  • Question three: have your rules gotten more stringent recently? (Seems logical to me because a. I did receive my first payment (and the verification transfer); and b. I heard from my uncle that he also had increasing difficulties in transferring money to Postbank account holders.)
  • Question four: do I need to include the placename in the account name and how?

Question one was answered in a pretty ignorant manner: Of course the name needs to be correct. How could you think otherwise? This was pretty annoying because I did fill the name in correctly, so this automatically led to question two to which the support dude answered that the name I see when I login is indeed the name I should use. However I don’t consider the answer answered properly because I couldn’t get an answer to question four. Question 3 was vehemently denied to my surprise.

Before calling I had already tried to find out more with the help of Wiebe, who is also a Postbank account holder. When from their on-line banking interface, you try to transfer something to another Postbank account holder, you’re prompted to verify the name you entered with the correct name they have associated with that account. If he tries to make an amount to me, he gets to pick the name R R vd Molen GRONINGEN (note the difference in punctuation). So, does the placename (Groningen) needs to be part of the name. Sadly, the grumpy telephone support person couldn’t clarify this. All he could say was that the transfer needs to mention a place name while I want to know specifically if it needs to be in the name field. Fuckers! (Actually I don’t want to know. After this episode, I just want to know how to rid myself of this bank as easily as possible.)

I was somewhat resolved to change the name associated with my bank account number in AdSense to R.R. vd Molen although I had no way of being sure that it didn’t have to be R R vd Molen or R.R. vd Molen GRONINGEN. But, I had already noticed that this wasn’t possible; there was no way to add a new bank account nr with the correct name because the old account nr was blocked (and could not be deleted by me), while the name associated with a bank account nr could only be changed while adding a new account. The impossibility of making any useful change myself was what had prompted me to contact the Postbank’s customer support in the first place, because I had no way to experiment with different settings. And if I was going to ask the AdSense support staff to make the changes for me, I better ask them for the right changes at once.

I needed help, from a person. I was somewhat glad that, when I followed the link to “Contacting support” in the AdSense help, I found that they did have limited email support. After struggling through another form, I could actually type a request for help. They replied:

Hello,

Thanks for your email regarding AdSense EFT payments. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, we’re unable to individually respond to your inquiry. However, we’ve provided some information below which we hope will address your question. If you still have unresolved issues, we encourage you to visit the AdSense Help Center at http://www.google.com/adsense/support or post your question on the AdSense Help Forum at http://groups.google.com/group/adsense-help.

– Is EFT available to me?

Currently, EFT is available for publishers located in the countries listed at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=15827 . For tax and security purposes, publishers may only submit bank information that corresponds to the country of residence which appears in their payment address. We’re currently working on expanding our payment options to additional publishers, and we appreciate your patience.

– When was my test deposit sent? Why haven’t I received it yet?

To find out the date we attempted to make the deposit, please select the ‘My Account’ tab and click the ‘Verify this account’ link in the ‘Payment Details’ section. You should see your test deposit appear in your bank account within 4-10 days of the date listed in your account. If it has been more than 10 days since the listed date, please follow the instructions at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=41237 .

– I’ve just received my test deposit. Why can’t I enter it into my account?

Depending upon how quickly your bank credits your account, you may receive your test deposit before our system has been updated. Once we receive confirmation from the bank that the test deposit has been successful, the date of the deposit will appear on the ‘Verify Your Bank Account’ page. You’ll then be able to enter the amount of the deposit in your AdSense account by following the instructions at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=15920 .

– I’ve selected EFT as my form of payment – when will I be paid?

When your total unpaid balance reaches US $100 in any month, we will send you a payment at the end of the following month, unless a payment hold exists. For example, if your earnings reached $100 this month, you’ll be paid at the end of next month. If your account balance has not yet reached US $100, your earnings will carry over to the following month and continue to accrue. You may also find the information at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=9905 helpful.

– How can I edit my bank account information within my AdSense account?

We can’t access or edit your bank account information, so you will need to re-enter it. Please follow the steps listed at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=15920 .

– How do I remove incorrect or unverified bank account information from my AdSense account?

Unfortunately, incorrect or unverified bank account information cannot be removed from your account at this time. However, please be assured that to protect the privacy and security of your banking information, we do not have access to the information you have entered. The information will also not affect your future payments.

Additionally, you might find the information at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=8453 helpful.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

Original Message Follows:
————————
From: bigsmoke@gmail.com
Subject: Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 16:17:22 +0000

The EFT payment that was issued to me in November was unsuccessful. A previous payment _was_ successful, but now I’m stuck with a blocked account and the inability to receice payments.

I’ve requested (and received) instructions from my bank about _exactly_ which notation to use for my name. The proper notation is “R.R. vd Molen”, but I can’t change this myself in the AdSense interface unless when I’m entering a new bank account and I can’t enter a new bank account because the account number has already been flagged as non-working in your interface.

My request to you is to either change the account holder name for my bank account number ending in 51 or to enable me somehow to correctly readd the account myself. The name should be changed from “Rowan Rodrik van der Molen” to “R.R. vd Molen”. Yes, we really _are_ stuck in the stone age here in The Netherlands.

Thanks for your time,
Rowan

So basically, what their mail is saying is that I either have to forget about getting any money from Google or I should switch banks. Admittedly, this doesn’t look to bad to me now because my annoyance level with the Postbank has really gone through the roof lately. Google, you suck! Postbank, you suck even worse!

Thank you Wiebe for letting me use your bank account to receive the payments while I deliberate switching banks.

The joys of being well-known to Google

The “Places” system in the new Firefox 3 is great. I’m still getting more effective usage out of just the location bar every day. But, sometimes I’m on a different computer, or I haven’t been to one of my web pages for a very long time.

How cool is it then that I can just Control+K to my Google search box and enter: bypassing smart completion to get my own page on the top of the result list?

Since my blog is literally a log that I mostly use to keep track of what I think and do while problem-solving, it’s great that I can rely on Google to find my way through memory lane.

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