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Twentieth entry, 13 December 2016

A short notice

Currently we are re-designing and developing a new version of my website for mobile phones and tablets.

We are trying to accomplish the task as soon as possible although it may take a while.

For this reason it is recommended to browse my website on laptops and desktops for the time being.

I promise the new mobile version will be the favourite of everyone. Fast loading times, nice colurs and sharp images - in all: very attractive.

The launch of the new version will announced in the beginning of the next year.

I wish everybody a Merry Christmas!

Twentieth entry, 27 November 2015

Li-Fi? What is that?

Li-Fi (Light Fidelity), the invention of Professor Harald Haas from Edinburgh University, is the talk of the day after an Estonian company has installed it and tested in an everyday environment.

LiFi is the next step in the Visible Light Communication developments. It uses a LED light source to communicate data to a reeiver.

During the tests a whooping 1GB per second speed was achieved which is truly remarkable compared to your everyday Wifi connection which offers speeds a hundred times less. This means using LiFi we can download a 700MB movie in a blink of an eye. Well, a couple of blinks.

Before we start pre-ordering this top-of-the-line cutting edge technology we must be familiarized with the limitations, which, unfortunately are quite big.

First of all, as it is now, LiFi cannot penetrate walls whih means that only direct, visible connections are possible between light source and receiver. Well, Okay, we can install a LiFi LED into every room of the house - not a big deal.

The other quite serious limitation that it cannot be used outside of 4 walls where the sunlight would interfere with it. This remind me of vampires, creatures that are active only at night for they cannot the bear the sunshine.

In spite of the limitations LiFi seems very promising and I am sure these guys will soon overcome the shortcoming of this new technology.

Twentieth entry, 22 November 2015

Facebook to hide ex

Breakin up is never easy and just occasionally a happy experience. At least one will most surely suffer as a consequence.

Facebook now has come up with a development that is supposed to give some relief to the suffering party.

No one has to go through the painful experience of being reminded of the good old times by happening upon old Facebook posts.

Facebbok is currently testing a new feature (which is, at the moment, only available on mobile phones in the US) which gives the user a tool to limit how often they see their ex-partner's posts and updates. All this will be done without your ex ever finding out as they will not be notified.

One will also be able to hide new post from their exes and also untag photos where they both are tagged.

Is it all going to be any useful? In this case I would opt for a yes though it might be just easier to unfriend your ex if you never want to hear about her/him again.

Obviously, the guys at Facebook have a lot of time and money on their hands to try to make Facebook a part of everyone's life as smoothly and unnoticeably as possible.

Nineteenth entry, 09 November 2015

Google Smart Reply - is it any useful?

A few days ago came out Google's latest product aimed to make our lives easier by taking some burden off our shoulder.

Let me intruduce you to Smart Reply.

It's a plug-in that reads, analises your incoming messages and then tries to compose a reply to them.

It is available to smartphone users using Android iOS. As the Google team explained, it is very easy to read messages on phones but a lot harder to answer to them given the small screen and alphabet.

The plug-in takes it's artifical intelligence to form the replies using an artifical neural network which is in reality a mathematical model.

Without getting too deep into technical details it is enough to say that Smart Reply is of course not intended to reply to long and important messages, it was instead designed to give more generic answers. Although it is capable of forming longer sentences of 10 words or more, users feel uncomfortable to send a longer reply that does not bear their personal tone.

The plug-in is in a continous stage of development, now being adapted to other languages.

Eighteenth entry, 05 februaryr 2015

Vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan

Phew! I know that quite a few people live by those rules, however, for most of us, it sound like torturing ourselves by denying our favorites from our mouths.

Well, not quite. The blog I am helping to build now is just about this topic. So much I have learnt from it. Ever imagined making cakes from the leftover pulp of rootbeets, carrots and apples that you had ground to make juice? No, me neither. But I have tried and yes it changed my attitude to eating healthy (healthier).

Anyway, I would like to introduce this blog here to you. All you need is some spansish knowledge. In case you are lacking that skill you can still enjoy the cool photos.

How to prepare super juices and cakes - all from vegetables and fruits. Vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan

Enjoy!

Seventeenth entry, 12 december 2014

It's finally gone

Yes it is finally gone and it will probably never come back in the same form. I am talking about Google's Authorship here which was officially discontinued and altogether taken out of search results a few months ago.

Why? Google says the reason behing their decision to put an end to their grand experiment is the lack of implementation by webmasters and authors, and also the fact that, according to their research and data collected over 3 years, showing authors' photos, names and other relevant info next to search result will not make any significant impact on click behaviour.

Many people, probably most of us who have implemented Google Autohrship doubt that it had not have effect on site traffic and the overall reasoning.

Sure there was an issue about the implamentation being complicated and some people could not do it properly which resulted in their efforts not being honored by Google.

According to research, about only 30% of authors articles and other items of authority were connected with the rel="author" or rel="me" tags. It took a lot more resources to maintain the system and analyise the web of relations and authorships than the rewards and benefits in user experience that returned.

Anyway, the bottomline is thas Authorship is finally gone afer it came into existence in 2011.

Au revoir!

Sixteenth entry, 19 november 2014

K4 is here!

Most of you must have heard by now of K4 or Ultra High Definiton televison and camcorders. UHD is going revolutionize television, cinema and photography.

K4 offers four times higher resolution than HD with much better color depth and it is utilized already by many television manufacturers in their latest products. It's the television where most people will meet this hot new technology - and now for an affordable price one can upgrade their HD box.

However, personally I am more interested in the process of making K4 movies / still pictures. Take the new Panasonic GH4 for example. One can shoot a 4096 x 2160 video from which it is possible to extract a still photo of about 8 megapixels.

That's an amazing possibility and makes it a lot easier to avoid missing THAT moment. However, professional photographers of several fields are just not likely to start shooting movies instead of taking photos.

Taking a photograph is art and creates an atmosphere which will be lost during a continuous shooting.

On the other hand, photojournalist and sport photographers will find this new tecnology pretty useful.

Of course such super high resolution is going to create ultra large files which is a problem that the engineers and programmers have to face.

The solution seems to be a new codec called h.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding which is able to incerdibly reduce the file size.

Fifteenth entry, 16 november 2014

CSS layers AKA z-index

This post is about how to use CSS z-index.

Understanding what z-index is about is easy to understand - especially for those of you who are at least a bit familiar with high-end imaging / photo editing software - for example Photoshop.

Z-index is used to give overlapping elements a fixed position in a document. Overlapping mostly occurs when elements are positioned using the "position" property

Applying the z-index to the overlapping elements we basically tell the browser which one is at the bottom and which one goes on top.

At this point we must not that z-index will not work unless the elements are positioned (absolute, relative or fixed). This means that the parent element which contains our overlapping elements must be also positioned otherwise we will not get the desired effect.

Let's see a short example.
.box1 {
width:100px;
height:100px;
background-color:red;
position:absolute;
top:10px;
left:10px;
z-index:1;
}

.box2 {
width:100px;
height:100px;
background-color:blue;
position:absolute;
top:20px;
left:20px;
z-index:2;
}

In this example the two boxes overlap and the stack order is decided by the two z-index values: 1 and 2. In this case the blue box, having a z-index value of 2, is on the top of the red box.

Remember it only works if the parent element is also positioned. I usually give the value "relative" to the parent which in most cases does not interfere with the design.

Fourteenth entry, 23 october 2014

Google penalizing out-of-date browsers.

Google never cease to surprise us.

I have got several editions of all the main browsers for website development testing purposes. I also have a Safari 5.0.6 apparently from 2011.

I often search images and I love it that it is made nice and easy in Google, one can see the size of the image and all the necessary info is displayed so that an image search can be done effectively without wasting much time.

It happened a couple of months ago, that I was using my old Safari when I noticed that I had traveled back in time and now the results page was displayed in an old format, furthermore when I clicked on an image to single it out, I was taken to the website where the image can be found.

Big was my surprise so I started to try to find out what had happened. Very soon I was taken to a couple of forums where people were already discussing what had happened. To cut the long story short, it turned out that Google was undertaking a cleansing of the "old" and outdated. To force users of browsers that are on a non-desirable level of development, they turned back time and prevented these people from using Google in its most developed form.

This story gives me the creeps - it seems to me that Google is becoming, or at least intends to become a policing authority, a sort of big brother wanting to control and influence every bit of our life.

Thirteenth entry, 31 august 2014

The effects of the lack of profile photos

As I reported a few weeks back Google had stopped displaying the icon-like, small profile photos that appeared next to certain search resutls.

These tiny things used to be almost an unfair advantage for the ones who had put effort into claiming Google authorship as they clearly stood out against those search results displayed only text.

It took me considerable energy and time to make Google display my photo. Now, a month after they went, I did a little analysis to see the effects.

For several search terms my website pops up on the first or second page in Google so I was getting quite a few clicks. Now, looking at webmaster tools it is clear to me that in the past few weeks the number of clicks have dropped by about 1/4. Yes, very clearly those profile pics made a lot of people click my link even if I was at number nine at the bottom of the search. Now no link stands out so the competition is more fair we could say.

To me, using Google search has become a bit dull as I prefer to see images and colors, something that adds a touch of humanity to text and numbers.

Twelfth entry, 10 august 2014

Goodbye profile photos!

If you have not noticed so far, now it's high time. Google is not showing profile photos any more next to search results.

I am sure to many website owners who have spent a great deal of time setting up Google authorship this is quite a big blow. We all liked to stand out of the crowd with out faces appearing in Google search.

Well that's over now as Google has abandoned it's ways and showing only text in without any photos in its results.

Why Google has done this? They say they want to help mobile users which is all nice and good as we all tend to stare at our mobile phones all day long.

I feel though that we all have lost something, those profile photos helped many people pick which links to click on, those little photos did make a big difference.

Anyhow, we must continue and follow along Google's lines as we have always done.

Eleventh entry, 27 july 2014

Negative keywords

Doing and successful Google Adwords campaign is a tricky thing and has got several traps laid out for beginners.

A very common mistake to be made i overly concentrating on which keywords should trigger our ad to be displayed and at the same time overlooking the imortance of negative keywords.

Suppose you have a website through which you sell gardening tools and you decide to promote it throigh Adwords.

The obvious thing to do is list all the keywords that come to mind connected to gardening to make your site appear as often as possible. But let's stop for a moment. We are paying for each click, right? Unless we have a heap of money to throw out the window, we need to make only the potential customers click.

Think about it. Your advert is triggered by the keyword GARDENING. But what if someone is looking for a gardening course or a book on gardening, not interested in buying any tools? They will click on your ad anyway because it is remotely connected to what they are looking for. Thus you have just paid for 2 clicks without any sales made.

To avoid this pitfall this is where you will use a carefully selected list of negative keywords.

In this case your negative keywords must include BOOK, BOOKS, TEXTBOOK and COURSE SCHOOL etc so that your ad will not show up if someone is searching for a school of gardening.

So basically, use negative keywords to specify when your ad should not show up under any circumstances. Thus you can focus on people who are only interested in gardening tools and will probably make a purchase on your website.

Tenth entry, 28 june 2014

A computer has passed as human.

I read a rather exciting artice a few days ago. It sounds quite incredible and reminds me of some sci-fi novels I was so keen on a decade ago. In a remarkable experiemnt a computer, more precisely a computer program managed to fool people into thinking that it was human.

As for the settings of the experiment. There are a certain number of testers whose job is to conduct a conversation with someone through a computer interface - only in writing, basically they do the same that we do when we chat with our friends for example on facebook. The catch is, this "someone" on the other end of the line might be human or might be a computer. The testers are to decide with whom they are talking.

In order to pass the test, the computer needs to fool at least 30% of the testers. This was achieved by this particular program that was written by a Russian team whose supercomputer imitated a 12 year old Ukrainian boy. The latter fact somewhat makes this achievement look controversial and less remarkable in the eyes of many, but nonetheless the team has done a great job.

Alan Turing mathematician

Alan Turing was a British scientist who became interested in artifical intelligence as early as the 1940s. He is now considered the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

During WW2 he was the leader of the team the broke the code which protected messages sent by German army and naval units. After the war he worked for the British governemnt - among several other jobs. He devised a hypothetical machine - the Turing machine which simulates computer algorithms and can be viewed as the seed from which all computers came into being.

He also creatd the Turing-test that I mentioned before.

His death came at a young age, 41 - he died of cyanide poisoning.

Ninth entry, 14 june 2014

Google recognises famous sights

To further satisfy my curiosity, I played around with some of my photos, injecting them into Google's image search engine.

First I got disappointing results. I uploaded a photo that I took in Tallinn, Estonia, it depicts a detail of an old cinema which I thought had been photographed enoungh times for Google to recognize it. I was wrong, it did not suggest anything. (it was the Kino Kosmos).

Next, I tested Google with a photo of Oban, Scotland, it depicted a part of the promenade, very characteristic and much photographed. The results were again nothing, if we don't count a few visually similar images.

oban promenade

After the initial failures from Google's part, it proved it can indeed recognize what a photo is about. I took it to the test with a photo of Burj Kalifa in Dubai.

It instantly returned the name of the tower as its best guess along with the wikipedia article and other descriptive, associated websites.

My final image was of a beautiful wooden ship that stands in a Dubai museum. Without recognizing what is in the photo, Google returned a couple of websites where similar photos can be found and indeed, they were right on.

boat in dubai museum

The conclusion is that Google's success rate mostly depends on how popular a place is, how many times it was photographed and witten about online. Naturally, as we are uploading more and more photos depicting our world, Google is learning and improving its skills. Soon enough our Big Brother search engine will be able to recognize the neighbours cat.

Eigth entry, 07 june 2014

A rarely-discussed topic: Google's search by image feature

Nobody seems to talk about it and truth be told, I almost never use Google's search by image feature. Until now. As my hobby is photography I have publicly shared quite a lot of high-quality, interesting photos. Today it has occured that it is time how in how many websites my photos have been used without my permission.

So I went to http://images.google.com where I click on the little camera in the right corner which gave me two options. I chose to upload a photo from my computer.

After a few seconds of thinking Google came up with the answer. I was surprised to see the occuracy of the search algorithm which neatly listed all the urls where my photo has been re-used. I was also pleased because that only occurances I had already known about.

image search results page one

This particular photo I took while on vacation in Cuba. My friend Miguel, a great car-enthusiast, found this old limusine parked in front of the Hotel Nacional in Havana. It turned out that this very car used to be in the service of Fidel Castro and was turned into a taxi just a few months before.

Anyway, back to Google. I wanted to test it more rigorously so I cropped the original photo. In the new photo only the car was visible. The resutls were the same as before. However, my hunger for experimenting was not over. I cropped the photo even more down to the nose of the car.

sample image for experiment

The resutls were a bit different this time. Google came up with only one url. Why? The answer becomes obvious if we look at the resolution of each embedded image. With the exception of one, they are all 160x100 pixels. The image that Google returned with this last time has a resolution of 630x336 pixels. The conclusion is that Google Image Search is able to correctly analyse images only above a certain resolution treshold. Apparently, using unlicensed photos as thumbnails will go undetected for now.

Seventh entry, 24 may 2014

SEO ethics in terms of dofollow and nofollow

What are dofollow and nofollow and why are they important for SEO? In short, all links are do follow which don't have the rel="nofollow" value thus giving Google and other search engines the green light to go ahead and give credit to the linked page in its page rank and position calculations.

Any link that is nofollow will be followed by both Google and Yahoo but will be basically ignored in terms of SEO.

The rel ="nofollow" attribute was implemented to stop spammy link-builders to take advantage of blogs by placing links into comments. Apart from it being a great annoyance to the author of the blog it also reduces the value of it.

Nowadays, more and more websites are implementing nofollow and link buiding is becoming increasingly difficult. What one must do is locating the places that are still dofollow and making sure that they provide real value (in their comments, blogs) while link-building, otherwise the whole community will be hurt. Not to mention that the given website might get fed up and turn to nofollow. Be honest and add real value - do it white hat!

Sixth entry, 23 may 2014

Tremendous competition

In the recent years I have been receiving an increasing amount of offers of co-operation from webdesign/SEO companies from the other side of the world or offering SEO services at a very low price.

That fact has made me wonder whether or not web designers and others who work online in the western hemisphere charging local prices are going to start to struggle sooner or later.

I myself often work without ever meeting my client face (even though we live in the same country) to face so why not hire somebody purely based on the quality/price ratio regardless of the whereabouts of the individual.

In my experience this is an absolutely viable way of getting a web project done, all it takes is mutual trust and the presence of instant, cheap communication (email, skype, wassup, etc.)

The only problematic area could be payment for the service. I do have a lot of trust in people, however, I would not pay anybody in an other country unless the project is complete and I am satisfied with the results.

As for me, I have had several customers in other countries whom I have never met (for instance South Africa, Estonia, United States).

Conclusion: customer and service provider residing in different countries is absolutely fine provided people are open minded and have enough trust in each other.

This is the way of the future.

Fifth entry, 22 may 2014

Does Yahoo Answers work for SEO?

The quick answer to the question is: yes and no :)

Yahoo Answers does not give you what all SEO people are searching for: dofollow links. Instead, whatever link you paste into your comment tagged as nofollow. Simple as that.

On the other hand, I believe Yahoo Answers is still a very useful tool for marketing purposes.

Provided you have an informative website at hand, placing (even a nofollow) link in your answers will generate traffic. Choose the topics that are relevant to the content of the website otherwise you can easily get banned for self-promotion.

I also advise not linking the website from every answer, let's say it should be every third or fourth.

As mentioned before, the links will not affect Google's link-counting results, rather it will generate real precious to your website that will consist of people who are interested in that given topic.

Also important to mention if you are are beginner at Yahoo Answers: you do have to answer a certain number of questions before even allowed to include a link in your posts. Once you are level 2 you can start linking.

Try and give meaningful, rich answers so that your post will be voted 'best' which will give extra weight to them as well as to your links.

Happy answering!

Fourth entry, 14 may 2014

My latest website project: Dog training.

Happy, well-behaved dogs

I love projects from which I can learn new things. I am a kind of a person who needs a stimulating environment where broadening one's knowledge and understanding of the world is not only possible but also expected from one and is necessary.

Never having had a pet in my life I was exhilarated to make a website for Roland who is an experienced dog trainer based in North London.

Everything was pretty straightforward from the onset, the text, photos and videos had been prepared so the project was rolling ahead at a high speed.

As the designer of the website I had to go through each paragraph and sentence one by one and learnt a lot about dogs and their behaviour during the process.

I put in all efforts and Roland's website got finished quickly.

He was very satisfied and came back to me several times about further extensions of his website.

I put in a lot of SEO work too and thanks to that he has received several enquiries leading to new clients.

Check out Roland's new website

Third entry, 4 apr 2014

A cheat-sheet for SEO.

A must-have for SEO in the UK

Getting a high rank for any website is a time-consuming process involving several steps and stages. With the introduction of Google's latest and smartest algorithm "Hummingbird" the need for quality backlinks has not ceased to exists.

Doing SEO for a client in the UK I discovered a Paul Hoda's website where he shares a long list of UK directories, named "Top 280 UK Directory List". It's a very neat list, showing IP address, page rank, server's location and the age of each directory.

I decided to give it a go and in 3 long days I registered my client's website with most directories. (I skipped the ones that require payment - I do not believe that the little gain one might get justifies the costs.

Some of the directories accepted my link the same week, but for the majority, naturaly, it took several weeks. And a small portion of them have not replied to this day (two months after registration).

As I was expecting, many, probably most directories gave me no more than a "nofollow" link. For this reason I was not expecting much.

Surprise came about a week ago.

According to Google Web Masters Tools, the number of inbound links to my client's website have raised by about 30 (which is roughly 10% of the 280 directories). This result was followed by a jump in search engine ranking: depending on keyword, the position of the website improved by 50-100.

Check out Paul's site

Second entry, 10 nov 2013

The launching of a truly hand-crafted website.

This blog post I am going to dedicate to a website which I have just finished.

I am not letting out any secrets when i say that nowadays the job of a web designer is getting easier by the day with sophisticated and tools and their ever-upgraded versions hitting the market almost every day.

For this reason I always feel especially delighted when a customer is dreaming big and wants something special, a website which is not a clone of a thousand other scattered all over the internet.

When Tatiana, a very talented Colombian fashion designer, asked me to make a website for her where she can display her work, I knew this project was going to be one of those special ones where we need to touch people's hearts. Tatiana is super-creative and together we came up with a design that reflects her love and affection for the past and everything that's old.

We agreed that we would not use any vector graphic element, basically nothing that resembles our very much computerized age.

Her website is themed around and old letter with an appropriate yellowish color that dictates the feel of the whole site. We used two fonts: one that imitates an old type-writer, the other mimics a kind of happy and light hand-writing. On top of all this we added images to certain pages: needles, flowers, a pen and an old pair of scissors (which actually used to belong to my grandmother - this was the point where i felt that I am truly putting my heart into this website; i was walking around in my house looking for old things that I could take a photo of and add to the website.)

Adding the images of the collections was fun. Even though I had to spend a long time editing the photos so that they are properly sized and cropped to be used on the website, I learnt a lot about fashion design and the age of the pin-up girls and rockabilly, the era from where Tatiana takes her inspiration for her creations.

Well after all this I hope I have made you want to see the website I have been writing about:

Check out the site and Tatiana's amazing collections.

First entry, 02 sep 2013

Hi Everybody, I launched this website to promote my services and make a living from doing what I like to do. As I am a freelancer I don't take on huge projects and because I work from home or from whereever I happen to be, there are no office rental costs or staff wages that I have to pay so I can afford to offer eveybody a significantly lower price than what they would end up paying when contracting an agency to do the same job. I am launching this blog to share and discuss current matters that are on my mind - not necessarily only in the field of web design and SEO. This first entry is just a quick note to announce that my services have hit the market. I hope that soon you will be my client too, or that you will recommend me to one of your friends. Very recently one of my clients told me when I finished her website: "You make my dreams come true!" I aim to do that for everybody.
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