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Showing posts from March, 2007

Google click quality 'investigation' - part 2

Following up to my previous post about Google click quality investigation:

Google made another apparently superficial look at their data. They still insist that they "did not find evidence of automated activity or unethical behavior. Our data indicates that the clicks arrived from a variety of users and IP addresses."

I have repeatedly sent them the following arguments, which they have consistently avoided responding to directly:I still don't understand how you do not find the correlation between blank referrers and poor performance suspicious. This is the strongest correlation evident from our logs, and it holds not only on the Saturday and Sunday in February when this activity was highest, but it holds throughout a 3-month range of dates, and it holds regardless of where the blank referrer clicks predominantly originate from. That Sunday for which you analyzed the logs, the blank referrer clicks were coming from Brazil, but on 2006-12-10, for instance, they're coming…

The doghouse: Windows Sidebar

Now, I think Windows Vista is the shiniest and nicest operating system to come out of Redmond so far. I have used it for several months and I'm quite content with the OS overall. I like the infrastructural improvements and wouldn't want to move back to using XP.

However.

Windows Vista comes with this little utility called Sidebar, which is a fancy, largely transparent dock that places itself on the left or right side of your desktop. The sidebar is essentially a platform for smaller programs called gadgets, and it comes with some built-in ones. The built-in gadgets I've tried include a calendar, a to-do note, a weather indicator, a stock indicator, RSS headlines and a CPU meter.

I can confidently say, with the sole exception of the Calendar, all of the gadgets I've tried suck. Here is why.

Notes. The Notes gadget looks nice and all, the way it imitates a post-it note, but:It only fits about two words horizontally and three lines.It looks like it fits a fourth line, but no …

Google click quality 'investigation' is bunk

Following up to my previous article where I discussed the extent of Google content ad click fraud, I can now confirm that the Google "click quality team" that's ostensibly supposed to investigate click fraud is bunk.

First, they made me wait for a reply two weeks after I filed the initial click quality report. I guess two weeks doesn't look too long for an "investigation", and in this time some proportion of advertisers tend to forget anyway what it was they were complaining about.

From this reply, sent by one "Sachan" (no surname), it was apparent that they ran only a superficial check in their own database; they were entirely unwilling to even consider looking at my logs.

Here's what they have to say about the awful proportion of content ad clicks that were coming to us with no referrer, and the awful quality of those clicks (35% of them left within 10 seconds and without even waiting for the page to fully load - compare this with 2% for clicks…

The real extent of Google content ad click fraud

Google has recently claimed a ridiculous number of 0.02% as the amount of what they euphemistically call "invalid clicks" that gets charged to advertisers on Google AdWords.

In my experience as an advertiser, Google's claims are bollocks.

One weekend this February, our website got a huge spike of worthless, blank-referrer, Google content ad clicks. This caused me to turn off content ads entirely and spend several following days analyzing content ad data. My conclusions are that about 50% (fifty percent) of Google content ad clicks we got from December to February were fraudulent, while during the final spike the proportion of fraudulent clicks was 2/3. Most of the fraudulent clicks had a blank referrer and they were coming from all kinds of IP addresses, indicating that fraudsters are using large networks of zombie machines, or equivalent.

I have complained to Google and lodged a request for an invalid clicks investigation, which they say should get a response within 3-5 da…

Preventing lower-integrity processes from reading higher-integrity data on Windows Vista

Joanna Rutkowska has posted an article about how to use Mark Minasi's chml tool to improve the security of your sensitive data from potential IE exploits when running IE in Protected Mode on Windows Vista.

Vista introduces the concept of Integrity Controls, where a program that runs at a lower integrity level is unable to access data that are associated with a higher integrity level, even if the program would otherwise have all the necessary permissions.

Internet Explorer is currently the only browser I know of that runs on Vista at a low integrity level by default. This means that any exploits against IE will find it more difficult to install themselves permanently into the system - the easiest way right now might be for them to trick you into absent-mindedly allowing them to run at a higher integrity level.

However, by default, Vista only prevents low-integrity processes from changing your medium-integrity data. What it does not do is prevent low-integrity processes from reading yo…

Copyright Royalty Board kills Internet radio

Those fine politicians, along with the unelected officials they hire, are improving everyone's lives yet again. Yes - this time, it is by killing effectively all forms of Internet radio.

The Copyright Royalty Board of the U.S. Library of Congress has seen it fit to set per-listener performance rates so high that, for someone who listens to Internet radio 8 hours a day for 20 days a month, the Internet radio company will have to pay $3 per month just in performance fees. With all the other costs an Internet radio company has to pay, this means they would have to collect at least $6 per month from every listener.

It is unlikely that any Internet radio company can survive on these terms. Why would anyone pay $6 per month, when you can just pay nothing and turn on the regular FM radio? Additionally, the schedule is such that the rates are going to double by 2010 anyway.

And, yeah, here's the kicker: just in case any Internet radio company managed to survive these new rates in some fr…

Copilot sucks

For all the hype given to Copilot by Joel Spolsky (of Joel on Software fame, and he's also a creator of Copilot), it really kind of sucks. The first time I tried connecting with someone, the other person reported that it crashed. In the mean time, on my machine, it became the first application ever that managed to steadily consume 100% of both cores on my dual-core CPU while waiting for the connection. The other person then figured out that the Copilot crash might be because he himself was accessing the machine through VNC, and that perhaps there was a conflict. (If there was a conflict there should have been an error message, not a crash.) So he accessed the machine locally and Copilot did work, but oh my god how slowly. Yeah, the firewalls were closed, but the latency was still incredible - click, wait 15 seconds, a window starts to appear, wait another 15 seconds, the window finally appears. In the meanwhile, Copilot was steadily consuming 100% of one core on my machine. From t…