Date archives "October 2006"

Google’s Vagueness

First off: I want it to be know that I really like Google as a company and use and love most of their products.

However, I have to tell everyone about just how utterly vague they are when there’s a problem and it’s driving me nuts!

I make a very nice income from Google AdSense. This program lets me put some text adverts on my site and everytime someone clicks on an advert, I get paid a small amount of money, pretty cool, huh?

I’ve been using AdSense for about 18 months now and do very well off of it. Now in order to protect their advertisers, Google has a lot of rules about what you can and cannot do with your adsense code. For example, you can’t click your own links – even if you are really interested in the advertisers advert. You can’t ask your friends or visitors to click your links to ‘support your site’ and various other things like that.

I have AdSense code on well over 200 websites, some don’t earn much, others earn a lot. But it all adds up 🙂

The other day I got a message from the Google AdSense team stating that they had detected fraudlent clicks and traffic to one of my sites and if I didn’t stop it I would have my account closed down.

Hello Peter Claridge,

It has come to our attention that invalid clicks or impressions have
been generated on the Google ads on your site(s) through users of
third-party programs paid or provided with other incentives to visit
your site. Such programs may include, but are not limited to auto-surf,
pay-to-surf, pay-to-read, or pay-to-click sites.

This is seriously bad news for me, as I rely on AdSense for a good part of my income. However I know that I’m only using natural organic search engine results to generate traffic and I’m certainly not stupid enough to encourage people to click on my ads – I know that’s a fast track way to get your account shut down.

So I sent them an email back asking for specific information so I can just take down the site. It seems like a reasonable request, right? They are telling me there’s a problem, I need to know where the problem lies.

I rapidly fire off an email asking where the problem is and wait nervously for the reply, praying that it’s not with one of my higher earning sites.

The reply comes back…

As you know, Google treats instances of invalid click and impression activity very seriously. As a reminder, we cannot disclose any details about how our monitoring technology works or what specifics we found on your account. However, we can assure you that we have thoroughly re-reviewed your account, and have confirmed that your account violated our program’s Terms and Conditions.

Hmm…

So now Google is saying that “look, there’s a major problem on your account and it could cause you to lose your account, but hey, we can’t actually tell you what the problem is because it’s much more fun to leave you guessing”.

I reply back asking some more questions about their ToS, they reply with even more vagueness than before!

Aragh! Google, you are killing me!

Today I took down over 150 websites that I don’t monitor in the hope that it’s something to do with them. I also removed the code from my highest earning website, just in case ;-(

A colleague of mine had his account shut down a couple of months ago, but they didn’t even give any warning. He only had 2 forum/community websites and he had over a years worth of earnings saved up. EEK!

If anyone in the UK here’s a feint scream along the lines of “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” then don’t worry, it’s just me finding out that Google has shut down my AdSense account 🙂

Bangalore Trip Part 2

Oh man, I hate tying myself down to posting on a particular day like I did yesterday. I have no inspiration to write. But I said I would, so here goes…deep breath…

So after Anand’s humiliating put down by the beggar girl (literally a case of “drink up, Trigger, we’re leaving”) we went off to the Agriya Bangalore office (Photos – opens in a new page).

After disturbing the workers we headed on out to find a hotel where this birthday party was taking place.

Originally we meant to stay only until about 8pm, but they hadn’t served the food by this time, and there was no way Aravind was leaving without some free food! (just kidding mate!).

For any of you Western Infidels out there reading this blog, I thought I’d mention that birthday parties are celebrated just the same way as back home in the UK. Even the Happy Birthday song is sung in English.

After eating far too much good food we eventually left just after nine to start the long journey back.

Eventually got back to Chennai around 3.30, Aravind had a little run in with the curb while doing a u-turn in the SUV. He says that the curb lept out of nowhere and no one saw him do in and infact the curb hit him. That’s his story. And he’s sticking to it.

Since I’m totally hardcore and just like the duracell bunny, I decided to take the Wednesday off work due to fatigue :~)

OK, so in other cool news and totally unrelated to Bangalore: I’ve been invited to my first wedding! One of my freshers, her brother (whom I’ve never met) is getting married next week and I got an invitation! I felt so…hmm, I don’t know what I felt, but it was one of those emotion things.

So yeah, I think that’s all I have to report for today. Another week is over. Tomorrow I should have been flying up to Orissa, but torrential monsoon rain has pretty much flooded Eastern India, so that’s been called off until a later date. Instead I will be in the office doing some interviews for data collectors as part of my new joint venture with Agriya Infoway.

Goodbye 🙂

Bangalore Trip Part 1

On the 23rd October, myself, Aravind and Anand took a little road trip to Bangalore – India’s tech capital.

If you’ve ever phoned up customer support for a company and someone with an Indian accent answered, then chances are the person on the other end of the line was sitting in a call centre in Bangalore.

Bangalore is also home to some of India’s biggest home grown corporations, including Infosys and Wipro. It is also the Indian headquarters for many international corporations such as Oracle, IBM and HSBC.

The trip to Bangalore takes about 6 hours by car, so we arranged to leave by about 4pm on the Monday, but since Indian’s seem to be even more laid back than American’s, it was more like 6.30pm by the time we left.

The journey was pretty uneventful, except maybe the ‘hotel’ where we stopped to eat. Not your typical 5 star hotel!

When we got to Bangalore, it was about 1am and we were dropping off Aparnaa’s father when a police patrol decided to come and see why 2 Indians and an Englishman were hanging around a street corner at 1 o clock in the morning. They didn’t seem to want to leave us alone – but eventually they got bored and left us.

On the Tuesday we went into Bangalore and to a shopping centre called The Forum. It was absolutely heaving: think Bluewater the weekend before Christmas. At the shopping centre it was all Western chain shops and designer stores. There was even a Lush store!

So after a traditional Indian lunch of a McChicken with fries (they don’t eat beef, so I had to be a little bit crazy and not have my usual quarter pounder but try something new), we spent the afternoon wondering through the designer stores and electrical stores.

In the afternoon, one of the funniest things happened, although as with everything that is hilarious, you probably had to be there to find it funny.

Basically, Aravind, Anand and I were walking down a brand infested street in Bangalore when a begger girl (probably around 20) came up to me and started pestering me.

I couldn’t shake her off, Anand came to try and rescue me but she wouldn’t stop following, bending down infront of me grabbing my trousers. Eventually Anand took out his wallet and held out his hand with some money. She looked him up and down before completely blanking him and coming back to me!

Apparently Englishman’s rupees are better than India man’s rupees.

Naturally we came up with all the ladish jokes about Anand’s way with the women, but I couldn’t possibly print them here (my mother reads this blog you know!).

I guess I’ll finish the next part of the Bangalore trip tomorrow. Too tired to keep on writing.

Good night 😀

Happy Diwali Boys and Girls!

And in other news. Welcome to World War III. Or at least that’s what it feels like with fire crackers and bangers going off all over the city – 24/7

You may have thought that by 3am they’d be getting bored of a few bangs, but oh no. They can, and will, keep going all night.

They line up row upon row of crackers, set a fuse and one end and the whole line of crackers goes off one after another. Sometimes it’s like a minute of continuous cracking.

Diwali, incase you didn’t know, is the Hindu equivalent to the Christian’s Christmas. Diwali means Festival of Light and the fire crackers are set off in celebration of this.

The family tried to get me into a traditional Indian dress (no, not the saree!), but I cited religious grounds for not going ahead with it 🙂

Last night, Aravind was entertaining two other clients from France at the family home – a father and son. The father originally came from the Chennai area, but left when he was about 10, and now he’s looking to come back and get his son Indian Citizen status.

People seem to be returning to India more and more nowadays, where once you had the “brain drain” where the brightest people went off to Europe and America, the younger generation is going off to these countries to get the education and returning to India to work for the Indian corporations or set up their own businesses. Given the cheaper cost of everything here, you can certainly enjoy a better standard of living that you could do on an equivalent income in Europe or America – and that’s probably the attraction for most people to return to India.

Getting back to Diwali, it’s a day of family and celebration, and what better way than to go to the cinema and sit in silence with your family for 2 hours. It avoids all the customary family arguements that go hand in hand with family gatherings 🙂

What Do I NOT Miss About The UK?

OK, so the other day I listed some of the things that I missed about the UK, today, I thought I’d list some of the things I’m not missing about the UK (just so that we can have a balanced discussion, you know?).

Right, then…

  • My House Mates!
    After the shocking and slanderous and above all, utterly baseless accusations that were levied at myself by my lovely housemates, they have earned themselves my number one spot of things (or people) I don’t miss about the UK!
  • The Crappy English Weather
    Is it going to be hot? Is it going to be cold? Is it going to rain? Who knows?! In India you have one option: Frickin’ hot. It makes life so much simpler.
  • Food
    Indian food is wonderful. I now say most of the dishes in Tamil. I can’t speak a word of anything else in Tamil, but at least I’ll never go hungry. I can ask for Idly (kinda like a rice cake), Dosai (like a fried pancake thing), Chappati (err, like a flat bread), Sambar (a yellow sauce), Puri (no idea. It’s fried), Saadam (rice) and my favourite, Chai (tea!).
  • How bloody expensive London is
    I love how cheap it is to live out here compared to London. You can go to a really nice 5 star hotel restaurant and get a great meal for about a fiver. That includes starter, main, dessert and tea. Clothes are comparable in price, so I bought a pair of Levi jeans for about £30. Is that cheap? I don’t know I’ve never bought Levi jeans before. Answers on a postcard please. The only exception is land and property prices which in the city is comparable to European cities
  • The solitude of working at home alone
    Ok, all together now, “awwww….”. Yeah, whatever. Seriously, I’m a sociable guy, and I love working and interacting with other people. Working in an office with loads of other people is great for me.
  • A Couch!
    How cool is this? The day after I post that I really missed having a couch to lounge upon, Aravind’s parents take delivery of a brand new 3 piece suite! Check it out…

Today I booked my ticket home (so sad). After being absolutely specifc to the travel agent that I wanted a ticket I could change, British Airways told me that there was absolutely no way I could change it. BA blamed travel agents. Travel agents blamed BA. I got the good old fashioned British runaround where companies blame each other.

Fortunately the nice girl at the travel agents was really really helpful and got it sorted for me. BA were just being really anal for some reason. So I’m booked to come home. When will it be? I’ll keep you guessing.

Oh, I also need to tell my most avid reader (my mother) all about my new War on Mosquito’s (you should see Aravind’s feet, eww! He doesn’t make fun of me taking my malaria tablets any more!) and the new love in my life. Stay tuned!

What Do I Miss About The UK?

So what do I miss about the UK, someone asked me the other day.

Rather surprisingly, I had to stop and think for a few minutes before I had any answers. The real answer to this question is: not much!

Aside from the obvious family and friends, it got me thinking about what I really missed the most, and for your enjoyment and to satisfy your curiosity (don’t forget, curiosity killed the cat, so if you read on, don’t say I didn’t warn you), I have listed here what I miss most about the UK.

  • A Couch
    Yep, a simple couch that you can sit on, lie on and lounge on. There are not any comfy sofa’s or chairs in this house, just desk chairs and kitchen chairs. I miss not being able to lie on a comfy couch and watch TV
  • Personal Space
    There’s 5 people living in this 3 bedroom flat so you don’t really get any of your own space – there’s always people around.
  • Being able to do what I want, when I want
    Because I’m having to rely on other people to transport me around, translate, cook and do other things, I’ve lost some of the independence that you have from living alone – where you make the rules. On the flip side, it means I never have to worry about cooking, cleaning, washing up, ironing or any other housework! Every cloud… 🙂
  • The convenience of London
    I like being able to pop round the corner in London and know that there is a shop that sells what ever I want. I don’t have that in India at the moment, because if I’m hungry, I have to consider if the place is going to serve food I like , the hygiene of the place and other things
  • Good old Euro-fizz beer
    The beer choices in India are Kingfisher or Sandpiper. Kingfisher is quite nice, but it’s not quite Kronenbourg!
  • Someone to talk to about football
    Outrageously, football is not considered important enough to discuss over here 🙁 So no one to talk to about England’s latest abysmal performance, what the likelihood is of having two keepers knocked unconcious in one match, how on Earth Bolton Wanderers are so high up in the league etc.

I guess that’s all I can think of right now. I know I’ve probably left out some glaringly obvious things, but I can’t think of them at the moment. Maybe I’ll come back and update this list in a month or so.

Tomorrow I might make a list of things that I don’t miss.

Oh, I’ve also declared a new War on Mosquito’s. Currently the battle figures stand at 23 dead mosquito’s against 32,832 bites. Yeah, I’m losing but there’s only one of me and I have to sleep. I need to form a new coalition of the willing to join me in my fight. More news on this later.

One Month In India…

…and I’m still not dead. Although having been out on the back of the motorbike several times since I got here there has been an element of luck involved.

Nor have I succumb the to the traditional Delhi belly that travellers to India are welcomed with. Obviously everyone else who came to India and suffered was just rubbish.

Even though the temperatures are in the 30’s most days, I’m still as white as I was when I left London. This is simply because I haven’t been out and about much except for travelling between the office and home. (you guys didn’t think I was coming here for a holiday did you?!)

I’m doing so many cool things in India that the past month has just flown by.

I’ve been working with Agriya Infoway to streamline and systemize their business a whole lot more. Since they were formed in 2002, they’ve seen near 100% growth year on year and haven’t had time to really systemize their business.

Some of the things I’m helping to sort out include the project process from the time a client approaches Agriya, through development and to the final delivery.

The next thing I’ve been working on is a training plan and conducting interviews for a group of university graduates which comprises designers, programmers and software testers. This group of graduates have had no exposure to business or the internet, but within three months I’m hoping to get them all up to speed and fingers crossed, Agriya will hire most, if not all of them at the end of the training. My main goal is to have them all offered permanent jobs at Agriya.

I’m really looking forward to the training because I get to impose my way of thinking and design tastes on them 🙂

As if all this isn’t enough, I’m going into a 50/50 partnership with Agriya to develop some real online/offline businesses targeted at the mass markets. Unfortunately I can’t elaborate too much on everything at the moment, but there are 3 very different businesses and work should be starting on the first one early next week. If they really take off, they’ll be registered as seperate companies.

And finally…one of the biggest reasons for me coming out here, to avoid my parents project rescue, seems to be drawing to a close as it is due for completion tomorrow. A 4 month project has been ongoing for nearly 8 months now…yeah, my project management skills rock :-/

So everything is good. Everything is cool. Tomorrow we go to Bangalore to explore a new city.

PS. Lots of blog readers…no comments 🙁 take the hint people, post comments!

Slow News Day on the Beeb?

Must be a slow news day at the BBC, just found this “news” article posted on the BBC News front page:

A Horse Walks In To a Bar…

Cool New India Photos

I’ve just added some cool new photos of me in India.

Check out my new India Photos now. I’ve even spent some time creating a small slide show kind of thing so if you are really bored you can read my associated comments with each photo.

The slide show starts here.

I’ll be adding all my other photos into this kind of format, and soon I even plan to let you guys comment on the photo’s and tell me how awful my little jokes are. Arn’t I good to you folks?