SweetCaptcha – The Best WordPress Captcha Solution?

Do you hate getting comment spam on your WordPress blog?  I just found a solution that might help anyone running a WordPress website, SweetCaptcha.  Honestly I think this is the BEST WordPress Captcha solution I have come across so far.  Even better than the widely used Akismet developed by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.)

What is Sweet Captcha?  Basically it is an imaged based captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) solution that asks users to solve a puzzle.  While a lot of similar image based puzzle captchas I’ve seen are kind of annoying difficult and require too much thinking, SweetCaptcha keeps it simple.

sweetcaptchaDealing with spam comments on CarNewsCafe, a website I run covering car news, was taking up a fair amount of my time since we can receive over 1,000 spam comments every day. The reason for this is we get quite a lot of traffic now, and spammers obviously like targeting high traffic sites.  I decided to try out SweetCaptcha.  The result?  It has stopped the vast majority of spam comments.  There are still a couple that get through but those are caught by Akismet.

In addition setting up Sweet Captcha was hella easy.  I just installed the plugin from the WordPress.org plugin repository, provided my email, then a few clicks later it was up and running.  Once I realized how great it worked I installed it on several other WordPress sites I have.

I’ve seen plenty of similar types of captcha solutions out there but usually they are complex and a pain to solve.  Most of these captchas are great for keeping spam bots from commenting but it also makes so that humans won’t either.   Anything that takes a long time and is more hassle than they a potential comment thinks is worth it… someone probably is not leaving a comment.

Another type of captcha I hate, math.  I HATE math so having to solve a math problem is a big no-no in my book if you want me to comment on your website.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise as most people hate math.  Clients I work with that have math based captchas I recommend they remove them immediately.  They always experience an increase in blog comments.  Why do you want less people to leave comments?  Sorry math nazis but people just don’t like having to do math problems when leaving comments.

Honestly just as bad as math problems would be reCaptcha.  This came from the useless minds at Google that only think of things how engineers would like them, not real people.  Can anyone seriously read a what those words say?  The problem is a lot of sites use reCaptcha, ugh.

Anyway, having to go in and delete WordPress spam comments in my websites is time consuming every day.  So I figure SweetCaptcha will save me at least 1 hour or more a month since I won’t have to do this on all my WordPress blogs.

My concern with SweetCaptcha, like most, is this might be too complex for some people to solve.  There should be some complexity though to keep the spammers out.

Some of you might be checking the comments below and be wondering, “Hey, why isn’t Adam using SweetCaptcha?”  This site is run on a WordPress Multisite installation and I could not get the plugin configured to work.  :(  Still I’m going to use SweetCaptcha on all my standalone WordPress sites.  That is until I find a better WordPress spam fighting tool.

Like most WordPress plugins SweetCaptcha is completely free.  The developers take donations to help support development and have some premium options so you can your own puzzles or strip out “Powered by SweetCaptcha.”  You can add several sites to one account email address as well.

If you have a forum, e-commerce, or some other type of site you can still use SweetCaptcha. It can be installed custom PHP pages and Javascript applications.  They had a Joomla plugin but it looks like development was abandoned.  The main market they are going after does seem to be WordPress users.

Visit the website here - http://sweetcaptcha.com/

If you’ve tried out SweetCaptcha I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  Do you love it or hate it?  Do you think it is the best WordPress captcha solution?

Anything you wish would be improved?  If not do you think you will try it out?

Elon Musk believed Tesla & SpaceX would Fail

elon muskWhen Elon Musk was in London for the launch of the Tesla Model S in the United Kingdom he did an interview with the BBC’s  (British Broadcasting Corporation) Business Daily podcast.  He talked with Business Daily correspondent Justin Rowlett about Tesla, SpaceX, and his early career on the internet.  It was a pretty interesting and I was surprised by what he said later in the interview.

“I like working on technology that will have a positive effect on the world. You know, stuff that is going to matter and if we don’t solve it there could be some bad outcome for out future, the future of humanity.  When we started SpaceX, and Tesla in particular, I didn’t think either of them particularly would succeed.”

Justin Rowlett, the interviewer, than asked, “So you imagined both of them would fail when you started them?”

“I thought that was the most likely outcome… Initially I thought I’ll take half the money and I’ll keep the other half, and this other half will probably be lost and then I’ll still have the other half.  That was my initial thought, but then the company’s needed much more money than originally anticipated and of course we had the big recession in 2008.  Well, I could either keep the money, and the company was definitely going to die, or invest what I have left and maybe there is a chance.”

Elon Musk also discussed the early days of the internet and how nobody really thought it would go anywhere at the beginning of the interview.

“When I started Zip2 which was in the summer of 95, nobody had made any money on the internet.  It wasn’t some land of riches or something like that.  Most people didn’t know what the internet was including Silicon Valley.  We tried getting funding from venture capitalists and most of them had never used the internet.  If they had used the internet they were convinced nobody would ever make any money on it.  So our initial goals with Zip2 were quite modest, would we ever be able to make enough buy to eat and pay for rent?  That was our goal in the beginning.”

If you would like to listen to the whole interview with Elon Musk, visit the BBC Business Daily podcast page.  The Elon Musk interview was posted on June 9th, 2014 and is titled “Elon Musk: Space and Electric Cars.”  Be aware that the BBC only keeps podcast available 30 days after airing.

Let me know what you think about entrepreneurship and failure.  Is that just part of the game?  Especially with innovative companies like Tesla and SpaceX?

*Article originally published here

How to Watch the World Cup without Cable

by Adam Yamada-Hanff

If you want to catch all the action for this year’s World Cup in Brazil, but don’t have cable, how are you going to watch all the soccer matches?

Since about 2 million American Cut the Cord in 2013 and over 2/3 of Americans do not pay for cable or satellite TV service each month, I know there are a lot of people that are wondering the same thing, “How can I watch the World Cup?”  Have no fear for Adam is here and he’s going to show you How to Watch the World Cup without Cable and for free! :)

ABC

ABC (American Broadcasting Corporation) will be showing the World Cup games over-the-air (OTA) in an agreement with ESPN.  Basically this means you can watch the games with a basic antenna and pick-up the digital TV signal to watch the World Cup games on your TV.

I prefer this Terk HDTVa Amplified Antenna which can pull over-the-air (OTA) signals from up to 50 miles away.  I’ve even gotten the Terk HDTVa to pull channels from surrounding areas like Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Delaware.  That is about a 50+ mile reception range of course your mileage may vary in terms of your location for signal quality and strength.  Also the downside with this Terk HDTVa antenna is the base is not that stable and tends to fall over often.  Honestly it is the best antenna I own for getting a ton of digital channels for free though.

Whats’ the issue with watching the World Cup games on ABC?  Seems ABC executives have only decided to show them on the weekends.  By weekends it’s really mostly on Saturday.  On Monday the Ghana vs USA game wasn’t shown on ABC.  I guess they figured, “What Americans want to watch Soccer on a Monday?  Even when the US is playing!”  That game was only available on ESPN meaning you needed a cable subscription to watch it.   There is a solution, but it may not be ideal for everyone.

Hablas Espanol?

Why am I asking, “Do you speak Spanish?”  Well in the United States broadcasts rights for the World Cup were secured by two different media companies, ESPN and Univision.

ESPN has coverage of the World Cup but like I said you need a cable subscription.  Some basic cable subscriptions don’t even include ESPN.  

For non-cable subscribers luckily Univision has the rights to broadcast all the games but… in Spanish.  ESPN has rights to show the games in English.  The Terk HDTVa antenna I have can pick-up the Univision signal (14.1) all the way from just outside Washington DC from where I live in Baltimore, MD.

You can check if you can pick-up Univision with an antenna by visiting TVFool.  It generates a pretty handy signal reception map showing which direction stations are in relation to your house.  You can use TVFool to lock in a certain a Univision signal.  If you are having trouble I’d recommend finding a forum to get reception help and posting your TVFool reception map.  There is also this FCC Digital TV map tool, but it blows in comparison to TVFool.

Univision is broadcasting ALL the World Cup games and in high definition.  A lot of cable subscriptions don’t’ include HD service.

If all the dealing with an antenna sounds too complicated for you or you can’t pick-up a strong digital TV signal, you can livestream the World Cup with Univision for free. as well.  The quality will not be as good but it’s obviously more convenient for some.  Here’s how;

How to Watch the World Cup Online (with Univision)

Step 1- Visit Univision

Obviously you need to visit Univision’s soccer portal.  (They call it football in case you were not aware like most other countries.)  Here is the link.

http://futbol.univision.com/

Step 2 – En Vivo Hoy (Live Now)

how to watch the world cupThere is a box to the right that says “En Vivo Hoy“, which means Live Now, on the futbol landing page for Univision.   This is where you can click to watch the watch and livestream all the World Cup games online.

Click the orange lettering where it says “Ver Partido en Vivo“, which means “watch live match” in English, for the Soccer (Futbol) game you want to watch and you will be taken to the live-streaming page.

Step 3 – Enjoy Livestreaming the World Cup

univision futbolThank god for Univision is all I can say.  If you don’t know Spanish, it’s a great time to brush up those language skills.   Honestly you’ll get used to watching Soccer in Spanish. :)

Note: If the game isn’t currently Live it will just show social media stuff.  If the game is in halftime you will see this screen.

univision

There’s always the Radio

Radio, what’s a radio? :)

If you’d rather hear the announcers in English call plays and tells you what is going on, what you could do is listen to ESPN radio online.  In your area the ESPN sports affiliate station may not be broadcasting the World Cup matches live.  They did not here, even for the Ghana vs USA game.  So again you might need to turn to your computer to listen to the World Cup games.  I’ve done this while doing working on the computer.

Watching the World Cup without Cable (and for Free)

Yes, this is a bit of a round about way to watch, or listen, to the World Cup.  If you don’t have cable these are the best ways I know to get coverage of all the Soccer action.  Remember the Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima is encouraging everyone to watch “Futbol” so you better do it.

I hope my guide on “How to Watch the World cup without Cable” was helpful.  If you received value and benefit from this article please share it and leave a comment below.  I’m always glad when I’ve helped people.

I bought a Generic .CO Domain Name, Was this a Mistake?

by Adam Yamada-Hanff

Recently I bought a single word generic .CO domain name.  I thought it was an excellent purchase for the following reasons;

  • The word gets a decent amount of monthly searches in Google.  (Although it’s not a competitive word advertisers bid on.)
  • Like I said above, it is a single word English dictionary generic term that is used often.
  • People know how to spell the word and understand what it means.
  • This generic .CO domain name was available to register.  I bought it for $12.88 through NameCheap (read my NameCheap Review by the way) and not from someone who already owned it or in the domain aftermarket.
  • I tried to buy the word in other domain extensions but I was not able to secure anything.
  • It’s a great term for the type of website I want to build.

I don’t want to reveal what the domain is because right now I lack the time and resources to launch this web project.  I thought it was a pretty good buy and purchase since tech start-ups absolutely LOVE dot COs.  The most notably example of a .CO domain in use would be the short social video service Vine.CO, which is owned by Twitter.

The rain on my parade began when I started telling friends and relatives about what I thought was a great domain purchase.  I said “Hey, I recently bought this genericword.CO domain. What do you think?”  Most people did not care or probably just thought, “Adam is crazy!”  One relative’s response was telling that going with alternate domain extensions may not always be the best plan.  This is how the conversation went down;

Relative: What is a .CO?  What does that stand for?

Me: I believe it was the Colombian domain extension but .CO is open for global use nowadays.  So I was able to buy it.

Relative: So you registered a domain name for Colombia?  Why?

Me: Anyone can register or use a .CO domain.  It’s a popular domain extension among start-ups and tech companies nowadays.

Relative: Why would you register that?

Me: Well… that’s what was available and what I could get for a reasonable price.  You’ve never heard of .CO?  I thought it was pretty popular and they have done a lot of advertising for it.

Relative: I don’t pay attention to domain names!

While this was probably the harshest reaction at least he was being honest with me, which I appreciated.  I know I shouldn’t let others make fun of my awesome domain purchases…. but the conversation did make me feel like a bit of a tool.  Did all that .CO advertising just make it seem like it’s a better domain extension than it actually is?

.co domainWhat was surprising to me was this person uses their smartphone for working out, listening to music, making online orders, and the list goes on.  If you were to ask them I would imagine they feel they are very “tech savy.”  They still had no idea what a .CO domain was or had heard about it.  I thought this was interesting and they didn’t even think my generic .CO domain was all that impressive.

Of course this person does not build websites or has any experience doing this.   So it’s hard for these people to understand the problems you have when you are trying to find a suitable domain name for a website at decent price.   I’m sure others reading this article have tirelessly searched for domains and have run into the same situation.  Most domains are probably waaay out of your budget and you start looking into alternative domain extensions but often those are out of your budget too.

Granted .CO has only been available for global registration for a a few years but it seems from the talks I’ve had with others it’s probably best to stick with better known domain extensions like .COM, .NET, and .ORG.  I guess these are the “Big 3″ in the domain and internet world.

After I bought my domain name I started searching for other generic terms and phrases out of curiosity in the .CO domain extension.  What I found out was that the .CO registry apparently holds back a lot of premium .CO domains and terms so they can sell them to serious web developers or companies with cash.  They want to sell the premium .CO domain names and make the big bucks, which is understandable, so I feel I was fortunate to register this single word dictionary .CO at least.

What do you think I should do with my good generic .CO domain?  Keep it?  Wait for people to realize .CO is a better domain extension than .COM since it’s one letter shorter? :)  I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions, comments, and experiences.

I could always try to sell it down the road.  Since venture capitol backed start-ups love .COs and generic terms go for decent money from what I’ve read.

Even though I paid $12.88 the .CO domain that was introductory first year pricing.  The renewal fees are $22+ at most registrars for .CO domains.  That’s not a lot of money but it is if you have a domain name you are not doing anything with and you own a lot of other domains you are paying to renew each year.  The .CO registry charges a higher renewal fee on purpose because they want you to “Use it or Loose It!”  This strategy probably works and if I’m not going to use it I’d likely let it drop.

What do you think about .CO domain names?  Have you registered any or bought a .CO domain from a private seller or domain marketplace?  Have you built any sites on a .CO domain?  Was the website successful?  By that I mean people liked it and it made money.  What about generic .CO domains?  Do you like them or not?

Name.com Affiliate Program Shutting Down

By Adam Yamada-Hanff

Yesterday I got an email that informed me that the Name.com Affiliate Program was shutting down at the end of the month.  Here is what the email said;

Dear Name.com Affiliate, 

After careful consideration, Name.com has decided to suspend the Affiliate Program. We have a busy roadmap for the year ahead as we keep up with customer requests and unveil new products. We will revisit the Affiliate Program at a later date. We genuinely appreciate your participation, and thank you for helping to promote Name.com.

Suspension dates

  • We will continue to record referrals and issue commissions through April 30, 2014. We will cease to record commissions on May 1, 2014.
  • Payments will be made as scheduled to eligible affiliates. Please note that to receive payment we need a W-9 form on file.
  • aff.name.com will be shut down on April 30, 2014.

If you have any questions, please contact us at affiliates@name.com. Sincerely, The Name.com Team

I thought this was a bit weird since I’ve never seen any company shutdown a large affiliate program on fairly short notice.  (Especially a company who’s products are digitally based.)  The email went out on April 23rd which is only a 9-day window.  This means a Name.com affiliate could easily miss the news. Since I wasn’t sure about this and I wanted to confirm this was actually happening I emailed Caroline Temple, Name.com’s affiliate program manager, but… the email bounced shortly after sending it.  I realized that was not a good sign and probably the Name.com affiliate program was in fact closing for good.  I then wrote to Steve Donatelli who is part of the Name.com customer support team.  This is the email I wrote by the way;

Hi Steve,

I got this email yesterday afternoon that Name.com was shutting down the affiliate program. Looks legit but just wanted to double check with you to confirm.

If you could provide me with any reasons why Name.com has decided to do this, that would be helpful.

Best,

Adam

I then called Name.com and waited a few minutes to get connected to a support representative.  I explained that I got this email that the Name.com affiliate program was shutting down and I just wanted to confirm this was accurate information.  I was told that the affiliate program was in fact being suspended but the Name.com support team wasn’t really given any other information outside of that by managers.  I was told they could possibly be revisiting an affiliate scheme in the future.  I was also told they had been receiving a lot of inquiries from affiliates about the Name.com affiliate program shutdown today, which was not surprising.

A few hours later I got a reply from Steve Donatelli;

Hello,

Thank you for your email. Sorry for the delay in responding. I don’t often check my personal inbox queue. Unfortunately, we are currently in the process of sunsetting our Affiliate program at the end of the month. At this time, they haven’t provided us with any information as to how the powers that be came to this decision. I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience. If you have anymore questions, please do not hesitate to shoot me an email and I will be happy assist wherever I can!

Sincerely,

Steve

This news kind of sucks for me since I have utilized the Name.com affiliate program on my Name.com Review.  While I won’t be retiring in the Caribbean on my Name.com affiliate earnings it was a nice steady stream of money here and there.  For a small time blogger like myself these affiliate payouts can really add up across the board.

I imagine the affiliates who will be most annoyed and affected by the sudden shutdown of the Name.com affiliate program will people who build and run domain name generators.  You know someone like Mohit Aggrawal who created NameMesh and other domain generator operators and domain finding tools.  Affiliate links to domain registrars is how these sites make money.

What’s odd to me is that the Name.com affiliate dashboard was updated last month to a much cleaner look.  It was also a lot less confusing than the older dashboard user interface they had.  I was happy with the changed and updated design.

name.com affiliate program

I assume Rightside, Name.com’s parent company, wants to put as much money as they can into marketing New gTLDs (generic top level domains) and releasing them over the next few months.  At least I am pretty sure “unveil new products.” probably means New gTLDs.  They’ll want to offer new gTLDs at below registry pricing to encourage people to buy and Name.com has been heavily promoting these new domain extensions.  Paying out affiliate commissions is probably something upper level management deemed a waste of money.  Why pay people who link to us and send us business?  :)

It will be interesting to see if the Name.com affiliate program shutdown will be permanent or if they will bring it back eventually.  Since I like and recommend them as a domain registrar I hope they do.  I’d imagine in the long run Name.com will lose business as affiliates and websites will stop linking which in turn makes Name.com lose traffic and business.

If you are someone who will be negatively impacted by the Name.com affiliate program shutdown please share your thoughts below.  Did you earn a lot through the Name.com affiliate program?  What will you do make-up the lost affiliate revenue?  What if you didn’t earn a lot of money?  Will you just recommend another domain name registrar now?

2 Million Americans Cut the Cord in 2013

cut the cordDid you cut the cord last year and get rid of your cable bill for good?  If you did it seems that you are not the only cord cutter out there.

According to an article in Consumer Reports 2 million Americans cut the cable cord in 2013.  Here is what they said;

all pay TV services—cable, satellite, and telco (traditional telephone companies that offer television service)—lost about a quarter of a million subscribers, cable operators took the hardest hit: They lost about 2 million customers, while satellite and telco TV services posted modest gains.

The article continues;

There are always seasonal fluctuations in pay TV service subscribers, but this is the first time that the number dropped over a full year. While there was an uptick in pay TV subscriptions across all types of providers at the end of the year, the last-quarter gain of about 40,000 subscribers—plus the yearly increases posted by satellite and telco companies—weren’t enough to compensate for the number of cable subscribers who cut the cord.

Total subscribers for basic cable TV in 2013 was estimated around 54.4 million households and compared to 2012.  That means there were 2 million people that cut the cord in 2013.  Does this mean Americans are finally getting tired of paying high cables bills for a bunch of channels they never watch?  Will we see a mass exodus of cable TV subscribers?

Cord cutting is gaining popularity because of internet streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Video, M-Go, Crackle, and many others.  These services allow you to watch what you want whenever or you can or feel like it.  Often times without the hassle of a lot commercials too.  What’s made utilizing these internet TV services easy is streaming internet boxes and devices like the Roku and Apple TV have had strong sales the last few years.  Recently Google has come out with the Chromecast which is a small Wi-FI USB receiver that can be plugged into your TV to push content to from your laptop, tablet or phone.  Amazon is also getting into the hardware TV streaming game with the new Amazon Fire TV as a Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV competitor.

Lots of US homes are also now using over-the-air antennas to receive local channels for free and in HD (high definition).  So why pay for local channels if you can get them for free and in HDTV?  Especially if most of the TV shows you want to watch are on Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, or PBS.  While your digital TV reception and signal quality will vary depending upon where you live most cities, towns, and suburbs should be able to receive decent signals.  Since the 2009 digital TV transition picture quality is clearer and crispier with digital signals.  Cut the cord and get buy an HDTV antenna.

Even with all these new streaming internet TV services and devices that have hit the market in the last few years and wider use of over-the-air HDTV antennas there’s still a massive amount of people that have traditional TV bills each month.

As stated above Satellite TV subscriptions from companies like DirecTV and DISH gained Gained 170,000 subscribers in 2013.  By the last estimated count there are 34.3 million Satellite TV subscribers in the US currently.  Telco companies and services which includes AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FiOS TV gained 286,000 subscribers and it’s estimated that there are 10.7 million households with Telco TV services.

If we assume the numbers above are accurate add them all up and there are still 99.4 million Americans that pay for some form of TV service.  That’s still almost 1/3 of all US households.  So obviously telecom giants and cable TV companies still have a huge US subscriber base.  Are people still not ready to cut the cord?  Basically yes, it seems cutting the cord still doesn’t appeal to a lot of households.

While a lot of people still pay for cable TV I believe the more internet savvy people become, the less likely they are going to want to open their wallets.  People are getting used to watching videos and content online for free and from low cost providers like Netflix.  Most people complain about rapidly increasing cable bills each month with bad and supbar service.  In addition basic cable gives you a lot channels you never watch and really don’t need.  There’s no A-La-Carte options in the US that cable TV companies offer, at least that I’m aware of.  Many people would prefer to pay for only a select few cable channels.  Some major league sports have realized the opportunity and now offer live streaming subscriber options.

Have you cut the cord?  Why did you cancel cable and do you feel good about the decision personally and financially?  I’d love to hear comments from cord cutters and anyway that’s cut the cable cord recently or in the past few years.