X3DAudio1_7.dll is missing

You just started to play your game (possibly Metro 2033) and saw the error pop up about X3DAudio1_7.dll is missing.  This error is about Microsoft’s DirectX missing a few required files. All you need is a simple update, so let’s get straight to the fix.

Head over to Microsoft’s website to download DirectX End-User Runtime.  This file will update your DirectX, regardless of what version you have installed.  I had this issue on a Windows 7 machine and after the update was applied the error message was gone.  On previous versions of Windows, you may need to reboot.

Google SEO

Free Google Search Keyword Tracking

Finally an advanced Google keyword ranking checker that is free.  The site is aptly named KeywordRankings and is geared towards SEO people looking to save a history of where their keywords rank in Google.

Feature List:

  1. Entire Service is free
  2. Add unlimited domains
  3. Add unlimited keywords
  4. Each keyword ranking is checked once per day
  5. Each domain is checked for index’d pages in Google once per day.
  6. Graphs are created for each keyword’s history and domain’s index’d history.
  7. A public secure and sharable link is provided for each keyword to show clients.
  8. Available for,,,,,
  9. Keyword Queue Ranking decides in what order your keywords get updated.
  10. Demo account available: login as [email protected] / demo .

The site is coded in PHP with a  jQuery front-end and is extremely fast.  Anyone involved in Search Engine Optimization should be happy with it.  At the moment it is in invite only mode so I can squash all of the bugs.

There have been questions as to how the site determines each users “Keyword Queue Ranking”.  There are a multitude of factors, such as how long you’ve been a member.  I cannot give out all the details, but I can say that it is an ongoing process and will be continuously tweaked.

Of course if you’d prefer to not deal with the Keyword Queue Ranking, then the option to donate to the site is available to get priority keyword checking.  The site has not recevied any donations yet, so for just $1, you will be at the top of the list.  Over time, if everyone donates $1, then you would need to donate another dollar to be first again.

Essentially the price for 1st in keyword priority is determined by you guys, not me.  The site will show you where you rank in the keyword queue.

I am allowing 5 new signups. (1 SIGNUP LEFT)  Enter code:

If you have any questions or comments, respond below.


Lost is a Travesty

I was doing my daily rounds of sites that I visit and noticed that The Big Lead had a post about Lost.  My hope was that they were going to make fun of the nonsense and explain how many times they laughed out loud.  Like when Hurley was doing yet another slow-motion scene.  But of course not.

Much to my surprise they actually praised the show.  TheBigLead apparently loves the new Ben and says:

What a travesty that there are only nine episodes left.

There is no sarcasm here either folks, they were saying that line with a straight face.  It’s absolutely stunning that a character can be villain for 4 seasons, then in the span of 2 or 3 episodes viewers see Ben become a good guy and they think nothing of it.  AMAZING.

I’m not going to waste my time to say all the reasons why Lost was completely ruined into a pile of dogshit.  Suffice it to say that there is not one character on the show who maintained his character through 5 seasons.  I guess when you like a show so much, you ignore all of the negative aspects of it.  Exactly like being a sports fan.  You say things like “your team got unlucky, the refs made bad calls, next year will be our year, Sanchise, etc etc”.

So in the end The Big Lead, you’re  just proving what it’s like to be a typical biased sports fan.

All I ask is that you watch season 1 of Lost again.  Look at the tone of the show and the direction they are going with the characters.  Take note of the eerie feeling you get while watching, what was once a great show. . .LOST.

SEO Uncategorized

SEO, To Hyphen or Underscore URLs Revisited

I’ve seen a lot of SEO Experts and many SEO tools recommend that you should be using hyphens in URLs rather than underscores, one example was Ann Smarty over at SearchEngineJournal.  For the disadvantages of the underscore in URLs she says:

Traditionally it isn’t seen by search engines as a word separator (this is slowly changing now)

Slowly changing?  It was reported in 2007 that Google and other search engines treat underscores like hyphens.  To say it’s slowly changing is like saying Facebook is finally catching on.  Three years on the web is an eternity.  She also says that there are no disadvantages to hyphens.  Though I’m not so sure about that. . .

Think about multiple ways that hyphens are used.  Hyphens are added in-between words and in people’s names.  For example, Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaugars has a name with a hyphen.  Let me give you an example of a potential sentence that includes his name:

Now if we use underscores it would look like this:

Slightly different meaning in both of those URLs, wouldn’t you agree?  It is also much easier to read with underscores.  Therefore the BEST option is underscores because people rarely use them when it comes to typing names or phrases.  There is no way they will get in the way.

I know what your saying, I’m preaching to use underscores when this blog uses hyphens.  Wordpress uses them by default (though I’m not sure why and I never changed it)  Though I have used underscores on other projects….  Check out Jones-Drew’s page at

I don’t mean to single out Ann because she certainly knows her SEO, but this issue just keeps popping up every now and then and it truly annoys me.  It needs to be squashed once in for all.

UPDATE: In the comments below, Kieron Hughes provides a link to Matt Cutts suggesting to use hyphens.  I guess I stand corrected.

Do you guys agree with me or am I being too nit picky?


Speed Up Gmail’s POP Fetching

My previous post talked about how to switch from outlook to gmail because of speed and ease of use.  From my experience, I noticed that Gmail’s POP fetching for email accounts that I added were not as fast as I would have liked.

The solution is called GSpeed, which speeds up gmail pop fetching.  I have created GSpeed because I wanted Gmail to fetch my email faster.  To use it, simply enter your email address you wish to speed up and filter out emails from GSpeed.  It’s that simple!


Tips + Guide to Switch from Outlook to Gmail

We want our email, and we want it fast.  The goal of this guide is to replace outlook as your primary mail collector with Gmail.  I just took the plunge and it’s been such a huge improvement that I want you to benefit as well.  We want Gmail to open as if it’s an application, save it’s position on your screen, and notify you of new emails just as Outlook does.

I am going to assume that you already have a gmail account created.  The first thing you should do is forward any email accounts that to your gmail account that you can.  Some people forward all their emails to gmail, while others want to keep a few business email accounts in tact to send email to and from.  It’s completely up to you, but keep in mind that Gmail limits you to fetch email from 5 accounts.

To add email accounts to fetch mail from, go to “Settings ->Accounts and Import -> Check mail using POP3”, then simply follow their guide.

Add POP Accounts

When you do this, you’ll notice that it needs to fetch ALL of your emails.  If you are ditching outlook, you are going to want your full archive of emails.  It took Gmail roughly a day to download and archive 10,000 of my emails, so be patient while it works.  It’s important to note that Gmail is currently limited to POP implementation only.  But don’t let the lack of IMAP support deter you from using it because they do allow you to keep a copy on the server (just incase you want to use IMAP or check mail elsewhere).

Each new account that you import is assigned a label.  If you have an email account called “[email protected]”, then it’s default label will be “[email protected]”.  Next to each label you’ll see a gray box, clicking this lets you change the label color so it stands out when viewing all emails. (Inbox).

Label customization

Next up, head over to the “Settings -> Labs” option and select any of the additional features that you think will be usefull.  For example, I selected the option to play Google Voicemails right from my inbox.

We also need to enable new mail notifications.  If you checked the option to always use HTTPS when using gmail, then you’ll also need this fix.

Now, probably the most important part is to make sure that Gmail runs as fast as possible on your machine.  To do that, you should install Google Chrome.  It is by far the fastest browser when it comes to rendering pages and dealing with javascript.  If you do not use Chrome with Gmail, then you are not using it to it’s full potential.  Chrome also gives us the option to create a shortcut to Gmail as an application, which means it remembers where the application opens.  Anyone with a dual monitor setup can appreciate this.

To create a desktop shortcut, go to “Settings -> Offline -> Other options”.  Click on create a desktop shortcut.  Or you can simply click on the paper icon in the URL bar while on gmail’s page and select create application shortcuts.

That’s all there is to it.  Now enjoy super fast email without having to worry about constant slowdown by Outlook and random crashes.


Gmail Notifier Not Working? It’s because of HTTPS

I’ve encountered a simple, yet annoying problem when it comes to Google’s Gmail Notifier.  It turns out that if you select the option to always use HTTPS, then the notifier will not work.  The fix can be seen on the Notifier page, which is a registry edit.

Surely Google can do a better job of notifying us of the problem without having to search for it.  How about a message saying if you use HTTPS, remember to download the fix?

cloud AKA Amazon EC2 is Being Abused

Have you recently discovered a long list of IPs listed in your websites stats and wondered what’s it for?  I was under the assumption that if I saw those IPs it’d probably be good news because I thought Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud had reputable clients.  It turns out that Amazon’s EC2 is a breeding ground for bad and abusive bots.

The Amazon EC2 website describes their service as:

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use. Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

While all that sounds lovely, what they really could use is some quality control.  Have a look at this thread over at webmasterworld describing a long list of complaints and abusive IPs.  One particular nasty bot is hammering my site as well: – 339,583 hits – 15.95 GB

You read that correctly, the bot has taken up nearly 16 gig, and it’s only been 11 days worth.  There are so many bots out there that eat up bandwith and resources that we have no choice but to block them.  I wish we could find out who these IPs are working for so we know who to really blame.

Until then, block amazonaws abusive bots:

deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
deny from “Amazon ec2-Cloud”
apple rant Uncategorized

The Death of iTunes Apps

By now everyone has heard of the iTunes commercials and the phrase “There’s an app for that”, but how much staying power does it really have?  Just yesterday Google released Google Voice as a standalone web application that can be used in the browser.  For some of us, it’s hard to imagine why this might be better or worse than the current system Apple uses.  But hear me out…

Typically when you want to buy or download an application for your iTouch or iPhone, you head over to the app store icon and browse around.  Once you find something, click ‘install’ or ‘buy’.  These apps are then placed on the main screen and can be opened whenever you’d like.  While this may sound super easy, it also causes problems.

Apple controls each application that is approved or disapproved.  Sometimes it takes them up to a month to approve an application.  Other times they deny applications because it might infringe on their built in phone features.  Such as the case with the Google Voice app.  However, the biggest problem is the fact that each phone brand needs to have their own framework for applications.  There is the Google Android, the Blackberry, and iPhone which require each application to be developed specifically for that phone.  To make matters even worse, there are rumors that the reason Apple does not have flash support on their phone is because they were afraid developers would use that instead of their SDK to develop applications.   There has to be a better way?

What we need is an open source way to develop applications to work on any mobile phone with a browser.  It turns out we already have that folks, and your using the protocol right now, HTTP.  There are a few developers out there who hate using Apple’s SDK to build an app when creating a mobile site will work just fine. Sean of GetClicky is one of them.  The truth is that websites create applications to work in the browser, then have to recode them to work for each cell phone SDK.  What was built for the web browser, should remain in the web browser!

There are plenty of examples of mobile sites that work across every single cell phone platform.  Why bother spending time learning Apple’s SDK to offer things that can be easily implemented with regular HTML?  Plus HTML5 coming up in the next few years to add an even richer interface experience.  Each cell brand should have their own unique call requests to gain access to the phone’s contact list, dialing, and anything else they might need.  If cell brands are concerned that they won’t make money this way, why not have developers pay to gain access to some areas of the phone?

In the end, the death of all mobile app stores are exactly what we need.


Chrome Ad Blockers: AdThwart Vs. AdBlock , Round 1

UPDATED: 1.25.2010 UPDATE #2

One of the most important aspects of a web browser today is how good it is at blocking ads.  Today Google announced that it has released a Windows version that has the ability to use extensions.  This means that extensions are ready for the masses.

Users thinking about switching to Chrome from Firefox NEED to have a reliable ad blocker.  The two best ad hidders are AdThwart and AdBlock.  I call them ad hidders because currently Chrome is unable to block ads the way we are accustomed to seeing with Firefox.  Until Chrome developers add this functionality, these two extensions are forced to simply edit the CSS on the fly.  They both support EasyList, but that doesn’t mean they are both equally effective and user friendly.  I decided to compare a vareity of categories that I look for in an ad blocker.

Have a look at my chart below which goes into detail about each extension

AdThwart vs AdBlock

The winner is AdThwart!

Both produce similar speed results, both are maintained and updated on a near daily basis, both have a wide user base, both hide most ads, both have friendly and bright developers working on them.

AdBlock has issues with it’s icon to show if a site is blocked or not.   The icon is actually a separate extension, so if you disable AdBlock, the icon remains.  That is a glaring issue for ease of use.  I also have no idea how to edit the custom filters I applied, what happens if I end up blocking all images by accident?  Those of you who care about open source, AdBlock is not entirely clear on the subject, whereas AdThwart is open source.

The issue of speed I want to touch on in more detail.  At first glance, the speed tests seem to be inconsistent when it comes to speed of a page with no extensions applied.  TechCrunch takes a lot longer to load when advertisements are present, but MSN is much quicker when ads are present.  How can this be you ask?  Well, it depends on the type of advertisements on the site.  MSN has ads that don’t require the browser to render them as much as TechCrunch, therefore when we add the added time it takes for the extensions to hide the ads. . . it actually takes longer to load.  However, I am pleased to see in testing that for the majority of websites, hiding ads does make load times faster.  The fact that AdThwart is a tiny bit faster may not mean much because it is probably not even noticeable.

I also want to mention that each page load could have different ads, sometimes it would include an image ad, other times an it would have a javascript ad.  Other times the sever may have a slower response time than the previous request.  Therefore the speed tests can vary greatly.  To combat that, I reloaded each page 5 times and took the average.  I’m looking to compare rendering speed and the response time for the server can screw that up.  Any time the server responded with a response time of over 500ms, I redid the test.  I performed each test using Chrome’s developer tools resource tracking (Ctrl+Shift+I).

So where does this test leave us?  AdBlock needs to go back to the drawing board for the icon implementation, provide more details on if the extension is open source or not, and revamp custom filters.  The majority of users should be more pleased with AdThwart’s ease of use and custom filter implementation.