Mad Rhino Consulting

Wikipedia goes dark

by on Jan.23, 2012, under SE Basics, Social Media, Tech News

Internet Protest against SOPA and IPA;

On January 18 2012, webmasters around the world protested by blacking out their website for the day.  This effort was organized to protest the SOPA and PIPA bill about to go before congress in the coming weeks.
These bills fundamentally begin to place a dictatorship style control over the internet in the United States.  There really isnt any other way else to put it.  The bills are design to place the federal government in charge of what can be seen, heard or read on the internet. With a simple phone call, from one of the many corporate sponsors of this bill, can bring down a website regardless of whether or not it is actually pirating works.  It’s purely the “shoot first ask questions later” business model.  From my experience there is little anyone can do about it after the perverdbial trigger has been pulled.  There is no due process built in and no checks and balances.  As much as the backers of this bill say that it won’t affect honest hard working webmasters and internet entrepreneurs, I beg to differ.  This bill seems to be written to be abuse our freedom of speech and eliminate net neutrality amongst ISPs and the government. The bill originally was written to pull a website through at the ISP level or DNS level.  This type of censorship tactics is shared by North Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, and many, many other free speech hating countries.  The only difference here this is to the benefit of corporate America and not a single dictator.  This portion of the bill has been removed, however the mere existence of this bill is offensive to people who believe in an open, neutral and free internet.

The idea of the government trying to regulate in any way, what I can see, read or listen to on the internet is insane. I applaud Google, Wikipedia, and the Pirate Bay for their bold gestures in participating in this protest.  Although their sites did not go dark they brought to the forefront an issue that many Americans have not been given the opportunity to understand.  This gesture has brought so much attention to this bill that American leaders have been bombarded with questions and pressure from the public to rethink their support of such a measure.  Just like the successful pressure put onto Bank of America for introducing a $5 fee to its customers, our elected officials chosen to back off this bill.  By the end of the day from the start of this protest, more than half of the sponsors of the bill have taken their names from it.  Even the author of this bill, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, has now pulled it to have it reviewed.

I hope one day corporate America and our elected officials will learn regulating the internet only harms innovation and free speech.  Instead of fighting something corporate America doesn’t understand, they should learn from it and strive to evolve as a business.

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GoFlex® Home Network Storage System

by on Sep.27, 2011, under Reviews, Tech News

GoFlex® Home Network Storage System

I’m looking to buy this system and it really looks like the one for me.  From my research and experience with Seagate products I think this is going to be a winner.

Go Flex Home is what we refer too as a NAS (Network Attached Storage).  Simply put it is a hard drive or system hooked up to your home network without a computer.  These devices use their own network card and use their own OS to establish and maintain a connection you your network.  This allows other computers to store files or share them across a network without the bother of a large computer that needs more accessories to maintain it.

The version I want is the 2 terabyte GoFlex Home NAS.  I have been using Seagate hard drives for personal and professional applications for a few years now and found that they are very reliable, not perfect but I trust Seagate more then most other consumer available brands.

Most of the specifications to the GoFlex Home can be found on the box or on the Seagate website.  It can be used as a backup device, remote access and for file sharing.  But some the better features you have to kind of look up. Two great features are print server and media center.  It is so convenient to have a central location for your printer without the hassle of needing a computer attached to it use it.  Most people either have to share a printer by disconnecting one computer from the printer and then re connect it to the next or get a elaborate system of cables and switches to share one printer.   More advanced users have one computer turned on 24/7 and share the printer over the network.  The draw back is the computer is turned on a lot longer then what most people would like.  The media center is my favorite.  Currently I use my XBox360 to connect to my computers media center and stream my saved videos to my TV.  I love it but the draw back like the print server is that my computer has to be on all the time for my to enjoy it any time I want.  This feature would relieve my computer of streaming duties and cut down on the wear and tear on my laptop.

I hope you found my info about the GoFlex Home Network Storage system.  I would also recommend you take a look at Costco if you are thinking of buying one.  The two terabyte version is on sale right now for $129.99.  I trust that this price will change the closer we get to Christmas.

Thanks

Richard

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Is your cell phone killing brain cells.

by on Mar.24, 2011, under Tech News

Is your cell phone killing brain cells.

I just finished watching a interview with Devra Davis on Foxnews. In the interview she talks about a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concerning using cell phones and the effect cell phone microwave radiation has on brain cells. She even shows her cell phone cover that says “Can’t call it a smart phone if it kills brain cells”.  In her interview she goes on to talk about how to keep you and your loved ones safe and what she writes about in her new book. I have only a few problems with her interview. Most of what she said was misleading.

I decided to look up what she was talking about on JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and I could only read the abstract. Since it was $30 to read the full article for a 24 hour period I had to opt out since I can’t afford it at the moment.  I am very critical of the scientific process and believe if you are a scientist or pose yourself as an expert and scientist you should lay out the facts whether they support your conclusion or hypothesis or not.  The abstract stated that the study was done with 47 healthy participants using a muted cell phone for 50 minutes at a time and the brain glucose was measured during use. Lets first say that a sample of 47 people does not make for a definitive study to create policy or state as fact.

In the study, as a whole, the brain showed no changes in the metabolizing of glucose but showed increase metabolism in the region of the where the phone and antenna was closets to the brain. As you can see I am still a skeptic that a cell phone damage the brain but I still posted that I acknowledge that there seems to be a change in glucose. However, Dr. Davis does not.

In her interview she goes on and on about changing our behavior and this huge risk of damage to men and women and especially children. Notice that she never tells the viewer to go to JAMA but instead wants you to read her book. Also she does not correct the interviewer when she begins to talk about major organs in the body.  The abstract never mentioned test done on any major organs besides the brain.  By not correcting the interviewer the good doctor allows for more fear to set in.  After all, this will help her sell her book.  In the interview, Dr. Davis also admits that cells phones have never been tested in more than 2 positions; next your head, with a spacer and on your hip.  So where does she draw the conclusion about the rate of exposure and danger to your body for men and women?  I don’t get it.  But she is able to spin her words to make it sound like there is a danger and the fact there is no tests to prove it should give you cause for concern.

Davra Davis prefers you to be scared and buy her book as well as all the products to protect yourself. Let’s not forget that she also goes on and on about all the action she is taking to protect us.  Listen to all the policy she is trying to create through this fear and using misleading statements from science to further her agenda.

Like global warming, she fails to present the viewer with all the facts and prefers to scare you into taking up her cause and buying her book. If my cell phone is killing me give me facts not your opinion and gimmicks. At the end of the JAMA abstract the author still clearly states that “This finding is of unknown clinical significance.” Yet Devra Davis has clearly found one. To buy her book.

Although there is no real technological or ROI follow up with the post.  I had to write about it.  It troubles me to watch policy being written based on the opinion of people like Dr. Devra Davis.  She will someday sit on a political action committee or be called to speak in front of congress to talk about our fear of cell phones.  And important people may change policy based on her opinion and never bother to look at the actual research.  Thanks to people like her we all pay for an additional environmental tax when we buy a TV or other electronics.  Like so many other issues in our society people like Dr. Davis convince voters and leaders to make decisions based on the amount of fear we have of it.  Yesterday it was global warming and vaccinations, today is radiation from your phone, and tomorrow will be something else that you use or do every day.

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SEO scams

by on Mar.22, 2011, under SE Basics

SEO-ScamsSEO scams
Many small and even large businesses that depend on the internet for their revenue often fall prey to SEO scams and fly by night SEO optimizers. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, in the industry search engines are often referred to as SE’s.

There are many legitimate SEO experts out there the trouble is being able to tell the difference between a good SE person and a fake one. Unfortunately, if you know how to spot a fake or scammer you know a little bit about SEO already. So this is for those how are looking for a SE person and want to try and weed out the scammers as much as possible without having to spend years learning the trade.

Over the years I have come up with a few flags that help me know right away the good from the bad. Here are some of the things I look out for.
- “I can get you page one results in a few months” (few weeks)
- “Use my software to increase your page rank”
- “My service can you top page results in a banner”
- Adding hidden pages and hidden text links
- If they show you clients with very steep traffic increase or overnight success
- If they work and live outside of the Search Engine community
- No prior work history in the SE field
- If they say yes to everything you ask.

There is software and services that are legitimate and can get you good results for your website and I match my clients up with the right companies for these services. But let’s start looking at why these different red flags can help you identify scammers.

First is “I can get you page one results in a few months”, this is nearly impossible.  Almost all legitimate SEO work is done organically and that takes months if not years to truly get first page results for a given search word, term, or phrase.  Now there are some exceptions given the right situation but it is rare to be able to engineer it to happen.  To get results like that, the scammer uses things like link farms. These link farms are used to put links to your site and make it appear as if you are very popular.  Properly done this method can be very effective and can fool SE’s but the down side is if you discontinue the service all your links go away and you are left with a huge hole where your traffic used to be.   Now you are at the mercy of this service and if their sites ever get banned from SE’s you lose as well.  The best type of SEO is always organic.

Next I want to talk about is “My service can you top page results in a banner”, this service is really bad and I wouldn’t trust it for anything at all.  You could not pay me to use this service. This service usually involves a consumer installing an unwanted tool bar on their browser. This is a very unethical practice, often times the tool bar is very difficult to uninstall and bogs down the users system with third party notices and it is not uncommon for a virus or Trojan horse to get installed as well. Trust me you do not want to be a part of this. I have seen this in action and it never translates to good traffic or sales.

The next few points will be about the questions you should be asking them. You should find out what was the last trade show or SE event they attended. Find out if they are part of a community.  Ask them about message boards and forums they are a part of and what their handle is so you can look them up. Trust me, any person in this field will belong to a SE community or to the internet community in general. We do this to keep up with the latest trends and loop holes in the system, as well as whom not to do business with. And we all have online handles. Our online identity is how we make a name for ourselves and get business done. If they do not seem to be a part of the community then what makes them an expert in the industry and worth spending money on.  If they are just a sales person with no experience then how could they possibly know what you need?

Lastly and the one I absolutely hate the most is people that say yes or agree to everything you ask them. This is the biggest tip off.  If you know you are asking questions that are not that easy to answer or are issues you have had for years.  And all you get is yes without needing to clarify. They are lying to you.  Not everything is as easy as they would like you to think.  Every consultant, sales person, or account rep that gives me nothing but yes answers has always been a waste of time and money. With every situation there are always limitations of some kind.  They might be able to deliver what you ask but it often comes at a price. Sometime the schedule is sacrificed or quality most often the budget becomes the sacrifice.  Even when a contract is signed it’s not uncommon to hear that the situation has changed and more money is needed regardless what the contract says.   I often have to say no to my clients because the request is sometimes unreasonable to the budget I am given or it may not be my field of expertise.

I hope this helps you find the right person for your SEO needs. Always remember;

“It’s all about the R.O.I”

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Why wait? Part 3 “My website is not ready.”

by on Feb.27, 2011, under Business consulting

Why wait? Part 3
“My website is not ready”, is a very common excuse why people don’t market or start driving traffic to their site. In this there is no reason to wait unless you have no intention of succeeding.  Some business owners believe that they will lose more then they gain by releasing a site that is not up to the standards they set in their own minds.  I am not saying that you should start advertising a broken site or a site that cannot fulfill an order. That would be useless.  You may not gain customers because of its looks but you have started the long road to establishing your presence on the Internet. The sooner you start the less money you spend on catching up to where you should be, in relation to your competitors, when your site is finally finished.

You must remember and accept that your site will never be finished in your eyes.  You will get comments all the time about how you can improve your site and what you are doing is wrong.  Some will be valid and others will be just personal opinion. Unless, the comment says your site is down or “I cannot complete the transaction”, do not take the comments to seriously.  Make a note of the comments and look into it later. Talk to your project manager, webmaster or developer and ask about these comments.  Any one of them would be happy to go over the pros and cons of these comments and make a list of additions to the next release of the website. Being in a perpetual mode of development never allows you to expand your business.
 
I have had clients get advice from any number people at least 3 times a week.  The advice would come from a friend, spouse, stranger or another business owner.   And every week it was the same thing.  “Let’s change this, and let’s change that.”  Sure, but every change was a sacrifice of some other function of the site or a waste of time and money to develop.  At the end of the year we had a lot of changes and actually moved backwards in online visibility. We had spent so much time and money fixing the perceived problems, that the budget for marketing was zero. On top of that, the additions or corrections that were made earlier that year, where we spent a lot of time and money on, was available for free and supported by the developer on the next upgrade of the program software.

I always believed that you should fight the urge to constantly change the site. The only frequent changes to the site should be, content.  Most people like consistency and sense of stability. Release your first version of the site and start driving traffic right away.  You will fund all the improvements you want through the monetization of your site.  As you set you rhythm of advertising and marketing and get to know your traffic, you begin to see what your website’s strengths and weaknesses are.  And major flaws that need to be corrected right now.   Remember, there is no guarantee that you will make your money back on advertising but you will learn a little bit more about your site and what does and does not work for you.  This is essential to understanding what will be worth putting into the next version of your website and what is merely optional. You are now laying the foundation of improving your internet business without sacrificing your online presence.

“It’s all about the R.O.I”

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Value of Antivirus and security

by on Feb.16, 2011, under Business consulting

The best antivirus solution is often prevention.  I’ve done disaster recovery for quite a few years in this industry and some of my client’s disaster is the result of a virus of some kind.  Most of the time its a virus that seems to defeated its purpose of being hidden and slightly urging the unwitting user to click on something he or she finds worthwhile. Other times it’s a particularly vicious virus the holds the computer hostage to download a very deceitful antivirus program that does nothing but bring more harm to the computer and ultimately the user.
Many users depend the belief that they do not surf to questionable websites and therefore not at risk.  However, that is not the case these days and one does not have to go to questionable website to get a virus or Trojan horse in their computer.
Most common ways computers get viruses is through overt action, a person clicks on a popup or request to install a plugin or software that seems to be a useful tool or download manager.  These items should be viewed with great skepticism and turned down before agreed upon.  Many items that should not automatically agreed to are tool bars, plugins of any kind, download managers, dialers, antivirus requests, and many others.
My solution is prevention with a good antivirus program that is well reviewed and tested.   Key to any good antivirus solution is more than just scanning the computer for something you already downloaded or installed but has to be aggressive in its detection of items trying to install itself or changing the way the computer operates.  Generally this includes, real time virus scanning, firewall, malware detection, parental control, and privacy protection.
Over the years I have used many different antivirus solutions and not having much money in the past or felt that it wasn’t worth paying for a legitimate copy has cost me a lot of time and money and I strongly believe that you get what you pay for with antivirus programs.  After you install you operating system or turn on your brand new computer for the first time the next install must be a good antivirus product.  Really the first thing I do is uninstall whatever antivirus that came with the computer.  Not one time have I ever seen those products work effectively.  Always, remove that product and install something worth it.  I have always had good success with the following;
Bitdefender
NOD32 from Eset
Kaspersky Lab
Webroot
AVG.
My favorite that I have been using for almost 4 years now is Bitdefender Total Internet Security.  Bitdefender provides me with all the security I mentioned above and has never failed me.  As a system admin, IT support admin, disaster recovery consultant and developer, I expose my computer to all kinds of risks and it is crucial that my computer and all its data remain secure.  And this is where security is part of having a good antivirus solution. This keeps your valuable data from getting into the wrong hands.  Like, passwords, credit card information, personal information, and PC access.
When it comes to business, a particularly vicious virus can steal your customer’s information, destroy your reputation and bring your business to a standstill in one day.  It all can even happen in hours.

After all, “It’s all about the R.O.I”

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Cost per mile

by on Feb.09, 2011, under Business consulting

I recently got a brake job, bought tires, oil changes for both cars, all in this past 2 weeks.  And I realized that this isn’t just the cost of ownership but there is a cost per mile that I must be aware of when I use my car for work.  So today I decided to look up my costs for all the maintenance and hard costs that go into using my car for work and how relates to my bottom line.

Including my gas, tires, brakes, oil changes and $.10 depreciated value of my car, my cost per mile is $.32 per mile.  As a consultant I have a few clients all over the city of Los Angeles and this becomes a very hard figure to pay attention to.  Now, when I take a job I have to consider, not just gas, but all my maintenance.  Let’s say my client is 50 miles away.  Cost per mile is ($.32 x 50)2 = $32 round-trip, times 5 days per week at $160 per week.  That is a tough number to accept but it’s hard to deny.  With all small business owner these itemized costs need to be taken into account to maximize profits and understand whether that new client or project is worth the time and energy.

“It’s all about the R.O.I”

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About Mad Rhino Consulting

by on Feb.08, 2011, under Random Stuff

My name is Richard Barrios I am the Owner and President of Mad Rhino Consulting. I am a 10 year veteran of the Internet Industry and have been developing and maintaining websites since 2001.  I started Mad Rhino Consulting because I found that small business needed a inexpensive way to get the needed information in there hands faster then they could discover it themselves.  I found that trial and error sometimes can drain the budget of a small business faster then anyone could ever imagine.  My experience minimizes the error and brings more solutions then trials.
I have focused most of my career in project management, disaster planning, disaster recovery, Search Engine Optimization and bringing viable solutions to any problem.
With my early experience as a server and network administrator and later as a webmaster and affiliate manager I have had hands experience on every part of a website possible.
I continue to have close ties with major billing companies and preferred treatment from high availability hosting companies there is no service that anyone cant a better price, for higher quality service, then me.

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Why Wait?

by on Feb.07, 2011, under Business consulting

Many times in business and sales many business owners believe in the slow and steady approach.  Believing that things will come around in due time and there is no need to take unnecessary risks.  However, the businesses around them and their competition more often than not do not follow that approach.   
The definition of risk is; “Exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.”  One can argue that merely starting a business is your biggest risk of all, yet so many business owners shy away from proper marking and advertising and knowingly put their biggest investment at risk.

I can’t emphasize more the number one reason why you shouldn’t wait.  Your competitors aren’t going to wait.  There is only one thing that a business person should be thinking about, is how can I establish a larger share of the market.  If you are selling flowers or cell phones it’s the same.  I want to sell more than the next guy.  New business owners are sometimes idealists and believe that there are plenty of customers out there for everyone and there is no need to be that aggressive.  I strongly disagree.  There may seem to be a lot there now but as time goes and the economy changes people begin to settle and grow accustom to one or two particular companies or in some cases marketing techniques.  The longer you wait the more entrenched your competition gets in your market and eventually starts taking your customers. 

Why wait until you have no choice to do marketing with few options.  Start marketing while you still have the flexibility to try different things and roll with the punches.  No one marketing plan is going to make you wealthy overnight but a handful of well vetted ideas and strategies will give you the best chance to keep up with or stay ahead of your competitors.  Put aside some money that you can afford to put into a marketing budget and actually spend the money.  You may not get all your money back but you will learn soon enough what works well and what to avoid in the future.  Remember that not marketing campaigns are not one size fits all and one marketing technique may work well for one person but not for you.

The most common reasons I have heard people comment on why not to invest into a good marketing campaign, over the years, have been:

  • I don’t understand how it works.
  • Too expensive
  • I’ll wait till my website is looking the way I want it
  • I can do it myself
  • I make enough money right now
  • I’ve tried everything already

Today I will cover the first one.  I don’t understand how it works.  Like anything new, of course you don’t understand how it works.  You won’t know until you do your research and due diligence, so you can make an informed decision.  There are new marketing strategies and gimmicks appearing all the time and only a few if not less are actually worth the time and effort.  Doing simple searches, using your favorite search engine, on the different marketing techniques or gimmicks you discover will help you figure out what is worth your time and what is not.  At the end you will find that only one or two will best suit your needs.  Others may as well but may not be obvious yet.  After all, you are still learning your business and discovering the different ways to promote your business. 

Now when you find something that’s worth it, it’s time to understand it a bit better. You should be asking yourself questions like; How does it work exactly?  Am I being charged monthly or yearly for this service?  Is there a contract involved?  Do I get tech support, when I am stuck?  Is this a PPC, PPI, percentage or flat rate?  If it’s so cheap what is the bigger angle?  Who else uses this service? And the last and biggest question you should ask what is there method of promoting you site. 

Some advertising companies are legitimate and use ethical marketing techniques, while others may use what we call a black hat approach.  Black hat refers to the darker side of internet technology and such practices can get you in trouble with your ISP, hosting company and even your billing company.  But most of all it could get you banned on Google and yahoo. The biggest red flags for such risky marketing is outlandish guarantees like; 100′s of thousands visitors per day instantly, first page placement on Google in only a few weeks, extremely cheap email marketing campaign for sending millions of emails and check if you are sending payments for this service outside of the US.

As a consultant, it is my job to make sure that I have recommended or purchased the right talent or service for the job.  I do my best to make sure that my client understands the risk and rewards of what they are buying and if they care to know how it works.  As a business owner you should know your traffic and understand how your marketing projects work.  This way you can make an informed decision to continue the service or end it.

It’s all about the R.O.I

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Seminar at the Pomona FairPlex

by on Feb.07, 2011, under Business consulting

I’ll be doing a seminar at the Computer Fair in the Pomona FairPlex, Saturday, Feb. 20 2011, at 11AM and again at 1:30PM.  My topic will be 

Getting the Most from Your Online Presence

I hope to bring worth while information to those who need it.

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