December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from Aaron Cook Dot Com!

I'd like to wish everyone an abundance of joy and success for all of 2008 - and beyond!

And as Henri Martin Didon once said, "Citius, Altius, Fortius."
Faster, Higher, Stronger!

Happy New Year Everyone!

OK kiddies, now repeat after me!

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December 29, 2007

Intense Debate Comment System - The Review (Part 1)

Intense Debate Comment System
The Review (Part 1)

As many of you know, I recently installed a brand new comment system on this blog. The new comment system is Intense Debate, and my reasons for using it are fairly obvious, I think. Simply put, Blogger's new comment system pretty much stinks, IMHO.

The Back Story

Recently, and without warning, Blogger (Google) installed a new Blogger comment system, a comment system that is, as I see it, extremely lacking and very shortsighted. It's almost as if Google doesn't understand bloggers (or blogging, for that matter) at all, anymore.

But since this is a site review of the brand new Intense Debate comment system, I won't go into the details regarding Blogger's recent comment system update. Instead, you can read about it in these blog posts if you're interested:

Blogger sucks more than ever not allowing extern blog links
Blogspot Blogger comment form change unfair to ALL bloggers
Blogger Changes Commenting System

Anyway, on with the review...

Intense Debate - The Features

The Intense Debate comment system offers several cool (and very useful) features that are sure to appeal to many (if not all) bloggers. But, in order to make this as simple as possible, I'm merely going to touch on some of the major highlights.

• Track Comments - allow your blog readers to track comments (and the people who make them) across multiple blogs.

Interested in the comments your friends make? No problem. If you'd like to be notified as to when, where, and what your friends comment, then you're in luck. Intense Debate provides this such functionality through RSS feeds for each user. Subscribers will be notified in their RSS readers with a direct link to view the context surrounding the comment.

Want to track your own comments? Done! Intense Debate also provides email notifications that will let you track your own comments across multiple blogs. This way, as soon as someone replies to one of your comments, you'll know about it!

User Profiles - learn more about commenters, and let them learn more about you, with user profiles.

Intense Debate allows you to set up your own personal user profile. Why would you want to do this? Simple. Whenever you leave a comment on a blog, people will see your personal avatar. And right next to your avatar is a "menu" button. This menu button gives everyone the link (URL) to your blog (or blogs), as well as the link to your profile on other websites. In addition, it gives them the direct link to the RSS feed for your comments.

For example, here's what it looks like in the comment section:

As you see in the above screenshot, anyone reading any of my comments can click the "menu" button next to my avatar, and from there, they can go directly to any of my blogs! They can also go direclty to my Facebook page, my MySpace page, my Intense Debate profile page, etc.

And through that very menu button, they can also subscribe to my blog and/or to my comments, as seen in this screenshot...

These are functions that I really like. And as far as I'm concerned, the more information bloggers can see about you, and the more you can see about other bloggers, the better! The only catch is that such information should be presented in a way that is both useful, and unobtrusive, to the actual reader. And the Intense Debate menu button, with its drop-down function, seems to do that quite successfully.

Threaded Comments - All discussions can be organized into threads, which makes it easier to follow a conversation.

Personally, I've always greatly preferred threaded comments to non-threaded comments. In my opinion, threaded comments not only make it a lot easier to follow what's going in a comment thread, but they also make it a lot easier to reply effectively as well. I mean, why have your reply fall directly under Barny's comment when you were actually replying to Fred's comment!?

Reputation/Comment Voting - Let your readers' commenting abilities be reflected in a reputation.

Each Instant Debate user has a "reputation" attached to his/her identity. This reputation is displayed whenever he/she makes a comment on a blog. The reputation value serves as a quick overview of a commenter's history, and is based on both the quantity and the quality of the comments he/she makes.

The Instant Debate comment system determines the quality of a person's comments through comment voting, which also serves to move the best comments to the top. This allows you and your readers to find the best comment content right away, while at the same time, bypassing the so-called "muck".

Many sites now implement this type of "voting" system, and basically, it's a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" approach. Here's an example of what it looks like in an Instant Debate comment thread...

I definitely like the comment voting function, though I also recognize that it can be abused/gamed fairly easily. And this such vulnerability could definitely become problematic under the right circumstances. For example, let's say that you have some sort of influence over a certain number of people (and who doesn't!), and you ask/influence those people to either "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" a particular individual.

Obviously, the end result would be a very skewed, inaccurate and biased rating/opinion of that particular person and his/her comments. And such a rating could be very damaging, indeed.

I think it may somewhat force (or at least influence) a person to add more positive comments (and to refrain from negative ones) in order to retain a "good rating." And in the end, what good does that really serve? Will positivity replace truthfulness? Will the presence of an overall "rating system" influence a person's comments?

Well, I guess we'll see! All I know for sure is that there does need to be much more work and attention applied to this particular area.

Import Comments - You can import your existing blog comments to Intense Debate via the Import Comments tool (still in beta). And in the event that you decide Intense Debate is not for you, then you can also "take you comments with you" via the Export Comments tool (also in beta).

(Click to enlarge photo)

The Import Comments tool allows you to do just that - import your blog's previous comments (from WordPress, TypePad and Blogger) to Intense Debate. But one word of's still in beta. I repeat, it's still in beta!

I was gutsy (or silly?) enough to try it out myself the other day, and honestly, I kinda wish that I hadn't. The overall result? Well, let's just say that not all of the comments made it through successfully. Some comments seem to have been lost completely, and some, well, I have no idea where the heck they went! So my personal advice is to hold off on importing comments for now. Just wait until that function is thoroughly out of beta.

I'll elaborate more on the comment import situation in my upcoming Intense Debate - The review (Part 2) post.

Intense Debate - Overall Conclusion

Overall, I'm quite impressed and pleased with the Intense Debate comment system. As of this writing, I haven't encountered anything specific that would prevent me from using it here on this blog indefinitely.

The Intense Debate comment system offers several cool and useful functions that I like (and appreciate) as a blogger. Installation was a snap, and it's definitely added something greatly positive to this blog, in my opinion. But of course, my opinion is just that - my opinion.

Intense Debate - Your Thoughts?

So what do YOU think? Do you like The Intense Debate comment system? Do you not like it? What are your thoughts? Please share.

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December 26, 2007

Quote of the Week - Aesop on Friends and Enemies

"A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him."

Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)

December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays From Aaron!

Aaron Cook dot Com™

Ho Ho Ho! I'd like to wish everyone a very safe and
wonderful holiday season full of joy and happiness.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Shine on,

December 22, 2007

Major Aaron Cook Dot Com Updates!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm in the midst of doing a few major site updates here on the Aaron Cook Dot Com™ blog. So if you see a few things that look different, new or not quite finished yet, well, that's why!

Basically, I'm updating the entire structure of the site so I can incorporate a brand new commenting system - a commenting system that is worlds better than Blogger's (ahem) new commenting system - Intense Debate.

Bottom line, Blogger's new commenting system (if you can actually call it that!) simply doesn't cut the mustard with all! And I'm quite sure that many of you agree!

I'll elaborate much more on this later, but right now I'm knee-deep in HTML. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what was going on in case you were wondering. :)

Update: (12-27-2007) I decided to reinstalled the Intense Debate comment system so that all comments from all posts would have it. Originally, I had only installed it on new posts that didn't have any comments. But after thinking more about it, I decided to try out the Import Comments function and put Intense Debate on all my blog posts, old and new.

Overall, the comment import process went OK. But I did encounter a problem - not all comments were imported successfully. For example, there were 10 comments for the Happy Holidays From Aaron! post, but they've ALL disappeared. The 9 comments that are there now actually belong to THIS post!

Also, it seems that anonymous comments didn't make it through the import process either, so I've lost some past comments. Something to think about it you plan to use Intense Debate and import your comments.

All in all I definitely recommend Instant Debate. I think it's a pretty awesome comment system. I'm just not entirely happy with the Import Comments function as it stands now. Obviously, there are still a few bugs to work out. But hey, that's why that part is still in beta!

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Intense Debate Comment System - The Review (Part 1)

December 17, 2007

Speed Painting - Bumblebee (Transformers)

Since everyone enjoyed the last post on speed painting, here's another one for you! This particular time-lapse video is of a digital painting (done in Photoshop) of Bumblebee, the well-known and well-liked Autobot from the Transformers.

It's a total of 16 layers in Photoshop, and it took the artist Nico Di Mattia a total of 19 hours to complete it. The songs in the video are "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" from Kill Bill OST, and "Autobot/Decepticon Battle" (Performed by Vince DiCola) from The Transformers The Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Enjoy!

Speed Painting - Bumblebee (Transformers)

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December 12, 2007

New Scrolling Ads in Google AdSense!

I just saw the following two Google AdSense ads displayed here on my blog. The ads themselves appear the same as any other AdSense ad, except for one tiny difference - two colored arrows that your site visitors can click in order to actually scroll their way through the ads. Pretty nifty!

Here's the first version (with small arrows):

Aaron Cook Dot Com™

And here's the second version (with larger arrows):

Aaron Cook Dot Com™

You'll notice that each AdSense ad has a set of arrows located at the bottom, on left-hand side of the ad. By clicking these arrows, your site visitors can "actively scroll" back-and-forth through the ads to see more AdSense ads that they may be interested in.

Obviously, no word yet on how this actually affects AdSense CTR (click-through rate), but I must say that it's an enhancement that may very well help to increase your AdSense earnings. Guess we'll just have to wait and see!

December 11, 2007

WidgetBucks International CPM Ads Just Launched

UPDATE: WidgetBucks is no longer recommended by this blog!!!

WidgetBucks has just announced the launch of their CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) WidgetBucks ads program.

"CPM ads for non-U.S./Canada traffic have successfully launched on WidgetBucks! This solution gives publishers the opportunity to earn revenue, per impression, for traffic that comes from countries other than U.S. and Canada."

How To Implement The CPM Ads

Important: In order to begin earning revenue from ad impressions on international traffic, you'll need to replace your existing WidgetBucks ad code with new WidgetBucks ad code.

"To update your widget(s), simply click "Copy HTML" within the "Customize Your Widget" page for that widget and re-paste/replace the code block into your site. The updated code -- which has been greatly simplified and reduced in length -- can also be replaced directly into the Blogger, TypePad or WordPress blogging platforms."

CPM impressions and ad revenue results will start showing in your WidgetBucks account on Wednesday, Dec. 12th. CPM rates will vary depending on the geographic location of your site visitors. CPM revenue, PPC (pay-per-click) revenue and referral revenue data will each be updated on a daily basis, and will be available by noon Pacific Time the following day.

According to WidgetBucks, here's how it works once you've updated your WidgetBucks ad code:

"At the time a user visits a page containing the widget, we will sense the geographic location of the visitor. If they are in the U.S. and/or Canada, the user will see the normal WidgetBucks widget. If the user is outside those two countries, then our system will determine a country-specific CPM ad to display. We are currently working with advertisers covering hundreds of countries and offering thousands of creatives to ensure optimum monetization."

Updated MyWidgets Page

Also rolling out tomorrow is an updated MyWidgets page. This updated reports page should make it easier when it comes to checking your ad and referral stats. The new MyWidgetss page will include tabbed navigation for all three revenue streams (PPC, CPM and referrals). Here's a look at it...

This new WidgetBucks interface gives you a breakdown of PPC and CPM impressions, expanded referral data and integrated blog headlines to keep you up-to-date with things happening at the WidgetBucks camp.

All in all, some pretty good changes coming from WidgetBucks, and I expect to see some more good things down the line. It you haven't tried WidgetBucks yet, you can sign up for a free account here. You'll also get $25 deposited in your account just for signing up!

December 10, 2007


A man becomes the central figure in a tug-of-war between telecoms. LOL, this is a great video (film short). It was written, produced and directed by Jeremy Seville of Cinema Saville. Enjoy!


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December 8, 2007

Is Yuwie A Scam? - The Real Answer...

OK, so I've gotten a few emails recently asking me whether or not Yuwie is a scam, and whether or not Yuwie is actually paying any of its members any money. So...

Is Yuwie A Scam?

YES, Yuwie is a scam!!! Yuwie is a great big HUGE scam! Run, run, run! Run for your lives! Yuwie is definitely a very nasty and dangerous scam! Run! LOL.

But seriously, folks...No, Yuwie is not a scam. Not even close, my friends. How do I know? Easy. First of all, I know scams pretty darn well. I know pyramid schemes and I know Ponzi schemes - both inside and out, upside and down. So it's pretty hard to get one past me if it is a scam.

And secondly, I happen to know first-hand that Yuwie has already sent checks out to several Yuwie members. And Yuwie has paid ALL of them on time. For example, here's a copy of my friend's Yuwie check. I hate doing this sort of thing (always have), but hey, sometimes it's the only way to prove it to some people.

That was his October Yuwie check. His subsequent Yuwie earnings have since increased quite a bit - as have a lot of other peoples'. For November, his Yuwie earnings jumped to $166.90 (see pic).

So it's pretty apparent that Yuwie is shooting up like a mad rocket. It's simple to use, simple make some extra money, and most importantly, it's a whole lotta of fun!

Yuwie vs. MySpace and Facebook

It's been about two months since I first joined Yuwie, and I can honestly say that I'm more than happy with the Yuwie service thus far. At the time of this writing, there's really nothing that I would deem to be a negative.

The only issue I had when I first joined Yuwie was the speed of the site. Things were a tad slow, especially when a lot of people were on. But that was remedied a few weeks ago with the addition of several new and faster dedicated servers.

My Personal Yuwie Page

Aas far as social networking sites go, Yuwie is definitely my top choice - money or no money. Overall, I feel that the user features are much better organized and whole a lot easier to use.

But beyond that, the Yuwie members themselves seem lot friendlier and much more willing to help you with anything, whether it's related to Yuwie or not. So there's really no comparison. If I were left on a desert island and had to pick just one social networking site, I'd definitely choose Yuwie, no question about it.

For more in depth information on Yuwie, check out my Make Money With Yuwie post. And if you have any questions or suggestions, be sure to let me know! The Yuwie team definitely listens to what the members have to say. In fact, Yuwie has already implemented several things that were suggested by us members. Further proof that social networking has just gotten a whole lot better.

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December 5, 2007

WidgetBucks Payments Go Out Early!

Ads Suck. But Theirs Don't.

UPDATE: WidgetBucks is no longer recommended by this blog!!!

WidgetBucks is now distributing October earnings to publishers - nearly 10 days ahead of schedule. The initial wave of PayPal payments went out on Monday, while the remainder will go out over the next couple of days. Checks are being processed and mailed early this week as well, including those that are being sent to international publishers.

If you haven't yet tried WidgetBucks you might want to give it a look-see. I've been using them in a couple of different places on the Web and am happy with the results I've seen so far. On average, the RPC (revenue-per-click) has been almost double what I'm used to getting with Google Adsense, so that's a pleasant surprise in itself.

When you sign-up with WidgetBucks, you'll automatically receive a $25 bonus into your account, which is pretty cool. And WidgetBucks offers a referral program as well. WidgetBucks affiliates earn a 10 percent referral fee based on the commissions earned by the people they refer. Affiliates receive the 10 percent referral fee for the full 12 months after the new member joins.

WidgetBucks Offers CPM Ads

WidgetBucks will also be offering CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) ads sometime early this month. This will allow bloggers and site owners to monetize their international traffic.

"At the time a user visits a page containing the widget, we will sense the geographic location of the visitor. If they are in the U.S. and/or Canada, the user will see the normal WidgetBucks widget. If the user is outside those two countries, then our system will determine a country- specific CPM ad to display. We are currently working with advertisers covering 100
countries and offering thousands of creatives to ensure that site visitors will be monetized for your benefit."

And that's certainly good news considering the recent policy change to stop paying on clicks that resulted from international traffic. The change was implemented due to non-converting clicks (to sales) by users geographically outside the U.S. and Canada. Some website owners were upset over the change, but in the end, the bottom line is this: An ad network must maintain its network quality. If it doesn't, no merchants will advertise on it.

So the CPM route is the perfect way to go. It's a win-win, both for merchants and for site owners. The clicks that merchants pay for will have higher sales conversions, and the international traffic that sites receive will earn them guaranteed revenue, as opposed to nothing at all. In addition, higher sales conversions should also translate into higher RPC (revenue-per-click) as time goes on.

All in all, it looks like some pretty good things are taking place at the from the WidgetBucks camp, and I'll definitely keep my ears open for anything new.

December 3, 2007

This Just In - The Official Yuwie Press Release

Good news in Yuwieland. The official Yuwie press release just went out today and I think it's pretty clear now why there's so much excitement going around regarding Yuwie, the free social network that actually pays you for using it.

Here's an excerpt from the press release. You can catch the full Yuwie press release here on my Yuwie blog.

Yuwie Press Release

Norma, Okla. (PRWEB) December 3, 2007 --, one of the Internet’s newest social networking sites, today announced the details behind their innovative and highly successful new online business model.

“MySpace and Facebook have already proven how business can make money from the efforts of end-users,” said Korry Rogers, founder and CEO of Yuwie. “Yuwie is proving that both businesses and end-users can finally share the $100 million per month advertising revenue that floods into the social networking market today.”

Rogers explains that Yuwie’s business model is based upon two core tenants: 1) End-user participation is free – no sign-up fees or subscription fees are required, and 2) Yuwie currently distributes well over half of the site’s advertising revenue back to participating end-users. Not only are Yuwie’s end-users paid for the traffic generated for their own personal page, but also for the traffic generated by friends they refer to the site, in addition to traffic generated from their friends’ subsequent referrals (for up to ten (10) layers or generations of personal referrals).

"The revenue potential for end-users is striking and very exciting once you start to run the numbers;” explained Rogers. "If someone only refers three of their friends, who refer three of their friends through ten levels, that one person will ultimately collect a percentage of advertising revenues from about 88,000 end-users, which can translate to about $8,800 per month for that person – every month."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Power of Yuwie

Yuwie checks have already gone out and a handful of folks made $100 or more last month. And with a 10-level payout structure, the potential is obviously enormous! And smart people are recognizing that fact. For example, check out what Bobby of Revellian Dot Com mentioned about it here on my blog:

"The one really good thing about Yuwie is that the payments are recursive. I like the idea that though I am just starting, any money I get will be the same or more each month...that sure beats the hell out of a one time payment...There really aren't too many plans that pay recursively so Yuwie is a good program for something long term. It may take a while, but Yuwie isn't doing anything but growing:)"

And Bobby is definitely right about that...

Yuwie Members So Far
As of Dec. 3, 2007 9:57 PM EST

• Total Yuwie Members: 307,209
• New Yuwie Members This Month: 7,012
• New Yuwie Members Today: 2,458

So my friends, don't wait on this one. The sooner the better. Yuwie is making a lot of people very happy and there's no doubt that you could make a lot of money with this!

For more in depth information on how you make money with Yuwie, check out my make money with Yuwie post. And if you want to see my actual Yuwie page, stop by here. Anyway, thanks again for reading and I hope to see you there!

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My 400th Post! The Teddy Bears Play Punk Rocker

Well friends, this is my 400th post on this blog! Woo hoo! To celebrate it, I was initially going to write something eloquent and profound. But as most of you know, I've been extremely pressed for time these days, and spending a lot of time writing just isn't possible.

But have no fear! This is probably way cooler anyway. Plus, it pretty much sums up not only how I feel personally, but how I feel about all of you. You're all so incredibly AWESOME! And so, I share this with you. Now turn your speakers up rock on!

The Teddy Bears Play Punk Rocker

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