Phurther Photon pimpage

Herewith, another duplicate of an update I just put on the Dan's Data front page:

The Photon Light people are doing the free/flat-rate shipping thing again. All orders ship free in the USA, or for a flat rate of only $US4 for international deliveries. No matter how much stuff you buy.

(And you still get volume discounts, which start at quite small "volumes".)

Their "Knives and Tools" department also now has a selection of Leatherman tools, including the nifty new Skeletool and Skeletool CX and the classic Leatherman Wave. If you want something key-ring sized, they've also got the not-at-all-new but still-very-good Leatherman Micra, and three models of the more recent "Squirt" - the P4, S4 and E4.

The full-sized tools are all as cheap as I've seen them anywhere; the Micras and Squirts cost a buck or three more than the usual online-store price. But the free-or-cheap shipping deal more than makes up for that.

There's also a closeout deal on the versatile "Fusion" light I reviewed years ago. It's not cutting-edge technology any more, but it's also not almost sixty bucks any more. While they last, Fusions - including the funky red- or blue-beam versions - are now only $US31.95.

And, as usual, if you follow my affiliate links and then buy something, I'll get a cut!

Shameless commercialism

Herewith, a duplicate of the bit I just put on the front page of Dan's Data, in accordance with my ancient tradition of slightly padding my PayPal account by pimping Photon sales:

Again with the Photon Light special offers. But there's something different about the current sale:

Shipping to the US or Canada is, until the end of this month, free. And shipping to anywhere else is only four bucks, this month only.

No matter how much stuff you buy.

And yes, this includes Photon's larger lights, batteries, chargers, and so on. Anything you like.

The price you pay for this is that the prices of the actual products aren't any cheaper than normal for the duration of this "sale". But you can still get Photon's standard volume discounts, which start from only five units and are obviously interesting when shipping's this cheap.

If you're in Australia like me, or in Europe, or in some other place that isn't North America, and have gotten as far as the shipping prices on previous Photon sales before deciding that you perhaps did not need a collection of funny-coloured key-ring lights quite that much: This is the sale for you.

And, as always, if you follow this link and then buy something, I'll get a cut!

Quote from front page ends.

My reviews of the mainstream Photon products are all a bit elderly now; I've had some newer Photons sitting on the to-review pile for lo, these many moons. It's not as if Photon have suddenly started making laser pointers or nose-hair trimmers, though; their key-ring lights remain rock solid and highly reliable, and just get newer, brighter models of LED from time to time.

(Although they have recently released a freaky rechargeable four-LED key-ring light; you charge it by clicking magnetic contacts onto the ends of any standard 1.5-volt cell!)

I continue to highly recommend the odd colours of Photon light, although I don't think they've actually got a lot of brightness advantage any more, since lots more development money has been poured into white LEDs than coloured ones. But you can still get a "turquoise" Photon II or Freedom Micro, and it'll still be surprisingly bright (from fresh batteries, at least), and make the world look like a cheap sci-fi movie.

Not actually guaranteed to make you think

Putty at 24mm

The makers of the "Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty" I reviewed a while ago are still in business, and have as is their wont come up with some special limited-edition colours for the holiday season. The stuff makes an excellent gift, and I have of course got a profit-skimming affiliate link.

But wait, there's more.

M'verygoodfriends at the empire of nifty toy sites now have the inventively named, wherein they sell their own whimsically tinted dilatant compound variant.

Colour aside, SuperPutty is exactly the same stuff as the Thinking and Silly versions. There's not a lot in it pricing-wise, either.

One fifth-pound can of Thinking Putty (that's 91 grams, a decent handful equal to seven standard Silly Putty "eggs") is $US6.95, $US7.95 or $US8.95, depending on whether you pick an exciting colour (including the temperature-sensitive colour-shifting versions), or something more traditional (like good old basic pink).

Fifth-pound jars from SuperPutty are $US7.95 or $US8.95, except for the "Mystery Colour" option where you get whatever they're having the hardest time selling, but only have to pay $US4.95 for a fifth-pound.

Thinking Putty sell one pound bags for $US20 to $US28. SuperPutty sell half pound jars for $US14 to $US16. SuperPutty also have combination colour sets for all sizes of putty (including their little tenth-pound jars), which are as you'd expect a bit cheaper than buying the jars separately, except for the three-colour half-pound jar sets, which are for some reason a bit more expensive than the separate purchases. Perhaps I'm missing something there.

Both companies have reasonable delivery prices, too - SuperPutty will deliver one fifth-pound jar within the contiguous United States for $US5.95, while SuperPutty Crazy Aaron charges about 50 cents more.

Both ship outside the USA, too, though that'll (a) be rather expensive and (b) quite possibly not get the parcel to you before the 25th of December.

If all you want is putty, SuperPutty have a fine cheapskate last minute gift option in their Mystery Colour fifth-pound jars. But for everything else Thinking Putty definitely have the edge. A lot more colours, better priced big bags, and better containers for the standard-sized putty. The wide Thinking Putty tin works better than SuperPutty's plastic jam jar.

So if all you want is putty, and the cheap Mystery option doesn't grab you, go to Aaron. It continues to be an excellent gift for almost anybody, including yourself.

RLT have tons of other stuff, though, which you can roll into one order along with your SuperPutty. All of the RLT sites share one shopping cart.

They have, for instance, got trebuchets (and many other catapult kits - one day I hope to have time to build the Mini Mangonel they sent me), Shot-Blades, Zero Blasters, Airzookas, remote controlled fighting tanks, Catapult Watches, and various other toys including some I reviewed in the same piece as the Thinking Putty.

They've even got a bunch of "Extreme Exercise Equipment" now, though I hesitate to recommend devices that so obviously want to kill me.

So, to recap: For rapid emergency bouncing-putty gift purchasing: Thinking Putty.

For a Santa-sack full of weird stuff more than sufficient to make all of your relatives' children into your glassy-eyed slaves, and putty: RLT.

Achtung! Eine Schpywaresuche!

The nice people at Prevx, makers of the software which (you may recall) was the only darn thing that saved me from adware purgatory, have a malware database which you can search by filename. This won't help with crapware that generates genuinely randomly named files, but a lot of crapware doesn't do that.

I found Prevx by doing a plain old Google search for the name of an unwelcome DLL, but you can also search it more directly:

Spyware Files SearchType a filename!

The scanner lets you actually upload a file for analysis by multiple antivirus programs, while the Prevx scanner just works by filename. But neither of them cost anything, and the Prevx database is better than that of any combination of "antivirus" programs I've seen.

Full disclosure: Prevx don't have an affiliate program, but they've said they'll tip me a buck or two if I send them lots of traffic (and, thereby, generate some sales of the full Prevx1 application. Prevx1 has a fully functional trial period, though, so it can get you out of your current jam for free).

They've also given me a Prevx1 license for free.

I'll try not to spend that all in one place.

NOTE: Prevx have now changed their software so that, like various other commercial spyware killers, it finds infections and then refuses to fix them until you pay up. (And my old license key doesn't even work any more.)

Help Me Out By Doing Something You Were Probably Going To Do Anyway

Firefox version 2 is going to be officially released in, I don't know, ten minutes or something. There've been a couple of Release Candidates that haven't been drive-formatting nightmares, so it's pretty safe to say that the official release is going to be safe to run, and I bet a bunch of you dorks are going to join me in installing it as soon as you possibly can.

Google have a "Referrals" deal that lets those of us who have an AdSense account benefit, in the crass financial sense, when people follow a referral link and then download and install Firefox and the perfectly acceptable Google Toolbar.

So, you know, go ahead and click this button and do that, if you feel like it.

I'll only actually get paid for this if you weren't running Firefox before (I suppose you could uninstall Firefox 1.5 before you install 2.0, or something, but that's just ridiculous). I might get a buck or three anyway. It's a perfectly good link for you to use even if it doesn't bring me any money; go for your life, cobber.

While I'm at it, here are some other Google Referral things you might like to investigate. None of them will cost you any money (except for the one at the end, and that's entirely voluntary), but all of them will make me some money if you have the intestinal fortitude to go all the way and install, sign up, donate blood, or whatever.

The Google Pack is only for WinXP, but genuinely does contain useful cool free stuff. Picasa, Google Earth, all that jazz.

Do you only want Picasa?

No problem.

You really can make money with AdSense, if your site gets a bit of traffic. I do. Lots of people with low-traffic sites do, too; they put the AdSense code on their site, they forget about it, a year and a half later they get $57 they weren't expecting. You won't find that kind of money down the side of the couch.

And the ads aren't hideous, and people click on them for various reasons, and Google are even hip enough that they can handle electronic funds transfer to bank accounts in weird Third World countries like Australia. (Most other ad networks *cough* insist on sending US dollar cheques.)

Oh, and there's AdWords as well, but I'll be pretty bloody surprised if anybody signs up from this link. Not because AdWords suXX0rZ, or anything, but because people who want to use it probably already are.

I mainly included this one because I wanted to use another one of Google's button shapes.

If you're drunk generous enough that you just want to send me some money directly, though, I refer you to this page.

NOTE: This post was messed up in most non-Firefox browsers, until the Blogsome support people kindly installed the WP Unformatted plugin for me.

It turns out that WordPress automatically screws up Javascript by inserting helpful <BR /> tags at the end of every line, and Firefox seems to be the only popular browser that's able to ignore that. You'd think there'd be a <unformatted> tag or something that you could use but no, you have to install a plugin or something. "WP Unformatted" lets you do your own darn formatting if you want to.

Protest votes

I think a significant amount of the awfulness (warning: bad language, possibility of blinding reflections from Colin Mochrie's head) of the advertising industry comes from the fact that it's never made much sense.

Internet advertising is a great deal more quantifiable than TV, radio and print ads (which isn't to say that Internet ads are very quantifiable; it's just that before that everyone was really making up numbers). But just because you know the quantity doesn't mean you have a clue about the quality.

Advertisers used to be billed according to some vague idea of how many people saw their ad, whether those people cared about it or not. Now advertisers can opt to pay only when someone clicks on an ad. And that's opened up a whole new can of worms.

Take the Google ads on this site, for instance. I get paid when (or, more realistically, if) you click them. Google will be cross with me, though, if I tell you to click them. They would, in fact, prefer you not to click the ads if you have anything but the purest of motives.

Whenever anybody clicks on an ad when they are not actually interested in doing whatever it is that the advertiser wants them to do (usually, buy something), that's click fraud. Maybe "fraudulent" clickers are doing it to make money for a site that they like (or, in the purest form of click fraud, a site they own), or maybe they're doing it to hurt someone they don't like.

Or both.

This issue becomes quite important when you consider how much money people spend for some pay-per-click ad campaigns.

Google's AdWords system, for instance, lets advertisers bid for particular keywords. Basically, when a given keyword appears in a Google search or on a page that runs Google ads, then whoever's bid the most for it gets their ad displayed. Lower bidders, if any, get their ads displayed lower in the list. You can bid any amount you like - I'm sure there are zillions of bottom-feeders who've bid a few cents for all kinds of popular keywords - but if there are a few higher bidders who haven't hit their budget limit, your ad will never be seen.

Google's Keyword Tool is free to use whether or not you've got any kind of Google account. It lets you pretend you're interested in some keywords and see the estimated cost per click (CPC) for them.

Mesothelioma is a favourite of ambulance-chasing lawyers; as I write this, Google's estimated CPC for that keyword alone is a hefty $US14.36. "Mesothelioma attorneys" was $US25.87.

"Debt consolidation" can be perfectly valid, but is often a big fat scam. "Debt consolidation chicago" was estimated at $US30.92 when I checked.

Oh, and name a scam, and it'll carry a healthy price per click. "White powder gold", for instance, is alleged to be a miraculous substance which is produced by no-kidding alchemy; it's bid up to around the eight US dollar per click mark, as I write this.

Herbalife? At least a few bucks a click - heck, the misspelled "herballife" is $US3.73, perhaps reflecting the value to multilevel marketers of customers who aren't too bright.

Ultrasonic pest repellers do not work. But the term "ultrasonic repeller" will still cost you around three bucks a click.

I was initially disappointed by the bids for terms relating to various bogus fuel saving gadgets ("water powered car" was only 52 cents). But then I found "gas pills", which are as stupid as they sound and cost a not-too-shabby $US1.42.

When you can cost someone several dollars just by clicking an ad, it becomes tempting to do so. Just do a Google search for whatever you least like, see if the Sponsored Links include an ad for someone who's trying to sell it to you, click the ad. Bing - money will now be moved from them to Google.

Better yet, find a page that has Google ads on it and is against whatever you least like, and click any ads on it that're from people trying to say the opposite.

The Google ads on Theodore Gray's Periodic Table Table site, for instance, are often weird quacky stuff. Look at a page for a toxic metal and you'll often find an ad from someone eager to find it in your body with a bogus test and/or remove it from your body with a bogus treatment, and at the moment his hydrogen page seems to have attracted a lot of bogus hydrogen power ads. Google reserve the right to just not accept clicks that they consider to be fishy in some way, but there's no way for them to tell whether someone clicking on a Creationist ad on a page about evolution is doing it out of genuine interest or not.

So, with just a click, you can cast your own vote against any advertiser. And if you only click one ad, and that ad wasn't presented in a way that contravenes any of the ad network's rules, then it's singularly unlikely that your click could be told, in any way, from that of a perfectly genuine shopper.

When payments per click are in the single-digit cents, such a vote doesn't matter much. When they're in the double-digit dollars, it does.

I can't wait to see how the next brilliant idea in advertising will go wrong.

(Incidentally, affiliate programs that only pay out when someone buys something avoid this problem. I could put flashing scrolling CLICK HERE!!!!!1! exhortations around my links to or any one of Ron Toms' various and delectable sites, and all that would happen would be that they'd be somewhat taken aback. They don't pay me a penny if the clicker doesn't become a customer. My Aus PC Market sponsorship ads on Dan's Data, though, are pay-per-click. So don't go clickin' on them like crazy just because you want me to be rich; all that'll happen is that they'll ignore your IP address and/or reduce the amount they pay per click. Donations, of course, are always welcome!)

Photon pimpage

In an only slightly implausible attempt to connect a sale with a holiday, are currently offering 15% off on all Photon LED flashlights, on the grounds that, uh, they're really handy when you're trick-or-treating.

Hey, that'll do. 15% off is 15% off.

I've had a few of the new model Freedom Micros and one of the new X-Lights on my to-review pile for a little while, now. Special secret preview: They're worth buying.

And, as usual, if you follow my affiliate link and then buy something, I get a cut.

In an entirely unrelated development, I have discovered that Photon lights are not only small and light and reliable and quite reasonably priced for what they are, but will also improve your car's fuel economy and help your kids do better at school.