What Google and Mr. Burns have got in common

They’re both old fashioned.

I discovered this when receiving my first Google Adsense check from Google’s bank in Germany. This sort of intra-EU payment might have been “cutting edge” a century ago. Nowadays it’s just odd and annoying, because I have to leave the office during the very restricted opening hours of my bank to cash the check, which costs me €15 in fees (or about a week of Adsense revenue). Someone at Google should look up Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001.

It’s not just Luxembourg, though, it appears Google doesn’t like smaller Eurozone countries and Greece (bad vacation experiences, maybe?):

StatePopulationBank transfer

Population data from Wikipedia

Microsoft Analytics Beta – exclude webpage parameters!

After almost one month of collecting data with Microsoft’s new adCenter Analytics (beta)*, I wanted to have a closer look at the many detailed reports today (and then – of course – blog about it). Turns out I’ve been collecting largely useless data because I had failed to exclude parameters like “?gclid=…” and Microsoft Analytics diligently counted all clicks coming from AdSense as calls to different pages. Stupid me, the option is right there at the top of the management view:

I’ll get back to this in another month. Click here to add your name to the adCenter Analytics invitation list and try it out yourself.

*Why didn’t I use Google Analytics like everyone else? Well, sometimes I’m a maverick, too. 😉

Update March 2009: Since Microsoft decided to pull the plug on Analytics, I won’t be posting anything on this topic anymore. Their announcement and the comments contain links to lots of alternative web analytics solutions.

Websites with and without ‘www’

Double-u double-u double-u is one of the few things you can say much faster if you say it in German (just say “v v v”). I’m German, so I continuously strive for efficiency (nah, possibly I’m just lazy), which is why it annoys me that I still have to type “www” in front of some domain names to get to the desired website!

I mean, it’s 2008, the World Wide Web has been around for a while, so please, dear webmasters, could you make sure that your website works as http://www.example.com and http://example.com?

Here’s a list of offenders from the past few days (off the top of my head):

Now before you leave a comment and say “why don’t you just use bookmarks or press Ctrl-Enter in Firefox”, let me point out that there’s more to consider: If you can actually reach the same content with and without “www”, so can the search engines. Different URIs for the same resource might mean trouble (“duplicate content”).

AFAIK, the best way to handle both issues is a 301 (permanent) redirect. On Apache, make sure the domain with and without “www” points to the same directory and place an .htaccess file with the following content there (requires mod_rewrite):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^example.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.example.com/$1 [R=301,L]

This will redirect users to URL with “www”. BTW, this code was taken from the excellent book “Building Findable Websites: Web Standards SEO and Beyond” [affiliate link]. It also has a chapter about weblogs which I think I should read. 😉

Thank you for the SPAM, ADR!

With all that foreign spam overwhelming my company’s mailboxes, I was deeply moved when I received an unsolicited newsletter from what blogger Charles Betz called “the far-right ridiculous Luxembourgish party Alternativ Demokratesch Reformpartei (ADR)” today.

Finally I get some spam made in Luxembourg (even if its being sent from a server in Germany)! Thank you, Alternativ Demokratesch Reformpartei <jengelen@chd.lu>! My spam filtering software (MailWasher Pro [affiliate link]) was so surprised that it couldn’t decide how to classify this newsletter. I chose not to delete it right away as I’m still working on a project to print spam on toilet paper but to click on the unsubscribe link instead. This led me to a “communication agency” in Germany and the following text appeared on my screen:

Please switch off your spam filter to receive our e-mail

“The newsletter is being cancelled. You’ll receive an e-mail with a link for deactivation”. Wow. A truly brilliant system, testament to the superior intelligence of its customers. I click on a link in an e-mail to unsubscribe and they want me to click on another link in another e-mail. But there’s more: Unlike the original newsletter, my spam filtering software classified this second e-mail as “possible spam” because it didn’t have a “from”-address:
You may unsubscribe now - if you’ve received our malformed e-mail

The message itself also looked kind of messy because they needlessly put a multipart boundary inside without defining it first. I must admit I was a bit disappointed when I clicked on the second link and saw a confirmation that I had successfully unsubsribed. That was just way to easy. I’d suggest alternative unsubcription procedures involving pictures of ADR politicians and hotornot.com but I have to do some real work now.

Edit: Should you receive spam from ADR or anyone else in Luxembourg as an individual (not as a company), you can do and should do something against it! Consult the website of the commission nationale pour la protection des données (CNPD) to read more about your rights. Article 11 of the “Loi du 30 mai 2005” (Page 1172) sounds interesting (up to 1 year imprisonment and fines up to 125000 EUR), though I’m not sure yet if it can be applied to newsletters sent by political parties.

To put things in perspective:

Fighting spam, spyware and malicious software: Member States should do better, says Commission

[…] “It is time to turn the repeated political concern about spam into concrete actions to fight spam,” said Viviane Reding Commissioner for Information Society and Media.  […]

Massive volumes of unsolicited email are still being sent: Security firms Symantec and MessageLabs estimate that spam is between 54% and 85% of all email. In 2005 Ferris Research estimated spam to cost €39 billion worldwide […].”

Workaround for 1&1’s mail server problems

If you’re still having problems receiving your emails with 1&1 (1and1 / 1und1), here’s a workaround:

  1. Log in to your control panel and set up email forwarding to an account not run by 1and1 (e.g. Gmail). Unlike POP3 and IMAP access, forwarding seems to be working fine. It is important that you do not delete your mailbox with 1&1, simply set up forwarding in addition to it (in Germany, you can have at least 3 “targets” for each e-mail address, which can be mailboxes, forwarding to another e-mail-address or forwarding by fax or SMS, however, I don’t know if this is the same in the UK).
  2. You can still use your 1&1 account to write emails, outgoing messages are apparently not being delayed.

Of course this won’t give you access to any emails sent to your before you set up forwarding, but at least you’ll be able to receive new messages. Contrary to what 1and1 stated ( 1and1 says problems are over) users are currently still reporting problems ( heise.de – in German) and I’m glad I set up forwarding for my most important accounts yesterday.

I’m also very unhappy with 1&1’s information policy, they should definitely implement a system status page like the one Schlund + Partner (now merged with 1&1) had.

Update 18:40h: 1&1 has confirmed that their email system is having problems again ( heise.de, golem.de – in German). They’ve also set up a customer information page (German, too). According to 1&1’s spokesperson Andreas Maurer (as qouted by heise.de), 1&1 is working to solve the problems as soon as possible but can’t currently predict how long this will take.


Auf Deutsch: E-Mail-Weiterleitungen sowie der E-Mail-Versand funktionieren ohne Verzögerung, d.h. man kann seine E-Mails zusätzlich zu dem bestehenden Postfach an eine nicht betroffende E-Mail-Adresse weiterleiten lassen und – falls erforderlich – weiterhin über die 1&1-Adresse neue Mails schreiben.

So wird die zusätzliche Weiterleitung eingerichtet:

  1. Beim 1&1 Control-Center einloggen
  2. Paket auswählen
  3. Auf “E-Mail-Einstellungen anzeigen” oder klicken
  4. Auf eine E-Mail-Adresse klicken (wichtigste zuerst)
  5. Neben “Postfach/Weiterleitung” auf “Bearbeiten” klicken
  6. Bei der untersten Nummer (im Beispiel Nr. 3 – nicht dem untersten Auswahlfeld) neben “Postfach / Weiterleitung” “E-Mail-Weiterleitung” auswählen.
  7. Es erscheint ein neues Eingabefeld, dort neben “Adresse” die Weiterleitungsadresse eingeben, unten auf OK klicken
  8. Für andere Adressen wiederholen, nach ca. 5 Minuten sollten neue E-Mails auf der Weiterleitungsadresse eintreffen.

Vor Einrichtung der Weiterleitung eingetroffene E-Mails kann diese Methode natürlich nicht herzaubern, darum sollte auch auf keinen Fall das Postfach durch eine Weiterleitung ersetzt werden! Die Weiterleitung darf nur zusätzlich eingerichtet werden, sonst ist ein E-Mail-Verlust sicher, für den man wirklich nicht 1&1 verantwortlich machen könnte. 😉