24 March 2005

AdSense or NonSense?

Even the observant among you probably haven't noticed that I've removed Google AdSense from eebahgum! This assumption is based on the number of click-throughs my advertising has received in the three months it's been running...wait for it...ONE! Thanks for clicking through, Mum. Yup, I have made the grand total of $0.06 effective, which effectively gets reduced to $0.05 (hey, give me back my one cent Google, you can afford it!).

I think it's pretty obvious that AdSense is not going to be my path to untold wealth, but can it work for anyone, or is it simply an overhyped waste of bytes? I think the answer is, "It depends". Frankly, I have no idea how much income potential there is, even in a best-case scenario, but here are a few ways you can at least maximise your earnings:
  • Get lots of hits. eebahgum's few hundred hits a month just doesn't cut it, I'm afraid. I obviously need to feature Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson more often.
  • Go for breadth as well. The author of one blog I read today was using AdSense on more than 400 sites (now let's see, 400 times 5 cents is, er...). I'm sure they all feature really high quality writing too!
  • Stick to one topic and mention its buzzwords often. A blog like eebahgum!, in which you might get ten different topics on one page, does little to encourage well-focused ads from AdSense. All too often I've ended up with ads about blogging—not likely to excite my bank manager.
  • Above all, have modest expectations, and you won't be disappointed.
Happy blogging!
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22 March 2005

Canon Pixma IP4000 review: Look at the pix from my Pixma, ma!

Being in the UK for a few months having planned to only be here a few weeks, I find myself without many of the basic necessities—spa bath, home gym, radio control racing car, A3+ colour printer and so on. The last of those needs was pretty critical, so I set about finding myself a new printer. It was the usual brief—a printer which could do everything perfectly but cost next to nothing to buy or run.

Canon IP4000 CD

And there lies the rub with inkjet printers. The buy costs usually look cheap, but running costs are deceptively high, especially if you do any quality colour work such as photographs. So I looked at every printer on the UK market around the £130 pound mark, read every review, and bought the Canon IP4000 for less than £90 over the web from Pixmania in France. All the reviews said it was great at everything, but were they right?

Largely, yes. This printer is elegant, well-built, very fast (A4 page of text in 8 seconds; 6”x4” photo in less than 60 seconds), and full-featured. It duplexes, has a paper feeder and a built-in cassette, prints directly on to CDs and is absurdly quiet.

And the print quality is almost exceptional. With black text on plain paper, it is the fastest and best quality inkjet I have ever seen. With full colour photos it creates rich, saturated pictures with near photolab quality and only the merest hint of pixelation in areas of continuous colour to betray its humble pricetag. Honestly, most people will think they’re from the lab. The secret is in the 5 colour system Canon uses where there’s one black for text, and a second, richer, dye-based black to enhance dynamic range in colour prints. Compared to Epson 6-colour machines I’ve seen, it’s very nearly as good, but much cheaper and faster.

On the only printable CDs I’ve tried so far, Verbatim's fast dry disks, the images are as detailed as low-quality coated inkjet paper, and have a very slightly yellowish tinge, but the effect is fantastic. I’m now on the quest for some glossy disks to see how they look.

And according to some magazine reviews these near lab-quality prints will cost you around 29p for a 6” x 4”. That’s about 72c Australian or 50c US. Your photolab will do them for half the price and get marginally better quality, but for a convenient desktop solution for short runs, you can’t beat the IP4000. If you were to spend more money on a better inkjet, you may well end up with larger running costs as well as greater capital outlay.

Overall, for quality, value and flexibility, this little Canon is unbeatable. If you are in the market for a printer, buy one. Spending less would be a false economy as the higher running costs would take their toll fast enough. Spending more would simply be pointless if you have a photolab within a reasonable distance.
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19 March 2005

Do you remember where you were on July 20 1969?

Do you remember where you were on July 20 1969, as Neil Armstrong planted his foot on the moon (conspiracy theories aside)? I was watching in the sitting room of a little white farm house in Wisborough Green, Sussex. My parents and I were living in Nigeria at the time and had rented the farm house for a UK holiday. It had sounded idyllic—a perfect little house in a perfect little English village.

I was only 4½ at the time, but I remember it very clearly. It was a time of firsts for me—the first time I was ever woken up by sheep at my window; the first time I ever sat inside the car, goggle eyed and giggling, while Dad hosed it down. And of course, that moon landing thing.

35½ years later I was back in the UK and determined to visit my childhood haunts. That determination wilted when I was actually in the car and heading west across Sussex. I realised that if the reality of today were not consistent with my starry-eyed recollections of childhood I would likely be deeply distressed; that a small brick in the foundation of my self-definition would be shaken irreversibly.

St Peter ad Vistula church at Wisborough Green

I need not have feared. Wisborough Green is still the quintessential lovely little English village. Shops and houses line the village green and look over games of cricket, and the whole postcard view is overseen by a stunning Norman church complete with tidy but somehow still ramshackle cemetery. Standing by the church, as the waning sun cast dramatic shadows through the mossy gravestones, I was overcome with emotion. It was as if my childhood perspective and aspirations for the future were colliding with my adult memories of the past in a moment I had both longed for and dreaded. Yet the collision was soft and uplifting, like returning home to a huge hug after some time away.

If you’ve ever had such an experience, or can remember what you were doing on July 20 1969, I’d love to hear from you.
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17 March 2005

I'll be home a little late, Mum...

When I left Adelaide on Boxing Day I was fully expecting to back by early Feb, but with Joanna and Jonathan already in Poland, and no work in prospect the door was open for a grand adventure. And so it has proven to be.

After meeting J and J in Berlin and spending a few excellent days there, we took the train over to Poland, arriving in Miedzyrzecz where Joanna's mum works as a psychiatrist at the local hospital. A week and a half there and then on to Krakow for a few days—a marvelous city dripping with history and photo ops. A flying visit to the ski slopes of the Tatra mountains (there and back in a day), then I was off to England with Joanna and Jonathan set to join me a couple of weeks down the track.

On my arrival in England I received an email from a headhunter, and the next morning donned my only travelling suit and went off to an interview, and a few days later had a job offer for 6 months or so. With no job to return to, the opportunity to be closer to Joanna's family in Poland for a while and the chance to spend more time in the land of my Father, replete as it is with childhood memories, it was a no-brainer really. Why then did it consume so much brain for so long? Well, I had to worry about accommodation, schooling, transport, the exorbitant cost of living, commitments in Australia like home, mortgage, car lease, choirs, badminton club, not to mention friends, etc. I found myself changing my mind several times a day, swinging from one absolute certainty to the opposite one. But with no work in Adelaide the alternative was to work in Sydney or Melbourne and commute home to Adelaide on weekends. Ultimately, England seemed easier.

So here we are, living in Redhill, Surrey in a 2 bedroom exec apartment costing 3 times what it would in Adelaide. We are strolling distance to supermarkets, trains and buses, which you need to be when without a car and when petrol costs more than twice as much as you're used to. I am working for a firm in the financial sector in the adjoining town of Reigate, where Jonathan is also going to school. London is half an hour away by train, but trains are expensive, and the trip is tiring once you factor the underground connections and the amount of walking you typically have to do.

But this extended working holiday has already allowed me to fulfill a few dreams. I have been to see the Arsenal play at Highbury for the first time in 37 years as a supporter. I have been to Disneyland, Paris (purely for Jonathan's sake, of course). I have visited a few childhood haunts I have not seen for more than 30 years including the idyllic township of Wisborough Green in Sussex where I lived briefly as a child. I have been to Stonehenge, Brighton, Hastings, Salisbury Cathedral and just last week seen Les Arts Florissants doing Rameau at the Barbican Hall.

Detailed coverage to come. Meanwhile, the grand adventure continues...
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10 March 2005

Where's that wally Clive?

The observant among you may have noticed that there’s been not a whole lot of blogging going on at eebahgum! I had hoped that my trip to Europe would give me plenty of photos and material for blogging, and so it has been. On the other hand, it’s been so frantic, and internet access so intermittent and funds, at times, so short, and…well you get the idea.

The good news, depending on your perspective, is that eebahgum! is back on-line, albeit from a different part of the world. The bald bloke from Oz is, for the time being at least, the bald bloke from Surrey in the UK. But more on all of that soon!
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