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December 31 2012

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2013 KLCC New Year Fireworks - Watch and Compare Them All At Once From 2010 to 2013 (Uncut)
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Compare KLCC New Year Fireworks From 2010 to 2012 (HD & Uncut)

December 26 2012

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Evolve Electric Skateboards @ Publika Wheelie Sunday

December 03 2012

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Father & Son Electric Skateboarding

November 27 2012

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Evolve Electric Skateboards - Test Ride @ Lake Gardens, KL

November 10 2012

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Evolve Night Skateboarding @ Labrador Park Singapore

November 09 2012

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Evolve Skateboards @ Putrajaya Challenge Park

October 30 2012

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Evolve Skateboards @ Ampang HIlir Lake Gardens, Malaysia

October 29 2012

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Are You Ready to Evolve?

September 12 2012

Rise of the Electric Vehicles

Recently, I’ve become infatuated with electric skateboards and other “electric” vehicles. I’ve been riding for an hour each morning over the last 2 weeks and I’m now thoroughly convinced that the range and reliability of these electric powered vehicles is good enough to replace fossil fuel based vehicles for personal transportation.

Check out the video below of some fun I’ve been having each morning.

It costs about $950 to get an electric skateboard. It may sound a tad expensive for a skateboard but its more fun to me than say – snowboarding or wake boarding. So considering the cost of lift tickets, ski passes and boat rentals – this investment is a real steal since I can do it anytime and anywhere there’s a nice road or park!

My electric skateboard is made by a guy by the name of Ilan Sabar from Washington. He makes these boards in a basement workshop and he’s shipped more than 500 already.

You see, the electric motors and lithium batteries all come from factories in China where they are producing them at an affordable price. Guys like Ilan are just finding innovative ways to use them on skateboards, scooters, bicycles and many other types of wheel based vehicles. Heck, if you had a small workshop, you could probably hack some of these together yourself too!

The point is, that if the technology can be used by individuals to create such efficient (and fun) electric powered transportation, I think the only reason why larger transport vehicle manufacturers have not embraced electric motor vehicles is due to reasons other than technology. Most likely because they have HUGE amounts of sunk costs in the “traditional” way of manufacturing their vehicles.

But for me, I’m sold. I’m definitely excited about a greener and quieter future of transportation.

In the meantime – check out some of the other electric vehicles that I think are pretty amazing:

The Solo Wheel:

The Yike Bike:

Stealth Electric Bikes:


What do you think? Will you get one of these?


September 09 2012

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Electric Skateboarding at Lake Gardens

June 13 2012

My First iPad App – BetterGoals HD

Today is a milestone for me, my first iPad app was approved by Apple and it is now available in the App Store! So, I’m officially an app developer – woot!

Check out my app over at www.BetterGoals.com. Below is a promo video I made showing how the app works:

So is a brief story of how a non-programmer like me got to build an app and the story behind the app.

Why Build an App?

Its been a long time goal of mine ever since I saw the first Steve Jobs keynote address about the iPhone and the App Store. I loved the idea of creating a solution that millions of iOS users can potentially get access to with a click of a button! Of course, amazing success stories like Angry Birds and Doodle Jump was very motivating!

In fact, being an app developer/ publisher totally fits my business checklist for businesses that are worth pursuing. If you’ve not downloaded this checklist, get it here.

But, as a non-programmer, the fear of the unknown kept me from getting started for quite a few years.

How to Build an App as a Non-Programmer?

It took me a while to overcome this limiting belief. A friend of mine had started making apps for kids a year ago and was doing exceedingly well. After a year, he was consistently earning over $300 in profit daily and had more than 20 apps in the store AND he was not a programmer. He got his apps made by a Russian development firm.

So, after realizing that my procrastination was due to an invalid fear – I started working on my own app ideas. I would find a freelance coder to build it after I came up with an app that would be useful to iPhone or iPad users.

Why BetterGoals HD?

Should I make a game? After all, I was told that is the most profitable category in the App Store.

No, I decided from the start that the process of creating my first app was to be a learning experience and so I decided to focus on making an app that I would use myself and something that would provide a ton of value to users of the app.

I decided to make an app for creating, managing and achieving life goals!

A few things appealed to me about this idea. First of all – I love working on my goals and vision boards. I attribute a big part of my life success to having a clear vision of what I want to achieve in life. But I realized – most of my goals were written on journals, bit of paper and I have vision boards that are so old that they are falling apart now.

I envisaged an app that would fix all that and allow people to curl on a couch somewhere and spend hours creating the goals, adding details and action items to their goals and best of all…see all their goals as pictures on their iPads!

Also – I liked the idea because it was evergreen. I would want my app to be as relevant to people today or 10 years from now. Further, I could not find any app in the store that was dedicated to helping users create and manage their life goals.

And so I started creating a prototype so that I could engage a coder to build it.

Designing the App

I wanted to be as detailed as possible so that when I engaged a coder, there would be very little room for miscomunication of misunderstanding. Believe it or not, I built an entire working model of the app using Apple Keynote. For non-Apple users – that the Mac version of MS Powerpoint.

It actually made a lot of sense. Keynote allows you to create hyperlinks and when the document is exported as a PDF and viewed on an iPad – it actually works almost exactly like a real app!

Here’s a link to my original prototype:

prototype 150x150 My First iPad App   BetterGoals HD

BetterGoals Original Design Document

App Development – Enter Elance

Now that I got a prototype – I posted a job on eLance to find freelance coders. Within a few days, I had over 20 bidders. The cheaper bids are from countries like India and Pakistan and the most expensive bids are obviously from the US. I’ve had a lot of problems with freelancers from countries like India and Pakistan and I decided to go with a firm from California and pay 3 times more than the lowest bid.

I’d love to tell you that it was that easy. It was not. There coders I hired spent way too long to come up with wireframes which they told me were absolutely necessary to their “process”. I learned later that a lot of the focus on the wireframes/ planning phase was because their lead programmer left them for personal reasons and they could not get started.

When coding began, the app was really buggy because their secondary coder was really not up to scratch. They ended up getting a third party coder to completely re-write the app from scratch months later. Despite my frustrations – this was all a good learning experience for me.

I learned that its not the most expensive bids that are the best. In future, I will only hire coders and not project managers.

I am grateful that although they delayed the project a great deal, they did stick the project till the end and offered a small discount as compensation.

What I Learned

After just over 6 months, and many many versions and refinement, I finally have the first version of my app which I am very pleased with. This entire process taught me a great deal:

  • I learned how to sign up for Apple’s developer program and make use of their resources there.
  • I am now better able to screen bids on freelance websites to find good coders
  • I learned how to design apps that coders can make easily and at lower cost
  • I learned how to use compile source code using xCode
  • I learned how to activate app certificates and submit them to the App Store

How is the App Doing?

Its too soon to tell cos its only been a day since the app has been in the app store. At the moment, I’m quite pleased with the progress. It already sold 20 units in 7 countries before I found out it was approved by Apple. I’m hopeful that news about the app would spread or even get featured (fingers crossed).

My learning journey is not complete yet. I’m still learning about how to promote and app and also working on future versions. But I am enjoying the process a great deal.

What’s Next?

I’m hooked, I want to keep making more apps.

I plan to create an iPhone and desktop version of the app. This will complete the process and allow users sync their goals across devices and alway have their important life goals at their finger tips. I really think this will help a lot of people towards achieving the life of their dreams.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you for now. I’ll post more updates in future. Stay tuned! :)





June 11 2012

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BetterGoals HD iPad App for Goal Setting

May 29 2012

Super Easy Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1

Jailbreaking your iPhone allows you to add a lot of system improvements, customize your phone or iPad’s appearance and install third party applications to your devices.

Jailbreaking is relatively safe because if anything goes wrong you can always use the restore function in iTunes to reset your phone or iPad back to its original settings. Having said that, I’ve never had to do that and I’ve been jailbreaking my iOS devices  since the first generation iPod Touch.

Many people I know would love to jailbreak their device but have always been worried about the technical complexities of the process. I’m pleased to report that the latest jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 is one of the easiest I’ve experienced and is ideal for first timers to give it a go too.

The steps are so simple:

  1. Backup you device using iTunes
  2. Update your iOS to iOS 5.1.1. (if you have not already done so) and connect your device to your computer using the USB cable
  3. Download and run the Absinthe jailbreak app on your computer (download links below)
  4. The software will auto detect your device (iPhone, iPod or iPad). Just click on the Jailbreak button.
  5. After the process completes, click on the Cydia app on your iPhone/ iPad.
Once you device reboots – it will be jailbroken and you can now install apps from the newly installed Cydia app.
Here’s a video I made from start to finish:

Absinthe 2.0.2 Download Links:

Absinthe v2.0.2 MacOSX (10.5, 10.6, 10.7)

Absinthe v2.0.2 Windows (XP/Vista/Win7)

Absinthe v2.0.2 Linux (x86/x86_64)

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NEW: iPhone Jailbreak iOS 5.1.1

May 10 2012

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Lytro Lightfield Camera - Unboxing

March 12 2012

My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

If you’re a “solo” Internet marketer like me who works from home (without an army of helpers), you’re going to need to leverage a lot of essential tools, software and services to get what you need to do done. Over the years, I’ve tried and tested hundreds of web services, software and tools.

There were many that were just a waste of money or over-hyped. Some were good and over time just became redundant or have been replaced by better tools. To save you some time, I decided to make a list of what I still love and use for my online business.

I will be keeping this list updated and refreshed every time there’s material changes. So make sure you subscribe or check back regularly to get the latest updates.

Now allow me to present to you,  my top work-from-home online business tools for 2012.

1. Domain Name Registration

Namecheap My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Namecheap Domain Registration]

As far as domain registration goes, I like to keep them all in once place. Over time, you will end up with hundreds of domains and having them consolidated makes them easier to manage.

I like Namecheap because their domain registration prices are quite cheap to start with. If you do a search for “Nameheap Coupons March 2012″ (replace the date with current month) – you will find coupons codes that will further reduce the price of new domains by another 2o%. Also, all their domains comes with a 1-year free “Whois” Guard service that will hide your admin email and address and protect you from a ton of spam.

2. Premium Domain Registration

Sadly, its getting harder and harder to find good domain names due to competition. Over the last 2 years, I found myself having to pay for premium domains that are already owned by someone else. If you search on Google for “premium domains” you’ll find a lot of sites that re-sell used domains.

The ones that I’ve used are as follows:

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: GoDaddy Auctions]

GoDaddy Auctions is free to browse but when you find a domain you wish to bid on, there’s a nominal fee.  I use GoDaddy Auctions because there’s quite a large marketplace for the domains there. Also, the process of transferring from the buyer to you is secured via an escrow service so you’re not worried about getting ripped off.

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Flippa.com]

Flippa.com is a site for buying and selling domains or websites. This service is great because aside from domains, you may even find existing businesses. I also like using Flippa for market research to see if there are any websites in a market niche that I am exploring that is profitable. What I like about Flippa is that you get quite detailed information for each domain including verified traffic and/or income figures from the sellers.

3. Web Hosting

hostgator logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Hostgator Webhosting]

Almost all my sites are hosted exclusively by Hostgator.com. Their plans are very reasonable and their customer service is perfect in my opinion. I’ve always gotten a 24 hour response or less whenever I have any issues with my account. My only gripe with them is that their payment system is still a little in the stone ages. The invoices are hard to trace back to the proper account (if you have many) but I’ve not had any major problems with it.

bluehost logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Bluehost Webhosting]

Another highly rated hosting service is BlueHost. The prices are just a few cents higher than Hostgator  a month and their account management system is a little better than Hostgator.com. Again, I keep it simple to host all my sites on Hostgator.com but if you were starting from scratch, either of these two services would be acceptable.

4. Email List Management

aweber logo1 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Aweber Email Software]

Aweber is the longest web service that I’ve been using since 2006. Its really the market leader for building an email list as well as sending email messages to the list.

What I like about Aweber? The number 1 reason is deliverability. Every email has over 98% deliverability rate.

They also have a great “blog broadcast” service that allows me to automatically send very nice newsletters to my subscribers once a week with a summary of all my latest blog posts. You will also find that many websites and software have built in compatibility to work well with the Aweber system.

5. Keyword Research

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Market Samurai Free Trial]

Almost any Internet marketing strategy I can think of should begin with keyword and market research. This is a mistake that a lot of marketers make. If the foundation of your online business is flawed, you will always be in an uphill battle to create a successful site.

I’ve tried a host of different keyword research software and some expensive hosted services in the past. In the end, the one that I still use over and over again is Market Samurai. I use it mostly to plan the structure of my niche blogs and to kind keywords for creating SEO targeted blog posts. I also use it to track my SEO ranking for keywords that I am targeting.

What do I like about it? First, its a one-time only payment. And the team at Market Samurai has updated the software constantly over the years. This is very important as Google is constantly updating their API and ranking data.

The software also has many modules that allow you to do much more than just keyword research. Aside from my main use above, I also use it to find affiliate products to monetize my pages. Its also handy for finding article ideas and research to find what type of content web users are interested in.

The other modules include finding domain names, publishing and syndicating content and getting backlinks to your site. Honestly, I don’t use a lot of these modules but its nice to know they are there when if I ever need to use it.

6. Analytics and Tracking

google analytics logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Google Analytics]

Without measurement, you can’t improve. The best website analytics tool out there is the free Google Analytics service. Why is it the best? Well its easy to install, the reports are great and its fully integrated with other essential Google services like Adwords and the Google Webmaster tools.

What I like about it? I love the fact that you can create goals for your website and their funnel visualization report gives you a great view of how your site is performing to drive visitors to the intended outcome on your site.

It also has a ton of other features like tracking search behavior on your site and also ecommerce tracking to match revenue and cost data for your website traffic. To me, any website that expects to be successful needs to have Google Analytics installed and have at least 1 goal being tracked.

7. Social Media Marketing

tweetadder logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: TweetAdder Automation Software]


Getting traffic from social media websites is an awesome way to accelerate the syndication of your content and website. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is also a great way to build a subscriber base.

However, one of the challenges with social media marketing is that its time consuming and repetitive. That’s why I love the TweetAdder software. It allows me to find relevant users to follow and hopefully add to my follower list. It can generate multiple auto-reply messages and allows you to reply in a way that does not seem automated. It allows you to schedule your tweets and posts and drive traffic to your site.

I wrote a case study on how I use this software to automate my Twitter marketing and how it makes me a very nice passive income on my niche blogs. You can read about it here: How to Automate Your Twitter Account and Earn Passive Income

8. Outsourcing

I am an accountant by training so when it comes to graphic design and coding, I leave it to the experts. I’ve outsourced quite a few projects to coders from “RentaCoder.com which has since changed its name to vworker.com. I’ve also outsourced some content writing jobs to freelancers at eLance.com. The rates here are a little more expensive than vWorker but the site is more user friendly an easier to work with.

Why I like these services? Well, its great to post a job and have a list of people bid for it. Through the selection process, you can fine tune your requirements and get the best deal out of all the proposals. The other important thing is that these services act as a clearing house to make sure you do not get cheated. I’ve had a few cases where the service provider does not deliver and the arbitration process is quite efficient especially when every email is documented via their system.

elance logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Elance Outsourcing]

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Vworker Outsourcing]

I just wanted to add one other place where you can get quick and cheap outsource help. Its called “Fiverr.com” and its a directly of people willing to do work for as little as $5. Some people here can write content, submit your site to directories or even create simple graphics or fix CSS problems on your site.

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Fiverr.com]

9. Working With Video

Video for the web is an essential requirement for online success. Whether its for your sales letter or your content pages, video helps to drive the message through better than just words alone.

One of the best tools to create great web video is Screenflow. This software is for Mac only and for Windows users, I would recommend using “Camtasia”.

What do I like about Screenflow? The software is dead easy to use. It allows you to capture your computer screen together with audio of your voice. Thus is great for tutorials and demos. But my favorite part about Screenflow is the editing tools. You can add titles, texts and effects to your videos very easily.

screenflow My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Screenflow Product Page]

camtasia My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Camtasia Product Page]

The other important thing about video is how to embed them to your website or blog. For the most part, I upload my videos to YouTube and use the embed code generated by YouTube to add the video to my pages. Another great free service is Vimeo who can host longer HD videos instead of the 15min limit on YouTube.

youtube logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: YouTube]

vimeo logo1 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: Vimeo]

10. Image Editing

If you can afford it, the Adobe Photoshop software will be the tool to handle all your graphic design work. However, the learning curve to use Photoshop effectively can be quite steep. For simple image editing (especially for blogs), I prefer to use a very light tool called Image Well 4. This tools allows me to resize, crop, add captions and text as well as upload directly to my webhost after I’m done editing.

I use this tool to create the images in a lot of my blog posts.

imagewell logo My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: ImageWell 4 Product Page]

10. Teleseminar/ Webinar

In my experience, one of methods to get the highest conversions to sales, is the telesminar. Whether its live or recorded. In the past, I used to use the webinar service by GotoMeeting.com. Don’t get me wrong – this tool is great but its also quite pricey. Also, users will need to download a special software before they can join your webinar.

I found a simple service called Instant Telesiminar which also gets the job done. Although you are not able to show your desktop live to your users using Instant Teleseminar, it has all the other features you need. You can answer questions, show slides and allow your visitors to call in to ask questions.

Why I like it? Well, I love the fact that you do not require your users to download any additional software. So all they have to do is turn up at a webpage you send them and they can listen in, see your slides and ask questions. Its also a lot more affordable compared to GotoMeeting and its very easy to embed the whole event into any of your websites so that you maintain branding as well as call to action buttons or links you may have on your webpage.

 My Top Internet Marketing Tools In 2012

[Go to: InstantTeleseminar Trial]


Ok, I know I am missing quite a few other items on this list. It would be too long if I added them all here so I only listed the key items. If you wanted to know how I do certain things, just ask in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

Also, if you have recommendations of some awesome tools to checkout – please also add it in the comments below. Thanks!

March 07 2012

How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Here’s a a simple and yet very effective Facebook marketing tip – display a short presentation on your Facebook Page Timeline using photos.

Now, why would you want to do this? First and foremost, its extremely eye catching when viewing the timeline. Here’s an example of what it looks like.

timeline view How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Because it really stands out, visitors are more inclined to “like” your page or engage with you if they like your presentation.

Secondly, when clicked, the user will view the photo series in the “lightbox” view. This is exactly like a presentation and the description and user comments are shown oon the right. At this stage, the visitor is likely to comment, like or share any or all of the photos.

Again, this will broadcast your page and brand on your visitors profile page. You can also display hyperlinks in the description if you want to drive traffic to you other web properties.

photo view How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Its also a great way to showcase your expertise on a particular subject. Doing it in a cool an innovative way will also boost credibility and reputation.

So here’s how to set this up for your Facebook page:

Step 1: Create a Presentation on Keynote or Powerpoint

Keynote and Powerpoint both have some very stylish themes to create graphic intensive presentations.

keynote themes How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

The key here is to keep it simple and ensure that your presentation topic is relevant to your market. Make sure each slide has ONE main point and ONE sub-point. Use lots of images to illustrate these points.

Step 2: Export the Photos as Images

Once you’re done creating your presentation in Keynote (or Powerpoint), export the presentation as images. Here’s a short note about the sizes. If you want the full image to be shown on the cover, then your images should be 840px wide by 400 px tall.

export images How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

I like to stick to the default 1024 x 768 screen resolution in Keynote because I’m just too lazy to edit these in Photoshop. However, I turn that into an advantage because I leave the most important content on the part of the image that is visible. When they user clicks on the image and sees the image in the lightbox, the bottom of the image is revealed and I place instructions there to  click to scroll through the photos.

Step 3: Upload the Images to Facebook in a New Album

The exported slides are automatically numbered by Keynote in sequence. So just upload them to a new album.

Make sure that you upload them chronologically. It can be either the last slide first or the first slide first. This is because Facebook gives you the option to sort either way as long as they are in order.

high quality How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Also, check the upload the images in “high quality” option so that the full detail in each slide is revealed.

Step 4: Edit the Descriptions of Each Album

Once, you photos are uploaded, its time to edit the album. The title and description is very important because this summary is what your visitors will see and also what your visitors friends will see when the album is shared.

In this step, you will also tell Facebook which album to use as the cover -make sure the correct one is chosen.

Finally, you can also add a description to each photo. This will appear as slide notes when the user is viewing them. The great thing here is that you are free to use hyperlinks so that you can link to your other web properties from the description.

photo description How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Step 5: Feature the Album on Your Timeline

Lastly, once your edits are done, you should click on the start icon on the top right of the album and choose to highlight this album. Your cover photo will now take over the full width of your timeline and the other slides are displayed as thumbnails beneath it.

highlight album How to Create Stylish Presentations on Facebook Timeline Pages

Now you’re all set! Good job!

If you want to see what this looks like live – visit my Facebook Timeline here. By the way, don’t forget to “like” my page to get more marketing tips and strategies.



March 01 2012

Facebook Timeline for Pages – How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

Facebook recently announced that Facebook Pages will be upgraded to include the “Timeline” feature. When this occurs, Facebook pages will have a very similar appearance to Personal Profile Pages.

brian facebook page Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

At this present time, Facebook page owners can opt to upgrade their pages immediately or wait until 30 March 2012 when all Facebook pages (ready or not) will be automatically converted to the new format.

As marketers and business owners – here’s several key issues to look our for to get your page ready for this change.

1. Bye Bye Landing Page Tabs

One of my favorite features of Facebook Pages was the ability to add a customized landing page tab. With this flexible page, you could offer special incentives for visitors to “like” your page and get a small reward (usually some content).

With the new change, you can no longer set the landing page tab as the first page your visitors see. All visitors to your page will now see your cover image and latest entry in your page Timeline.

You can still modify apps like Static HTML to show fan and non-fan pages to create an incentive for people to join your page. However, for visitors to see your offer, they will have to voluntarily click on the app and that is quite unlikely for the majority of your visitors.

2. Importance of the Cover Photo

The most prominent feature on each page now is the cover photo. This is a 851 pixel wide and 315 pixel height image is your only chance to make a strong impact to visitors of your page.

However, there are some serious restrictions on what you can place in this area. Here’s the official requirements from Facebook:

Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Here’s how some top brands are using the cover photos.

coke 150x150 Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes      livestrong 150x150 Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes     starbucks 150x150 Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

This is a bit more difficult for small businesses and individuals who are not global household brands. My recommendation is to place an attractive image that represents your business and add a subtle quote or slogan about what you or your business does.

3. Application Links

Although you can have up to 12 Apps in the info section below your cover photo, only 4 will be seen without the user having to click the “show more” arrow button. There’s still some room to use these areas to display innovative pages or features. For example, aside from photos, notes and events, you can choose to display your blog posts, top products, or an ethical bribe here. You can still add custom HTML pages for fans and non-fans.

In the example below, the LiveStrong page chose to have the photo app, a link to a page to share the message, a link to a page to share a story and their blog in the Apps section of the page.

first 4 apps Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

4. Featuring Items on the Timeline With Milestones and “Pin to Top”

Without landing pages and prominent links to custom tabs, the choice of communicating important messages is left to the Timeline. There are 3 ways to make important content stand out.

First, you can choose the “Highlight” feature for your post. This makes your post take up the full width of the Timeline. However, as new posts are added by you or your fans, the content will move down the Timeline over time and get hidden.

highlight Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

That’s brings us to the second option – “Pin to Top”. You can click the “Edit” button for the post and then select the “Pin to Top” option. This moves that particular post right up to the top of the Timeline (just below the information box). It also flags the content with an orange bookmark icon on the top right of the post. However, this post will only take up either the left or right side of the Timeline even if you had previously chosen to “highlight” this post.

pin to top Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

Finally, you can post “Milestone” items in your Timeline. You need to specify a date for the event, a title and a description. Additionally, the post is permanently features in full width and allows you to add a prominent image. This is great for if you want to outline an illustrious history of your company or brand.

milestone Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

5. New Admin Panel – Interact with Fans and Access Insights

The new admin panel places all the interactive elements of your page in one convenient place. You can see the latest activities in the Notifications panel and you can also see the latest fans who liked your page.

admin panel Facebook Timeline for Pages   How to Prepare Your Page For the Changes

I particularly like the Messages option that allows direct communication with your fans.

Finally, you can access the Insights section to get very detailed demographic information about the people who like your page.


Like it or hate it, the bottom line is that these changes are coming. And you should not ignore using Facebook pages as a major component of your online marketing strategy.

I hope the pointers above helps you to better prepare your pages. If you’d like to take a look at mine, its here. I hope you take the time to drop by and like the my Facebook page.

February 27 2012

How to Clean Up The TimThumb WordPress Hack

Last week, I shared with you how my blog was exploited by hackers due to the TimThumb plugin vulnerability. I thought I had fixed the hack by replacing the old “timthumb.php” and “thumb.php” files from my themes. However, that was not the case as the hackers had already injected malicious code into my blog.

The worrying thing about this hack is that the majority of blog owners won’t even know that their blog has been compromised. If you have a WordPress blog, please read on to ensure your blog is safe.

I discovered that the injected code is totally hidden from blog owners as well as their readers. It only affects Google bots and hence can affect your Google search rankings and your bandwidth without you knowing it.

What this hack does is to post pharmaceutical spam posts and pages using your blogs header and footer. These posts are only visible buy Googlebots. They then mass link to your injected spam pages and your site listing on Google can be overwhelmed by these spam posts leading to your Google website being flagged and your rankings severely damaged.

injected content How to Clean Up The TimThumb Wordpress Hack

Example of Injected Content

I also discovered that they can post links to other infected blogs. When I tracked the source of these incoming links, I found thousands of innocent blogs where the links can only be found in the source codes. These poor blog owners probably don’t know its happening and it will severely affect their page rankings.


How to Check If Your Blog Has Been Infected

1. Go to Google.com and type “site:www.YouBlog.com”.

This will show you all the pages of your blog that has been indexed by Google. In my case, the this is what I found on page 2:

site search How to Clean Up The TimThumb Wordpress Hack


Because I had already replaced the TimThumb files, when I click on the links, it takes me to my 404 Error Page. I thought that was the end of the story and Google will eventually remove these pages from their index. I was wrong.

2. Go to Google Webmaster Tools and do a “Fetch as Googlebot” Query

If you do not already have a free Google Webmaster tool account set up for all your websites, you can sign up here: Google Webmaster Tools.

In the “Diagnostics” section, choose the “Fetch as Googlebot” link. You can then type in a URL and see what the Google Search Bot will see.

As you can see below, when I typed in the URL of the spam pages from step 2 above, the bot returned a status as “Success”.

Meaning that although normal users will get a 404 page error, the Google Search Bots that regularly scan the site will say that the page is working normally. So these offending pages will never be removed from Google’s index.


fetch as googlebot How to Clean Up The TimThumb Wordpress Hack


3. Install the TimThumb Vulnerability Scanner Plugin

Now, even if you have not been hacked after checking the two steps above, I still recommend this step. Install a plugin that checks your theme files for potential vulnerabilities.

You can download the plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/timthumb-vulnerability-scanner/

timthumb scanner How to Clean Up The TimThumb Wordpress Hack

Once you run a scan, it will highlight vulnerable timthumb related files and with two clicks you can replace them with the latest secured versions so that your blog theme does not break.

Next, because we do not know which files have been tampered with, we need to clean out ALL the files in our WordPress installation.


How to Clean Out Your Blog Installation

Basically, we’re going to do 2 things. The first is replace all your WordPress systems files. The second thing is to replace all your current theme files. Additionally, you should also check through any remaining files manually to see if there’s any injected code.

I’m not a security expert so I will just run through what I did step by step.

Step 1: Update to Latest Version of WordPress and Backup Your WordPress Database

Since all your content, comments, theme settings and other data is stored in your blog database, the first thing you should do is to make a backup in case something goes wrong during the clean up and you need to restore.

You can learn more about how to backup your database from the WordPress.org tutorial page. For me, I just use the WP DB Backup plugin which allows me to create a backup file with one click.

Next, update to the latest version of WordPress. I just used the automatic upgrade process in the WordPress Dashboard for this.

 Step 2: Backup WP-Config.php and .htaccess file

Using my FTP program, I just saved the wp-config.php file and .htaccess files to my computer as a backup.

Step 3: Put Your Blog Into Maintenance Mode

I use a plugin called “Maintenance Mode” and I activated it so that my blog visitors and Google bots will temporarily be directed to a maintenance notice instead of seeing a broken site.

Step 4: Deactivate Your WordPress Plugins

I actually forgot to do this step and fortunately, it was ok. But all the documentation advise for you to actually turn off your plugins first.

Step 5: Download The Latest Version of WordPress

You can download the latest version here: http://wordpress.org/download/

Then expand the zip file on your computer. You will be uploading all the files except the “wp-content” folder. So what I did was I just deleted the “wp-content” folder entirely.

Step 5: Change your WordPress Database Password

Log in to your cPanel. Go to MySQL databases and find the user for your blog’s database. Just click on the username and you will be prompted to type the old password followed by the new password to have it changed.

Step 6: Edit Your WP-Config.php File

In this step, you will manually edit the new “wp-config.php” file so you won’t need to run the installation or upgrade function on your new files. Go to the new wordpress files that you downloaded, open up the “wp-config-sample.php” file.

In here, you will just change the database name, database user and password. Follow the same format as your previous “wp-config.php” file but make sure you change the password to the new one you created in Step 6.

Additionally, in WordPress version 2.6 and above, you need to add your security keys. You can learn more about the new security keys here: WordPress Security Keys

This are just random numbers to increase security of your blog. You don’t really need to remember them. To make it simple, just use the online generator provided by WordPress to generate these keys. Just copy the all those keys and replace that section in your “wp-config.php” file.

Save the file as “wp-config.php” and you’re ready to upload.

Step 7: Replace All the WordPress Files On Your Blog

Now use your FTP software and just copy all the new WordPress files, including the “wp-config.php” file to your blogs directory. Note, we already deleted the “wp-content” folder so that will not be replaced.

Step 8: Reinstall Your WordPress Theme Files

All your theme settings are saved in your WordPress database so you can delete your old theme and reinstall it again without losing your settings.

Log into your WordPress Dashboard. Change the theme to a default theme and delete the your old theme. Then add a new theme and upload your theme again.

At this stage, you should also check each of the files on folders inside the “wp-content” folder as this folder is not being replaced with new ones. Some sites report that malicious code has been entered into the “images” folder or some of the plugin files.

Step 9: Reactivate All Your Plugins

As mentioned previously, I forgot to remove my plugins and the problem was fixed. However, you should actually delete and reinstall each plugin because some reports have said malicious codes were also injected into the pllugin’s php files.

Step 10:  Check That The Problem is Fixed!

If everything went well, your site is now back up and running as before but the difference is that you have replaced the WordPress system files, theme files and plugin files with fresh and clean files.

So go back to Google Webmaster tools and do a “Fetch as Googlebot” again for the same term.

As you can see in the screen shot below that the same page that returned a “success” status is now showing “not found” . That is great news as now its just a matter of time before Google will remove these non-existent pages from their index.

fetch googlebot 2 How to Clean Up The TimThumb Wordpress Hack

This also gives me confidence that whatever malicious script that was tricking the Googlebots to see the page is now gone!

Good job.

Now you can de-activate the “Maintenance Mode” and go get yourself a cup of coffee!


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