Free Antivirus Programs

If you do have a virus or malware problem with a computer, a simple, effective solution is Avast. It has been one of the top rated, free antivirus programs for years.
I had been using AVG for years, but one day I noticed a problem. I often keep my small ‘local area connection status’ window open. I noticed something was downloading when nothing should be. When I couldn’t find out what was happening, I disconnected the internet access line.

I wanted to do a virus scan with AVG but couldn’t. AVG and Windows Defender had both been disabled, and weren’t working. This was not because of anything I had done. I obviously had a serious problem.

I hooked up my internet connection just long enough to download Avast. When I started it, one of the options was a ‘boot time scan.’ I selected that. It restarted the computer and half way through the restart, it stopped everything and did its scan.

It found 4 files that it didn’t like and I chose to delete them. It was a downloader Trojan and I Googled it. The results were stories of computers that could not be used after it was finished with them. Its way of operating was to disable computer protection, and then download one bit of malware after another and put them all to work. I was very fortunate to have caught it early enough to stop it.

That was the only serious problem I had, and it was a lot of years ago, but Avast has been handy since then. Not long ago a neighbor had problems with his computer. He is an old timer who is not very computer savvy. He was helping on a volunteer project that I work for, and I was happy to help him out.

When I looked at his computer, both AVG and Windows Defender were disabled and wouldn’t even open. He complained about pop up ads and his browser being redirected. When I tried to download Avast, the browser was redirected to a fake Avast site. It is surprising how complete some of these attack systems are.

I went home and downloaded a copy of Firefox to a USB key. Started his computer again and downloaded Avast using Firefox from the USB key. That worked. I installed Avast and when it started I selected the boot time scan option, and clicked restart. The whole computer froze.

Finally I had to turn it off with the button. When I started it again, Avast started its scan. It found 10 files that it identified as malware, and it was a pleasure to delete them.

Avast has mentioned that it finds some root kits during these boot time scans. That is more than most antivirus programs can do.

I started his disk defragment program for him. It had never been done on the computer.

The next time I saw him, he said the computer was running much better.

Isn’t this sort of stuff much more interesting than watching TV? smile

So out of the 3 systems I have used, I have to rate Avast the best. Second goes to Microsoft Security Essentials. MS has been keeping a catalog of malware since the internet started. This program was a bit clunky when it was first released, but it got smoother and better for the 18 months I was using it. Third is AVG.

Google Search Results Trimmed

Something odd about Google search results is that they claim a huge number at the top of their page, but if you try to get to the last page, the number shrinks to a tiny fraction.

One thing that will help if you want to try this yourself. Click on the “settings” link at the top right of a search results page. Then on “search settings.” On the “Preferences” page that opens change the default “number of results” displayed from 10 to 100.
Now when you click on the tenth page at the bottom of a search results page, you will have gone through the first 1000 results. If you have searched a 4 or 5 word phrase you will often find that there aren’t even 10 pages of results. You will be shown page 6 or 8.

The video goes into more detail about how this might affect your decision to put up a website page about a searched phrase. I’ve included a basic example in text below it for those people who prefer to read. (Like me!)

Video by John Schwartz from
As an example, take “distill alcohol at home” as a search. At the upper right the search results pages says “Results 1 – 100 of about 233,000 for distill alcohol at home.” At the bottom of the page under the goooooogle it shows 6 pages of search results. I click on the last one and at the bottom it now shows only 4 pages.

A note there says: “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 386 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

233,000 results have shrunk down to 386. Click on “repeat the search with the omitted results included.” The new page says: “Results 1 – 96 of about 234,000 for distill alcohol at home” at the top.

I go down to the bottom and again open the last page and the results are still under 1000. About 1/234 as many as the top line seems to suggest.

No idea why this happens, but I have tried it on quite a few searches and the results are similar. Maybe they want to kid us around just a bit?

Get Rid of File Extensions

This is a simple way of doing it by replacing files with folders. It does not make use of .htaccess or mod_rewrite.

This was one of my early questions doing web work and it does get asked often in forums. The file extension seemed like a bit of litter to me, just one more thing a person has to remember if s/he is ever going to type their way to your page.

I was trying to find this out for awhile. It was surprising how hard it was to get the details laid out clearly and simply from on line information, so now that I do have it, I might as well pass it around.

There is more than one way to do it, but the simplest way goes like this.

First go to the public folder. For any file that you want an extensionless url, create a folder with the same file name, but without the extension. Eg if the page is create a folder named bike.

Copy the file bike.html and put it in the folder “bike,” but rename it there to index.html.

If you use an external style sheet there is an extra step with choices. The simplest is to copy the sheet and include it in your folder, with its original name. The most bandwidth efficient way is to make one small change to your new index page. Toward the bottom of the head section you will have a line like <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”style1.css” media=”screen” />.

In this example your style sheet is called style1.css. This is the link to your css sheet and you can modify the path now to “../style1.css”. The ../ means “up a level.” If your page links to images you will have to correct their path also. Just adding the same 2 dots and a slash will do it for them too.

Using an absolute URL like http://yoursite .com/style1.css is another way of doing it. Especially with folders, using absolute URLs for internal navigation will save some problems.

If you want your internal links to link to the extensionless urls, go through the internal navigation and take off the .htmls. It is just a bit too easy to take off one character too many, or one not enough doing this. Make sure you have had your coffee.

At this point you will have a set of files that will work with the .html URLs, and a set of folders that will work without the .html. If you don’t need the site to work both ways you can delete one set, but unless you have large files, it doesn’t hurt to leave them in place, at least for awhile until you are sure everything is working well. If you do have sites linking to you with the .html links already, you can just leave them until the traffic to them tapers off.

If you have a second set of files under the www folder you might want to repeat the process for that url.

Of course this isn’t the way CNN does it.

There might be a small disadvantage or two doing this. If you use an html editor that opens pages in tabs, all your tabs will say index.html. That might be enough to inspire a quick trip to a liquor store. But once a site starts growing, folders are needed to keep it organized. If you have a page about bike repairs for example, you could put it in the same folder. The URL would be You might even have a small SEO benefit from having an extra, closely related keyword.

Another way is to set up subdomains. You will have a URL like This results in the same folder system as the last method. You just get to it by a slightly different URL. Again you will have to include an external style sheet in each folder that uses one, or modify the link to the style sheet.

To set up a subdomain with the DirectAdmin control panel, if you have more than one domain click on the domain you want to work with in the list on the left. Then click on “subdomain management.” After that it is as simple as typing in the name you want for the folder. Then you can insert your index.html page into that folder. FTP works fine but even copy and paste will get the job done.

Sneaky Forum Links

This technique was a bit of a chuckle. It has limited usefulness and won’t produce traffic, but it can get your site indexed quickly. To use it you need to join a popular forum that is crawled often by the search engine spiders. The forum has to use a link style that is not underlined, or that will give your links away.
The little problem is that forums have rules about how you post links to your own sites. They usually won’t allow it at all in your post content. This technique will insert them in your post in a way that isn’t visible to human readers, but the bots will see them.
Three periods are getting to be almost as common as a single period at the end of a sentence. Take this exact quote for example from, “and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped…”
Each period in the quote can be the display text of a link to a brand new site needing indexing. Most forums use BBcode that lets you overrule the default link color. This is an example of a period at the end of a sentence that is the display text of your link. “No point in starting a brand new thread[COLOR=black][url=http;//].[/url][/COLOR]” (The linked display period in that sentence was just before [/url].) It won’t work as a link here because it is BB forum code on an html page.
It will just take a few hours to get your site indexed at a good forum, and when that happens it is probably a good idea to go back to edit your post to take the sneaky link out.
Most forums using BBcode have a simple way to insert smilies, like :). This opens up another sneaky link trick. You can make the image the display part of your URL and don’t have to worry about color. The code would be: [url=]:)[/url]. The display will just be a smilie with nothing to give it away unless someone moves their cursor over it.
The period at the end of this sentence is a link with the same thing done in html. Just look at the source code for the html version. I don’t have the underline turned off for links in this part of the site so it does have a short underline to give it away.
So just to repeat, these links will not result in traffic since they don’t even appear to be links. They only have one purpose, and that is to get a new site indexed quickly. After that happens the only other thing they might do is get you banned from the forum so it might be a good idea to remove them.

Optimize Your Code

A lot of people don’t realize that the white space in your code takes up bandwidth. Each hit on the return key, and each tap on the space bar is information that needs to be down loaded to the browser.

One of the online html optimizers suggested that 20% of your bandwidth is saved. The last css sheet I optimized saved 37%. That one was quite large, for a forum, and had a lot of comments.
Css first. To do it, just find your .css style sheet. A link to it will be toward the bottom of your head section on the html page. Copy the whole thing and save a copy. This isn’t just for back up. Most css optimizers strip out the comments.

If you do want to modify the css in the future you can work from the back up sheet. That’s if you have comments. If you don’t the css optimizers will reverse the process. Just paste the single line of code in and select high readibility.

You can choose degrees of optimization with the css optimizers. For heavy traffic (yes!!) you can reduce the code to a single horizontal line. I have been doing this for a year without a problem. In fact I usually learn something when I do it. A css short hand that I missed, or 2 different declarations that were identical.

I don’t want to recommend one. You can find plenty at Google.

This doesn’t just save bandwidth, but also disk space and stress on the server. With Google taking page load time into account now, it might even help your ranking.

For html it is just a bit more tricky. I just tried it on a site lately and out of a dozen pages 2 were messed up. An Amazon affiliate banner 160 px wide by 600 high, was displayed as 468 wide by 60 high (!) Messy. Wrecked the layout.

The work around was to reduce everything up to the ad to a single line, and then everything after it. Just to be safe I do this with anything that has script and /script tags.

I’ve also had problems with IE 6 not showing a page when the head was in a single line.

Also I haven’t seen an html optimizer that will reverse the process. (I’ve only used 2).

For an interesting example look at the source (Ctrl + U) of the Google search page. Just about a dozen lines, one of them going about 40 scrolls to the right. Also notice that it doesn’t have an /body or /html tag, for the most interesting of reasons.

That’s to save on bandwidth too! I read about that on one of their blogs. None of the browsers do anything with those tags. Guess the validators are just playing catch up.

With the amount of bandwidth they use just with utube, you might not expect this. It’s a nice lesson for me. No point in wasting anything.

Is Valid Code Important

If you like to do your own code on notepad or one of its alternatives, a validator is a big help anytime you are having a problem with it. Any time a page you’ve produced looks funny (but you aren’t enjoying the humor) you can just run it through one of the online validators and it will produce a list of things it objects to. It is likely that one of these will have pinpointed the error for you.

There are forums where web design people get together and answer each other’s questions. One of the first rules before posting a problem in some of these forums is that you validate the code. Validation does have its uses and has helped me find problems.
I started with valid code as a priority and using xhtml for its more exacting standards. There was a price to pay. My first site depended mainly on social bookmarking for traffic. I had the “Add This” social bookmarking widget at the bottom of the page and it would produce errors. I worked through the code to stop that from happening but its appearance suffered.

I was worried that IE6 would fly into a tizzy and go into quirks mode because of invalid code. (The sooner that browser follows Dracula to the grave the better.) It turned out that for my sites, visitors hardly used any form of IE. From 75 to 95% of the traffic was with FF, so eventually I quit worrying about it and at least the appearance of the social bookmarking button improved.

I frequently link to articles on a site that uses & (ampersands) in the URLs. These will not validate and you have to use the html code for the ampersand in the URL to get it to validate. Apparently some of the older browsers (programmed in Latin or Sanskrit) have a problem with them. At first I did substitute the html special characters code for each ampersand but quit doing that quickly. Since I’ve seen these used quite often I’ve just assumed that browsers have evolved faster than the validators, and have quit worrying about that little error message too.

Frequently the problems validators bring up are only problems for very old browsers. It depends on your traffic. Some sites do get a significant percentage from IE6 and older and of course you would want to adjust to your visitors. Interesting to me, YouTube is stopping IE6 support so some of the big sites also don’t want to bother.

Another huge site that doesn’t worry much about it is Google. I read one of their people saying that they don’t use the /body and /html tags because none of the browsers do anything with them. When they run out of material the page ends. The advantage to leaving them out is to save on bandwidth! Considering the amount they use displaying videos this does seem small but I do similar things and it makes sense to me.

But not having those end tags results in validator errors. They don’t seem to care. I have seen pages put up on large, active sites that didn’t even have the whole head section or doc type declaration. Someone intelligent put one up on a PR4 site and it does really well on, better than any page of mine that I have ever tried there.

If you add any commercial advertising to your pages there is a good chance that it will not validate. I have experienced this with ClickBank, Market Health*, Amazon, and Adsense. I just ignore it now. Obviously the people who produce them know what they are doing, and I have never had something invalid in the ads that will screw up the rest of the page layout.

If I do want to use validation to check a page layout for errors, I do it before adding the ads. I had a page with 6 separate Amazon ads and it produced over 130 errors from them at a validator. It would be a serious pain in the neck wading through all of those looking for one in my code that was causing a problem with a page.

Someone in a forum posted that he checked the top 100 sites and none of them validated completely. I’m too busy to bother but the news doesn’t surprise me. A simple html/css site should validate before you put the ads in, and it is worth doing just for the learning.

Valid code is important if it affects the layout of your pages, but a lot of companies and sites are getting a lot done with code that seems to be better than valid.

*Market Health is the easiest CPA to be accepted to. For nearly all their offers, you just need to confirm your email. This gets you an affiliate link, and you are ready to pick out banners or links for your site. Their ads vary visually from good to extremely good, and are served from their servers.

They were practically a breakthrough for me. Suddenly having sites with a lot of text was an advantage. The advertising had all the visual attraction and clicks went way up. Their system is simple. Since they serve their ads, you don’t even need to upload images to an image folder. You just copy the lightweight html they supply and paste it wherever you want it in your html sheet.

DirectAdmin Beats Cpanel

I read online marketing forums for a couple of years before I needed a host, and really heard a lot about Cpanel during that time. When I did decide to move, I spent more than 20 hours researching hosting, starting at (WHT from now on.)

To my surprise a control panel I had never heard of, DirectAdmin, seemed to be as respected as Cpanel. The WHT forum is the best place for hosting information that I have ever seen. Many of the posters are hosts themselves and bring a lot of experience with them.

Since DA is newer, it gained that support in less time. Quite a lot of the comments supporting CP mention that they have never used DA. CP has been around longer and is more common. Typically the DA supporters say something like “I prefer DA, but I’m biased having used both. smile”

One of the first positive things I read about it, have seen repeated, and have never seen anyone deny at WHT, is that DA handles add on domains better. An add on domain applies mostly to CP when a person is able to host more than one domain on a single account. DA handles extra domains so well that there is no point in calling them add on domains.

The CP system uses a sub domain type of arrangement for the extra domains and you can get to the add on domain by typing in your browser. I have seen two different forum threads started by people asking how they could stop that from happening.

With the DA system all the domains are in the same folder, “domains” so obviously that isn’t going to work.

If you want you can even change the default domain in 2 easy steps. The first takes 3 single clicks. One on domain admin, one to select the domain you want to be your default domain, and one to save the changes.

The second step does take a bit longer. You want to wipe off the sweat, pour a double brandy, and take a break before your next big job.

One of the web hosts at WHT said, “All my customers came from CP, none of them would go back to it.” It doesn’t sound like he was a very big host if he knew that about all his customers, but it still seemed like a powerful statement to me.

A couple of years ago there were comments that DA was simpler for newbies and they could put up a site with it out of the box, but of course it couldn’t do all the more sophisticated things that CP could do. Lately I have seen 3 different threads where someone responded: “Name one thing that you can do with CP that you can’t do with DA,” and in all 3 of them no one took up the offer, even though they went on for awhile.

Personally, I like a list type of view and have my documents and folders set up that way. CP uses an icon system and it isn’t a big thing, but language works well enough for me. No point in learning what each of the icons means. Just the lists and the way they are grouped is more logical to me. Incidentally a few older threads mention WHM (Web Host Manager) for reseller accounts with CP, but that is also available with DA.


Welcome to the wonderful world of WYSIWYG (‘what you see is what you get,’ pronounced wizeewig) html editors. They let you put up pages quickly. In fact, after you have set up the style of the pages you want to use, they can be as fast as a blog post. You can type or paste in the text that you want to use and the editor will work out the code for it.

I prefer working with pure code in simple text editors, but do appreciate and make use of Expression Web (a part of Expression Studio).

A quality product at el cheapo prices

Expression Studio 4 Web Professional used to sell for over $300 for each of its 3 parts. I had to check today to update this page and found it is now under $100. That’s a very pleasant surprise.

I do make good use of Expression Web. The capability I appreciate most is its emphasis on valid code. That is a nice new direction for Microsoft.

If there is a problem with a page, one of the first things I do is run the code through a validator. With the online validator, error reporting is sometimes complex and doesn’t point to just where the problem is. A single error might get a dozen comments. Often none of them will point to the exact problem. There will be comments like “this error might be produced by an unescaped ampersand somewhere on the page or it might be something else…” Have you ever been frustrated by that sort of stuff?

With Expression Web, if you type in anything invalid, there is a small warning triangle at the bottom of the window. Each invalid part of the code gets a light yellow highlight. On hover, a simple comment appears about why it is a problem. Once you see exactly where the problem is, most of your troubles are over.

Another use for EW that I am happy about, is code optimization. It does that better than any online optimizer I have used. Optimizing css is not a problem, but with html it can get tricky. I once had vertical Amazon ads that displayed as horizontal ads of a different size after optimizing. Did that ever mess up the layout.

The ad used a script, and after a couple of pages like that, I quit optimizing the script part of pages. I would only optimize the rest of the page. When I optimized a page using EW, to my surprise, all the white space was stripped out except for the scripts. They were left intact. The people that put EW together are at least as smart as I am. smile

And finally, one of the serious problems putting web pages together is that they will often look different in different browsers, even if the code is valid. Different browsers just do things differently. EW has a “Super Preview” program that is great. If you ever have to beat a site into shape for IE 6, this is the perfect tool. It shows the page you want in 2 browsers side by side. You can select Firefox or any Internet Explorer from 6 up.

You just paste the file path into it and it opens the page into the 2 selected browsers. This works better than any of the online “browser shots” sites I have used.

It was IE 6 that inspired the recipe for the web developer’s cocktail. Pour 4 oz of brandy into a blender. (Adjust as needed.) Add an aspirin and a Tylenol. (Adjust as needed.) Blend, relax, and recover. smile

And finally, one of the strongest advantages of EW. If you have a large site, the navigation and the file paths can get complex. Every site I have has been growing. I keep finding more ideas to add to them. There are folders within folders.

Suppose you have an images folder and you want to add a second folder called graphics. You move your smilie collection to the graphics folder. Now you will have to adjust the file path on every page that calls for a smilie. On a large site, that will take a lot of time.

If you open Expression Web, and do it there, it will change all the file paths to point to the new folder. It will basically become a content management system for the site.

I’ve been embarrassed by wrong file paths, and appreciate that part of EW.

RAP Beats ClickBank

The Rapid Action Profits program is gaining momentum rapidly. It has so many advantages over CB that it is the focus of my efforts now.

CB certainly does have advantages too. They are much better known and might have a thousand times more products. I am there often enough looking for something good to promote and just bought one yesterday, Paul Walker’s Affiliate Cash Ultimatum. It is impressive.

It’s just that I go to RAP first looking for products because of the simple pay arrangement.

There are a lot of requirements before you can collect your first pay with CB. You can skip them all with RAP systems.

The RAP site for instant affiliate payments. The RAP software for vendors.
My first experience with a RAP product was the one on the Website Flopping page. The page includes a few details about the first money coming in with it. It was just a simple PayPal email saying that money had been added to my account. You don’t even have to check your affiliate accounts to see if you have sales.

Just the waiting time until pay day can be a pain in the neck with most affiliate systems, not just ClickBank. In addition CB has requirements like 5 different credit cards must be used before you get your first check. There are also other requirements, like purchases must be from different areas etc. I have seen post after post in forums with people complaining about these first pay day requirements.

It’s fine if you have a huge site with massive traffic. It might take a very short time to meet them. If you are just starting out things might be different. They certainly were for me. Happily that has turned around and RAP products were the first to start making money for me.

Another little problem with CB is that if you don’t make a sale for awhile, the account is charged $1 periodically for inactivity. (sigh) Combine this with most products taking a lot of traffic to make a sale and you have a recipe to drain a small account.

I’m not even saying this is bad. A lot of businesses including most banks will charge you to keep an account open. It’s just a hit to start out finances, and to wimpy little sites like most of mine.

With RAP there is just no possibility of charges like that. That kind of bureaucracy takes a hit in the head and doesn’t get a chance to mess with your money.

The Tedious Details

I should mention a couple negatives that I know about. Some of the products pay 100% commission. The vendor uses this to get a lot of them out and to expose his affiliate links in the ebook. Or he might make money from up sells once the first product introduces him and his program.

A small disadvantage happens to the affiliate when the commission is less than 100%. As an example, when the commission is 50%, the first affiliate sale will be credited to the vendor’s account. The next one will be to the affiliate’s PayPal. It will alternate like this to keep the split at approximately 50%. However if the affiliate never sells another, their commission will be 0%. They will never get the sale that goes into their account.

Another more significant disadvantage right now is that they don’t have nearly as many products to promote as CB. Their products are growing rapidly though, and for the first time I wouldn’t be surprised to see a company overtake CB. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if CB gets clobbered.

Web Work and Computers

They go together. As I got into them I picked up a few bits of information that might be interesting to other people. Personally I don’t really like blogs so thought I’d do something like one, but with an html site. Whenever I do have the time and I have been reminded of something worth posting, I will put up a page, hopefully once a week.


If you do wind up in front of the computer for hours at a time, one thing that has helped me is adjusting the monitor brightness as low as it will go. You do want your monitor to be about as bright as the background lighting, or you will have a bright spot in your field of vision and that is hard on my eyes.

Most people are a bit enthusiastic about the brightness they set their TV or monitors to. They seem to think more is good that way and it is like trying to read something typed on a lampshade instead of just normal daylight on a page. Also the color is richer and looks better when it isn’t washed out by light. My experience and opinions of course, yours might vary.

I keep the brightness on my monitor set to 0%. It isn’t actually 0% because when I was turning it down, from 40% down the brightness didn’t decrease at all, but I would personally like it a bit lower. That has been a serious help for eyestrain. I don’t expect to buy another monitor for years but if I do I will want to try out the model first and see how dim I can set it.

The Discovery Channel had a show about “things your mother told you that aren’t true.” One was that dim light can hurt your eyes. The DC’s comment was “dim light can’t hurt your eyes any more than it can hurt a camera.” But I’ve noticed since I was a teenager that reading with bright light is hard on mine.