Month: April 2009

The inevitable has struck – advertising on blogs

As much as I dislike advertising when it interrupts my day-to-day life I recognise that it is an inevitable part of life. When I’m watching TV I don’t mind when ads appear between shows (and in fact I resent it when they don’t as it doesn’t give me time to go and do something I need to do) but I fiercely resent it when it is inserted within the show, especially movies. I particular resent ads that are placed at points in the program other than when the change of scene makes it obvious that the ad should have been placed there.

So, anyway, I dislike ads but I live with them. This policy has now spilled over into my blogs, including this one. In the past I have half-heartedly inserted an ad in the left column of this blog and another one, and have not, until yesterday, done anything to find out how successful (or not) the ad has been. 

My lack of follow-up has been for a number of reasons:

  1. My general dislike of advertising
  2. My inablility to keep track of the changes in affiliate websites and who is responsible for which advertising company
  3. My inability to remember ids and passwords once I do find the website responsible
  4. My feeling of  despair when I do get into the website responsible

Advertising for Ancestry, GenesReunited and the Origins Network are all controlled by a thing called Commission Junction. Whenever I manage to find and log into this website it has seemed overwhelmingly impossible, as the first thing it shows me as a default is the first page of a long list of advertisers (mostly in the States) that have no relevance to me whatsoever. Finding advertisers I am interested in has been equally difficult. I take one look and then I run away and do something else instead.

World Vital Records has changed from whoever it used to be to the Google Affiliate Network. I’ d never gotten around to doing what I had to do to move to this new mob. Then there is Google Adsense – all those ads you see down the side of the page, and elsewhere. And Google Adwords. And Amazon Associates….

Yesterday I spent a large chunk of the day sorting it all out. It seems I used to have Google Adsense ads but stopped a few months ago. I bit the bullet and signed up for Google Adwords for my business website. I found an ad I liked for the Origins Network and put that in a couple of places. I found a plugin for WordPress, the software that brings you this blog, that will insert an ad in old posts. An example of that ad appears below (in theory, Google ads don’t appear immediately).

It seems the secret to Commission Junction is to select the By Relationship tab, and so I just see the three companies I have relationships with, namely AncestryGenesReunited and the Origins Network, instead of the thousands I don’t want a relationship with. Why didn’t I see that before???! Here are some ads from each of these:


Discover your ancestors at Genes

Go to Irish Origins - Trace your origins online

Aren’t they pretty? And one for World Vital Records:

Who's in Your Family Tree?

Hmm, not what I was expecting. Unfortunately they don’t show you the ad, there’s just a description, although perhaps that depends on which browser I’m using. How about this one?

Search Box Images

It’s a different way to go, sure. I’ve also had a look at the affiliate program for FindMyPast, the UK company, but it seems too much hassle for little benefit. They use a different company called Affiliate Window and want me to pay £5 just to join, and they only make payments when my account reaches £100. I don’t expect that I will ever get to this level so the whole thing seems pointless.

Amazon Associates controls the commission you get if clicking on a picture of a book in your library in LibraryThing takes the reader to Amazon and they buy the book. I have never earned any money this way, but the system is there.

So, dear reader, you will see more ads than you used to. In the current economic climate (don’t you get sick of reading that phrase, and others like it) I need to consider alternate streams of income, although “stream” is an unrealistically optimistic word. Trickle, perhaps. I hope they are not intrusive, and I hope you will let me know if you think they are.

Here is an example from Google Adsense. I will be interested to see what the ad is.

Be a good ancestor

In my previous post I mentioned the concept of the “good ancestor” and I think it deserves a bit more explanation.

When I first saw the term I was thinking, as a genealogist, about all the things we wish our ancestors had done, for example:

  • saved all the documents – birth, marriage and death certificates, baptismal certificates, electricity bills…
  • taken lots of photographs of family members and saved them all and labelled each person in them with the date and place in a non-damaging way
  • written a diary or journal and kept them all
  • writtten down the stories their grandparents told them

But that’s not what it means. It’s a more general, community type of saving. It’s being wise with the resources we all have and making sure we use them in a sustainable way so that they are still around for our children’s children. It’s being mindful of how our descendants will talk about the previous generations in the future. Watch the videos on Good Ancestor Workshops for more information.

Looking around us now I would say that our descendants will have cause to curse us. Global warming, financial crises caused by greed, reliance on fossil fuels… There is a long list of things that are wrong with the world today that we blame our ancestors for, and our descendants will blame us for.

There are many ways to be a good ancestor. We can start at home by using less power. Turn off the lights. Switch off the elctrical appliances. Use less hot water. Drive less. Pump up the tyres. Recycle. Buy products with less packaging. Take fewer plane trips. Adjust the thermostat. Plant trees.

The recent Earth Hour shows that people are interested in changing the way we use our resources, although I think it will take something more to make us change our day-to-day habits. People who were careful to turn the lights off at the appropriate time on the Saturday night were leaving them on when they left the room the next evening, at least in my household. 

I don’t have the answers, I’m just posing the questions.


An Inconvenient Truth. Website.

Earth Hour. Website.

Tom Munnecke’s Eclectica. Website.

Building communities in times of economic crisis

I’ve been reading about how people are coping with the Great Recession. Here in Australia things are not as bad – so far the fear is worse than the reality. In the United States and other countries things are much worse – house values have dropped by 30% in some areas, banks are foreclosing, unemployment is rising and shop shelves are empty.

My friend Erin, who lives in Florida, told me about her optometrist who is only working two days per week because people are putting off getting their eyes checked. At the time that she told me this a couple of months ago this seemed outrageous to me, a wearer of spectacles since I was 10, but it makes sense. You put off going to the optometrist, the dentist, the doctor, the pharmacy, if you have to pay for it yourself and you can’t.

What can we do in such times as these? When the government can’t (or doesn’t) help us we have to help ourselves, and each other. Here are some ideas for how we can do that. I was reading messages from a mailing list on Positive Psychology recently and was led to a blog written by Tom Munnecke, who lives near San Diego in California. I’d read it before, and I am now even more struck by how relevant it is, and how useful it could be.

Some of the suggestions are:

Create a neighborhood bulletin board where folks can list reminders, and needs and offers (one retiree offers homemade cookies for lunches in exchange for dog walking; college students might swap auto-detailing for home cooked meals).

Map the resources of skills and offers (science tutoring by a neighborhood retiree, revolving cooking classes, transportation pooling) and keep it circulating in the neighborhood using flyers, emails and bulletin boards. Amateur Photographers in one neighborhood might supply family sittings & portraits; in return they gain both recognition and remarkably creative portfolios and scrapbooks.

Put up a bookcase in a shared community space (Laundromat, Church hall, Doctor’s office) for a Bring One/Take One of books, magazines and videos.

Closet Shopping Sprees require that everyone bring five or more clean garments, and then take away the equivalent, or simply enjoy passing them on.

If every family begins to list what truly nourishes their family and nurtures their sense of identity, of belonging, of hope and of contribution, we can then share our lists and weave together a web of support based on these things.

There are many others, and I recommend reading the post here. It is interesting that the ideas came about from a conversation – not from one person alone.

I also like his Top 10 Ideas for making the world a better place. Some of them are specific to the United States – we have already removed “pennies” (one cent pieces) from circulation and changed to metric measuring here in Australia. Vote-counting is not the issue here that it is in the States either. Positive language, including the cost of disposing of excessive packaging in the pricing, and seeing ourselves as “good ancestors” being observed from the future; these are all ideas that can be useful everywhere.