Hurricane's Hints

Everything you always wanted to know about Web Design, PhotoShop and Flash .... but refused to buy the book! A collection of helpful hints, tips and tricks for creating stunning computer graphics and keeping your computer running smooth.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How Does Yahoo Define Spam?

Webpages “that are considered unwanted and appear in search results with the intent to deceive or attract clicks, with little regard for relevance or overall quality of the user experience.” Officially, Yahoo! does not want to index sites with:

  • Text that is hidden from the user
  • Misuse of competitor names/products
  • Pages that have substantially the same content as other pages
  • Multiple sites offering the same content
  • Pages in great quantity, which are automatically generated or of little value
  • Pages dedicated to redirecting the user to another page
  • Pages that give the search engine different content than what the end-user sees
  • Pages built primarily for search engines
  • Pages that use excessive pop-ups, interfering with user navigation
  • Pages that use methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking
  • Sites with numerous, unnecessary virtual hostnames
  • Excessive cross-linking with sites to inflate a site's apparent popularity
  • Pages that harm the accuracy, diversity, or relevance of search results
  • Pages that seem deceptive, fraudulent, or provide a poor user experience

Hurricane Graphics - Search Engine Freindly Website Design and Search Engine Optimization

How Does Google Define Spam?

The Google Webmaster Guidelines specifically state that the following techniques may lead them to remove your site from the Google index:

  • Hidden text or hidden links.
  • Cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Automated queries to Google.
  • Pages loaded with irrelevant keywords.
  • Multiple pages, subdomains / domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • "Doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter“ approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

Hurricane Graphics - Website Optimization for Better Search Engine Ranking

How Do Search Engines Work?

In the simplest of terms, search engines run automated programs, called "bots" or "spiders" that follow the links on your website to "crawl" from page to page and analyze the text content in order to determine what each page is about. The content is "indexed" and stored in a giant database of documents that makes up a search engine's "index". When a request for information comes into the search engine, it retrieves from its index all the documents that match the query.

The goal of any search engine optimization effort is to try to get the pages of your site to show up within the first two or three pages of search results. The exact rules or algorithms the search engines use to determine which pages rank the highest are constantly changing and held as closely guarded secrets to insure the quality and relevance of the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Hurricane Graphics - Custom Website Design and Search Engine Optimization Services

Monday, January 01, 2007

FREE Anti-Virus Software that really works

I was VERY skeptical at first, in fact, when I heard that some companies were promoting a FREE Anti-Virus program instead of purchasing the tried and true Symantec/Norton or McAfee products, I was the first one to poke fun about it. But, I must admit, I have been using this one for over two years, and I have not had a single problem on any of my personal computers.

The name of the program is Avira AntiVir® Personal Edition Classic.

AntiVir® Personal Edition is FREE, it automatically checks for and installs updates every few days, and it seems to work great.

You can download your free copy here:

AntiVir is FREE for personal use, but if you plan to use it as a corporate solution on MANY computers, you are supposed to upgrade to the Premium Version.

Although the Personal Edition is Free, they do hound you a bit to upgrade everytime you update the virus definitions, but you can simply say no, and you still get the full functionality of the program. The only other drawback is that the Free version expires after you use if for around six months, but it is a simple matter of uninstalling the old version, and re-downloading another free copy and installing it. Considering the price is right (free), I don't mind re-installing twice a year, but if you prefer, for a minimal charge, you can upgrade to the premium version that does not expire.

Hurricane Graphics - Web Site Design, Optimization and Promotion

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Zone Alarm - Free Software Firewall

Sure, Windows XP comes with it's own Firewall software, but it has limited configuration options, so I prefer to disable the Windows Firewall and install the Free version of Zone Alarm instead.

Zone Alarm automatically makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet and it not only identifies hackers and blocks access attempts from coming IN to your computer, but it also warns you if a program that is already on your computer is attempting to get OUT to the Internet without you knowing about it.

When I first installed Zone Alarm, I was amazed to see how many programs were attempting to sneak out to the Internet with information about me and my Internet usage habits. Did you know programs like Windows Media Player, Real Player, Adobe Acrobat, PhotoShop, and even Windows itself attempt to access the Internet and transmit information EVERY TIME YOU CONNECT TO THE INTERNET? And, if you have a high speed connection that is ON ALL THE TIME, these programs are free to go in and out every few minutes, without you ever even knowing about it. Scary huh?

If you don't already have it, I'd suggest downloading and installing Zone Alarm today!

Get it here: Download Zone Alarm

I hope you find this information helpful.

Hurricane Bob

Hurricane Graphics - Custom Web Design and Search Engine Optimization

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Flash Movies in PowerPoint

There has been a lot of articles written about how to insert Flash movies into PowerPoint. One of the problems was that once the movie plays once, it does not rewind itself. There are several ways of modifying the Visual Basic Code to rewind the Flash movie so it can play again if you go back to a previous slide containing a flash movie. This can be quite confusing and darn near impossible for people with little or no knowledge of Visual Basic.

I have found a really simple way to assure that your flash movie plays from the beginning everytime, and I'd like to share it with you.

First, you have to place a copy of the Flash swf file in the same folder where your Main PowerPoint presentation will reside.

Then you have to create a one slide presentation file containing the flash movie, and link to it from your main presentation.

Create a new PPT file and format the background color of the first (and only) slide to the same color as the background of your Flash Movie.

Make sure the Control Tool box is visible by clicking on VIEW, TOOLBARS, and place a checkmark next to the Control Toolbox item in the dropdown list.

Click the MORE CONTROLS icon in the Control Toolbox. This will take a moment to populate a long list of active X controls that you can add to your slides. When the list appears, scroll down and select the Shockwave Flash Object from the list. The cursor will turn into crosshairs. Drag a box approximately the same size as the Flash Movie will appear on the slide.

The Flash Object will initially appear as a white box with an X in it. Right click on the white box and select Properties. This will open up the Properties list box with a number of editable parameters.

You can leave most of them alone, the only ones you need to bother with are the following:

Next to EmbedMovie, change the default value of False to True.

Click inside the blank cell to the right of the Movie parameter, and type in the exact name of the swf movie file (intro.swf)

Then you can close the the Properties box, and save the one slide PPT file. Once it is saved as a PPT, save it again, but this time select Save As, and select PowerPoint Show (*.pps) as the file type. Make sure the PPS file is also in the same folder as the Main Presentation and the Flash swf file. You no longer need the one slide ppt file) The resulting PPS file will automatically open in full screen (show mode) and play the Flash movie from the beginning when opened.

Now go back to your Main Presentation file and create a hyperlink to open up the PPS file you just created. To create the hyperlink, select a text box, (or practically any other PowerPoint object), and right click on the selected object and choose HYPERLINK from the dropdown menu. Then simply type the exact name of the one slide pps file in the "file or web page name" box.

When you are all finished editing your Main Presentation save it as a PPS (show file) too.

When you run your Main Presentation, it will open in Show Mode. When you get to the slide containing the hyperlink, click on the hyperlink, and the one slide PPS will open in show mode and play the Flash Movie. When your done viewing the movie, simply close the one slide PPS file (by pressing Escape or Alt-F4), and you will resume your Main Presentation, still in show mode where you left off. To play the Flash Movie again, just click the hyperlink again.

Notes: I have found that if your Main Presentation is a PPT file (not a PPS file), it may not return properly in show mode after you close the one slide PPS file. However, both files are saved as show files (PPS files), everything works fine.

Also, PPT will not recognize clicks on top of a running Flash movie, so do not make the flash movie fill the entire slide. Leave some space around the edges of the movie to allow you to close the one slide PPS file.

Hope you found this info helpful.

Hurricane Bob

Custom Web Design and Flash Animation by Hurricane Graphics

Monday, June 26, 2006

Should you have ads on your website?

Does Adsense Make Sense?

I know lots of people are making a pretty good buck using adsense (or at least Google is making a good buck), but personally, I'm not particularly fond of sites with ads on them.

One of the things that bothers me the most is the fact that adsense ads rotate. The same ad will not appear on the same page every time, and you have to be damn sure that the ads that do appear are not a conflict of interest, or direct competition to your business. I'm certainly not an expert on this, but I'm told you can select which ads will not appear on your site. Will Google notify you when they sign up a new client to make sure it's ok to appear on your site? Or is it your responsibility to monitor and cross off sites when/if you happen to see them? I don't really know for sure.

That is not to say that you can't sell static ads to hand picked advertisers (with products or resources you endorse) on your own. Lots of sites have a few hand picked ads with a link that says "advertise on this site". The link goes to a page where they are given information, prices, reciprocal link agreements, etc...

This is one way to generate a small amount of income, and still be able to control the quality and content of the ads that appear on your site. Sure, it's a bit more work, but I'd sleep better at night knowing that I'm not promoting a product or site that I don't approve of. Unless of course you don't care about that sort of thing.

I recently had a client who had their mind set on running ads on their new website with the idea that they were going to rake in the cash. My advice to them was this:

Go to Google, search for a topic and click on a few of the results until you come across a site with ads, and ask yourself, do I want my site to be like this? Then check the reputation of the site your looking at. Are they a quality site, or are they just a vehicle to get people to click on ads?

There is a free download called the Google Toolbar which measures the "Page Rank" of the site you are viewing. On a scale of one to ten, with one being low and 10 being high. This page rank is based on the age of the site, link popularity and content quality and lots of other things, but it can be a good indicator of a sites reputation and/or quality. Some say never link to a site with a Page Rank less than 4. Some also say that Google page rank can be swayed by sites that promote Google with adsense ads or other forms of compensation, but there has never been any solid proof of this.

You can download the Google toolbar here:

PS - Page Rank is one of the Advanced options of the Google toolbar that must be turned on. It is not active by default.

I hope you find this info helpful.

Hurricane Bob

Visit the Hurricane Graphics website for more information on custom web design and search engine optimization and promotion.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Straighten up with the Measure Tool

Here's an easy way to straighten up those crooked scans or images.

Instead of rotating an image by trial and error until you get it straight, you can do it quick and easy with the measure tool.

If you have a crooked image that you want to straighten up quick, just get the measure tool (you'll find it hidden under the eyedropper tool). With the measure tool active, drag a line across the crooked edge of the image or object you want to straighten up. Then from the image menu, select, rotate canvas, arbitrary, and hit enter. Viola! The image will automatically be straightened up.

Another quick and easy time saver

Brought to you by Hurricane Graphics - Custom web site design, flash animation, search engine optimization and affordable web hosting.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Quick fill in PhotoShop

Did you know you can fill a selection with the foreground or background color in PhotoShop with a single keystroke?


Once you have a selection, just press Alt-Backspace to fill the selection with the foreground color, and press Ctrl-Backspace to fill the selection with the background color.

We don't need no stinking menu options! Hotkeys rule!

Brought to you by Hurricane Graphics - Custom web site design, flash animation, search engine optimization and affordable web hosting.

Merging a composite layer in PhotoShop

I don't know about you, but I have a habit of doing things the hard way, and when I find a real time saver, I like to spread the word. I'm sure to many experts, this is no secret, but for me, it was a revelation.

If I had a multilayer PhotoShop file, I have always been taught to never throw anything away, so I would make a copy of each of my important layers, and then merge the copies into a single composite layer. You know, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, merge linked layers.

Well, there's a much easier way.

You don't have to duplicate those layers at all.

Simply create a new empty layer, then link all the existing layers you want to be in the composite layer, and with the new empty layer active, press control-alt-E, and viola! You now have a composite layer consisting of all your linked layers, without having to take the time to duplicate each layer, and still preserving the individual layers in the event you have to go back and edit them later.

Quick and easy, and it has saved me lots of time and trouble. I hope it will do the same for you.

Brought to you by Hurricane Graphics - Custom web site design, flash animation, search engine optimization and affordable web hosting.