Increase SERP visiblity in Google with stars

One thing a lot of search engine marketers are always pushing for is increased visibility in the search engine result page (SERP).  Increased visibility traditionally comes from simply increasing your rank.  Or if you’re already at the top site links help a lot.

I’ve started to see results on the SERP including stars by the result.  I looked into it and quickly discovered this happens when including microformats (hReview-aggregate) on pages that display a rating from users.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

You can see this by going to page two of this search: ati radeon review or by following this link.

I’m not sure when Google start including these stars, but I’ve seen them show up quickly after adding them to your site.

You can find more details on the site here:

It’s pretty easy to implement these on your site if you’re familiar with coding.  Essentially you want to generate this output based on ratings.

<span>Item title</span>
<span id=”file_rating”>
This is where you want clickable stars where people can rate, and the rating is shown. Example:
<img src=”/images/star.png” id=”rate_1″ alt=”1.00″ /> <img src=”/images/star.png” id=”rate_2″ alt=”2.00″ /> <img src=”/images/star.png” id=”rate_3″ alt=”3.00″ /> <img src=”/images/star.png” id=”rate_4″ alt=”4.00″ /> <img src=”/images/star_half.png” id=”rate_5″ alt=”5.00″ />
Average rating here (Example 4.61)
</span> based on
<span>Total number of votes (Example 33)</span> votes.


Forgive the lack of any indentations, haven’t bothered figuring out a good way to put code in posts yet in wordpress.  Anyways, I hope this helps drive more clicks to your site.



No Comments

Another gaming site goes live

Woot, I’m starting to get real comfortable building new flash gaming sites.  Back before I got comfortable with PHP and Symfony it was always such a pain to launch a new site.  Go buy a script costing $50-$200 dollars, tweak/build/buy a template and hack the heck out of the code to get it to work how I wanted.  It always felt like such a mess, and when you finally got a site ready to go…I wouldn’t dare upgrade to a newer version of the script that ran the site.

Now, I write my own backend from the ground up.  Modular classes that I can simply access or ignore anywhere I need them.  If I build a new feature for one site, I can easily copy/paste or simply copy the file to the other project.  OOP programming is such a time saver in many cases.  The pages display exactly what I want and how I want.  It’s a magical thing to get comfortable writing your own applications.  I love it.

The latest site I’ve launched is another cooking game themed site,  This site was pretty cheap and easy to build out.  Working with the platform I’ve previously built, I didn’t have much to do on the backend side of things.  Simply having my designer take a character to integrate into the logo, and used another template I had designed as the base.  I don’t know what it is about cooking games, but they’re hugely popular.  Literally one of the biggest flash gaming niches out there.  This site has minimal ads and lots of games.  New game added weekly until it starts to pick up in popularity.  Let’s hope this one really appeals to those girl gamers out there.

No Comments

Minecraft invalid server key fix

Update 11-24-2011: Minecraft server 1.0.1 has been released which fixes this bug.  You can get the latest Minecraft server here:  You don’t have to update your clients.

I’ve been sucked into Minecraft.  It’s a game with a very simple concept but is incredibly enjoyable to play.  Recently the game moved out of testing/beta and was released as 1.0.0.

To my disappointment, one of the biggest bugs I’ve ran into is a head bashing “The server responded with an invalid server key” error on nearly every connection to a multiplayer server.  Very annoying issue to have go out in your 1.0 release.

A Minecraft mod developer has put out a client side fix for this issue here:

I thought I’d post the Mac instructions on how to apply this fix:

Load up and type the following commands:

cd Library/Application\ Support/minecraft/bin/
mkdir tmp
cd tmp
cp ../minecraft.jar .
unzip minecraft.jar
rm minecraft.jar
wget -O abp.class
zip -r minecraft.jar *
mv minecraft.jar ..
cd ..
rm -rf tmp

What you do is goto the binary folder for your Minecraft install, make a temporary folder and copy the current minecraft.jar there.
Next you unzip the file, download the fix, delete some meta data, and pack up a new minecraft.jar. From there you just copy it back to the minecraft bin folder.

This should hold you over from going insane trying to connect to any server 10 times with errors until you finally get in.

You can download the patched minecraft.jar file here: minecraft.jar

If you run Windows or Linux, check the thread I linked above for instructions on how to apply the fix.

Thanks a bunch to sk89q for this fix.


Stick gaming portal launched!

Woot!  Busy couple of weeks for me.  I just launched another gaming portal,  This is a portal centered around the flash stick games.  There are a huge number of these games out there.  There are so many types of stick games out there, it’s hard to not be able to find a great game to burn some time playing.

With many of my other sites I’ve launched, I’ve struggled to find an interest in the games.  From the girl games to parking games, they just haven’t caught my interest.  Those are niches that I went in to fill, but weren’t really my thing.

That is not the case with stick games.  I personally love sitting down and looking through the scope of a sniper, to pick off some stick figure with a cool story line.  Huge splashes of blood come flying out when you make the head shot.  No harm done right?  They’re just stick figures ;)  Or picking up stick men and tossing them out of the way in some of the defense games.

I’ve always been a fan of the physics based games, and many of these games appeal to that interest as well.  Overall, I am very happy with this site.  It’s an awesome gaming niche that I finally have a passionate interest in.  Heck, I’m even considering trying to pick up ActionScript (flash) programming to see if I can build myself a flash game.

I’m very excited about this site, and hope anyone reading this would enjoy it as well.  So if you’re looking for a cool spot to play some fun games, has you covered.

No Comments

New Gaming Portal Launched

I just recently launched a new flash gaming site,  It’s a flash gaming site for online kissing games.  There’s a good chance you personally won’t be interested in playing these games, as they’re more targeted towards younger girls.  Online flash games have quickly exploded over the years, and new niches are popping up all the time.  Kissing games is the latest niche I’ve moved in to establish a quality online gaming site.

The kissing games genre originates from the games like Spin the Bottom which many will remember from their youth.

This is another website built on the same gaming platform I wrote for  Working in Symfony to build build these applications has turned out to be lots of fun.  It’s so incredibly easy to add features, and essentially make the website work exactly how I want.  I feel this is a huge step up for me from running arcade scripts that you can buy. Those scripts are great, but I always find myself hacking the heck out of it in order to get it to work how I want.

I love to hear any comments or input of any kind on the new gaming site


No Comments

Family domain acquired

I just recently picked up I had my eyes on my family name domains for a while now, and it’s great to finally be able to acquire one.

The nature of domains is that there is a limited supply for whatever demand there is – often compared to “internet real estate”.   I am very excited to finally own this domain.

No Comments

Upgrading to Debian 6 (squeeze) on onApp platform

I ran into a few issues lately with Debian 6 on,, and pretty much any onApp platform.

These are all Xen based deployments, and the issue lies in the fact that grub can’t find your disk. This causes all apt-get upgrades to fail when dealing with the kernel or anything that works with grub.

Here is the output of apt-get upgrade that is relevant to this issue:
Setting up linux-image-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem (2.6.32-31) ...
Running depmod.
Running update-initramfs.
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem
Examining /etc/kernel/postinst.d.
run-parts: executing /etc/kernel/postinst.d/initramfs-tools 2.6.32-5-686-bigmem /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem
run-parts: executing /etc/kernel/postinst.d/zz-update-grub 2.6.32-5-686-bigmem /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem
Searching for GRUB installation directory ... found: /boot/grub
warning: grub-probe can't find drive for /dev/xvda1.
grub-probe: error: cannot find a GRUB drive for /dev/xvda1. Check your
run-parts: /etc/kernel/postinst.d/zz-update-grub exited with return code 1
Failed to process /etc/kernel/postinst.d at /var/lib/dpkg/info/linux-image-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem.postinst line 799, <STDIN> line 2.
dpkg: error processing linux-image-2.6.32-5-686-bigmem (--configure):
subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 2
configured to not write apport reports
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Because Xen manages your kernel on a level that is not visible to the VPS or instance you’re working in, you can just easily remove grub:

apt-get remove grub-legacy grub-common

Simple as that. Now you will be able to manage your system as you normally would, and not worry about constant errors while using apt-get.


Check disk speed quickly and easily in Linux

I generally use hdparm to test the speed of disks in Linux. The command I use is:

hdparm -tT /dev/sda

This quickly tests the throughput, but I thought I’d share another method which actually puts more strain on the disk.

Simply using dd you can run this command to see the write speed:

dd if=/dev/zero of=test bs=1048576 count=2048

and then this command to check the read speed:

dd if=test of=/dev/null bs=1048576

What this does is write 2G of zeros to a file in the first command, and then reads that file in the second command.

Pretty basic, simple, yet useful.


New Gaming Site Launched

WIth my latest work in Symfony, I am proud to announce I have launched, an online flash gaming site dedicated to parking games. This website is running on Symfony 1.4 and I have to say, I am very happy with how it turned out.

I’ve been working with other scripts for years now, and to finally have full control of all aspects of how the application works is great. No more ghetto rigging up other scripts to work how I want.

As for the website, it’s dedicated to parking games which are an interesting type of flash game. They are a branch off the car games category, where your goal is to simply park a car in a parking spot. Many games will add a twist to this basic idea, like traffic, pedestrians, trailers or even give you points when you crash.

I am definitely a big fan of Symfony. I’ve found working with it over the last few months, my productivity has made a huge jump. Overall I am very satisfied with Symfony, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a rock solid PHP framework.

No Comments

Remove index.php from url

One issue many web masters run into is the problem of having multiple URLs where you can access the homepage of your site.

For example, there are some sites you can access by going to:,, and

In a previous post I talked about either forcing www or no www for your domain. In this post I will show you how to check to see if /index.php is requested, and how to remove it.

The solution is a rather simple .htaccess rule:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /([^/]+/)*index\.php\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^(([^/]+/)*)index\.php$ http://%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

Let me break down the lines for you. The first line simply turns on the RewriteEngine. Don’t include this line if RewriteEngine On is already present in your .htaccess file.

The second line checks the HTTP REQUEST for index.php. And the third line redirects the user to the domain, without the /index.php.

This is important as well. You will want to check your website to see if you link to the version of your website anywhere. If you do, you will want to change it to link to the version instead.

I’ve recently seen a few websites where the is PR6, but the is PR4. This causes Google to treat the pages as two separate pages, and can hurt you in rankings. Don’t let this happen to you!