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Friday, 21 November 2014

Adsense, Blogger and YouTube

(An off-topic post) The trials and tribulations of enabling Adsense ads on both YouTube and Blogger.

Summary: This describes how I enabled my blog for AdSense when already showing ads on YouTube - something others seem to have had difficulty with. It required registering my own top level domain because you can't use an AdSense account created with YouTube for hosted Blogger blogs. The post is off-topic as far as the blog goes, but the tale may be helpful to other bloggers. Apologies to regular Yorkshire Memories readers, but at least the ads might earn me a bit of pocket money.

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I enabled AdSense on my two YouTube channels in August 2014. I wish I’d enabled it sooner considering I’ve had nearly 400,000 views over several years.

I also started this Blogger blog in August 2014 with the aim of linking it to AdSense. However, for the first three months the “Sign up for AdSense” button in the Earnings section was greyed out. Reading various forums, it seemed I might need to wait until the blog was 6 months old with perhaps as many as 40 posts before my blog would be eligible (I found Get Google Adsense Approval! 7 Things to Do That Really Work very helpful, despite it being more oriented to WordPress than Blogger).

I was therefore pleased to find the “Sign up for AdSense” button became active after just 3 months (exactly to the day) and only 12 posts. This may surprise some people who have been waiting for longer. It may be significant that (1) I am in the UK and (2) all my posts are very nearly text-only with between 1000 and 2000 words per post. 


Another problem was that when the “Sign up for AdSense” button first seemed to be active, it actually wasn’t. All that happened on clicking it was that a “Loading” message appeared briefly and then nothing else. Forums indicated this was a fault that was being corrected. After a few days it worked properly, and took me to the next screen.

 

As I already had an AdSense account created from YouTube, I used my Google account sign in. After this my Blogger Earnings page provided a link to my AdSense dashboard.

 

When “Show ads on blog” was set to “Yes”, then the “About Me” panel on my blog moved down to leave a blank space where the sidebar ad would go, and there was another space between the first two posts for another ad.

I thought I’d succeeded but the ads remained blank. I thought I just had to wait for them to activate but after a week they were still blank.

Again referring to the forums, it seems you can no longer place ads on Blogger using an Adsense account that was initially set up with YouTube. This was confirmed by a banner on my AdSense dashboard: 

“Your AdSense account is enabled only to show ads on YouTube. If you want to show ads on a different site, you’ll need to provide us with the URL of the site you want to monetise. You can do this via a one-time application form.”

 

In other words, if the AdSense account was accepted through YouTube you can only use it with YouTube. To use it anywhere else you have to apply for an upgrade but this can only be done with a top level domain name.

Again, looking around the forums, there seemed to be two possible things I could do.

(1) set up a second AdSense account just for Blogger. I have not tried this. It would involve creating a second Google ID, and would mean that any ad earnings from Blogger would go into a different AdSense account from the earnings from YouTube. A second ID would also violate the AdSense terms and conditions. As my earnings will be little enough as it is I want them all to go to the same AdSense account. In fact it’s hardly worth my while at all except for a sense of satisfaction. To be precise, my YouTube channels have earned just £1.41 over three months!

(2) register my own top level domain and assign this to the blog so that instead of a blogspot.co.uk address my blog would have its own address, and then I could apply to upgrade AdSense using the one-time application form.  This is what I decided to do.

I wanted a private domain registration to protect my name and address details. After looking at various options I decided to register www.taskerdunham.com through Namecheap.com with their free WhoisGuard subscription. It cost me $10.87 (£6.90) for one year’s private registration. It was very easy and became active immediately. If I had not wanted anonymity I could have done it elsewhere for much less than that. I know others have done it for free using a .tk domain.

The next step was to alter my custom domain www.taskerdunham.com to redirect to my Blogger blog. This means in effect that my blog has two addresses, (i) taskerdunham.com and (ii) taskerdunham.blogspot.co.uk – it will still be found at both URLs so I don’t have to worry about telling any existing readers of the change.

So in Blogger I went to Settings Basic and select  “Set Up A Third Party URL” and entered www.taskerdunham.com under Blog Address.


I clicked “Set up a third party URL” which produced a field to enter my new domain name www.taskerdunham.com and then clicked the Save button.

DONT PANIC! -this immediately produces the following Error 12 message which lists two CNAMES (canonical names used in domain registration): [DO NOT CLICK SAVE AGAIN JUST YET]

 

All this means is that you have to redirect your custom domain name so that it points at your Blogger blog. You have to go to your domain registrar's website and alter the settings by entering the two CNAMES

                                        www                          ghs.google.com
                                        cfo5........                   gv-ii ......dv.googlehoosted.com

Different domain registrars will have different procedures and you may have to search around for instructions and examples. Blogger has a help page for the common ones. In my case I signed in to my Namecheap account and found their useful help page “How do I use my domain with my Blogger account?” showing exactly how to do this and where to enter the two CNAMES (there is a video as well, but not specific to setting up Blogger blogs). In case anyone else opts for Namecheap, here is my completed screen accessed by the “All Host Records” link:


I only entered the CNAMES - I did not touch the '1800' field or the other fields underneath this section.

Having done this at Namecheap, I returned to Blogger and clicked Save on the screen shown above, which produced the following screen listing the two URLs for my blog. Here I also clicked Edit next to www.taskerdunham.com and checked a box which seems to cover the possibility of someone missing the www from the front and typing just taskerdunham.com. I don’t know whether that’s essential because most browsers seem to handle that anyway.


Success! All seems to work. My blog can be seen at www.taskerdunham.com and www.taskerdunham.blogspot.co.uk and www.taskerdunham.blogspot.com and it still works if the www. is omitted as well.  I can also still edit my blog and make new posts by signing in to Blogger with my Google ID in the usual way.

But I'm not finished yet. Now I have to apply to AdSense for approval for my top level domain using the one-time application form. Actually it's just a field you fill in.

 

You then get a Thanks for applying screen and have to wait. It also says that “In order for your application to be approved, you must place your ad code on one or more webpages at the URL you entered in your upgrade application. Note that blank ads will be shown until your application is approved.”


Well, ad codes and blank ads were already on my blog because the “Show ads on blog” box on the third screen above was still ticked and there were still blank spaces on the page. I could see these had been set up in the My Ads section of my AdSense account as below. I don’t think you need to do anything else at this point other than wait. However, just to make sure, I did click the +New Ad Unit button and created some new code, which I placed at the end of my blog using Layout – Add a Gadget – HTML/JavaScript on the Blogger menu and copying and pasting the new code into the box that appears. But I doubt you have to do this.

 

Some forums say it can take a few days or even a month for the AdSense upgrade to be approved. In fact mine happened within two or three hours. I got the following email, and WOW! as you can see, the ads are on the blog!


I suspect that if I do not want to maintain my custom domain, then after a year I can revert my blog back to being a hosted account, and ads will continue to appear. I have yet to find out.

LATER

1. I find that on the AdSense website, the ads for the blog sidebar and between-posts are now listed as status Idle. I think this is because no on has clicked them for a week - well they couldn’t could they because they haven’t been displaying. This is nothing to worry about. They become active again if and when someone clicks them .... later still - they are now showing as active again.

2. I also now find I can generate AdSense code and put it on my free Weebly site. That is now displaying ads too. I just have to wait a few days now to check whether they are showing as impressions on AdSense.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Talk like a pirate

Tasker Dunham wishes he hadn’t wasted his childhood watching so much television

We weren’t the last by any means. The physics teacher’s family held out Canute-like against the incoming electromagnetic tide for at least a decade longer, his children pitied in their Dark Age deprivation. But we were still late enough for my schoolmates to gasp in incredulity “What! You don’t have a television!”

It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford one – they were cheap enough to rent – it was because my dad thought them a mindless, brain numbing waste of time. After long hours talking with endless numbers of people at work, he settled down in contented tranquillity, lost in poetry, history or the bible readings from church, or occasionally the B.B.C. Home Service. My mum, when housework was done, would be knitting, gobbling novels from the library or learning lines for her twice-yearly parts with a local drama group. I got through two or three books a week too and still had time for constructive, creative and educational hobbies, not to mention homework. No one ever really needed a television, there was always plenty to do.

The outcome was that ours was just about the last house in the street to have an X- or H-shaped aerial on the chimney stack. So my earliest viewing memories are all on other peoples’ sets: the neighbour who usually invited my mum, with me in tow, to watch ‘Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium’; my grandma’s cousin who let me watch F.A. cup finals on Saturday afternoons; the occasional glimpse of the Lone Ranger at friends’ houses. I remember the now forgotten Don Arrol’s brief stint as the Palladium compere in 1960, and the 1958 F.A. cup final when Bolton Wanderers beat a tragically depleted Manchester United just after the Munich air disaster, the only two goals scored by Nat Lofthouse, the second when he controversially bundled goalkeeper Harry Gregg over the line, for which these days he would immediately be sent off.

My only regular television was the one day each week I went after school to my mother’s aunt’s house and watched adventure series on Granada which was then the ITV provider across the whole of the North of England. Escapist adventures were very popular in the early days of children’s television – I’m sure everyone then around will remember The Adventures of Robin Hood, William Tell and Rin Tin Tin, to name but a few. On the day I watched it was either Long John Silver or my particular favourite, The Buccaneers. I can still sing you the theme tunes and the music Granada used to play before the early evening programmes started.

‘The Adventures of Long John Silver’ was made in 1954 in colour in Australia for television, but by the time it appeared on our screens three years later, Robert Newton, the actor who played the title role, had died from a heart attack at the age of only fifty, a consequence of chronic alcoholism. His portrayal of the character, both in the series and in the 1950 film Treasure Island, was so memorably idiosyncratic, he became the much-parodied, stereotypical pirate for the next half century. The wild eyes and oddly exaggerated, throaty West country accent can still be seen as an influence in some of the performances in the 2003 film Pirates of the Carribean. Two Americans even thought it fitting to declare September 19th each year to be ‘International Talk Like A Pirate Day’ when everyone should greet each other with phrases such as “Ahoy, matey!”, and liberally sprinkle their speech with the pirate growl “Aaarrrh”.

The opening titles of the series had Newton, as Silver, reciting the first verse of Robert Louis Stevenson’s epigraph ‘To The Hesitating Purchaser’ from the beginning of ‘Treasure Island’* over a skull and crossbones flag and map of The Spanish Main. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube we can remind ourselves of it today, although an even better use of the lines is for practising your own pirate voice. The words are perfect. Just growl them out, rhoticising and stretching the ‘r’s, missing the ‘d’ out of ‘adventure’, and you’ll sound pretty authentic:

                              If sailor tales to sailor tunes,
                              Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
                              If schooners, islands, and maroons,
                              And buccaneers and buried gold,
                              And all the old romance, retold,
                              Exactly in the ancient way,
                              Can please, as me they pleased of old,
                              The wiser youngsters of today:
                              So be it (Aarrrh Aarrrh), and fall on!

I preferred the less eccentric protagonist, Captain Dan Tempest in The Buccaneers. As its title implies, this was also set in the sixteenth century age of pirates. Tempest was an ex-pirate, pardoned by the King and turned privateer, a naval mercenary, to fight other pirates and the despicable Spaniards. He never caught the imagination in the same way as Long John Silver, perhaps because he lacked the Newton and Stevenson credentials, or more likely because he didn’t actually sound like a pirate in the way that Newton had taught us they should.

My dad eventually surrendered to the inevitable and bought a television during 1961 or 1962. I know we didn’t have one at the beginning of 1961 because I watched Bruce Forsyth do a routine about the new year on the next door neighbour’s set (I’m sure it was Bruce Forsyth, although archives suggest he was taking a rest from his role as compere of the Palladium show at that time). Aided by a printed card, he explained that 1961 looked the same if you turned it upside down, that he had last used the same gag in 1881, and would show us it again in 2002 – the ‘2’ being drawn in a flippable font. I don’t know whether he did, but if not then it would be great to see it again, and we should certainly remind him not to miss the opportunity in 2112.

We definitely had a set by the 23rd July, 1962, when the first live images were beamed into European homes from America by the Telstar satellite. The first scheduled pictures at 8.00 p.m. were to have been of President Kennedy’s regular weekly news conference, but the connection to the satellite was established a couple of minutes early, and so we were treated to a far more interesting and all too brief section of baseball. The Chicago Cubs fielder George Altman was amazed to discover he had been seen “... all the way from Wrigley Field in Chicago to the Colosseum in Rome” catching a hit from Tony Taylor of the Philadelphia Phillies.

In Britain we were told the signals had been caught all the way from Andover, Maine, via Telstar, by the Goonhilly station near Helston in Cornwall, but it later transpired that what we saw had been relayed from the French receiving station near Lannion in Britanny because the Goonhilly reception was of poor quality. The despicable French had been much better at tracking the satellite to within the required one third of a degree of arc from the first experimental transmissions on July 11th, the day after Telstar was launched. How dare they! Captain Dan Tempest would soon have sorted them out.

By the end of the decade we were watching live transmissions from the moon, but perhaps my dad’s concern that we would waste our lives watching drivel turned out to contain more than just an element of truth. The rot set in pretty quickly. On the 22nd November, 1963, I was watching the indisputably mindless quiz show ‘Take Your Pick’ presented by ‘your quiz inquisitor’, Michael Miles. This was the show that included the ‘Yes-No Interlude’ in which the host tried to trick contestants into saying the word ‘No’,** and another section in which he tried to persuade them to sell ‘the key to Box 13’. I know the exact date and time because at around ten past seven the programme was interrupted with the news that President Kennedy had been shot, and I rushed into the kitchen to tell my mother.

The following day I saw the very first episode of Dr. Who, ‘An Unearthly Child’, and yes Ron Grainer’s theme music from the B.B.C. Radiophonic Workshop was truly frightening, and yes I did hide behind the settee. The programme made such impact nationally that the first episode was repeated the following week immediately before the second episode, but the aspect of the story that caught my imagination most was that part of it took place in a school science laboratory.

From then on the reading and the hobbies gradually dried up. I eagerly looked forward to favourite shows: it wasn’t long before Thursday evenings were the non-negotiable preserve of ‘Top of the Pops’ and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

As a nation, we really did spend excessive amounts of time watching television. We planned our time around the weekly schedules and measured our lives against world events shown on the news. Some programmes, watched by just about every other person in the country, would have regular audience figures of over twenty million.

A survey in 2005 found that children typically watch three to four hours per day, more time than on any other leisure activity. Reading now hardly gets a look in. If you add it all up, as many as three out of the first eighteen years can be spent in front of the television. If that alone doesn’t alter the way we think about the world, we are likely to see more than twenty five thousand adverts per year, even more in America, all cleverly designed to manipulate our desires. Even if television more recently has been displaced by social media and so on, I doubt the total number of hours spent in front of screens has gone down at all.

Admirably, my dad remained a bastion of common sense. As soon as the television was turned on, he retired to his books and radio in the other room. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that all television is bad, but it pains me to think of the skills and knowledge and educational attainments I might have had by following my dad’s example. But as if to show what goes around comes around, while I sit here trying desperately to improve my writing skills and perfect my pirate voice, the rest of the family are in the other room watching that embodiment of ephemeral triviality, ‘the X factor’. 

* During the course of looking up the epigraph at the beginning of Treasure Island, I started reading the book and didn’t want to stop. I read the whole thing over three or four days. What an exciting story it is, and so readable you would never believe it was first published in 1883. I've now started reading Andrew Motion’s recent sequel “Silver: Return to Treasure Island” and going by the first few chapters it is every bit as good, possibly better, and I’m not saying that just because I remember him as a young lecturer in Hull in the 1970s, before his stint as Poet Laureate. LATER: I have to say I enjoyed the first half of “Silver” more than the second - I feel it becomes too tied up in its plotlines, and the ending could be more cheerful too, but on the whole it's worthwhile read.

** I may be denigrating ‘Take Your Pick unfairly. Some politicians were clearly big fans of the ‘Yes-No Interlude’. In the recent referendum, they tricked the Scots into voting ‘No’ and then banged a big ‘gong’ at them.

Monday, 10 November 2014

School Chemistry

Tasker Dunham remembers his science marks, and wonders what might have been if he hadn't joined the ranks of the idiots. 

January 21, 1965. Thursday. Got 20/20 in a Chemistry test.
January 25, 1965. Monday. Got 10/10 in a Geometry test. Also did a fab. experiment in Physics: the water equivalent of a copper calorimeter.
March 2, 1965. Tuesday. Back to school. Interim positions. Biology 1st.
October 20, 1965. Wednesday. Science Society lecture on Atomic Power Stations.
December 7, 1965. Tuesday. Science Society lecture on wine making - with free samples.

What an insufferable swot!

There was a time when things looked promising at school. I was doing satisfyingly well in most subjects, especially science, but sometimes in different subjects because of fads. Yet I only scraped through ‘O’ level by just enough to avoid total disgrace, messed up ‘A’ level completely, and had absolutely no chance of getting into university. I never did science again. What went wrong?

I was spellbound by the old science labs the moment I went to grammar school. Hidden in an out-of-the-­way upstairs corridor, with a permanent smell of pungent chemicals, coal gas, rubber tubing and wood polish, they hinted at mysterious secret knowledge. As an impressionable eleven year-old I wondered at what went on at those ancient dark benches with their sinks, water taps, gas taps, equipment cupboards and intriguing glass-stoppered bottles with names etched on the front: tincture of iodine, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lime water. Things took place here that were beyond understanding. They could make explosives and powerful poisons. They could turn base metals into gold. They had the philosopher’s stone with the potion of eternal life. If you paid attention, you might have these things too.

One teaching room seemed like the Faraday lecture theatre at the Royal Institution, before the modern seating, a raked amphitheatre with beautiful tiered benches on stepped oak floors. Seated on high, you could look down on Mr. Page as he made oxygen by heating potassium chlorate and manganese dioxide in the blue-yellow flame of a Bunsen burner, collecting the gas as it bubbled into an upturned jar. He became a wizard, an alchemist, demonstrating how the gas reacts with different substances. “Magnesium burns with a bright white light” he would say, conjuring up a dazzling ball of flame too bright and too white to look at.

Spectacular effects aside, my dysfunctionally over-active memory readily absorbed the names of anatomical structures and physiological processes: mitochondria, mitosis, xylem, osmosis, islets of Langerhans. In physics, I was captivated by the sheer ingenuity of some of the procedures, such as the use of a calorimeter to measure and calculate the heat changes in physical and chemical reactions. In mathematics, the interactions of shapes and numbers were as beautiful as any art form.

In Biology we listened to a weekly series of schools programmes on the radio. What a cheat! I must have been the only person in the class with a reel-to-reel tape recorder (a Philips EL3541 model - see later post Reel-to-Reel Recordings). I showed my mother how to record the programmes at home, and handed in an outstanding essay about them. Just being able to listen to them again meant I soaked up the content like a sponge.  

For Christmas I got a Kay chemistry set. I wrote about that in the previous post, but doing your own experiments at home is another guaranteed way to turbo-charge your levels of interest and enthusiasm. My parents must have felt pretty confident I would eventually get a science degree and then on to a job in what Harold Wilson had that very year called the white heat of Britain’s technological revolution.

But as I said, I never did. From doing well at school without really trying, I started to do badly without really trying not to. Of course, I have excuses such as forgetting to revise for the summer science exam which determined the ‘O’ level groups we were put into. My school report has the evidence: position in class 2nd, position in exam 25th, “a disappointing exam result”. “I’m good at this,” I had thought, “it’ll be all right,” but it was a bad day, and I found myself in the second stream where people messed about, and I made the mistake of wanting them to like me. Things became harder too. Chemistry progressed from observation to true experimentation, quantitative measurement and atomic models. And the new school labs, light and airy in a purpose built science block, lacked the exciting, mysterious atmosphere of the old ones. The benches were now in front facing rows rather than islands, and the teachers could no longer see everything their pupils were up to, especially at the back, in other words the jokers, whose ranks I had joined.

The once admired Mister Page, who by now had become Doctor Page, not that any of us understood what that meant, was not well equipped to deal with continuous low level disruption. Thin, with a small bony face, an odd toothy mouth and a permanent worried frown, he was simply insufficiently dominant to control a second stream chemistry class full of idiots determined not to take things seriously. His doctorate in due course became his escape route from teaching to lecturing. As the saying goes, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”

Every time Dr. Page turned his back to write on the blackboard, the disruption began. The cupboards underneath the benches had little metal label-holders that made a musical “ping” when you picked the top bar, and the doors had catches that clicked on opening and closing. As soon as Dr. Page turned away, an orchestral ensemble of pings and clicks would start up, continuing until he spun round angrily, only to be faced by a silent and diligent looking class innocently paying attention. 

Occasionally he spotted someone still smirking, and gave them the blame by shouting their name: Bullard!”; “Langrick!” Geoffrey Bullard perfected the ability to click the cupboard door with his foot while the rest of him remained motionless, his face expressionless. He could continue his covert clicking after Dr. Page had spun round, causing someone else to laugh, and their name to be called out:Thompson!”; Bowcock!” 

Peter Bowcock began to keep a league table of the number of times each person was named. Trevor Thompson went straight to the top after causing an uproar when he caught a wasp in a measuring cylinder and dropped it down into a bottle of sodium hydroxide. It didn’t half fly around fast inside the bottle. Before long, everyone in the back two rows had points except for Jupp , who remained at the bottom of the league on zero until almost the end of term. But the day arrived when, suffering intolerable harassment from others, Jupp was spotted not sitting quietly, and had his name called out. Everyone stood up, cheering and applauding. We had to stay late that day.

Jupp’s downfall was brought about by water. The taps in the benches could not have been better designed for mischief. They were the typical tall laboratory taps, shaped like a lower case ‘r’ with the spout pointing downwards. They could be turned on just enough to drip slowly, so that a well-timed finger could flick drops of water at the head of anyone sitting in front, and if they dared to turn round, Dr. Page would see them and shout out their name. The top of a fountain pen, the kind of top with a small hole in the side for equalising air pressure, could be pushed on the tap to squirt a powerful jet of water directly at someone sitting yards away. The rubber teat from a teat-pipette could do the same job if you made a tiny pin hole, except the spray was so fine the recipient might not notice until the back of his jacket was soaked through. A teat without a pin hole would slowly expand like a balloon, growing bigger and bigger until it became a water bomb primed to explode. There was not a lot you could do about it. Pulling off the teat was suicidal, it guaranteed a soaking. The best thing was simply to turn the tap off, hoping you had correctly remembered which way was off, and trust that the thing remained stable.

Needless to say, hardly anyone from the back of that class has an ‘O’ level in chemistry.