Burts AIS, osCommerce & More Blog
New URL: www.osworld.biz

Sunday, July 31, 2005

An osCommerce Committee ?

Over in Carine's Official osCommerce Blog, devosc raised a good point for discussion:

I would even suggest that an 'osCommerce Committee' be formed where these members are elected by the community and they are the community's collective voice to whom the 'team' must respond or be responsible to.
There are some problem areas, one of them being that the "Team" appears aloof and takes little to no notice of the Community. Ideas and suggestions raised are routinely ignored or hysterically stamped upon (even if those ideas would benefit the Community). And why? Because the "Team" is answerable to nobody.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

My latest Adsense site started making money yesterday

I recently did a stocktake of all my Domains and found a few that I forgot I had bought. If you're anything like me, you think of a good name, register it, then forget about it. Anyway, this Domain is the name of a popular TV show - I originally was going to make a fansite but could not find the time to do this. I made a quick site (it's about 30 pages) and remonetised it using Adsense. This was about 10 days ago, yesterday it made over $3 on Adsense! Nice! Another thousand sites like that and I'll be laughing!

Friday, July 29, 2005

You want customers? Why ask for a Password ?

I got to thinking about what barriers osCommerce places in front of a purchaser. One of the main barriers is the whole checkout process - you can read a good summary of why the checkout process is awful at W&W's Blog. For my own Store, I have reduced the Checkout Steps quite a bit and this morning took out the "password" functionality from the create_account.php page. I'm hoping that this will lead to increased sales as most people don't like having to remember passwords etc. What I have done is recoded the create_account page slightly to create a random password, which is then emailed to the customer in the "Welcome Email". I'll see how it goes for a short while and if everything looks good, I'll write down how to do it so that others can see how I implemented it.

xmlhttprequest in advanced_search.php (aka AJAX)

I sat down to do this many months ago, but probably got bored of looking at code. Anyway, I just 40 minutes getting it working, and in my test installation it works OK! The problem is that I cannot package it up as a GPL contribution as the license for the Code that I re-used forbids it. So what I will do is put together a step-by-step tutorial showing how to do this (later on today [friday] hopefully if I can find time). It works fantastically well and would be a good addition to most stores I think! AJAX Implementation of Advanced Search (osCommerce) Here you can see what I mean - I've typed in "ma" into the advanced search input box. Using xmlhttprequest this requests all the products that have "ma" in the name (matrix, matrox, there's something about mary etc). In this example I'm about to click on the link to There's Something About Mary which will open up the relevant product_info.php page...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The dreaded Price Bug - fix your osC Shop today!

osCommerce suffers from a very serious Bug as it is possible to manipulate any Shop (that has not been patched) to get free of charge products and services. This is not a major hassle for those Shop Owners who check each and every order before sending, but for those who sell downloadable products and those who don't check order closely, you are shafted! The Bug cannot be seen here, but if you append this to the URL: ¤cy=usD this is what happens. Now you can buy that product for ZERO! and you can continue browsing the rest of the shop as all the other products will also cost zero. That, my friends, is how to get free of charge products! GOOD NEWS! There is a solution:

The appropriate fix for this is on the database side as this is a MySQL feature. The column should have been created with the BINARY attribute. You can modify the column using the following statement: alter table currencies modify code char(3) binary not null default ''; After that then MySQL will only do a binary comparison. You can read more at the MySQL site...
If you are unsure how to do this, I can check your Store for you and make the necessary changes for a very small (beer) fee! Get in touch by email: shop AT oscbooks.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Turned down. Harald made me sad :(

I finally heard back from Harald with regards Corporate Sponsorship.

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, I had a week off the week before last, and last week I was offline while waiting for our telephone company to replace a faulty DSL modem. Regarding your enquiry to participate in the osCommerce Corporate Sponsorship program, I do not think a healthy relationship currently exists between yourself and the osCommerce team, and do not see how participation in the sponsorship program can work out when issues arise in the future as to how we manage the project. I hope the relationship between us can change for the better in the near future, and look forward to your participation in the sponsorship program at that time.
To me, this is kind of strange, as something has happened in the past couple of months to cause this, considering that only a little while back I was asked for my views and comments on the new Advertising Scheme well before it was publically announced even. Further, I have no communications with any of the Team as I have "Johnson" on ignore. And no other Team Member has recently spoken with me about any matter other than the fact that I started a Competition in my official osCommerce Blog which was hysterically stamped upon by Harald - I point blank refused his demand to withdraw a prize from the Competition. Anyway... In addition, Harald never asked which Company would be sponsoring the project - so the decision cannot be a business one. It has to be personal, which I find strange. Ho hum. Looks like I'll spend the advertising budget on Adsense as I normally do. In the meantime, as the Team has decided that I am not a healthy participant of osCommerce, I have requested that the personal "Community Sponsorship" be cancelled.

osCommerce Tutorials and eBooks

I own and operate the site www.oscbooks.com - what I am looking for is business owners who would like to explore the possibility of becoming an affiliate (eg designers/developers, hosts, ISPs etc). As well as these "add-on" opportunities, I'm also interested in hearing from anyone who would like to create a stand alone business selling these eBooks... I pay 33% commission and the average ticket is about £15 ($27), meaning the Affiliate (you) would get around £5 ($9) per sale. The sell rate is about 1 sale every 8 (targetted) visitors, so if you sent 50 targetted uniques per day, you'd earn around £31.25 ($60) per day... If anyone is interested to learn more, please get in touch with me for a no obligation discussion: shop AT oscbooks.com

Friday, July 22, 2005

Alternative to Adsense

Someone on another Forum has found this site: www.goldkey.com - basically these people create a keyword laden site free of charge (based on your Domain Name). They then add Overture ads to the site and promote to the Search Engines. They then split the proceeds 50/50 with you. Sounds like a good plan if you ever get banned by Adsense! I might even give it a go with a few of my unused domains...I'll update the thread when I start seeing results.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

New osCommerce Bug (serious)


osCommerce is prone to an information disclosure vulnerability. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to display the contents of any file normally readable by the Web server process. Successful exploitation would result in information disclosure. Information obtained could be used to aid in further attacks against the underlying system; other attacks are also possible. This issue reportedly affects osCommerce version 2.2 milestone 2; other versions may also be vulnerable.
Exploit: http://www.example.com/catalog/extras/update.php?readme_file=/etc/passwd Solution: Remove the "extras" folder as this is not needed to run osCommerce. In plain English: This exploit allows an attacker to view files on the server that are not a part of osCommerce, and could theoretically hack the server.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Most amazing Advertising method !

If you run a bricks and mortar store and are having a promotion, why not think about "way out" methods of advertising. A great idea is to have someone create a masterpiece outside your shop using Chalk! Take a look at this - isn't that amazing? I'm not exactly sure where this guy is based - maybe Belgium going by his Domain Name...but looks like he does work all over the World. Brilliant.

Monday, July 18, 2005

New Adsense Layout

I like the new Adsense layout. Very easy to immediately see how much has been earned today, and it now also has very good reporting downloadable by CSV as well. Of course, it'll take some getting used to after two years of the old layout, but that's not a problem. Any other readers of this Blog use Adsense? What do you think of the new Log In ?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Advertising on the osCommerce Site

osCommerce ran 3 "advertising schemes":

  1. Google Adsense A few pennies per click based on Adverts shown in certain pages
  2. Community Sponsors Pricing from 90 Euros to 120 Euros per year, in return for a few benefits such as "bigger Private Message Inbox, Blog, hidden Sponsors Only Forum.
  3. Corporate Sponsors Banner shown in rotation with Google Adsense, as well as being listed on a Corporate Sponsors page.
This has now changed somewhat in relation to Corporate Sponsors. A few months ago HPDL asked for my input over a new idea which he had regarding Bronze, Silver and Gold pricing for Corporate Sponsors. The ideas outlined to me were interesting and well priced. I'm glad to see that these have now become public at http://www.oscommerce.com/partners/corporate,info - I've applied and will let you know whether or not I am accepted as an osCommerce Sponsor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Automated Income Streams

Over the past 18 months or so, I've been concentrating on creating "Automated Income Streams" - in other words, earning Money for doing next to nothing. This might seem a little hard to understand, but there are many ways that you can earn money for doing very little work. A good example is Google Adsense. By adding a few lines of code to your websites, adverts will show. When a surfer clicks on the Advert you get paid anywhere between $0.01 and $20 (or more)... Of course, you don't really want to run Google Adsense on a site that sells your own products and services, as you may be advertising your competitors - so the best option is to run it on "informational sites". You can see an example at the osCommerce Forum in the top right hand corner, or at one of my own sites: www.housewiz.co.uk I have a number of sites, each of which produces a small income on a daily basis - it's not much, but if I put my mind to it, I could easily up this to as much as I wanted... Another very good idea is to sell "information". For example eBooks. Simply write an eBook about whatever takes your fancy and then sell it! I've done exactly this and it's very successful. There are loads of ideas for this type of business, so I'll use this Blog to give ideas out, now and then - stay tuned. Today I woke up to $72 of orders - all paid for and delivered. I have to do no work! Nice.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Welcome to my new Blog!

After the past week, I've found it increasingly difficult to continue with my old Blog. Anyone who regularly reads my Blog will know what I mean. Politics, politics :( So it is time for a new start. With this new Blog, I'm going to be diarising what a self employed person does all day, as well as some light humour sometimes. I'm going to try to post at least once a day, on diverse subjects such as :

  • osCommerce News and Views
  • Stores I am working on
  • Sites that I own and operate
  • Special Offers
  • Business News
  • Business Ideas
Well, we'll see if this Blog becomes popular or not, eh ;)