Are You a Tweeter? I know I am.

Twitter is one of the most popular social networks on the internet. If you are a business and you aren’t using Twitter in today’s age, you are missing out on tons of customer interaction. Before technology started advancing, business was purely word of mouth. Today it is word of keyboard and instant messaging. Twitter has a large user base and millions of active engaged tweeters. People buy products from businesses based on a few factors, price, quality, and some sort of customer relations. Customer relations is huge. If you are a business or service provider, you already know the effectiveness of email marketing and updating customers with deals and alerts. Through twitter you get word of mouth through hashtags and retweets. People aren’t actively engaged in email as they once were. Granted, email is still a huge part of business and social interaction. Twitter allows users to follow you and retweet any sort of product updates you have to their own followers.

Businesses that aren’t established and aren’t branded most likely won’t be able to gain followers easily. With the user database you have you should sent out emails and include your twitter username for them to follow. Another method to gain targeted twitter followers is to use a twitter bot. This bot is extremely effective at gaining targeted followers based on hashtags. We will refer to hashtags as keywords because that is what they are to a marketer. All that is needed is for you to login to the bot and set your settings. Just an example of this: If you are a owner of a fitness or health related product you would use keywords like #abs, #fitness, or #swole. The bot will find the followers that have used these keywords and follow them in hopes that they follow you back. This method is effective because you are a product owner and you are targeting followers that are interested in your product. You can’t force these users to follow you, they choose to. Another effective method is to follow the followers of people in your niche. Using the same example above, you could follow the followers of @Mens_Fitness or @BodyBuildingcom. The followers of these users are all interested in fitness and health related products, which you are trying to target.

If you haven’t taken the plunge and decided to use Twitter, you are a making a huge mistake. Any form of social media interaction with your customers is good. It shows that you care and that you are interested in your customer’s opinions. The method stated above may seem immoral or an invasion of privacy but it really is the same thing as a TV commercial. You abruptly drop by, mention your name, and give the customer the opportunity to take a chance with your product or business. Commercials are forced where as in our case customers are given the opportunity to say no and ignore you. That is when you use the software to unfollow the followers that don’t follow you back.

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Minecraft and Pokemon = Pixelmon

As I said in my “About” section, I am a self proclaimed nerd. I enjoy playing video games and I love Minecraft. Recently Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 Billion! We have yet to see anything happen in terms of gameplay. What I suspect will happen is they will either release some huge update to the game or leave it as is and just incorporate ads. At this point Minecraft has been out for five years. It has been the same game since it came out and people love it for its simplicity. You need to think about Microsoft though, how are they going to make a return on investment when they shelled out 2.5 Billion Dollars for a five year old game. They either have big plans or are simply going to add ads to the game in some fashion.

I have played Minecraft for a while. I have it for both the Xbox 360 as well as the PC. I never got into modding but I recently started playing a pixelmon server. When I was a kid I absolutely loved Pokémon. I collected the cards and watched the cartoon on Saturday mornings. The thing with Minecraft is that it brings some sort of nostalgia and with Pokémon it brought it back even more. I highly recommend trying these mods out especially if you fell in love with Pokémon as a kid.

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There are actually tons of Minecraft mods but the Pixelmon mod seemed the most fitting to try first, considering it changed the entire game. Your character looks like Ash Ketchum and you actually get to catch Pokémon with the different types of Poke-Balls. Currently the servers have 637 total Pokémon to choose from. You can catch them, you can even fly some of them.

The mod is constantly being updated and depending on the server admin you might be able to experience these updates as they come out. The people that maintain the mod also take community feedback into account. Most recently they wanted feedback on breeding. They also added a new Halloween mode for server owners to use. This makes questing in the game extremely fun.

I’ll see you guys out there. Catch em’ All!

Have you heard of these Booter tools?

If you have run an established website in the past decade or If you have been on the internet, chances are you have seen the effects of a Booter. These destructive tools are used to flood websites with traffic to the point that they go offline. Methods of DDoS have changed in this time frame and I have personally been effected. I will give you a little background information on how they work and methods that you can use in order to combat the attacks and keep your assets safe.

What is a Booter? 

To start, a Booter is known by many names. You might have seen them referred to as stressers, DDoS tools, DoS tool, flooder, IP stresser. Those are just a few of the most well known names. They all essentially have the same end goal. That goal being to take your website or personal internet offline.

There is a bit of difference in the use of each though. Booters or Stresser are both accessible by paid subscription to a website that provides these methods. Luckily  I was able to find a site that details this information on the best booters to try. The site features a top 10 list and a few features of each option. The blog also detailed attack types and the most effective ways to perform an attack. These sites all use a simple web based login front-end and are connected to spoofed servers that keep the user safe from being tracked.

A DDoS tool or DoS tool is just what it states. A tool or program that enables you to send packets and flood the specified IP address with traffic. These tools are essentially obsolete in today’s world though. They utilize your internet by using your bandwidth to send large amounts of traffic through the usage of the ping command. These types of attack methods are easily tracked. Keep in mind that these types of services are illegal and people have gone to jail. In the Anonymous documentary you see a person who used Low Orbit Ion Cannon to attack websites. LOIC is a DDoS tool that simply refreshes a page sending large amount of requests. The user was easily tracked by the government and was sentenced to a ban from the internet.

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How Do These Sites and Tools Work?

A web based booter or stresser requires a purchase ranging from $1-$15 for a month of access. These tools are very cost effective and provide large amounts of power as the attacks are amplified through the usage of server sided scripts. They are easy to use and all you need is an IP address and port, both of which are publicly available. Once logging in you will have access to the back-end servers power. The owner of the websites generally use an API to hook the servers together and send the attacks through the front-end.

A DDoS tool works in a similar way except you are limited by your own internet connection. You can only send as many requests as your internet can handle. In many instances you can even “boot” yourself offline by sending too many requests. Again all you need is an IP address to attack and a port.

How Can I Protect My Site and Internet?

The easiest way to protect your website is to invest in DDoS mitigation services. These services mask your website’s IP address with their own. When someone attempts to attack your site they actually end up sending the requests to the mitigation service and the attacks are filtered through their massive datacenters that can handle the data. These tools can be a bit pricey but are very effective in combating these attacks. A few notable services are Cloudflare, Prolexic, and OVH.

Truth be told there are no real effective ways to combat DDoS attacks currently. If your home internet is attacked there is no way to filter the attacks by means of a mitigation service. A way to attempt to do so is to buy faster internet speeds and hope your internet can keep up with the requests.


Snapchat Ouija Ad

snapchat money logo

If you are a user of the popular mobile application Snapchat then you know they have started to use the stories section for advertisements. On October 17th they detailed in their blog that they would start advertising to users in the United States. They said it was the first time they were approached for paid advertising and decided to take the “plunge.” The ads themselves are not particularly invasive. The ads only display in your stories section and you are not required to watch them. The stories section was introduced to us on October 3rd and we have seen several videos from Snapchat themselves in this section. The ads work the same way stories do. Once they are viewed they disappear in 24 hours. If you opt not to watch them they will still disappear.

The Snapchat team was upfront with their reasons for advertisements. They simply need money. The ads only display in your stories and in no way affect your personal snaps or your chats. Snapchat is actually approaching ads in a way that benefits the end user. The ads are creative and informative. Social media giants like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all approach advertisements in the same manner. The ads they use are creepy, targeted and feel completely like an invasion of privacy. They are also forced on you because you have no alternative services similar to them.

The ads from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram remind me of a candid camera episode I watched where a salesman is selling a 60-Inch TV for $100. The catch is that the entire screen is filled with ads except for an 11 inch display that shows your program. When it comes down to it though an ad is an ad is an ad. The difference is, with Snapchat I get to choose whether or not I want to be subjected to ads. With Facebook I have no choice.

It is still unknown exactly how the companies purchasing these ads will make a return of investment. In order for the ads to be effective the company would want the user to view the ad for the entire time. Snapchat also makes a point of saying that the ads chosen were creative and benefit the users being targeted.

I believe the ads were inevitable and expected. Then again if Snapchat truly needed money the two owners Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel should not of pocketed $10 million. We should not forget who the creators of the app are and the drama behind the creation of it. They could also consider doing more with their actual website instead of being a landing page to download their app. We have the iTunes and Google Play store for that.

The first ad to run on Snapchat is for the upcoming film “Ouija.” I am not sure exactly how the producers will be able to monitor the influence of the Snapchat ad when they have alternative means of advertising the movie. For example the movie “The November Man” advertised primarily through YouTube ads and advertisements on popular gaming websites like MLG. This was a proper way to access advertisement efforts to a target audience.

You can read more from Snapchat’s blog.