My grandson loves to play with our Apple iPod Touch.  He plays all kinds of games which keeps him entertained.  Most recently, we received an email that said there were purchases of some coins in a game called Monster Mayhem.  The charges ranged from $19.98 to $99.99 made through iTunes.

We thought, how can this be?

Come to find out, our iTunes account had in it a specified credit card–probably from long ago when the account was first created.  My grandson, in the course of playing Monster Mayhem, touched some buttons which activated the purchase of thousands of coins needed to enable various options in the game.  Note that we didn’t even know this until we got the email notification about the purchase.

Undoing the In-app Purchase

The first thing we did was to see what we can do on iTunes to undo the purchase.  We followed the instructions but the online links just goes around in some circular link reference.  We could not find the place where we can undo the purchase!

Next we called up our credit card company to dispute the charges.  Since the charges weren’t really fraudulent, the credit card company didn’t refuse the charges, but they did get me in touch with Apple customer service.

I received instructions from the Apple support representative on how to undo the purchase.

Apple Contact Us page

Apple Contact Us

  • Go to the Apple.com support page
  • From there click the Contact Us link
  • Next click the Express Lane for iTunes Player and iTunes Store
  • From the product categories tab, click iTunes, then iTunes Store, and select Purchases, billing, and redemption; click Continue
  • You will then be taken to the issue description page, select “my topic is not listed” and provide a short description of your topic.  I used “unintentional in-app purchase, need to undo”, then click the ENTER button.
  • You’ll need your order number to complete the rest; make sure you have them
  • Upon completion of the process, you will get a case number; you will also get an email

For our case, the response to the problem was quick and sent via email.  They credited my credit card and added credit to my iTunes account.  Whew!  I’m glad it’s over.

That takes care of undoing the in-app purchase.  Now on to preventing future unintentional in-app purchases since I know my grandson will continue to play games on the iTouch.

Preventing Future Unintentional In-app Purchases

Part of the response Apple sent us were instructions on how to prevent unintentional in-app purchases.

Before doing this, the smartest thing to do is to remove any trace of your credit card on your iTunes account.  This is the sure-fire way of avoiding unexpected iTunes purchases.

However, if you do occasional purchases, you’ll want to follow the instructions we got from Apple.

To prevent In-App Purchases from being made in the future, you can block them on your iOS device by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings on your device’s home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Restrictions.
  4. If necessary, tap Enable Restrictions and enter a pass code. This pass code will prevent restrictions from being disabled without your permission.
  5. Scroll down to the Allowed Content section. Switch the In-App Purchases option to OFF. Enter your Restrictions pass code if prompted.

That’s it!

If you found this tip useful, please share and comment below and let me know.

No Cable TV!

Cutting the Cord: No more Cable TV

My family has been with no cable TV for over 2 years now.  We’ve saved almost $1000 over that time.  Well, we didn’t really save; we didn’t have to spend is more accurate.  I imagine some people have more expensive cable packages–in the $100/month range.  At this rate, someone could easily reduce their yearly spending by at least $1000 per year!  That is significant especially in this poor economy.

You might be wondering what we do for entertainment since the TV is generally the modern-day traditional entertainment center.  The secret is high-speed Internet and streaming video.

Within the last decade, high-speed Internet has been here and affordable.  It costs me around $30 per month to maintain DSL speed Internet service.  In 2007, Microsoft came out with built-in WiFi on their Xbox units.  A year later, Netflix became available on the Xbox.  With wireless access points for the home being available at a very affordable price, these two events set the stage for Internet TV.

Today, between YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and the occasional DVD purchase, we can pretty much watch anything on TV.  The only thing we cannot watch are those pay-per-view type events or other events that only makes sense to watch live.  But I think it is only a matter of time before the networks realize that the Internet is the way to go.

This is the basic setup I have:

  • Console:  Xbox 360 4GB Console – around $200 at Amazon.com; you can use the Wii or the PS3 also
  • Internet service:  Verizon’s DSL Service – around $30 per month; any high-speed Internet service will generally do
  • Wireless router:  NETGEAR RangeMax 150 Wireless Router  – around $70 at Amazon.com; this one has been pretty reliable for me
  • Streaming service:  Netflix – $7.99 per month

Have you cut the cord yet?  If so, how are you doing it?

Article Spinning

Free Article Spinner

If you are an online writer, you may be familiar with a tool called an article spinner. If you are, you may have seen some of them being sold online at a subscription cost of around $70 per year or a one time cost of around $100.  If you are like me, you don’t want to spend any more money online than you have to.  So I thought of writing one.

After doing my research into this, I found some PHP code to do the spinning work for me.   All I needed to know is the syntax for writing “spinnable” articles.

First of all, the free and very rudimentary article spinner I developed is at http://freespinner.forlanda.net/index.php.  It is very basic.  I haven’t had the chance to do serious error checking on it, but it does the job.

Anyway, let’s talk about the basics of spinning.  It’s probably best if we use an example.  For simplicity, let’s just spin the following sentence:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

If you want to spin this, you can find synonyms for as many words as you can in the sentence.  The goal is to create multiple versions of it.  Anyway, here’s what I have:

The {quick|fast|speedy} {brown|brownish|dark-brown} fox {jumps| leaps|bounds|springs} over the {lazy|slow|idle} {dog|canine}.

Sample Input to Free Article Spinner

Sample Input to Free Article Spinner

Running this through my free article spinner results in the following (I set versions to 5):

  1. The quick brown fox bounds over the lazy canine.
  2. The fast brown fox jumps over the lazy canine.
  3. The speedy dark-brown fox bounds over the idle dog.
  4. The speedy brown fox leaps over the slow dog.
  5. The quick brownish fox bounds over the slow dog.

As you can see each of the new sentences look different from the original.  You now have five (5) different versions of the sentence.  Do this for an entire article and you can potentially have many versions available for posting on various online publishing platforms–even if they check for duplicates on the Internet.

I have succeeded in doing this with an article even from one of the sites that is well-known to reject articles due to it being a duplicate.

OK, back to the syntax.  Any word or phrase you want to spin needs to have its synonyms bracketed by curly braces–opening curly brace “{” and closing curly brace “}”.  You need to separate the words or phrases with the vertical bar “|”.  This character is normally the character you get with you press SHIFT on the “\” key.

And guess what!  You can even nest them.  Here’s an example of a nested spin:

The {{quick|speedy} brown|{fast|swift|express} brownish} fox {{jumps|leaps} over|flies above} the {lazy dog|slow canine}.

I’ve colored the nested sections blue so you can spot it right away.

If my free article spinner is too primitive for you, you can always buy a commercial grade spinner/article submitter.  There are many out there.

I’ll be researching some soon.  I’ve seen ones that are good but require a subscription.  I prefer ones that require a low one time fee, as most people probably do.

Anyway, if you find this little utility useful let me know.  I’m working on it just to learn more about PHP, JAVASCRIPT, and JQUERY programming.  At the same time, I’m actually using it for my writing projects.

Please make sure to comment below regarding what you think.

From time to time I check to see how my ranking is doing for the keyword “Taekwondo Gear” on Google’s organic search results.  Today my niche site is at 61st.  It was at 59th a few days ago, but this just goes to show that the rankings for various sites change as sites change.

I have not added any new content on my niche site, nor have I started any back linking work yet.  So it just makes sense that my niche site’s ranking haven’t change much.  The fact that I haven’t done additional work on it might reflect in the two position drop my site had in Google’s rankings.

Before the week is over, I will begin writing one more posting, then begin the back linking work on at least one site.  When I do begin the back linking work, I will do it on the following sites:

Article Directories (only if it's free)
  • EzineArticles
  • GoArticles
  • Amazines
  • ArticleDashboard
  • ArticleBlast
  • ArticleAlley
  • Buzzle
  • iSnare
  • TheFreeLibrary
Blogs (these are all free)
  • WordPress.com
  • Tumblr.com
  • Live Journal
  • Blogger.com
  • TypePad.com
Web 2.0 sites (free)
  • Squidoo
  • Hubpages
  • InfoBarrel
  • Bukisa

Just about a week ago, my niche site–mytaekwondogear.com– was on the 13th page of the Google organic search results for the keyword “taekwondo gear.”  Today, I checked again.  This time my niche site is 9th from the top of page 6 of the google organic search.  The rank is 59th to be exact.

2nd Google Rank Check for keyword "Taekwondo Gear"

2nd Google Rank Check for keyword "Taekwondo Gear"

Note that I haven’t even started any kind of back linking or article spinning campaign yet. This looking good. I just need to write a few more postings, and I think the ranking will just continue to move up.

We will soon see.

Okay, I’m already around a week into this project focusing on “Taekwondo Gear” as the niche key word.  At the beginning, the site wasn’t ranked.  As of today, mytaekwondogear.com is on the 13th page of Google’s organic search result; specifically it is on the 124th position.

google ranking for mytaekwondogear.com

After at least a week, mytaekwondogear.com is number 124th

I’m going to have to track this to see if I see improvement over time, as I add more articles, then later some back links, I expect it to move up in rank over time.

Figuring out the market niche I wish to blog about is the very first step.

How did I go about doing it?

Well, I sort of used the suggestions from Pat Flynn and the author of the book “Crush It” and went with a topic that is close and dear to my heart–Taekwondo.

I suppose I could have search the web for ideas.  There are many different ways to do this:

  1. Search Amazon.com on the topic of Taekwondo and see what niches comes up.
  2. Search Google.com and see what it brings up at the bottom of the first page on what people may be searching for
  3. Search Yahoo Answers or Web Answers for the topic of Taekwondo and see what people are asking.
  4. Use a tool to find a key word that would serve as the basis for the market niche.

I decided on the fourth bullet.  To do this I purchased Market Samurai.  It is pricey, but I figured that aside from using the tool to determine my market niche, I can use it as a tool to determine good key words for the various articles I know I’ll be writing.

If you want more information about Market Samurai, you can get more information about it by clicking the Market Samurai information link.

The keyword I chose was Taekwondo.  I entered that word and Market Samurai popped up with various key word combinations and their corresponding SEOT (SEO Traffic) values and SEOC (SEO Competition) values.  In using the tool, I focused on the key words that had a relatively high SEOT and low SEOC.  A quick check on the SEO key word competition which shows the various sites that shows up as the 10 sites on google’s organic search results shows that the competition isn’t really there.  The ones that show up there are mostly sites that sell martial arts gear.

I figure that I will capitalize on Taekwondo gear and give people reviews, opinion, and information regarding and relating to Taekwondo gear.

After determining that “taekwondo gear” is going to be it, I checked the availability of the domain.  The best I could do was mytaekwondogear.com.

When I get a chance, I’ll post a video of how I used Market Samurai to choose my market niche.  It really did save me time in making this determination.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any comments regarding how I approached the selection of my market niche.

I’ve been reading up on a lot of things lately.  One of the things that stand out is how people out there are able to capitalize on their blog to earn income online.  If you have an interest in this field, feel free to follow me online and learn from what I learn.  Note that I credit Pat Flynn for inspiring me to do this.  Pat Flynn is the owner of the blog Smart Passive Income Blog.

This particular topic will take one year to complete from beginning to end.  The objective is to find a market niche and fill it with a web site which is monetized to earn income purely from Google Adsense and possibly from affiliate ads.

Wish me luck.  Let me know what you think by posting comments below.