Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
24Dec/090

What is Advanced Format Technology?

Whenever I buy a new hard drive such as 1 terabytes (TB), put it into my computer and format it, it's usually less than 1 TB of usable data. There is a new type of formating technology that increases the sector size from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes.  The larger 4k sectors can yield disk space increase of 7 - 11%.  So for a 1 TB drive, it can potentially yield an additional 100 GB.

Western Digital is the first hard drive manufacturer to implement this technlogy. It's supported natively in Windows 7 and MacOS but also works for Windows Vista and Windows XP.  It will be implementable with a clean install only, as the actual sector allocation occurs at very low levels, which means that current drives won't be able to enact such a formatting procedure via firmware.
Depending on the configuration, users may have to make use of the WD Align utility and apply a jumper on pins 7-8 (for windows XP).

As an additional benefit, Advanced Format can increase data integrity by providing a more efficient error correction scheme using longer ECC code words. This improves error correction by 50% according to WD

More information, with the exact procedure for each OS, as well as a download service for the WD Align utility may be found here.

An indepth article is located at Anandtech.

The whitepaper is found here.

adv format

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting
http://www.canadianwebhosting.com/

18Dec/090

How do I view Google US results when I’m in Canada?

I get this question asked a lot from co-workers and customers.

Whenever you open up a web browser and and type www.google.com in any browser, Google will automatically change the url to www.google.ca and page to Google Canada.
Google is geotargeting based on your ip address.  It does this to provide relevant results to Canadian surfers.  Google knows that the vast majority of people within a particular country want to be directed to a Google site that is themed to their specific location and language.

But what happens if you want to do a keyword search and find out what US surfers are seeing on their computers.

To bypass geotargeting, you modify the end of Google browser URLs.

For example, when I do a search for "christmas", the Google browser URL is:

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=christmas

So if you want to view Google.com US results from Canada, just add &gl=us to the end of the above url.

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=christmas&gl=us

This will bring up what you would see if you were a Google.com user located here in the United States. This same thing can be done to bring up results from other countries just change the country code in that URL to whichever one you'd like to see.

To see a list of two digit country and territory codes, go here.

If you're using Firefox browser, download this plugin called Google Global Extension which makes it easier or permanently access Google US results all the time.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting
http://www.canadianwebhosting.com/

10Dec/090

Why Should I Use A Third Party DNS Provider For My Local Computer?

The majority of people with highspeed DSL or cable internet connection for home or office already have their dns resolvers configured to use their ISP providers' DNS servers.
DNS servers basically translate something like www.yahoo.com into an ip address 209.131.36.158.  Once translated, your browser can show the site.

But there are times when your ISP provider's DNS servers get bogged down and takes a little longer to resolve or not at all during periods of high usage.  The end result is the website you're trying to access either is slow to resolve or does not show in the browser. 

For several years, I've been using a third party dns provider, OpenDNS whose sole function is to resolve domain names as fast as possible.  If you go to their homepage (http://www.opendns.org), there are a lot of companies of all sizes using them.   They also have a feature which prevents your browser from accessing  phished sites(those fake banking sites that looks like Royal Bank or other major banks) .  There's also protection against zero day vulnerabilities, worms and viruses.  There's also an option to do web content filtering.  If you have children, you can prevent them for viewing adult websites.  You're wondering how much for this wonderful service. Well, it's actually free!  There are different plans but the free version is more than enough for end users.  The higher plans are for small businesses or larger corporations.  For list of all features, check out http://www.opendns.com/start/. They make money from free accounts by displaying suggested sites if you type in the incorrect website.  If you click any suggested site, they make few cents off that click.  It's a good tradeoff.   

Google also threw their hat.  Last week, they announced they are also providing free dns services but they do not YET have content filtering, zero day vulnerability checking, virus, worms, and phished site protection.  But give them time and they'll eventually catch up to OpenDNS.  Check out their blog announcement.  When you use Google's DNS servers, I kinda get scary with the amount of profiling they can do.  They can find out which sites people are visiting!  I'll stick to OpenDNS for now.

Google's DNS servers are easy to remember!

Primary DNS: 8.8.8.8
Secondard DNS: 8.8.4.4

OpenDNS is a little more difficult:

Primary DNS: 208.67.222.222
Secondary DNS: 208.67.220.220

UPDATE: Looks like a third company just announced they are offering this service. It's Comodo, SSL certificate providers and other security products.
http://www.comodo.com/secure-dns/index.html
It looks similar to Google's offering.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting
http://www.canadianwebhosting.com/

2Dec/090

Google Breadcrumbs

Google has updated their search results for some listings to make it easier for searchers to find relevant content.

Instead of displaying the URL, Google now displays links taken directly from the actual site's breadcrumbs (site navigation).

Here's an example:

breadcrumbs-url

breadcrumb2

As you can see this type of site navigation allows your visitors to easily know where they are on your site and gives them a chance to quickly navigate to another page.

It makes it easier that your site's search result listing is more user friendly.

But the big plus is that the breadcrumb categories displayed in the search result is also a link to that page within the site. It's 3 additional clickable links for just one of the site's listing and a great way to skyrocket your site's deep link ratio.

3-links

Google takes this step because many web addresses don't tell you well enough where you are going. The "URLs are too long, too short, or too obscure to add useful information." By adding the new text Google wants to give useful information about the page before you click on them.

For more information, visit the Google Blog!

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting

http://www.canadianwebhosting.com/

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