Oct 10

Why I Still Recommend Blog Engage and Affiliate Lights

I have had numerous people ask me if I still recommend Blog Engage over the years, and I have to say that I do still recommend it for many in certain circumstances.  First of all not only do I love the Affiliate Lights program which allows you to earn fantastic recurring commissions as a blogger and online entrepreneur I like the Blog Engage RSS Syndication service, but you will find I like it for different reasons than some other bloggers.

You Want Blog Engage If You Are A Blogger

First I will tell you that Blog Engage is slanted to be more beneficial for those who are in the Blogging, SEO and Social Media as well as online affiliate and entrepreneurial niches.  The site has “Blog Engage” in it and you will find many experienced bloggers who are more than happy to share advice, feedback and critique your site so that you can optimize, tweak and get a design down that will work for you.  The Blog Engage Facebook group is still a great place to go to get information and feedback and chatting with other bloggers live on the Blog Engage system will yield you some networking and contacts you may not find out on your own just searching.

Bloggers tend to be more reciprocal in helping share content for a share in Blog Engage, they tend to also be more interested in leaving comments when they visit your article if they are part of Blog Engage (again this is my experience, because there are bloggers in this network, bloggers see the value of comments more than casual readers so are more likely to leave comments on an article after they read it and more likely to share it on social media than non-blogger visitors).

Because many of the bloggers know each other, if you earn the respect of one of the more experienced bloggers and they share your article you will likely get the attention and notice of other bloggers as well.  I have not seen any judgement or apathy toward new bloggers trying to get their own little space of the Internet in an overly crowded market.

Video Bloggers

YouTube Videos are notoriously hard to get views and attention on if you aren’t creating super wacky and viral content that is more entertainment than informative.  Blog Engage with YouTube syndication can help get your video content more reach and your video helps establish an identity with readers putting a face to a name and style in a way that written content doesn’t always effectively do.

Blog Engage helps raise awareness for my videos and actually helps with visibility to my YouTube content even more than my technology blog over the past several months which is of huge benefit to me as I am growing very rapidly in the video space and more brands I work with want to see video productions made with their products.

This does translate into more video views, and while as a tech blog my articles may not grab the attention of other bloggers in the system like Blogging, SEO and Social Media sites do, hence I get usually less than 1,000 visits per month from Blog Engage for DragonBlogger, I do get hundreds of extra video views on my YouTube videos which is very beneficial.

I still see Blog Engage providing the most value to eager bloggers who are not yet established, this is a way to really jumpstart your content especially if you write high quality content that adds value to the community it will get you traffic boosts and attention early on.  But like anyone in any system, don’t write generic overview content that respouts the same garbage over and over, be unique, have personality and write about very current and recent trends that you have researched and know about.  Don’t look like a noob and write about Panda updates if you really don’t know anything about them and you are just parroting what you read somewhere, focus on testing something and researching and learning and sharing what you learn and you will get benefit from Blog Engage and provide value to your readers in general.

Oh, and you can actually make some darn good earnings from promoting Blog Engage too, I almost as much per month from Affiliate Light as I do from AdSense on my blogs and this is recurring subscription earnings too!

Join Blog Engage RSS Syndication and start having your content syndicated across multiple sites and social media channels today!

Join Affiliate Lights Now, Sign Up For Free and start earning recurring commissions by promoting a service that only helps others syndicate their content so they get more audience and potential eyes viewing their content.

Oct 09

Fire HD Kids Edition Tablets

Better late than never but Amazon brings it with it’s Fire HD Kids Edition Tablets which come in both 6″ and 7″ versions where the rubberized case fully protects the Kindle Fire HD and Amazon offers a 2 year no questions asked warranty if the product cracks, breaks or is otherwise damaged you get it replaced.

 

The Fire HD Kids Edition tablet also comes with 1 full year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited which gives a ton of content for kids to play, read and watch, over 5,000 pieces of content according to Amazon at this time.  You can also create profiles set play time limits and the Fire HD Kids Edition has full camera and video support.

It comes in Blue, Green or Pink and honestly I think is a fantastic choice for a child 6 or under, this gives the more power and more apps, movies and TV show content than any other kid friendly tablet and the warranty is just phenomenal.

Now at $149 for the 6″ version you can get cheaper tablets, but you are unlikely to find any other tablet that gives you that much free content for a year (Books, Movies, TV Shows with such easy access) as well as support a 2 year warranty against damages.  However, I would say that if your child is over 7, then a full Kindle Fire HDX at $179 with a nice protective case would be a better choice because it would have more content and open up more for them to do with it.

Overall though the Fire HD Kindle Tablet appears to be another great product by Amazon targeting younger kids and helping them wean out of infant tablets for toddlers into an intermediate tablet that doesn’t skimp on power or functionality.  The fact that this tablet comes with Bluetooth support and 1280×800 resolution is also a great deal as most cheap tablets are 1024×768 resolution and many don’t include Bluetooth in the lowest price range.

Oct 07

5 Excellent Power Banks to Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged

I have about nearly 10 mobile batteries in my house and constantly rotate out 3 or 4 of them whenever I travel for a variety of purposes.  If I know I will only be gone a day or two, I will pick smaller batteries that are easier to pack in a small bag.  But if I am going to be gone 4 or more days I will pack my larger batteries and on smaller portable one to make sure I have ample power to keep my mobile devices charged before I am able to get to an A/C outlet.  This could be you spend long hours in a conference room or in meetings for a full day, or you simply are stuck on a flight for 6+ hours to you just being a passenger in a really long road trip.

These 5 External Batteries which are also known as Power Banks or Portable Batteries, will help make sure your USB chargeable mobile devices stay fully charged for as long as you need them to between access to an A/C Wall outlet.

EC Technology 22400mAh External Battery

 

The EC Technology 22400mAh External battery provides an amazing amount of power in this battery that is about twice as long and as thick as an iPhone 6.  It has 2 USB ports and can charge a Smartphone and a tablet at the same time, doesn’t matter if you use Android or iOS devices it will charge them.  It’s power bank can charge a smartphone 10+ times and it has enough battery to charge a full 10″ tablet 2-3 times depending on the battery size of your tablet.  All in all, this is one of the best bang for the buck external batteries as it also has an LED flashlight built in for finding cables in the dark. The one disadvantage is it’s size, it is very bulky and too bulky for a purse, pocket or other small pouch and this one is better for longer trips where you pack a full travel back or have a backpack like if you are going on a multiday camping adventure.

You can buy the EC Technology 22400mAh External Battery here.

 

Anker  2nd Gen Astro 3 12000mAh Battery

 

The Anker 2nd Gen Astro 3 is one of my all time favorite external batteries, not only does it have 3 USB ports so that you can charge 2 smart phones and 1 tablet at the same time, but it has IQ ports that are able to charge up to 4A off a single port, so you literally don’t have to worry about 1 port being only for Samsung tablets, another only for iPhone…etc.  You can plug any device into any port and it will adjust and provide just the right amount of power to make sure your device charges quickly.  The little circle of light showing how much charge is left has more indicators than a typical 4 button light too and a quick shake will wake up the battery and start charging whatever is connected to it or show you how much battery is left.

It does have mid range capacity and is slightly thicker but shorter than the EC Technology power bank, but it makes up for less capacity with being able to charge 3 mobile devices at the same time.

Buy One Now!

 

RAVPower Deluxe External Battery Charger

 

RavPower also makes a fine 14000mAh external battery that also has an LED flashlight built in.  This one can charge a Smartphone 7-8 times and offers tablet and phone charging at the same time.  It is smaller and thinner than both the previous 2 chargers listed and has slightly more capacity than the Anker Astro 3 though doesn’t have a 3rd USB port.

Buy One Here!

 

New Trent PowerPak Xtreme

The New Trent PowerPak Xtreme is an ideal choice for those who go into the Wilderness or in environments where there is a good chance your external battery will face the harsh elements of nature.  This pairs perfectly if you use a Lifeproof or Otterbox Defender case and this is the only one of the batteries listed in this post that is Waterproof, Dirt Proof and Shock Proof.  Meaning this thing can handle rain, and being dropped in the dirt and is ideal if you are hiking or camping in deserts or the forest.  This 12000mAh External Battery comes in either Gray or Orange and is perfect if you really need an external battery than can withstand a drop or the elements.

Buy One Now!

Anker 2nd Gen Astro Mini

 

Finally the last device in our roundup is listed because out of all the lipstick external batteries (which is what they are called because they are shaped like a lipstick and only slightly larger) this one has the most capacity at 3200mAh.  This one is extremely portable and comes in 4 color choices (Black, Silver, Gold or Pink as pictured above).  This is the most portable of just about all the external batteries and really is ideal if you need to slip it in your pocket or a small bag or purse and just carry enough charge to keep your phone alive for up to 7 extra hours of talk time or up to 70 hours of music play time according to the product specs.  It will only charge your smartphone and not a tablet but if you are in a pinch and need the ultimate portable smartphone charger then the Anker Astro Mini is the one you want.

Buy One Now

 

 

 

Oct 06

Playing Some Guild Wars 2 Again

This past weekend my oldest son decided to start a new character in Guild Wars 2 and get back into the game after taking a 6 month hiatus, he had grown a little weary and got tired of the game but recently after experiencing the new structured changes in how they designed the levels, reward system and pacing of the traits, skills and ability increases he really found it to be quite exciting and almost like a new game again.  I already have 2 level 80 characters but had not played the game much as I enjoyed playing it more with my kids than solo and was quite honestly distracted by Hearthstone and Destiny for the past several months but it was fun to dive back in to Guild Wars 2 and I am looking forward to taking my 3rd character Gunther Dragonclaw who also was my very 1st character created 2 years ago to Level 80.  He is currently level 63.

My son even was asking for Guild Wars 2 branded headphones, mouse and mouse pad (I have the SteelSeries Mousepad) lately.

I still think that for MMORPG games that don’t have a monthly subscription fee, Guild Wars 2 is one of the best choices, though I do wish that the level 1 – 20 content and the daily events were a little more varied, after playing them and moving through the low level areas for 2 years there is little variation anywhere except for the living story at this point anymore.

Sep 30

Back to DISH Network from Cox Cable

For anyone who has been following my personal blog you may have remembered that back in June 2014 I had switched from DISH Network to Cox Cable in an effort to test Contour and other television services.  I had been a DISH network customer for 11 years for television and I didn’t know if really had the best television provider out there.  I was plagued with some DVR lock up issues with the HD PVR 922 model receiver from DISH the one prior to The Hopper and there were some issues with the 2nd TV stream being sluggish and slow to respond to channel changes and the like and I wanted to try something different.

Enter Cox Communications, I LOVE COX Internet, I will say that over and over.  I get amazing download speeds and have been a COX Internet customer for over a decade as well.  So I was willing to see if their television cable service was any good and Contour with whole home DVR system looked promising.  I thought it may have been more stable than Cox and originally the sales tech told me that with Cox I can watch my TV shows from anywhere via my mobile devices which turned out to be a lie and only works when you are within your home Wi-Fi network.

Since having Cox Television service I had the DVR lockup and crash while I was out of town for a month, this meant a whole month of no shows recording in July.  They replaced it, only for the box to crash again in September.  But in between I noticed some key usability functions in the Cox television service that gnawed at me like peeves that wouldn’t go away.

Cox has no 30 second skip forward button

Seriously, I had used this so frequently with DISH network for so many years that it’s absence was greatly felt.  When you watch a prerecorded show with DISH and you get a commercial there is a button which auto skips 30 seconds ahead.  Cox has a fast forward button, that is like a 2x, 4x..etc FF but it isn’t a 30 second skip so it takes much longer to skip past commercials or you risk speeding too far and then having to back track.  Yes, when you hit play it tries to go back assuming you jumped too far but it isn’t enough and is clumsy.

Cox Channel Arrangement is Baffling

DISH Network puts the HD and regular non-HD (not many left) channels on the same actual channel, so basically no matter which version of the channel, it is the same channel.  It defaults to HD version unless you specify the non-HD version in all cases when you have an HD TV.  Cox does the odd thing of putting the non-HD channels in the very low numbers and the HD channels starting in the 1000’s series of channel numbers.  This means if you are bouncing between a few non-HD Channels into the HD Channel range you either have to create your own customized TV Channel Guide or have to skip up quite a bit to the different range of channels.

Cox Contour Doesn’t Work Outside of Home Wi-Fi

So you can DVR and watch your Cox content anywhere in your home and within range of your home Wi-Fi router.  This is disappointing, with DISH Anywhere I was able to watch live TV and my recorded DVR content from any network anywhere in the country.  The caveat was that it streams up from your DISH DVR so your upload speeds and Wi-Fi connectivity needed to be rock solid, which wasn’t always the case with my HD PVR 922 model.  However, when it did work it was brilliant and I could watch anything on my DISH while being in California.

Cox Was 60% More Expensive than DISH Network

When I was on the phone with Cox Representatives they told me they couldn’t beat DISH Network on price, that nobody could.  Note, this is as they were selling me the service they told me they had no chance to beat DISH on price.  They told me during the 1 year “discount” period they got close, they were $17 more per month than DISH network for same channel line up.  After discount period they would be $35 more per month than DISH Network for the exact same channel line up.  DISH took me back with a code that made it even cheaper than it was previously, so I wound up paying even less than when I cancelled DISH in the first place too.

Cox DVR Lockup Issues

The final straw and when I cancelled Cox was when during Season Premiere week the main DVR locked up and crashed, HDD NOT FOUND errors, the entire season premiere week of shows about 7 of them was lost.  When I called Cox and complained, they assured me that they would replace my DVR as often as I needed it to be.  This rubbed me the wrong way, this was the 2nd time a DVR needed to be replaced in less than 4 months and they just told me they would keep replacing it said nothing about it’s stability.

Back to DISH Network

So now I am 3 days back on DISH Network and this time with The Hopper and Joey system. I have to say immediately it is far superior to the DVR 922 series receiver and the DISH Primetime Anytime is the most brilliant service ever created after testing it for the first time these past few days.  Many of my shows are on the primary networks Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and with Primetime Anytime, The Hopper will auto record all primetime shows without you having to set a timer for every show, every day of the week you want.  You can still watch the show live or slightly delayed and skip commercials in 30 second increments, but where it really shines is if you watch the show the next day.  The Hopper allows you to completely bypass commercials when you watch a Primetime Anytime show the next day with this feature, it automatically knows and skips the entire commercial chunk for you without you having to lift a finger.  I did this during a few shows including The Simpsons and was very impressed how efficient it was.  I was so programmed to hit Skip 30 that my finger kept reaching for the remote when I saw a commercial about to come on, but The Hopper just skipped past and the show came back on.

So far I can’t speak to reliability for The Hopper as it has only been 3 days, but I love having the more intuitive DISH Network remote, buttons and guide back and The Hopper with Primetime Anytime is a brilliant service that had I tried previously I may not have left DISH network to try Cox TV in the first place.

Reminder

Cox Internet is awesome I get 100Mbps download speeds, DISH network can’t even compare with their crappy satellite Internet service which is only good for very rural areas.  So I still love Cox Internet and wouldn’t switch unless Google fiber were in my area, but for me DISH Network still reigns supreme in the television provider space.

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