Category Archives: Reviews

AlterGold Review

AlterGold

Greetings everyone. There is a new kid on the payment processor/e-currency block, and its called AlterGold. By the look of their WHOIS DNS record AlterGold went operational in August, 2007 so they’re very fresh participants in the payment processor industry. Still, I think they deserve a change to prove themselves, and hopefully they will stick around long enough to prove of value to customers like me and you.

So without further ado, let get started with the AlterGold review.

About AlterGold:

AlterGold is a subsidiary of Digital Group Inc. a registered legal corporate entity in the Republic of Panama in Central America. I like the fact that they’re located in the very popular offshore jurisdiction of Panama. This can bring certain benefits but also some disadvantages as well. However, these are out of the scope of this review.

Everyone is welcome to confirm their corporate registration details using the following information in government records:

Government Document ID: 1277070
Data Card: 599519

How does AlterGold work?

AlterGold is essentially an e-currency backed 100% by US Dollars. So each unit of AlterGold is valued at $1. It pretty much works like e-bullion e-currency, Liberty Reserve USD, and other such USD backed e-currencies. AlterGold units can be exchanged for any other e-currency or be withdraw to an ATM card or bank account.

In spite of the “Gold” in its name, AlterGold is NOT backed by gold. Also AlterGold should not be misconstrued to be a bank – it does not provide banking services!

I should also mention that AlterGold all payment are FINAL. AlterGold is a 100% irrevocable payment system and digital currency.

Account Types:

AlterGold offers two account types – Personal and Business.

Account Holding Personal Business
New Account FREE FREE
Minimum Spend Amount $0.01 USD $0.01 USD
Spend Funds FREE FREE
Receive Funds Fee 1% 1.5%
Maintenance Fee * FREE $2.95

Per month. Charged if balance is $100.00 or more.

Shopping Cart Interface (SCI) Yes Yes
Automated Spends DISABLED Yes
Limited User Passwords DISABLED Yes
Currencies Supported 22 22
Maximum Balance $1,000 Unlimited

How can I add funds ?

You may add funds into your AlterGold account using E-gold, LibertyReserve, Virtual Money Card (VMI), SpeedyWallet, Western Union and MoneyGram.

How can I withdraw funds ?

Funds can be withdraw from your AlterGold account to LibertyReserve, E-gold , VMI Card, SpeedyWallet ATM Card, Western Union , Money Gram and bank account.

AlterGold Debit Card

You can also buy a debit card that is supposedly accepted at over 900,000 ATM machines around the World. This card can be paid for and funded anytime with your AlterGold balance. You can withdraw up to $3,000.00 daily with your Debit card.

Worries and Concerns (don’t skip this)

On the surface AlterGold looks okay, but there was one thing that worries me, and I think you should take notice. It seems that AlterGold uses a free DNS hosting service:

ns1.dns-diy.net

ns2.dns-diy.net

Diy.net is a free dns hosting provider

You would think they could at the very least afford to host the domain on their own server(s) or with their own hosting company.

I also recommend you checkout their WHOIS record over here:

http://whois.domaintools.com/altergold.com

I just hope that AlterGold is not a fly by night operations. I guess only time will tell.

I’ve read nearly all the forums and reviews of AlterGold, but I honestly can’t make up my mind as to whether AlterGold is for real or is just another cleverly done scam.

UPDATE: See the links at the bottom of this post. Having read those two postings I now feel strongly that AlterGold is yet another elaborate scam.
Can some of you folks bring some input on this? Join me in a discussion on my forum:

http://www.moneyguruforum.com/other-e-currencies/13362-altergold.html

That about does it for this review. When I have more info or experience with this new payment processor I will make sure to post it either here or on the above forum thread.

UPDATE: See these e-commerce journal articles about AlterGold before you decide to join.

Part 1 is over here.

Part 2 is over here.

Kontera Review

Kontera Logo

Good day everyone. Today I am going to review a fairly popular In Text Advertising publishing system known as Kontera. For those of you who are new to the website monetization field, with “In-Text” advertising, the advertiser’s brand is linked to a relevant keyword appearing in the online content which is matched to the advertiser’s ad. Whenever a website visitor moves his mouse cursor over the linked keyword a tiny text ad appears (sort of like Google’s AdSense but more compressed).

Here is how it looks like:

Ok, now that you have a better idea what Kontera is, let’s move on. But before we do so let me state that this review is targeted at Kontera publishers only. I won’t go into any details regarding what Kontera’s in text advertising system has to offer for advertisers.

I started using Kontera in October 2007 on both my blogs but I just recently stopped using it. I’ll tell you why at the end of the review.

Functionality:

I found the new Kontera control panel to be fairly well put together. The items you need are within “easy reach” sort of speak and the interface is simple and uncluttered. Their interface is still in the beta stages however, so hopefully it will only improve with time. When you first log in your Kontera account you’re presented with the click reports for a period of 7 days and a nifty graph of your revenue for the last 30 days. Overall I’d give Kontera’s interface an A+. The only thing that I did not like is that the click statistics lag by two days – not cool at all.

Additional Functionality:

For you bloggers out there you can download a free WordPress plugin that will make publishing kontera ads a breeze. If you host your blog with Blogger.com rest assured that you can just as easily implement Kontera ads on it. The process is as simple as clicking one button. Personally I used to use the WordPress plugin and found it to work perfectly. It added Kontera ads site wide without any hassle or me having to past code into any of my blog’s pages and such. Just a tip for you folks, if you want site wide ads but DO NOT want to use the Kontera WordPress plugin (I don’t know why you’d go this route but *shrug* to each his own) do the following:

Go to your WordPress admin section and then go to the “Presentation” section. Click on “Widgets” and drag and drop one of the “Text” widgets into either sidebars (depending on whether your WordPress theme has two or one sidebar – some do not support widgets so make sure you get a theme that is widget ready before proceeding). Then just click on the newly added Text widget and copy and paste your Kontera code in the appropriate area.

For regular website usage the process of setting up the Kontera In Text ads is just as simple as Google AdSense. There isn’t much to it folks, just copy and paste the code into whatever page you want the In Text ads to appear and sit back and wait for results.

Loading Speed:

This is a very important factor to consider. There isn’t much point to using any website monetization system if their servers are slow and consequently affect your website loading time. In my experience I’ve found Kontera’s servers to be quite fast. I’ve noticed no slowdowns whatsoever and hopefully Kontera will keep this level of performance up even if the number of publishers increases. However, I must say that I found Google’s AdSense ads to load much faster. Granted this may not be a fair comparison because Kontera has to analyze your website entire text, unlike Google AdSense which just tries to guess what the overall theme of your website is. Perhaps if they throw in more computing power and bandwidth they can substantially decrease the time it takes for their servers to analyze your website textual content – it remains to be seen.

Relevancy:

This is VERY important. The In Text ads won’t make you any money if they are totally irrelevant to the page’s content. I found Kontera’s relevancy to be acceptable. Most of the times it did a good job of putting linking words to relevant ads. However one thing that annoyed me is the number of “generic” keywords that get linked in. For example, the keyword “stock” gets linked to a stock broker’s advertisement but meanwhile your website could have nothing to do with stock trading. If you often use idiomatic speech than this could be a problem. Say if you use the express “take stock not to…” in a blog post totally unrelated to stock trading than you’ll most likely find that the word “stock” will get linked to some stock broker’s advertisement, which may not be what you want. I don’t know whether there is a way around this. Perhaps more intelligent text analysis is needed, but no doubt this is not so easy to implement. So just keep in mind that when implementing Kontera In Text ads on your website you may find a few irrelevantly linked words.

Monetary Performance:

This is probably what you’re mainly interested in. Will Kontera make money or not? Well, this of course depends on a number of factors. The most obvious one is the level of traffic your website receives. The next one is how much advertisers are willing to pay for a specific keyword. While I was using Kontera on both my blogs (alansmoneyblog.com and alansforexblog.com) I was not so impressed with Kontera’s level of performance. First off most clicks earned me like $0.01 to $0.05 – extremely low. Second the number of clicks on ads was not what I expected. My sites get thousands of daily visits yet Kontera was reporting on average only 5-20 clicks per day – once again not what I expected. So I think the Kontera’s CPM rate is just too low. On the flip side this is great for advertisers. They get extremely cheap advertising. So if you’re an advertiser you may wish to look into.

Will Kontera’s In Text Ads annoy my visitors?

This depends on the type of website you place your ads on. When I first setup Kontera on this blog I did receive a few comment from people saying they found the In Text ads to be obtrusive, but that they aren’t so bad once you get used to it. The big problem is if your visitors have a habit of wondering with the mouse cursor. This will trigger the ads like crazy and annoy the heck of your visitors. They will most likely just leave your site instead of being bombarded with the advertising balloons (see the image at the top of this review). Another thing is that some users may mistake Kontera linked keywords for actual website links. Linked keywords are underlined 3 times but still, newbies won’t tell the difference and they’ll think it is a link to a website. They will probably have no clue what is going on and just get annoyed when they see a advertising balloon pop-up and consequently they’ll probably just end up leaving your website. In other words In Text advertising is extremely intrusive!

So I decided to stop using Kontera on both my blogs. Put simply the extra bit of revenue is just not worth it!

Check out the words of Jacob Nielsen, a web usability guru:

One of misery design’s most insidious recent examples is the idea of embedding links to advertising on the actual words of an article using a service like IntelliTxt. By sullying the very concept of navigation, such ads not only damage the user experience on the host site, they poison the well for all websites. Such links make users even less likely to navigate sites, and more likely to turn to trusted search engines to guide them to the next page.

Thus I am not surprised to see that no mainstream website use In Text Advertisement systems such as Kontera. The question you should ask yourself is if you’re willing to put your credibility at stake just for a little (an in my experience it was little) bit more money?

My advice is to NOT use Kontera or any other In Text advertisement system on any of your very important and heavily visited websites – stick to Google AdSense or to standard banners.

However, for those still interested, Kontera’s website can be located at:

http://www.kontera.com

That about does it for this review. I hope you found it informative and if you have any opinions or comments you’d like to share feel free to use the comments section below.

Alternatively if you’d like to discuss about Kontera in a forum setting I’ve gone ahead and setup a thread on my forum over here:

http://www.moneyguruforum.com/website-monetization/12568-kontera.html

The Forex Autopilot System – Concluding Review

Forex Autopilot System

Greetings fellow forex traders! How has the forex market been treating you lately? Making the big bucks? Good!

For the past 3 months I’ve been putting The Forex Autopilot System through its paces, and alas I think it is time to wrap up my performance testing. I would’ve continued the demo testing were it not for an upcoming trip to Europe which means that I’m going to have to shut down my PC. First let me say that playing around with this EA (expert advisor) has been really fun and being the owner of the previous forex autopilot expert advisors 8-pack I can say with confidence that this single and latest expert advisor is a major improvement – kudos to the forex autopilot crew.

Now let’s talk performance data. I’ve demo tested this EA on two demo accounts, one at North Finance and the other at InterbankFX. The one running at North Finance was setup to use the default settings while the one at InterbankFX was using my own custom settings (aaa = 9 bbb=10 TrailingStop=20 – the rest default.)

North Finance Demo Account Performance:

Click on the PDF icon to download the complete detailed performance statement

pdf_icon.gif

As you can see from that performance statement this EA did make some nice money, but it also lost big too. However, the account ended up with a net profit of $455 – not bad for a few months worth of trading. Now let’s look at how my custom settings did.

InterbankFX Demo Account Performance:

With this account I had a bit of a snafu and I accidentally deleted the cloned MetaTrader 4 folder recently so the statement cuts off at 2008-05-01, but that floating negative position had I not killed the account would’ve hit the take profit at 1.5650 (remember the EUR/USD is now at 1.5815) Here is the statement in PDF format:

pdf_icon.gif

My custom settings improved performance by a tiny bit. To be honest I have no idea what aaa & bbb really do. In the manual we are told not to mess with them, but since I’m a rebel I decided to do it anyways, and the end result wasn’t all that spectacular. Just to be safe I’d recommend that you stick to the defaults – at least on a live account.

What I like about the Forex Autopilot System EA:

a) It makes money!

b) It makes money!

c) Oh, did I mention it makes money?

What I do not like about the Forex Autopilot EA:

a) No stop loss by default! (danger Will Robinson, danger!)

b) Veeeery large negative floating positions – at times you’ll see this thing carry -400 pips floating loses before it eventually closes the trade with a profit of only 20 pips!

c) Trailing stop loss of 50? What the heck is the point of this? Maybe someone from the Forex Autopilot crew can enlighten me on the rationale behind this setting because I just don’t get it. Why would you set your trailing stop larger than the take profit? To me a more reasonable setting would be at 15 pips seeing as how the take profit is 20 pips.

The interesting thing to note is that if you give this EA a stop loss it starts to become unprofitable. The largest loss I’ve seen it sustain was around the $400 mark so maybe this EA has an internal stop loss? Perhaps this is done to thwart brokers who try to stop hunt (yes folks your broker can work against you). In either case the average max loss has been around the $100 to $400 mark.

The danger of having no stop loss is that if say for whatever reason your PC shuts off or something goes screwy and you can’t log into your account or whatever other calamity may happen your account is going to be going down the toilet. Granted this is not very probable but never say never – all it takes is for it to happen once!

So in light of this I’d recommend the following:

a) Get a battery backup for your PC and networking gear (dsl/cable modem) to ensure that in the worst case scenario if your power goes out for an extended period of time you at least can set a stop loss on a floating negative position and hope for the best (try setting it at a major support level)

OR better yet

b) Run this EA in a VPS (virtual private server) or “virtual computers” as they are often called. Your VPS provider will most likely have solid network connections and ample batter and diesel generator backup. Also they will most likely be running Windows Server 2003 or better which is far more reliable than your XP machine or whatever.

c) If you’re really really worried about the possible implications of having no stop loss – set one up! Just make sure you give the EA ample “breathing room” From my observations the largest loss I’ve seen has been in the -400 pips area, so setting a 500 to 600 pip stop loss may be best. This is absolutely insane in my opinion but hey it buys you peace of mind (hope you catch that subtle joke)

Another thing that intrigues me about this EA is the fact that it runs on the M1 time frame. I was taught to believe that the M1 time frame is full of nothing but market noise. How this EA manages to successfully trade on this time frame is beyond me. Can any forex guru weigh in on this and enlighten me?

Conclusion:

My final conclusion is that this product is not a scam or a pure garbage but it sure isn’t the holy grail either. It is somewhere in between as one should realistically expect. It does make money but it also loses it just as easily. According to my demo testing it appears that in the end it makes more than it loses, which is what counts in the end. The profit ratio is pretty high actually. On both my demo accounts the percentage of winning trades has been above the 90% mark – a very respectable achievement. The lack of a stop loss and the very large floating loses are two very big negative points against it. At times it looks as if it will lose all the profits it made previously with one trade.

Since past and present performance does not guarantee future success in the forex world, I’d have to give this EA a tentative recommendation. I’m just not 100% decided on this product. I’ll have to see how trading on a live account goes.

BUT I would STRONGLY suggest you take my advice and please make sure you DO NOT overleverage your account when using this EA – don’t get greedy or you’ll regret it.

When I get back from my vacation I will place this EA on an “expendable” mini live account at IBFX, so wish me luck!

By the way if you wish to discuss this EA and other forex related topics join me at my forum. Click here to read the thread dedicated to the Forex Autopilot System.

Well that about does it for my final review. I’ll clue you in on any other profitable expert advisors I may come across – be they commercial or freely available. I will most likely post them on my forex blog instead of here though.

The Forex Autopilot System homepage is available over here.

Thanks for your attention and for visiting my blog. Happy trading to you all!

Cheers,
Alan

EverBank New World Energy Index CD

everbank_logo.jpg

I was visiting EverBank’s website yesterday and I came across a new CD (certificate of deposit) product offering which peaked my interest, so I thought of sharing this with you my dear readers. EverBank calls this financial product the “New World Energy Index CD.” Essentially this CD is composed of the currencies of 3 non-Middle Eastern countries: Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, and Norway krone.

As you all should know, diversifying your cash holdings into foreign currencies is one good way to protect your wealth from potential financial problems in your home country and to also gain from the potential appreciation of the foreign currency holdings. With CDs you also earn interest in addition to potential currency appreciation so you stand to gain double. The only risk clearly evident with this product is the possibility that one or more of the 3 currencies will depreicate severely relative to the US Dollar. My opinion is that this is not likely to happen anytime soon but don’t take my word for it – do your own research. Also the short term nature of this CD fund makes it easier to “bail out” if ever such a depreciation was to occur.

Here are the details of the New World Energy Index CD:

Features of our New World Energy Index CD:

  • Available in 3- and 6-month terms.
  • Comprised of 3 non-Middle Eastern energy producing countries:
  • Returns based on a fixed-interest rate and any changes in the values of the currencies that comprise the Index CD versus the U.S. dollar. If any of the currencies lose value versus the U.S. dollar, you could potentially experience a loss of principal.
  • No monthly access fees.
  • Open with a competitive minimum deposit of $20,000.
  • FDIC insured for bank insolvency.

I should also mention that this product IS available to non-US citizens as well, even though the bank based in the U.S.A

Stay tuned to this blog as I will be introducing other CD products from EverBank.

Happy investing everyone!

Alan out.

Forex Autopilot Performance Update for April 06 2008

Forex AutoPilot System

*Click here to read my concluding review of this product*

It has been nearly a month and a few days since I started testing the new Forex Autopilot expert advisor (forex trading robot for those of you new to the Forex game), and even though I believe it is still premature to release any performance results as it is a bit too early to tell I’ve received a lot of requests from people who are curious about forex autopilot’s performance. So I decided to placate them and release this very preliminary performance update. I believe more demo testing is still necessary before I can decide whether I would recommend this product or not. So far things are looking good, the trading robot is in profit on both my demo accounts.

Here is the detailed performance statement for my North Finance demo account:

pdf_icon.gif
forex_autopilot-nf-04-06-08.pdf

Here is the detailed performance statement for my InterbankFX demo account:

pdf_icon.gif
forex_autopilot-ibfx-04-06-08.pdf

Settings for North Finance account (eur/usd – M1 chart):

Lots=0.10
LotsRiskReductor=1.0
MaxOrders=1
MaxLots=100
aaa=13
bbb=14
TakeProfit=20
StopLoss=0.0
TrailingStop=50
SpanGator=0.5
SlipPage=3
SafetyGapDemarker=0.2
SafetyGapWPR=0.0

*These are the default settings*

Settings for InterbankFX account (eur/usd – M1 chart):

Lots=0.10
LotsRiskReductor=1.0
MaxOrders=1
MaxLots=100
aaa=9
bbb=10
TakeProfit=25
StopLoss=0.0
TrailingStop=20
SpanGator=0.5
SlipPage=3
SafetyGapDemarker=0.2
SafetyGapWPR=0.0

*These are my own custom settings arrived at by extensive optimization using MT4’s Strategy Tester*

North Finance Demo Account Performance:

Starting balance: $5000
Ending balance: $5415
Profit: +$415

InterbankFX Demo Account Performance:

Starting balance: $3000
Ending balance: $3449
Profit: +$449

As you can see the Forex Autopilot expert advisor performed quite well on both accounts. I think this new trading robot is by far a lot better than any of the previous package of 8 offered by the forex autopilot people.

One thing that you should be aware of is that if you have open trades that have yet to reach their profit targets the forex autopilot expert advisor will close them on the first day of a new month. Another thing is that although the forex autopilot support guys say that this expert advisor has a magic number and can supposedly work with other trading robots running on the account I found out that if you open up manual trades the robot treats them as if they were its own so if you’re going to run this expert advisor it’s best that you dedicate an account just for it and NOT run any other trading robots or open up any manual trades.

Well that about does it for this performance update. I will continue to demo test this trading robot for maybe one more month and then I will proceed to give it a try on a live account; yep, that’s real money! I will most likely write my final review in about 2 to 4 weeks time.

Oh, by the way, if you already purchased this product and you’d like to share your performance results and experience I’d recommend you visit my forum and post in the following thread:

http://www.moneyguruforum.com/expert…/6089-forex-autopilot-system.html

I keep a close eye on that forum so drop by and say hello.

Cheers,
Alan

Start your own web hosting company for FREE

reseller_hosting_logo.jpg

Greetings folks. Have you ever dreamed of running your own web hosting company? Being kind of a geeky fellow I wanted for a long time to provide people with website hosting services. Later on I realized that I probably can’t realistically start my own web hosting company from scratch, so I looked to the next best thing – becoming a reseller. I looked far and wide and for the life of me I could not find a company that would let me resell their hosting services without asking me pay them a monthly service fee. I realize that you can become an affiliate and get a one time commission, but that’s not what I was after. I wanted to build a long term income stream. I also wanted to build my own custom hosting plans and set my own pricing and basically do all the things a regular web hosting company does without the overhead of having my own servers, staff, etc. Luckily after some searching around on the net I found a company that will give you all the tools you need to build your own white-label web hosting company without asking one penny from you!

So let me briefly describe how this free reseller program works:

You can resell this company’s plans or create your own hosting packages, then set the desired corresponding prices. They will pay you the difference between our wholesale prices and your custom ones. That difference will form your profit and will be applicable for every single hosting account order, renewal, domain registration or service upgrade. Each month they will send you your earnings by Check, through PayPal, to your wallet balance or via a bank wire. Pretty easy eh?

Here is a complete table with all the services offered:

  • Private label reseller – resell to your clients under your own brand name (neat!)
  • You set your own prices – maintain full control over your profit
  • Private DNS and E-mail cluster – improve your reseller uniqueness
  • Multi-currency support – credit/debit cards or PayPal payments (USD, GBP, EUR, CAD & AUD)
  • No billing fees – they cover all the billing expenses and offer free fraud protection and no start up fees
  • Full control – over your customers’ hosting accounts: upgrade or renew customers plans
  • Plan Builder – create and customize your own hosting plans, put your prices on them and sell them
  • Resell competitive plans – in case you don’t want to use the plan creator, simply resell their predefined plans which are pretty competitive considering what the packages offer.
  • Turn-key templates – choose one of the 3 ready-to-use templates or apply their remote forms to your own site (the forms require some programming and websie integration skills)
  • Detailed statistics – complete report of each and every single sale you make
  • Free domain hosting – they host your reseller domain & template for free (get your own domain, this is what I did and it DOES make you look more professional and it’s definitely worth it)
  • Affordable domain price – $4.00/year with every hosting package
  • Professional support – available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – both to you, as a reseller, and to your clients, 1 hour response time guaranteed
  • Reseller API – if you want to bill your clients yourself (for advanced users/programmers only)
  • Flexible wallet system – get discounts with every account refill
  • 2-tier affiliate program – 10% commissions on all affiliate sales (invite a friend to get in on this business and you’ll get rewarded)
  • No obligations – Neither future obligations and deposits, nor special skills required.

I decided to go with their private label package and registered my own domain name and customize the prices a bit. You can see the end result of my effort at this website:

http://www.expedioweb.com

In fact a while back before I decided to start my own blog hosting venture I had this blog and all my websites running on my private label web host. The only reason I switched to Hostgator was because unfortunately the company behind this reseller program will not let you use Wildcard DNS. What I did was I created a custom web hosting package and set the price to the wholesale rate and boom, I got web hosting on the cheap. I also purchased my own dedicated DNS & mail servers cause I’m cool like that.

If you’re thinking your customer are going to be hosted on some cheap PC in someone’s basement running off of a DSL or cable connection, you’re dead wrong mister! The company’s network capacity exceeds 2.5 Gigs of Internet connectivity via DS3, OC3, OC12, and Gigabit Ethernet connections to a wide variety of peer points and several transit providers. The circuits are terminated in their data center on carrier class, Cisco Systems 12000 routers. The geeks out there will surely be salivating right abut now, and the non-geeks should just remain in awe of the complex jargon and technobabble – just kidding, all of this means your site and your customer’s sites will run FAST! The servers are quad-core xeon monstes with beefy hard drives and mountains of memory running my favorite server operating system – Linux.

So, I encourage all you entrepreneurial types to have a look at this opportunity, and if you decide to go ahead with this venture I wish you much success and a steady income stream.

Here is the link you need to find out more or to join:

http://alansmoneyblog.com/recommends/resellerspanel