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Dec 17, 2013

How to Add Custom-Sized AdSense Ads to your Website

Google AdSense, since its inception in 2003, has supported a dozen-odd ad units – from the 300×250 Rectangle to the 160×600 Skyscraper – that abide by the IAB guidelines. Premium AdSense publishers do have the flexibility of customizing the layout of text-only ads but not the image or rich-media ads.

Last week Google introduced custom-sized ad units in AdSense that blurs the line between Premium and regular publishers. Now all AdSense publishers are given an opportunity to create ad units of custom dimensions, tailor made for their own website. Let me explain.

Say your website has a sidebar that is 250 pixels wide. Previously, you could only choose between the regular skyscraper formats – 120×600 or 160×600 – even though none of these units would perfectly fit inside your sidebar. With custom-sized units now available in AdSense, you can create an ad unit that is exactly 250×600 in size thus taking all the available screen estate. Or if the sidebar is long, you can even choose to have a 250×1200 unit.

Custom-Sized Ad Units vs Regular AdSense Ads

An obvious advantage with custom-sized units is that they better fit the layout of your website. That said, Google algorithms may sometimes override your choice.

For instance, if you have created an ad unit that is 500×300 pixels, AdSense can still serve display ads in standard formats like the 300×250 or 336×280 for that unit. The smaller ad will be center-aligned and the remaining area is filled with whitespace.

Google may display small display ads inside custom-sized ad units.

Google may serve display ads of lesser dimensions inside custom-sized ad units.

Since Google is likely to display the highest performing ad – which could either be a custom-sized unit (that you’ve requested) or a regular unit – it may be a good idea to use custom-sized units in place of regular units as, with the former, you get the best of both worlds.

Convert Existing AdSense Ad Units to Custom-Sized Ads

Google recommends that you create a new ad unit in your AdSense dashboard and choose the option “Custom Ad Size” for creating a new custom-sized ad unit. You can however use your existing Ad units and convert them into a custom sized units.

All you have to do is adjust the width and height values in your existing ad code and regular unit will be automatically converted into a custom sized unit. Just make sure that both height and width values are less than 1200 pixels and that only one of these values is greater than 300 pixels.

Custom-Sized Ads vs Responsive Google Ads

Earlier this year, Google introduced Responsive AdSense ads where the size (read width) of the ad is dynamically specified based on the screen size of the device where that ad is being served. With responsive ads, you can serve a 336×280 large rectangle on the desktop and the same ad slot may serve a 320×100 ad when the page is viewed on a mobile device.

Now that custom-sized ad units are available, should you make the switch to these new units or continue to use the Responsive Ad units.

Google’s official recommendation is:

Custom-sized ad units are fixed sized ad units, i.e., they don’t dynamically change their size or respond to changes in screen orientation. If your site uses responsive design, we recommend that you use a responsive ad unit instead.

You can however still make your custom-sized ad units responsive such that their suggested size changes based on the device size or orientation. In Responsive Ads, you serve ads of a fixed width based on the screen size while in custom-sized ads you specify the maximum width that the ad can occupy. If you can dynamically specify this “maximum” width, your custom-sized ad unit will be responsive as well.

How to Make Custom-sized AdSense Ads Responsive

The AdSense ad units on this website are custom-sized units but they are responsive too. Here’s how you can implement such a thing on your own website or blog:

<div id="google-ads-1"></div>

<script type="text/javascript">

/* Replace ca-pub-XXX with your AdSense Publisher ID */
google_ad_client = "ca-pub-XXX";

/* Replace YYY with the AdSense Ad Slot ID */
google_ad_slot = "YYY";

/* Replace ZZZ with the custom height of your Ad Unit */
google_ad_height = ZZZ;

ad = document.getElementById('google-ads-1');

if (ad.getBoundingClientRect().width) {
google_ad_width = ad.getBoundingClientRect().width;
} else {
google_ad_width = ad.offsetWidth; // for old IE

/* The width of an Ad unit should be between 120-1200 pixels */
if (google_ad_width>1200) {
google_ad_width = 1200;
} else if (google_ad_width<120) {
google_ad_width = 120;

/* The height of an Ad unit should be between 50-1200 pixels */
if (google_ad_height>1200) {
google_ad_height = 1200;
} else if (google_ad_height<50) {
google_ad_height = 50;

/* Both height or width cannot be more than 300 pixels */
if ((google_ad_width>300) && (google_ad_height>300)) {
google_ad_height = 300;

document.write (
'<ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:'
+ google_ad_width + 'px;height:'
+ google_ad_height + 'px" data-ad-client="'
+ google_ad_client + '" data-ad-slot="'
+ google_ad_slot + '"></ins>'

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});


<script async src="//"></script>

Go to your AdSense dashboard and create a new Ad unit with the type as “Custom Ad Unit.” You can specify the dimensions as, say, 300×1200 pixels (either the height or width should be 300 pixels or less) and choose a default color and font scheme for the ad unit. Click the “Save and Get code” button to generate the ad code.

Note your AdSense publisher ID, Ad Slot ID and replace those values in the above block of code (line #6 & #9). You should also change the default height (line #12) of your custom sized unit (the width is automatically determined by JavaScript). Copy-paste the modified code anywhere in your web template and the custom-sized ads will fill the available width while being responsive.

The technique will work on both responsive and regular (non-responsive) websites.

This story, How to Add Custom-Sized AdSense Ads to your Website, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 17/12/2013 under Google AdSense, Internet

via Digital Inspiration Technology Blog

Fedora 20 Available For Download

Fedora 20 "Heisenbug" has been released, featuring the latest stable GNOME 3.10 along with other interesting changes.

GNOME 3.10

Fedora 20 ships with GNOME 3.10 by default, with comes with some important changes:

  • the old system status menus have been replaced with a new System Menu

  • improved login and lock screens: better layout, nicer transitions, prettier lock screen notifications, etc.;

  • "header bars" or "client side decorations" are used by default by some of the GNOME core apps like Nautilus, Documents and so on;

  • many Settings (Control Center), including: new option to change the login screen background, new date and time settings, new display settings, the background can be selected from your Flickr photos;

  • fine grained scrolling when dragging the scroll bar handle, or scrolling while holding the shift key;

  • and of course, updated core apps.

GNOME Software, a new application that was introduced with GNOME 3.10, is used by default in Fedora 20, replacing the old gnome-packagekit frontends:

This is a tool for browsing and installing applications and at the moment, it doesn't support reviews or displaying application screenshots:

Other changes

  • ARM is now an officially supported architecture;

  • You can now run ARM VMs on x86 hosts using standard libvirt tools: libvirt virsh, virt-manager and virt-install;

  • Cinnamon 2.0 is available in the Fedora 20 official repositories - more about Cinnamon 2.0, HERE. To install the complete Cinnamon desktop in Fedora (including Nemo, etc.), use yum groupinstall "Cinnamon Desktop", then select Cinnamon from the login screen;

  • The latest E17 (0.18) stable desktop is available in the Fedora 20 repositories - to install it, use "yum install @enlightenment" and select it from the login screen;

  • Network Manager improvements:

    • users are now able to add, edit, delete, activate and deactivate network connections via command line using the "nmcli" tool;

    • support for bonding and bridging interfaces;

  • experimental support for adding solid state drives (SSDs) as fast, transparent caches to traditional HDDs;

  • Fedora 20 has migrated to BlueZ 5;

  • Sendmail and Syslog have been removed from the minimal installation and from the Live Desktop DVD - systemd journal now takes the place as the default logging solution;

  • For the KDE spin, Fedora 20 uses KDE Plasma workspaces 4.11 with a new Plasma-nm applet for network management and a new display manager called SDDM (a lightweight display manager that uses QML for the user interface), replacing KDM.

Default applications

Fedora 20 ships with the following default packages: Nautilus 3.10.1, GNOME Control Center (System Settings) 3.10.2, GNOME Settings Daemon 3.10.2, Evolution 3.10.2, GNOME Documents 3.10.1, GNOME Clocks 3.10.1, Empathy 3.10.2, Totem 3.10.1, Cheese 3.1.2, Rhythmbox 3.0, Firefox 25, Shotwell 0.15.0 and LibreOffice, among others, on top of GNOME 3.10 with GTK 3.10.4, Linux Kernel 3.11.10, Mesa 9.2.3 (with 9.2.4 available as an update) and Xorg Server 1.14.4

GNOME 3 applications such as Maps, Bijiben, Weather, Photos, Web (Epiphany), Music, Boxes or Tweak Tool are not installed by default but the latest 3.10 version is available to install from the Fedora 20 repositories:

Download Fedora 20

Before installing Fedora 20, make sure you check out the list of common bugs. Also check out the official release notes.

And as usual, to install codecs, Java and various tweaks, use Fedora Utils.

via Web Upd8 - Ubuntu / Linux blog

TRIM Enabled By Default For SSDs On Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Intel SSD

SSDs are finally trimmed out of the box starting with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr.

TRIM allows the OS to "inform a solid-state drive (SSD) which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally". Without this, the write speed on SSDs becomes very slow over time. More info @ Wikipedia.

At UDS there was a discussion about the method that was going to be used for trimming: online discard (adding a "discard" option to /etc/fstab) or fstrim with a cron job. Based on some benchmarks, the developers decided to go with fstrim because, like we also pointed out a while back, with online discard there's a performance hit, for example when deleting a large number of small files.

So starting with Ubuntu 14.04, SSDs that support it will be trimmed out of the box by using fstrim with a weekly cron job, as long as you're using a supported filesystem: ext3, ext4, xfs and btrfs.

According to the blueprint, TRIM will also be enabled by default for Ubuntu Touch soon.

If you're not using Ubuntu 14.04 yet, you ca manually enable TRIM for your SSD by following our guide.

via Martin Pitt @ G+

via Web Upd8 - Ubuntu / Linux blog

Install The SteamOS Session In Ubuntu

Valve released SteamOS Beta a few days ago as an early first-look public release. Based on Debian 7, the new operating system comes with a session called SteamOS which is a modified Big Picture mode that uses a custom SteamOS Compositor (based on xcompmgr) optimized for Steam and gaming, and some other tweaks.

If you want to run the official SteamOS session along with the custom SteamOS compositor in Ubuntu, you can easily do so by installing two packages. Once you install these packages, you'll be able to directly log in to the SteamOS session from the LightDM login screen.

This session is useful because it doesn't load a complete desktop environment so more resources are available for both Steam and games. However, since SteamOS is in its early development stages, so is this session, so expect to find bugs!

Here are some observations from my testing (please read!):

  • this session loads Steam in Big Picture mode and from my experience and from what I've read, Big Picture is pretty buggy on Linux so before using this, I suggest trying the Big Picture Mode from the Steam Linux client and see if it works on your hardware/drivers, if games run properly and so on;

  • the SteamOS session doesn't work if multiple monitors are plugged in. That means that even if a monitor is connected but disabled, the SteamOS session won't work and you'll get a black screen! To avoid this, make sure you boot with only one monitor connected or restart LightDM / logout after disconnecting a monitor.

  • to get a "Return to desktop" power menu option in the SteamOS session, in the Steam Big Picture interface settings select Interface > Enable access to the Linux desktop. In my test, selecting "Return to desktop" didn't work with Ubuntu 14.04 and 13.10 but it worked on 12.10 (and it also didn't work with SteamOS running in VirtualBox when logging in to the SteamOS session). So if it doesn't work for you, exit the session either by selecting "Shutdown" or "Restart" from the Steam Big Picture power menu or restart LightDM (press Ctrl + Alt + F1, login and type: "sudo service lightdm restart", then press Ctrl + Alt + F7 to return to the login screen).

Tip: if you only want to run the "SteamOS" mode without having a session for it in the login screen, without the SteamOS compositor and so on, you can simply run the Steam client using the following command: "steam -steamos -tenfoot" and you'll get the SteamOS interface running on your desktop (for this to work, make sure your Steam for Linux client is up to date).

Install SteamOS session in Ubuntu

1. Firstly, install the Steam Linux client if you haven't already (you can install it via Ubuntu Software Center or by downloading the deb from its website). Also, make sure your Steam Linux client is up to date: Steam > Check for Steam Client Updates

2. To be able to use the SteamOS session in Ubuntu, you need two packages:

  • SteamOS Compositor (includes the Compositor obviously and the actual session);

  • SteamOS Modeswitch Inhibitor (even though the SteamOS Compositor deb doesn't depend on this package, it is used in the session file so I suggest you install it.

Using the links above, download and install SteamOS Compositor and SteamOS Modeswitch Inhibitor for your architecture. Then, log out and select "SteamOS" from the login screen:

via Web Upd8 - Ubuntu / Linux blog

Dec 16, 2013

How to View your Old Notifications in Android

There were a couple of pending notifications sitting in the status bar of your Android phone and you have just tapped the “Dismiss” icon to clear them all. And then it occurred that you may have dismissed certain important notifications. Where did they go? Can you retrieve the old notifications even if they have have removed from the notifications bar?

Well if your phone is running a more recent version of Android, Jelly Bean or later you can get a log of notifications that have pushed by various apps. Here’s how.

Go to your Android home screen and tap the apps icon. Switch to the Widgets tab, tap and hold the 1×1 Settings Shortcut and place it on your your home screen. Now select “Notifications” from the available choices.

Tap the settings icon that you have placed on the home screen and it will display the notification history in reverse chronological order. You will know the name of the app that pushed the notification, the title of the notification and the time when that message was pushed.

Android Notifications

You may also use the notifications shortcut to prevent certain apps from sending notifications to your phone. Just tap the name of an app and deselect the option that says “Show Notifications” from the App info page.

Credit: Stack Overflow

This story, How to View your Old Notifications in Android, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 16/12/2013 under Android, Software

via Digital Inspiration Technology Blog

Secure Passwords v2.0

You want to have lengthy, complicated and unique passwords for every website that you use but that rarely happens in practice because complex passwords are impossible for anyone to remember.

Some people rely on password managers like LastPass or KeePass – they store all your passwords in an encrypted database which is then protected by a master password. You enter the master password and you instantly have access to all your stored user logins and passwords. LastPass and 1Password also offers apps for mobile devices.

A Unique Password for Every Website

Here’s a simple open-source app that I am internally using for managing the passwords of my various online accounts. The app is called Secure Passwords and it generates unique and strong passwords using the secure bcrypt algorithm.

Secure Passwords is available as a web app that you can use from any browser on any device, as a Chrome extension, as an Android App that you can sideload or you can download the single-page app and save it to your Dropbox for offline use.

To get started, enter your user name (or login id), the site’s domain name where you are trying to log in (e.g. google or facebook), your master password and hit the generate button.

The generated passwords meet all the criteria for strong passwords – they are made of digits, special characters and letters are in mixed-case. The passwords are generated using bcrypt which is still resistant to brute-force attacks and therefore it will be impossible for anyone to decrypt the master pass phrase should any of password ever gets leaked online.

You only have to remember the master key (pass phrase) and tool will generate unique passwords base on the site name and the user name. Also, the tool computes passwords in your web browser itself and not a single byte of data ever leaves your machine.

The source code is available for download on Github ().

Related reading: Keep your Online Accounts Safe and Secure

This story, Secure Passwords v2.0, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 16/12/2013 under Password, Internet

via Digital Inspiration Technology Blog