Playing around with HTML5 ads with Google AdWords built in Google Web Designer

December 18th, 2015

I had to build a relatively simple HTML5 ad for the main client this week. I had previously built Flash advertisements, but even that was a few years ago.

This was sadly a frustrating experience, especially since Flash ads (which in end user terms are basically the same) have been around for over a decade.

I will not go into too much detail, perhaps, I’ll backfill this post in the future. I wanted to write down a few notes while this pain was still fresh in my mind.

Google Web Designer (GWD) is the preferred way to build HTML5 ads for Google AdWords. The sad thing is they don’t need to invent anything here, just copy programs that we’ve used to build Flash ads for years. Some notes on this “beta” product.

  • It will install without complaint on Windows Vista. It will NOT work properly though, many features fail SILENTLY on Vista. Admittedly, Google only claims Windows 7 compatibility – I was working over RDP on one of the spare machines in the office –  I didn’t even realize it was running Vista rather than Windows 7. The “Swap Image” and problems in the asset library come to mind.
  • Don’t even get me started on the quirks in the UI. I never could figure out how to move an object with the mouse, rather than create a transform. I ended up entering “pixel” values into the X and Y fields with the keyboard.
  • I couldn’t find a way to export a frame of the animation, for, you know, the JPG failover image that the majority of ad networks require for users that disable animated ads.
  • Misleading “template” choices. My first attempt at building an ad I picked one of the 300×250 templates that mentioned Google and something about remarketing. In the end, this caused me grief. My final file was not compatible with the standard AdWords upload… something about it being custom (forgot to write the exact error down). I eventually rebuilt the simple ad without a template, using the Google ‘environment’.
  • Resizing a file to switch from a rectangle to a leaderboard ad? Yeah, not easy. Actually, I never confirmed that I got this working – I may try again next week.

Google AdWords issues…

  • I use Inkscape for a lot of vector art work. GWD seems to use these SVG files fine in local previews, but uploading the “publish locally” zip file from GWD to AdWords failed in all my attempts. Worse, it failed with this completely misleading error: “Invalid file format. Make sure you are using a supported file format (.JPEG, .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, .ZIP or .SWF) and that your file is not corrupted.” I was using text that had been converted to paths, but I later tested with just an oval and rectangle. In the end? I made precisely sized PNG files. It feels so old fashioned, and I’ll be really annoyed when I have to resize the ad.

HTML5 Ad Notes

  • No, you do not need to include a “clickTag” with HTML5 on AdWords. This is not as easy to figure out as it should be.

Windows 7 ReadyBoost with the built-in SD card reader in a Dell Lattitude E5550

August 28th, 2015

I bought a 16GB Class 10 SD card on super-sale, and I wanted to set it up with ReadyBoost on my new Dell laptop. To my dismay, I couldn’t get the ReadyBoost setup prompts to come up – for years I’ve been annoyed at constantly seeing that option when I plug in a Flash drive or SD card, and now, when I actually wanted it, it wouldn’t come up. Figures.

Apparently few people use ReadyBoost – there weren’t any search results specific to my Dell model.

I did find a reference to removing the manufacturer drivers for the SD card controller for a similar ReadyBoost problem, so I gave that a shot.

In the Windows Device Manager, under Storage Controllers, my card reader was listed as a “BayHubTech/O2Micro Integrated MMC/SD controller”, Driver version 2.2.2.1060, dated 5/12/2014. I have no idea if there is a newer driver, or if such a driver would support ReadyBoost. I did the right click, update driver, manually choose driver, “standard SD card controller” thing (not the exact words).

And… magically, it worked.

I now have a top level “SD host adapters” branch, and below that “SDA Standard Compliant SD Host Controller” in the Device Manager.

Whether or not I’ll be able to notice any difference with 12-13GB of ReadyBoost added, well, I’m not sure. I feel it did help on my previous laptop running Vista with a 4GB card.

Erroneous “This modification will affect transactions from closed periods…” prompt in Quickbooks

May 8th, 2015

I was highly disappointed to discover that a current version of QuickBooks will give this error message:quickbooks-depends-on-computer-date-format

 

 

If you have your Windows user date format set differently from the other users of QuickBooks – I assume that it would work on some days and not others! At this particular client’s site, 2 users were using a mm/dd/yyyy date format, and the 3rd, the person who couldn’t make postings, was using dd/mm/yyyy. I was able to triage this to a Windows user issue, since other QuickBooks users using this fellows Windows login also were not able to make postings.

It took a few tries while searching Google to find the magic search terms to confirm that I wasn’t the first to find this particular issue.

It is 2015, I would have bet that a very common software package from a large firm would have had time to learn to convert dates to a single standard, maybe UTC,  prior to applying business logic. But… I would have lost that bet with QuickBooks.

Meh, I guess this gives us something to point to when people find bugs in our websites. :)

Oscars Bingo for reddit.com/r/movies 2015

March 1st, 2015

A little belated, but, worth posting anyways. For the second year in a row, the moderators at the movies subreddit approached us, via our custom bingo cards to help with their Oscars Bingo contest. Over 3 times as many of the cards were claimed this year! This years live contest thread is here. It looks like it worked out for everyone! It’s a fun use of our site – but highly customized – we host a custom mini-site to distribute the custom bursted and logo’d cards to the reddit users.

Google Drive broke itself? Deleting the user settings…

February 2nd, 2015

About 3 weeks ago, I think Google Drive tried to update itself and broke itself. This happened on multiple computers running at one of our client’s businesses. These were Windows XP Pro computers, in Workgroup mode, and the users are running in Limited User accounts. I’m not 100% what the trigger to the problem was – it didn’t seem to be a  wide spread problem, since, my brief web searches on the topic didn’t turn up anything recent.

I tried an uninstall and re-install of Google Drive, but that didn’t work. In hindsight, I should have tried disconnecting the drive from a Google user account, and then re-connecting it.

What I actually did was to delete the Google Drive user level files (and, as it turns out, the settings). As far as I can tell, this seems to reset the software. It looks like Google Drive doesn’t really use the Windows Registry – this makes sense, it makes it easier share code across platforms like OSX or Linux (if such clients exist).

So, I renamed this folder, to “break” Google Drive:

C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Drive

I think Windows Vista and later would have it here: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Drive

 

Upon re-opening the Google Drive client, I was prompted to do the initial setup. And after entering the Google Account username and password, and pointing to the original drive folder, it started to work. There was an initial sync check, where all the files were compared to the cloud copy, and then a prompt to correct any discrepancies.

I’m not impressed that this happened, it makes me wonder about all these automatically updating programs, like Chrome (which has also caused me grief after an automatic update).