Starting Again

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

Happy 2015! I can't believe I didn't write a single blog post in 2014. I didn't intentionally abandon my blog. Most of the stuff I used to write in short posts are now on Facebook; this leaves only longer posts for the blog. Of course, these are more effort, so I didn't write. Not really a good excuse, so I will start again. Here we go!

The future of blogging (at least for me)

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

As you can tell from my monthly archives, I've been blogging a lot less in the past year or two, with only twelve posts this entire year; there used to be some months when I'd post more. Part of it has been some challenges I've had maintaining my blog, but I think I have those worked out now thanks to some help from a Moveable Type expert.

However, I see this same pattern from a lot of my friends' blogging habits. If they're like I am, I share the little things like cool links or short Michael stories via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest these days -- things I used to post here. I feel more pressure for my blog posts to be more thoughtful and richer as a result. You see a lot more photos and longer posts now, but there are a lot fewer of them now.

Truth be told, I miss writing here. I consider my blog to be a diary of my life and thoughts. I really enjoy going back over old posts. I feel like something is missing when I don't write about big things or even small things like new restaurants. Also, my blog is really mine; the stuff I post on other sites is theirs and can disappear in a puff.

So, I'm going to try to write more here going forward and cross post to the other forums instead. I'm not too proud to admit that I like having the comments show up in my blog instead of on Facebook, etc. so feel free to leave notes here...

I'm still alive

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

I haven't abandoned the blog, although I know it looks that way. Things have been a little crazy with work and home stuff lately; nothing bad or anything to be worried about. I have a bunch of posts in the queue and hope to get back to writing more regularly Real Soon Now.

In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves...

No More Snap Thumbnails

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

Those of you who read the blog from the site (vs. an RSS feed) may have noticed I was playing with Snap Preview Anywhere. This is a neat service that provides popup thumbnail views as you hover over links on a web page. It was super easy to add to the site (put a few lines at the top of my web page).

Unfortunately, while the idea is interesting, the script they were loading and running was just too slow. It really bogged down the load times of the page.

So, it's gone.

Browser Stats on my Blog

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

OK, since I'm trolling through my logs this morning, I figured I'd write about the browser and OS stats.

Since January 1, 2007:

  1. Internet Explorer 6.0: 34%
  2. Internet Explorer 7.0: 23%
  3. Opera 9: 10%
  4. Firefox 1.5: 8.9%
  5. Mozilla 5: 7.2%
  6. Firefox 2.0: 3.6%
  7. Netscape: 1.4%
  8. Internet Explorer 5.0: 1.3%
  9. Safari: 1.3%
  10. Firefox 1.0: .7%

I admit the high Opera numbers are really surprising. All told, IE versions account for 65% of my traffic. Mozilla variants including Firefox are 21% and Opera is 11%. These non-IE numbers are higher than the market as a whole, leading me to believe that my readers are more on the tech enthusiast side (a segment that use a broader range of browsers than the population at large.)

These stats don't include the search robots who hit the site. Yahoo visits the site a ton, accounting for 13% of my web traffic. Robots in general are about 20% of my traffic - a surprisingly high cost.

On a separate note, who is out there running all these old browsers? WTF? It's not like they're expensive. Everyone should be running the latest version of their preferred browser, if only for the modern security protections! Come on people!

With respect to operating systems

  1. Windows XP: 65%
  2. Windows Vista: 9%
  3. Linux: 5.8%
  4. Windows 98: 5.7%
  5. Windows 2000: 5%
  6. Windows NT: 4.3%
  7. MacOS: 2%
  8. Windows Server 2003: 1.3%
  9. FreeBSD: .8%
  10. Windows 95: .8%

All Windows versions account for 91% of my viewers. I'm surprised how many more people use Linux than Macs, but that may again reflect my geeky readership. Whoever is out there running Windows 98 or Windows 95 - please, for the love of God, move to something more modern and secure. We don't even provide security updates for Windows 98 or 95 anymore, so you're running naked.

On the ISP front, Comcast is the single biggest provider at 15% with GTE at 10% and MSN at 5%. This skew may be due to the popularity of those providers in the Redmond area.

Unfortunately, I think the other stats are too heavily warped by the robots and comment spammers to be useful (stuff like unique visitors and pages viewed per visit.)

Most Popular Posts

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

Warren (a lead developer on the IE team) asked me the other day what posts on my blog have been the most popular, so I thought I'd check the stats.

The list has been reasonably stable for a while now. Here are the top ten articles as measured by page views since Jan 1, 2007.

  1. Pokemon Rocks Seattle! (by a long shot and with a huge, huge lead in comments.)
  2. The Best Rum in the World
  3. The Best Way to Cook Bacon
  4. Amazing video of octopus attacking a shark
  5. Cub Scout Hell
  6. Big Butts (I think people come to this page looking for something else...)
  7. Bud Lite Ads
  8. Changing the Default Source Editor in IE
  9. Call CPS!
  10. World's Best Flashlight

The most popular category searches are

  1. Random Cool Stuff
  2. Travel
  3. Kids
  4. Food and Drink
  5. Random Junk

37% of the traffic on my site is the comments page; given the relatively low number of legitimate comments, I suspect most of this is blog spammers trying to get it (I get hundreds of spam comments per day). 20% of the traffic is my RSS feed, so I'm guessing most people read the site via an aggregator (hopefully IE7!) The home page is the single page with the most traffic at 2.66%.

Google domains from various countries are by far the largest referrers, accounting for a whopping 85% of all my page views. Yahoo domains are a distant second at 6%. Live and MSN total 4.3%. I know my site is just one data point, but it highlights a few things to me. First, Google is completely dominant in the search space; the lead they have is huge. Second, the big three (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft) really own all the traffic. These three account for over 95% of all my referrals. The others don't even show up.

Anyway, there's your daily dose of trivia.

To back date or not to back date?

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

Well, I finally posted the entries from my sailing trip. I had written them mostly during the trip, but I couldn't post them due to the lack of connectivity.

When I got around to posting them, I was confronted with an interesting question: should I back date them so the entries appeared on the days the events occurred (and the day I wrote them) or should the dates reflect the date the entry showed up?

This is more than an philosophical topic. For my readers who use the RSS feed, I didn't know what effect the backdating would have, especially since I had made one live post in the middle of the trip. I was concerned it might confuse others who visit the site regularly and suddenly saw entries from previous days.

Despite those concerns, I decided to backdate the entries. Since its inception, the blog has primarily been for me, serving as a journal. I decided to optimize for my usage; I wanted the entries to appear on the day the events occurred.

Any opinions?

Beating Blog Spam

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

As you may have noticed, I've had an ongoing blog spam problem. In many respects you could say that my hobby was deleting blog spam, not writing a blog.

Well, thanks to a tip from Yukino, I installed MT-Akismet, a Moveable Type plug-in that does some anti-spam magic.

It's changed my life. In the past few days, I've deleted maybe three pieces of blog spam that slipped through instead of the hundreds I delete normally. There seems to be a virtually zero false-positive rate as well, judging from the scans of the junked comments I've made.

I now have hours more a day to write meaningless posts that no one reads and to screw around looking for old music on Urge. Happy day!

Trying out Windows Live Writer

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

Screenshot of Windows Live Writer as I wrote this post

I'm writing this post using the Windows Live Writer beta. This is a client application that hooks up to various blog services and allows a more word processor like. Normally, when I write my blog, I use a web form and have to hand-code a bunch of HTML to do things like lists or images. Live Writer makes all that easier.

The setup couldn't have been easier. I just gave it the URL for my blog and my username/password. It figured out what blog software I used, and it imported all my styles and categories automatically. When I write this, it uses the styles from my blog, so I can easily see how everything will look. There's even a view that shows the draft post injected into my blog, so I can see it context.

The spell checking will be a huge plus too. Right now, background spell checking (you know, the red squiggles) doesn't appear to be working, but I'm sure it will be before release. The build also has some bugs; it crashed on me on my Vista box at work and lost my post. Life in the fast lane, I guess.

Still, this seems awesome. The UI is straightforward and clean. I can't wait to try it out over time. Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

Got my first Google Adsense check

  • Published Date:
  • by
  • Category:

I just got my first check for the ads on my site. It was enough for a very nice bottle of whisky (which is likely what I'll buy). I think this is my first hobby that has generated any money. Not enough to retire on, but it's fun.

Google won't sent the check until you have $100 in the account. I got to this point more quickly than I expected when I first started with the ads in November of last year. (Traffic has been picking up slowly). I admit it was fun to watch the money add up - a quarter here, a dime there. I haven't really done anything to optimize the ads; this was just a grand experiment. I will say that the Google guys have done a good job here.

Thanks to everyone for clicking the ads!