February 27, 2015

WordPress theme updates

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:22

This morning’s WordPress update appears to have messed around with the theme I’ve been using for the last several years. Most of the formatting looks to be okay … except that I’ve lost the banner graphic at the top of the page. I don’t have time to fix it properly now (not to mention that I don’t remember what I did back in 2009 to get it working in the first place), so I’ve just dropped a placeholder banner there (it’s the banner from the old MovableType site, actually).

December 31, 2014

Blog traffic in 2014

Filed under: Administrivia,Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 23:59

The annual statistics update on traffic to Quotulatiousness since January 1st (it’s also co-incidentally, the 2,000th day since I started posting here after moving from the original MovableType site at Jon’s website).

2014 blog statistics 1

2014 blog statistics 2

Over five million hits. That’s a pretty good number for an obscure Canadian blog. Certainly better numbers than The New Republic was managing just recently.

If I had any Photoshop skillz at all, I’d put together a Quotulatiousness version of the old McDonalds sign with the caption “Over Five Million Served”.

2014 blog statistics 3

2014 blog statistics 4

The final count of visitors to the blog will be about 1,500-2,500 higher, as I did the screen captures at around 11:30 in the morning.

May 10, 2014

Ten years of Quotulatiousness

Filed under: Administrivia,Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:01

Today is the tenth anniversary of my very first blog post. It wasn’t really a barn burner: El Neil on the Iraqi Prisoners. With only two posts on the first day, it wasn’t clear that the blog would last even to the end of May. Eleven posts on the second day were a more hopeful sign. I’d been reading and commenting on blogs for a few years at that point, so the transition to being a blogger was relatively easy. Managing some kind of consistency — that was more of a challenge.

Becoming a long-term blogger just sort of happened: my friend Jon installed MovableType and invited me to start a blog of my own on his site. Jon eventually decided that blogging wasn’t for him so he shut down his blog, but allowed me to keep my blog hosted at his site for over five years as a primary and my first five years of posts are still available there. Jon’s short experiment in blogging was called Blogulatiousness, and I named my own blog as a back-handed reference to his … which is why I still have the least easily pronounced blog name in the Anglosphere. Initially, I expected the blog to be primarily quotations, although even from the start, I didn’t post a QotD entry all that regularly.

Advice for anyone wanting to start a blog? (Especially if you’re involved in the gaming-oriented Newbie Blogger Initiative this year.) Blog every day. Even if you don’t have much to say, make sure you post something. It’s dual purpose: you need to get yourself into the habit of posting regularly, and you need to have something new every time a reader loads your page, or they’ll stop coming back. I have a stockpile of QotD posts ready to go for those days when I’m too busy or too pre-occupied to come up with regular posts. I recommend you do something similar, although it should be something that ties in with your general theme (if you have one): original artwork, YouTube videos, quotations, short poems or drabbles if you write fiction, historical photos, a list of assorted links, etc. But do remember that a blog isn’t Instagram or Tumblr or Facebook: don’t post photos of your lunch. Please. You’re trying to build your own audience, and it’s unlikely you’ll do better than those services, as they’re optimized for their particular niches.

Whatever you choose to do, remember to link back to your sources every time. It’s courteous and it’s common sense: you want your work to be appreciated, and so do the other writers/artists/musicians you link to.

Earlier anniversary postings:

Update, 13 May: I just discovered that May 10 in 2004 was the same day that ArenaNet announced the development of their first MMO, Guild Wars (now known as Guild Wars Prophecies. I didn’t play the game until a year or so later, but I’m amused and pleased that we share an anniversary date.

December 31, 2013

Blog traffic, 2013

Filed under: Administrivia,Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:43

While the blogging “revolution” may be over, I think that providing links and interesting posts that generated nearly 1.5 million unique visits shows there’s still a bit of life in the blogging world:

Quotulatiousness 2013 traffic

Quotulatiousness visits and hits 2010-2013

As I took these screenshots at about 10:30 in the morning, the final numbers for 2013 will be 2,000-2,500 higher than shown.

September 25, 2013

Potential service interruption

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 06:49

A while back, I mentioned that my hosting service was moving the site to a new server. Fortunately, this change appears to have happened without disrupting anything. Today, however, I had to make a DNS setting change that may take up to 24 hours to take effect. If you get a 404 message that the site is unreachable, try again in an hour or so and hopefully the new settings will be in place. Or, I could be worried over nothing and this will also be a transparent change from the users’ point of view (fingers crossed, anyway).

September 8, 2013

There may be some slight interruptions in service

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: — Nicholas @ 09:23

I got notice from my site host that they will be making some changes to the server that this site is hosted on, and you may have difficulty getting to the site. The cutover to a new server is due in the next couple of days, but they don’t expect the interruption to last very long. If you can’t get the site to load at some point this week, just try again in a few minutes.

We plan to facilitate this upgrade as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Ensuring your total satisfaction with this maintenance is our primary objective. We will keep you updated via e-mail throughout. The upgrade process itself will result in an exact copy of your account being moved to new hardware and will ensure that the freshest possible up to the minute data is retained.

Once your data switchover is complete we will begin diverting all traffic to your new server so that you do not miss any traffic or experience connectivity problems. Please be aware that there may be minimal amounts of downtime, however we will do everything within our power to ensure a smooth transition. Please note, if you are currently using custom name servers, this process may require a change of IP addresses.

July 25, 2013

First world blogging problems

Filed under: Administrivia,Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:48

I use a few tools to come up with items to post on the blog. The two most useful are Twitter and RSS. I’d been using Google Reader for my RSS needs until it was shut down at the beginning of July, so I switched to The Old Reader and it has been working quite well as a direct Google Reader replacement. Earlier this week, TOR had a server meltdown and multiple failures of drives while attempting to recover. As of this morning, they’re still trying to get back online and (hopefully) recover all the data. Fortunately, I’ve also been testing Newsvibe for RSS, and it’s still working well … but has a different set of feeds than TOR.

My other main tool, Twitter, seems to be having some issues today … or it might just be that my old Twitter client is finally giving up the ghost. I’ve been using the desktop TweetDeck client for years, but I really disliked the “new” version of the tool introduced when TweetDeck was taken over by Twitter itself. Over the last several months, the old client (version 0.38.2) has been slowly losing bits of functionality — for example, sometime in the last week, I lost the ability to send a direct message from Tweetdeck, and earlier this year it became impossible to use the “old” retweet method and more recently to retweet at all.

Today, when I started up the client, it was unable to retrieve any data from earlier this morning. This might be a general issue with the Twitter API or it might be yet another bit of creeping feature-fail. It’s picking up new Twitter posts, but one of the more useful features was that it would also collect tweets from my several lists that had been posted overnight. This morning, only the main feed column in Tweetdeck is being populated, the rest (Mentions, Direct Messages, various list and search columns) are empty.

Old Tweetdeck

I may need to shop around for a new Twitter client. Either way, it puts a crimp in my usual blogging habits.

June 4, 2013

Email issues

Filed under: Administrivia,Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 07:43

I’d just sent an email to Jon, my former virtual landlord, thanking him for sending me the last item I posted when my email client UI was replaced with this:

Yahoo mail outage

So, if you are expecting me to respond to an email, it may be a while before I can do that…

May 10, 2013

Nine years of blogging

Filed under: Administrivia,Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:01

Nine years is a very long lifespan for a blog. The vast majority of blogs don’t even make it to a first anniversary before the blogger loses interest and stops updating it. As I have no other particular claims to distinction, I’ll hang my hat on longevity. If I were to do it over again, I’d probably have come up with a different name for the blog, but for a spur-of-the-moment joke, it’s held up well enough. I guess.

One thing I don’t regret is not specializing in a particular area. I’m not an economist, or a military historian, or a political theorist, but I have interests in those areas that crop up relatively frequently here on the blog. I don’t generally post personal items, as there are lots of other venues (like Facebook) which are better suited to that sort of thing … and I live a fairly boring life, so exotic trips and exciting adventures are things I read about rather than experience directly. I especially don’t post about (past) employers or (current) clients in a way that they could be identified: that’s the sort of thing that tends to have only negative repercussions.

I did a retrospective round-up of the first year for the 2010 anniversary, the “best of 2005″ for 2011, and posts from 2006 last year. To stay on that path requires a look at what I posted in 2007 (and may still have some relevance or interest):

January, 2007

February, 2007

March, 2007 (a very busy month, resulting in very low blog output)

  • Our dystopian future?. “Brad Warbiany takes a moment to glance into his crystal ball and finds . . . shite”
  • “Good job, buddy!”. An extended comment from a regular reader becomes a full blog post.
  • Very disturbing development. “These guys are not exemplars of “warriors”. They’re parties to conspiracy and murder. That is not what soldiers do. The distinction may be a bit subtle for those raised on anti-war protests and anti-military propaganda, however. “

April, 2007

  • Toronto to export garbage at retail level. The social and political side of garbage collection.
  • The diet dilemma. The inevitable result of two trends: more sedentary adult life and cheaper food.
  • Why have an army at all?. A letter to the Toronto Star suggests that Canada has no actual need for any armed forces at all.
  • Everybody’s talking about it . . .. Some conversations just repeat on a regular basis. This discussion of how a criminal got his hands on the weapons he used in his crime could be copy-pasted into any month of the last decade.
  • Somehow, I’m not convinced. A long-standing problem with using US college students as guinea pigs for sociological experiments is that they’re not truly representative even of Americans, never mind non-westerners. Your results will be biased due to the sample you’re using.
  • Potential outages. Jon switched ISPs at the end of April. It took several days to get the blog up and running at the new ISP. An abortive effort was made to update to the then-current version of MovableType, but eventually he had to admit it wasn’t working properly and revert back to the older install.

May, 2007 (a death in the family meant another month of irregular updates)

June, 2007

July, 2007 re-employment took its toll on blogging output

August, 2007

September, 2007

October, 2007 (the job was consuming all my waking hours this month, so blog posts were very light indeed)

  • There’s no place like Florida. There’s just something … special … about Florida.
  • Voting day in Ontario. The election John Tory had to work really hard to lose. But he somehow managed the trick.
  • Micro microeconomics. I explain “Russon’s Law of Economics” as applied to the Ontario economy just before the entire North American economy hit the skids. In hindsight, this was a flashing red light about the near-term performance across all retail sectors.
  • The anti-age-effects movement. Rather than working toward mere longevity, put efforts into reducing or even eliminating the worst aspects of old age.

November, 2007 (deadline pressures at work kept blogging light)

December, 2007

August 25, 2012

Posting will be light for a few days

Filed under: Administrivia,Gaming — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:35

ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 will be released to the general public on Tuesday, but everyone who pre-purchased the game has early access to the servers today and for the next two days. I’ll be spending a lot of time in the virtual world of Tyria as a result.

If you happen to be in-game, my main character name is Raphia Naon and I’m on the Darkhaven server.

Update: My first day’s gaming report is now posted at GuildMag.

Update the second: The next day’s activity is rounded up here.

June 20, 2012

Blogging will be slow for much of today

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:23

I’m working on something non-blog related which will consume most of my cycles this morning and possibly the afternoon as well. Feel free to browse the archives: there’s bound to be stuff there you haven’t seen before.

May 10, 2012

Eight years of blogging

Filed under: Administrivia,Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 00:02

In the fast-paced world of blogging, where sites go dark in mere weeks or months, a blog reaching the venerable age of eight is a bit of an achievement (if only of persistence). Why do I still do it? Damned if I know … but if I haven’t published at least a few posts by mid-morning I feel like I’m slacking. It’s certainly not for the fame or fortune: it’s probably harder to become rich and famous through blogging than in many other fields, but to compensate it requires less talent.

Eight years ago, a fellow writer set up his own blog and invited me to set up my own blog on his site. Jon stopped blogging (far too soon, in my opinion), but allowed me to maintain my blog on his site for over five years and still graciously hosts the archives from that period. I probably wrote more and quoted less in the early days, but it’s now hard to remember what I did online before I became a blogger.

I did a retrospective round-up of the first year for the 2010 anniversary, and I collected the “best of 2005″ for last year’s anniversary post. I guess this year requires a look at what I posted in 2006 (and may still have some relevance or interest):


January 3, 2012

Blog statistics for non-statisticians

Filed under: Administrivia,Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:01

I’m not a big stats nerd — being mathematically challenged means I’m less willing to devote time to things that require extra math. However, most if not all bloggers do care about a few statistical measurements: how many people are visiting their blogs. I’m no exception to that rule.

I don’t have a complete series of annual numbers, as the tools under MovableType (the old site) and WordPress (the current site) don’t provide quite the same slices of data. I installed SiteMeter on the old site a couple of months after I started blogging and it shows 414,416 unique visits from 17 August, 2004 to today (and it still gets around 100 visits per day, even though I haven’t been posting there for more than two years).

Since I switched to the current site the traffic has been going up, although the big blogs don’t have to worry that I’m drawing too much of their readership:

  • 2009: 58,121 unique visits, 131,825 hits (site went live in July, stats date from mid-August)
  • 2010: 328,374 unique visits, 825,381 hits
  • 2011: 413,463 unique visits, 1,118,497 hits

That concludes our occasional dip into the statistics. Thanks for coming by, and especially thanks to folks that link to my blog.

Update: I happened across this bit from July, 2009 on the old blog that still seems relevant:

I’m not sure why I’ve been blogging for five years … it’s certainly not the money, booze, and groupies! I’ve thought about stepping away from the keyboard every now and again, but I don’t actually write as much as I once did, so large chunks of my “blogging” time are actually copy-paste-and-code sessions, rather than writing.

The blogroll has certainly diminished in importance over the last couple of years. The Red Ensign bloggers, my primary affiliation, has diminished to about a dozen active blogs, of whom perhaps 5-6 produce the vast majority of posts. Other blogrolls I’m on have similar profiles of activity. Blogrolls don’t matter compared to when I first started blogging back in 2004.

I remember worrying about SiteMeter and the Ecosystem, as they showed me what my visitors were reading, where they came from and where they went. Time has also not been kind to the ease of gathering that sort of information, as more readers come in from search engine results, RSS feeds, and goodness knows what other channels. If/when I move the blog over to the new site, I may not bother including the links for those tools. They’re no longer all that useful or informative.

I do miss the cameraderie of the early blogging years … but as more of the early blogs go dark, the replacements are less likely to be bloggers and more likely to be Twitterers, Facebookers, YouTubers, Farkers, Slashdotters, and all the other Web 2.0/New Media options that are now available. What was that old expression about the only constant being change?

December 12, 2011

Next up for the weekly “This week in Guild Wars 2” posting

Filed under: Administrivia,Gaming,Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 14:37

I’ve been posting a once-a-week Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2 summary for most of this year, but this week’s entry will probably be a bit different: I’ve been invited to take over the regular “Community Roundup” column at GuildMag. This will be a super-set of the information I normally provide in the “This week in Guild Wars 2” posting. I don’t know if I’ll still post a shorter version here or if I’ll just link to the new column at GuildMag (it’ll probably depend on how much extra work will be required to post in multiple places).

November 25, 2011

This explains why Google dropped out of my “referer site” log

Filed under: Administrivia,Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:24

John Leyden explains how a change in the way Google handled search requests was reflected in my blog’s referer log by Bing suddenly becoming the top search engine for folks visiting Quotulatiousness:

Google made secure search the default option for logged in users last month — primarily for privacy protection reasons. But the move has had the beneficial side-effect of making life for difficult for fraudsters seeking to manipulate search engine rankings in order to promote scam sites, according to security researchers.

Users signed into Google were offered the ability to send search queries over secure (https) connections last month. This meant that search queries sent while using insecure networks, such as Wi-Fi hotspots, are no longer visible (and easily captured) by other users on the same network.

However Google also made a second (under-reported) change last month by omitting the search terms used to reach websites from the HTTP referrer header, where secure search is used. The approach means it has become harder for legitimate websites to see the search terms surfers fed through Google before reaching their website, making it harder for site to optimise or tune their content without using Google’s analytics service.

I’d assumed that there had been some kind of change in the way Google was handling searches, because even though Google pretty much disappeared from my logs (having been the #1 referring site forever), the volume of traffic remained about the same.

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