June 4, 2015

Posting will be irregular for a few days

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:56

Yesterday afternoon, my sister suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to hospital. She died late in the evening, never having regained consciousness. She was 51. I will be doing whatever I can to support my brother-in-law Gord, my niece Samantha (who is due to deliver her first baby any day now), my nephew Jimmy and my mother.

There will be a few pre-scheduled items posted on the blog, but I don’t expect to be actively posting anything for at least a couple of days.

Hilary Mallett obituary

May 10, 2015

It can’t really be eleven years already, can it?

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

Once again, I almost missed my own blog’s anniversary. It’s now eleven years since I started blogging … but I won’t say it seems like yesterday (it seems like maybe two or three years ago, actually). In rather the same way that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I still don’t really know what I’m trying to do with the blog. It just keeps dragging me back when I think I’m done with it…

Earlier anniversary postings:

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).

February 20, 2015

My Twitter word cloud

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

If you’d like to generate one of these for your own (or someone else’s) Twitter account, the instructions are here.

Click to see full-sized at imgur.com

Click to see full-sized at imgur.com

Because I use my Twitter account primarily for auto-posting links to my blog, the word “post” is by far the most common word, followed by “qotd” for my daily quotation posts. After that, it seems pretty representative of what I’ve been blogging about for the last year or so.

February 11, 2015

Farewell to The Dish and Andrew Sullivan as a blogger

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

Megan McArdle wasn’t a blogchild of Andrew Sullivan (as such relationships used to be known), but still regrets his decision to pack it in:

Long ago, when blogging was a fresh new form that attracted a lot of chin-stroking journalism, Glenn Reynolds said something that stuck with me: Journalism is a lecture; blogging is a conversation. That’s not as true as it used to be, and it gets less true every day, as old bloggers leave and are not replaced. Ezra Klein attributes much of this to social media, which is certainly part of the answer; Facebook does not reward Part Seven of a back-and-forth about affirmative action. It wants neat, self-contained, authoritative statements about The Way the World Is, preferably ones that bolster your ideological commitments by eschewing caveats, ambiguity or serious engagement with the other side. As I frequently joke with my writer friends, the ideal blog post for the social media world would be headlined: “Everything You Already Believe Is Completely Correct, and Here’s Some Math You Won’t Understand That Proves It.”

I imagine that a number of bloggers breathed a sigh of relief when the form became less conversational — no need to respond to all those uncomfortable questions the other side is raising! The great thing about Andrew was that he kept up the conversation. He is passionate in argument, and he and I have had some fierce disagreements over the years. But right up to the end, he kept asking uncomfortable questions and offering answers from both sides. That’s pretty rare, and pretty admirable, and I’m deeply sad that one last vestige of the old days is soon to be no more.

But the problem with the old model of blogging is not just social media; it’s that blogging is exhausting. Two or three items a day doesn’t sound like a lot, but it takes a long time just to find something you want to write about. And the slowly dying ecosystem of other blogs makes it harder, because there’s no longer a conversation you can just easily hook into. Instead of plopping yourself down at a table where people are already talking, you have to wander through a room filled with people who are speaking to an audience through a megaphone and decide which of these oratorial topics might interest your own audience and a few thousand of their Facebook friends. It’s much lonelier, and consumes more energy, than it was in days of yore. This is why I spend so much time on my comments section; it is the one remainder of the old back-and-forth that made me love blogging in the first place.

Most of us, one way or another, stopped doing what we used to do. I write fewer, longer items; others stopped blogging entirely. Andrew kept up the volume, even increased it, but by the end, it took a staff of 10 to do it. It’s no wonder he burned out; the wonder is that it took so long.

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.

December 14, 2014

The New Republic was probably doomed anyway…

Filed under: Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:20

Let’s just say that there’s not a lot of profit for a monthly magazine with single-issue newsstand sales as low as this:

From a business standpoint, The New Republic was undoubtedly facing an uphill battle for profitability, even before last week’s events. According to the Pew Research Center and the Alliance for Audited Media, single copy sales of the magazine (considered the most objective measure of a magazine’s print appeal) have steadily declined over the past year, dropping to around 1,900 per issue.

They note that, between the first and second halves of 2013, newsstand sales fell by 57%, and fell a further 20% in the first of half of 2014.

One thousand, nine hundred readers. Per month.

Let me just give you a bit of perspective here:

Quotulatiousness daily visits - 14 December 2014

At shortly after 10 a.m. on a quiet Sunday, I’ve already had more visitors to my obscure little personal blog today than there were copies of The New Republic sold in a recent month (not counting subscriptions).

That is not a viable business.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle, who also gets more daily traffic than TNR sells in a month.

June 25, 2014

Long live the Oxford Comma

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:03

Sonny Bunch on the serial comma, single-spaces after periods and other pressing concerns:

Via 538, I’m proud to announce that those of us who support using the serial, or Oxford, comma are on The Right Side of History™:

    The poll of 1,129 Americans, conducted from June 3 to 5, showed that the pro-Oxford comma crowd has a somewhat substantial lead overall: 57 percent to 43 percent. …

    Readers had asked how the responses broke down by age, so here’s a chart to show who falls into each comma camp. The younger crowd overwhelmingly prefers the Oxford comma.

This makes sense, since refusing to use the Oxford comma is stupid and barbaric, a product of a bygone era. See also:

I don’t know who made this originally, but they’re a genius.

I don’t know who made this originally, but they’re a genius.

June 23, 2014

Sir Humphrey signs off

Filed under: Britain, Media, Military — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:25

I’m very sorry to learn that Sir Humphrey will no longer be updating his well-written and informative blog on British (and allied) military affairs:

I started this blog in late 2011 as a response to the levels of debate which surrounded many issues impacting on Defence and wider UK security policy. I felt a keen frustration that all too often the debate quickly descended into poor reporting, tired clichés (e.g. more admirals than ships) and a general sense that the UK was a declining nation with good armed forces who were being betrayed by the MOD.

In starting it I wanted to try to address some of these myths, try to put across an alternate viewpoint and suggest that actually the UK remains a relatively influential nation with capable armed forces and that there is often very logical reasons why things have been done as they are. In other words, I wanted to put across that it is possible to be very positive about Defence in the UK and that there is a remarkably good story to tell. In the intervening two and a half years, nearly 200 articles, over 2600 comments and over 650,000 page hits later, I feel that hopefully some of this has been achieved.

That said, I’ve now reached a point where the decision has been made to close down this blog. There are several reasons why I feel this is the right time to do this: Firstly, from a career perspective, it is increasingly difficult to balance holding down busy jobs as both a civilian and a reservist, and be able to comment objectively here. Recent changes to both commitments mean I don’t think I can continue to be able to post material here without having a conflict of interest in my professional roles.

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.

March 18, 2014

Social justice travesty generator

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:32

ESR linked to this. It’s a generator site for “social justice” that produces simulated Tumblr and blog post rants that are indistinguishable from the “real thing”:

Generated social justice post 1

Generated social justice post 2

March 6, 2014

Getty Images changes their licensing policy to allow more sharing

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:26

BBC News is reporting that Getty Images has made a huge swath of their photographs free to use for small websites and social media users:

Millions of images — including famous shots of Marilyn Monroe and Barack Obama — will now be available without cost to blogs and social media sites.

The photos will be “framed” with a code that links back to Getty’s website.

Getty said it had made the move after realising thousands of its images were being used without attribution.

“Our content was everywhere already,” said Craig Peters, a business development executive at the Seattle-based company.

“If you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply,” he added.

“The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that’s what’s happening…”

I’m delighted to hear this, as one of the things I would like to do with my blog posts is include more images, but it’s often too difficult to locate photos that I am legally allowed to share without having to pay a licensing fee (this blog is a hobby and I earn no money from it). Here’s the wording from Getty’s website:

Embedded Viewer

Where enabled, you may embed Getty Images Content on a website, blog or social media platform using the embedded viewer (the “Embedded Viewer”). Not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content. You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used: (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; (b) in violation of any stated restriction; (c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or (d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.

Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetise its use without any compensation to you.

Here’s a totally unrelated photo embedded using Getty’s Embed Images tool:

SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE – MARCH 05: A statue of Lenin is viewed in the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 5, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. As the standoff between the Russian military and Ukrainian forces continues in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, world leaders are pushing for a diplomatic solution to the escalating situation. The United Nations reports that the poverty rate in Ukraine is now at around 25%, with a falling population in recent years due to both a low fertility rate and migration to other parts of Europe and America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Searching the Getty Images site, not all search results provide images that are embeddable under the licensing terms, so this isn’t a “free for all” on everything Getty publishes, but it’s certainly a welcome change for even making a portion of their holdings available for legal sharing without charge.

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.

October 25, 2013

QotD: The dangers of reading internet comments

Filed under: Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

I joke — hilariously — but there is a serious issue here. At least, I assume there is. Frankly, I can’t remember, because I made the mistake of scrolling down to the reader comments about the visa story. Reading online comments is like letting someone punch your brain in the face with a fistful of stupid. If you doubt this, consider that I’ve been hit with the “fist of stupid” so many times, I now think brains have faces. Kudos, Internet.

Scott Feschuk, “Mexico is ‘really mad’ at us, and it is so a big whoop: Diplomacy should be more like ‘Mean Girls’”, Maclean’s, 2013-09-20

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).

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