I’ve mentioned before that occasionally I page through the archives, and sometimes, I have to admit, I like what I see.
And then there are the times when I don’t.
I’ve mentioned before that occasionally I page through the archives, and sometimes, I have to admit, I like what I see.
And then there are the times when I don’t.
A decade or so ago, I put out a threadbare little template for those who wanted to post the way I do, which turned out to be no one at all. The idea, however, has been steadily improved upon, and the current state of the art, I think, is in Jennifer’s “Eye Catching Title Referencing Something Controversial,” which offers not only a better title but the potential for actual controversy, something de rigueur in this age of fifty million blogs chasing the same ten million clicks.
(Oh, and read the comments. They’re actually in the spirit of the thing, for once.)
There was a report yesterday of domain hijacking, which proved to be a little bit less heinous than that but no less annoying.
It’s a third-party script, which apparently piggybacks onto the existing SiteMeter code. Fortunately, it was easy to identify. If you’re using some form of ad- or popup-blocker, this is something you’ll want to block:
If you’re not, well, why not?
(Hat tip to @GLHancock, who saw it here first.)
Once I’ve posted something, I never, ever want to see it again — unless I do.
Has it really been two years since I did one of these? (As always, “today” includes some hours from yesterday, since I tend to write these several hours in advance.)
And no, actually, it’s been four and a half years since I did one of these.
Rather a lot of us on this side of the screen have been through this, sometimes more than once:
A long time ago, this blog was what I considered a huge success, at least in my view. One day I had over 300 page views, which spun me up into a frenzy of joy the likes of which no one has ever seen, except for that time Sally Fields got the Oscar. Nowadays it’s around 50 to 75 views and I’m happy to get that, because I realize I shot myself in the foot when I had my little depressive episode and just couldn’t bring myself to update. So a lot, well, most, of my “readership” wandered off to greener, recent-er pastures, and that’s what they should have done. No one lingers by a dry well thinking it’s going to suddenly spring forth with new crystalline-clear water.
This aquifer of mine has been played out for rather a long time. About ten years ago, I was pulling something like a thousand page views — call it 800 visitors at around 1.3 pages per visit — every single day. This couldn’t last, and it didn’t: today I’m pulling 500 page views a day, but it’s 250 visitors at 2 pages per visit. (The increase in pages per visit is solely attributable, I think, to the fact that I no longer have the pop-up comment box, which counted as 0.) Feed subscribers are a bigger component of the audience these days, but they fluctuate wildly: the gizmo on the sidebar, which counts the number of subscriptions held for at least two weeks, has seesawed between 180 and 1100 this year. And feed subscribers don’t figure into this graph:
That November 2013 burst, curiously, is entirely due to this one post.
The surfer dudes who host my sites have advised that said sites will be down for at least part of Sunday evening:
We’re continuing our roll-out of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise to an additional 150 web servers this Sunday, October 12th. As we’d like to get all of our customers over to this new OS, we will be upgrading 2 batches per week. While the total estimated maintenance is 5 hours, we expect actual downtime due to the upgrade to be around 45 minutes. A large part of the maintenance window will be spent testing all of the servers post-upgrade to ensure everything is in order.
And it is indeed a new OS for them: far back as I can remember — and I’ve been there almost 13 years — they’ve been running some flavor of Debian.
Of course, the major thrill with any such announcement is the list of actual machine names to be upgraded, which includes such august designations as “augusta,” “coweta,” “king-william,” “snowstorm” and “tricia-mcmillan.”
I read lots of articles on How To Blog — and, sensibly, How Not To Blog — mostly to see how I’ve survived without following anyone’s advice. The lovely and talented XO Sarah posted a list of 10 Things that shouldn’t be on your blog, and before reading, I guesstimated I’d have six of them.
Only three, as it turns out, but the sheer enormity of this violation deserves mention:
45 TAGS / LABELS / CATEGORIES
Readers aren’t going to wade through that many items and search engines don’t like it either. Pick your top five to 10 and feature those.
I protested, mildly:
— Charles G Hill (@dustbury) September 30, 2014
I swear, I could almost see her eyes rolling in disbelief.
(@ThoShesFierce is someone I met on Sunday-night #Blogchat.)
Bark M. completes his first month on WordPress, and observes:
Let’s be honest — I’m a 36-year-old, middle-class, white male college dropout. I have a family with two kids, a picket fence, and a Mustang. In other words, I’m boring. I have literally no idea why anybody cares about anything that I have to say. Nevertheless, about 250 comments have been posted to this blog in the month or so that it’s been in existence (or less than the number of comments on one of my TTAC articles this month). Most of them have been pretty nice and respectful.
I’m about the same flavor of dull, considering I’m 60 and don’t drive a Mustang at all, let alone one of the latter day Boss models in Laboratory Sample Yellow. And I average about 370 comments a month, but then I’ve been here a lot longer than a month. And most of those comments are studiously polite.
Some haven’t been. That’s fine. I respect diversity of opinion and I think that the only way you often know if you’ve said something worthwhile is if somebody takes the time to create a login and type out a hundred or two words telling you what an idiot you are. After all, the antithesis of love isn’t hate — it’s apathy. If you take the time to respond, I get the impression that you care, which I deeply appreciate.
Geez, this guy is starting to sound like me. Maybe I ought to consider buying a Mustang. (It is, after all, the oldest surviving, um, pony car.)
A site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for Web design, or a Web page that lists the pages on a Web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.
Sometimes they’re complicated. (I’d hate to sit down and draw one for this place.) The consumer-information site MainStreet.com, however, seems to have boiled it down to the basics:
“That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,” said John Keats, while not looking at this.
Unlikely friendships may be the best kind: you’ve already overcome the presumed obstacles, probably without even thinking about them. Lisa knows how this goes:
I don’t think it was the Internet that opened up the doors to friendships between people who otherwise would never meet in real life. Ham radio operators used to have whole communities of “friends” out on the airwaves. Even before that, people had foreign pen pals with whom they shared years of correspondence without any expectation that they would ever shake hands in real life. Sometimes it was better that way. I remember a professor telling me a story about Henry James that may or may not be apocryphal. Among the many woman, James corresponded with regularly was one he had never met even through years of letters where they found themselves to be soul mates in matters of literature and philosophy. Finally, returning to America after a long stay in Europe, James decided to visit this woman in New York or Boston or wherever it was that she lived. According to the story, just before James walked up the drive to this woman’s home, a housemaid, distracted by something, dropped a basket of soiled linen on the front stoop. Henry, who we all know was a bit of a prig, saw this basket of unmentionables where no respectable home should allow it to be. He was so horrified at the indelicacy that he turned around and never wrote to the woman again. Who knows if the story’s true? But it might tell us that some friendships work best on other planes of existence.
Cue the voice of somebody’s mother, with just the slightest hint of condescension: “Are you talking to your little Internet friends again?”
Well, yes, we are. And some of them, we treasure as though we’d grown up beside them. Lisa knows about that sort of thing, which is why, after a season full of whirlwind activity, she’s taken keyboard in hand to pay tribute to a friend of hers, and mine, and likely one of yours too.
It was on this day in 2006 that I restarted the Movable Type database. (This was the last post in the first MT database.) And it was two years and one day later when I washed my hands of it and switched to WordPress.
The most maddening thing, of course, is that during the Quiet Times, my traffic went up about twelve percent. Obviously I should post less.
So why start again? Well, for one thing, the old database, with seven thousand and odd items, was getting cranky. For another, it’s not like anything is missing: all the old posts are still archived and are available at their original URLs. And the last time I ran an export of said database, it clipped off at the 18-MB point for some reason, meaning that if I reimported it, I’d have to port over a couple months’ worth of entries anyway, and I’ve already put enough work into this thing.
The Quiet Times, incidentally, lasted less than 36 hours, and didn’t interrupt my run of Consecutive Days With Posts.
But this almost did:
For some incredibly-stupid reason, I decided to try to update Movable Type from 3.21 all the way up to 4.21 on 6 September 2008. It took four hours, and not everything is in place just yet: the comments popup doesn’t work, for one thing. (It may never work again; they said they were dropping support for it, and while I’m looking for a workaround, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to put up with just to retain a feature.)
Also, until further notice, any comments that do come in will have to sit in the moderation queue until I have that rearranged to my liking.
But it’s late and I need some sleep and I’m not going to work on this mess any further until I get some. Sleep, I mean.
That was about one-thirty on the morning of the 7th. About 13 hours later:
There is a limit to how much I’m willing to endure, and some time today I reached it. We are now running WordPress 2.6.1. All of the old posts remain in their original locations; posts for this month were imported to WP and can be read here. It will be a while before I have links up to everything else, the way I used to.
Eventually, I moved all the posts from those two years. (The stuff from before 6 September 2006 is still where it used to be.)
I’ve had some scary moments in these six years, but I’m still on WordPress — now version 4.0.
Recently I received a notice from Tumblr which threatened deletion of this blog. It was a FINAL WARNING. I have never been warned about deletion previously, so it’s curious why they are calling this FINAL. I emailed Tumblr support, and was told “the email you received was due to an automated DMCA notification processing system that may have gone awry.” Checking a few other blogs, I saw that several others received the exact same notice.
“May have,” they said.
It’s frightening how the people who run social media sites like Facebook and Tumblr care so little about their users that they would wipe out years of work with a single keystroke. None of us are safe online, and things appear to be getting worse rather than getting better.
For an example of “worse,” see this yutz who’s all bent out of shape because someone insulted him; he demands satisfaction.
New arrivals at the site are often perplexed: “This doesn’t look like any WordPress blog I’ve ever seen.” (In which case, you should see this one, which uses the same theme.) Perhaps your question is answered here.
Roberta X used to have a category called “the wonderfulness of me,” and the name was intended, I believe, neither as irony nor as humblebrag: it was simply handy. It’s not a term I’d use myself, though: my own shtick calls for somewhere below Whitmanian celebrations of myself but at least slightly above “wayward guttersnipe.”
From some gutter in a 107 IP comes this attempt to butter me up:
I’ve been browsing on-line more than 3 hours lately, yet I never found any fascinating article like yours. It is beautiful price enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the internet will probably be a lot more helpful than ever before.
I dunno how excellent the content is around here, but there certainly is a lot of it. And there’s a reason for that, for which I turn to Gagdad Bob:
“Only the unexpected fully satisfies. Nothing that satisfies our expectations fulfills our hopes.” This is why I so enjoy this medium of expression. If someone were to offer me money to write a commentary on Don Colacho’s Aphorisms, I would be miserable. Blogging is only fulfilling — and it is, very — because there is absolutely No Plan. Every morning, I can’t wait to wake up and accomplish nothing, only maybe a little more deeply this time!
Says it all, or at least rather a lot of it, as I probably did.
Well, they’re doomed. People are actually starting to notice:
[S]ometimes I wonder if Tumblr is actually just eight or 10 blogs with original content, and all the other Tumblrs are just endlessly linked resharing of that content.
Oh, I’m sure there are at least twenty.
I fished this out of the spam trap yesterday. It’s clearly no good: it links to a nonexistent URL, and the email address smells funny. Still, it’s a question worth considering:
What is the difference between a Website Columnist and a blogger?
Immediate smart-ass remark: “Ten dollars a post.”
I thought about it a little longer. I spent some of that time speculating what I’d have done with $10 a post, which over the past 18 years would have brought in nearly a quarter of a million dollars — and which, if I broke it down by actual time spent, would probably not be a whole lot more than minimum wage.
And I tend to think of “columnist” according to the newspaper model: someone who turns out 750 words three times a week for a small (sometimes not so small) retainer, as distinguished from well, me, turning out 200 words thirty-five times a week simply for the satisfaction of having stirred up stuff.
Besides which, people who toil for big commercial sites earn somewhere between nothing (HuffPo) and damned little — maybe as little as, um, $10 a post.
Two months ago, Andrew Ian Dodge, “former US Senate Candidate Maine (Libertarian), former tea party coordinator, writer & rocker,” and keeper of the Best of Me Symphony and the Carnival of the Vanities, advised that there was a reason he wasn’t as prolific these days:
I have incurable cancer. We are trying to figure out the best course of action regarding chemo & my treatment. Kim Benson, my beloved wife, has been a rock throughout. We shall fight this with all our might.
A couple of days ago, the Spammish Inquisition, which I hadn’t expected, insisted that what I really needed was a video. I argued that if I had one, it would not be well received.
For a vivid illustration of “not well received,” here’s Robert Stacy McCain complaining to a videoblogger:
I’m a super-fast reader. If you were to provide me with a transcript of your 11-minute video rant, I could skim over it in less than a minute and locate the “money quote,” which I could then copy-and-paste into a block-quote on my blog and discuss it. Alternatively, I might decide that your 11-minute video rant is a silly piece of nonsense that should be ignored. Either way, the difference between (a) the 11-minute video rant and (b) a transcript of your rant is that (b) saves me 10 minutes of time over (a), not to mention the time savings between (c) doing a quick copy-and-paste of a quote and (d) having to transcribe your lunatic gibberish.
I don’t know if I’m legitimately “super-fast,” but this is very much like what I do with readable rants.
There are, says McCain, three reasons why someone might prefer to do video over “print,” and he’s not keen on any of them. (You’ll have to Read The Whole Thing for those.)
Says so right here in this piece of spam:
Do you know that having a Video for your website is the best way to grow your business and expand your reach. People love watching videos rather than reading websites these days. Other benefits are:
1) Conversion Rate of website increases by upto 75%
2) You website gets 100% more views and 30% more clicks
3) Search engine ranking increases by upto 50%.
The sender, identified as “Shelly Johnson” — recent English major, am I right? — has no idea what would happen if I actually followed these instructions. And I’m not particularly good at predictions, especially about the future; but I’m pretty sure the phrase “WTF is the deal with the video?” will resound from sea to snoring sea.
The first thing you need to know about the Proust Questionnaire is that the questions were not actually written by Proust: it was, rather, the set of answers posted by Proust in a friend’s confession album, circa 1890. The book turned up in 1924, and sold at auction in 2003 for €102,000. Vanity Fair puts out a version, answered by a celebrity, on the back page of each issue. (For the August 2014 issue, it’s Maureen O’Hara, who turns 94 that month.)
Lynn took a stab at the current question list, and while she characterized it as “the makings of a really lame blog post,” well, if you’re good at it, you can make a really lame blog post out of almost anything, as I have done here. Fillyjonk is okay with that idea as well.
Not to be confused with “Quicken Loans.”
In an effort to speed up the load time on the front page, I cut the number of entries displayed from 20 to 12; after noticing that it made me look like I’d been screwing off, I brought it back up to 16.
If you have a preference, now’s the time. (Archive pages and such remain unchanged, mostly because I have a plugin that lets me do that, or not do that, as the case may be.)
There comes a point in the life of every Webmaster when s/he wonders out loud, “Why am I doing this?” In my case, it was about the third day this site was up. And while it has been relatively well-received during the four years of its existence, by which is meant that no one has sent me any live explosives just yet, the possibility of stagnation constantly lurks and occasionally even looms.
What to do? I thought it over for less time than I probably should have, and decided that what dustbury.com was lacking (apart from personality, tastefulness, and utility, but that’s another story) was a sense of immediacy. Pages got updated when I got around to them; some things got lost in the shuffle. And while I have no problem blaming some of this on the vagaries of the workplace — at best, long hours make for short tempers — at least one of the tailbones needing a suitable kick was my own.
Thus, Version 7 (you’re soaking in it) introduces my Sort Of Blog, a way for me to get some stuff on the table without regard to the semi-regular Vent schedule or the ongoing necessity to update the other sections.
There’s been something new every day since. Literally. In the literal sense of the word. (Current version is 15.6.)
When I converted this place from Movable Type to WordPress in the fall of 2008, I stumbled around a bit trying to find an appropriate replacement gizmo to display random quotes in the sidebar, and found an extremely simple one: feed it an ASCII text file, and it will pluck a line therefrom. (Not only is it old and outdated, the guy who wrote it has given up his domain to a placeholder.)
While dropping in a new quote this past week, I got to wondering how many actual quotes were in the file, now a whopping 170,269 bytes. Figuring maybe 100 characters per line, I guessed 1,700, and then imported the whole thing into a spreadsheet to see how many lines it took. The answer: 1,609.
For your amusement, the five most recent additions:
“Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” — Lorraine Hansberry
“Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” — Dr. A. R. Dykes
“I don’t know how to travel to a future that I can’t see.” — Twilight Sparkle
“I’m so sick of these little white girls acting as if they’re so high and mighty and know everything about culture. Starbucks is not culture.” — Rebecca Black
“It’s not so much how busy you are but why you are busy. The honey bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” — Molly F. O’Connor
As always, make of that what you will.
All four of these came in within 45 minutes of one another, all bearing the same email address, all linking to a Wikipedia page in Finnish, and each with a different IP address. Still, they make a sort of coherent query, so let’s have a look:
What are some good wordpress themes/plugins that allow you to manipulate design?
If you know what you’re doing, you can manipulate the design just by editing your existing theme. Of course, you can do that if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the results are likely to be suboptimal.
I’m an aspiring writer — of all literary trades (journalism, screen writing, satire, etc) — but I want to start a blog for some adult oriented, romantic fantasy literature. Anyone know how I can start a blog that will allow me to do this? I believe I’ll need a warning page before entrance, and I want it to come up on search engines…
Any old blog platform can do this; setting a splash page — if you’re on Blogger, Google will probably inflict one upon you — is fairly easy.
If I publish my articles to my school paper are they copyrighted or do I have any ownership over them?
I don’t think school-paper stuff counts as “work for hire,” though I hasten to add that I am not any kind of lawyer, copyright or otherwise.
What are good blog posts for a writer who wants to start a blog that even non-readers might want to visit?
If they’re truly “non-readers,” you might consider a photoblog.
There were further items in the series, but by that point it was starting to get repetitive.
“If only” seems to bedevil all of us at one time or another. (If you’ve managed to avoid it thus far, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.) Sometimes it goes like this:
I wish I were one of those “successful” bloggers. You know. The kind who can paint a pretty picture of their lives — they have lovely kids, they are super-good at their work, their hobby projects always turn out lovely and just as they planned them, they never seem to struggle or agonize. All their pictures are nice and none of them turn out to have a bit of the laundry basket peeking out in the corner of the picture of something else. When they bake bread, it looks like a picture in a cooking magazine. But I don’t have enough perfection in my life to be able to do that — it seems like my whole life is a big hot mess, and so all I can do is show the slightly-more-successful parts of the hot mess here. Maybe if I had a spouse or family close by or lots of close in-person friends I could talk about the stuff that bothers me instead of posting it here, I could be one of those serene bloggers who seems to have a perfect life. I don’t know.
Truth be told, I think the warts-and-all approach is much more appropriate, at least at this level, where you’re not counting on the daily bloggage to pay for your daily bread. I often wonder how much I’d have to scour this place if I were trying to make a living from it, instead of writing off some insignificant sum each year. (By “insignificant,” I mean “somewhere in the high two or low three figures.”) Besides, we have the example of Adobe Photoshop to guide us. In the smallest possible doses, it can shed light on important details. Overused, it creates a monster.
On the term “hot mess” itself, I like this below-the-top paragraph from Urban Dictionary:
No one set of guidelines can perpetually determine what distinguishes a “hot mess” from an above-average train wreck. Regardless of the circumstances, you know it when you see it; because they are typically conspicuous, and obviously they are always awesome.
And you know, if you’re going for a train wreck, you might as well go for above average.
Disqus, the commenting system favored by some of the bigger sites, has gone on one of those “If you can’t say something nice…” kicks and has deprecated the downvote — though the upvote remains. Will Truman is okay with that:
I used to like the idea of upvotes and downvotes, but the more I saw them in action the more skeptical of them I have become. It was my hope, when I was introduced to the concept, that generally polite and well thought out comments would get upvotes and pointless snark would get downvotes. At least on the sites that I read and participate on which tend to have commenters that are more polite and thoughtful.
However, even “good” commenting sections have their bad apples, of course, who seem to be there to disrupt the discourse. They also tend to have lurkers who don’t comment but do vote who may veer hard on one side or the other. In either case, voting seems to attract people looking for “Boo-yah” comments instead of carefully considered ones, because the upvotes and downvote tallies I see tend to lean towards which side of the argument they’re taking instead of the actual content of their message.
Yep. Stephen Stills anticipated this in 1967: “A thousand people in the street / Singing songs and carrying signs / Mostly saying, ‘Hooray for our side’.” It’s hard to expect much more from them under the circumstances.
And I can’t argue with this:
If wanting a more positive commenting atmosphere makes me a namby-pamby feminized dude or whatever, I am pretty okay with that. Heaven knows there are more than enough sites that are battle arenas. So eliminating downvoting makes a lot of sense from their point of view. Obviously, Hit Coffee doesn’t generate the sort of comment traffic to make such an endeavor worthwhile, though if it did I would try to go in the upvote direction.
It would be better if Disqus gave siterunners the option of upvotes only, downvotes only, or both. But absent that, I would prefer upvoting only over a requirement for both.
Some nonblogs have comment systems based on thumbs. Yahoo! Answers allows for up- and downvotes on any answer given to any question. I don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to them, except when someone has reported me for excessive snark. (There have been two such incidents; I won one on appeal and blew off the other.)
And then there’s Fimfiction, where I post my pony tales. I am extremely sensitive to downvotes there, and I have noticed that they come a lot more quickly than do upvotes. The most reasonable explanation for this, I think, is that some people simply object to some subjects being covered and won’t actually read the story before thumbing it down. Certainly The Sparkle Chronicles, which ventures into some territory a substantial percentage of the fandom finds disquieting and perhaps distasteful, followed this pattern: after a month or so, the thumb ratio was 15 up, 5 down. Today it’s 82 up, 6 down. (For all the stuff I’ve posted there, it’s 278 up, 22 down.) Still, I’m bound to take these particular votes personally, since they represent, or pretend to represent, a referendum on whether I have any talent or not. (Most days, I lean toward “not.”)
IntenseDebate, which I see mostly at Equestria Daily, is upvotes only; weirdly, if you’re registered with them at the outset, you get +1 on a comment the moment it’s posted.
Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman finds a piece of comment spam worth quoting:
Ginger ultimately struck North Carolina on September 30 as a chinese culture massive disappointment.
The resulting embryo is afterward transported to tissue may occur, either acutely or chronically, over hundreds of times, sometimes with a little more.
This is right up there with the best ones I’ve received, though this remark of Liberman’s disturbs me:
Among the approximately 15,000 spam comments directed at LL over the past 24 hours, this is one of the few that made it past the filters to be dealt with by human moderation.
Fifteen thousand? In one day? And this estimate may be conservative:
That might be a low estimate — there have been 4,574 comments caught by the spam filter in the past 105 minutes, which would translate to 62,729 per 24 hours.
I don’t know how many of those might have been wrongly trapped, because there are far too many for me to check them manually, as I used to do when there were only a few hundred a day.
Since the fall of 2008, I have had 34,817 comments caught by the spam filter. Total. Admittedly, I draw a lot less traffic than Language Log — whose ancient WordPress theme, incidentally, is also my ancient WordPress theme — but still: 4500 in less than two hours? That’s scary.
If you experienced any intermittent issues with the site over the last 30 or so minutes, I apologize. I was busy drop-kicking 56,000 spam user accounts so stacy and team can stop moderating garbage and get back to writing about stuff we’re all way more interested in.
This reminds me of the time when Stacy was getting thousands upon thousands of bogus Twitter followers, an obvious effort to incapacitate his account and deflect his attention. I would not be surprised to discover that the same malingerers are behind this scheme.
It’s called, with disarming simplicity, “My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection,” a phrase with which I am entirely too familiar, and this is what it’s about:
This project was my idea, inspired by maybe one too many glasses of wine last weekend, when I was in charge of changing the music. “I can’t believe there are so many records here that I have never listened to. I should try to listen to all of them. And then write about it.” So here we are.
Since hubby has a volume of vinyl not unlike my own — somewhere on the far side of 1500 records — this could easily take a while. So far, she’s made it up to Black Sabbath.