Monthly Archives: May 2007

More on Windows Live Writer

I was a bit disappointed yesterday after installing version 2.0 of Windows Live Writer that it didn’t give me the ability to create new Pages or to add Categories from the interface in WLW.  So this morning I went to the WLW MSN Group and joined it where I found a thread describing the same problem I was experiencing.  I added my confirmation of the problem to the thread and later this afternoon, I went back there and found that Joe Cheng of Microsoft had posted the solution. 

First you must be using version 2.2 or above with WordPress for this to work.  Then in order to add this functionality to WLW, you must go to Weblog | Edit Weblog Settings | Update Account Configuration.  Once that process is complete, the new functionality will be there.

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Windows Live Writer Update

While chatting with my friend Mike Neel in Skype’s IM, he informed me a new version of Windows Live Writer was available so I downloaded it and have just installed it.  This is my first post from it.  Mike informed me that it has more support for WordPress’s features, which pleases me greatly.  One thing you can now do is create a Page, which in WordPress is different from a blog post.  You couldn’t do that before, so that’s a sweet feature.  (I haven’t experimented with doing that yet, but if Mike says it’s true, then it must be true.)  I just discovered that it now has the ability to add tags, so I’m experimenting with that below.  Now if I can publish this post and my computer doesn’t start to smoke, I’ll consider this experiment a success. 

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Looking at stats again

A week ago today I posted some thoughts about the tools I am currently using to discover and understand the traffic I get here at my blog. Several of you commented on that post and offered some helpful suggestions (i.e., W3counter — thanks Dan Grossman) and encouragement, all of which were much appreciated. Since that time I have also been carrying on an email dialog with a friend and fellow blogger about his experience, and in today’s post I want to relate his statistical success story and see if we can draw some lessons from it. At his request, I won’t mention who he is or link to his blog, but you may, I think, find his story as interesting as I do.

Since a picture is far more eloquent than I am, take a look at this chart of the traffic at his blog for the last half of this month. (The chart was created using StatCounter, which offers free analysis of the last 500 page loads and even more if you opt to upgrade to their paid service).

Traffic barchart

The results he is now getting, I think you’ll agree, are impressive. How did he do it, you ask? Is it luck? Is it a fluke? Will it continue? Could you or I duplicate his results? All of those are legitimate questions, so let’s look at some of what went on in his case. I’ll leave it to you to decide the answers to those questions for yourself.

First, his is a technology blog. He writes about Java primarily, but not exclusively. However, his blog is focused. He has something specific to write about. Here is the order of events as he relates it:

  • I decided I had something to blog about
  • I wrote one post, then another, then yet another
  • It occurred to me that I must be missing some vital connection between the nodes in the blogosphere
  • I went looking for aggregators and found javablogs.com
  • my hits rose to 392, then fell to below 200
  • someone decided to dzone one of my posts — (Dzone is a site for developers that is like Digg where users rate links.)
  • the rest is described in those pixels (meaning the pixels of the barchart above)

I conclude from his experience that it is important to have a focus, to post regularly, to take an active role in trying to promote your blog, and then to have the good fortune to have something you say be discovered by the community. Once your blog has been found to be a valued resource or maybe even just an interesting one, people will come back to see what you have to say. I can’t predict whether my friend’s traffic will stay at its most recent high levels. Time will surely tell about that. However, it does seem to be true that once people find your site and get something of value there, they are certainly more likely to come back again in the future.

My blog’s current traffic levels on its best days are at about the same level as my friend’s at the beginning of his chart before his traffic began to really take off. My highest number of page views so far (since I installed the WordPress Stats plugin on May 6th) was 69 on May 22nd, which as it turns out was the day after I posted the video contained in “The Curse of Aging,” a link that continues to get a number of hits.

What conclusions do you draw from my friend’s experience and his statistics? Feel free to let me know in the comments to this post.

Virtual Vacations

I virtually never take a vacation, last year’s cruise to Alaska with Carole being a spectacularly notable exception, but I do take virtual vacations. For instance, I am participating in two vacations, vicariously and virtually this Memorial Day weekend, with my son Mike and his extended family at Ft. Walton Beach, FL, and with Andy of Yellow Swordfish and his wife, as they visit the American west and southwest from the British Isles. (Also see Andy’s posts here and here.) The beauty of virtual vacations is that I can switch quickly from the beach to the Grand Canyon and I don’t incur the shock to my bank account of having to stop every 300 or 400 miles to get soaked at a gas station, nor do I have to leave the familiar surroundings or the comfort of my own computer. All in all, I’m glad I’m here rather than there.

Update: Here are a few of the pictures that Mike has posted to Flickr. (Click to see enlargement.) Looks like everyone is enjoying himself at the beach.

Grandson Connor at Ft. Walton Beach, FL Miss Morgan says hello Mammaw’s getting into the swing too. Madison is styling da boys at da bar, ordering milk, straight up

Eye exam

I went to the doctor to have my eyes examined on Monday the twenty-first. It had been two years since I had had an exam and it was time, if for no other reason than to check for glaucoma. As it turns out, my “dress” glasses, meaning the ones I wear everyday when I go out of the house, the trifocals without the lines, weren’t working for me as well as they used to. I need them to see things at a distance while I’m driving, to a restaurant for instance, but once I get to the restaurant those same glasses don’t work as well as they used to because I now find reading the menu to be difficult. So I was due for an eye exam for that reason as well. It turns out that I do need a new prescription, which I am having filled … for $480.50 (ouch!).

While I was there, I discovered that they have a new tool or process called an Optomat. (I’m not sure which the term refers to.) Previously the doctor would dilate your eyes and get very close to your face while looking through some instrument at the back of your eye and he would inspect the retina, the macula, and the blood vessels for any abnormalities. The Optomat obviates the need for dilation. So when you walk out of the office and drive home, your vision isn’t blurred like it used to be. That’s one reason why the Optomat is better than the previous procedure. Another is that it results in a digital photograph of the back of each eye which can serve as a baseline record that can be compared over time with a current photograph to detect changes from exam to exam. Also if you should happen to change doctors, these photographic records can be emailed to your new doctor.

I found the photographs to be fascinating, both because I could now see what the doctor had been looking at when he was peering into my eyes and because it shows how digital technology is making further inroads into another area of medical science. I asked the doctor whether his office could also email me a copy of the photographs of my eyes, and he said they could. In fact, if you’d like to “look deeply into my eyes” you can see my right eye here and my left eye here.

On the Flickr site where those pictures are stored, you can click on the “All Sizes” link above each picture to see a larger version of them, if you really want to look deeply and there is even a link to an “Original” size to see the picture at maximum resolution. The greenish, yellow center is where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. The dark patch to the side of the yellow spot is the macula. And the lines that look like “highways” are the veins (darker) and the arteries in my eyes. The pictures are sort of creepy, I know, but I found them interesting.

Watching you watching me

In this post, I want to talk a bit about how I am monitoring who is viewing my blog and how often they appear to be doing so.

When I began blogging back in June of 2001, it was solely for the purpose of finding out whether I could post things on the web. Some of the content I posted back then still shows up in some unexpected places. For instance, I posted my friend Paul Moor’s CV on my first attempt at a blog at Tripod.com, and recently I discovered it is listed as a “weblink” (near the bottom of the entry) in this page on the German version of Wikipedia.

Since those early days, my experiment has continued first at Blogger, then at WordPress.com, and since May of 2006, here at my own hosted site, the one you are viewing right now. In the ensuing years, I’ve made some new friends who are also bloggers but whom I’ve never met in person, like Colm Smyth and Tom Simpson, and some local blogging friends that I have met like Daryl Houston, Mike Neel, and Tish McQueen. Perhaps more surprisingly to me, at least one old friend, Jerry Pounds, “found me” and my blog while Googling “blasts from the past,” and either soon after or just prior to his finding me, he began his own blog.

My point is that more people view my blog than I would have ever dared to hope. How do I know? Well there are at least three sources of information that I am currently using to find the answer to that question. One is the new WordPress.com Stats plugin. It is simple, succinct and focuses on the few items that most of us are interested in, such as how many page views we got, what posts were viewed the most, where the traffic is coming from and what people click on when they leave. A second tool I use to see what’s going on with my site is Google Analytics that has recently undergone a remodeling. This link provides a tour of its functionality.

The final tool I sometimes use is Technorati, which purports to show “Everything in the known universe about It’s News to Me.” It tells me that as of this morning I rank #219,796 in the blogging hierarchy. What does that mean? Dorion Carroll explains here. Like a golf score, the lower the number here the better. As you can see, I have just a little way to go before I’m #1.

And just this morning I discovered a new Technorati service called WTF (and no, it doesn’t mean that, it stands for “where’s the fire”). Lars-Christian explains what the WTF service is and how it might benefit us bloggers.

We bloggers who are way down the list in popularity are nevertheless always interested in knowing whether anyone is watching us, so we watch you watch us, in the hope that we can learn something about how to make our content more relevant and interesting to you. In the end though, as I’ve said many times before, I blog more for the joy I get from posting things on the Internet than because I think you need or even want to read what I post. Still, however, it is rewarding to know that you stop by occasionally. So thanks for visiting; you’re always welcome here.