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Things they are a-changing

March 16, 2005 at 05:26 PM

Just thought I'd chat with you a little on the status of this site. Not a major update or anything, but there's been a lot of little changes in the last couple of weeks on the back end of things so if you see anything funny please let me know. Plus I wanted to brag about some random traffic surges I've had lately.

Site traffic

The number of visitors to this site has skyrocketed in the last three months. In the last few months of 2004 I would get approximately 1,500 unique visitors every month. That number had slowly but surely increased since August, but it was nothing to brag about.

In January I talked trash about Ashlee Simpson and immediately saw a big boost. Over 5,000 unique visitors and close to six hundred hits just from people wanting to either support or bash Ashlee. February exploded thanks to The Somerville Gates and my subsequent slideshow of the images. Thanks to all the press that they got and me being high up on the Google results I received over 23,000 visitors in February alone. As soon as the story hit the national papers my daily traffic more than tripled. 6,500 came in via searches for them alone.

February 2005 site stats so huge spike when Somerville Gates hits newspapers

I also owe some thanks to people looking for Mandy Moore and Lindsay Lohan images that don't know how to turn Google SafeSearch off, Ryan Perrilloux, and Jessica Simpson's boobs. I have no idea how I got so high up in the results for those things. (Jessica's dad still creeps me out.) Now that the hoopla of The Gates and The Somerville Gates has died down, traffic has leveled off a bit as well. I'm on pace to outdo last month though, and now things are much more steady. Plus I'm having more and more return visitors, an even better sign. It's one thing to trick people into coming here, it's much harder to keep them coming back!

My friend Flickr

That may be the tenth time I've made that joke, hopefully it'll also be the last.

The most obvious change is that my photos have now all been moved to Flickr. It's really an amazing service that you should all be taking advantage of. I wanted the ability to create easy slideshows, comment on individual photos, and allow visitors to comment on individual photos as well. Plus with tags there's a seemingly infinite number of ways to categorize or find photos. Go sign up now and be sure to add me as a contact! Find out more about my photoblog set up here on my about page.

I'm also using a Flickr badge in my sidebar to pull in either my three latest photos or several random ones. Works great, sometimes. All I have to do is place some simple JavaScript into my pages and Flickr takes care of the rest. It works great... sometimes. You might notice the problem on the page you're reading right now, sometimes when it loads the images too slowly the height of the sidebar on the right gets screwed up. It ends up cutting off the bottom of the column. It's much more of a problem with the random photos section, so I may have to scrap that. Anyone out there know of a better solution to integrate my latest and some random Flickr photos into my sidebar please let me know.

RSS feed changes

Feedburner beta

In order to get a better grasp of how many people use my feeds and save a little bandwidth, I'm now managing them all through Feedburner. The service keeps detailed stats on the number of subscribers and the specific content items of my feeds people are clicking. Plus there are a number of other features such as being able to use one feed to serve several different formats, Flickr splicing, and a very browser friendly view of the feeds.

People who are already subscribed to any of my feeds don't need to change a thing, thanks to Mike over at FiftyFourEleven I am redirecting the feed URI's to the new Feedburner feeds. It seems to be working, but please let me know if you have any trouble with them. Make sure to tell me what feed it was and what feed reader you were using.

Still more to come...

Things are incredibly busy at the real job as well as with my freelance work, but there are still some updates I want to make around here. There's several cosmetic touch ups I want to make so that I can put off a complete redesign of this site as long as possible. Thanks to a neat new trick I learned I should be able to clean up the look of things around here pretty easily. PNG's are our friends.

Again, please feel free to make a comment or shoot me an email if you have any suggestions or problems.

Update: I finally got fed up this morning with all the Trackback spam I've been receiving lately and just turned off the feature through PHPMyAdmin. It's nice being able to get in there and write a SQL update query and be rid of the problem in two minutes. Sucks that it had to be done, but I don't get that many legitimate pings anyways.

Posted in Site Updates | 5 Comments | Add yours


1 Matt said...

What do the colors on the graph mean? Please define. Hard to believe that many people give a crap what you think! Impressive.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 07:28 PM

2 Brian said...

The point of the graph wasn't so much what the columns stood for as it was the huge spike when The Somerville Gates hit the national papers. But since you asked...

Yellow is number of visits, dark blue is pages (hits to actual webpages), light blue is hits (hits to any type of file), and green is bandwidth.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 08:52 PM

3 actionBERG said...

Instead of using Javascript why don't you load the images on the server-side? Just use PHP to pull the info from the Flickr RSS feeds.

Posted on March 17, 2005 at 10:54 AM

4 Brian said...

Yeah Berg that's the plan I guess. The Javascript is Flickr's, not mine. It was just a simple click, click, copy and paste job.

The problem with using PHP is that the RSS feeds don't really set it up very easily. The image tag is just in the description of the feed item, so I'll have to parse through looking for "img" and then change the source to point at the small image instead of the medium one. Then there's the issue of random images, the feeds only have the last 10. I guess I could randomize out of that selection, but that's not that useful.

Point is, sure would be nice if the Javascript worked. Might be easier just to change the design of the sidebar.

Posted on March 17, 2005 at 11:10 AM

5 actionBERG said...

Yeah, good point, it doesn't really sound like the server-side solution would really work. Could you try something where you error on the side of the height being too big? Try to find the average height and give it some padding for extra height. That way you won't have the scroll problem.

Posted on March 17, 2005 at 12:13 PM