My first post was on September 29, 2004. Thanks for the support over the years. Those first few months were bizarre, and felt like lecturing to an empty room. 6266 posts with 54,901 comments, which probably makes me solidly mid-size as far as blogs go. I have no idea any more how many readers I have -- page views lost all meaning in the era of RSS feeds and with Facebook and Twitter, it's even more difficult to track.
Posts tagged ‘RSS’
For years I have been blogging from articles in my Google Reader, which is going away in a month. When I cut and paste the article URL from the reader, I get a Google shortcut like "http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Twistedsifter/~3/BohimNYue3Y/". This resolves to "http://twistedsifter.com/2013/04/strangely-similar-movies-released-around-the-same-time/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Twistedsifter+%28TwistedSifter+%29". The links are written in my wordpress data base, in many cases, as the feedproxy version. So they depend on this Google service remaining live to work.
Does anyone know if the Google feedproxy servers are going away with Reader? If so, about a zillion links on my site are about to break. My hope is that Google uses these for more than just reader. Perhaps at Feedburner? (though if Google is bailing on RSS that might be next on the kill list).
I would normally just do a Regex search to fix this, but there is no systematic way to do it, you have to resolve the link and then replace the resolved URL. Someone seems to have an app for this, but I am not sure it is ready for prime time and I do not want to use it unless I have to. But once the servers are turned off, it will be too late.
Anyone know about this or have advice? Obviously, I have been trying not to use these feedproxy URL's if I can remember not to do so.
I found out more about why the WordPress Bad Behavior plugin was blocking updating of my Feedburner RSS feed -- apprently, Google got a bunch of its IP addresses blacklisted in project Honeypot, which Bad Behavior uses as one source of spam data. Here is more:
This is caused by an architectural problem at Google, and will require Google to resolve the issue for the problem to go away permanently. The issue is that, in the case of FeedBurner, Google uses IP addresses which are shared by third parties using Google App Engine, some of which are spammers. The spammers quickly get Google’s IP address blacklisted all over the Internet, and suddenly FeedBurner stops working.
If you are impacted by this issue, you can whitelist the affected IP addresses or the FeedBurner user agent string, or disable Project Honey Pot. Be aware that doing any of these will increase the amount of spam you receive. You should also complain to Google, since this isn’t the first time this has happened, and they seem to have done absolutely nothing about it.
OK, the Twitter problem was fixed by shifting from gd.is (which Twitter has apparently blocked) to Goo.gl for URL shortening. For reasons I still don't fully understand, the Bad Behavior plugin was blocking the RSS feed to Feedburner. My guess is that this may be something to do with an interaction with Incapsula. I like Incapsula as a service, but they are constantly shifting their servers around so the .htaccess file and the proxy server list in Bad Behavior have to be constantly changed.
I was just informed, and have confirmed, that somehow my RSS feed stopped syndicating about 2 weeks ago. And then, on an entirely other date, the new Twitter feed stopped, but Facebook still works.
I think I have diagnosed the Twitter problem, which we will confirm with this post, that Twitter flagged and blocked the default URL shortening service my plugin uses for malware. It is either that or Coyoteblog has been blocked. Crossing my fingers I will see this on Twitter in about 5 seconds.
The other day I noted the impending death of Google Reader. Having started to survey the alternatives, I feel much better about the transition. But I did not fail to note a different implication -- that RSS has never really caught on as a syndication vehicle -- twitter and Facebook and I suppose Google circles are more popular.
Well, I am happy to to adopt technology where it makes sense. I loath Facebook as a personal tool (seriously, is there a worse laid out web page on the planet?) but my customers love it so we have adopted it enthusiastically as a business tool, using Facebook pages to create a dialog with our customers. Here is a good example of a great business Facebook page - people are doing our advertising for us.
In the same vein, I likely will never really be able to use Twitter like other pundits do, to fire off witty, biting remarks in 140 characters. I have trouble keeping post titles under 140 characters. But I am happy to use it as a syndication tool.
So, starting now (actually starting with the previous post), Coyote Blog posts will be tweeted out at twitter.com/coyoteblog and linked at facebook.com/coyoteblog. If that is your preferred way of discovering web content over RSS or just surfing the site itself, go for it. I am still working on Google, but that will come soon. By the way, for other bloggers interested, I am using the free version of Netscripts: Social Networks Auto Poster plugin.
PS- I am sure my friend Tom, who is driven to distraction by my typos and grammatical errors, would observe at this point that at least in 140 characters there is less room for me to make mistakes.
Some people's RSS feed got a bunch of random comments from 4 years ago in them today. Not sure why. Been tweaking around with the site and site security, but can't imagine what caused it. Hopefully it was a one-time WordPress brain-fart, because I am really not in the mood to debug some messy problem right now.
Here is my business problem:
On the positive side for Facebook, it is the only platform we have tried, from static web pages to blogs to Google to whatever, where we really get a good real-time interaction going with our campground customers. Its an easy platform for them to ask questions, provide feedback, and upload useful content about the campground (from pictures to reviews to videos). Many of my older employees are flummoxed by even the simplest computer tasks (I have had folks it has taken days of effort to teach how to get into their corporate Gmail account) but it is relatively easy to learn how to add an update or answer a query on a Facebook page (and by "page" I mean the corporate or business pages like this one here: http://www.facebook.com/RockCreekCanyon, not one's individual page).
But here is the problem: The Facebook staff changes FB's layout and user interface faster than a sugar-overloaded ADD 7-year-old gets tired of a new toy. I swear they have no reason for some of the changes other than "we're kind of bored with the user interface staying the same more than 3 months and some junior guy coded this timeline thing so let's make him feel good and put it up".
The shifting user interface is a training nightmare for my non-computer savvy managers. What used to be tabs across the top are now text links on the left. The Page admin panel changes almost every time I log on. And don't even get me started on the simply stupid dueling column format of the new pages, or the fact that useless information like number of people who liked the site in a given month take up enormous amounts of the timeline's real estate now. Just look at the page I linked above. For the first 2-3 scrolls, the right hand column is different data than the left column, but then suddenly it becomes an alternating home for data that at the top only showed up on the left. I am told that I can now pin a status update to the top, which will be nice, but at the cost of losing the custom landing page we used to have.
And woe be to he who actually develops for the platform, because he may soon find out that it all became wasted effort at the next over-caffeinated random user interface change. I just did a tiny, minor bit of coding (less than a few hours) that takes my page administrators' status updates and posts them as a news feed on our web site (ie here for the FB page above). I could do more interesting things but I have absolutely no confidence that, for example, the FB page RSS feed I used will still be supported tomorrow.
Not sure how one ranks blogs by traffic any more in the age of RSS feed readers - I can't remember the last time I actually visited a blog rather than just read its feed. Never-the-less, Coyote Blog was ranked #71 among libertarian blogs. I am not sure if that is good or bad. Traffic here is usually pretty proportional to posting volume, so splitting my time with other blogs, Forbes, and my actual day job of late has probably caused traffic to fall. I am happy enough with my little niche in the world, tends to get me about the right amount of speaking gigs and media appearances for the time I have available.
Sorry to feed readers for all the spam test posts yesterday. I thought I was catching them before they hit the RSS feed, but I was obviously wrong. I did finally figure out how to make email and email picture posts work.
Well, I seemed to have chosen the exact moment Typepad started encountering general problems to try to make some changes to my blog. Now I don't know if I screwed things up or Typepad. I am going to let things settle down for a bit. You may see an all-text home page for a while or even a reversion to an early layout. If I can get through this mess, the goal is to get the RSS feed fixed once and for all, among a few other issues.
People who say that bad things come in threes never ran a small business. Bad things can come in much larger, Costco-sized lots. Such is the case today in my own little corner of the American economy. Expect blogging to be light for a few days. Also, I may be slow to fix the RSS problem that has been reported. Sorry.
PS- The big lots of bad stuff seem to come just after one was thinking "gee, its kind of quiet around here, maybe I will take a day off this week..."
Is this site having a feed problem? I recommend people use the feedburner feed that is linked on the right side, but I have had two people email me to tell me my RSS feed is empty. I have no problem reading it in google reader. If anyone can help me with more details, that would be great.
Years ago, I, without really knowing what I was doing, established a bunch of my URLs through Network Solutions. I didn't understand at the time that Network Solutions was both irritating and the high-cost provider.
Now that I know more, I have doing my registrations via a much lower cost supplier (GoDaddy). A few weeks ago, I did a mass transfer from Network Solutions. Apparently, Network Solutions locks the domains down, ostensibly for security (which is probably true) but also to make it harder to leave them, which makes sense as given their prices there must be a serious net drain of business out of the company. Most of my domains cleared this Berlin Wall to freedom, but I screwed up on a couple, one of which was CoyoteBlog.com. As a result, the domain ended up expired, and email dead.
Thanks for all of you who have tried to notify me of the problems. Nearly two days ago I went ahead and renewed at Network Solutions for another year, just to get things back up ASAP. Unfortunately, the URL still seems to be marked expired. I don't know if that is their poor service or because I am in Hawaii and at the absolute end of the earth for name server updates. Hopefully all will be right tomorrow. For those who visited CoyoteBlog this weekend, I am sorry about the flurry of tacky popups Network Solutions was dealing out at the URL (as many as three at a time, the losers). For those of you who access via http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/ you should have been able to read the blog but without formatting. I believe that RSS access was unaffected.
Ross McKitrick has suggested a variation on a carbon tax that in effect challenges both Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) believers and skeptics to put their money where their mouth is. I, for one, would accept this challenge. He proposes a carbon tax on a sliding scale:
Suppose each country implements something called the T3 tax, whose U.S.
dollar rate is set equal to 20 times the three-year moving average of
the RSS and UAH estimates of the mean tropical tropospheric temperature
anomaly, assessed per tonne of carbon dioxide, updated annually. Based
on current data, the tax would be US$4.70 per ton, which is about the
median mainstream carbon-dioxide-damage estimate from a major survey
published in 2005 by economist Richard Tol.
He chooses the "tropical tropospheric temperature anomaly" because that is effectively the canary in the underground mine. According to AGW theory, the troposphere (the lowest 10km of atmosphere) will be warmed more than the earth's surface. McKitrick also says that AGW models show the tropics will be warmed more than high latitudes.
This tax rate is low, and would yield very little emissions
abatement. Global-warming skeptics and opponents of
greenhouse-abatement policy will like that. But would global-warming
activists? They should -- because according to them, the tax will climb
rapidly in the years ahead.
The IPCC predicts a warming rate in
the tropical troposphere of about double that at the surface, implying
about 0.2C to 1.2C per decade in the tropical troposphere under
greenhouse-forcing scenarios. That implies the tax will climb by $4 to
$24 per tonne per decade, a much more aggressive schedule of emission
fee increases than most current proposals. At the upper end of warming
forecasts, the tax could reach $200 per tonne of CO2 by 2100, forcing
major carbon-emission reductions and a global shift to non-carbon
Global-warming activists would like this. But so
would skeptics, because they believe the models are exaggerating the
warming forecasts. After all, the averaged UAH/ RSS tropical
troposphere series went up only about 0.08C over the past decade, and
has been going down since 2002. Some solar scientists even expect
pronounced cooling to begin in a decade. If they are right, the T3 tax
will fall below zero within two decades, turning into a subsidy for
At this point the global-warming alarmists would leap up to slam the
proposal. But not so fast, Mr. Gore: The tax would only become a carbon
subsidy if all the climate models are wrong, if greenhouse gases are
not warming the atmosphere, and if the sun actually controls the
climate. Alarmists sneeringly denounce such claims as "denialism," so
they can hardly reject the policy on the belief that they are true.
the T3 tax, the regulator gets to call everyone's bluff at once,
without gambling in advance on who is right. If the tax goes up, it
ought to have. If it doesn't go up, it shouldn't have. Either way we
get a sensible outcome.
I think many skeptics would jump at such a proposal (as long as there is some control on AGW supporters "restating" and "correcting" the satellite readings -- there is nothing AGW scientists are better at than "correcting" historical numbers that don't fit their story line). One reason is that we skeptics know one of the AGW dirty little secrets: In fact, against all predictions of the theory, the troposphere has been warming less than the surface. Also, while I get conflicting inputs on whether the tropics or the northern latitudes should warm more, but if McKitrick is correct, the fact that the tropics have been warming less than higher norther latitudes (but more than southern latitudes) is also an inconsistency. In case you don't keep a full set of tropospheric temperature histories sitting on your desk, here are several from Global Warming at a Glance.
Warming for the lower troposphere in the tropics, note the 0.2C anomaly (click any image for larger version):
Here is the lower troposphere for the Northern Hemisphere above the tropics which is warming more than the tropics, with a 0.3 degree anomaly
And here is a comparison of Global lower troposphere temperatures (in blue) vs. one compilation by the GIS of measured surface temperatures in red. Note the divergence, which is exactly opposite of what AGW theory says has to happen, given the surface temps have a 0.5 to 0.6 degree anomaly Note that this may be because of some serious biases to ground based temperature measurement, but then that would mean that global warming is over-stated.
Look for my upcoming "Skeptical Layman's Primer to Anthropogenic Global Warming" or email me for a pre-release beta copy.
Coyote Blog went over a million page views on site meter yesterday. A while back, I would have thought this much cooler than I do today. However, on any given day, 40% or more of my readers are not visiting the site but are reading the RSS feed and thus are not included in these numbers. Yesterday we had 755 people access the RSS feed and about 2100 actually visit the site, a bit skewed from the normal mix because of a couple of articles I had high on Reddit that sent traffic to the site. There is still a real need for someone to figure out how to better track RSS readership. Feedburner has helped a lot, but is not the ultimate solution.
For RSS readers who probably don't get the updates to posts, I have added a number of updates to my post on smugness coupons, also known as offset certificates.
Yes, I know that the blogosphere needs another award like Washington needs another lobbyist. But for a while now I have wanted to create an award aimed solely at blog aesthetics. What I am shooting for is an award that pays no attention to content, that has as much to do with the blog's reasoned arguments as the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Bikini competition has to do with mental agility. In a world where 1,998,000 out of 2,000,000 blogs are butt-ugly Blogger template jobs with all the charm of a Wal-Mart at 3AM, I would like to reward real creativity.
What I want to do is take your nominations in the comments of this post. Please post links to the blog websites you think have the nicest visual style. I will choose six or eight I like the best, and put them up for a vote. Just to give you an idea, here are a couple I have viewed in the last few hours that I think are attractive in some way. This blog has a pleasing layout. And this blog has a gorgeous header image, though the rest of the layout does not do much for me. Ironically, this blog layout has never done much for me, either, and this site always makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. But you may disagree. Again, please ignore content -- the last thing I need here is some left-right flamefest.
As a second competition, because everyone seems to like the flameouts more than the successes (just look at the popularity of the American Idol episodes where they show the total losers) I will also accept nominations for the worst blog look and feel. Is there a blog out there you think has a "face made for RSS"? You can nominate it too!
I have removed some code from the site that was really slowing down load times. Hopefully those of you who are not reading CB via RSS reader will find the site responds a lot faster.
In the last three or four days, the blog-bots have found me. Believe it or not, I have had over 500 spam trackbacks in the last couple of days. For those that don't know, these trackbacks are coming from automated blog generators that interlink each other and send spam trackbacks all over the place. The blog generators use random text generators combined with marketing pitches and random news stories taken from RSS feeds. They are yet another evolution in the attempt of bottom-feeding marketers to take advantage of the search engine impact of a blog without the effort of, you know, actually writing a blog.
I have turned trackbacks off for a while on new posts, and I have modified my setup so I have to manually approve comments and trackbacks. I will only be filtering for spam -- so far, I have not had any problems with my commenters getting too far out of line, even when they disagree with me. You will therefore see a small delay before your comments appear, but please do not stop commenting! I will be sad if trackbacks become a thing of the past due to this spamming, since they are right at the heart of the blog model, helping readers link not only to the sources a blogger is using but to the bloggers who are commenting on that post in turn.
I wanted to stream digital music from my main computer in my home office to my main stereo system in the den. After some research, I chose version 3 of Squeezebox from Slim Devices. They have taken an open architecture approach that I like, and have a proven history of steadily improving their product. Most true audiophiles I sought advice from use this device (this is an audio-only device, no video or jpegs streamed). I am currently converting my entire CD collection to lossless FLAC format audio files using EAC, which seems to be the audiophile favorite for ripping (and it is free). FLAC compression seems to result in albums 250-450 meg, meaning my 400 CD's will need about 140 gig, which I have available. I will ditch most of my mp3 files, saving only a subset for iPod rotation. New mpg files, or whatever rules in the future, can be made directly from the FLAC.
The box itself is small and well-designed. Setup was a breeze, once I fixed a setting on my firewall. Now I can point my remote at this box and scroll easily through my music collection (along with a number of Internet radio stations). No flipping through CD's or yelling at the kids for not alphabetizing them right. You can browse or search by title, artist, or album.
In addition to controlling it with a remote, I can control it with any computer on the network. Right now, I choose songs on a laptop in the kitchen, which sends music from the computer in the office to the amp and speakers in the den. Awesome. Their web site says that you can also browse your music and choose what's playing from a web enabled PDA, but I have not tried it yet.
Here is the blogger vanity part: In addition to an array of other screensavers, you can have the device connect to any online RSS feed and scroll the contents marquee-style across the screen. All day I have had my blog feed scrolling across the device, interspersed with NY Times and ESPN headlines.
What are these Carnival things?
In 2002 Silfray Hraka was looking for a way for smaller blogs to get more attention - kindof like rural electrification for the Blogosphere. He came up with the idea of the Carnival of the Vanities, a weekly roundup of posts from smaller bloggers, hosted each week at a different site. Today, the COTV is in its 128th week and dozens of other spin-offs have been created.
How much of a traffic spike did you see?
This seems to be the number one question. As a submitter each week to both the COTC and COTV, I usually see between 100-300 new visitors for the post I submitted, depending on how compelling the post's description looks.
For hosting the Carnival, of course, the traffic spike is more dramatic:
My normal mon-tue-wed traffic (unique visits): 300
Day of COTC: 1680
Day after: 500
2 days after: 325
Note that I actually got a bit more traffic from the Carnival of the Vanities:
Day of COTV: 2400
Day after: 600
2 day after: 325
The key of course is Glenn Reynolds linking. Glenn can't read every small blogger that would like him to link to them, but he does a good job of publicizing various Carnivals that highlight smaller bloggers. Glenn deserves all of our thanks for this. By the way, I am pretty sure I got more non-Instapundit traffic for the COTC than the COTV.
I think that I leave my Sitemeter stats un-password protected and that you can view them here (link is to the monthly page but you can navigate around). Here are the hourly stats for the COTV. Below you can see my daily visits and page views for February. I will leave it as an exercises for the reader to figure out when I hosted the Carnivals (COTV was first):
I do not really know how to track RSS feed traffic, but I think that the above numbers do not include RSS traffic. I do know that in the month I hosted these two carnivals my Bloglines subscribers have gone from 2 to 25.
The only other traffic related observation I can add is that my page views went up even higher on these days. I generally run at 1.6 page views per visit but on these two days I went well over 2. Hopefully that means that new visitors were looking around.
Is it hard to host a Carnival?
No, not really, it just takes some time. I probably spent about 6 hours each to host the carnivals. The COTC is very easy - submissions end up in a Gmail account in relatively standard format. About 6 days before the publish date, the COTC folks will send the host an email telling them how to get into the Gmail account. The COTV doesn't have this submission system, and relies more on the host providing an email contact in advance that people can send submissions to. Make sure at least a week in advance of COTV that you post on your web site, preferably sticky at the top or with a link high in the margin, instructions for bloggers who want to submit to the Carnival you are hosting. (Here is my post - I fiddled with the date in Typepad so that it would stay on top of the page for the whole week).
When hosting, do you need a theme? How about Categories?
Both are optional. I did a theme for my COTC just for fun, but did not have time, or any good ideas, for my COTV. I highly recommend categorizing the entries because it makes the reading experience so much easier. It is not hard to do as long as you put them in categories as you are building the post.
When Hosting, how do you keep up with all of the submissions?
I had 50 submissions for the COTC and 47 for the COTV. I took everything, by the way, even if the post was a little out of bounds of the rules. It is not too hard to keep up with the submissions as long as you:
Create a draft template a week in advance and
Add submissions every day rather than waiting to the last minute. The COTC submissions were easier to handle than COTV - COTC submissions came spread out through the week whereas COTV all came in the last 2 days.
A lot of my time was spent reading all the posts. Not only was this fun, but I preferred to create my own summary of the post rather than just using the submitter's summary (which was often waaaaaay too long). I tried to be fair as possible to everyone, particularly those I disagreed with. I will say there were a couple of submissions I just did not understand or get what they were saying in their post -- in these cases, I used their description. By the way - after you publish your post, check the links! No matter how careful you were, you will have made some mistakes.
When Hosting, what did you do to publicize the Carnival?
First, I was careful to collect as many trackbacks as I could. Some submitters included these in their email, but some did not. Since I read every post, I always skimmed down to the bottom to see if there was a trackback.
Second, I sent every submitter a reply email saying that their post was included and giving them the link and trackback where they would find it on my site. This did not take as long as you would imagine, since I copied the first one I wrote and just hit reply-paste-send on all the others. This also let submitters check their links to make sure everything worked. By the way, you may have a different policy, but I claimed editorial privilege and did not accept an requests to change my summary of their post.
All the submitters will generally send you traffic, as well as a number of regular readers. As mentioned before, Glenn will generally link as well, and you can send him a brief reminder with the link, though both times I hosted he had the post linked before I thought to email him.
How do I sign up?
Instructions for hosting the COTV are here. To submit to the COTV, go to Silfray Hraka's main page, scroll down for the list of hosts, and visit the host site for instructions. Instructions for hosting the COTC are here. You can submit to the COTC by filling in this form. A list of other Carnival spin-offs is here.