Archive - 2010

December 31st

Year End Review

Stace has a blog post up about her top ten blog posts of 2010. So, I thought I’d take a moment and review my blogging.

This blog post will be my 494th blog post of the year. If you include the seventeen posts I wrote for the around the towns column on Bethwood Patch, and a few posts that I wrote for on my new internal blog at Community Health Center, Inc. I am well over 500 posts for the year.

The blog posts on Orient Lodge that have gotten the most traffic are
My New Nokia #N900 #Android Phone
Running Java on an #N900
My Update Adventure #N900 PR 1.3, NitDroid, Titan, and MeeGo
Configuring the Nokia #N900 Chameleon for Mer, MeeGo and Fedora
MeeGo 1.1, Partitions, Bootmenu, Kernel Power, Flasher, and All That Stuff on the #N900

Hmm... I think I see a trend. In fact, the top twenty blog posts, in terms of traffic, are all about the Nokia N900. Coming in at 21 was EC Analytics. This was a program I wrote for people using both EntreCard and Google Analytics to find which sites on EntreCard have sent the most traffic to a blog according to Google Analytics as opposed to Entrecard’s own analytics.

I used this program fairly extensively from time to time which is part of the reason it is high on the list.

By the way, these are the EntreCard users that have been most engaged in Orient Lodge over the past year according to my calculations using Google Analytics:
First Door on the Left
Fatherly Yours
Small Town Mommy
Parent Times
The Sewing Mom

With the exception of The Sewing Mom, all of them had over 200 pageviews on Orient Lodge over the past year. Sewing Mom is one click away. Thank you to all my regular readers.

It seems like there are at least two very different audiences, one for blog posts about the Nokia N900 and one from regular readers from sites like EntreCard.

Coming in 23rd was Google Maps and Drupal Location; not about the Nokia N900, but geeky nonetheless. At 24 was The Death of Jeter and Jezzebelle. Stories about dogs, while not as popular online as geeky blog posts often get a lot of traffic. At 25 was yet another Nokia N900 story.

There are probably a few other year end topics I should explore. We’ll see if I get another post or two up by the end of the year.

December 30th

Helpful Comments

Yesterday, Dave Lucas left a comment on my blog post about OneTrueFriend. As comments go, it was a pretty good one. It inspired me to write this blog post. The gist of his comment was that he’s looking to redesign his blog and wanted suggestions. I’ll probably add a few of them towards the end of the post.

However, in his comment, he mentioned receiving a comment from someone else that said,

"... your site has far too many things going on. It’s difficult to navigate and everything seems so random. There are odd links all over mixed with Google Adsense ads and widgets that don’t seem to be relevant to your topic.

The color schemes don't match, your profile picture is of poor quality, and there are simply too many distractions.

Also, the donate button is the first thing people see. I would move it to the end of your posts. If people see value after reading your article, they might be more inclined to donate. Seeing that in your sidebar like that is a big turn off.

To be honest, when I see a site like this, I just leave. Readers want a simple, easy to navigate site. There are so many good blogs out there that when they see one that is structured poorly, they lose interest immediately...."

Now, I don’t know who left that comment on Dave’s blog and if the person is currently, or perhaps was formerly a friend of Dave’s, or if Dave paid to receive that comment. I am going to guess that the person was not a friend and that the person was not paid to make the comment. Based on this, I would suggest that the comment is worth about what Dave paid for it and if he politely ignores it, he will not lose a friend, or probably anyone that he wants as a reader.

I mean seriously, who in their right mind would leave a comment like that? I could see leaving a comment something like, “Dave, is there some reason you that green background? It looks weird to me” or “Dave, I always have problems finding the Recent Visitors widget you have. Do you think you could make it more prominent?” or even, “Dave, I thought I used to be in your blog roll, but I can’t find myself there any more.” These could be helpful hints done in a friendly manner. Personally, however, the green color and the position of the Recent Visitors widget aren’t really things that I’m all that interested in.

No, my guess is that the comment may have been from some self appointed “expert” in websites wishing to demonstrate their expertise in a manner that is unwanted and unwarranted.

That said, Dave did ask for recommendations, and I’ll toss out a couple, which other people might want to think about as well. First, why did you pick the colors you are using? I chose mine to match the color scheme of the house that Orient Lodge was named after. Very deliberate. I try to use the same color scheme as many places as I can. Sure, a person with a better graphical eye might have better suggestions, but it meets my purpose. So, Dave, got a reason for the colors you use? If not, see if you can come up with a reason, or shift colors around till you get a color scheme you can tell a good story about.

Dave’s site currently has two columns; one for content, one for widgets. He’s got a lot of widgets. If I were Dave I would consider cutting back on the widgets, or at least setting up a second column to spread out the widgets a little better. In my case, I often add and remove widgets. I move them up or down depending on how important they are to me, where I want them place relative to other widgets, etc. Some widgets I move out of my template and put in widget graveyard pages. The same thing for awards and stuff like that. I’ve even started using different blogrolls depending on which part of the blog people are looking at.

Related to that, I’d make the content wider. By the looks of it, Dave’s site is designed for people with monitors as small as 800 pixels across. My site was designed for people with 640 pixel wide screens. Then I expanded to 800 pixels, and now my target is for people with screens 1024 pixels across or wider. Granted, all of this is likely to change as more and more traffic comes from cellphones, but if I were Dave, I might consider making the whole page wider. That is, of course, unless his mom is reading it on an old monitor, or some other good reason for keeping it smaller.

As to readers losing interest and leaving, it’s their loss. Dave writes some great content and I’ll keep reading it no matter how he redesigns his website.

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December 29th

Wordless Wednesday

My Lap Dog, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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December 28th

Random Notes - Quora, Rockmelt, OneTrueFan

Well, I have some serious blog posts in the queue, but I’m pretty beat right now, so I’ll write a quicker blog post. Between the funeral, Christmas, the blizzard, and congestion that just isn’t going away, I don’t have a lot of energy right now.

Recently, I’ve started participating in Quora. It is a site where people ask questions and post answers about just about anything. Right now, it feels pretty geeky, but that may in part be because of the people who I am connected with there. If you’re on Quora, look me up.

I’ve also started playing a little bit with Rockmelt. It is a new Chrome based browser with a strong social media angle. Initially, I didn’t do much with it because it doesn’t run on Linux. However, my machine at work is Microsoft based and I’ve used Rockmelt a bit there. It is starting to grow on me. At work, I use Internet Explorer, Chrome and now Rockmelt.

I continue to play with OneTrueFan. I’ve been so busy, my blog surfing has fallen off and people are ousting me as the one true fan of various blogs. They also have a new interface that has been a bit flaky for me. Oh well. I’ll keep it for the time being.

There are lots of other things to write about, but they will have to wait for now.

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December 27th

Music Monday - Francesco Bonifazi

Today is the final day that performers can submit their electronic press kits (EPKs) to me on Sonicbids for this set of reviews. Performers are asked to fill out a pretty standard questionnaire, that includes, “Are you a current reader of the Orient Lodge Music Review” and “Briefly describe why we should write about you”.

People who are regular readers will know that I like to highlight unknown and out of the ordinary performers. Francesco Bonifazi said that he is not a regular reader, yet in telling me why he thinks I should write about him, he hits the note that resonates here.

He starts off:

I suspect that my music is not exactly like anything you've heard please keep an open mind. When I tell reviewers, radio hosts etc. that I'm a world-champion whistler they wince and think it's going to be a cute novelty act

He’s right. His music is not exactly like anything I’ve heard before. That is part of the reason I like it. It is not some cute novelty act and, yes, he is a world-champion whistler. I followed up on this claim. He won first place in the Popular Music category at the 2003 International Whistlers Convention. This year’s convention will be in Louisburg, North Carolina, April 6-10, 2011.

His whistling covers a broad spectrum of genres with a jazz being an important focus and I listened to quite a few tracks. “Angels” is one of my favorites:

Sometimes it feels like an angel brushes my skin.
They're all around us and from within.
Soft and smooth like a feather on a warm summer wind.
And there's kindness in the music of their gentle wings.

There is some impressive whistling on this track.

He sent me a link to one video. It is about twelve minutes long and not greatly edited. However, if you skip the first the first seven and a half minutes, there is a really fun section where he does Take The A Train, with some nice whistling and a kid in a Santa hat coming up to dance.

However, if you want to watch a video that really captures his whistling process watch this one:

Francesco Bonifazi is currently putting together a tour of the north east in the Spring and working on a second album focused on Acoustic/Americana/Audult Comtemporary music.

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