Blake's blog

The Numbers Game

Slashcode comes with a nifty little stats area that spits out some interesting graphs. I'd love to be able to make them all public, but I fear the added load the scripts would add, so I'll try and post some of them here from time to time.
This all deal with moderation and comments for the past few months.

Makes Adsense to Me!

I've been stealthily running Google Ads on the old LISNews pages (e.g. here or Here for about a month now, just to see what happens.
I'm suprised at the results, and so far I think it may let me run LISNews on a server alone. I only need to make $6 a day to have it pay for a decent server, and by just running the ads that may happen. I feel like less of a sell out running those ads for some reason. I guess because I don't actually sell the ads, I just make a few cents every time some does a clickity-click through.
With the number of pages we server, and the same click through percentage, LISNews could be a free service for me for the first time! Getting LISNews off of LISHost would make life much easier for me.

Anyone have any problems with Google Ads on LISNews?

11-12-03 7am: To answer tangognat & mcbrides questions below, yes, I've thought about Text ads ala Mefi or K5, my experiment started by reading Matt's Blogging for Dollars. I've often thought about selling text ads, but opted not to for one reason or another so far. Seems like alot of extra work?

Dissatisfied with your search results? Help us improve.

Am I the only one that uses that "Dissatisfied with your search results? Help us improve." link on the first page of Google search results? I find myself strangely motivated to tell them what's wrong with the really bad search results. I also find myself being disappointed more often than not lately. I wonder how many of those they read?

Back In The Saddle

I just lost 5 hours and about 60 degrees going from Hawaii to Buffalo. So I'm back, the pain in my wrists is gone, my skin is tan, and I seem to be able to remember all my important passwords, so I should be back up to speed in no time.

LISNews/LISHost held up pretty well thanks to Joe, Aaron, and everyone who let them know it was down.

Thanks to all the authors, the stories kept flowing. I've always dreamed of the day LISNews ran itself, it seems we've reached that point!


Things I have learned this week:
I can live quite well without computers.
Everyone wants to sell you something in Hawaii.
People from all over the world say "ya know what I'm sayin?"
12 hours on a tour bus is about 8 hours too many.
I know what a humuhumunukunukuapuaa looks like up close.
12 hours on a plane is about 8 hours too many.
Dail up internet ain't so bad.
I'm broke.

I'll be back in a week. Thanks for a great 4 years, and for a great Blake-Free week.

Carrie's Special Day

The wedding went well, and we're off to Hawaii until November 8!

Blake And Carrie And Crew

Thanks again to everyone who found that song for us, and to everyone who wished us well.

I have a drinking problem

Since I started my new job in May I've been unable to stop drinking the water I get from the water cooler down the hall. Everyday I really look forward to filling up my water bottle, it's just that good! I never really gave any thought to the water in the water cooler, until just now.
It turns out that it's Distilled Water, not spring water like I had always assumed. So the secret to GREAT tasting water is, apparently, to distill it first! It makes such a huge difference in taste it's really amazing.

MEblogging Vs. WEbloggin

I was just trying to explain blogs to someone, and it occured to me there are meblogs, where someone will write about what they had for breakfast, and there are weblogs, where several people will emulate a news service. We blog at LISNews, while Me blogs here in my journal.

Finding Balance

Here's my problem.
I want to know Linux, CSS, PERL, PHP, and Slsahcode inside and out. I want to be an expert at those things, write about them, and use them. I'm pretty good at most, if not all currently. The trouble is, I can't write about them if I am using them, I can't tell others how to use them, because I spend too much time actually using them. I want to write more, in this case write = writing journal articles, print stuff. I see people doing wonderful things in print, and on the web, and I think to myself, "how the hell do they have any time to do that?" and myself answers "well, maybe they don't sleep?"
Then again, maybe they don't run LISNews/LISHost.
I figure I actually have the freedom to choose what I do most of the time, and I choose to keep LISNews & LISHost going at this point in my life. If I want to spend time doing other things, reading, writing, and such, then whatever it is that takes up most of my 16 hours of awake time needs to be re-prioritized. If I am posting 16 stories a day to LISNews I am not writing elsewhere, if I am killing bugs in slashcode, or helping someone set up MT on LISHost, I am unable to read a new book I boght.
Work, my day job, takes up no small percentage of my awake time, and then there's all the other things, lately it's been the wedding, but things like that will always come up. I am beginning to feel like I need to find a different balance point, less of something, more of others. I don’t want to lose my chops, but at the same time, I'd like to get other things done.

Are those who teach/write about all this unable to actually use most of what they write/teach? I don't see how one can have time to be an expert, and do other things as well.

LISNews Happenings - Mail and some Stats

The import script seems to be ready to roll. It’s going to suck all the email addresses out of the old ezmlm mailing list, and turn them into brand new accounts, with the daily newsletter option turned on. The “daily� newsletter is now going to run only on Monday Wednesday and Friday. This still leaves the weekly list to deal with. I think I’m going to have to kill that, and roll it into the regular list. I simply don’t have the time to make a weekly option for the slashcode at this point, nor do I have the time to worry about that list floating around out there, should I leave the weekly list live. If all goes well I’ll make the magic happen next week. I want this all worked our before I leave for Hawaii.
So that’s that…

In other LISNews news, the journals have been so much fun to watch. I’m quite happy with how much they are being used, I had rather low expectations, and have been proven wrong. There’s even been some discussion on some of the journals.

Moderation participation is about what I expected, there’s a few people doing a lot of moderation, a few other people doing it once in a while, and most people not at all, or maybe just once. The # of comments seems to be about the same on the new code as it was on the old. Over all, visits, hits, page views, and all that jazz are slowly trending up.
Last month we had about 3,500 visitors a day, served about 12,450 pages a day, all that from around 61,000 hits a day. Those are the number from last month, and the stats were down for a few days in there, so the real numbers are a bit higher.

Some more interesting findings in the logs…

1. (no referral) 68,694 66.67%
2. 12,261 11.90%
3. 4,225 4.10%
4. 3,908 3.79%
5. 1,111 1.08%
6. 982 0.95%
7. 754 0.73%
8. 476 0.46%
9. 446 0.43%
10. 416 0.40%

As you can see it’s almost entirely a google world for us. LISJobs, and BetweenTheStacks are the only 3 “real� sites that made it into the top 25 referrers, and none of them sent in more than .11% of total sessions. I’m never quite sure what to make of those numbers. I guess with 66% of people coming in with no referral it means most people who read LISNews already know we’re here.

Top Keywords from those:
1. (no referral) 81,162 78.77%
2. harry potter book six 790 0.77%
3. pick up lines 662 0.64%
4. welchia virus 659 0.64%
5. librarian action figure 442 0.43%
6. pickup lines 241 0.23%
7. sixth harry potter book 237 0.23%
8. harry potter sixth book 230 0.22%
9. bush demonstrating genuine leadership 220 0.21%
10. pick-up lines 183 0.18%

The top keywords lead me to believe that not everyone is happy finding LISNews.

Most popular pages:
1. /lisnews.rss 57,906 16.04%
2. / 54,175 15.00%
3. / 34,286 9.50%
4. /article.php3 32,366 8.96%
5. / 20,483 5.67%
6. / 19,535 5.41%
7. / 12,300 3.41%
8. /rss/descriptions.rss 8,889 2.46%
9. /robots.txt 4,898 1.36%
10. / 4,292 1.19%
11. /index.rss 4,076 1.13%
12. /wireless_descriptions.rss 3,499 0.97%
13. / 3,134 0.87%
14. /articles.rss 2,646 0.73%
15. /favicon.ico 2,596 0.72%

Our feeds our crazy popular now. It’s been fun watching the incredible growth in popularity of RSS. Having an RSS feed was one thing LISNews was way ahead of the curve on.

The Mailing Lists

So I’m about halfway to having the old mailing list moved over to the new slashcode. For those of you on the mailing list (The headlines that come out Mon Wed and Fri) hopefully my messages made some sense. If not, let me try again.
The way I see it, LISNews is made up of 2 parts at the moment. The web site, and the mailing lists. The lists (there’s 2, one 3 times a week, and one weekly) have been around for a few years. Originally I hacked some code together, and lately they’ve been running on a program called ezmlm (it’s like Listserv, but free). There’s still about 1800 people on the 2 lists. The problem is those lists still take up no small amount of time for me. So I need to move those names into the slashcode, and then change the slashcode daily mailer code to just go out on Monday Wednesday and Friday. I won’t even pretend I could make a weekly option at this point.
So far I’m able to create a new user account from a file, and I’ve almost got it emailing the password and user name. Once I get that working I need to hack the slashcode mailing function, and then import all the names from the lists into slashcode.

Someone who knows PERL and Slashcode could’ve done this in an hour or 2, but it takes some time for me to do things with Slashcode still, so I hope to have this done some time next week, if I’m lucky. The goal is to have it done before I go to Hawaii. The hidden goal are to make my life easier.

Pick A Name

Browsing the list of 466 User Accounts we already have at LISNews the names are quite amusing. Here's a few of my favorites:

Fang-Face (he's so scary sounding), bibliothecarius, TechKase, soy_mustang (just cuz it's so funny sounding), Onehander (could mean anything I suppose), madcow, libdir, Zed (Canadian?), drweb, RudeAmy (Understanding is the first step towards the cure), librarybunny (cute), hahahaha, honky, j_at_work (Hardly working I assume), cdnlibrarian (Eh?), swampthing, SpinsterLibrarian, angrythoat (Scary), ChrisTheCat (meow), InfoWhale, pamplemousse, Fez the Barbarian Li (Damn, cut short), bbbbbbb1 (Stutter?), artlibrarian, literarylion (Roar), masterbation, bookworm4321, Jonas (Reminds me of that Weezer song), Original Cyn, surfer rosa (Pixies), Another Aaron (If at first you don't succeed), Biblia, the Warrior , Eclectic Researcher, privacybarbie, lucky, BubblyBookGrrl (Just sounds so friendly), librlord, scary , The Federalist, chattykathy, bookmarm, librarian (It took 300+ people to think of that one?), Esmeralda, maxpower (Strap yourself in and feel the G's!), Mock Turtle, Infoweasel, Gonzo Librarian, andhow, SmartRat, aah, miraclesdaily (Good description of what we all do), SkinnyPimp , hihuhiuhiu, tomeboy , librarymary, themom, map (Keeping it simple), GeekLib, shelfmouse, Meteor, waterdragon (There be Dragons here), and last but not least....infodiva, which is the actual last account at the moment.

Directions to my wedding

Follow the big red arrow, the time and date are wrong, but location is correct:

43 Days And Counting

43 days till I "tie the knot", and 45 days till we honeymoon in Hawaii!
I should have a laptop with me, and I'll be sure to have extra people around to baby sit LISHost & LISNews during my time on the islands.
I'm hoping that we'll be able to set up some kind of web cam for the wedding, there'll be at least 3 LISNewsterz there, possibly more, so it might be somewhat interesting to watch. Then again, probably not, but I may be able to set something up.

Never fight the urge to Buy Me A Present.

Speaking of passwords

Password Rage is a fact of life I suppose. I am trying to figure out how many username/passwords I need to keep track of.

I have 2 for work.
2 for AOL.
1 for another mail account.
3 for LISNews mail.
1 for my personal shell account
Root @ LISHost
3 different MySQL accounts
3 different LISNews accounts
2 websites I use often (Mefi & Slashdot)
Several others that are not used often
1 for the home linux box
Another few at OSU gives me 3 more
Assorted other accounts on one of 2 servers.
I dunno, what's that...about a million?

Here's my secret... NONE of them are the same! I am not lazy when it comes to passwords, or other security, and it's a bit of a challenge to keep them all correct in my head sometimes. Most of them are 5 or 6 letters/numbers long as well.

No use in complaining as it's the only way we can keep things secure at this point.

Week 3 With The Slash Code, or is it week 4?

Busy Week!

Job #1 right now is to figure out why the same stories keep coming up on the metamod page.
I need to make a better page that lists the RSS feeds I think.
I'll be sending out a request for editors soon I hope, each editor will get a section.
Still need to write up the XB email.
I think the older stories might still need a bit of help. A search by topic fails for some reason.
The old polls and comments are still lost in the old Db.
The mailing lists are still seperated.
Still need to kill the edit link.
Categories for the vars? How I'd do that remains to be seen.
Figure out the contact us thing.
Can I have a form to allow people to contact other people?

Need to do the ENT feeds for Shifty, and the RSS to email thing for Stuffy.

Stats? The numbers are still lower than a couple months ago, but maybe it's just that time of the year?
I've bump started the moderation by giving everyone who has posted a comment points.
The old quotes are now working! Damn that was a pain.
docs are updated nicely, the FAQ, authors help file, and Moderation FAQ have been rewritten.
Hits display on the stories. It doesn't seem to be at all accurate... but it's better than nothing.
The User List is much improved.
Most 404's have been fixed.
Killed relocate.
Added links and # of user accounts to login for me.
The RSS Leaks have all been plugged now I think. No more sneak peaks!
I figured out to edit just section templates.
I rewrote the About Us Page.
There's now a contact us form. I should've just done it that way to begin with, until I figure out how to make a new "real" one.
Cleaned up the duplicate topics.
Adding links to each section.
Added links to all the current feeds, and added a couple new feeds.
Fixed the stats page, I think all us authors should be able to see it.

Overall, things are still ok. Some days I just want to do "rm -rf *" but it's coming along. I am slowly, very slowly beginning to understand the code. I hope with the moderation points scattered about we'll see more people participating.

Less than 2 months left till I get married.

Week Three With The SlashCode

So week three has brought few changes. I am rather dumb when it comes to makes any changes on this code yet, there's still a rather long list of things to do. A couple of interesting things.

1. There's about a million (well it feels like it) RSS feeds now. Thanks to the new sections that I've added, each one adds a new feed. Speaking of the new sections...

2. My big idea with the new sections, each with it's own URL, will be to have "editors" take care of each section. Now I need to finish up adding sections, and find some editors. Speaking of people posting stuff...

3. How 'bout those journals?! Getting used much more than I had though, already. Interesting posts from Oghma, Surfer Rosa (is that a Pixes reference?), sabine01, Great Western Dragon is leading the pack, quite a few more good ones In There.
RTeeter let slip a little secret, bug, I need to fix.

4. It seems that it's possible to use the new code as a Discussion Board independant of the stories and journals. Interesting...

5. There are some really funny User Names so far.

6. I took a peak at the stats, and it looks like we are down about 1000 people a day since the new code started. Not as bad as I had thought.

7. Moderation is not quite working like I had hoped yet. I guess we need more users, more users with higher karma, more users metamoderating, and more comments. The moderation code doesn't seem to scale down well, or at least, I can't get it to do that yet.

8. Got a great email from XB I need to write up.

So good I think. I really need someone with mad PERL skills to help me for a few hours.

Week 2 With The Slashcode

Not really in any order, but here's what week 2 has given
me to do, so far:



ENT Feeds for Jen

The older stories need help still

Still some Db issues I guess with those

The old quotes are just gone right now, not sure if I can import them or not

Slowly getting there. It's still a challenge figuring how this code works, it's
much more complex than the old site.


The old polls, forgot about those till someone asked.
I'll get there, I hope, haven't even looked at that one though, maybe just a
link to the old poll code?


I need to write some decent documentation for both
authors and members

Authors is coming along, and I think members is done until
someone tells me otherwise.

Old comments, HOW TO?

ACK! This is going to give me nightmeres.

Integrate mailing lists
No, wait, this is going to give me mightmears!


What about subscriptions?
Yeah, what about them? Can this place pay for itself finally?


Make the "hits" come back to the story display
Should be simple... famous last words.


I don't like "Read/Comment..." but not sure what would
work better
Maybe just comments?


What Karl said, the edit link is misleading. See if I
can hide that when previewing stories (authors only).
[Submitted to the
Slashcode folks as a bug]
Status is fixed, so maybe I can just diff that file.


Make a

better page
that lists UID's.

Damn that's ugly.


Make admin toolbar stand out more, it's easy to miss.

Just some Bold Tags should do it.

Ender filter.

Fix all those 404's via ln -s.
More or less complete


Get that "about" page rewritten

Yeah, some day.

Categories for all the vars?
Maybe ask the list for help.


Modify the moderation reasons a bit

Work with Aaron and other authors

Make better, or move back to the old .php one.
Might be a good file to get chops on.



I swear I read that somewhere.

Old stories with single and double quotes in their titles have the \ showing



Add links to Urchin, search, and mailadmin to admin tool

Now that I can do!


Tell me how many user accounts we have when I log in

Might not be too hard.

anon people to start out at 1, and
people with acocunts start out at 2 (maybe up the ceiling?). That
way, no worries about what it does with 0s and stuff. And default
viewing is at 1.

The Big Red Button

When I got hired I noticed a big red button in the corner of the library.
My boss said:
"This is the big red button. NEVER press the big read button!!"

So yesterday, I got bored, and around 4 and I figured, what the heck, lets see what the big red button does...

Someone came in this morning to install the blue button that'll take care of everything, so hold tight for a little while longer.


Note: This makes sense if a) you know where I work and b) you know what happened yesterday around 4.

Power Of Google?

Maybe google’s popularity is working against it?
Compare search results for “International Book of the Month� in Teoma, All The Web, MSN, and Google.
Who won? Well, I’d say MSN lost, by far. The first few results are just way off. Paid placement?
All the web and Teoma do ok, as does google, but this search returns a couple of obviously wrong results, domain squatters, search engine spammers, not sure what to call them. Those annoying sites that exsist only to spit popup ads and crap just drive me crazy. I’m assuming people only bother with google when pulling scams like that.

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