Category Archives: blog

blog

Bio and Bibliography Updates

I made some minor bio tweaks this morning, and brought my bibliography up-to-date. I’d been meaning to do these things for a while, and finally, finally got around to it first thing this morning.

You can find my bios, which often are used with pieces that I write outside the blog, on my Press Kit page, along with some author photos.

You can find the updated bibliography on, wait for it, my bibliography page.

Blog Milestone: One Million in One Year!

Yesterday was the heaviest traffic day on the blog in well over a year (since February 2013, actually). Nearly 10,000 page views, which is about 2-1/2 times the normal daily traffic. I was trying to parse this out last night when I couldn’t sleep, and made a pleasant discovery.

For the first time ever, this blog has exceeded 1 million page views in 365 days! Between May 16, 2013 and today, May 15, 2014, the blog has had 1,009,989 page views. At last, I’ve broken that elusive 1 million views/year barrier!

1 million in 1 year

I am kind of blown away by this. I can remember back in 2010 when I decided I wanted to try to improve the content and make it accessible to a broader audience. I was getting about 30 page views/day and aimed to triple that by the end of 2010. Since then, things have progressed to the point where I now have more than 1 million views in a year. That seems incredible to me, and just wanted to thank everyone who take the time to drop by the blog.

So thank, everyone! You all help make it fun!

Now It’s Easier to Follow Along on Feedly

If you take a look over at the sidebar to your right, you’ll see I’ve added a little widget that makes it easier to find and subscribe to the blog over on Feedly. I’ve been using Feedly ever since Google Reader passed into extinction, and I really like it. In fact, I’ve written about some of my process involving Feedly, Pocket and Evernote.

Follow on Feedly

So, if you’ve been looking for an easier way to find/subscribe/read this blog in Feedly, that button over there should get you started in the right direction. I also left the links to the Feedburner feeds there as well, in case anyone wants to use those.

Remembering Everything: An Evernote Coda to My Life In Weeks

Yesterday, I wrote about looking at my life in weeks, based on this excellent post over at Wait, But Why. In looking at my life in weeks, I began to wonder about how much of it was documented. Here is the chart I produced yesterday, for reference. Each square represents one week of my life since birth.

My Life In Weeks
Click to enlarge

I decided to take a slightly different cut at this. I looked at when I started keeping a paper diary; when the paper diary was replaced by blogging; and when I started using Evernote to “remember everything.” Here is what the same chart looks like with those three areas of self-documentation highlighted.

My Documented Life in Weeks
Click to enlarge

As of this week, my life has been 2,197 weeks long. Looking at this data, a fair chunk of it is documented in one form or another. If you take all three methods listed above, it totals 950 weeks, or 43% of my life. What this means is that I can go back to any of those weeks and find, to a pretty good degree of accuracy, what I was doing. I have the documentation in one form or another.

The blog continues as well (obviously) and that has been going steady now for 444 weeks, or 20% of my life. The blog doesn’t contain as much detail as Evernote does, but it is still a better overall source of documentation than my paper diaries ever were.

However, the documentation doesn’t get really accurate until I started using Evernote and attempted to “remember everything,” in part by going paperless. I started using Evernote in December 2010, which means I’ve been using it for 178 weeks. That amounts to just 8% of my life. That said, that 8% of my life is well more documented by far than the previous 92%. I can go back to almost any day in the last 178 weeks and tell you virtually everything about the day, from the weather, to what purchases I made, to what words I wrote on a specific story, to what new things my kids were doing.

I think that this is pretty cool, and I think that it will make for something special for my kids to be able to look through when they are older and I am much older. The details of life are often lost in memory, but when you can capture those details as discretely as I’ve been able to do with Evernote, very little is lost and it paints a vivid picture of “what life what like when Dad was a (relative) youngster.”

Top 10 Posts for the First Third of 2014

I happened to be glancing at the blog’s overall numbers for 2014 (creeping up on the half-million page view mark for the year) and was rather surprised to discover what the top post for 2014 has been through the first four months of the year. Here are the top 10 posts, sorted by page views (but also reporting unique visitors) so far this year1.

Top 10 Posts 4-months 2014

Apparently, that FitBit post has been pretty darn popular.

And if you are wondering about year-to-date, 2014 is outpacing 2013 by about 145,000 page views. Here are the numbers so far for this year, as compared to the same period last year.

2014 vs 2013 4-months

These numbers don’t include RSS feeds, which I am too lazy to chase down this morning. Still, pretty cool. The month-to-month numbers have slipped slightly from the beginning of the year when I was getting about 130,000 hits/month. April looks like it will be around 110,000. But that is clearly outpacing last year and I’m happy with it.

  1. Stats collected from Google Analytics.

Site Issue This Morning

As some of you may have noted, there was an issue accessing this site beginning at around 8:45 am EDT. I checked with my host, GoDaddy, and they said it was a know issue and techs were working on the problem. While I was on the phone with them the site started to come back online. I imagine that it will be a little flaky for a while and then return to normal.

I wanted to apologize for the outage. I know that these things can be frustrating and I try to keep things well-maintained here to avoid these kinds of problems, but this one was out of my hands. If you’re curious as to what a site outage looks like in terms of the back end, here is a screen capture of the “real-time” Google Analytics data for the site before, during, and after the outage:

Site outage

I also wanted to mention that overall, GoDaddy has been a terrific hosting service. This is the first significant outage I’ve had in well over a year. The site was down today for approximately 25 minutes. If you do the math, that is an overall uptime of 99.99995%. I’d say that’s a pretty darn good uptime.

Once again, sorry for the outage, and as I mentioned, things might be a little flaky here for a while as they techs work to stabilize the servers.

Questions and Answers about My Blogging

A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me to ask a series of questions about my blogging. I replied with some detailed answers, and it seems to me that other people might have similar questions. Here, then, are the 8 questions I was asked and the answers I gave below in case anyone else was curious. If you have other questions about my blogging that aren’t answered below, ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

1. What was your intention when you first began blogging?

I first started blogging back in late 2005. I had kept a diary since 1996 and I think the blog became a public extension of that in order to keep up with friends and family spread all across the country. I had no real intentions beyond that.

2. When you initially started the blog, did you have any idea it would become so successful?

I think it depends on what you define as successful. As I said, my intention was to have a way of better keeping up with friends and family, and it seemed to work pretty well, so in that sense, I think it was successful. As for popular success, it wasn’t even on my radar when I started. Indeed, I was always surprised to discover that people other than friends or family read the blog.

3. Do you feel as if you’ve changed as a result of your blog, if so, how?

I think that the blog has changed me in small ways. It taught me how to think better on my feet. I’ve written over 5,500 posts in nearly 10 years, and almost all of them are written on the fly. Over time, I learned a compactness of expression1 , and developed a comfortable style. These made it much easier for me to sell nonfiction articles when those opportunities arose. It’s also helped with speaking that I do, whether its on panels or giving talks. But like I said, these are pretty small things.

4. Have the goals of your life changed since the success of your blog?

Success for a blog is always relative. As my blog became more focused on things like going paperless, writing, and automation, I think it started to become more successful. I would only use the term “successful blog” for the last 3 years. In that time the goals for my life haven’t changed much. Habits have changed, but the goals that I work toward have remained more or less the same.

5. What do you think the key ingredient is that has allowed your blog to become so successful?

Blogging is like any other kind of writing. Success is usually based on three main ingredients: hard work, some talent, and a helping of luck. I think the fact that I post regular content helps. It certainly doesn’t hurt that there is an audience that wants to read what I write. Over the last few years, I’ve narrowed the focus of what I write about and that has helped as well. Luck has also played a role. I was in the right place at the right time when it came to writing about going paperless. Evernote, for example, invited me into the founding class of their ambassador program in large part because of what I was writing about. It could just as easily have been someone else.

Continue reading Questions and Answers about My Blogging

  1. Although some might disagree and I won’t quarrel.

Blog Stats for Q1 of 2014

I started keeping track of the stats on this blog in earnest back in late 2010. Back then, I was getting about 30-40 page views per day and as the year came to an end, I decided to see if I could get that number up to 100 page views per day by the end of 2011. That turned out to be easier than I thought. By April of 2011, I was seeing 100 page views/day and by the end of 2011, I was seeing 300 page views per day. For all of 2011, according to Google Analytics, I had about 80,000 page views. I was pleased, but came away worried that I wouldn’t be able to top it in 2012.

I needn’t have worried. In April 2012, I began my weekly Going Paperless posts and things kind of took off from there. I ended 2012 with more than 4 times the page views of 2011, about 347,000 of them! This was very close to an unheard of 1,000 page views per day. Of course, I thought, things would level out in 2013.

Well, the growth slowed, but did not stop. Last year, 2013, I had a total of about 840,000 page views, more than double what I had in 2012, and which amounts to about 2,300 page views per day. It seems that I had managed to produce content that a fair number of people liked and returned to consistently. I felt pretty good about this and one side-effect was that I became less obsessed with my blog stats.

But I didn’t forget them entirely. Yesterday, I took a look at the numbers for the first quarter of 2014 to see how they compared to 2013. So far, between January 1 and March 30, I’ve had 357,000 page views. That amounts to roughly 4,000 page views per day almost double 2013. You can see the difference in this chart:

2014 Blog Stats Q1

The blue line are the day-to-day page views for 2014. The orange line represents the page views for the same period last year. The plot is fairly spiky, and those spikes represent the days on which a new Going Paperless post comes out. (The big orange spike in early March of last year was when I was featured on Lifehacker’s “Ask an Expert” series.)

I don’t know if these numbers will hold steady for the rest of the year or not. They seem to be sinking slightly the last few weeks, but that happens sometimes. If the numbers do hold steady, I’ll come in at around 1.4 million page views for 2014. Of course, who knows. The blog audience has grown from year-to-year and it looks like that is continuing, but I imagine there is a point at which it will plateau.

All of the numbers listed above are based on data collected by Google Analytics. It does not count readers who read the blog solely via an RSS feed. I have some Feedburner numbers for this, but I take them with a grain of salt. According to Feeburner, I’ve had an additional 135,000 page views in 2014 from people who read the posts via RSS. If those numbers are right, then that bring the total page view fro Q1 to just under half a million page views.

Page views, of course, count the number of times a page is loaded. Google Analytics also counts visitors, and so far as I can tell, my unique visitors for Q1 of 2014 is also up from the same period last year:

Continue reading Blog Stats for Q1 of 2014

Update to Blog Sharing Tools

I made a small update to the sharing tools I used here on the blog today. I replaced the Hupso share buttons that I’d been using with the Digg Digg plug-in. I made the change mostly because I wanted a way of including both the Buffer button and the Pocket button on the share bar, and Hupso didn’t provide those options. Now, the buttons below each post should look as follows:

digg-digg

This should make it easier for people who want to Buffer posts, or save them to Pocket to do some directly from each post. I removed the buttons for Pinterest and LinkedIn, which didn’t appear to get much use anyway.

A Network Graph of My Blog Links

In an effort to demonstrate the power of network graph functions in Mathematica this morning, I used some code I found in a Wolfram Language demo to see what a network graph of the hyperlinks on my blog looks like. The code I used was this:

Graph[Flatten[
   Rest[NestList[
     Union[
       Flatten[
        Thread[# -> Import[# , "Hyperlinks"]] & /@ Last /@ #]] &, {"" -> 
       "http://www.jamierubin.net"}, 2]]]]

and that resulted in the following graph:

Blog GraphT

The main sphere is essentially all of the hyperlinks in the blog that point to other pages within the same network. The sphere “above” the surface of the large sphere are external links. This surprised me a little until I gave it some thought.

It turns out it is a pretty accurate representation. I have over 5,500 posts going back to late 2005. Many of my posts have link that refer to other posts. The result is that I link back more to earlier posts than I do to posts outside the blog.

What impressed me more is the power of symbolic programming. That line of code above is relatively simple, but it produced a complex network graph. It took a little while to run on my iMac. I walked away and shoveled snow for 20 minutes and when I came back, it had finished. It is a good example of the power and elegance of a symbolic language like the Wolfram Language.

Mostly Quiet for the Next 5-6 Days

About 4 different projects, some day-job related, some freelance-related, have collided into a kind of perfect storm of deadlines. It means that I’ll probably be relatively quiet here on the blog and Twitter over the next 5-6 days. I’ll pop in when I can, but if yesterday is any sign of what’s to come, it may be tricky.

I have a backlog of posts I want to write (including posts on how I’ve settled on a to-do list manager, and how I’m using RescueTime), but no time to get them written. I haven’t even been able to do my regular daily walking the last few days. I’ll squeeze the posts in where I can. I’ll be out of town Sunday – Tuesday, but should get some posting in here and there. And, of course, right now, the next Going Paperless post is on schedule for Tuesday.

But rather than stress about not getting stuff posted in my more-or-less ordinary schedule, I thought I’d give you a heads-up that things might be a little quite. I expect things to return to a somewhat normal state in about a week.

My Secret to Growing My Blog Audience

I see a lot of stuff on the Internet that suggest there exists a magic bullet1 to growing a blog audience. I don’t know if any of those magic bullets work, but I have decided to share my secret for growing the audience on this blog. Here it is:

Try hard to write consistently good content for a really long time.

I think the last part will turn some people off. I started this blog back in November 2005, which mean, for me, “a really long time” is about 9 years. Of course, “consistently good content” is entirely subjective, but I think it is an important ingredient to the success of a blog. I begin with “try” because I had no idea what I was doing when I started out, and to some extent, I’m still winging it.

This is no different than the secret to selling stories: write really good stories and submit them to the best markets out there. When you get rejections, learn from them and try to do a better job next time.

I suppose there are other ways of growing your blog audience, faster ways, but I don’t know if they result in the same high quality audience that visits this blog every day. In any case, I’m pretty happy with my results. Your mileage may vary.

  1. Like the Fountain of Youth.