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December 6, 2004

Sad Spaces of MSN

MSN Spaces - Microsoft’s defining contribution to the blogosphere - is as tragic as its depressing.

Launched in the week that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced that blog had been the most looked-up word of the year (which is as worrying as its encouraging), MSN’s somewhat post-deluvian challenge to Google’s super-slick Blogger looks like a massive step in the opposite direction to the flow.

For a laugh, I put the site’s home page through the W3C html validator - it didn’t do very well. As for its CSS mark-up, this verged on the actionable.

Of the most recently updated Spaces, the only one I could find with any content whatsoever belonged to a certain Scott Fenstermacher, which carried a long and well-argued piece entitled My Microsoft OS Installation Complaints (dig the URL - will the search engines just love that!).

The ‘Spaces’ also boast a ‘bad words’ filter which, for instance, tends to make a mockery of their punters’ ‘My Music’ listings by banning the word ‘bitch’ and with it half the rap songs ever made.

There’s more - none of it good - but I can’t go on. Its all so sad. I used to think Micro$oft were pretty cool, despite many opinions heard to the contrary. I like ASP and DOT NET and stuff. But MSN Spaces - puleeeez.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 2:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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December 4, 2004

The Dirt on the Hoe

Inspired into action by a hot tip on the BBC’s brilliant gardening pages, I replaced my usual lazy ‘Spray’n’Slay’ anti-weed strategies by mounting a direct physical assault on the most malignent weed-insurgents - dandelions, bindweed, those small London trees that appear overnight and have grown thirty feet by the next time you go outside, deadly brambles, nettles, rampant clover..i.e. the pits - that were seeking asylum in my beautiful long and narrow Deptford garden from the evil regime of the Weed Conservatory nurtured by my Irish next door neighbours, armed only with a good old-fasioned hoe I bought down Deptford Market for £2.

After I had been slashing and slicing into the adamantine roots of these most ruthless of garden terrorists for half an hour or so, my young friend Tamara, aged 8, came wandering out of the house with her hands in the pockets of her pink dungarees after losing interest in The Terminator or Last Tango in Paris or whatever it was she’d been watching, and came out to watch me sweating away in righteous zeal instead.

After a while, she asked “What’s that thing you’re using?” pointing at the hoe.

“Its a hoe” I said.

“That’s such a dirty word” she said, “I can’t believe you said it.”

Rap/Jamaica have a lot to answer for.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 5:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Blogospherical stats

Mark Frauenfelder has published boingboing’s traffic stats - a quick scan of these suggest his blog is really doing rather well.

In the first three days of December, the boingboing blog had 114,802 unique visitors, 390,896 visits, 1,149,556 page views, 4,503,902 hits, using up a mere 52.78 gigs of bandwidth. Not bad.

The site has gone from a mere 765,159 page views in February 2004 to a rather impressive 13,429,382 page views in November 2004.

He’s serving up around half a million pages a day via over two million plus hits per day, all of which is eating up over 2500 GB of bandwidth over the past 11 months.

Over the same period, he’s had 63 million page views at the request of more than 6 million unique visitors. Some blog.

I guess the downside is that 76.6% of visits lasts only from 0 to 30 seconds, although 5.4 % stay between 30 minutes and an hour on the site, and 6% stay for an hour plus.

Down in the minutae of his stats, its hugely satisfying to see that against the 38.1% of visitors still using the Standards-busting Internet Explorer, an amazing 31.4 % have gone over to the wonderfully compliant Firefox. Alright, blogs - even boingboing - are still geeky enough to be Firefox-prone, but if ever the writing were on the wall for the Evil Empire, its scrawled all over

So these are the kind of stats you’re looking for with your brand new blog if you want to get in PubSub’s Top 20 LinkRanks where hangs out at around rank 17 or 19, just behind Reuters, Apple and The Washington Post, making it by some way the highest ranked of any one-writer blog, as well as several ranks above either Slashdot on the one hand, or the afore mentioned Micro$oft on the other.

Its not until you get way down the bottom of boingboing’s stats that some of the shock-and-awe of reading them is marginally tarnished when the site’s top search keyphrase is listed as ‘anal’, its fourth as ‘porno’ and its sixth search keyword as ‘sex’. Mind you, do a google on ‘anal’ and comes up in the top two results - now that’s tapping into the cybermegamarket where its really happening.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 9:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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December 3, 2004

More crash than flash

Guardian Unlimited: Website crash ruins M&S flash sale - it just doesn’t seem as if M & S can get anything right these days - but perhaps they remain a metaphor for England?

Posted by Iain Stewart at 3:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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December 2, 2004

Database disaster (again)

Out of the blue MT ceased to function on the server where it had been happily hosted for well over a year, forcing a complete site relocation to another server, which was carried out with only one minor error - the loss of the mySQL database.

I had backed up the entire site in anticipation of disaster, and have now been working my way through the MT Disaster Recovery program as finely summarised here, but it is so fraught with trial and error that a rethink makes one wonder whether any of the ‘lost’ site deserves recuperation. In the meantime, the templates and stylesheet have been reinstalled and are at this very moment under test.

Posted by Iain Stewart at 9:08 PM | Comments (0)
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