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Archive for the Category "Blogging"

The Saturday List: Menky Stat Check (6) Apr 10

Tuesday was this blog’s sixth anniversary and so the one day of the year I talk blog stats. But it was also the day the General Election was called, so I’ve been a bit busy this week. I’ve therefore merged this weekend’s list with the annual number round-up.

So here we go. The previous five years’ figures are in brackets, last year’s first.

  • 3 (3, 2, 2, 2, 2): number of servers this site has been hosted on
  • 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 2): number of blogging applications used
  • 1,157 (1,123, 977, 873, 588, 226): total number of posts
  • 1,742 (1,614, 1,518, 1,350, 774, 444): total number of comments
  • 1.51 (1.44, 1.55, 1.55, 1.32, 1.96): average number of comments per post
  • 137,317 (112,651, 70,993, 43,016, 6,322): total unique hits

Top seven referring websites (excluding search engines):

(With two new entries there, the sites that dropped from the chart were Lib Dem Voice and Wikipedia – last year’s number one referrer.)

Top nine referring blogs:

(I should point out that those Derren Brown referrals came from someone in his comments, not the scary brain man himself.)

Top ten search terms:

  • 10 (-): “derren brown” lottery
  • 9 (-): hut 33
  • 8 (-): barry letters
  • 7 (-): derren brown lottery how
  • 6 (-): eurovision 2009 island
  • 5 (-): top 10 iphone apps
  • 4 (-): darren brown lottery
  • 3 (-): derren brown lottery prediction
  • 2 (1): eurovision 2009
  • 1 (-): derren brown lottery

Turns out that lottery song brought in much of the last year’s traffic. Other choice searches from the top 30 include toby stephens (finally out of the top 10); freebmd; karaoke circus; and colin jeavons.

I’ll try to be on time next year.

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I have redecorated Apr 26

Rather than producing something constructive (like an actual post), I spent the afternoon engrossed in the bloggers’ equivalent of flicking through the Dulux sample book: hunting for a new WordPress theme.

I liked the idea of a more islandy look so settled on this one, give or take a few template tweaks. And the simple act of changing the site design has now given me a subject to write a post about. It’s WIN all round today.

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Menky stat check (5) Apr 06

The dawning of the new financial year indicates that a much more important occasion is upon us: today, this blog is five years old. As has been the tradition over the last half-decade, this is the one day I do blog stats. So here they are. (Yikes – I see I used almost exactly the same introduction last year).

Previous three years’ figures are in brackets, last year’s first.

  • 3 (2, 2, 2, 2): number of servers this site has been hosted on
  • 2 (2, 2, 2, 2): number of blogging applications used
  • 1,123 (977, 873, 588, 226): total number of posts
  • 1,614 (1,518, 1,350, 774, 444): total number of comments
  • 1.44 (1.55, 1.55, 1.32, 1.96): average number of comments per post
  • 112,651 (70,993, 43,016, 6,322): total unique hits (counting since May 2004 – now switched to Google Analytics, which counted 6,000 fewer this last year than my old hit counter)

Top seven referring websites (excluding search engines):

Top nine referring blogs:

Top ten search terms:

  • 10 (-): baroness ashton
  • 9 (-): matt smith dr who
  • 8 (-): england census 1911
  • 7 (-): new doctor who announced
  • 6 (6): toby stephens
    (He just won’t go away. This is why. *shrug*)
  • 5 (-): matt smith doctor who
  • 4 (-): new doctor who
  • 3 (-): geoffrey perkins
  • 2 (1): clocks go forward
    (Knocked off the top spot by – as you may have guessed by now…)
  • 1 (-): matt smith

Despite an otherwise fairly quiet year, this blog’s biggest day of traffic ever followed the announcement that TV’s Matt Smith would succeed TV’s David Tennant and TV’s Doctor Who, largely powered by some surprisingly high Google rankings, reflecting how little had been written about the new Doctor in the past.

Same time next year then?

Will Howells and the Mystery of the Missing Objects Oct 14

In which I engage in a quest in pursuit of hidden letters.

As I was preparing to leave work last night, I got a notification that “wherenext” had followed me on Twitter.

@wherenext’s profile sent me off to What is the question?, which appeared to be a Masquerade style treasure hunt. Presented with clues, the task is to find 43 object hidden in a square mile of London – the very part I travel to every day.

The clues stumped me for a bit but eventually I worked out they were referencing various blogs (had I seen the Guardian story previewing the game I’d have been there quicker!). These blogs have within them pointers to locations on the map. I discovered that one of the locations was behind my office and another couple on a (slightly circuitous) route home, so I passed by all of them in the evening darkness – and found nothing.

Before I go on I should mention – as the Guardian article explains – that the game is promoting the campaign site, which is creating awareness of extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis. It was set up by photojournalist James Nachtwey, who captured these harrowing images:

Last night, I worked on the clues and came up with most of the locations, with a clear pattern forming on the map. I got up at a quarter past six this morning to catch an early train and begun by traipsing around Waterloo armed with my mobile phone’s GPS and Google Maps.

I wasn’t sure how hidden the items would be and didn’t really want to draw attention to myself (even at 7am there were people around) so I didn’t clamber around the first grid point too much. Probably as a result, I didn’t find whatever it was I was looking for. I’d seen something on Twitter about photographing yourself in the location even if you didn’t find the object, so I did that:

In Waterloo, empty-handed

A short walk away at the next location, I again failed to find anything. And then, after a longer walk, I found myself on the south bank of the Thames opposite the House of Parliament.


Failure there too.

Next stop was York Road, ascertained from a clue on Bill Thompson’s blog. I peered around as nonchalantly as possible as commuters from Waterloo passed by. And there, concealed behind a plant pot, I found…


Each photograph is accompanied by a character, in this case an O, and the 43 characters will make up a question. Identifying that question is the key to winning the game.

The excitement of this discovery – photograph quickly moblogged – was quickly followed up with more failures, and a while later with two more successes, one near Embankment tube and one close to Parliament Square. I was impressed that the team behind the game had managed to place so many objects in sensitive areas without causing security alerts (yet).

I covered around 20 sites and around 7 miles in more than two hours of hunting, got plenty of exercise (not least lugging my laptop with me) and got to know bits of London I pass near every day in much more detail (including passing through Horse Guards Parade for the first time).

At lunchtime I returned to a couple of the sites from last night and found the daylight made all the difference: two more successes. At the time of writing, nine of the objects have been revealed.

I’ve now solved (hopefully correctly) all the clues and identified 43 locations. To help me track down the objects, I’ve programmed the locations into Google Maps on my phone, and they appear to form a recognisable pattern:

Me and my map Secret locations plotted

There are 15-20 locations I’ve not been to yet. I’ll see if I have the energy for another early start tomorrow.

And, of course, you can play the game too…