A haiku of music

"The Seer" by The Swans

“The Seer” by The Swans

I did have a slightly linked post almost ready, but in a slight departure from the last post, and as I always like a music post from time to time, I am going to combine an update on the “latest” music I’m currently listening to, with some Haiku. Well three Haiku, somewhat linked to each other and the rest of the post. Some readers might want to skim through the music part. Or the Haiku part. Or maybe the whole thing and just enter what you are listening to in the comment box at the end.

Continue reading

“The experiment” – The conclusion thus far

Ok, Ok, I think I found the conclusion down here somewhere…

A few weeks back I was having some fun with blog posts, and conducting a little experiment. In part 1, “The search phrase experiment and what makes a popular blog post“, I posted some musings on what makes a a popular blog post, based on my four or so months blogging. As also experienced by other bloggers, I had received some odd search engine search terms, which led to my site. I was interested in what phrases might prove popular in pulling in viewers, so I added some random popular search terms taken from the Google “hot trends“. I wanted to see if this boosted viewers in any way.

In part 2, I picked up on some points I had missed in the first post, then mused that using popular search terms might not be a benefit at all purely because there will be a lot of sites catering to the popular search phrases, and thus my site will rank low among them. So this time I posted on advertising, sex slang (via a quiz), typing search engine optimisation and looking at the related search terms, and highlighting the 15 most popular blog sites. Would any of these categories work?

So what did happen? Well first I would differentiate between the blogging community, or more specifically, the blogging community on WordPress, who have the reader, the “follow” and “like” functionality, and readers outside of WordPress. This is important, the wordpress community is different because:

  1. The community is likely finding my site via the wordpress search terms / reader, not a search engine, the obvious choice being Google.
  2. Or because I commented on another blog that the person reads (or read), and they decided to look me up.
  3. Or they already follow me.

This is not the same as finding it via a search engine. You may have a blog site via blogger or bloodspot, or some other blogsite, but in those examples, you are out of the wordpress loop. You may just be web searching for something, and found my site, but you are still not in the wordpress loop. Within the wordpress loop, the posts proved relatively popular, given that it was June / July and audiences are down a bit anyway. They drew in a reasonable amount of comments and likes. People are interested, because they too are bloggers and wondered, did the experiment therefore have any effect. Or they wished to make comment on my ideas about what makes a popular post, which looking back, were also largely for readers within the wordpress loop.

So on the one hand the posts did ok, and even gained me a few new followers. The search engine side however… I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I shouldn’t be because it is a result in itself, but there was nothing. That’s right, it added nothing of any significance at all. No bump in viewing stats even on the posting days. In the last 30 days, my top five most popular search engine terms were:

  1. Word association list – I have no idea why that suddenly became the most popular one recently, but it did, linking to some old writing exercise post.
  2. my big fat gypsy wedding – from my old tv vegetable posts, one presumes.
  3. the wire drama – From an alternative take post.
  4. reasons for writing – Nothing springs to mind here ?
  5. rolling stone 500 greatest albums – this one has been consistent on the search stats since I posted on it.

In fact I got more searches via the phrase “VW classic beetle” matching to a “100 word fiction” post from a few weeks ago. I did wonder why this might be, why it seemed to have next to no impact at all. Then someone pointed out to me that the posts having so many links and terms of different types, might register like spam pages, and not rank high in searches. Is that true? I do not know. It sounds feasible. I know Google does a lot of categorisation based on the amount of links which link from somewhere else to your page. But they also have some spam detection which works hand in hand with the page ranking. In that sense I could have created some spam posts.

One other related point, I seem to have a decent number of referrals from “StumbleUpon“. I had no idea what this is until I noticed it in the stats and checked. That one needs more investigation

So to conclude for now, the posts proved relatively interesting to regular readers and one or two new ones, especially within the wordpress loop. Some of my ideas struck similar experiences to other bloggers. The experiment in putting together several different categories of “nonsense”, had no impact on viewers via search engines. This might have been because the pages were categorised as spam. This sounds feasible because none of the nonsense has pulled in even the odd search term viewer after a “something” I used. As a comparison just the words “Fiona Apple” from a list of music I need to catch up with pulled in some views via search engine. I definitely was not the only site with those words on it given she just had a new album out via a major label.

If I was to self publish a novel and needed the blog to partially promote it, some more lessons in website optimisation are required. Assuming I could be bothered to do it, which I probably would. Hmm… maybe the experiment shall continue.

Lexicon word of the day: nubbin.

Ok Like button, lets see what you got

This is the view from a post last week:

Yes if you liked that particular post, you get to have your mugshot on this one. The like button huh, it might be a bloggers best friend.

It might not as well. One afternoon I was sitting around moaning and groaning. “What are you moaning about?” said my wife. “I don’t think my like button is working” I replied. “Well that post was a dull one”, she said. She was right. It was. Apart from that conversation only happened in my head just now. But I have done, <ahem> the occasional dull post, and some are just liked better than others. What does it really tell you? When is it appropriate? Ok I’m going to pretend your a newbie, and waffle on about it anyway. This is my guide to the Like button, expect the cynic in me to rear it’s head soon.

When to use it:

  • At it’s most simple it is when you like a post. You click it, blogger poster thinks, someone likes the ramblings from my brain.
  • If you read a whole bunch of blogs, you might not be able to comment all the time. This is not being rude, it is simply acknowledging something positive. I try to keep up with a whole bunch of different blogs and I have more time on some days on others. When I have more time I try to add more comments. If I don’t will often press like.
  • Or you might not have a comment. A like gives something back.
  • You just want to be nice.

When not to use it:

  • When you are just trying to boost your own stats and hoping for a like in return. I’ve seen a few of these faces around on other blogs, ones who rarely if at all comment. I sometimes wonder if they have even read the post at all.
  • When you do have time to comment. Comments are nicer in my opinion. Although I suppose you could do both. Um, now I’n wondering if praising a blog goes in the order of 1) Like, 2) Comment, 3) Like and Comment. Or am I reading too much into it? Hmm? I won’t complain if you comment and like me. Well truth be told I won’t complain about either. Am I a like whore? Maybe I am. Don’t be offended if I only press like on one of your posts, I don’t use this ranking system that I just invented. Erm moving swiftly on…
  • When the context of the subject matter is not appropriate. 1) I’ve seen a recent post where someone was asking for some advice as her toddler was ill. Someone had clicked like. What were they liking, the fact that the toddler was ill? Were they liking the fact that the mother had asked for any advice? It might be me, but I tend to think in certain circumstances, either contribute or don’t. 2) I’ve read a couple of posts over the past month or two where a relative had passed away and the blogger was explaining their feelings. Click Like. What were you liking, the fact that a relative had died and the blogger was upset? That it was a touching tribute? The latter might be more appropriate, but I would usher in the context. Some supportive or positive comments, might be more appropriate, or nothing.  This point is turning into a rant. Perhaps it is just me.
  • When the content is inappropriate. I recently noticed this in a well known chain supermarket:

It’s at an everyday low price too. Yay! I think I have at least one regular reader who will appreciate that picture. But if the picture was the post would it be one to Like ? Ok well it sort of would, because it is amusing, but clicking like might suggest you liked the kit and price, as opposed to the humour of it. Or to put it another way, you might hesitate to click like.

Um, that’s it. Have I missed something? See I like the Like button. Feel free to like or comment on me as much as possible. Some of these rules also apply to the like in Facebook.

I must confess I’ve never used the rate article stars thing that some blogs have. Not sure of the point of that. Too much to worry about. What only two stars?!? Not tried a poll yet either, but I suspect they would be more use for blogs with heaps and heaps or readers. Maybe. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing posts about those. Yet.

Lexicon word of the day: Well-knit.

Spammer jobs and daft spam

I’m sure pretty much anyone reading this who has their own blog, gets some spam comments. Slightly annoying but mostly daft. These things are either posted by people, or posted by bots running software designed to fill in your comment box. Yet it is something that someone has to fill out somewhere. Someone has to write it.

I imagine someone going for a job interview.

“We need someone who can write informative, engaging comments that promote our excellent product, on people’s blog comment boxes”

“Sure” (nodding head)

“These will be so good that the blog writer will be stopped in their tracks and want to buy our insurance. Or Viagra. That sound like you?”

“I think so. I can write engaging”

“You have any previous experience?”

“I used to send out emails advertising 20% off Cialis”

“Hey… you sound like exactly like what we are looking for, when can you start?”.

Well it might pay a few shirt buttons. I don’t know about you but I’ve had one or two jobs that weren’t all I thought they might be. So I’d guess three days after starting, the thrill of a new job has worn off. New comment box writer is beginning to regret some of the choices made. It’s only three days right, but is this really all my life amounts to? It’s only 10.00 am, I cannot take a another full day of this! Oh screw it, I’m just sending out whatever. I’m sure no-one reads this stuff. Who is this idiot Brainsplats? What does Brainsplats mean anyway? Take this Brainsplats (it results in spam like this, all taken from one day):

On my fun and slightly irrelevant post on “The 10 best drama shows of the last decade” –

“We’re a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with helpful information to work on. You have performed an impressive activity and our whole group shall be grateful to you.”

Uh really? I can only assume that this is a new scheme to spread the word on the best drama shows to watch. They don’t want their community watching any old rubbish. They are grateful to me. They are like my church audience of tv watching opinion. Or they didn’t actually read the post.

On “Is the art of the computer game underrated – Part 3” (Parts 1 & 2 probably weren’t interesting) from our good friend, Injectable Steroids – :

“I together with my friends have already been reading through the good ideas found on the blog and so immediately developed a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to you for those strategies. My boys had been warmed to study all of them and have in effect extremely been making the most of those things. Appreciate your simply being really helpful and then for deciding on this kind of nice information millions of individuals are really wanting to be aware of. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.”

Yowsers, “his boys” have warmed to study the points made. I think I shall forgo trying to imagine what that might mean. However Injectable steroids kindly points out that millions of individuals are wanting to be made aware of it. I knew I was onto something with that essay. Take that blog community. – In fact so much that it also prompted this comment too, this time from hgc drops:

“Thanks for the strategies you have provided here. Moreover, I believe usually there are some factors which keep your car insurance premium down. One is, to bear in mind buying cars that are from the good listing of car insurance corporations. Cars which are expensive are usually more at risk of being robbed. Aside from that insurance is also based on the value of the car, so the higher priced it is, then the higher the particular premium you spend.”

Um ok, so this one just loves car insurance. It cannot help it if it makes no mention at all, to what I was waffling on about and just wants to talk car insurance. Anyone might think it hasn’t read my post at all and just sent this generic rhubarb to probably thousands of sites. Oh.

I’m beginning to suspect that spam bot corp is having trouble recruiting quality writers and marketers. Oh well if this blog doesn’t work out, maybe I can apply.

I can only end on this rather clever spam post:

“When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Cheers!”

Except this person has never commented before. That is why they are stuck in my spam filter. Clever, but not clever enough.

Lexicon word of the day: ingress.

Why I’m not looking forward to CDs disappearing

I’m taking a break from the Haiku (three part) introduction today. Today I’m interested in something else. It’s nothing new, and something that was in the prior issue of Rolling Stone in an article by Steve Knopper, “Is the CD era finally over? I would link but the article is not on the rolling stone website for full viewing access. In brief, CD sales continue to fall, as a result of less people buying this format, less shops are stocking them, and obviously, there is increased sales in digital download formats. The CD is predicted to be pretty much dead within the next three years. Am I a tech boff, so it’s something I’m looking forward to? I am not and here is why.

When CDs first appeared in the early eighties they were clearly the next technological leap in music distribution. Supposably indestructible (well the early thick ones were tough), but offering quicker access, such as the ability to skip tracks, and jump end to end. There were positive and negative points depending on your perspective. Positives were the access,and the quality, no more crackle and static clicks. The size, they would take up less storage space. Negatives, were they were smaller so the packaging was more formal and less art work. This was compared to vinyl obviously, arguably this was also a problem with the cassette. On the audio front, some of the CD versions were often a bit bright or shrill, too much top end. There was debate on which, vinyl or cd, offered the better sound. It was argued that vinyl was warmer. As it panned out, this might have been the case in early cd pressings, but as record companies cottoned on to how to do better digital masters, and the quality of CD players for the home improved on a cost to technology basis, CDs became the better quality format.

Within a few years, probably around 5, which seems a long time these days, CDs were becoming the format of choice. Much vinyl was being sold off, many people not only buying new albums on cd, but replacing their old collection as well. Myself, I was getting into music around 1992, so before long I had a CD player. The CD was my format of choice, by this time the digital mastering was mostly good. Some issues of old albums like the Beatles albums were not very well done and were a little flat, but generally it was the better format. I would say compare with the current Beatles CD issues, but there is more going on in those editions than a new digital mastering, and they do sound very good.

These days I have music on a variety of formatsa few thousand CD albums, some vinyl (but not a lot), some boxed up cassettes, and about 35 days of music on my iPod (which is not all my collection by a long shot). I’m a bit of a muso, I like my music, music journalism (like Mojo Magazine), and stereo (I have CD, and amplifier separates). And after a long way round we begin to get to my point.

I love technology even if I’m not that much of a tech nerd. I love my Macbook Pro, I love using it for writing projects (WordPress, Scrivener), but also to use Aperture, iMovie, or to house my digital music collection. When it comes to music, playing music through the headphones is pretty good fun. Streaming music using Airplay to the Apple TV is cool. But given the choice I would rather listen to music through my CD player and it is for one simple reason. The quality is better. It is ok through my TV, but a little bit, well “set up for TV” like. I like it through my headphones, the headphones I use “Grado Labs SR60” are decent and give good playback. But the quality through the CD player is just better. If I play my iPod connected to some speakers, or through the amplifier, the CD player is just better. It is, the sound just has more depth, or more meat on the bone. It just sounds more detailed. It does, and although the iPod / digital sound is quite good, it is just not quite good enough.

Losing CDs will have some benefits, such as saving physical space, and not having all that plastic produced, I’m not against that. So whilst losing CD in the long run is not necessarily a bad thing, right now it is. The reason is digital formats, like MP3 or AAC, or similar, are good but not good enough. There is too much compression, it loses some of the finer details. It might not be noticeable to some people but compare it to a CD version on a half decent player and you can tell the difference. This could be helped by simply having better digital files. This is something that could be done, the files on a CD are digital files, they are just larger in file size (i.e. with more detail) than the formats mentioned above. I could do this now. However, the other side of the coin with doing this, is that file sizes are larger. People would therefore need more storage space on computers, or iPods. You would also want online stores like Amazon or iTunes to support it. You might be able to see where I’m going with this. Sooner or later, someone will see this as the next way of selling music, and the same music to us yet again. There will be improved file quality, Apple and co will therefore introduce “new” larger capacity technology to handle it. Everything will be ok. Well it will if this happens before CD dies. I have no wish to buy digital format only only to find out that some bright spark introduces a better quality version a few years later. Unless they are planning to replace the old one for free of course.

Truth be told I will also miss the physical thing, the CD and the booklet. It is not at the level, due to the size, of what you used to get with vinyl, but still it added something in a lot of cases. It is not the same viewing it as PDF files on the screen. Still that will be a slight annoyance, but my main issue is with the quality. This might be making me sound old, after all old muso types complained about vinyl being on the way out, but I’ve no gripes with the idea itself, the convenience sure is useful. I just hope the CD will be around long enough for digital formats (with appropriate storage technologies) to catch up in sound quality. As it stands now, that is why I’m not looking forward to the death of the CD.

Lexicon word of the day: timorous.

What I learnt this weekend.

So just some musings for todays exercise, so in other news, what I learnt this weekend:

  • On WordPresss: Some Posts are more popular than others.
  • From the Whitney Houston funeral: R-Kelly is not familiar with the phrase “Over egging the pudding“.
  • The Simpsons has been running for 23 years. I haven’t watched it in three or four.
  • My son currently looks a bit like Karl Pilkington did as a child.
  • I’m a bit crap at UFC Undisputed 3 on the PS3.
  • I can sometimes get more work done with music playing than without it.

Ok I didn’t learn that last one this weekend, I’ve known that for a long while. And the first one also. This weekend was good for writing a couple of posts that were a bit longer than the 15 minutes. I also got some work done on another project. Not a lot but it got a bit further, it got a bit more organised. I got to browse on wordpress some more. I noticed a bunch of writers who have their own books, a bunch of guys doing some daily poetry, and some guys who like (and do their own) sci-fi / fantasy writing. There is loads of stuff on here isn’t there? Where to start really. You can find blogs on almost anything. Some are really good, some are just interesting, some are awful. All individual taste though, and that is a fantastic thing, it means there is a place for everyone. So there is a bit of one man’s trash is another man’s gold, and so on. The problem for me is finding time to read them.

There is too much stuff in my life and not enough time for it. Aside from regular life stuff, here is what I have for my spare time (in no particular order):

  • Gym / exercise time.
  • Plenty of books to read.
  • Plenty of music to listen to.
  • Some PS3 to play (I tend to prefer sports games).
  • Blog time.
  • Writing Projects time.

Keep in mind here that I have a wife and 14 month old son. So I suppose the obvious thing would be “you gotta prioritise dude”, which I kind of do. The blog is now a daily thing so tends to be first. The Gym, well that needs to happen ideally at least three times a week. Books have got to be read because they fit in with the writing. Music can fit around daily life, Then everything else, well I try to give a bit of time to each each week. Some days might be more reading, a sunday afternoon might take in some PS3. Too much things and not enough time to do them. It is certainly not a bad problem to have is it? So another thing I learnt this weekend is that although I could quibble about some aspects of my life, in the grand scheme of things, it is good, and I have little real things right now to complain about. And that is a good thing.

I may try some short story stuff on here soon. Perhaps a post in the next day or so will be generating lists to improvise from.

N.b. UPDATE: I have been told off by my wife for not including her in the above (she was added just now). Well yes, there was not a lot I can say about that other than sorry, and she was indeed correct!

Lexicon word of the day: Virago