“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” is a maxim for many fields. Engineers, businesspeople and athletes may all have their own way of phrasing it, but however it’s put, they repeat it to each other all the time.
The act of measurement becomes murkier when applied to creative endeavours such as blogging. The qualitative stuff – How many people read the blog? Which articles were the big ones? Is the readership trend going up or down? – is pretty easy. A little StatCounter code embedded in the pages of The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century and Global Nerdy does the tedious stuff; I just look at the data and interpret it. As for the qualitative stuff, I’ll leave that as an exercise for the individual reader.
Accordion Guy’s Stats for 2009
Once again, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century passed the “2 million pageviews” mark. As of this writing, here’s how the numbers break down:
- 2,198,906 pageviews – that is, the number of web pages from the Accordion Guy blog that were downloaded. Every time you www.joeydevilla.com, one of the individual article pages or hit the “refresh” button on your browser while reading my blog, it registers as a pageview.
- 105,599 returning visitors – when you visit Accordion Guy, the StatCounter code embedded on every page attempts to leave a “cookie” – a tiny scrap of data stored by your browser – for anonymized tracking. If the StatCounter code sees that your browser has already stored an Accordion Guy cookie, it means you’ve visited the site before. The cookie data includes the date and time of your last visit, and if it’s been more than an hour since you last visited the Accordion Guy blog, you’re counted as a “returning visitor”.
- 1,672,393 first-time visitors – the opposite of a returning visitor is a “first-time visitor”. If the embedded StatCounter code can’t see an Accordion Guy cookie stored by your browser, you’re counted as one of these.
- 1,777,992 unique visitors – this is a calculated value: “unique visitors” is simply the sum of returning and first-time visitors.
Here’s an incredibly compressed chart showing the day-to-day activity on the Accordion Guy blog:
The spikes in the graph represent the most popular articles. The rightmost spike, which also happens to be the tallest, represents the How Fanboys See Operating Systems article from December 16th. That one got featured on Reddit and re-tweeted like crazy.
Here’s how the numbers look for each quarter:
The trend is up-slightly down-up-slightly down, but still rising overall.
Global Nerdy’s Stats for 2009
Accordion Guy is my “hobby” blog. It’s the forum in which I express myself, tell stories and jokes, share pictures I’ve taken and point to interesting things I’ve found on the ‘net. I write it “just for kicks”, and the moment I stop enjoying writing it, I’ll stop.
Global Nerdy is a different beast. It is my second personal blog devoted to programming, internet technology and the nerd lifestyle, my first being The Happiest Geek on Earth (which Cory Doctorow called me in this Boing Boing article, which points to The Accidental Go-Go Dancer, in which I chronicled my brief stint as an accordion-playing go-go dancer at a downtown Toronto nightclub). Global Nerdy is both: T
- An exercise to make me a better programmer and tech advocate through writing about the field, and doing the necessary legwork and research to support that writing, as well as
- Self-promotion. Yes, it’s also a mercenary playing-to-win, look-at-me, hire-me, separate-myself-from-the-crowd, I-am-ten-Scobles blog.
I can say with certainty that Global Nerdy has helped me land my last three jobs, which includes my current one as a Developer Evangelist with Microsoft Canada – a job I landed in the middle of the econopocalypse of 2008 after getting laid off. In spite of all the job market doom and gloom, I was unemployed a mere three weeks.
This year, Global Nerdy crossed the “1 million pageviews” mark for the first time. Here’s how the numbers break down (for an explanation of the terms, see the Accordion Guy review above):
- 1,608,638 pageviews
- 60,340 returning visitors
- 1,263,873 first-time visitors
- 1,324,213 unique visitors
Here’s the chart showing the day-to-day activity on Global Nerdy:
The spikiest period is in late January, which represents the buzz around the Winning the Gnu article, in which I won Richard Stallman’s auction for a plush version of the Free Software Foundation’s mascot, the gnu.
Here’s how the quarterly numbers break down:
Eek – a downward trend!
If viewed in isolation, this would be a worrying development. However, there’s another blog that’s been getting the readers that would normally go to Global Nerdy, and I’ve included a screenshot of that blog below:
Canadian Developer Connection is Microsoft Canada’s developer blog, and it literally pays the rent. As a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, I’m paid to write it, and my performance – and yes, my bonus — is judged on the number of articles I write for it and the impact those articles have.
Furthermore, I’m trying to be Microsoft Canada’s most prolific, most-read and most influential blogger. After that, I’m aiming for Microsoft worldwide. I think my closest competition is my friend, and coworker (and guy who recommended me for the job), David Crow. Here’s how we stack up, blog-wise, according to Alexa:
In your face, Drinky Crow!
(I’ll admit, he’s got an edge on me in Twitter followers – I have 4,498, he has 4,719 – and we each have our own spheres of influence. And hey, he’s the man behind DemoCamp – I just help out.)
As a result, I’ve been doing two things:
- I’ve been writing Global Nerdy articles and cross-posting them to Canadian Developer Connection.
- I use Twitter to promote those articles, but I link to the Canadian Developer Connection one first, and the Global Nerdy one second.
I still think of Global Nerdy as my primary tech blog; I’m just nice (and pragmatic) enough to share my material with Microsoft. Should the day come when Microsoft and I part ways – I can’t see such a day on the horizon, but the era of the lifelong “company man” has passed – I’ll still have it. There’s also the fact that sometimes, there’s stuff I’ll post here that I won’t post in Canadian Developer Connection, such as when I’m speaking for myself and not on behalf of Microsoft Corporation.
The Blogs Over the Years
Accordion Guy is a long-running blog – not the longest-running by a long shot, but pretty long-lived, having had its start in November 2001. I’ve been measuring it with StatCounter since 2005, and here’s how it’s been doing since then:
There was a slight dip from the 2008 to 2009 numbers, and the cure is simple: write more, write better.
Global Nerdy is a newer blog – my friend George Scriban and I started it as a career-booster in mid-2006. George no longer writes for Global Nerdy, what with his being very busy with stuff at Microsoft’s main HQ in Redmond, and my job is a little more in-your-face than his. Global Nerdy’s maintained an upward trend, with an big shot in the arm from my joining Microsoft in late 2008:
Again, the mantra for Global Nerdy in 2010 is simple: write more, write better!
To of you who read either of my blogs – thanks for the great year, and expect great things in the new decade!
Whenever I’m asked “What’s your best Christmas story?” I always tell this one. I posted it on this blog back in December 2002 under the title The Best Christmas Present Ever. For reasons that you will discover soon enough, it’s not likely to be adapted into a made-for-TV Christmas special any time soon – at least not on the major networks. Enjoy!
Recognized (December 2002)
I was in a store on Queen Street West that specialized in the kind of funky clothing that appealed to club-goers and the snowboard/skateboard set, looking for cheap presents for my cousins. The manager saw me and asked “You don’t still have crabs, do ya?”
It took me a moment to realize what she was talking about.
“No, I don’t,” I replied, “that was my friend.”
I’m going to kill his ass, I thought.
The Frantic Phone Call (December 1998)
Four years prior, I was at the same store, buying a sweater for my cousin. While standing in line waiting for my turn at the cashier, I got a phone call.
“Joey, I need your help!” said the voice on the other end. It was my friend — whom I’ll call “X” — and his voice was panicked.
His voice was so loud that I had to hold the phone a couple of inches away from my ear.
“You got what?” I asked. “Crispy Critters? Is that fried chicken? What the hell are you talking about?”
“CrispyCrittersJoey!” he repeated, still speaking a mile a minute. “IMean…” and then he slowed down to enunciate every word: “I…HAVE…CRABS!”
He said it loudly enough for everyone around to hear, at which point they all took a step away from me. The cashier — who today is the manager — grimaced at me.
“Hey, I don’t have crabs, my friend does,” I said to her.
“Friend, huh?” she said incredulously.
X was still rattling a mile a minute on the phone.
He was phoning me from a pay phone near the Eaton Centre, not far from where I was. I arranged to meet him at the large fountain on the bottom floor, as it was near a Shoppers Drug Mart where we could buy the anti-crablouse goo.
I hung up and noticed that everyone — the people in line as well as the cashier — were giving me funny looks and keeping their distance. The cashier took my credit card the with the tips of her thumb and index finger, holding it as if I’d handed her a very full week-old diaper.
Damned X, I thought to myself. He gets the STD and I get the “unclean” treatment.
Minutes later, I was walking towards the Eaton Centre fountain. X ran towards me, ready to give me a hug when I stuck out my left arm, firmly placing my hand on his chest.
“Can we skip the hug while you’re still a travelling flea circus?”
“I know that there’s some kind of cream for it, but I don’t know what it’s –”
“Slut-o-cillin.” (That’s not the real name of the cream; I just can’t remember what it was).
“You sound awfully familiar with the treatment.”
“Oh, I’ve had them before.”
On the way to the drugstore, we passed by a store that had a sale on pants.
“Hey,” said X “before we go to the drugstore, can I try these on?”
I threw him a look that said Have you completely lost your mind?
I Hope You Know That This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Credit Record
The pharmacist was young and easygoing, but concerned about me. “He might not be the only one who needs slut-o-cillin. If you’ve had sex with him recently…”
“Oh, he’s tried,” I said, “but no, I’m just buying it for him.”
“That’s a little…unusual. I mean, I thought that because you were buying it for him that you were…ummm…together.”
“Oh no,” X said. “Joey’s such a breeder. You know he says he’s never had a cock in his mouth? Not even once?”
“Keep that up and there’ll be no cream for you, fleabag.” I muttered.
The pharmacist rang up the bill; the slut-o-cillin cost thirty dollars. I had a twenty in my wallet. “How would you like to pay, sir?” asked the pharmacist.
“Uh, is there a bank machine nearby?”
“All out of cash. I tried getting some on my break.”
“Let’s try Interac then.” I handed him my bank card and he swiped it in the debit machine. We failed to get a connection to the bank computer. With the Christmas rush, the lines were all tied up.
“Do you have a credit card, sir?” he asked.
“Yes, but I’m…uh…really trying to avoid putting this particular order…aw, hell. Take it.”
I turned to X. “If this credit card purchase ever ends up haunting me, I’m going to fucking kill you.”
Merry Christmas, Fleabag
Before we parted ways and I headed home, X turned to me and spoke.
“I know I’m a pain in the ass a lot of times, but I wanted to say thanks. I don’t know too many people who’d do this for me.”
“You’re welcome. Just try not to get into this kind of trouble all the time, willya?”
I reached into my wallet, pulled out the twenty and gave it to him.
“Use this to wash all your clothes and your sheets too. In hot water. Maybe not in your usual laundromat, ’cause you’re not going to win any popularity contests.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the best Christmas present ever.”
That little bit of gratitude made it all worthwhile. If he weren’t such an ant farm, I’d have given him a hug.
And a Merry Christmas to You Too, Gentle Reader!
Whether you celebrate it with bells on, or don’t celebrate it at all, have a safe, happy and infestation-free holiday.
How’d I miss this video? At TechDays Winnipeg, Dylan Smith of ANVIL Digital (and speaker in the “Fundamentals” track), showed me this it’s-funny-because-it’s-true video that’s been around since May that looks at the vexing expectations that clients have of vendors in IT and the creative industries:
Must…fight…mental image… AIEEEE! Mental image winning! Mental image winning!
And yes, the Danny_DeVito account on Twitter is one of those “Verified Accounts”, which means that it’s a safe bet that it’s Danny DeVito, the actor, director, producer and all-round classy guy, or at least some assistant tweeting on his behalf.
For no reason other than kicks, here’s a video shot earlier this summer – me playing the “Keyboard Cat song” on accordion on a patio at the end of a beery evening in Ottawa:
(If you haven’t heard of Keyboard Cat, here’s an explanation.)
The person who took this “Ontario Giant Runt Club” photo – who goes by the online moniker “Bourbon Baby” (oddly enough, it’s not a pseudonym for bourbon aficionado David Crow) – did a little research and found that “giant runt” refers to a breed of pigeon; this is a pigeon fancier’s club in Toronto.
In case you were curious, this place is located at 615B Brock Avenue, just off Bloor Street West, halfway between Lansdowne and Dufferin. West End pigeon fanciers unite!