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December 2011

Losing 30,000 Visitors Annually

A Truly Downward Trend

YEAR-END STATS from three sources confirm something I've know for several years--I'm shedding around 30,000 annual visitors to my blog.

At the current rate of decline, I wonder how strong the long tail of my blog actually is. I know that if I don't post anything for one week, I'll attract an average of 88 visitors per day. If I let the blog idle for more than a month, I doubt more than 20 visitors would stop by every day. I wonder what might boost the annual visitor count back to the 100,000 mark. I've put this blog post up on Google Plus where I expect to read the opinion of some clever commentators.

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Reconfiguring While Nobody Visits

E7 BK SolutionI USED MY NOKIA E7 to chat with Blacknight Solutions several times while trying to reconfigure DNS accounts for my blog. I talked to the techs while simultaneously making server-side edits using the same phone (at left).

I want to finish 2011 with a minor reconfiguration of my blog, something I try to do when nobody is around. But Christmas 2011 is serving up a trickle of people with tech questions about things they found under the tree. My blog posts are helping people set up an iTunes account as though they are in the States, recover memory to Sony Xperia Arc handsets, and dive into new Kindles.

I could use some technical help too because the legacy control panel I have with Blacknight Solutions won't let me configure CNAME records in the syntax required to keep my blog together. And because of that snag, if you try to click below the fold on one of my older posts, you'll probably see a dead page.

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Shifting to Hybrid App Development with HTML 5

Introducing HTML 5I AM A BIG BELIEVER in the direction the mobile web will take and I think it's down the pathway of hybrid apps with HTML5. That's where we're steering our BSc in Creative Multimedia at LIT-Clonmel.

Standards for HTML5 continue to evolve and their implementation is a little clunky at the moment. The operative term is "laggy" and maybe "broken" and that is what will strengthen native apps in the short term. However, the web is going mobile, not app-centric. We're trying to give small publishers a lifeline to the mobile web. They cannot afford separate app development for each of the major platforms. They can only afford to manage one flow of content and it makes sense to engineer that content flow around HTML5 as its base with a native wrapper around the content. By 2013, even the dumbest phones on the Irish market will come with HTML5 compatible handsets. Those customers want a mobile web experience. Many of them will use fiscally-constrained pay as you go contracts. They have neither the money nor the inclination to install apps but they want the mobile web delivered to them. And it will be there, wrapped in HTML 5.

Currently reading Introducing HTML 5(2nd edition) ISBN 978-0321784421


Tips for 3rd Generation Kindle Newbies

Big on BooksI HAVE USED A KINDLE KEYBOARD to pick up some tips that millions of new Kindle users might find helpful.

Alt+B sets a bookmark. This is a life saver for me because others in my family circle like reading books in my Kindle library. This means I can no longer use the Kindle's menu to go directly to my last-read page. Bookmarks help me keep my sanity. I can view all bookmarks by accessing the Kindle's menu.

Shift+SYM starts text-to-speech. If you press the spacebar, you can pause or resume text-to-speech. I use text-to-speech when driving.

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15 Apps I Use the Most

Hours Tracker Works a CharmIF YOU CAN'T ADD MONEY to your pockets by leveraging the tech you carry in your pocket, perhaps you should review your personal mobile technology on an annual basis.

There's no guarantee that the tech I love will be the tech that keeps our household ticking over, but I hold the following 15 apps in high regard since they are the ones I use at least three times a week.

1. Pocket Casts on iOS.

I use Pocket Casts every day. I paid for both the iOS and Android versions because it is the most intelligent over-the-air audio updating service I have ever used. It's especially helpful being able to annotate and share directly podcast episode segments directly from the app. The developers behind Pocket Casts have suggested they are working on a way to sync listening positions of segments between different operating systems. That would be magical because I could pick up on a podcast segment on my Android phone where I left off on my iPod Touch.

I'm comparing Pocket Casts to Dogg Catcher (a podcatcher I use on Android) and to Google Listen. The Pocket Casts crew are a generation or two ahead of anything else in the listening universe.

Tip: I often put the listening I enjoy the most onto my Huffduffer feed so if you like to share audio, Huffduffer is a good place to listen to work vetted by the community.

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Sharing and Sharing Alike

Niall O'Brien SnappedI PAY FOR A LOT OF MUSIC. During the Christmas period, I bought more music in a 10-day period than I had purchased in the previous 10 months.

My bank knows how much I feed iTunes so they blocked payments to Apple until I called to confirm that everything was fine. I spent EUR 14 today so I could compile a 49-minute listing of the tracks deemed by Thomann to be the "Ten Best Guitar Riffs Of All Time". I'm Huffduffing the track below so appreciate afficionados like Niall O'Brien (pictured) can discover it via social audio networks. Like all the music I share, I expect appreciative earbuds will go out and get the higher fidelity versions. That's what music sharing is all about and I'm glad we've developed the plumbing to make it a great success.

Top 10 Guitar Riffs [67 MB MP3 file]

Previously: Watching Revenue Leakage on my blog, December 15, 2004.


Remembering Scobleizer's First Tsunami

Along Kalutra Beach as the Indian Ocean pulls back

I EXPERIENCED MY FIRST Scobleizer tsunami while watching an actual event in parallel ravage Sri Lanka seven years ago. And if Jeremiah Owyang is right, millions of us won't share the vantage point of articulate bloggers anymore.

Owyang believes the world is witnessing the Golden Age of Tech Blogging. He may be right on one level because the plumbing of blogging has changed. We no longer need to depend on RSS feed aggregators to hear about big natural events or seismic changes in world politics. The information percolates across social networks that did not exist when I watched the Indian Ocean tsunami on a plasma screen in Berlin while simulataneously reading about it on Scoble's blog on my Nokia 9210. And I didn't read Jeremiah's thoughts on a blog. They came as a Google Plus post to my Sony Xperia Arc while I was in an Irish chip shop. Nothing goes better than a little salt, vinegar and owyang with fresh fried Irish potatoes. I learn things from Jeremiah Owyang and agree with the third point he makes about the Golden Age of Tech blogging.

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One for the Time Capsule

Mia Angelina BallerinaIT'S OUR FOUR-YEAR-OLD'S first-ever use of a cameraphone and she decided to use the opportunity to document some of the Christmas gifts she collected during this holiday season (video below the break).

Mia used her mom's iPod Touch during her short walk-about. I loaned her my Nokia E7 later and her efforts with that handset showed a steady improvement in composition. I can sense there will be long duty lives for the SIM-free cameraphones in our home. I think it's important to let young children experiment with cameras and recording equipment because they have ways of documenting their world through sights and sounds parents often fail to see or hear.

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It's Not Worth Getting Sucked into an Apps World

100 AppsI REACHED A POINT of diminishing returns before I paid for 50 mobile phone apps and I know it is not worth the time and trouble to continue browsing in the apps world.

Just like webrings of the last century, it is easy to get sucked into the time-wasting cesspool of app browsing. You can fool yourself while browsing from one app to another, thinking you're onto the next big thing. But then you realise you hardly ever check out the actual application in your daily life. But to many people like you, there's irrational exuberance when scrolling through thousands of games, productivity tools (sic), educational programs, and art programs. Before you know it, you've spent more money for apps or for app content subscriptions than for an evening out in the cinema. This will happen to you if you've a screenshot like mine at left--more than 100 apps at any one time. But the problem you induce is more than a drain on your credit card. If you've started a sequence of downloading, updating and upgrading audio educational apps, you will discover you cannot simply let automatic updates run their course. You will run out of memory on one of your devices and you'll have to start manually (and ruthlessly) pruning your apps back. This is not fun and it is one of the biggest wastes of productivity in the user-friendly apps climate that we have created. The apps themselves have created a personal productivity problem.

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Rise of the DIY Culture

Ruth Made CurtainsWE GOT NEW CURTAINS for Christmas, thanks to Ruth and the rise of hand-wrought DIY Culture in our house. This is an emergent trend.

We couldn't afford to replace a large bay window or to insulate the most-inefficient protruding feature of our home, so we settled on making curtains for the window. I contributed a measly four euro to the job, mother-in-law Rose loaned her vintage sewing machine (at left), and Ruth did the hanging. The curtains serve as a testimony to the DIY ethic of self-sufficiency that keeps my mother ticking over well into her 80s. Mom remembers plodding through 10 depression era Christmas seasons, one of them involving moving the cows and the remnants of farmhouse living across State lines to avoid sheriffs, landmen and bankers.

There is something enabling about trying to do something ordinary that you thought impossible (without electrocuting yourself, trashing an engine, or converting a toilet into a geyser). After earning Home Repairs merit badge, my DIY sense deteriorated but now that YouTube is just a tap away, I'm newly empowered with the confident feeling that an ordinary person can learn to do more. In my personal life, the first step (carving out time to learn) has been the most difficult. However, with my purchasing power declining month on month, I've earned more time for self-learning and to actually doing things that improve our living space, our creative houses and our community efforts.

The DIY ethic is very empowering on a civic level too where it encourages alternative approaches in the face of government cutbacks. Currently in Ireland, this is an important consideration, one we thought about when hanging our hand-sewn curtains.