Posts from ‘General & News’

Dec
26

Well the last few days have been interesting for me, here is a brief overview of what went on.

the old rubish design

The Old Design

Bodged together

A lot of my blog posts are cobbled together in around 10-20min with a bit of effort put in but nothing really too taxing, in one of my latest posts I decide to write a brief list on “30 cool ideas for your Raspberry PI project”. As you can see in the screenshot it was a fairly boring bullet point list of 30 things with links to external sites where you can read up in more detail on a project of choice.

Well after a few days the traffic started coming in from Google and I was quite content with my new blog post, while trawling through Google Analytics I noticed a bounce rate of around 90% for that page, well that sucks! First page on Google for “Raspberry Pi Ideas” but no one wants to actually read the content.

The website had also been submitted to a few social sites with similar disappointing interest, however to be honest I completely understand why! only one other up-vote on the screenshot below:

Old Hacker News

Revamp time!

So the plan was to revamp the page and see how that affected the bounce rate, basically I got some pictures for each of the 30 things and put them in a clean and simple HTML table, it did look considerably better for only a few minuets more work, how about another screen shot for comparison? Ok there you are at the right.

the updated design

The new design, with pictures!

As I finished updating the layout I decided to resubmit the page to one social news site (hackernews), then monitored the traffic using Google Analytics real time to get a better idea of what people are doing.

Two active visitors, Ten, Thirty, cool people are actually looking at the content now and not bouncing straight away to another site!…. Eighty visitors now, Two Hundred active visitors…. What’s going on here??

Well it turns out people did like the new design/layout even though the underlying content was exactly the same, and I was now on the front page of hacker news, peaking around number 3 and averaging around number 6 most of the time.

New hacker news

real-time-madness

Everything Broke when the internet arrived

Over the next few hours I was battling trying to keep the server online, I might go into this a bit further in another post once I get some more metrics. However the basics are that CloudFlare (CDN function) didn’t really help because it was PHP based CPU load that was killing me, not throughput. W3cache using a Memcache backend really saved the day, NewRelic is awesome for monitoring my configuration change effects in real time, and finally CDN77 has 100GB of free bandwidth which is also nice when you need some help ?

Even More traffic now…

Just as the site was back on it’s feet people started flooding in from Twitter, Reddit (Raspberry_Pi) and also Google +1, people actually use Google +1 well that was news to me! Actually it’s just edged out reddit for the second spot in Social traffic sources.

Another thing I have noticed, while the hackerne.ws traffic is fairly dependant on been on the front page it appears Reddit and Google are much more stable (so far), I expect this is because they have less churn of stories in their respective sections.

reddit post

The site has now been fairly stable since the recent changes, and there is still a steady flow of traffic from some of the sources.

48 hour visits

48 hour social breakdown

(Stats for last 36 hours only)

Conclusion
  • Put more effort into design, people like nice pictures and layouts
  • CloudFlare + Nginx isn’t a solution on a slow server, get caching on there (memory not disk)
  • CDN’s don’t really help with CPU usage too much
  • As always, keep your solution simple (Memcache > Varnish)
  • Will do a more technical post soon!
  • Front page of Reddit for a few min
  • Front page of hackernews for 24 hours+

If you got this far, please don’t forget to comment or even vote on HN or Reddit, Thank you 🙂

Jan
01

I failed in attempt at writing a interesting first paragraph, so here it is. It’s new years day at the moment and here is my 2011 year in review, aka what I learnt in 2011, mostly inrelation to blogging and websites.

Write what you know and do.

My job is a technical one, I fundamentally work in telecommunication/ISP networks however I also do a lot of work with servers (at least that was true in my last role), we all get to that stage troubleshooting where you give something a quick ‘Google’ because your either out of ideas or just want to confirm a theory, before you possibly beak it even further. So my aim was simple, over 2 months I would make note of my searches, document the solutions to problems and post that in a blog form. I am no SEO expert but the plan was people must be having the same problems.

In sort it worked; my most visited page was one of the first that I did in this idea, this blog now gets on most days over 100 people, and it’s had a few peaks over 500 which I don’t think is too bad. Another advantage is you can also look back when your faced with the same problems again, as I am sure you will be 🙂

Create rules and follow them

Another problem I hit was actually finishing a post, I either got bored or just didn’t think the quality was good enough, the post then got deleted or left in the wordpress drafts section, so there were two simple rules:

Use wordpress – Ok so a bit of background, I would write a post in something like microsoft word and then copy/paste over to WordPress when it was finished, I am not really sure why I did this, but it was certainly a bad habit. I would just close word, lose all the content and be no further in progressing my blog. By writing everything in WordPress it’s always in the draft section, staring at you to do something about it.

No Drafts– So the second rule, your never allowed to create a new post if there is a draft in the queue, ‘first come first serve’. Finish the post and get the content out there for people to see, you will probably get some search traffic from it! Plus it gives you some motivation to write about more stuff when the drafts bin is clear.

Projects cover costs.

If you enjoy building stuff then start a project and build something useful (route.im and whatportis.com are an example of mine), once you have created it post the new service/idea on a few social sites like hacker news, just make sure you put all your effort into creating it!

Throughout 2011 my server bills have all been paid for by the first 3 days of 4 projects that I launched, cool isn’t it? Your left with something useful that can continue to grow, with no costs or worries about costs for the remaining year!

Finally even if your not ready to ‘show off’ the service to a forum/social website, build it and keep it sitting there to improve on later, chances are some people will find it (using search engines etc..) and start to use the service. You can improve it when your ready and you will already have some decent ‘testing’ done.

Links aren’t bouncy.

I am the first to acknowledge this blog structure isn’t great, however i blame that on not having enough content in all the areas yet, something that I will hopefully progress and address in 2012. But I admit you can certainly help out your visitors, in the blog post text add some links to relevant other posts that you have done, chances are they will be interested in the content and probably click through, therefore browsing instead of bouncing.

Mar
15

Twitter SSL

Looks like twitter have just rolled out a new feature where you can have it force an SSL connection.
Good news for people wanting to protect them sell from twitter fire-sheep hacking, will be interesting to see if Facebook follow with the same feature.

Feb
21

Due to having a few too many project ideas and domains, I have decided to sell/dissolve 3 of the domains. Therefore the following domains are no longer part of the PingBin projects “uptime.im, backup.im and colo.im”

However at the same time I have registered another domain, hostperf.com which I will be looking to start work on shortly.

Jan
21

Apple do something and everyone goes mad, just another day at the office…

As a company Apple are a control freak when it comes to their products, and well its understandable, because everything considered is probably why they are so successful. In comparison to their competitors when you by something from them you already know its going to work. The explanation for lack of multitasking on the iPhone was down to “user experience”, enabling such features could compromise the user experience, and as a result this was remove. It’s a common play book throughout there products, where users are shielded from software and features its assumed they don’t need.

Although Apple have never supported people at home doing their own hardware changes to the Apple products, such as screen a battery replacements. They have never really enforced a mechinism to try prevent people from doing this, well it looks like this is all about to change. Continue reading “Apples new Pentalobe” »

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