Automattic and .blog domains

I was very excited when six years ago Automattic, the company behind WordPress, became a domain registrar.  Registering, renewing, and managing domains is still a painful process today as much as it was six years ago.

So, what have the company decided to do with its new super power? Well, they’ve integrated domain registration with their WordPress.com hosted blogging service.  And now they are promoting the new .blog domains:

Millions of short, easy to remember domains will be available when the .blog domain goes live November 21. Apply now to secure the perfect domain for your blog.

This sounds cool, until you check the prices.

leonid.blog

30 EUR per year is not cheap.  But an additional 220 EUR early application fee on top of it makes it a no deal for me.  I wonder how many bloggers out there will go for this.

I understand that managing a top level domain is not an easy thing to do.  Everything from infrastructure to technical support costs money.  But at those prices, I think I’ll wait until the technology gets cheaper.  Because it inevitably will.

15 Year Blog Anniversary

blogging

Today is the 15th anniversary of this blog.  As most of you know, 15 years in technology is forever.  15 years on the web is even more so.  Here are a few highlights to give you a perspective:

  • First post dates back to October 26th 2001.  It wasn’t my first blog post ever.  It’s just that the earlier history wasn’t migrated into the current archives.
  • Archives page provides access to posts of every month of every year, except April and May of 2009, which were lost during a major outage at a hosting company at the time.
  • The blog survived a multitude of migrations between blogging applications and their versions (static HTML diary, Nucleous CMS, Blog:CMS, WordPress), design changes (a dozen or so WordPress themes), and hosting companies (from a home server to the current Amazon AWS setup).
  • Way over 8,000 posts written.  Hundreds of comments, pingbacks and trackbacks received.  These varied across a large number of topics, anything from personal, work, technology, movies, photography, Cyprus, and more.
  • Millions of page views.  Hundreds of thousands of unique visitors.
  • Millions of blocked SPAM comments.  Millions of (mostly automated) attacks, varying from SQL injections and dictionary password attacks to a some more advanced techniques targeting particular pages or WordPress and its plugins vulnerabilities.
  • A variety of content reorganizations – posts, pages, categories, tags, short codes, templates, plugins, widgets, links, etc.
  • A variety of integrations – web services, social networks, automated postings, aggregations, etc.
  • A variety of monetization options – from “this is not for profit”, to ad spaces, to contextual ads, to sponsored content.

Have a look at some versions saved by the Internet Archive, dating back to 2004.

So, what have I learned about blogging in the last 15 years?  Quiet a bit, it turns out.  Here are a few things that I think are important enough to share:

  • If you don’t have your personal blog yet, go and start now.  It’s well worth it!
  • Make sure you own your content.  Social networks come and go, and when they go, chances are, all your content goes with them.
  • Don’t stress too much about the format, styling, and scheduling of your blogging.  If you do it long enough, everything will change – the topics you write about, how much and how often you write about them, how your site looks, etc.  Start somewhere and iterate.
  • Don’t go crazy with features of your blogging platform.  Sure, there are thousands of plugins and themes to choose from.  But all of these change with time.  When they go away, you will have to either support them yourself, move to newer alternatives, or loose them.  Neither one of those options is pleasant.
  • Things die.  They disappear and then they are no more.  That’s life. This happens.  Don’t worry about it.  Do your best and then move on.
  • Have fun!  It’s your personal place on the web after all.  Try scheduled posts to get into the habit.  Try planning to get a better idea of what you want to do.  But if it doesn’t work or becomes too difficult, move on.  As I said, it’s your personal place and you don’t owe anybody anything.  Do it for yourself.  Others will come and go.

Here is to the next 15 years! :)

beer

On Google+ success from 5 years ago

One of the benefits of having your own blog is all the archives that are accumulated over time.  Web services, platforms, and social networks come and go, and so does your content when you choose to use them.  But with your own piece of the Internet, you get to keep it all.

It’s always interesting to see what I was into and what I was thinking like years ago.  Especially when it comes to predictions and forecasting.  Especially with the technology, which moves so fast.

Here is, for example, something that I shared 5 years ago (to the day):  On how Google+ will succeed.  Now that never happened.  In fact, almost the opposite is happening:

Horowitz made a point to emphasize, once again, that Google+ isn’t going away. Instead, he reiterated that the company will be offering “a more focused Google+ experience.”

In other words, Google+ has a core set of users that really do enjoy using the service. “Google+ is quickly becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them,” Horowitz said.

More specifically, Google plans to continue to offer new features in Google+ and move “features that aren’t essential to an interest-based social experience” into existing products.

This just tells you how “trustworthy” is my opinion on things…

“AWS Week in Review” goes open

I’ve been a big fan of Amazon AWS for over two years now.  One thing that absolutely blows me away is how much activity there is in Amazon AWS development.  Every day there is an announcement of a new services or updates to the existing ones.  In order to help people keep up with all the updates, Jeff Barr of Amazon was blogging “AWS Week in Review” for a few years.

First "Week in Review"

Now, imagine this – there is so much new stuff going on that it takes hours to prepare each of those blog posts:

Unfortunately, finding, saving, and filtering links, and then generating these posts grew to take a substantial amount of time. I reluctantly stopped writing new posts early this year after spending about 4 hours on the post for the week of April 25th.

This is insane!  So he almost gave up on the idea, as it is too time consuming.  But people want it.  What’s the solution?  Go Open Source!

The AWS Week in Review is now a GitHub project (https://github.com/aws/aws-week-in-review). I am inviting contributors (AWS fans, users, bloggers, and partners) to contribute.

Every Monday morning I will review and accept pull requests for the previous week, aiming to publish the Week in Review by 10 AM PT. In order to keep the posts focused and highly valuable, I will approve pull requests only if they meet our guidelines for style and content.

At that time I will also create a file for the week to come, so that you can populate it as you discover new and relevant content.

I think that’s a brilliant move.  Those weekly review posts are super useful for anyone involved with Amazon AWS.  They should keep coming.  But the time cost involved is understandable.  So crowd-sourcing this is a smart way to go about it.

I hope this will not only continue the blog post series, but also take it to the new level, with more section, content, and insight.

Well done!

Emails, WordPress, and lots of Archives

I’ve been running this blog for a very long time now.  The Archives page links back to all the months and years (all the way to the first post back on October 21, 2001) of all kinds of posts – random rants, movie reviews, technical posts, and day summaries.  But who does read the archives ever, right?

Well, if you are running a WordPress site with lots of content, and you want to rediscover some of your old gems, there is an excellent plugin that helps with that – “This Day in History“.  I have a widget, powered by that very plugin, both on the front page of the site (showing posts from the same day in previous years), and on every post page (showing posts from the same day of the post in different years).

Today I found this short post about email and Microsoft Outlook:

There was a time, when I used to love email.  I loved receiving email, and reading it.  Replying to email.  Or just writing up some new email.  Occasionally, forward email.  I loved searching through email.  Or categorizing it.  Or archiving email.  I loved quoting email.  And I loved email with attachments.  But now, I pretty much hate all of that.  Thank you, MS Outlook.

Which made me think of the IT Crowd TV series, the very first episode of the very first season, where Jen was going through the interview:

I’ve always been a big fan of IT Crowd, in particular for its accurate take on the corporate culture.  Obviously, I thought of myself more like the Roy character, not Jen:

Given that the post was written in 2012, and this episode came out in 2006, I was probably mocking it, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyways, it’s fun.

Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering what’s a better email client, here is the post just for you.

Facebook security policies – WTF?

For a while now, whenever I post a new blog post to this site, and try to propagate it to my social network accounts, I get an error from Facebook – something about security and content policies this or that:

Social Facebook

The automation broke a few month ago, but I never cared enough to do much about it.  From then on, I don’t push all the posts to Facebook automatically, but a select few, with manual posting of the links.

Today, even the manual posting broke.  I got this:

Facebook error

OK, I thought.  Weird, but this happens.  Gladly, the error message contains the link to let Facebook know about the problem.  And so I do.  Just to get to this point:

Facebook other error

Now that’s not good.  But then again what can I do? I guess it’s a good thing I still own all of my content and have my own place to publish it at.

Hopefully, this will get resolved all by itself soon.  Or people will have only kitten pictures to look at…

Jetpack annual report for mamchenkov.net in 2015

This year’s Jetpack annual report for this blog is ready – have a look.  Here’s a teaser:

blog stats 2015

It’s been a busy year, so I haven’t been blogging as much as I wanted to, but overall, I think I did good (have a look at 2014 and 2013).  Just to give you a quick comparison:

Metric 2013 2014 2015
Visitors 58,000 81,000 96,000
Posts 560 628 541

I blog mostly for myself, but it’s nice to see a slight grow in traffic. Although the fact that the most popular post in this blog throughout the years – how to check Squid proxy version – is a little concerning, yet funny.  Well, at least people still find my “Vim for Perl developers” useful, even though it’s been more than 10 years since I wrote that (and probably five years since I promised to update it soon).

But as I said, I’m quite satisfied with my blogging this year.  Hopefully I can continue to do the same in 2016.

 

Everyone needs a website

Matthew DiIulio shares a few good reasons for why “Everyone Needs A Personal Website“.  All are valid, even if simplistic:

Using social media for your web presence works wonderfully, but you don’t own and control your content. At any time your social media account could be deleted, and then your long time web presence is gone.

Seth Godin’s post “You are what you share” takes a different, deeper, world-changing approach:

Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better.

The culture we will live in next month is a direct result of what people like us share today. The things we share and don’t share determine what happens next.

As we move away from the top-down regime of promoted movies, well-shelved books and all sorts of hype, the recommendation from person to person is now the most powerful way we have to change things.

I recommended blogging to everyone for years using a completely different set of reasons, varying from improved language and writing skills, through wider social and professional network, to useful memory dumping.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why you should do it.  Everyone has their own reasons.  But one thing I do agree with the gentlemen above – do have your own web presence, and keep sharing your stuff.

WordPress 4.2 “Powell”

WordPress 4.2 is out.  This release brings a whole lot of new features, bug fixes and improvements.  One that I’m most excited about (and thus testing right now) is the updated Press This bookmarklet for faster sharing, which now also works on the mobile (I have yet to try it though).

Source: WordPress › WordPress 4.2 “Powell”