Are faster blogs more Google friendly?

Per­haps. And if you’re look­ing to be found by Google, you want to do everything you can to make sure you’re not doing things to make the pro­cess harder.

A month or so ago, Google announced that they’re rank­ing sys­tem would take page-load speed into con­sid­er­a­tion when determ­in­ing how to present search res­ults to vis­it­ors.

Even­tu­ally I’d read enough about this, and had installed a cool free per­form­ance mon­it­or­ing sys­tem (powered by Ping­dom) that allowed me to review my website’s dis­play speed. But of course, life gets in the way and I’d been a bit lax in review­ing it, so this past week­end I took a look. I found this:

This is a response-time graph, the short­er the green line, the bet­ter. Which meant that I now had to spend some time fig­ur­ing out what I’d done that caused my sys­tem to slow so sig­ni­fic­antly.

It appears that the cul­prit was a mis-con­figured cach­ing plu­gin. So, I spent a bit of time play­ing with the set­tings on the cache plu­gin, removed a couple of fancy ‘type’ related plu­gins that were call­ing extern­al javas­cript (extern­al con­tent calls can really slow things down, espe­cially large con­tent objects), and tweaked how the cache works.

And in ini­tial runs, I seem to have reduced the page-load speed by about  40%. Not as good as it was ini­tially, but bet­ter than it was quite recently.Yes, I’ll be mon­it­or­ing res­ults a bit more closely now, and tweak­ing things as I go. And of course, I’m always open to sug­ges­tions too — in the com­ments please 🙂

Hope­fully, Google will look more favour­ably on my blog, as this site isn’t quite the slug on the Inter­net any­more.

Time will tell.

Everyone’s a winner

It’s been a bit longer than I’d wanted, but I’ve finally got­ten to wrap­ping up my first blog con­test.

The premise was simple; tell me a backup hor­ror story and you could win a Click­free Trans­former SE backup sys­tem. And some of you did tell me some pretty good stor­ies.

Here’s some excerpts:

On Ver­sion­ing:

Being an artist, dur­ing one of the more heated pro­gram­mer debates I took a closer look at the SVN logs and dis­covered that indeed this guy had stealth­ily checked in some­thing between our changes. Luck­ily for us, when you use a ver­sion repos­it­ory sys­tem (soft­ware or hard­ware) you can roll back your changes to a pre­vi­ously uploaded state that’s stored on the device (since all the data gets saved for each change that is made). I gave this a try loc­ally and quickly dis­covered what the prob­lem was and relayed it to the rest of the team.

On serv­er backups:

I had a stack of flop­pies (and my broth­er and moth­er had stacks of flop­pies at their houses) that could only be read by an Osborne com­puter and that I was the only per­son I knew who still used an Osborne com­puter.… so I went out and bought a backup Osborne. And sure enough, my com­puter died a month or so later. But I thought, no prob­lem, I have my back up, and it sur­vived long enough for me to upload everything to the UofA’s MTS sys­tem. There! Backuped on a main­frame, what could be more secure than that?

On off­s­ite tape stor­age:

I put in a help tick­et to request the tape. Unfor­tu­nately, it’ll take three weeks for the tapes to be retrieved. Ah well, that’s ok. My reports are not a 911 and I’m just happy my data is safe. Six (6) weeks later the tapes arrive and reveal my web logs can­not be restored from the backups. Data gone.

On luck:

Next, we real­ized that no one had ever attemp­ted to do a res­tor­a­tion of the data. Upon fur­ther invest­ig­a­tion we dis­covered that it wasn’t just a mat­ter of people not hav­ing attemp­ted it but that we couldn’t actu­ally do a test restore on the old sys­tems without affect­ing the pro­duc­tion sys­tems. Had we wasted hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in tapes in a vault that could be worth­less?

Well, thanks to some great work by Larysa at Click­free, we’ve got prizes for all the con­test entrants. If you ‘ve not read the full entries then check out the com­ments on the entry post here.

Con­grat­u­la­tions! I’ll be pinging the win­ners shortly 🙂

Fat lady sings. Winners announced soon.

Thus endith my first blog con­test. And a very cool ride it was.

My good friends at Click­free, a Cana­dian backup tech­no­logy com­pany, agreed to provide the prizes (Click­free Trans­former SE) for a blog con­test chal­len­ging folks to provide there best (or worst I guess) backup hor­ror story.

I’ve received some rather good entries. Check out the com­ments in the ori­gin­al post for the entire list, but here’s a couple of excerpts to give you the idea:

In a multi-developer game devel­op­ment envir­on­ment:

We updated our loc­al SVN repos and tried to work with the new changes that we were all mak­ing (plus unknow­ingly the changes this oth­er guy made)… only the game ended up crash­ing. It worked fine before this latest update and no one was sup­posed to have made any changes that would cause this prob­lem, and yet, here it was, the game was crash­ing. Franticly we looked at all the changes “we” had made for the prob­lem (remem­ber we did not know this guy had checked any­thing in) and argue­ments rose over who was at fault of this issue (oddly no one fingered the par­tic­u­lar pro­gram­mer in ques­tion since we didn’t know he had com­mit­ted any­thing, plus it was 4am and no one was think­ing straight).

Stolen Grad-stu­dent Thes­is data:

I got a frantic call from a grad stu­dent once, say­ing that someone had broken in and stolen his com­puter with all his thes­is data and his 34 fin­ished draft thes­is — two years of data col­lec­tion research and writ­ing gone!

Win­ners?

In the next week or so I’ll be review­ing the entries and noti­fy­ing the win­ners. And yes, there will be a blog post about it. Stay tuned!

Journalism and Big Media challenges for the future

Last night I happened to catch the CBC Radio pro­gram Ideas. They were play­ing the 2009 Dalton Camp Lec­ture in Journ­al­ism delivered by ex CBC Journ­al­ist and cur­rent Wiki­me­dia Exec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Sue Gard­ner.

After a bit of an intro­duc­tion, she gets to the real meat of the mat­ter — how the busi­ness mod­els are work­ing (or not) and some chal­lenges to be faced as we move fur­ther away from the old way of doing things in the media busi­ness.

And it’s an excel­lent listen (and a good oppor­tun­ity for me to test embed­ding pod­casts in my blog too).

[wpau­dio url=“http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20091228_24171.mp3” text=“2009 Dalton Camp Lec­ture in Journ­al­ism”]

The view out my window

Daily I work in a cube, except for today. As you can see, I’m in my ‘away’ office, yet still con­nec­ted.

My 'away' office.

And yes, I am work­ing. Through the won­ders of tech­no­logy, I’m crank­ing out the copy, send­ing the email, edit­ing the text and pho­tos.

This is Life­style Tech­no­logy at work. Wifi enables me to be mobile / port­able. And once you’re online, Skype is an awe­some tool that enables you to call any­one, almost any­where, and not have to pay cel roam­ing or hotel phone fees.

But as I said, I do have a few blog posts to churn out, as well as gath­er some back­ground inform­a­tion on upcom­ing technology…which the reas­on for me being at my ‘away’ office.

No wor­ries though, I’ll be back home later this week. But for now, I think I’m going to enjoy the view 🙂

Write a comment, win a prize!

I’ve been a fan of Click­free backup sys­tems for a while now. Drop­dead simple and effect­ive for most home usage. Well now the kind folks at Click­free have giv­en me the oppor­tun­ity to share the love, so to speak, in the form of a con­test, my first, in fact.

All the gory details are here, but the con­test is really simple:

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup hor­ror story and write-up a com­ment on the con­test page that describes a data loss hor­ror story that was aver­ted or would have been pre­ven­ted if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course there is. If you’re not the writin’ type, you can still win —
Click­free has cre­ated a spe­cial code to get a 15% dis­count off your order through them. Simply enter Grier10 at the check­out and you’ll have 15% removed from the total.

Remem­ber, don’t com­ment below if you want the com­ment to be con­sidered an Entry — leave your com­ment HERE.

Again, full details on the con­test here, but I’m look­ing for­ward to this. It’s my first con­test, so be gentle with me please 😉

Social media and the power of influence

If you’ve been fol­low­ing me or this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge social media fan — it just seems like the right medi­um that makes online com­mu­nic­a­tion easi­er. But one subtle aspect of social media is that it’s a very slick con­duit for word of mouth mar­ket­ing, pro­mo­tion, and advert­ising — which is why spam­mers jumped in with both feet quite early on; they real­ized the power of this medi­um.

Recently I’ve helped some friends out with a tech. pro­ject that really has a bit of poten­tial. It has noth­ing to do with spam, and a lot to do with influ­ence. You’ve seen me tweet about it and know it as Empire Aven­ue. Yes, there’s a link, click it and see what we’re doing. Then come back here when you’re done — I’ll wait.

Ah, back now? Excel­lent. Until we launch I’m not able to talk about too many details, so please for­give the high­er-than-nor­mal vague­ness factor, but I will sally onward with this post.

On the site you’ve seen ref­er­enced things like ‘The People’s Mar­ket’. And Pants. Per­haps influ­ence too…

But the really cool part of that page is when you click the blog link at the top and sub­sequently read the latest on our ‘pro­ject’.

And the really cool part (oh, wait, I said that already). The OTHER really cool part is that we’re launch­ing a beta. Yes, I know every Inter­net star­tup since Google has a beta; but folk seem to like them and they do give us valu­able feed­back, so yeah, we’ve got one too.

So, yep, we’re hav­ing a beta and look­ing for a few good folk inter­ested in social media and the power of influ­ence. And since you’re actu­ally doing a bit of work for us, help­ing us test out this mon­ster and all, we’re giv­ing a little back:

Enter your email for early access to the beta and an exclus­ive Achieve­ment that will nev­er be avail­able to any­one in the world or the uni­verse ever again.

What’s an achieve­ment? That’s a ques­tion for later, but the ques­tion for now is; do you want in? If so, drop us a line at beta@empireavenue.com. We’ve got lim­ited spots ini­tially, but we’ll add your name to the list and roll them out as we can.

And yes, we do expect people will write about the beta, that’s fine. And we encour­age it, so if you have a blog, let us know — we’ll try and get you in earli­er 😉

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