Jan 022009
 

As usual, I’m a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to Google PageRank updates.  Apparently a major toolbar PR update occurred on New Year’s Eve.  It’s not too surprising that I’m slow to notice these things as Philaahzophy has been condemned to an eternal PR0 status due to my refusal to bow down to the Google Gods.

The good news is that the only websites I manage that dropped in PR were those dedicated to a now dead collectible miniature game, HorrorClix. Their dropping isn’t surprising as the pages that linked to them have all ceased to exist leaving them the sole sites of their kind on the internet. Of course, that also makes them the definitive sites in their niche, but Google doesn’t really care about relevance, they only care about backlinks and following their arbitrary rules.

The wacky part has to do with Zaira’s sites. Her personal blog, Butterfly Diaries, finally managed to score a PR after being around for two years and more than 100 posts. She’s got a shiny new PR of 1.  However, a new site she just started a month ago has a grand total of 6 posts, one backlink (from a PR2 blog carnival), fewer than two dozen unique visitors in its lifetime, and a shiny new PageRank of 3!  Say what?  The site doesn’t even rank in the top 20 for its primary keywords but Google has decided that it’s more trustworthy than the only site linking to it and equally as trustworthy a site as John Chow’s.  Well, at least my little girl has something to brag about 🙂

Nov 212008
 

Blog Pictures | acobox.com Earlier this year I started making a concerted effort to include more photos here at Philaahzophy.  I did so not only because I started taking more photos in my personal life, but also because I had read that blog posts with images are more widely appreciated by blog readers at large.  Well, I’m certainly not ready to say that it was putting in the photos that made the difference, but I can attest to the fact that my traffic has increased dramatically in the last six months and that the few people I’ve asked about it have assured me that the blog’s more attractive in general.

Of course, this focus on pictures does present a whole new set of problems: where do I find appropriate pictures?  How much is that additional bandwidth going to cost me?  How much extra work is it going to be to post those photos?  These questions are no longer an issue for those who have discovered acobox.com.  They’re a site dedicated exclusively to providing blog pictures to bloggers. Although the selection isn’t tremendous at the moment, the service is free and easy to use.  You just browse through their galleries, click a few buttons and paste the code into your blog post.  It took me less than than five minutes to register an account, find an image, and paste it in this post (that’s it up above 😉 ).

Nov 102008
 

One would think that as the internet grows it would be easier to find a quality web hosting company. However, that has not been my experience. Although I haven’t been writing about it lately, Top Hosting Center still can’t manage to keep my websites online. This is despite their moving me to another server with a smaller load and me moving my sites that require the most services to another webhost. Over the last six weeks or so they’ve only managed about a 92% uptime, but they continue to ignore my requests that they honor their 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Meanwhile I’m paying roughly $50 per month to WiredTree.com for a Virtual private Server.  Their customer service is definitely top-notch, though so I’m not too frustrated at the cost for now.  It’s been a pretty steep learning curve, but I think I’m doing okay.  Still can’t figure out why I’m using so much RAM, but I’ve been told that memory is the single largest limiting factor in a VPS environment.  Weird that it was never a problem when paying so much less for shared hosting.

As I’ve searched for a better understanding of what, exactly, I need in a web host I’ve been reading a lot of articles over at Web Hosting Geeks (who I’ve written about before).  They’re primarily a website hosting review site, though they also have a large article directory and numerous links to resources elsewhere on the web.  I’ve been spending most of my time poring over the various customer reviews, though.  Not only do I find myself better understanding the world of web hosting in th emodern age, but it also keeps me from feeling like I’m all alone or have some bizarre requirements.

Nov 032008
 

Hello again 🙂 Did you miss me?

If any of y’all have wondered where I’ve been, I’ve been around, just keeping my paws off the site in order to see what would happen.  Specifically, I was curious how my complete absence for a month would effect such things as my standings in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and my Google Adsense revenue.  Results were both positive and a bit distressing, but I’ll get to my reaction to them in a few moments.

Traffic Results and SERPs-

First, here’s some actual numbers from Clicky Web Analytics

September Traffic Stats for Philaahzophy.com-

October Traffic Stats for Philaahzophy.com-

To quickly sum up those traffic numbers I had more visitors looking at more pages, but spending less time overall in October as compared to September.  And that’s without really promoting the site or doing so much as visiting, much less adding new content.  Yes, my last post was actually on October 5th, but that post only received 215 views leaving more than 2,500 new views unaccounted for.  And, though it’s not visible in those screenshots I also lost more than 1,500 ‘social media’ views by not actively promoting the site through StumbleUpon.  So, where’d that traffic come from?  Well, search traffic more than tripled in October from 2,140 to 6,627!

Google Adsense Revenue-

Unfortunately, Google won’t let me share my Adsense earnings with you, but I do believe I can safely say the following:  In the almost three years I’ve been a member of Google Adsense I’ve earned a grand total of three payments.  I first reached payment threshold in February of this year (about 18 months into my history with the program), my second in August (six months later), and my third at the end of October.  In other words, my revenue has consistently increased as I’ve learned more about how the system works and regardless of my continuing to add new content to this site.

I did manage to earn roughly 15% more from Google Adsense in September than I did in October, but I attribute that more to the Adsense earnings from StumbleUpon visitors that I wrote about previously.  And, even without any new content, October was still my second best month for Google Adsense earnings by more than 25%.

Conclusions-

So what does this all mean?  Unfortunately, I have no idea.  Thus the ‘positive but distressing’ comment in my opening paragraph.  The results are clearly positive – traffic and revenue are both up – but they’re also distressing because this seems to be happening not only outside my control, but apparently also without my input.  It just seems to be an organic occurrence now that I’ve reached some sort of critical mass with this blog.

Yes, it does seem there was a Google PageRank update in October, but Philaahzophy still sits at it’s arbitrarily enforced zero because I dare to state my opinions. This despite the fact Philaahzophy has more backlinks and far more traffic than my PR 2 blog.  So, that couldn’t be the cause of all of this.

I do have numerous pages on the first page of search engine results (in Google, Yahoo! and MSN search), but few, if any, of these just achieved those high results.  And even if my standing has increased in the SERPs, that simply begs the question of why since I’ve been doing nothing to the site.

The number of new links back to Philaahzophy decreased dramatically in October because I was neither out promoting the site nor generating new content to link to.  So that wasn’t it either.

If forced to state a reason behind these increases I’m left with only two options: 1) More people are spending more time searching the internet for topics I’ve written about over the last two years, or 2) Philaahzophy has reached some sort of critical mass.  I’m sorry if that informational isn’t exactly helpful, but one can’t always predict the usefulness of an experiment upon initiating it.

For those who actually missed my ramblings: thank you.  I do have several posts waiting in the wings that should be appearing shortly.

Sep 222008
 

It seems I can’t click more than three links in the blogosphere lately without reading about Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s email being hacked (which is 1.5 more than I can go without reading about Palin herself, but that’sa different rant). And yet, I’ve not come across any blog posts or news articles outlining the real tragedy highlighted by these events. The complete loss of privacy in the new millennium. I’m not talking about the loss of Sarah Palin’s privacy. She was fool enough to use some of the weakest “protection” available. No, I’m talking about the (so-called) hacker’s privacy.

You see, this college kid went to the “trouble” of using a proxy service called ctunnel to try and hide what he was doing.  Why did he use ctunnel?  I have no idea, but a quick look at their website gives the following reasons one might want to take advantage of their service-

This can be done to evade website blocking by schools, corporations, or governments, to access websites that would normally be blocked. It can also be done to protect your anonymity, so that the website you are visiting does not know who you are.

Because our visitors value their privacy, it is not in our interests to spy on you, lest we lose traffic and advertising revenue. Because government subpenoa could require us to hand over our server access logs, access logs are regularly deleted to protect your privacy. In short, we value your browsing experience as well as your anonymity, and would not do anything to break your trust in us.

Definitely gives one a “warm and fuzzy” feeling about their privacy, does it not? Unfortunately a closer look at their terms of service leads us to this-

We take user’s privacy very seriously, and normally will not knowingly disclose confidential information to anyone. However, we reserve the right to cooperate with law enforcement agencies who are investigating criminal activities undertaken by users of our service. In logging access to this service, we try to balance our need to have access to useful site performance data and the need to be able to cooperate with criminal investigations with our user’s needs for privacy. Currently our goal is to log only that information which is necessary to comply with legitimate law enforcement inquiries for a period of 7 days from the date of access. This logging policy is a goal and not a mandate.

In other words if you, like the kid who broke into Palin’s email account, want actual privacy, you need to look elsewhere. And how, exactly do I know it was a college kid that broke into Palin’s Yahoo! email? Well, that’s simple. From a recent Threat Level article

As reported here last week, Gabriel Ramuglia, owner of the internet proxy service Ctunnel.com, which Palin’s intruder used to access her account and obscure his IP address, was examining his logs for the FBI to trace the intruder’s IP address. Ramuglia told Portfolio that the FBI asked him about only one IP address, which he declined to disclose but said he had matched the address to web activity “consistent with what websites the hacker was expected to have visited through (the Ctunnel) service.”

Yep, aside from the kid being essentially an idiot when it comes to covering your tracks on the internet (by all accounts), he would have been given up by Ctunnel anyway. And, if there is ever a prosecution then their records will be used against him.

Lessons learned? Don’t trust anyone with your privacy!