Around this time of year, a lot of blogs list their 10 most popular posts of the past year. I was thinking about doing that here... but I didn't have the foresight to make my blog software log page views, so I have no idea what posts are the most popular. Instead, here are my somewhat arbitrarily selected favorite 12 posts of 2012, out of the 78 total posts I made this year:
All things considered, I think it was a good year for blog posts. But 2013 can be even better! Happy new year!
If you've been watching my blog, you've noticed that my posting frequency has dropped off tremendously in the past week. That's mostly because I've been scrambling to finish a presentation on my research. It's now over, so in theory I have more time to make blog posts, but still I think it's past time to call National Blog Writing Month officially over.
Let's look back over the past 5 weeks and see how it went. Not counting this one, I managed to get in 25 blog posts, most of which were decidedly nontrivial. For fun, I decided to estimate a word count for each of these posts — now, I can't get an exact count easily because of the formatting, including math and especially pictures, but I can just run
p.text_src.split() and it spits out some rough numbers. I want to get a sense of how this compares to the task of actually writing a 50000 word novel:
Total:17518 words. Not exactly a novel. That's okay though, how many NaNoWriMo novels are going to include equations and pretty pictures? Like this histogram of the word counts above (100-count bins up to 3500):
Hmm... what if I try this with all my posts, since the beginning of this blog?
Looks exponential, maybe? I think one of this month's projects is going to be to figure out what distribution that is. :-)
Back at the beginning of this month I set myself a goal: 30 nontrivial blog posts in 30 days, to coincide with National Novel Writing Month.
Now it's nearly the end of the month. Did I make it? Not even close — although it's the 29th of November, I've only written 22 posts total (well, now 23), several of which are decidedly trivial. Partly, though, that's because I've been sick for the past week. Being sick is very much not compatible with a strict writing schedule. Better to sleep to blog another day, I suppose.
Because I've been sick, I'm making the executive decision to extend NaBloWriMo for a few days into December. Probably not long enough to make it to the 30-post goal, but really, it's not like anyone (except me) cares about that anyway, and maybe it'll give me the incentive to put the finishing touches on some more interesting posts I've been working on.
November is National Novel Writing Month, where both professional and amateur writers around the world try to write a 50000 word novel in a month. While it sounds like a fantastic goal, I would be terrible at it. Writing 50 thousand words on one topic would take me forever.
But I do have a blog, as you know if you are reading this, and last year I had the bright idea of doing a blogger's version of NaNoWriMo: 30 nontrivial blog posts in 30 days. Last year, it was a spectacular failure. So of course, I'm trying it again. Let's see how it goes!
For years I've been hearing that Technorati is an essential way to promote your blog over the interwebs. Despite the fact that I still don't entirely understand what this organization does or how it got so dominant in the making-your-blog-cool department, I figured I should probably cave... so this post is a step in the process of claiming my site in Technorati's blog index.
If you're wondering about this for your own blog, the process is (sort of) easy; just sign up, start a claim and fill out some information about your blog, and then you get a claim code like E3QA6PRUDVT9 (see what I did there) which has to be placed in a blog post so Technorati can verify it.
It remains to be seen whether this is actually going to amount to anything useful.
While I had my SOPA protest page up, I realized that a minimalistic color scheme actually looked pretty decent. Accordingly, and in recognition of the fact that SOPA and PIPA are still looming threats, I'm changing my whole site to a black and white color scheme until both bills are defeated. I might even keep the design after that, just for the fun of it.
If you're a repeat visitor, I suggest doing a hard refresh or clearing your browser cache entirely, so that you can see the updated stylesheets.
Last night I noticed that I've posted something on this site every day for 5 days in a row. In comparison to my usual pattern of posting maybe once every two or three weeks, this feels pretty good. It's nice to see my site looking "dynamic" or whatever.
As it happens, this streak coincides with the start of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. The concept of NaNoWriMo is that you force yourself to write an entire novel between November 1 and November 30. (By the way, NaNoWriMo people: the idea is great, but you seriously picked the worst abbreviation I have ever seen.) Of course, I couldn't hope to write a novel in a month, but writing is writing, so I'm setting myself a goal of averaging one blog post per day for the entire month of November. National Blog Writing Month, I suppose. If nothing else, it'll be a good excuse to finish up some of the posts I've been meaning to make for ages. Let's see how this goes!
Just a quick update as to why this site has been messed up the past few days: I had some problems with Apache crashing after an update late last week, and since I'd been thinking about moving from Slicehost to Linode anyway, I decided to use this as an excuse to make that move. Of course, that meant I had to set up a new server almost from scratch and transfer everything over. I haven't quite transferred everything yet, but the important stuff should be running.
This site hasn't been very active recently, but I figured I could revitalize it a bit with a story of why I haven't been making blog posts: for one thing, I'm preparing to spend a week and a half at the CTEQ summer school in Madison. I'm also involved in preparing a paper for publication (wooo getting published), which has involved a fair amount of proofreading and checking references.
There have been a couple of neat Mythbusters episodes recently which I would have loved to write about, including the one about surviving an underwater explosion. Unfortunately I don't know enough about fluid dynamics and shockwave physics to say anything useful about it. (That may need to change) I'm also working on something about the older episode where they tested alternative solutions to a flat tire; there's some interesting physics there, but the details haven't been coming together as easily as I would have hoped.
And to top it off, I've been investing time in some other hobbies... which I should probably start writing about. So maybe that will provide some material to get this blog going again.
In the meantime, here's a neat July 4th physics analysis on Dot Physics to amuse you.
And then there's the standards issue. Although Microsoft still is a bit hardheaded when it comes to web standards, they do seem to have realized that they can't completely ignore what the rest of the internet is doing. So I think we can expect better standards compliance from IE in the future.
There was one more thing that bothered me about the possibility of switching to jQuery. The core jQuery script alone is 24 KB, minified and compressed. A lot of people seem to think that's nothing, but I've always been a fan of clean HTML, and so my pages are pretty small, file-size-wise. The jQuery script, and remember this is with every unnecessary character stripped out, is literally almost 4 times as large as the HTML page for TextWriter (7 KB for the latter). It seems silly to add a 24 KB script to a 7 KB page.
What about the effect on page processing time? Sure, it takes a while to parse and execute all those 24 KB of code. I guess that could still be an issue, but I doubt that jQuery would have gotten so popular if it significantly slowed down page processing for a lot of people. This is one effect to keep an eye on, and I may revert to my custom scripts if it becomes serious.
The bottom line? Once I started trying to fix the aforementioned bug, I realized the one eternal truth of web page scripting: writing functional scripts for Internet Explorer will, in fact, drive you insane. Better let someone else worry about that.