All entries for November 2004

November 29, 2004

Warwick Blogs statistics

Follow-up to Some Warwick Blogs statistics from Kieran's blog

This morning I ran my little set of queries which give me an indication of BlogBuilder usage. We are now in week 10 of term, so perhaps now is a good time to publish a bunch of graphs showing how busy Warwick Blogs has been.

This more or less speaks for itself. We have been averaging around 20,000 page views (proper page views, images and robots not included) per day. Clearly traffic went up pretty quickly as term started but has hit a bit of a plateau right now. (Those dips are weekends by the way)

Entries per day is very similar to the page views in that there was a sharp rise around the start of term and then a real leveling off. The average is now sitting at around 150 entries per day, which isn't bad. However, when you think of how many blogs we have right now (almost 2300), then the figure doesn't look quite so good. There are clearly a lot of empty blogs out there.

I quite like this graph. The reason is that on most blogs and blog systems, the number of entries is greater than the number of comments. Unfortunately most people do not get comments, or don't get many comments on their entries. With an average of 350 comments per day, we can hope that everyone is getting a comment occasionally. Of course there is a core of entries out there that get the lion's share, but looking deeper into the stats, it looks like virtually everyone has had a comment or two at some point. I think the inclusion of our built in aggregations and now the "My comments" page will help keep up the commenting levels.

Don't really need to say much about this. However, I will note that I am pleased that the number of people still signing up for blogs is a nice surprise. I didn't think we would still have this constant stream of new people this far into term time. We may well hit 2500 by new year (maybe).

I don't think I published this graph before. It basically just shows the number of images people are uploading. We are constantly getting 200 new images per day. Obviously people are using their galleries, stuffing them with 15000 images taking up 1.5GB (we've got plenty of space for more). Knowing that the usability of image upload and galleries is not what we'd like it to be makes these figures all the more surprising.

So, what do I think overall? Well, I'm pretty pleased. Back in September we really did not know what to expect. Were we going to get 100 blogs or 1000? Were people going to love it or hate it? Was it going to blow up?

As it turns out, it has been quite a mixed reaction. A lot of people have registered blogs and left them empty or with a single entry. We have to work out why. But then there are people out there with a hundred or more entries.

There are clearly some people who get blogging and really enjoy it, not just writing, but also reading. However, for all our hard work advertising blogs and getting the message out, there are still plenty of people (the majority?) out there who don't understand blogs or know why they would want one, or even bother reading blogs. Are we not communicating to people well enough now the initial publicity and excitment is over? I suspect so.

Even in the last 9 weeks since term began we have added new features and improved various parts of the system. We have also learned quite a lot ourselves about what people want out of blogs and what kind of people use blogs, so perhaps we need to learn from this and have a fresh drive in the new year. Bring it on.


November 23, 2004

BlogStreet experiment

Writing about web page http://www.blogstreet.com


I'm just putting in this link so that my blog gets indexed by blogstreet. I'm kind of curious to see how it works.

Technorati Profile


November 22, 2004

Gigapixel photos

A while back, Max Lyons created what is thought to be the first gigapixel photo. The final image is 40,784×26,800 pixels in size, and contains about 1.09 billion pixels. It was created by merging together 196 individual 6 megapixel photos.

Now, researchers in the Netherlands have created a 2.5 Gigapixel photo. The detail is simply amazing, you just have to go and have a look. You can zoom in on a clock tower miles in the distance and see the time as clear as day. But when viewed in a zoomed out mode the clock tower appears mere millimeters wide.

Now that my photo is up for a free upgrade and I'm hoping to get one of those 1 megapixel cameras…it somehow seems a bit low-res.


November 17, 2004

Other University blogging systems

Browsing around the other day I managed to end up at a blog on the domain wsu.edu and it got me to thinking about what other universities host blogs.

A quick search of my memory and the web brought up these:

Middlebury College, Vermont, have an MT install that has around 200 or so blogs. Not sure what support there is for this project.

Washington State University has a blogging system, not sure what software it is though. Pleasingly they do provide a home page for the system which lists the most recent entries and provides a few stats:

  • Journals – 124
  • Posts – 358
  • Articles – 40
  • Comments – 118
  • Trackbacks – 211

The system is run by their Center for Teaching Learning, and Technology. There is more information about their blog project here.

Harvard University have one of the oldest blogging systems out there as it was created by one of the old men of blogging, Dave Winer. It is very difficult to see how active the Harvard blogs are, however, judging by this page there are anything from 2 – 20 blogs updated a day out of a total of 623 blogs. Harvard are running Manilla.

University of Minnesota are also one of the early entrants into the university blogging fray. They are running a custom version of MT again, but much more customised than Middlebury. They also provide some stats:

  • Total number of blogs: 771
  • Blog authors: 1333
  • Blog entries: 9977
  • Comments to all blogs: 5350

Unlike the other systems covered so far, they provide a list of latest entries and an A-Z directory of blogs. The system is run by their Libraries, under the watchful eye of Shane Nackerud.

The University of Waterloo have used blogs in a slightly different way. They have installed a custom version of MT also, but have used it to create a very small set of highly controlled publicity type blogs. There are 6 blogs written by different students that are updated relatively often, at least once a week that provide insights into life at the University. A good publicity tool I think, unsurprising when it is run by their communications office.

And then there's us…I'm sure there are other systems out there that I've missed or that are just keeping quiet or private. But I would love to find out if there are more, and perhaps contact some of them to share ideas/experiences.


November 12, 2004

Firefox plugin of the day: ColorZilla

Writing about web page https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?application=firefox&id=271&vid=1032

Almost every day I discover something new and cool about Firefox. Today I had a screenshot of a mock up for the new "My comments" screen for BlogBuilder, I had it open in Firefox. I just wanted to pick a few colours from the image but couldn't be bothered to fire up Photoshop just to grab a few colours.

ColorZilla to the rescue. ColorZilla is a Firefox extension that sits in the bottom status bar and lets you do all sorts of handy color picking features. It has a built in colour picker tool and an eye-dropper to pick any colour off the screen, even with a zoom function. It then lets you copy to the clipboard various ways of expressing that colour, such as #27657f, 27657f, rgb(15%, 40%, 50%), rgb(39, 101, 127). Great stuff.

My other favourites:


November 09, 2004

Firefox…get a better browser

Writing about web page http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

A few other Warwick bloggers have mentioned Firefox (here, here and here ).

I'll also through my thoughts into the mix. I've been using Firefox for a long while now, in my opinion it has long since overtaken IE as the best browser available on a Windows machine.

What I love about it:

  1. Standards complicance (as a web developer, you just have to love Firefox on this front, and on its DOM inspector tool, fantastic). For the end user what this really means is better websites, if everyone used a standards compliant browser, the world would be full of better websites.
  2. Speed. It is very very quick. Some people would say IE is just as fast, but not in my experience.
  3. Security. In this day and age, a browser this secure has got to be a good thing. Thankfully IE has almost caught up with their SP2 release.
  4. Tabbed browsing! Fantastic. If you don't already have one, get a 3 button or more scroll wheel mouse, makes browsing a breeze.
  5. Extensibility. There are loads and loads of great extensions out there to make Firefox do whatever you want it to. My favourite has got to be Adblock no more websites plastered in advertising images and annoying flash animations for me.
  6. Active development. Yes IE has had a recent security release with SP2, but it is not being actively developed any more (unless you count the myterious version that may or may not come with Longhorn in who knows how many years time). If there is a feature missing or a problem with Firefox, it will get fixed. Unlike IE

Get Firefox!


November 07, 2004

2000 blogs

Looks like we finally hit 2000 blogs! Yay for us!

I had always hoped that we might hit 1000 by Xmas, but looks like we are more likely to hit 2500 by that time. As I've said in my previous entries, it is important to think more about activity than just sheer numbers…but still, numbers are nice.

Another bit of great timing is the we also overtook uThink, the University of Minnesota blog system in terms of number of entries today with 8647 entries as of right now.

I'm just looking forward to Xmas and the new year to see just how the use of Warwick Blogs evolves and hopefully grows.


November 05, 2004

Psychedelic talking cats

Writing about web page http://www.gizmodo.com/archives/treating-illness-with-robot-cats-025040.php


Alexander and Elena Libin, a husband-and-wife team of robotic psychology researchers, found that the NeCoRo robots (below), manufactured by Japanese company Omron, increase attention and focus among sufferers of dementia and coronary artery disease.


"Robocats will be very useful in disease management, by reminding patients to take medication at a certain time," she said.

Now…is it just me, or is some poor old person suffering from dementia and forgetting to take their medication, in their drug (or lack there of) induced haze, not really going to be helped by some scary robocat suddenly spookily yelling (because they are hard of hearing) at them (In the style of the Cat from Red Dwarf)


It's 4pm and time to take your drugs, yeoooww!!

Take my depiction of old people with a pinch of salt, I've just got this really weird image in my head here


November 02, 2004

Fate of the world…Bush or Kerry?

I'm surprised with the lack of mentions of the elections today in Warwick Blogs. I can't help but wonder who the hell is going to win.

Reading my "Bushisms" calendar every day, I can't help but grow to hate Bush more and more each and every day, but will Kerry be any better?

Who will win?

My hopes are on Kerry…but I fear Bush will get it :(

The BBC published these scary figures:

  • 75%: Percentage of those in an ABC poll who thought it was the most important election of their lives
  • $272,573,444: Amount raised by President George W Bush (correct as of 13 October)
  • $249,305,109: Amount raised by Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry (correct as of 13 October)
  • 43,256: Number of times adverts were run from 21 to 27 October
  • $46,367,413: Total amount spent on adverts from 21 to 27 October
  • 208–169: US newspaper endorsements for Mr Kerry and President Bush (correct as of 31 October)
  • 28–14: loss by Washington Redskins football team – since 1936, a loss in their last home game before the election has been followed by victory for the challenger

November 01, 2004

Usage of image galleries

I just had a look at image upload stats for BlogBuilder and had a nice surprise. So far there have been 8500 images uploaded by our users.

Around 600 different users have uploaded images so far. Obviously we are aware of some of the problems with image upload and the difficulty of managing galleries, but with this information in hand now, we can confidently say that image upload/galleries are well worth spending some time on as it is a feature people really like to use.

What would probably come along at the same time as gallery improvements would be the ability to upload other files, such as office documents, powerpoints, pdf's, etc…


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