Post #1000: A bit of everything. Technology. Parenting. Hippos.

So this is post #1,000. It’s taken me a little bit under five years to get here, although the pace has picked up in recent years. I’ve also become slightly more tech focused and less parenting focused, but that’s mostly a factor of my kids getting older, and my own desires to maintain their privacy as much as is feasible. Intermittent trips into Hippos notwithstanding, the primary function of this blog still remains my technology journalism work

So, what to put into post #1,000? How about a little bit of everything?

On the parenting front, as noted, I’m not saying much. Except that I still love my kids to bits, and I’m very proud of how Miss 8 and Master 6 have been doing in their scholastic pursuits recently. This being Australia they’re being overshadowed somewhat by the kids who are keen on sports, but I don’t care. The sports kids will be on the front pages of tabloids and broken down at 30, while brains can last for decades…

On the writing front, an embarrassment of riches. Like many other journalists, I covered the announcements of plan pricing for the iPhone 4 yesterday; in my case at PC Authority:

Australian iPhone 4 plans and pricing compared: [UPDATED] Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone vs 3: “Telstra, Optus and now Vodafone have announced Australian plan pricing for iPhone 4. Which is the better deal for the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4?”

iPhone 4 plan pricing also led into this week’s Hydrapinion column, talking about the realities of phone plan values:

Hydrapinion:What’s the value of a plan? “Amidst the never-ending hype prior to the Australian launch of the iPhone 4, there’s a critical detail that just about every single article I’ve seen to date has missed out. It’s a detail that’s crucial not only to iPhone users, but to anyone who uses a smartphone.”

And finally at CNET.com.au, a whole host of content. First of all, a genuine rarity for me — a product re-review. In the five plus years since CNET.com.au launched, I’ve only gone back once before, and that was for a product where testing equipment wasn’t available at the time of the original review. This one’s more an issue of a vendor stating that a firmware update fixed pretty much every problem I hit with the original unit, and insisting that the updated model was significantly better. But was it?

Astone Media Gear AP-360T: “Based on Astone’s claims, we were expecting much less fuss. But to put it bluntly, that’s not what we got.”

In the more regular review world, CNET.com.au also had these brand spanking new reviews:

Acer Aspire 5738PZG: “The 5738PZG is a solid enough workhorse of a machine at the asking price. Just don’t buy it for the touchscreen ability or the battery life.”

Acer Aspire 1820PT: “Acer’s 1820PT brings portability and excellent battery life firmly into the convertible tablet space.”

Sanyo DCDB10 DAB+ micro system: “Sanyo’s DAB+ micro system is high on price and low on real value.”

That’s a lot of content for one day, even for me. I’m beginning to think I might work a tad too hard.

Finally, not forgetting the Hippo-loving crowd — how about a picture of the Egyptian Hippo Goddess Taweret? A photo I took in Adelaide recently. I had no idea Adelaide housed statues of obscure Egyptian Hippo Idols, but there you go.

Hippo Goddess

Now, on to the next thousand posts!

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

The strangest things happen to me. As we were pulled up at some traffic lights today, a prototypically heavy set biker dude pulled up beside us on a heavy black Harley Davidson.Big black jacket, that curious Harley-specific black helmet that looks like it’s fallen out of World War One, grizzled white beard. You know the look, or at least should be able to picture it by now.

So far, so normal.. except that the music blaring out as he did so was Bette Midler’s version of “Wind Beneath My Wings”. To be fair, it could have been blaring from the car behind him (do Harleys even have speakers? Would that be legal?), but as odd juxtapositions go, it was a beauty.

For those who want actual updates, about all I can entertain you with is the updated and tweaked version of my bio on my “About Me” page. One of these days I’ll get a headshot for that thing. And then the real stalking can begin…

Tomato Force: Vegetables Of Justice

It’s been a while since I’ve looked over the statistics for this ‘ere blog. That kind of thing used to be my bread and butter, and for a while I was seriously obsessed with web stats and trends. Not so much these days (personally; clearly those who comission my work are more heads-down in this stuff than I am), but my meagre blog stats do throw up a few oddities from time to time.

Like the fact that the eighth most popular search term in January was “Not all barn owls are called Mr Peters”. Or the 0.01% of my audience that, for reasons which frankly befuddle me, come from Bulgaria. No, I don’t know why, but if my Bulgarian readers — well, with those kinds of numbers, presumably fractions of readers — picoreaders, perhaps —  wish to make any requests, do so now.

That Bulgaria stat is, strangely enough, identical to the percentage of users identifiably using Google Chrome. Perhaps there’s something in that. Perhaps not.

Once more unto the Spam…

Gah. My previous, Captcha-centric approach to dealing with the comment spam actually led to far more comment spam getting through. As such, I’m trying a new approach, as advised by ye olde clone — it apparently works for him. Can I have another round of comments (and comments on what you hit when trying to put in a commment?)

But Daddy… you do have a big mouth…

Ah, out of the mouths of babes, and all that.

And speaking of big mouths, could my extensive readership (you know who you are) do me a small favour and post a comment on this post? You can say whatever you want (even Hello would be nice); I just want to test the new-fangled anti-spam-commenty-thingy I’ve just installed.  After a while, constantly moderating the viagra/porn/healthcare/Russian-brides spam becomes tiring, and my old system obviously had some kind of random flaw in it, as a few more comments were getting through each and every week. Not that you saw them — but I did.

You’re like a gun turned on the world…

With the turn of a new month, my brain cast itself towards my web stats — three years working at a web-stat-obsessed publisher turned me into a web-stat-obsessed editor, and it’s a habit I’ve found rather hard to kick. Now, I’m not pulling in stats numbers of any great significance here, but there are a few fun and notable oddities for the month of August:

  • The seventh most popular search term was “hemaphrodites” . What kind of audience am I pulling in here?
  • The tenth most popular term was “Space Invaders”. Are the aliens coming?
  • And the sixteenth most popular term was “confused”. Am I attracting a heretofore ignored multi-genitalled, possibly Alien and permanently bewildered portion of the online population? And if so, what do I do with this newfound (and frankly, rather worrying) power?
  • My photo blog of my trip to Armidale continues to generate good traffic, and plenty of search terms — along with the odd stolen photo, most notably of Duval and Armidale High Schools. Which is odd — those are awful photos.
  • Australian and US IP addresss make up for the vast majority of my traffic — no great surprise there.
  • At the other end of the scale, a whopping 0.09% of my traffic in August came from Sweden. Tjenare, Sweden!

And while I’m commenting on Web stats, I notice that very briefly, my web review of WWC PS2 was actually ranked by Google ahead of the publisher’s own page for the title. Those positions have now reversed themselves (or had done when I checked a second ago) — I wonder if it’s worth trying to force them back my way… and why do I care, exactly?