Brain Dirty. Must Clean.

If the content on the site has been a little light as of late, it’s not without reason: Will has been teething, I caught the 24 hour Avian Flu yesterday and I’ve been holed up in meetings getting reamed out by corporate auditors (sorry, “assessors”) all day long.
Posting may continue in its lightened form for the next few days, unfortunately.

Site News And Updates

I’ve made a few changes around here lately and thought it might be worth pointing out the (fairly subtle) modifications.
First up is the Rolling Archives visible at the bottom of the main blog page, originally conceived of by Michael Heilman and then nicely WordPress plugin-ized by Zeo, meaning that it was dead easy to drop them in to my K2 theme setup.
Secondly, check the very bottom of the sidebar to the right side of this page – I’ve added a Server Load button that gives you a fairly good idea as to just how (over)loaded the server that runs this site is at any given time. It’s using the Linux-standard /proc/loadavg, which is a small deviation from the standard UNIX load system. Basically, any load over 1.0 is indicative of a heavy load. (Right now, it’s reading between 2-3 fairly consistently, with spikes to well over 8 during the day. I’ve contacted my hosting provider and they have acknowledged the issue but have declined to give me an ETA for a fix. For all my hosted blogs, this affects you too, so if your sites seem slow, that’s most likely the cause). It might not end up being very useful for my visitors, but it definitely gives me warm fuzzies.
Third and last of all, Feedburner seems to have added the ability to add “social bookmarking” entries to one’s feeds, so I dropped in my username and now those of you reading this site via my RSS feed should begin getting daily digests of the bookmarks I posted to on any given day.
Drop a comment in the comments section of this post and let me know what you think, if’n y’all don’t mind…

Add Two More Sites To The Fray

I’d like you all to join me in welcoming two new bloggers and two new blogs to the Literal Barrage/ family.
First off is Expect the Extraordinary, penned by Vinny and Ann. EtE is shaping up to be a great amateur restaurant, wine and spirits review site. Head over there to catch a few of their reviews.
Next up is Vinny’s solo effort, Journal of Brewing. Vinny has recently taken up homebrewing of beer and (I can personally attest to this) is turning out some great homemade beers. He’s cataloging his experiences and writing ’em down for all to see.
Hmmm, anyone else hungry right now? Sure could go for an Emoatmeal Stout, myself…

In The Interests Of Full Disclosure

I’ve never explicitly stated it on this blog, but I have a comments moderation policy in place here at Literal Barrage. [Note to self: remember to actually insert comments policy above comments form.] It hasn’t been hard and fast, but some recent comments have ended up in the moderation queue and I guess it’s about time for me to state said policy up front. Basically, it comes down to this:

  1. No garden-variety Anglo-Saxon obscenities will be permitted. Y’all know which ones I’m talking about.
  2. No l33t-speak’d Anglo-Saxon obscenities will be permitted.
  3. Euphemistic and/or novel coinages of oaths are encouraged. (Think “Yosemite Sam”…)
  4. No sexually explicit comments will be permitted.
  5. Everything else will be, for the moment, up to my discretion.

I try to let things flow, for the most part, as the commenters that I do get are few and far-between enough, but I do want things to stay clean around here.
Thanks for the consideration.

$>NumHosted Blogs++

I’d like you all to extend a hearty welcome to the newest member of the Literal Barrage/ blogging family: the newly-christened Fuzzy Bunny. Penned by Andy II‘s fiance Sara, FB is just getting its blogging feet under itself. So head on over there and welcome her to the wonderful world of blogging.

$>NumHosted Blogs++

I’d like you all to extend a hearty welcome to the newest member of the Literal Barrage/ blogging family: the newly-christened Fuzzy Bunny. Penned by Andy II‘s fiance Sara, FB is just getting its blogging feet under itself. So head on over there and welcome her to the wonderful world of blogging.

Feed The Burn

I started blogging back in 2001 primarily as a hobby and have continued doing so to this day. At times, I’ve considered adding ads to the site in order to try to recoup some of the costs associated with hosting fees, domain registrations, etc., but in the end have decided against it. While I primarily blog as an outlet for my writing instincts, I have often wondered who, exactly, is reading the wonderful flowing prose piffle I call “content”. I initially joined The Truth Laid Bear’s Blogosphere Ecosystem (and Sitemeter in order to meet the Ecosystem’s requirements) to see just how many people were linking to my site (answer: not very many). However, I felt as if I was getting an incomplete picture of my “typical” reader, so in the interests of finding out just such information, I’ve installed a couple of useful WordPress plugins in order to get a better handle on who exactly is accessing my site.
First off is this Google Analytics plugin which painlessly inserts the Javascript necessary to track visitor hits into my pages’ headers. Why did I join with Google’s stats program if I already had Sitemeter serving that function? Simple: Analytics provides a far more detailed breakdown of my traffic patterns than Sitemeter does, at least without my having to pay. I’ve left the SM stuff in place so that my Ecosystem rank doesn’t get affected, but for the most part, I’m going to be counting on Analytics to help me understand where my readers are coming from.
Feedburner logo
The second plugin is Ordered List’s Feedburner plugin, which allows me to seamlessly redirect all of my feed hits to my unified Feedburner feed. While Analytics tracks all hits made to my site via web browsers, it can’t track all the hits I receive on my feeds, nor can Sitemeter. Both rely upon Javascript to send stats back to their respective motherships and feed readers can’t be reliably depended upon to interpret/execute JS successfully, so I turned to Feedburner to help me get a better handle on my feed stats. The stats I get back aren’t as detailed as the GA or SM stats (no IP addresses or referrers, for instance), but they do give me overall readership numbers and an idea of the various feed reading tools that people are using to access my content. Additionally, whereas in the past, I had to maintain up to four separate feeds, the new Feedburner feed is a unified “intelligent” one, meaning that a web browser, an Atom-, RDF-, or RSS2-compliant reader or even a WAP browser can all hit a single URL and be served up information in a format that’s accessible from their platform, with no worries on my part.
I’ve tried running my own stats packages in the past – BAStats, StatTraq and WP-Stats, as well as all manner of Apache log parsers and, when it comes right down to it, the WP plugins slowed down my site and I was sick of walking through logs myself, so I’ve been more than happy to hand that off to someone else. Sure, I lose some granularity in stats, but I’m willing to do so in order to spare myself some headaches.
So what does this mean for you, good readers? Well, if you visit this site with a web browser, nothing. The site will remain the same to your eyes. To those of you hitting here via feed readers, you will notice the addition of email, and Technorati links to the bottom of each feed entry. Other than that, precious little will change.
Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Testing Vanilla

Vanilla preview
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Vanilla lately, including Michael Heilman moving his forums over to the Vanilla platform.
What is Vanilla? In short, it’s an Open Source forum framework that seeks to reenvision the forum/bulletin board concept. It has a lot of nifty AJAX effects and an extremely streamlined CSS-based design. It really seems to be a simpler take on forums and seems to be trying to match up to users’ workflows.
I decided to give it a whirl and grabbed the latest copy from the Lussumo svn server. After initially pulling my hair out in my attempts to configure the thing, I’ve finally got it working (as you can plainly see). I’m not sure if my site is big enough to require a forum, but I’ve started this as more of an experiment than anything.
All in all, Vanilla seems like a pretty cool app and a nifty take on forum software in general. I’ll post more as I find out more.
Tangential note: The Lussumo team also developed the excellently simplistic File Browser, which is well worth a look for those seeking a simple gallery program.