Apologies for the RSS Spam

To my loyal followers:

(THAT sounds narcissistic)

Many apologies for the momentary bout of RSS “spam” in tannerhelland.com feeds.  I’ve been working on integrating my Twitter and WordPress accounts (which should eventually lead to more quality content both places).  An unfortunate side-effect is that once everything got connected, a bunch of Twitter posts got sucked into WordPress, making it look like there were TONS of new posts.  To make matters worse, WordPress has trouble assigning intelligent titles to tweets – especially if the tweet starts with a URL – so it makes the RSS look full of gibberish.  I’m working on a system to remedy that.

I promise this won’t happen again, although as I fix some of the terrible auto-generated titles your reader may get confused and think these are yet more new posts.  Sorry in advance!  :)

Building a Better Blog

As you may have noticed, things have started looking a lot better around here.  I thought it was worth taking a moment to mention some of the new features I’ve been working on – features that should make your experience on tannerhelland.com better than ever before.

Totally Revamped Site Search

The normal WordPress search function leaves a lot to be desired – but with the help of a couple excellent plugins, you can turn blog searches into something surprisingly intuitive and useful.  Some of this site’s recent updates include:

  • Tags, categories, URLs, meta data, and comments are now searchable.
  • Search terms are now highlighted, and appropriate excerpts are shown on the search results screen.
  • Search results are sorted by relevance – not date.
  • Searches that return multiple pages now have a “jump to page” feature (unlike the former “previous page” and “next” page only).

Iconified Links

Outgoing links now have a Wikipedia-like icon (like so), and each outgoing link will spawn a new tab/window.  Links to downloadable files will also show an appropriate icon, (i.e. zips or mp3s).

Improved VB Code Zips

A good chunk of this site is dedicated to game programming, so I’ve taken the time to go through each code .zip file and clean it up.  Now each .zip includes a README file, proper comments, and the most up-to-date version of my award-winning FastGraphics class (which gives easy access to DIB sections).  I’ve also removed useless files (like .vbw) to keep .zip sizes down.

Minor Aesthetic Changes

Some small aesthetic changes have crept onto the site, including more use of orange (orange is a grossly underutilized web color, IMO), some font adjustments (to make titles more readable), and the addition of a new “Now Playing” box in the top-right.  I figure this will provide a fun insight into my eclectic music collection.  :)

SEO galore

This feature has mostly happened behind-the-scenes, but I’m happy to say that SEO most definitely works.  After several weeks of research and behind-the-scenes tweaking, this site now plays much friendlier with search bots.  As a result, traffic from searches has more than quadrupled in the last month, and my hope is that it continues to grow.  More traffic = more advertising revenue = a bigger and better site for everyone.

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Many thanks to all my visitors for your interest and comments, and I hope to have some big, exciting announcements in the next couple weeks.  Stay tuned!

Traffic ‘Round Here (2008)

2008 site stats

Though I was late getting this up, here’s what the stats for 2008 looked like (as collected by the excellent AWStats tool).

2008 was a big year for the site.  After living on free hosting services for almost ten years, tannerhelland.com finally found a real home on a real server (woohoo!).  Rather than static html, the site is now driven by WordPress, and the visual layout is currently derived from the excellent “The Morning After” theme by Arun Kale.  My previous disparate music, programming, and personal blog sites have all been condensed into one messy whole – and I like it.  A lot.

This is what a day on the frontpage of Digg can do to your site traffic.

This is what a day on the
frontpage of Digg can do
to your site traffic.

As you can see above, from when the new site launched in August through December 31st, some 20,000 visitors hit the site.  A massive chunk of this (over half) came when my R.I.P. Windows XP article went frontpage on Digg.  What’s funny is that this is one of my least original posts (it’s really more of a rant), and I had absolutely no idea that the article had gone frontpage until I checked my email the next day and had page after page of angry/congratulatory/sarcastic/friendly emails.  I learned a lot from that experience, and subsequent posts have been more carefully constructed…

One of my goals for the coming year is to double each of these stats.  I’d like to see closer to 30,000 unique visitors in 2009, and it’d be great if the number of visits per visitor could get bumped closer to 2.0.  Part of the way I plan to accomplish this is with a renewed emphasis on regular posting (which I hope you’ve enjoyed!) and a host of SEO changes, along with the continual addition of content from my old programming and music sites.  It’s all a work in progress, but hey – at least it’s progressing!

Also, in the coming weeks my general article content will be shifting somewhat. Stay tuned for details – and thanks for visiting.  If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed of your choice at the very bottom of this page!