Introducing “The Elegant Gentleman”

I’d like to present a new project of mine, something that I’ve been thinking about and planning for a while. It’s called “The Elegant Gentleman”, and it’s going to be a journey on which I’ll hope you’ll join me, where we will explore clothes, manners and the finer things in life, in the search for a noble, enlightened existence as gentle-men, in this modern world of ours where stress and busy-ness seem to dominate the lives of those around us.

Raoul

Naturally, we won’t have an enlightened existence without the inner search for higher ideals. A preoccupation with “the finer things” alone will leave you empty in the end. But the practice and appreciation of character traits that ennoble us, and the search for meaning and happiness in the world around us, will make us enlightened. And I’ll tell you a little secret: when the search begins within and reaches outside, those “finer things” will begin to have a meaning that enriches our lives and helps us stay on a higher plane of living.

This all sounds somewhat esoteric, and on some level, it is. That’s why there are so few true gentlemen in the world. So won’t you join me as we seek membership in this exclusive club? The journey will be the initiation ceremony. The dues will be the experiences we will each have. And the reward will be a life better lived, a life worth living, a life full of wonderful memories for us and for those around us.

I’ll be creating and posting videos to my YouTube channel. Here’s the first one of the series:

And I’ll be posting frequently on my Facebook Page, and writing articles here on my site, where I’ve added a new category, called… you guessed it, “The Elegant Gentleman“. There’s even a website by the same name.

See you soon! Cheers!

It’s my website’s 12th anniversary

Earlier this month (on August 7th to be exact), my website turned 12. Yes, I’ve been writing and publishing online since 2000!

I also got two unexpected gifts around the anniversary date. One of my articles got featured on the home page of WordPress.com (in the Freshly Pressed section). It was the second time I was featured, so it felt pretty good. (This was my first featured post.)

Another nice surprise was to see my stats counter fly past 1,000,000 views.

That’s over 1 million views since January of 2010, when I moved my site to WordPress.com. I had been self-hosting a WordPress install prior to that, and before that, my website went through several iterations of static HTML designs and a home-grown blogging engine written in ASP, running off an Access database (it was surprisingly stable). By my own guesstimate, the total number of views on my website since 2000 is somewhere around 10-12 million, if not a lot more. I used to get about 3,000 visits (not just views) per day in previous years.

Web traffic is but one measure of a website’s value. I’m much more pleased by your interactions with my articles and your messages to me, particularly the ones where you tell me how much you like the content I publish here. I do put in a lot of effort into my posts, I’ve done it from the start, and I’m glad when people see the quality.

So, a hearty thank you to all of you who are subscribed, particularly to those of you who are long-time readers! I hope you’ll stick around for another 12 years; I know I will! Cheers! 🙂

New site design

A new site design went live yesterday. If you haven’t checked my site in a while, click through to see it, it’s worth it.

The new header image is a panoramic photograph taken atop the Parang Mountains, on the Transalpina Road, which I just wrote about. The header also celebrates the 10-year anniversary of my website and indicates my presence on various social networking sites.

There’s also a surprise re-design for my iPad readers. I’ll let you see it for yourselves.

Twelve years of writing and publishing online

Updated 7/3/12: My website turns 12 on August 7th!

Updated 1/16/12: I’ve checked the age of my domain name (raoulpop.com) and I purchased it on the 7th of August, 2000, so technically, my website is 11 years old, not 10. It will turn 12 this August. While I published my first article in August of 2001, the website was up and running in 2000, so I’ve updated the post and the site header to reflect this.

My writing efforts reached an important milestone back in August. Ligia and I were so busy with work on her new book that I didn’t even notice.

I published my first article on August 3, 2001. It was called “How to keep your exercise goals“. Back then, I wrote it in HTML, using one of the first versions of Dreamweaver, and published it to a domain I’m no longer using (amalgamy.com). As I upgraded to better publishing platforms and new domains over the years, I moved my growing collection of articles and posts along, keeping their original publish dates, so that I’d have a proper archive.

So here we are today… It’s October 9th, 2011, and I’ve been writing and publishing online for over ten years. It’s been an interesting time, during which many, many things have happened in my life.

My articles have had a surprising amount of influence — particularly my reviews. I’d often find, privately, that CEOs and senior executives were reading them. When I needed help, they’d step in and help, in spite of the critiques I leveled at their products. Even now I cringe at some of stronger language I used in my reviews, so I’d like to apologize for all those instances when I let my frustration get the better of me, instead of looking at the situation more objectively. I’d also like to thank all the people who’ve helped me after they got to know me through my website. Thank you!

Another thing that took me by surprise is the tail traffic, which is impossible (for me) to predict, but which provides a steady stream of traffic (and comments) on articles that are fairly old.

If you’ve been a long-time subscriber, you might have been frustrated at times by the diverse number of subjects you find here. You might have wished for a more focused list of topics. I’ve even been told that my website could have been a lot more popular if I could choose one or two subjects and only write about them. I’m interested in a lot of things, and I like to write about anything that catches my attention. Sure, there are some things I keep coming back to, like tech or photos and videos, but even there, I tend not to write about specific things. So I’d like to thank you for sticking around (if you have indeed been sticking around)! 🙂

The one thing I regret is not writing more. I get so many ideas, but there’s so little time. With better time management skills, I could have written and published more, so that’s something I need to work on.

That’s about it for now.

Cheers!

What kinds of posts would you like to read here?

Are you a subscriber to my website? Great! Let me know what kinds of posts and articles you’re interested in, by filling in the simple survey form below. Thanks!

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 340,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 15 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 194 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1716 posts.

The busiest day of the year was May 8th. The most popular post that day was Reduce your waste with a toothbrush? Yes.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were stumbleupon.com, ligiapop.com, wordpress.com, google.com, and forums.macrumors.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tussionex, ipad, edit exif data, beatrix potter, and drobo review.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Reduce your waste with a toothbrush? Yes. May 2010
66 comments

2

Automatic redirect from HTTP to HTTPS August 2007
52 comments

3

Don’t play with Tussionex May 2009
91 comments

4

Hardware review: WD My Book World Edition II June 2007
228 comments

5

Editing EXIF data in photos November 2006
27 comments

New, lower pricing on web use photo licenses

I’ve decided to try something different, and lowered the prices for the web-use photo licenses (the 1 megapixel sizes) to $3 for personal uses and $5 for commercial uses. These sizes are great for article illustrations, or for header images for your websites, or even for desktop wallpapers. A typical 1 megapixel image is a little larger than 1200×800 pixels.

This is essentially micro-stock pricing, but you get access to my premium image collection. I’m going to see how this works out in a few months’ time, and I may adjust the price back up if the economics don’t make sense.

If you’ve been on the fence about licensing a few of my images, now is the time to jump in and try things out. Have a go, browse my catalog and see what you like.

Make sure you read through my simplified licensing terms as well. Thanks!

Are you subscribed to the right feed for my site?

A lot of my readers are still subscribed to the standard site feed, at

http://www.raoulpop.com/feed/rss2/

but that may become inactive, as I’m making some changes on the server side, so please make sure you’re subscribed to

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Raoul

which will continue to stay the same for the foreseeable future. Check your feed readers and make the change so you can continue to receive updates from me.

By the way, I’d like to apologize for the frequent and recent server outages. I’m looking into what’s causing them. They started happening as soon as I upgraded to WordPress 2.9. I’d hoped they’d go away with 2.9.1, but they’re still here… I made no other changes on the server side before or immediately after the upgrade, so the only thing I can think of is that 2.9.x has some issues. I disabled all but three essential plugins: Akismet, FeedBurner FeedSmith and WordPress.com Stats, and while my server crashes less frequently now, it still does.

It’s the strangest thing though. The server doesn’t run out of memory, my other sites stay up, Apache stays up, mySQL stays up, and yet raoulpop.com goes down. I’ve tried tweaking and re-tweaking Apache2 and PHP5 and mySQL settings to no avail. The only thing I need to do to bring my site up is to reload Apache2, but it is a very annoying thing indeed. If I had to deal with this thing long-term I’d schedule a cron job to restart Apache every once in a while, but I’ve got something in the works that should eliminate the need for that.

If anyone is having this problem and you’ve got it solved, I’d love to hear how you did it.

Now in top 75K websites on the internet

I took a look at my Quantcast stats today, and got a nice surprise. After hovering around the 100K rank for some time, I’m now ranked in the top 75K websites on the web. I do hope the trend continues along the same route, to the point where I can announce that I’m in the top 50K websites and so forth.

quantcast-raoulpopcom-stats

Why do I reveal this information? Because I believe in transparency, and I’ve been fairly open about my site’s performance from the get-go. (See this post from 2006, or this post from 2007 for a couple of examples.) I started using Quantcast to track the ranking of my site in 2008, and ever since then, I posted a little button in my sidebar that you can always click on to see my live stats.

quantcast-widget

By the way, let me take this opportunity to invite serious, legitimate companies who want to gain exposure to a worldwide audience to get in touch with me. The details are here.

Google Reader translates posts?

Yesterday morning, I added a new feed to my subscriptions in Google Reader, and noticed what I thought was a new feature: the ability to translate posts automatically, within GR. The feature was actually launched in November of last year, and it works through the normal drop-down menu. A new option was added there, and it looks like this:

Google Reader automatic post translation

Isn’t that cool? The translation technology used is the same one found in Google Translate. What’s also cool is how the languages are detected. I assume the translate option with GR uses the language setting saved in the GR settings or in the Google Account settings, and then it either uses the auto-detect capabilities built into Google Translate to figure out the language, or it looks at the language setting encoded within the feed itself.

Google Translate

It’s an incredibly useful feature, because it allows people to read blogs in other languages without worrying about copying and pasting the text into a separate translation tool. Just think, if I write a post in Romanian and publish it on my site, the auto-translation tool within GR will allow you to read it as if I’d written it in English! Granted, the translation is machine-generated so it won’t read fluently and might even miss a few meanings here and there, but it’s certainly better than nothing, which is what we had before.

I’d also like point out that if you’re reading articles on my site instead of the feed, I’ve recently added auto-translation capabilities to each post via the same Google Translate technology. You’ll have the option to translate any of my articles into several languages, by clicking on a particular language, right under any post title, as shown below. I hope this will prove useful to my readers from other countries.

Post header showing auto-translation capabilities

New site design is live

This past week, I spent a feverish few days working on this new site design. I have been working on several different layouts during these past few months, but liked none of them except the one you see now. I built it from scratch, since that’s the way I like to do things.

New site design

One of the decisions I pondered was whether I should go with a three-column or a two-column design. The three-column layout would have allowed me to reserve one of the columns for ads. In the end, I thought good taste should trump ad space, unlike what’s happening on so many other sites.

If you find my articles useful and you’d like to support my site, please use the sponsors listed in the sidebar. Buy the stuff you need from them. I’ll get a small percentage of each sale.

Site sponsors

I’m also looking for a main site sponsor, whose logo and link will be featured in the top right corner of my site. I’d like the arrangement to be simple: a flat monthly fee over a certain period of time; the fee and period can be negotiated. See the Advertising page for more details.

Main sponsor placement

Please check to see if you're subscribed to the correct feed

This is an important message for my feed subscribers.

It’s been over a year since I changed my feed URL and domain name, and I now see, inexplicably, that over 35% of my subscribers still show up under the old ComeAcross feed.

My feed traffic has been redirected (with a 301 status message, which indicates a permanent change) for that same year, which means that if your feed reader hasn’t already changed your subscription over to my new feed, you’ll need to do it manually.

The old feed will go down in the very near future, possibly within days. It was set to be deleted one year after the redirection. Please check your feed readers to make sure you are indeed subscribed to feeds.feedburner.com/Raoul, which is my main site feed, or you will not receive future updates from my site.

For historical reference, I talked about the feed changes on 1/16/08, and on 1/29/08, I explained how I did the transfer of the content.

I also want to give you advance notice of another possible change to my feed URL, which may happen when I transition my feeds from FeedBurner to Google within the next 1-2 months. You may recall that Google bought FeedBurner in 2007. Now they’re at the point where they’re moving FeedBurner publishers to the Google infrastructure, and I’m not sure how they’re going to manage the process.

I thought the migration from FeedBurner to Google was going to be fairly smooth, but I’ve already run into a roadblock. One of my feed URLs is somehow in use on Google’s servers, and my migration fails every time I initiate it. I’m not sure how that’s going to be resolved, and I would appreciate any help from Googlers out there.

So, just to be on the safe side, do a manual check in your feed reader and make sure you see feeds.feedburner.com/Raoul. When I hear what the new Google feed URL is, I’ll be sure to let you know.