Blog Stats 2020

    As convention dictates, a summary of 2020’s posts. 173 in total, which is up on 2019’s total of 130. No SQL needed, unlike previous years. I just have to look at the archive pages.

    Month Posts
    Jan 18
    Feb 13
    Mar 14
    Apr 14
    May 19
    Jun 15
    Jul 18
    Aug 18
    Sep 6
    Oct 9
    Nov 18
    Dec 11

    2018’s post; and 2017’s

    Site Update

    As you might notice if you look around here, I’ve made some changes to the layout and presentation of the site. Nothing very dramatic, but the header and sidebar look a bit different.

    I’m open to – and seeking – constructive criticism. How does it look? Is anything misaligned, or confusingly laid out, or hard to find?

    Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter.

    Returning Blogs

    Here’s a reason (another reason) why feed readers are great: Tom Coates of has written his first post in seven years. There’s no reason to unsubscribe from blogs that haven’t posted for a while – no reason even to notice that fact normally – so up it pops in NetNewsWire1 today.

    The post itself is good – a bit meta (entirely meta) – but there’s nothing wrong with that.

    I keep seeing suggestions that blogging is undergoing a renaissance, and I think it might be true. Of course, lots of us never went away, either as readers or writers. But it’s good to welcome Tom back.

    1. Other feed readers are available. ↩︎

    2019 in Bloggery

    Only 130 posts in 2019. That’s disappointing after 261 and 163 in the previous two years.

    Month Posts
    Jan 15
    Feb 7
    Mar 22
    Apr 8
    May 10
    Jun 4
    Jul 6
    Aug 5
    Sep 11
    Oct 7
    Nov 11
    Dec 24

    Blogging the Bitface, 2018 Style

    Like last year, I present the figures for my blogging in 2018. 163 posts in total, counting this one, broken up as follows.

    Month Posts
    Jan 20
    Feb 13
    Mar 11
    Apr 15
    May 23
    Jun 16
    Jul 11
    Aug 8
    Sep 9
    Oct 13
    Nov 12
    Dec 12

    The formatting has improved, as I mentioned last time. I’m not sure what I did that made it better. The SQL is the same as before, with the obvious year change.

    100 posts less1 than last year, but not bad. I’ll try for something closer to daily in 2019.

    1. Some would say that should be “fewer,” but it turns out that was never a real rule, just some guy’s choice that got locked into style guides. 

    I’m not at all sure about this new “Gutenberg” editor they’re adding to WordPress. I’ve installed the plugin version to try it out. Gutenberg is a change to the web-based editor in the WordPress dashboard, not a separate app. I typed up my previous post in MarsEdit, as is my wont, and uploaded it. The Gutenberg plugin imported it nicely and displayed everything as you’d expect. But it turned all my Markdown into HTML.

    That’s not what I want, and it’s not how most Markdown-processing plugins — notably WordPress’s own Jetpack — handle Markdown. Instead they keep the source document as Markdown and only convert it to HTML when the page is requested. That’s what using a dynamic CMS means, after all.

    It appears that you can get Gutenberg to keep the Markdown as it is, if you type it into what they call a Code Block. So I’ll have to hope that [@danielpunkass]( updates MarsEdit to send posts to that kind of block once Gutenberg is the default. Assuming the WordPress API lets you do that, of course.

    2017 in Bitface Blogging

    Well hello. It’s been a while. That daily posting thing didn’t work too well in the latter part of the year, and was particularly weak in the last couple of weeks. Weak weeks.

    In fact I posted 261 times in 2017. It’s surprisingly hard to find that kind of thing out from Wordpress itself. I had to dig into the database and run some simple SQL:

    select count(*) from devilgate_posts
      where  post_status = 'publish'
      and post_type = 'post'
      and post_date_gmt like '2017%';

    261 is 72% of the days of the year, which is not too bad. Certainly the most posts in any year out of the past fifteen(!)

    Here’s the monthly breakdown:

    Month Posts
    Jan 32
    Feb 33
    Mar 33
    Apr 18
    May 27
    Jun 15
    Jul 21
    Aug 17
    Sep 18
    Oct 18
    Nov 23
    Dec 6

    A strong start, tapering off in the middle, with a rally in November and then a complete collapse in December. I suspect the last is from a combination of post-nano slump and the festive season.

    If you’re interested, here’s the SQL that got me that table:

      date_format(post_date_gmt, '%b') as Month,
      count(*) as Posts
      from devilgate_posts
      where post_status = 'publish'
      and post_type = 'post'
      and post_date_gmt like '2017%'
      group by date_format(post_date_gmt, '%m');

    As to this year, we’ll see how it goes. I hope at least to keep the frequency reasonably high. And improve both code and table formatting. iOS Going Universal | Manton Reece

    I’d like to be able to use from the iPad — well, I can, but it’s iPhone sized scaled up (or tiny in the middle of the screen) and doesn’t rotate to landscape, so I can’t use it with the keyboard. Manton tells us he’s going to fix all that, which will be great.

    Holding Pattern

    I’ve been working on a more substantial piece about music and gigs and nostalgia and my gig-going plans for the year, but it’s getting long, and possibly out of hand. So I’m going to delay it till later.

    Consider this a placeholder.

    And so it’s got some content of value, let me just draw your attention to the National March to Parliament next Saturday, 25th March. Meet from 11:00 in Park Lane.

    I don’t know if it can do any good, but if you believe, as I do, that Brexit must be stopped, then you should try to be there.

    And Then it Was All That

    One of the blogs I follow is called And now it’s all this, by the mysterious Dr Drang. He writes mainly on engineering and provides lots of interesting Python scripts.

    What I’m interested in his blog’s title and subtitle, though. “And now it’s all this”; and “I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or was taken wrong.” I’ve been reading it for years, and had only idly wondered about why it was called that, or what it really meant.

    I’ve also been listening to, and reading about, The Beatles for years — for a great many more years. And so I was very familiar with John Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” line, and the subsequent furore.

    But not that familiar, it turns out. Or not with his apology, at least.

    We recently watched the excellent Eight Days a Week film, which has lots of Beatles footage I’d never seen before, and puts it all together into a compelling narrative.

    Of course, it covers the “Jesus” period. So there was John, at a press conference, making an apology of sorts. And out pops:

    I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.

    Oh. OK. Right. I should have seen that years ago.

    Of course there are two remaining questions:

    1. Why did the good doctor choose to name his blog that?
    2. And what does the “leancrew” mean in his domain name?

    Misbehaviour Again

    I'm sure you all pay great attention to the goings on at this here blog. You'll almost certainly have noticed things going very strange yesterday, with the same post being repeated three or four times, in various forms and ways.

    No? Well, in case: what we had is (probably) a glitch caused by a Wordpress plugin. Or maybe not. Maybe it was something else entirely. Really, we’ll have to see what happens when this one posts.

    But I’ve turned off some of the sharing features for now. So you might not even see this if you’re used to being notified via Facebook or Twitter.

    Actually since that’s where most of the interaction comes from, it would be interesting to know who if anyone is not reading it that way. Is anyone subscribed to the feed? that’s how I still do most of my blog reading.

    Whether You Want To Or Not

    Note: If you've seen multiple copies of this post, it's because I had trouble with accidentally posting it in the wrong format, and then Wordpress refusing to let me change it. Hopefully be all right now.

    “Write even when you don’t want to,” say some people encouraging us to write every day. That would be me right now. The “don’t want to” part, not the “encouraging” part. It’s late and I haven’t written anything yet and I’ve made this daily rod for my own back.

    On the other hand, I do love to write, and I can’t deny that I’ve done more of it in this last couple of months.

    Though, not, as I hoped I might, any more fiction. I’m still stalled in the middle of the novel which in idea, at least is nearly five years old. It’ll be starting school soon!

    And I need to get round to submitting some of the other, finished, things I have. Because they’re no use just sitting here on my hard solid-state drive.


    Sometimes you just want to write something. Maybe you have something specific to say, maybe not. Maybe you have nothing to say at all, but just want to get something out there.

    Maybe you’ve set yourself a target, and having missed a day (and being aware that you’ll doubtless miss others) you’ve decided you want to keep the average up. So that at the end of 2017 you’ll be able to look back at at least 365 posts in the year.

    Maybe at the start of the year, that was about as many posts as were on your blog in its whole history. So it’s a major challenge. But maybe you keep going, even with nothing to say.


    OK, I missed a day. Obviously it had to happen sooner or later. But yesterday I just totally forgot.

    Oh well. We pick up and keep going.

    Daily Posting Harder When You're Away

    I may not get to do a proper post today, as I’m in Edinburgh visiting friends. As well, my phone’s battery has become increasingly erratic, so it could go down at any moment.

    So this is my post for today, unless I get round to writing more.

    Have a good weekend, everyone.

    Should a Blog Have a Theme?

    Yes, yes, it’s all very meta: all I ever write about is blogging.1 But that is exactly what I want to talk about today: is a blog better if it is only on one subject?2

    I suspect that the most successful blogs in terms of size of readership are fairly closely focused on a single subject. I read several technology blogs, such as Daring Fireball, Six Colours and MacStories, which all write mainly about technology with an Apple slant. They have all achieved success by keeping that focus.3

    On the other hand, there are some highly enjoyable ones that take a broader scope: Tim Bray’s Ongoing, John Scalzi’s Whatever, or Wil Wheaton‘s blog; those authors write about whatever4 takes their fancy.

    I, as you’ll have noticed, take the latter tack. But the question is, should I be more focused? Should I concentrate on writing about politics, say?5

    It’s worth considering, certainly, but here’s the thing: I’m not actually sure what I would focus on. I don’t think I have the single-mindedness to keep to the same subject. I value the flexibility of the old-school, personal blog.

    Which is just as well, since that’s what I seem to be writing. So there you go.

    1. Or politics. ↩︎

    2. However broad that may be. ↩︎

    3. Though it’s worth noting that recent world events have caused some of them to get a bit more political than previously. ↩︎

    4. The clue is even in one of the names. ↩︎

    5. Some would say that wouldn’t be so very different from now. ↩︎

    Some More Bitface Thoughts

    Something I forgot to mention yesterday was that I thought the “bitface” term was useful not just to refer to people who manipulate bits for a living (or hobby) — programmers, like myself. It can also work to discuss anyone who makes digital content: websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, photos, and so on.

    We’re all moving bits around. We’re all labourers at the bitface.

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