Streaming Wilco EP, and some Flaming Lips

Eric Olsen at Blogcritics reports on Wilco’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s release with the streaming audio release of an Australian EP featuring alternate versions of YHF material and new songs. Cool, if you can get through.

And if that isn’t enough, another BlogCritic reports that you can get all of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and some of Fight Test via stream here.

On knowing the limitations of your stats

I have three sources of statistics about the readership of my weblog. One is the built in statistics in Manila, which tells me about referrers and page views in the last 24 hours, and the most read messages since I started the weblog. But it doesn’t tell me anything about the readers doing the page views—browser, IP, source country, anything. Also, it doesn’t report on pages served by my static site, which is where I try to point most of my readers these days.

Another is Site Meter, the seemingly ubiquitous tracking device that shows up on everyone’s blogs. My Site Meter reports give me a few more things, such as showing what the most popular entry and exit pages are, who the most popular browsers are, and so forth. But no ranking of messages by popularity, no reports of 404s, etc. Plus, um, it is a potential privacy violation. (What do they do with that data?)

The third, which I finally was able to access last week, is the actual Apache logs for the static site. And I discovered something about Site Meter: it filters out quite a few things from its Browser report. Like robots. Site Meter claims that most of my visitors run Internet Explorer. Actually, twice as many—over 10,000 visits, or almost 25% of my static site’s traffic—are done by GoogleBot. Which is fine, but another 9% are apparently done by Slurp. And there are lots of other visitors who are running evil bots, like the cunningly named EvilBot.

Which makes me grateful for the new Spam-Free Email feature in Manila. Used to be that if you left a comment, visitors saw your email address. Now they see the name you used to register, and clicking on that takes you to a form that allows you to submit email, but not see their address. Which means that the spambots crawling my site looking for email addresses won’t find any.

A great start. But there are more limitations:

  • My RSS file is served by Manila, not Apache, so I can’t see which RSS readers are subscribing to me—or how many distinct people there are, or how often they’re hitting my server.
  • I can put a robots.txt file on my static server to control how the robots crawl my site (and I will), but I can’t do the same on Manila.

Ah, for a unified stats solution. In the meantime, two new projects start today on the weblog:

  • A robots.txt file for the static site.
  • A P3P-compliant (and human-readable!) privacy policy.

William Gibson, blogger no more

Sez here (interview by Karlin Lillington, to be on Wired this afternoon sometime) that William Gibson is giving up blogging, as he fears it will damage his creative process for his next novel. While I grieve his loss as a blogger, I commend his motives. Great quotes:

Somehow the ecology of writing novels wouldn’t be able to exist if I’m in daily contact. The watched pot never boils… Writing novels is pretty solitary, and blogging is very social.…If I were really a novelist of ideas in the way some novelists are, it might well work [to keep blogging] – if I needed to work through political and philosophical ideas. But that’s not how I think I work.…If I expose things that interest or obsess me as I go along, there’d be no need to write the book. The sinews of narrative would never grow. So, I think I’m going to say goodbye to whoever’s been following it. Though it’s very tempting not to stop. Stop me now!

I think we’ve all been there. I hope that blogging—and meeting his fans and reading their comments about his work—has given him some good grist for the next one.

Happy anniversary, Adam

Adam: Brown/Medros Annual Report. Happy anniversary, kids! I think Adam’s been at B-school too long:

Monday marked the first anniversary of the Brown-Medros merger. Although we’ve cut revenues, scaled back expenses, and moved corporate headquarters, we are actively repositioning for growth and expansion and plan to increase headcount by 50% this year.

UserLand digs in on Manila

Ever since Dave went to Harvard, there’s been a flurry of activity around Manila, UserLands’s other blogging product (after Radio), which happens to be the back end of this weblog as well. As a long time customer (and only recently a paying one!) it’s nice to see UserLand paying attention to its other platform.

You can follow their progress on Manila and on Radio on a new website that tracks progress on UserLand’s products from all its employees.

Happy birthday, Al

My father-in-law celebrated his birthday today with us at Szmania’s. I only hope that I can be half as feisty, and in half as good a shape mentally and physically, when I’m an octogenarian-plus. (Yes, my in-laws are in town. A suspension of garden postings is in order, since my mother-in-law, a true pro, is here to straighten us out.)

Banning violent video games in Seattle

The Register: “Washington State to ban sales of violent games to minors.” Retail employees who sell violent games, particularly games featuring violence against women or police officers, will be subject to heavy fines. Guess high schoolers playing Grand Theft Auto is out.

It’ll be interesting to see the enforcement strategy on this one. Could a clerk selling Diablo II to a 17 year old be in violation? (The game has women, albeit demonic women, as bosses—major villains—in at least two dungeons.) Where’s the line? They can’t just profile GTA, unless they want to get sued by the makers of the game.

Adam: Warren Buffet comes to HBS

Adam: “Yesterday was pretty amazing to have Warren Buffett speaking to a packed Burden Auditorium for a very enjoyable 2 hours.” Some excellent quotes from Buffet, including one that proves he’s the Zen master of investing:

On the Economy– “I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I deal with what is knowable and important. Don’t get distracted by the unknowable and the unimportant.”

Words to live by.

Cool hack: making Unix behave better under Mac OS X

O’Reilly Network: Bringing Trash-Awareness to rm. Apple did a pretty good job of making Mac OS X feel like a Mac operating system despite its BSD core, but you can really feel like you’re in another world when you dive into the Terminal. The script described in the article acts as an alias for rm and moves files to the Trash instead of immediately deleting them as rm does. Pretty cool.

Microsoft devs talk blogging clients

Don Box notes that he and Chris Sells (new at Microsoft as of yesterday) have been discussing blogging infrastructure. They both think that blogging from Word, rather than an HTML editor or InfoPath, is the right way to go. They appear to be discussing how to architect it. Don may not be aware, but there’s some interesting prior art in the Word macros that Simon Fell constructed (using PocketSOAP) to talk to the Manila API or to Radio. I don’t know what API Don’s blogging infrastructure supports, but using a slim SOAP client it should be trivial to send XML message packets from Word.

BTW, there are a ton of Microsoft bloggers blogging about, well, blogging, but also RSS, .NET, web design, and other topics near and dear to my heart. Some of the other interesting guys are Tim Ewald at MSDN, Dare Obasanjo, Chris Anderson, Scott Guthrie… and soon Robert Scoble.

(Man, I oughtta get around to adding a Microsoft department to this blog.)

Eulogies for Nina

Greg writes a eulogy for Nina Simone, who passed away yesterday at 70:

This Is Not the Greatest Post in the World…this is just a tribute — a tribute to Nina Simone, the legendary and fiery-tempered jazz vocalist…you could start anywhere in her catalog and not go wrong. I’m only glad I got to know her work. A roommate hipped me to her when I first moved to Chicago, and I’ve been listening to her ever since.

Eric Olsen at Blogcritics rounds up some great biographical sketches, including one from Salon: “‘To Love Somebody’ was my introduction to Simone, and I’ll never forget the way she berated her musicians during the intro to ‘Revolution.’ She harshly tells them, ‘Hold it! This is louder than usual. Let it groove on its own thing.’ Cool. I thought. This woman can kick butt…”