A Decade of Blitzcraig

Happy 10th anniversary to my blog! As of this writing, at the tail end of December 2015, I’ve maintained my blog for ten long years. I wrote my first blog post on December 2, 2005! I truly never imagined this would go the distance.

Five years ago, I commemorated my five-year anniversary, and in what seems like a mere blink of an eye, it has suddenly been a decade.

I wrote more posts in the first five years by far than I have in the last five. I can accurately be accused of phoning it in many times in the past few years. I’ll concede that truth, but at least I still made an effort to publish new material.

Looking ahead, I will continue to make an effort to write a blog post at least once a month. Will my efforts survive another ten long years? I somehow doubt it. Weighing the decline in my interest in the last five years, I will be very surprised if I’m still doing this ten years from now in 2025. (Can you believe that a decade from now will be 2025?!)

As for the visual appearance of my site… I’ve often contemplated changing the visual theme of my blog. I last changed the theme on January 30, 2010. At the time, I purchased a lifetime membership to a design studio that created my design theme for around $30. Since those days, newer, more modern web practices have supplanted the aging design that I am maintaining on this site. That being said, I still enjoy the sturdy fixed-width presentation of my blog. I may consider updating the design in the future. For the time being, I’ll happily keep it the way that it is. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, then you aren’t seeing the traditional theme that I mentioned above. I had implemented a mobile version of my site a couple of years ago that streamlines my posts on a small phone screen.

At the end of the day, I’m not planning to stop doing this any time soon. It has truly been a pleasure to write blog posts for the world to read. Thank you all for reading my posts! This post in particular. Here’s to many more.

I love you all! (Except the scammers that have inundated my site with hundreds of spam comments every week for the last ten years.)

Cheers!

PS – Honorable mention to my friend Hannah, who was the person to suggest the name Blitzcraig way back in the day, years before the existence of this site. I thank you.

New Blog Category: Audio

Today I have added a new category to my blog, called Audio. I will be using it for posts involving voice recordings that I make. I’ve been enjoying making recordings lately and plan to continue. I will be posting links to them and filing those posts in the Audio category. This marks the first time in years that I have edited the categories on my site. Enjoy!

The End of My AdSense Experiment

One year ago, I added Google AdSense ads to my website. I placed an unobtrusive box on the right sidebar where the ads would be contained. Placing ads on my site was an experiment to see if I could make enough change to cover my hosting fees. I wasn’t expecting to make a lot of money from it, but what I have made isn’t worth messing with.

After one full year using AdSense, I have earned a grand total of $6.52. Nearly half of that sum came from a single click not long after I got started. Looking at my current stats, I have earned a mere 3 cents in the last 28 days.

I chose not to put ads on the mobile version of my site. I thought that would look tacky. Considering that, and the fact that my site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, it’s sensible that my earnings would be very low.

I think that the quality of the ads was pretty good overall. I don’t recall a time when I looked at my site and was unhappy with the ad content. I just find them to be a distraction.

This morning I removed the ads. There’s not a compelling reason to leave them up. The page is cleaner, and my site is classier without them.

Spam Comments and CAPTCHA

Since the beginning of my blog, I have allowed unrestricted comments on my posts. I’ve never wanted people to have to create a user account to post comments. That might work for some sites, but I strived to have a frictionless commenting system.

It was only a matter of time before spam began to trickle in. When the trickle became a steady stream, I added a spam filter that would flag messages for me to review before they would be approved for the written record. That solution worked for a long time, but times have changed, and the spam volume has increased to the point that it is too much to moderate.

The deluge of spam has reached a point that every week I find over 4000 new comments in my spam folder. Amusingly, quite a high percentage of the comments pertain to a certain brand of designer handbag, whose name I won’t mention for fear of provoking even more bogus comments about it.

All of this brings me to my point. I have added a CAPTCHA system to my comment form. The one I have chosen involves only a simple math problem. I very much dislike the systems that use the crazy lettering that I can barely read. Those types are hideous and turn a lot of people off. I think the simple math problem is the best solution for my site at this time.

I have had the CAPTCHA system in place for about a week now. Spam comments have dropped of significantly, but I’ve still received a few dozen in the past week. That was to be expected. The simplicity of the system I’ve enabled is still pretty easy for a computer bot to pass. I am just trying to cut down on the number of spam comments. I’m not expecting to eliminate it entirely.

I hate that it has come to this, but something had to be done or I was going to stop reviewing comments altogether. If you’re a real person, then by all means, please continue to post comments. I’m certain that this will have a minimal impact on readers and commenters.

Experimenting with Adsense

I’ve decided to experiment with putting some text ads on my site. I’ve toyed with the idea for a long time. I’m finally trying it out. I want to see if I can make enough change to cover my hosting fees. I’ll see how it goes for a month or two before I decide if I want to keep them.

Historically, I have been very much against the idea of putting ads on my site. In fact, I bought my own domain and hosted my own website for the specific purpose of getting away from ad-based web hosts. I didn’t want tacky ads clogging up my pages and content.

As I said, this is an experiment. I don’t get a whole lot of traffic, but I figured that I might be missing out on making a few bucks.

I created a Google Adsense account and added the code to the right sidebar. Until my account is fully verified there may be a blank space there for a day or so. At this time, ads will not appear on the mobile version of my site.

New Site Permalink Structure

For most of the life of this blog, I have maintained a numeric system for the site permalink structure. The original formula that I implemented long ago was one of the prefab options in WordPress which used the structure /archives/postID. In 2010 I tweaked that formula to a more sensible /blog/postID. I set it up that way so that I could easily tweet the links to my new blog posts on Twitter without using a URL shortening service. Using links that called upon the postID was a short and simple method of keeping my URLs from being too long. It also allowed me to go back and change the title of a post without disrupting its URL. This has been convenient, but I’ve decided that the time has come for me to implement a new setup.

This week I have changed my permalink structure to what WordPress calls “month and name.” As a result, my post URL structure will now be /year/month/post-name. The address for the PAGES on my site has not changed. Only links to individual POSTS have changed. This is true going all the way back to post #1.

Why did I do this? First, this type of structure is what is most commonly used on websites across the Internet. It makes the site address easier for humans to read and know what they are linking to. Second, most people agree that having the post name in the address makes it easier for search engines to index the site, making it beneficial for page rank and SEO purposes. Third, it provides the ability to type in the year or date in the address bar (such as blitzcraig.com/2013) and be able to see all of the posts I’d written during that time.

So what happens to all of the old links I had emailed and tweeted in the past? Well, as soon as I flipped the switch for the new permalink structure, the old links were instantly rendered unusable. I did some research and found a few WordPress plugins that claimed to be able to provide either a dual permalink system or a redirection service. All of the plugins I saw had either questionable user reviews or were so outdated that there was no support for the latest version of WordPress. I decided not to install any of them.

What I ended up doing was painstakingly creating redirection links for every post going back to 2010 and placing them in a top-level folder on my server called /blog. Creating those redirections created a path so that old links in past emails and tweets will still take the user to the correct post. That said, I didn’t create redirects for every single post going back to the beginning of time because I rarely tweeted about my blog posts before 2010.

This change has obviously increased the length of my URLs significantly. I’ve decided that this won’t be a problem when posting links to Twitter in the future because WordPress still allows me to link directly to a post using its postID number with the format /?=postID. It’s not as pretty as what I used in the past, but it does the job, and still keeps me from resorting to use a URL shortening service. Where space is allowed, I’ll use the full post name URL.

This project has been far more time consuming than I expected when I started. I don’t foresee ever changing it again. In addition to the extensive permalink work, I also removed unused plugins and edited some of the behind-the-scenes theme content.

Carry on.

My New Web Host

I’m proud to announce that I’ve successfully completed the move of this site to a new web host! I’d been at my old hosting company (1and1) since even before I started this blog. I’ve eventually grown tired of them and their limitations. For months, I’ve wrangled endlessly trying to get Tweet Nest to work correctly on my server. I decided to change hosting companies. If nothing else, for the end-user, I hope that my site will now at least load faster than it did previously.

Moving my domain and WordPress database has been a learning experience. I’ve enjoyed tinkering with it all, and look forward to more. The biggest benefit of this effort is that my new host allows far more advanced controls, like SSH access, for instance. My new service is at a much more pro level. I have begun to feel like a wizard behind the curtains.