Monday, July 18, 2011

Brief periods of popularity (kinda)

The Information Age is happening everywhere, some ways stranger than others. It is easy enough to start a blog; but how do you get continuous readership in the information overload of our new era? Do you care that you have readers? Well, if your blog is anything like Its Trouble, you'll get a couple readers each day. However, once in a while, there will be a sudden spike in viewership.

Its Trouble has had a couple of those blips on the radar over the years. These blips last for a few days where viewership jumps like 50 times normal. Of course, 50 x 2 is still only 100 unique visits.

The blips usually come from some popular website noting an article I've written. It's been awhile since something on Its Trouble has interested someone with a popular blog. Google has noticed me recently for my review an online travel booking service feature. As of this moment, my review article comes up as #7 for a particular search phrase. It's moved around. At one point, I think it was #3 and then below #20. How much attention does that bring to my website? It's a a couple of extra hits each day.

SolidWorks Legion

My other blog is SolidWorks Legion. It covers topics related to the engineering field, with a focus on the software SolidWorks (a popular 3D CAD application). That site got a major spike in visitors when my article about DraftSight (a new 2D CAD application published by the same company as SolidWorks) when it was announced that they'd be releasing a Linux version last year. The article got picked up by a Linux-focused website. Normal visitors on SolidWorks Legion at that time was about 500 unique views per day. In one day, the number of visits jumped to 1000, then the next day, 10,000. The traffic actually almost took down my website a few times. Links from that Linux website tapered off eventually, but the number of visitors was elevated for a couple of months.

Sail Ship

A recent example of another spike wasn't for one of my blogs.
It was for a photograph that I just uploaded to Apparently, my sarcastic comment about a ship with sails caught the attention of an author over at The same day that I uploaded the photo, it got 75 hits from For Flickr, that is a ton of attention. The normal hit rate is usually single digits. I was able to track down the actual link to my photo on (The tools allowed me to see that much of the traffic came from there.) Apparently, readers are big on all things sarcastic, ironic and humorous.

Monday, July 04, 2011

In flight maps

Many airlines have touch screens on the back of each seat. One of the tools to view on those screens is an actively updated map of where the plane's position is shown along its flight path. This usually includes data such as "ground speed", "distance to go", "altitude" and "outside temperature".

Ground speed is useful, because when dividing it into distance to go, the calculation well show how many hours remain for the flight. Altitude is interesting, but not so useful. The only metric that doesn't really have any value at all is outside temperature. Why show this? Am I going to open a window and pop my head out for a breathe of fresh air? No. The only function this serves is as a reminder of the cabin's warmth (even if air is a bit on the cool side).

What other useless information could be included? How about outside air pressure, so we can be reminded that the cabin pressure is moderately comfortable? Instead of altitude, why not provide "distance from outer space" to remind us of just how close we are to entering orbit?

Something that might be more useful is if the map provided information on the destination, like the "current ground temperature" so I know to pull the jacket out of my carry-on luggage.

BTW, I'm ranting this from the airplane. I'm glad wi-fi is now being included on many flights.