Opus 100

After Isaac Asimov had written 99 books, he wrote Opus 100, which was a book about his previous books. That was … well, a very Asimov kind of thing to do.

I was reminded of Asimov and Opus 100 when the WordPress software informed me I’d just made my 99th post to this blog. I find that vaguely remarkable—I’d expected to be going for more than a year before that happened, and here we are, still short of the nine-month mark. It seems I’ve fallen into a routine of posting twice a week, with extras whenever something time-critical crops up.  I’m thinking I’ll throttle back a little.

Looking over my stats, I find that so far my output has been dominated by the category Reading—almost a third of the total posts. After that, Walking and Words are neck and neck, at about a fifth each, closely trailed by Phenomena. Writing and Software have fared worst, since I have yet to deliver on any plans to write new stuff (outside the blog) or do anything interesting with computer programming. Stealing some time back from the blog may help that.

Reading, Walking and Building have produced my most frequently accessed posts. My review of Levison Wood’s Walking The Himalayas gets constant traffic, for reasons that are not clear to me—there are lots of reviews of that popular book out there, and no particular pattern to the arrivals here. My post about the novels of Brian Lecomber also gets steady traffic. What I thought was an obscure little interest of mine is apparently widely shared, and Lecomber is obviously greatly missed. And Mike Loades’s Swords and Swordsmen showed a dramatic spike in traffic one afternoon—it turned out that the publisher had taken a quote from my review to decorate the book’s webpage, and then Loades had linked here from his Facebook page.

In Walking, my Sidlaws posts are the most commonly accessed, and they’re now showing up near the top of various search engine lists. I had guessed that writing about boring old Corbetts and Munros, done to death by many walkers before me, would earn few hits, and that turns out to be correct.

Given how few posts it contains, Building gets a surprising amount of traffic. People arrive having searched specifically for information about the Airfix Sikorsky Sea King kit, and they generally hang around to page through the entire build log.

And I’m pleased to say that Biggles FRCA seems to have done its job of giving me back control of my own work, earning multiple hits that have taken it up to near the top of the search engine lists, ahead of  various cloned and uncredited versions that are still out there. Interestingly, a lot of my “Biggles” traffic comes in having been directed here from the copy of my RSS feed over at Goodreads—the Goodreads site obviously has more brownie points with Google than I do.

What else? I’ve learned quite a bit of html and php while fiddling with the site, and I’ve learned a great deal more than I ever wanted to about the ways of spammers and script kiddies. If Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill ever becomes law, perhaps the UK government could use it as a force for good. All they need to do is track down and incarcerate the ten people in the world who make the spam industry economically viable because they keep clicking on random spam links they find posted in the comments sections of blogs. I mean, who is dumb enough to do that? Why? Anyway, if we could move these ten stupid people to a place of safety with no Internet access, the spam industry would wither and die, and I wouldn’t have to put up with its constant futile efforts to get a comment posted here. For pity’s sake, the entire country of Ukraine seems to spend its days trying to access this site in various ways. And there’s a fella in France who made 300 attempts to post spam here before giving up. I can only hope that the IP address belonged to a bot and not a real person.

It’s also interesting to see what search terms bring people this way. I added a map to my Levison Wood post a while ago, because I noticed that people kept turning up looking for a map. I’m also astonished at the long rambling conversations people seem to have with search engines—my favourite being the person who started with a brief autobiographical digression before actually entering what they wanted to know. Some people seem to be getting disturbingly chummy with the creepy pseudo-personalities simulated by Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

But the prize for most successful search result based on least promising search criteria must go to the person who arrived at my Floccinaucinihilipilification post after having typed nocky flocky pillow fication.

It’s little gems like that that keep me going.

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