Links: 2015 — 4

There are several notable things to report on this month, though unusually, that doesn’t translate to a lot of links to share.

You’ve probably heard the news that Terry Pratchett died recently. I’ve been a fan my whole adult life, and this feels like the end of an era. There’s an official announcement here, plus various news reports, opinion pieces and tributes all over the Internet. Many are well worth your time, but I’m more inclined to encourage readers to look around than link to anything specific. There’s one last book to be published posthumously (confession: I’ve never read any of the Tiffany Aching books).

My sister’s second child, Elliot Roger Smith, was born around 11:15 on Wednesday March 11. I have yet to meet my new nephew, but I hear all is well, even if his big sister has some adjusting to do.

I now have over a thousand WordPress users subscribing to this blog. This means little, because the overwhelming majority are follow spam — people who follow other blogs indiscriminantly either in the hope that it will get them some attention or because they’re the blogging equivalent of hoarders — but there must be some who subscribed because they genuinely looked at my blog and liked what they saw. If that’s you, I encourage you to make yourself known in the comments. Tell me who you are and what you found here that you liked.

The Gede Ruins in Kenya are famous not only as a historical site but also for its wildlife (especially the monkeys), and a community organisation that helps to protect the site is now using a logo that I designed (though someone else drew the animal outlines). For a few months they were rather cheekily using a draft version that I only sent — along with some other designs — to show how things were progressing, but I don’t know the whole story behind that decision, and the completed version is in use now.

Now here are some links. Not many this month (for whatever reason I’ve not seen a lot recently that compels me to archive it) but I hope you enjoy them.


Page and sidebar renovation

Just a quick announcement here: I’ve written four new pages for this blog and made some adjustments to the sidebars.

The new pages are linked to from the left sidebar and also below. They replace the old pages, which were several years out of date.

If you’re reading this from a subscription feed of some kind, please visit the blog directly to see the updated sidebars.

If you’d like to offer feedback on the changes, please leave a comment below.

Links: Early March 2014

Here are some outstanding links from the last month to fascinate and delight you. After that, I have some words to say about this blog’s recent visitor stats.



  • Humorous, subversive fabric design that did the rounds on Valentine’s Day.
  • David Attenborough on curling. I’ve said for years that sport should be presented as a wildlife documentary, although I must say I had outdoor sport in mind.
  • Bouncy goats.
  • Paul Willis is off to Antarctica soon (leaving 11 March), and here you can request photographs you’d like him to take. I asked for “pareidolic monster carved in ice“.
  • 4D fractal journey.

This blog received a huge influx of visitors when my post If Conversation Were Chemistry was featured on Freshly Pressed —’s official editor-picked “Best Of” page. On February 22 it received 319 hits from 256 unique visitors, and the next day it recieved 478 hits from 143 visitors. The previous record was 295 views in a single day.

Since then, the number of visitors has settled back to previous levels, but the number of views has remained far higher than usual. I used to rarely get more than two views per visitor; now I’m getting around ten each day. For example, yesterday (March 5) I had 170 hits from 19 visitors, or 8.95 views per visitor, whereas two weeks before that (February 19), I had 37 hits from 19 visitors, or 1.95 views per visitor.

Looking at what people viewed, we see that yesterday there were 151 views of the front page or archives (i.e. pages that display multiple posts at once), and only 19 views of specific posts. Exactly two weeks previously, there were 6 views of the front page or archives, and the other 31 were views of specific posts. The number of hits on specific posts has not changed at all (the difference between 31 and 19 is within normal variation), but the front page and archives have received a dramatic increase in views.

If we look at where the views are coming from, we see something remarkable. Of the 170 views received yesterday, a whopping 144 came from Germany, and only 26 from all other countries put together. And it has been a similar story every day. In the last 7 days, I’ve received 890 hits from Germany — an order of magnitude more than from any other country. The runners-up are 72 from the United States and 28 from Australia.

To summarise:

  • The number of views has increased dramatically, but the number of unique visitors has not.
  • The increase has overwhelmingly been in views of the front page and archives, not of individual posts.
  • The increase has overwhelmingly been from computers that identify themselves as based in Germany.

It looks very much as though ONE person in Germany has been visiting this blog more than a hundred times a day, every single day, ever since I got Pressed.

Before I invite this mysterious German to introduce themselves in the comments, there is an alternative hypothesis. Apparently German law forbids websites from collecting visitor statistics, and it’s possible that what I’m seeing is an artifact of that. Maybe all visitors from Germany are counted as the exact same visitor, or maybe some people who are not really in Germany find it convenient to pretend that they are.

But if you’re reading this from Germany, do say hello. And maybe you’d like to browse my photographs from last time I was there.

Interesting Stuff: Early July 2010

Here is my pick for this half of the month:

That last item gives me an excuse to say that in an ideal world, there would be more sexual content on this blog. Not very much, mind you, but ideally I believe sexuality should be treated the same way as any other aspect of life: as a valid topic to talk about and share personal perspectives on. This would not be from an ego-boosting or thrill-seeking perspective, but from a conviction that sharing the diversity of human experience enriches us all.

Unfortunately, culture — and the memory of unpleasant encounters with people who are content to feel threatened by the unfamiliar — keeps me from being as open as I would like.

I would support the establishment of an International Blog About Sex Week, to give those of us who are naturally shy an incentive to be more forthcoming at least once a year…

[UPDATE: I’ve deleted comments, as extensive revisions to this post have reduced their pertinence. In addition, this post originally included my eclipse photograph, now posted separately.]

Kitchen challenge

It is now two years since my kitchen was renovated in April 2008. To mark this anniversary, I have a challenge for you.

Below is a B&W photograph taken soon after the renovation was done. Drawers and cupboards are labelled A to U. Your challenge is to guess what I keep in each storage location.

When you’re done, you can visit the original April 2008 blog post to check your answers, and reveal how close you were in the comments. (Changes in storage allocation between 2008 and now are fairly minimal.)


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New web space, plus TV upgrade

I have a new website! I recently registered the domain, which will replace my old site at NetYP once I finish transferring files. My solitaire game is already transferred (and working again).

In unrelated news, I installed a new television last week, replacing an analogue TV with a digital one that also has an inbuilt DVD player. Pictures below: old one left; new one right.

[Update: These items were originally posted separately, but I have decided to abbreviate and merge them.]

Why “Outer Hoard”?

So, why did I choose Outer Hoard as a name for a blog?

Dragons have hoards, and I’ve had an online dragon persona since the nineties.

This all started in an email conversation with Marian Rosenberg (an American Internet friend) in which she asked me, “May I assume that you have one of those wonderful Strine accents?“, and I replied, “You have my permission to assume absolutely anything you like“.

Marian replied, “In that case, I’ll assume that you’re an eight foot tall flesh-eating dragon wearing brilliant orange sneakers and a purple and green striped cape (with silver lining)“. I liked the idea, and I’ve used it as an online persona ever since.

A “hoard” implies a collection of treasure, which a blog contains in the form of thoughts, memories, information and so forth. But why “outer”? The way I look at it, a dragon’s true hoard (the inner hoard) is the big, well-protected pile of treasures in a cave, but there will probably also be a few treasures scattered outside the cave to serve as a lure for any tasty human beings who might be passing by. This is the outer hoard, for which this blog is named.

I really like Anitra’s description of a dragon’s role in life, as a guardian of creativity.