Googlifying weirdness

After some tweaking of site permalink and URL settings, posting sitemaps to Google, and other such SEO tinkerings, I have managed to get my posts into Google’s search engine. Before, I had no luck finding my posts, no matter how specific I made the search terms. Strangely (or maybe not), my stats plugin reported almost simultaneously a dramatic drop in daily unique hits, from the 180s to 2. Pretty depressing, until I realized those multiple hits were probably from the googlebot trying to index the site, failing, then trying again. [UPDATE (82/06): The stats plugin was not compatible with the upgraded version of WordPress. I caught on when I saw it had clocked absolutely zero hits right after one of my posts appeared in the latest Tangled Bank. My other site counters registered dozens of visits, so I realized the WP upgrade must have broken the stats plugin. There was an update available, so the plugin (ShortStat) works now.] So, here is what I have learned. Plain text permalinks are best. Trailing slashes on site URLs are important, at least to the w3.org validator service computers. Getting a sitemap with those permalinks into Google’s hands is a good thing. Tweaking ...

Gravity deniers and the gravity of ignorance 57

Douglas Adams, in his Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, once suggested that falling was akin to an ingrained habit. If you could just forget about falling, you could defy gravity and fly. It works as a joke, but in real life gravity is pretty unforgiving. So you can imagine my surprise when I came across “gravity deniers” trolling at Tara Smith’s Aetiology blog. Tara was dumbfounded that anyone could deny the so-called “germ” theory of infectious disease, since there has been so much evidence since Louis Pasteur’s time that bacteria, viruses, and single-celled parasites cause a wide variety of illnesses. Yet, it seems, just as there are souls who deny the connection between HIV and AIDS or the validity of the theory of evolution, there are some who deny that “germs” cause disease. Woof. One of the commenters, jspreen, claimed that poverty caused disease, noting that poor people seem disproportionately more susceptible to infectious diseases than richer people. Someone else claimed that Pasteur had recanted his support of the germ theory on his deathbed. I commented that jspreen was confusing correlation with causation, and closed my comment with this snarky remark: By the way, I heard that Newton confessed ...

I can’t leave well enough alone …

After changing to a new theme, I decided to trick out my WordPress installation with some nifty mods, some of which I hope will help solve Google’s apparent inability to crawl my blog. A “related posts” plugin will display a few potentially related previous posts after each post. Honestly, the connections seem pretty tenuous at best, but at least it’s entertaining, and it might encourage visitors to read my earlier stuff. A Google analytics plugin seems to be completely invisible to Google, despite my repeated attempts to make it check out. I’m just going to leave it there and hope for the best. Google says my sitemap checks out OK, but yet its bot can’t crawl the vast majority of the site. Weird. A tagging plugin will prompt me with suggested tags for my posts, so that my Technorati association may perhaps pay off. I noticed tonight that some of my changes must have had some effect, as the number of incoming links to the site seems to have jumped dramatically. I am going to check my site traffic analysis to see what happened and when. My old theme had a bunch of addons, which I had to reinstall by ...

It was just time for a change

After spending five days working on other sites, I came back to my blog to find I was really tired of the default WordPress theme. It was too narrow, and the sidebar was hard to read. So, I spent Sunday night finding a new theme and as many hours finetuning it. The new theme is called Sharepointlike, developed by a coder in Bulgaria. The links for “Category,” “Edit this post,” and “Comment on this post” were in Bulgarian, so one of my tweaks was to change those into English for the Cyrillic-impaired. Then, I had to manually edit the index.php file for the theme to add the Amazon, PayPal and other doodads I have added during the last six months. This part was the post time-consuming, as I do the editing the old-fashioned way: change the code, upload the file, view in browser. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Finally, I could not live without my header image, a Martian sunset transmitted to Earth by the Mars rover, Spirit, in 2005. The image is compelling. I have the same feeling looking at it as I did way back in 1976 when the Viking lander sent back the first images of the ruddy ...

Star caught in the act of sucking companion, then exploding

Hah! Got your attention that time, didn’t I? No, this blog has not devolved into discussing Paris Hilton, who actually to the best of my knowledge has not had a recent public temper tantrum. In fact, the subject of today’s post is a white dwarf star in the zodiacal constellation Ophiuchus (next to Libra). A team of astronomers has gotten lucky and been able to observe a white dwarf nearing the supernova (explosion) phase, as it sucks matter from its companion star. Usually, supernovae occur unannounced — we see them after the explosion has happened — so finding a star ready to blow up is a rare, exciting find. It will allow astronomers to gain a better understanding of the supernova process. There are two types of supernovae, imaginatively termed type 1 and type 2. Astronomers subdivide type 1’s into three subclasses, based on their spectral emissions. The star in question, RS Ophiuchi, is nearing a type 1a supernova event, astronomers believe. A white dwarf is the corpse of a medium-sized star, not unlike our Sun, that has exhausted its usable supply of nuclear “fuel.” Deprived of the outward pressure keeping its normal diameter at about 1.6 million kilometers, the ...

Tangled Bank #58 is here!

From the sunny city of Stockholm, Tangled Bank #58 has come to enlighten readers with incisive and witty science coverage. Pay it a visit. Tack så mycket!

Open source reflections 2

I’ve been spending the last couple of days maintaining and developing websites, both family- and work-related, which led to me to come to two not-so-original revelations. 1. How marvelous is it that any person with the necessary minimal skills can download free software and create a website in just a few hours? Even more amazing is that a person can have that website hosted for free, or at least darn cheap. I’m paying just $7.95 a month for this one and my computer-related site, for example. 2. Like any endeavor, developing and maintaining websites is an at times frustrating, but ultimately rewarding job. Open-source software makes step 1 possible for minimal cost, but at the expense of ease-of-use. WordPress may be an exception, but its content-management  cousins, php-nuke and Joomla can drive a person nuts. So while I tear my remaining hair out, consider with me the amazing power that open-source software and low-cost webhosting offer the average Joe or Jo.

Nevada teen sues school officials

With the conservative Rutherford Institute representing her, high school valedictorian Brittany McComb (at right) has filed suit in federal court alleging that school officials infringed on her First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Foothill High School (Henderson, Nev.) officials edited McComb’s valedictory before the June 15 graduation ceremony to eliminate what they judged to be overly religious references. McComb delivered her original speech instead, and school officials disconnected her mike just as she launched into a discussion how God and the suffering of Jesus on the cross had given meaning and focus to her life. School officials said they were acting on the advice of the Nevada American Civil Liberties Union, and were trying to avoid running afoul of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. In her suit, filed in US District Court in Nevada, McComb names the principal, assistant principal and the school employee who allegedly pulled the plug. The suit claims her rights of free expression and equal protection under the law were violated when the mike was cut off. The suit asks that the court declare that the officials infringed on those rights. (Details here.) Don’t say I didn’t tell you a lawsuit would happen.

The latest “scientific breakthrough” scam — water gas 88

The gullibility of the scientifically challenged media and buying public never ceases to amaze. Spurred perhaps by sharply higher gasoline prices, backyard inventors and shady promoters are pushing the latest wonder technology, “HHO gas,” otherwise known as water gas, Brown’s gas or Klein’s gas. For a tidy investment of a few hundred dollars, one can adapt a car to run on HHO, or for a few thousand, one can buy a device to produce HHO at home for transportation or for welding. Cars apparently can run for miles on mere puffs of HHO, and torches can burn holes in seconds through most metals. I would encourage anyone buying such devices to first watch videos of the Graf Hindenburg accident in 1937 or the Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986, to get an idea of the Promethean power of HHO gas. Wait, 1937? Isn’t HHO supposed to be a new technology? you ask. Nope. In fact, the principles behind the production of HHO have been known and used for close to 200 years. If you were lucky, you might have even made some in middle school science class. If you run electric current through water, you break water down into its constituent ...

Why ID is not science …

Ed Brayton has an excellent essay on Dispatches from the Culture Wars explaining why intelligent design and creationism are not real sciences. If you know any creationists or ID supporters, refer them to this essay. It minces no words.

Oh, for Pete’s sake! It’s just a movie.

Superman in his latest incarnation is a box office smash, a suitable homage to the late Christopher Reeve’s version with a 21st century twist. Amazingly, some conservative bloggers find fault with the movie, for purely socio-political reasons. Chief among them is self-promoting expert on everything Debbie Schlussel. Who is Debbie Schlussel? Well, I didn’t know either until I started blogging. Schlussel is a sharp-tongued critic of everything to the left of her far-right agenda, especially Hollywood stars who she believes suck up to Arab ass too much. Like all conservative pundits, Schlussel takes everything in popular culture seriously, as if each song lyric, film premise or TV show spells the end of civilization as we know it. Schlussel is a Jewish Ann Coulter, if you will. Anyway, Schlussel pops up on TV and radio every once in awhile to spout her special kind of invective. On MSNBC and on her own blog, she lambasts some of the plotline of Superman Returns. I will attempt to summarize, but the links to her post and to the MSNBC transcript are below if you want the news directly from the horse’s mouth. Superman is a wimp because he leaves Earth for five years ...

Do they wash windshields, too?

Two members of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew spent nearly seven hours repairing the International Space Station, accompanying their hard work with some goodnatured repartee. Like the helpful service station attendants of yore, British astronaut Piers Sellers and US astronaut Michael Fossum joked, while they fixed a cable reel necessary for the operation of a railcar attached to the ISS. The railcar enables expansion of the ISS. They swapped a defective reel with a new one brought aboard the shuttle; each one weighs 330 pounds on Earth. In orbit, they still have substantial mass and inertia, so there were a few tense moments while Sellers, like an orbital “weight lifter,” held one in each hand. The two also learned that for space mechanics, elbow grease still works just as well as for earthbound ones. To get the reels swapped, they had to twist harder with a wrench to loosen stubborn bolts. CNN has an account of the repairs and spacewalk. Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth on the 17th. Riding Rockets : The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut Space Shuttle: The First 20 Years — The Astronauts’ Experiences in Their Own Words
WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com