There may be those who write in public and don't care who and how many people read, but I'm not one of them. So when I turned on the computer Tuesday morning and discovered by visiting Slashdot that they had a pointer to my XML Is Too Hard for Programmers piece, I woke up real fast. Herewith a bunch of random observations on the experience.
A Lot of People · A lot of people read Slashdot. In the 24 hours after they pointed to that entry, it was fetched 27,000 or so times, the pattern graphed above (thanks Matt).
How Many, You Say? · So how many people read it? It's awfully tough to tell, measuring things on the Web is far from an exact science. The Web is full of caching machinery and intermediaries; you can measure unique IP addresses, you can stuff cookies into browsers, but it's hard to know for sure.
Linux Boxes Sure Can Serve Files Fast · ongoing is served off an NCIX box, 1.8Ghz Celeron, 256M RAM, nothing special; the system load never went over 0.3 (for non-Unix-geeks, that mean it never came close to breaking a sweat). The secret is that ongoing doesn't use any filthy databases or templating or application servers, it's just Apache scraping HTML files off a Linux filesystem and stuffing them down the wire, boy that sure does run fast.
Talk About Interactive Media · So I watched the logfiles and noticed everyone was reading that XML article and nobody was reading any of my other deathless prose. In fact, here's a snapshot of the most popular items as of now:
31123 200x/2003/03/16/XML-Prog 551 200x/2003/03/11/Not%20Scared 503 200x/2003/03/17/SmallScreen 440 200x/2003/03/18/AOL 434 200x/2003/03/16/LastWeekend 383 200x/2003/03/17/FastAlwaysOn 311 200x/2003/03/15/PerlGrind 194 200x/2003/03/03/Spam 166 200x/2003/03/18/Cities 156 200x/2003/03/08/Mileage 151 200x/2003/03/14/Kurds 140 200x/2003/03/11/xml-dev 139 200x/2003/03/13/Data-Ink 103 200x/2003/03/06/Termdef 88 200x/2003/03/14/Mplus10
Upon popping the page up, I realized that unlike a conventional
stream-of-consciousness blog, ongoing does a lousy job of putting the piece
you're reading in context, either temporal or taxonomic.
Hmm, we'll have to work on that... but hey, this is the web!
So I maneuvered down through the output directory tree where the webserver
lives, opened the article with
vi, and dropped in a little
[Hello there, visitors from
/. - there's a whole
of feedback out there; give me a few days to soak it up and I'll follow-up
with some more on the subject, since obviously people care.
In the meantime, there's other stuff here you might
All this is before breakfast. This helped get people to poke around a bit, but not (as you can see by the numbers above) all that much. Maybe XML geeks don't care that much about the War or my moaning about my satanic camera.
Slashdot and Stupidity · I visit Slashdot once per day, sometimes more, because they seem to do a really good job of relaying the geek zeitgeist. It's a long time since I read much of the follow-ups, but I thought I ought to this time, and I'm reminded why. How can a publication that caters (on the face of it) to smart people attract the attention of so many shallow, drivelling morons?
Interactivity Again ·
There were a few smart things there in among the chaff on
and by following
back the links in from other blogs, I sure did learn a whole bunch about the
state of the programming art as regards XML.
Some of the things I said were wrong (or at least open to challenge), and
I got fodder for a really
substantial follow-up piece, which I'll get around to soon.
I don't suppose it's mathematically possible for everyone to get their theses
batted around by some tens of thousands of well-informed people, which is a