Six months of Google Analytics tracking

In the past I have completely hated tracking cookies and the way in which ad websites track your browsing habits across multiple pages, sites and visits. However, as the web has developed tracking cookies have become more and more the accepted norm to the point now where I accept most cookies and have even installed them onto my website to track visitor movements in the form of Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for being able to analyse your visitor numbers and browsing habits. Over the last six months I have been using the data collected to shape my blog posts in such away to attract more visitors but also retain the regular ones I have with things of interest and stop posting about those things that the data suggests people are not interested in. The main change in topic area as a result of this has seen me blog less about politics – leaving that to the heavy weights of Kiwiblog, No Minister, Frogblog and others. In place of these blog subjects I have been focussing more on computers, science, religion and general news related topics. This has seen the number of posts made decrease slightly but an increase in the number of comments made and a steady level of site visitors and a large rise in the number of visitors to the site’s RSS feed.

Below are the main highlights of the Google Analytics data from September to February, please note the visitor numbers are only those hitting the main site (as Google Analytics does not track RSS hits), Google Analytics also filters out bots, spiders and other automatic crawlers and aggregators so this is some of the best data I have on actual true human visitors to the site.

Visitors plotted by week

Breaking down the visitors by city is a really nice way to see how the blog is having a worldwide reach. Sure the vast majority of my visits come from New Zealand, but the data also shows many visits (in order from most visits) from London, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Dublin, Perth, New York, Manchester, Los Angeles and more than 1,700 other cities around the world.

The breakdown of visitors by web browser makes for good reading especially as Firefox is beating Internet Explorer.

When you then add in the operating system into the mix Internet Explorer and Windows comes back to the top though.

The search keywords is one of my main sources for determining what topics I should blog on, as you see no politics related searches here:

So that’s it, I use Google Analytics to “spy” on visitors and but will happily share most of the data with you. The only thing I have excluded from this round up is the list of the most popular blog posts – but they are listed in the sidebar anyway (updated monthly). It will be interesting to see in another six months what has changed. In particular if changes in my personal life (moving countries) will affect my blogging and in turn affect my visitor numbers and trending.

28 Days Later

I have now been living in Sydney for four weeks. Already I am being told that I have lost the sharp edge off my kiwi accent, but that still does not stop at least one daily occurrence where I either can’t understand something simple someone is telling me or vice-versa.

To aide my fellow kiwi’s when they grow wings and come over here too I have been collecting a list of my most interesting and funny situations where kiwi slang/words have been greeted with blank confused stares.

  • Blobbing / To Blob Out – This one even has its own entry in Wikitionary, To relax idly and mindlessly.
  • Dairy – In Australia known as a Convenience Store.
  • Flat (or Student Flat) – In Australia Flat refers to a type of house in particular a granny flat.
  • Flatting – This word does not exist in Australia. The closest word with the same meaning would be shared housing. Somehow that doesn’t have the same ring to it as it’s kiwi counterpart. (Also I get the feeling that the whole right of passage going flatting coming of age type situation is different here.)
  • Hori – I had a very hard time explain this one. Wikipedia explains it as used for something that is unattractive or shoddy
  • I speak good England! – Not really kiwi slang as such, but more when someone says something with either terrible spelling or grammar.
  • P – Pure Methamphetamine. In Australia known as just crystal meth.
  • Paper – University term for the equivalent of a school subject, in Australia known as a course. Where paper in Australia refers to a research paper.
  • Refill pad – This is a British English word, but here is known as a lecture pad or loose lead ruled pad.
  • Sweet As – no worries.
  • Toying / To Toy With – Messing with, teasing, playing games with.
  • Tramping – Hiking or Bush Walking

I have also noticed some interesting differences in styles and behaviour. The three key areas would be:

  • Clothing – Take note, black tshirts and jeans are not everyday wear. Shorts are very much in – mostly because it is too hot to get away with jeans all year round.
  • Hug/Hugging – It is common to greet and say goodbye to friends in a social setting with a quick hug in New Zealand. I did this to a friend over here and they took three steps back not sure how to react. Looking into the background of this more it seems that this cultural difference stems from a combination of New Zealand’s large Pacific population and Eastern Europeans who both commonly greet with a hug and a kiss to the cheek (although the kissing has never been NZ culture to my knowledge).
  • Sunglasses – Almost everyone in New Zealand will wear them whenever they are outside, not as common here.

There are also two good Wikipedia posts on New Zealand English and New Zealand Words.

Prevent myopia (short-sightedness) by getting outside more?

On the bus to uni this morning I read a really interesting article on a possible link between myopia and the amount of time spent outside.

The article is in a last November issue of New Scientist Magazine – Generation specs: Stopping the short-sight epidemic. To get the full picture make sure you read the full article it is very informative, but to keep with New Scientist’s 200 word extract policy here are the highlights:

Today, in some of the worst-affected countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, around 80 per cent of young adults are myopic, compared to only 25 per cent a few decades back.

Rates are lower in western countries – between 30 and 50 per cent – but myopia seems to be rising steadily here too. What could be causing this mysterious epidemic? It is clear that genetics alone can’t explain the condition, and the long-standing theory that reading was to blame has failed to play out in subsequent studies.

The article then goes on to explain a possible link between the amount of time spent outside in bright natural sunlight and looking further ahead to build depth perception and its effects on the development of short-sightedness.

Since time spent indoors seemed to be such an important risk factor, Saw and Rose asked whether it might explain the extraordinarily high prevalence of short-sightedness in Asia. To find out, they compared two groups of 6 to 7-year-old children, one in Singapore and one in Australia. The team looked only at children of Chinese ethnicity, to rule out genetic differences between races as an explanation for higher myopia rates in certain countries.

The result? On average the children in Sydney spent nearly 14 hours per week outside, and only 3 per cent developed myopia. In contrast, the children in Singapore spent just 3 hours outside, and 30 per cent developed myopia.

I don’t have any real issue with my eyes but I do suffer eye strain at times from over using electronics, but maybe those stories my mom used to tell me about developing square eyes hold some truth.

Rejecting Athiest Bus Ads Is Probably A Bad Idea

I was surprised to learn that NZ Bus has decided to reject the Athiest Bus Ads that were to run on the buses in Auckland.

The ads were to read “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

However Auckland bus operator NZ Bus is not going to run the ads because of complaints.

I find this move odd and think in the long run that it is sets a bad prescient. The ads are not worded offensively and they are not provocative either.

If christians and other religious folk are willing to scream when prayers are removed form school, parliament, and other places etc, then surely they should be willing to stand beside the athiests when they are expressing their views with the same freedoms that they demand at other times.

Overall this is a bad move and look for the religious folk.

Thoughts on Sydney Transport Plan

Jon at Auckland Trains covers from a New Zealand perspective the release of the new transport plan for Sydney.

The main features of her plan:

  • The $4.5 billion Western Express CityRail Service to slash travelling times from western Sydney to the city. It will achieve faster and more frequent services with a goal of up to 50 per cent more services and 17 per cent more passengers on the CityRail network on an average weekday. This will occur through: Separating a dedicated track from all other traffic;
  • Construction of a new five kilometre priority tunnel –City Relief Line – will be built from 2015 in the city to separate western services from inner-city trains to provide shorter journey times;
  • Construction of eight new platforms to increase capacity at Redfern, Central, Town Hall and Wynyard to relieve congestion;
  • New express train services will be introduced for the Blue Mountains, Richmond, Penrith, Blacktown and Parramatta; and Increase CityRail’s capacity on all lines and allow the introduction of express rail services to western Sydney.
  • Start of work on the $6.7 billion North West rail link from Epping to Rouse Hill with six stations at Franklin Road, Castle Hill, Hills Centre, Norwest, Burns Road and Rouse Hill in 2017;
  • A $500 million expansion of the current light rail system – bringing its total length to 16.9 kilometres with up to 20 new stations and almost 10 kilometres of new track – a more than doubling of the distance of the existing route.

I added my two cents to the discussion on his blog:

Having just moved to Sydney from Auckland only three weeks ago I have had to quickly adjust from using a car on a daily basis to having to use a bus on a daily basis and a train about twice a week.

The public transport system here is a lot bigger than Auckland and is a lot better in same ways, having said that at rush hour it is a nightmare.

There are two key problems. The first is the centralisation of all routes at the city centre, there needs to be a lot more cross town services both buses and trains. Second a lot of major bus routes need to be replaced by high capacity trains or light rail.

The shelving of the metro is a good idea. However they need to get all buses off the central CBD and replace them with trams/light rail like Melbourne, they also need to extend the train from Bondi Junction down to the South Sydney Beaches and then back up ANZAC parade to Central, this would reduce massive congestion through this area of Sydney which has been left out of this new plan.

As far as the west and north go I haven’t been there much but the investment needs to go in rail not roads and not buses.

And there you have it, my first blog on Australian politics, albeit a bit of cut and paste.

Is it a slow news day or just a plain weird one?

Three very weird headline news stories from the NZ Herald this afternoon.

West Coast cannabis haul slumps 42pc

The West Coast’s reputation as the second most popular cannabis growing area in New Zealand after Northland may be under threat.

The headline and opening line of the story makes it appear that cannabis is a major export earner for New Zealand.

a “standard fault” caused delays of about half an hour

Auckland commuters on the Western line faced 30-minute delays this morning when a train broke down and had to be pushed down the tracks.

I don’t see how a train breaking down and having to be pushed to another station can be considered a “standard fault” and be treated as such a minor and simple operational issue. It is little wonder Auckland has such poor public transport given the “meh” type response to this sort of issue. The Auckland rail network has only 3 routes on it and yet it seems to have more failures than any other major city that I know.

Hotplate mistaken for a landmine

A tense situation involving an apparent land mine under a Mount Maunganui house was defused after Defence Force bomb disposal unit members identified the mystery object as an old and corroded hotplate.

I know that you can’t take bomb threats/concerns as jokes but really a hotplate as a landmine? And how the hell do you defuse a hotplate!

Walking != Public Transport

Got to love the logic of Auckland politicians sometimes.

Mayor of Auckland City, John Banks today on the release of a report that suggests that Auckland’s Public Transport will not cope with the Rugby World Cup:

“$58 million was being spent on the Eden Park precinct and thousands were expected to walk from the central city well ahead of game kick-offs.” – NZ Herald

Google Maps suggests this is a 3.6km or 47 minute walk (see here). This is quite a long way, not to mention it is up a massive hill to the top of Queen Street, then over a series of major intersections that are not predistrian friendly then down a number of suburban roads. Quite basically the roads are not designed for the foot traffic that Mayor Banks suggests they could handle.

But coming back to the title of this post, walking is not public transport. What is more shocking is that the article where Mayor Banks is quoted also suggests that:

Nearly 2km of roadside parking had to be found around Eden Park for 130 buses and the entire fleet of 38 Auckland trains would be needed on match days.

If all the trains are being pressed into service to get people to Eden Park then how is any going about their daily lives meant to get about. Surely this should have been seen well in advance and more trains be ordered or borrowed or something!

It seems that now a year out from the Cup that there is a sudden realisation that Auckland is not ready for the cup. That either the waterfront stadium should have been built (at least there would be more and easier public transport to it), or North Harbour stadium should have been used. Sure North Harbour does not have train access but it has a dedicated bus way, and plenty of car parking. The closer that you get to the cup the more you realise that what a disaster it will be using Eden Park as the main game venue.

Who wants to start a little wager on how many days into the cup it will be before there is a signal failure at Newmarket or a massive meltdown with the train system that sees many hundreds late for a match?

The Christian Meaning of Life – A few thoughts

I just had an awesome Christian friend ask me what the meaning of this life was – as Christians.

This is how I replied (after a few minutes of pausing a thinking about it). And it is a little cliche but so what!

I think our Christian purpose in life is to be light houses, and city on the hills to the world, it is to live our lives as Christians in the world, but not of the world, so we are not isolated into little religious communities but we are interacting with other people on a day to day people, and when we interact those people we share bits of what we believe with them, we don’t force it down their throats, but through us doing good in a very dark and evil world we show what it really means to do god’s work.

Maybe tomorrow night I will expand on it a little more and include the scriptures that I have paraphrased as well.