500,000 Hits!

fireworks1This morning, I became aware that this blog, storiesbywilliams, has just reached another milestone. Yes, after three and a half years, this humble site has reached half a million hits. And as usual, I’d like to include a few other pertinent numbers to help put this all in perspective. For example, since this blog went public, it has reached the following:

  • 500,180 hits (as of writing this)
  • 7041 Comments
  • 2089 Followers
  • 1834 Posts

Once again, I can only say thank you to all those folks who have helped make this possible. You know who you are ūüėČ And just for once, I thought I might let be things brief and poignant. So thanks and congrats all around, and onto the next thing!

Happy Anniversary!

fireworks1Today, I got an all=important notification from WordPress.com. It tells me that today is the third anniversary of this here blog, also known as storiesbywilliams.com. Yes, it was on this day, three years ago to the day, that I started this little enterprise in order to publicize my work, share what inspires me, and connect with other writers and bloggers out there.

And as with all anniversaries on this site, I’d like to commemorate this by sharing a few facts and figures, just to put it all in context context. Three years on this site has resulted in the following numbers:

  • 3 years
  • 1095 days
  • 8760 hours
  • 1576800 minutes

Or, to put it in terms of what I’ve actually done with that time, which seems much more relevant:

  • 410,057 views
  • 6,417 comments
  • 2,039 followers
  • 1,541 posts

And as usual, I would like to thank all those who helped make this possible. Since starting this blog, I’ve managed to publish all my works from 2004 onward. These include Source, the Legacies: Preludes collection, Data Miners, Whiskey Delta, and most recently, Papa Zulu. And in the coming months, I plan to release Flash Forward, and finish work on the long-awaited Yuva Anthology.

And, just as importantly, I feel I’ve learned a great deal, thanks to the personal and professional connections I’ve made. And wherever possible, I’ve tried to pass that experience and knowledge onward; and shall continue to do so whenever possible. This site is, was, and always will be about inspiration, and that belongs to no one and everyone.

So expect to hear plenty more from me, and be sure to make yourself heard as well – as often and as much as possible. Here’s to three years more, and to forever looking onward!

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A Kinder, Gentler Internet: Youtube Algorithm Screens Comments

youtube_commentsThere’s scarcely a soul among us who hasn’t watched a video on YouTube. But have you ever stuck around long enough to read the comments section? It’s like a leper colony for the mind, a vindication for misanthropes everywhere. And after many years of being at the forefront of rudeness, racism, and generalized dumbassery, the YouTube comment section is getting a clean up.

Whereas the old system worked by placing the latest comments at the top nearest the video, regardless of their relevance or lack of redeeming content. The new system will employ a series of algorithms to determine what each viewer will find most relevant. This includes comments from your friends, from the video creator, and from ‚Äúpopular personalities‚ÄĚ (i.e. celebs of one type or another).

youtube_convoBut it doesn’t stop there. Currently, since comments are displayed as they come in, making the act of following a conversation difficult at best. But from now on, the site will feature threaded conversations, which is consistent with Google policy, the site’s now owners. As for private conversations, the new platform will be powered by Google+, allowing users the option of deciding who they want their posts and videos to be visible to.

Additionally, there will be a sort of cross-posting between YouTube and Google+. If you post a YouTube video on Google+ and some one comments on it there, the comment will show up on the video over at YouTube, too. Alternatively, they could choose to have their comment only show up on YouTube, or only show up on Google+. There’s a lot more control.

googleplus-conversation

But perhaps most importantly of all, there are new filters that will be in place. As it stands, YouTube commenters enjoy total anonymity, which allows them to post racist, sexist, homophobic and vitriolic comments without fear. And while content creators can choose to allow all or no comments, or manually approve each comment, this is completely impractical for videos that garner millions of views a week.

But now, YouTube is introducing filters that will make it easier. The new filters basically allow content creators to not only be able to assign people to an Approved list or a Blocked list (which will auto-approve or auto-reject comments, respectively), they will be able to add keywords to a Blacklist. This will flag comments that contain those words and send them into a special list which can be reviewed and approved/rejected later.

ConversationPrism_2880x1800The threaded comments feature and began to be put into effect a little over a week ago. Filters were made available at the same time for channel pages only, but in the months to come they’ll become available for every individual video, giving content creators and commenters more control over the conversations they participate in. Basically, it will still be YouTube, but with some Facebook-like privacy and content filters.

And while many might deplore these new rules as an example of heavy handed “internet censorship”, there are many more who believe this change is overdue in coming. And given that the control rests with the users, who have the ability to share or be private, and to filter specific kinds of content, the basic spirit of a democratic, open forum remains.

Source: gizmodo.com

300,000 Views!

fireworks1Oh dear. It seems a milestone was passed this week, one which slipped under my nose once again. Ever since I hit 200,000 views, which seemed like forever ago, the milestones have been fewer and further between. You tend to stop keeping track of noticing when they roll around. But when the stock ticker hits a number with five zeroes behind it, you suddenly find yourself taking notice.

And when I did, I noticed some other important milestones had also slipped by unnoticed. For example, back in March  Stories by Williams celebrated its second anniversary. That alone was reason to celebrate, but since that time, the site also surpassed 2000 followers, 5000 comments, and 10,000 likes. Oh yes, and I also passed 1000 posts by a significant margin (1148, as of this posting). Awful lot of number here!

Oh yeah, it was also since the second anniversary – roughly one month later in April – that Whiskey Delta was published and sold over 1300 copies. A special shout out to all those who helped make it possible – Rami, Audrey, Carla (my darling wife-editor), and of course, Mr. Max Brooks himself!

Looking ahead, there’s always plenty more to do. First, I want to publish part II of the zombie-fiction series, Papa Zulu! And of course, there’s a few anthologies to take care, such as Yuva and Flash Forward. And then there’s the ongoing Revengers saga that’s been growing some serious legs of late. And I imagine there will be plenty of science, tech, and pop culture news to share in the meantime…

Dealing with Spam

No-SpamI’ll say it right off the bat, I hate spam. No, let me express that properly: I HATE SPAM! And not the cheap, spiced ham that comes in a can. No, that at least has some comedic value, and the Monty Python troop made such good fun of it that the name has a permanent place in my heart. No, I refer of course to the useless adverts and unwanted solicitations that appear in your comments section whenever you log on to your website to see who’s stopping by.

Seeing as how feedback, especially the kind that lets you know you are reaching people, is so encouraging, is it not the most annoying thing in the world to find yourself beset by these uncaring, fishing, and indifferent messages? Sure, we all have been forced to accept that such garbage is simply the price we pay for using an unregulated internet, where its an open sea and you can expect to find your share of trolls, scammers, pirates and thieves. But lately, it’s becoming a total nuisance for me!

In fact, it’s gotten so bad that I’ve actually had to delete a post just so I would stop getting the free flow of useless comments that its come to attract. It was named “Anatomy of the Xenomorph”, and it contained a simple video clip that explains how the Alien costume designers have tinkered with the concept over the years. Don’t ask me why, but something in this article sends up the green flag for people looking to sell me Gucci, Cartier, glasses, handbags, running shoes, sexcam membership, free credit checks, and no credit check loans.

Because of this, it no longer appears on this site, mainly because I sank it in the hopes that it would take the rats down with it. Weeks of this stuff and I still wonder why these buggers were targeting it specifically. I’m sure many of you have seen the stuff I am referring to,¬† either on your own site or one you cruise by regularly, so tell me is these ring any bells…

One of the most recurring are ones that come with the name “lista de emails”, and they usually contain some nonsense message that lauds your post in such generalized terms so as not to give away the fact that they don’t have the slightest idea what you wrote in it. Others are less subtle, advertising their product directly in the message, cramming a whole of lot poorly formatted verbiage about deals and discounts and even services you can use to improve your website.

Seriously, do these sound familiar? Is it not just me getting hit up by these desperate bungholes? If so, what are you doing to dissuade these people? More than once, I’ve actually approved a comment from a repeat offender just so I could write back and tell them to F off! And now, I’ve deleted a post so they wouldn’t find that open door when next they come around. Do I need to modify my spam filter settings? Because seriously, far too much garbage is getting through here.

Oh, and if any spammers happen to be reading this, do NOT take this opportunity to solicit me, post how much you love my site with an advert link, or tell me I need to upgrade to some service of yours. Seriously deadbeats, back yer sh*t up! Not interested, don’t care, and trying to run a serious, refuse-free site here. So look for a sucker somewhere else!

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Stories by Williams!

happy-anniversaryI got a friendly little notification this morning. As it turns out, it was two years, twenty four months, and one-hundred and four weeks ago that I started this blog and began sharing my writing and inane thoughts to the general public. My apologies public, but we’ll get to your grievances later. Right now, I want to put those two years into a perspective using a few numbers I gathered.

As the song from Rent says “Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes… how do you measure, measure a year?” Well, up that to two years and you’ve got one-million, fifty-one thousand, two-hundred minutes, and the following numbers, according to my latest stats check. In the past two years I’ve managed to gather:

  • 238,972 hits
  • 8,778 likes
  • 4,461 comments
  • 977 posts
  • And most importantly of all, 1,945 followers!

I have to say, those are some nice numbers and they make me smile! And so does the prospect of doing this for the foreseeable future. There’s still a moment that I feel I’m building towards, some kind of climax this site and what I want to accomplish with it hasn’t quite met yet. Don’t know what that is yet, but I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’m pretty happy with how this site has worked out for me. People always start writing with a purpose, and they take all that public once they’ve decided they want to share it. As for me, I guess I just wanted to say something relevant that mattered to people, and to know that the message was received. Thanks for being on the receiving end folks!¬† And please feel free to keep tuning in! The show’s just getting started…

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More Reviews

Some more reviews are in! Again, these are just for the free samples I’ve made available on a couple of ebook sites, but that’s what they’re there for! Besides, feedback always matters to me and I take it seriously wherever it comes from. For the sake of the commentators anonymity, I’ve also substituted their full names with initials. Here’s what people said:

Source:
K.K from free-ebooks.com writes:
“I enjoyed reading this, but was a bit distracted by the number of mistakes. Please have someone edit this book. Ta”

*Good advice. The free version of Source remains the most unpolished version I have. I’ll get right on it!

K.Z.F. from Authonomy.com writes:
“interesting start, I like the setting a lot”

*Hope that feeling lasts, the setting kind of jumps around after the beginning!

Liability:
B.A. from free-ebooks.com writes:
“It’s a well conceived and beautifully delivered novel. I wish it has more pages for a more lasting reading.”

At the same site, J. D. writes:
“Good story. Gets you wrapped up in the action right away and doesn’t stop till the end.”

and T.P. writes:
“Dont look behind you when you read this novel, they may be watching you. thoroughly enjoyable reading.”

*All good. Especially the part about expanding it. I was told, frankly and helpfully by a fellow author that the story needed more action. I shall deliver!

No comments from Obooko.com, but Source has been given five stars from three reviewers, Smartbomb‘s been given five stars from two, and Liability five stars from one.