Universe Today Stats for January and February

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Good news, folks! It seems that the traffic report came in for the previous two months from Universe Today. And in my haste, I forgot to publish them. But luckily, there are no deadlines on a blog, just chances to catch up. How’s everybody doing? Oh, and I should also mention that my stint working with Green Tree Recycling is done for now, so there will be more time in the near future for posts like these. 🙂

In any case, things have changed over at Universe Today lately in terms of format. Basically, the managers wanted to do fewer publications a month overall and focus on those that were likely to draw more of a crowd. This means that the total number of articles I got to do for January/February was less than in previous months, but that didn’t seem to hurt viewership that much.

In fact, February has been my best month so far, with a record-topping 282,176 views! Check out the total stats below:

January:

1/1/2015 2015 Expected to be a Record-Breaking Year for Soyuz-2 Workhorse 1965
1/2/2015 Rogue Star HIP 85605 on Collision Course with our Solar System, but Earthlings Need Not Worry 17554
1/6/2015 Exoplanet-Hunting TESS Satellite to be Launched by SpaceX 1161
1/6/2015 Japan’s Akatsuki Spacecraft to Make Second Attempt to Enter Orbit of Venus in December 2015 2317
1/9/2015 New Mission: DSCOVR Satellite will Monitor the Solar Wind 886
1/13/2015 Faster-Than-Light Lasers Could “Illuminate” the Universe 36082
1/13/2015 One of the Milky Way’s Arms Might Encircle the Entire Galaxy 10543
1/16/2015 Some of the Best Pictures of the Planets in our Solar System 25777
1/16/2015 Elon Musk Releases Dramatic Imagery of Mostly Successful Falcon 9 1st Recovery Attempt, Hard Landing on Drone Ship 9009
1/30/2015 Exploring the Universe with Nuclear Power 21687
Total Views 126981

February:

Which Planets Have Rings?  2/5/2015  8910
What Could Explain the Mysterious Ring in Antarctica?  2/9/2015 239263
How Can Mars Sometimes Be Warmer Than Earth?  2/9/2015  11509
What is Hooke’s Law?  2/13/2015  6229
Here’s a Better Use for Fighter Jets: Launching Satellites  2/13/2015  7937
What is Mars Made Of?  2/25/2015  8328
 Total Views  282176

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 😉 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 “popular personalities” (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.

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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

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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700th Post!

fireworks1Yes, I know its a bit of an odd number. But I was still pleased and kind of blown away to find out that I was nearing this landmark recently. And I thought, what better excuse for a little retrospective and a chance to say thanks for the support? My my, where to begin? Well, how about the beginning? Since just the other day I was looking back at the first posts I’d made with this site, I think I’ll start there. Seems as good a place as any…

The very first thing I ever wrote on this site was a simple Hello World message. Nothing too flamboyant or special about that one, just the obligatory “how do you do?” It was my second post where I said the things that I wanted to say and really took the time to state what my mission was:

sci_fi“I love science fiction, always have, always will.  But it’s the kind of science fiction that I love which I think is an important distinction. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that sci-fi comes in two varieties: classic and commercial.  The classical kind is the traditional variety that people take seriously… Commercial sci-fi, by contrast, is your basic stuff that owes much to the original masters but really didn’t follow in their footsteps.”

That’s still true of me. I still subscribe to the idea that the real science fiction is the kind that really makes you think and chooses to appeal to the highest possible standard. Might sound elitist, but given the sheer amount of pulp out there that does little more than entertain, I’d say I’m more of a hopeful optimist. I think people are capable of great genius when you give them a chance, and would like nothing better than to create something myself that appeals to the best in us – be it intellectual, moral, or metaphysical.

My first few reviews were really quite simple. I spoke of Frank Herbert – arguably my biggest inspiration – William Gibson, 1984 and Brave New World. I spoke of my own writing and posted some podcasts of Source’s earliest chapters (no longer available), and pasted some reviews my work had received. However, I was nowhere near as prolific as I am today. It was actually quite surprising to see that the first year of my site being operational could be summed up in just over a dozen posts. Especially when I am now at 700 and just over two and a half years into it!

In any case, I began doing movie reviews shortly thereafter, tackling such sci-fi greats as Blade Runner and the Alien franchise, and such guilty pleasures like Independence Day and Starship Troopers. This went on for some time, with me going back and forth between reviewing movies and great books, and once in a while dropping something in about a favorite miniseries, TV show, or something I happened to find inspiring.

brazil53And then something happened. Something which, I gotta admit, I didn’t even know was possible until it happened to me. I got freshly pressed. At the time, I was minding my own business, doing a post about Dystopian Literature, in honor of the fact that I just joined Writer’s Worth and our first project was an anthology of original, dystopian narratives. Feeling inspired by the fact that I was getting a chance to write within my favorite genre, I compiled a list of the most historically relevant and renowned examples I could think of.

That opened the floodgates! Having never exceeded a few dozen views in one day, you can imagine my surprised when I came home for lunch that day and discovered my views numbered in the high hundreds! I checked back as the afternoon progressed, only to see that it had reached into the thousands. By afternoon the following day, the torrent stopped and I was able to take stock of all that had happened. Roughly half my subscribership began following me in that one twenty-four hour period. I got more comments than I knew what to do with and more likes in that one day than the previous year! It felt nice, and I certainly learned something about how this thing called WordPress works!

Since that time, I won’t lie, I’ve been hoping to snag a second FP! No luck yet, but what can you do? Once was nice enough, and since it’s led to my current circulation amongst my fellow bloggers and the general internet-surfing public, I really can’t complain! Besides, several milestones have happened since then, so I shall not linger on this one event. Suffice it to say, as the days and weeks continued to pass, I found my traffic had increased exponentially from my pre-FP days. Not to the point of thousands, but higher than a hundred. That too was nice…

After finishing up the series of Dystopian posts, mainly to address examples other people poitned out and to cover examples of dystopic movies, I began to move onto other ideas. For instance, I had decided it was time to tackle themed-posts, like Cool Guns, Cool Ships, Giant Robots, and the like. These were mighty fun to do and provided endless suggestions from people who knew and liked the same franchises I did, and also saw these lists as an opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

apocalypse-04I also got into serial novel work, as attested to by Crashlands over at Story Time, and posts dealing with futuristic concepts and news. I guess I’d grown a bit tired just talking concepts, books and movies at this point and really wanted to delve into the everday stuff that drives science fiction and the creative imagination that guides people’s writing. At the same time, I continued to pimp any and all work that I was doing with Writer’s Worth, which at this point had morphed into its current group name of Grim5Next, in honor of our first project!

Then came two significant developments, back to back. In June of 2012, I began working with a select group of members from Grim5Next on a new project idea. With the passing of Ray Bradbury and Venus’ transit in front of the sun, it seemed that some of us were bit by the inspiration bug. I can still remember how it all began, in the form of a conversation between my friend and fellow writer, Khaalidah, and myself:

Khaalidah: Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question “Would you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?” Hands down the answer was space.
I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go.
This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things

Me: Okay, you need to write this down. I foresee you doing a story where a family does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Khaalidah: An anthology about space, going to space or anything related sounds awesome. I vote for you to be the editor. What do we need to do to get started?”

Yuva_coverThat was the beginning of Yuva. In the days that followed, we two enlisted the help of many people: Goran, Jenna, William, and Melanie. Through much conversation, back and forth and debate, we determined the location of our story (Gliese 581g), the tone, the structure, and even began producing the first few installments. As time progressed, we were joined by more writers – Charles, Danielle and Cara – who wanted to contribute and began scooping up the later installments in the series.

The second development was the rash of face-eating and zombie-like behavior which seemed to break out throughout that summer. Feeling compelled to comment on the sort of hysteria which had set in, I wrote a post called “Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse”. Much like my post on Dystopia, that one earned me quite a few views, thought it was not Freshly Pressed. I am thankful it wasn’t, as I began to feel a bit iffy about getting lots of traffic over a series of rather sick and tragic events. But I knew I had to comment since it was a relevant issue and I had something to say about it. I also swore I’d never publicize the names of the psychos responsible ever again, since I didn’t want to contribute to the buzz that so often surrounds twisted criminals.

Since that times, its been more of the same. Every day, I do my best to maintain the pace I’ve now set for myself, and am happy when plenty of people come by to see what I’ve written and tell me they are thankful that I post what I do. Naturally, I often complain that I should be getting paid to do this, but that’s just talk. No, this is something I’d gladly do for free, though ideally I would love it if it was a source of income so I could write indefinitely and not have to worry about money. My hope is one day that all of this culminates and I can write something truly meaninful and influential. That way, this site will represent a beginning to something truly big, and I’ll be able to share that with everyone who’s been here from the beginning.

Okay, that got a little mushy there towards the end. Suffice it to say, I’m very thankful for all that I’ve been able to do with this site thus far, and for being able to connect with all the people that I have. I hope very much to be able to write as many or more posts before I use up my allotted memory and either have to pay for an upgrade or move to another web address. Hopefully, the whole “getting paid to do this” thing will work itself out before then so I have the option of throwing money at the problem 😉

Rest assured, I aint going nowhere anytime soon. So expect to see plenty of me around these parts. Peace out, and thanks to everyone for stopping by, then and now. Bless you all!

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