Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don't know much about JOG-ruh-fee . . .

Don't know much tech-NOL-uh-gee . . .  But I'm learning a little more each day, thanks to Site Meter, Google, and my scintillating chats with the M-ster.

When I started keeping this blog, I had no clue that the world is such a big place--or that computers can make it seem a lot smaller than it really is.

About two months ago I did a post thanking my growing numbers of blog visitors for stopping by to have a look. I mentioned seeing folks from all over the United States as well as England, Germany, Spain, Israel, and Afghanistan. To the list of foreign places we can now add Australia (including Tasmania, which according to M is known for its devils!), Honduras, Canada, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, Scotland, Singapore, the Philippine Islands, and a delicious sounding country called Turkey. There might also have been a visitor from Finland. M says we can't be sure of that, because for a lot of the hits, including that one, Site Meter gives the location as unknown. But the language for that particular visitor was shown as Finnish, so the odds seem pretty good it was Finland.

As for places in the U.S., we're way over 24 now--probably pushing 40 or so. First, there are 23 states:  Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Kentucky, Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Maryland, California, Colorado, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington. And for some of those states, especially Florida, California, and Virginia, Site Meter has shown visits from a number of different cities.

A couple of blog hits came from a special city called Washington, D.C., also known as the District of Columbia. It's special because it's the capital of the United States. It took me a minute to get my head around that one, because I thought the United States had two capitals, U and S. But M explained that in this case, capital means the headquarters of the federal government. I asked him what headquarters means, and he said it's where our representatives make our laws, which usually are variations on the Law of Unintended Consequences, and our president then either enforces them or doesn't, and eventually our highest court, a group called the Supremes, misinterprets them.

"Does every country have a capital?" I asked, and he said yes, and that each state does, too.

"Have any of my hits come from from state capitals?"

He looked at the list. "Yep," he said. "I see Helena, Montana; Richmond, Virginia; Tallahassee, Florida; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Annapolis, Maryland. And this particular Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, which is a state in Australia."

"Neat," I said. "How about capitals of other countries? Have we got any of those?"

He gave me the stink eye. "You ever hear of this new online research thing--The Google? You should try it."

M can be pretty sarcastic when he puts his mind to it. I went to work Googling and compiled this rather short list of foreign national capitals from which visitors apparently found my blog:  Hanoi, Vietnam; Tokyo, Japan; and Moscow, Russia. Tel Aviv, another of my hits, may or may not be the capital of Israel, depending on which website you consult. Oh--and Singapore is a country, a "city-state" (hence its own capital), and an island to boot. (If you ever run into Singapore on a multiple-choice exam, the correct answer is probably (d) all of the above.)

I was surprised to learn that Istanbul, my Turkish blog hit, isn't the capital of that country, since according to what I read, it's really big. But M says capital cities frequently aren't the biggest. One interesting thing about Istanbul, however, is that it's the only metropolis in the world that's located on two different continents. (If you'd care to know which ones and why--or what the capital of Turkey is--may I suggest The Google?)

I wish I'd started writing down all of these places from the beginning, back in April, because the free version of Site Meter just allows you to see the most recent hundred hits, and M is much too cheap (or as he says, frugal) to pay for the better version. Also, I wish Site Meter didn't show so many locations as unknown. But there's probably no way around that because a lot of computers and networks use heavy encryption and proxy servers to hide their identities.

M told me that proxy servers can even make it look like someone is on a computer in, say, Shanghai, China, when they're actually right down the road in Yeehaw Junction. Great, I thought. So it turns out that we can't trust Site Meter to give us the straight scoop about any of these hits.

"Most of the stuff is probably on the level," he then said as if reading my mind. "But as I used to tell my students, always remember one thing about the internet:  It's the information superhighway, not the super information highway. Take everything you see there with a grain of salt. Preferably on the rim of a Margarita."

One thing I like about Site Meter is that sometimes it will give you a visitor's Referring URL, which means where (s)he was just before coming to your site, and the Out Click, which is where (s)he went upon leaving it. Sometime the Referring URL or the Out Click is one of the blogs listed in my sidebar. Some of the more interesting Referring URLs, though, are from Google searches. That's because the search words will often give you a clue as to whether the visitor was actually looking for the blog or just stumbled across it. For instance sometimes people search for "canine couch potato," which probably means they've heard of me or maybe have been here before but forgot to bookmark the link. Other times it's a toss-up. Yesterday someone got here by Googling "fun things to do with a couch potato dog." Well, I happen to think that reading my blog is about the funnest thing you can do with a couch potato dog. But whether the Googler agrees is something you just don't know.

Also yesterday, someone found my post of July 6th ("GEICO Goes to Boot Camp") by searching for "commercials army guy screaming at man on couch." That cracked me up. It's pretty clear that the commercial was the objective. I'm also pretty sure, though, that the searcher wasn't displeased to have found the video embedded in my blog. Who knows--
maybe I'll get some repeat business out of it. (By the way, when I showed those search words to M, he was quick to remind me that R. Lee Ermey was not an army guy but a Marine D.I. Apparently there's a difference.)

No comments: