This here blog is 10 years old

And it’s still updated 🙂

It’s funny and a little cringy to go back to the early posts when I didn’t have many interesting things to say. It feels as though I eventually found my voice. Part journal, part project documentation & sharing. One of the unintended and very nice side effect of documenting projects on a public forum is that it forces me to finish them well. I’m an itch scratcher and it’s easy to move on from an 80% finished project having seen the results. The remaining 20% are all boring polish and documentation. By putting them online, I’m obligated to present them in a fully baked form and I’ve never regretted having done so. I’m not sure who the audience is besides myself, the sections are a bit all over the place. What I do know is that some posts are more popular than others, some surprisingly so. Even though I didn’t do a good job at keeping logs through the past decade, here are the most popular posts today, using the month of March 2019 as a snapshot in time:

#1 – Somehow I’m maintaining the most popular MAC address to IPv6 link-local converter online. Not sure how that happened but here we are, 12370 hits, 35% of all visitors on my blog are people curious about this. That’s what happens when you’re the first result on Google. Not super glamorous eh?

#2 – My article exposing the idea, tools, and techniques for turning the visitors of your websites into a super computer. 2793 hits, 8% of traffic.

#3 – Glamor galore: the original blog post from which Mandalagaba was born. Now, this is just the remnant of what is now a separate entity, yet it has it tentacles into enough things online to bring 1986 hits (6% of traffic).

#4 – You just got to convert your IPv6 link-local address back into a MAC right? 1829 hits, 5%.

#5 – Some obscure piece of Python interaction with SNMP. 936 hits, 3%. I think we’re starting to see the power of documenting weird little pieces of computer lore I had a hard time gathering myself.

#6 – and I’ll stop here with 407 hits and 1% of traffic, my well documented foray into writing PAM modules. This has picked up recently with a widespread push for multi factor authentication.

All the following ones are of the same nature, some script or method I came up with and documented. Together they account for a large portion of visits. I guess no one cares about life on a homestead or Duplos :).

The waves

There’s what happens on a standard month, and there’s the temporary effect of having something chosen by the internet for its 5 minutes of fame. These waves put things into perspective and it’s surprising how quickly they fade away.

Even though it’s not the most popular post on the day by day basis, the biggest wave by far was generated by the original post of Mandalagaba (only #3 above). I lost these logs to destructive auto-rotation but they amounted to ~200,000 visits in 24 hours and ~100,000 trailing in the subsequent few days. The first hours were pretty brutal for a poor 3Mbps DSL connection.

Mandalagaba is now hosted in the cloud for its propensity to generate such waves so it doesn’t count in the logs after this. Otherwise It’d be my daily #1 by far, and responsible for the 2nd and 3rd biggest waves. I’m hoping I’ll be able to repatriate it back home once we get fiber, hopefully some time this year.

In the absence of Mandalagaba, the 2nd biggest wave is my article on turning web traffic into a super computer with ~50,000 visits including ~24,000 in the first 24 hours. I was pretty worried when I released it that reaction would be very negative given the more than gray subject matter. To the contrary it was very well received, even yielding the best compliment ever thrown in my general direction:

Thank you Mikerg, your comment made my day!

While the popularity of Mandalagaba happened to my surprise, I had a suspicion that the Super Computer article would make some kind of a splash once released. It happened immediately and it was nice to see. Let’s just say I had been extremely obsessed by browser based computing in the months leading up to it. And I felt like a mad man with a mad idea at the bottom of a long meandering rabbit hole. Coming out of my hole and seeing minds blowing up left and right was reassuring in that I had in fact seen something, and I wasn’t the only one seeing it. We were all left thinking “oh, I guess that’s possible now”, with the promise that things only get more intense with more acceptance of standards such as WebAssembly.

Little meta anecdote: while I did not run any computation to keep things as clean as possible during the wave, the Super Computer article at its height gave me a nice Super Computer comprised of 500 nodes :). I can only imagine the amount of computing power a piece of popular culture could yield. It’s interesting to ponder how the attention economy could impact access to processing power.

Even though the number of hits is lower on this article, I think the reception is more impressive for how niche the topic is. Everyone likes to draw a mandala, very few people know what the heck is going on in this one.

That’s about it for the big waves. It’s interesting to note they both happened very recently in the decade this blog has been online. Maybe I’m finally getting good enough at something I can actually contribute to the world :).

One thing is for sure, I really like self hosting. I’ve been running my own mail & web servers for 17 years, it was for fun and learning at first. It was economical second.  As time went on and saw various platforms rise, fall, consolidate, or turn into cesspools of the worst human traits, it became about control. Self hosting is more satisfying today than it ever was. The internet was supposed to be decentralized and so I enjoy placing my pebble against the few towering mountains.

No ads, no greedy incentives, no privacy violation, no monetization attempt, no influencing or building of any sort of followership. At some point along the way, I decided to stay in the information age and not step into the attention age. That’s my pebble.


One Reply to “This here blog is 10 years old”

  1. > I guess no one cares about life on a homestead or Duplos 🙂

    But this is why I’m here!

    I mirror your sentiment regarding a decentralised internet. I’m eager to return to self-hosting (soon [tm]) and only using OSS+Libre tools for the services I host, whether for the public or myself.

    Congrats on 10 years. Here’s to 10 more!

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