Webstats and Privacy

Washington DC - Capitol Hill: United States Capitol

In this post, I talk, briefly, about the 4th Amendment and how the government thinks it has a right to any data you’ve shared with anyone.  In today’s digital age, this doesn’t make any sense.  I put documents on my Amazon Drive, mark them private, and expect they will stay only with me.  Some people do the same with Google Documents or Dropbox.  I send email today instead of writing paper letters. The government thinks they should be able to see that information since you’ve “shared” it with someone (in this case, you’ve shared it with the service provider).

Anyway, I’ve started pulling my information back in to my own hosting.  That way, what is mine is mine; however, I’m sure the government doesn’t see it that way.  Part of that was evaluating webstats.  Currently, I use google analytics; however, I’m thinking about moving away from that.

I’ve used awstats in the past–way in the past when I ran my own website at home.  I started looking at it again, found these instructions, and decided to give it a go.  I’m happy to report that they seem to be working well.  I’ll give it to the end of Jan then look at ditching google analytics.

Oh, yes I know there have been some improvements; however, it is clear the government thinks it should have access to your information instead of assuming it does not.  If you need yet another reason you should fear the government and work to restrict its size and scope here you’ve got it.

Image from wallyg via flickr

Dance on the Wind by Terry C. Johnston (Scratch book 1)

Dance On The Wind Terry C JohnstonCover

I just finished–well, before the Christmas break I finished–Dance on the Wind by Terry C. Johnson.  This is the first book in the nine book series following Titus “Scratch” Bass as he leaves home, heads west, and becomes a mountain man.

Dance begins with Bass at home working on the family farm.  He’s got a girlfriend who he “courtin’.”  But he is unsettled and yearns for more.  His thoughts often turn to his grandpa who came to Kentucky when it was still the frontier.  One day, after a shootin’ match, he meets a man headed out west.  With freedom calling, Bass runs away from home one evening when he’s 16.  He then meets up with a group of riverboatmen who take him to the other side of the “falls.”  After they get through them, Bass asks to stay on and go to New Orleans with them.  This first book gets him to New Orleans and started back on the Nachez Trace.  Near St. Louis, he decides to go there.

In St. Louis, Bass gets a job as a blacksmith.  Towards the end of the book, he meets up with a real life mountain man.  After wasting all of Bass’ savings, the mountain man dies.  Bass mopes until he finally decides to head west.  This book ends with him setting out to the mountains.

Yes, this book is fiction.  I doubt Bass was a real person.  However, Johnston’s research of the time, area, and the “mountain man era” make “the Scratch books” a favorite with my family.  if you are at all interested in that time or the mountain men, start reading this series.

[Update 2013-02-02 15:18:01] Earlier this week, I started reading Buffalo Palace:  The Plainsman / Scratch book 2.  Once I’m done, I’ll post my review of it.

[Update 2013-02-06 08:26:04] I’ve finished Buffalo Palace.  My review is here.

Bookmooch — Update

Book Mooch logo

Way back in 2008, I blogged about bookmooch.  Well, I never really did anything with it until we came to England.  Perhaps because I didn’t have many books to offer, no one wanted my books…or perhaps it was because I couldn’t send things out of the country reliably….  Who knows.

Anyway, since the middle of 2012, I’ve sent 4 or 5 books out via bookmooch and have enough points to request 10 books or so.  Currently, I’m reading Game of Thrones, book 1 on my kindle.  After I finish it, I’ll request a book as I’m trying NOT to have more than one book going at a time.

[Update 2012-12-30 08:44:45] I realized I didn’t have a link to bookmooch.com anywhere in this post.  I do now :^)

Dec 2012 — Midlands Trip (Birmingham and Kenilworth Castle)

2 days ago, Cyndi and I decided that we were tired of sitting home during the Christmas break.  We took a look at English Heritage places–as members, we don’t have to pay an admission fee–and checked out Traveloge for cheap hotels.  We decided we’d visit Kenilworth Castle near Birmingham, England.

Here’s one picture, click the read more link below to see more pictures and read more about our trip.


Continue reading “Dec 2012 — Midlands Trip (Birmingham and Kenilworth Castle)”



See that foot?  See those sandals?  When we in Serbia, I bought those Sandals for around 1,500 dinars ($25ish).  Well, I literally wore them out!  In the summer, they were my shoe of choice.  Before we left, I had them wore out.  I’ve been looking for ones like them ever since.

Well, things are looking up.  Since today, when I found this picture, I’ve finally been able to ask for a quote from my good friends at Saleigh Mountain Leather in Hermann, MO.

Double Standard?

At the museum - Dennis Hopper

Today, one of the local cinemas had a special on for Madagascar 3:  £1 tickets.  £1…can you believe it!  Well, we went because the kids have been good (even though Lydia has been sick, she was feeling better).  That, and we wanted to get out of the house. Anyway, I enjoyed myself and the kids sat through the entire thing!  However, there was a scene (it happened twice) combined with my current reading made me start wondering about something.  Is there a double-standard?  Do some people think they are “special” and should have things others shouldn’t?

First off, I want to say that I don’t think that.  Everyone should be able to work hard and able to get whatever they want.  Want bodyguards?  Make enough to pay for them and they are yours.  Want a vacation home in the mountains?  Make enough to buy it and you can have it.  Want a gun?  Go get one.  Want an SUV?  Go for it.  Want to use a term?  Go for it.  Want a freedom?  defend it when someone else uses it.  Want a sword?  Same thing.

I’ve blogged an example of this before:  Swords or guns?  The jist of that post was to point out how I thought the author had a double standard.  How he thinks about swords is how I think about guns (it is a drop-in replacement).  But, I expect he would think it ludicrous if someone were to talk about banning swords:  after all, he seems to be fairly responsible about it.  But guns? I imagine he would be right there calling for them to be banned.

Another example came from the film.  There was a scene–two actually–where they talk about an “Afro Circus” with everyone wearing huge ‘fro wigs (some even with picks stuck in them).  Here’s a link to one of them on YouTube:  Afro Circus.

Yet another example comes from the book Game of Thrones, Fire and Ice. Last night, while reading it, I came across the word niggardly.

Now, in all three of these cases, I don’t really care.  I don’t care that the first guy wants to have swords (and teach his kids about them).  I don’t care that DreamWorks included the Afro Circus reference in their film.  Nor do I care that the author of Game of Thrones used the word niggardly.  Those are their rights and well within them.  But….

Look at the outcry against guns at the moment in the US.  I don’t know for sure; however, I expect the author of the BoingBoing post is all for regulation of them; however, I’m sure he would rant about his swords going away.  Imagine if Ben Stien had used something like that in one of his anti-evolution videos.  Imagine the outcry if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity used the word niggardly to describe a cheap person?

Now, let me transition to something real:  liberals tell me that I have to accept their positions and roll over and accept things like gay marriage or abortion.  They tell me I have to be accommodating to them.  I have to allow their positions to be taught in schools.  If I don’t, I’m a homophobe racist horrible person.  Yet they will not then turn around and accept my position that the earth was created in 6 literal 24 hour days apx 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.  I’m ridiculed for holding that position.  They will not accept me saying I think homosexuality is a sin–just like premarital sex or adultery–yet I am told I must accept their position.  Why do they not allow Tom Sawyer and Huck Fin in some libraries yet not about the Game of Thrones book?

I think this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  They want total acceptance from me yet they refuse to grant the same in reverse.  My question is:  does the source matter?  Do you think there is a double-standard?

[Update 2013-01-07 06:25:10] I have another much worse (or better?) example.  Check out this blog post.

[Update 2013-02-02 19:26:06] Here’s yet another example:  The Redbull Rampage.  I just watched a video on Netflix where it showed these guys digging out “lines” for them to ride their bikes down and hacking bushes down.  Do they just “know” better or “care more” than dirt bike riders, etc…?  Stinkin liberals think they are special…..

Image from catheadsix via flickr

Google Webmaster Tools and Stats


Before the most recent update of this website, I hadn’t done much more than simply look at generic vistor stats.  But in it, I got some weird errors in the webstats so I dug deeper.  I found I had this wierd random number (13 digits specifically) showing up as a 404 in my google stats.  After some research, I found information here, here, and here.

The gist is that there was a problem with Google playing nice with some javasript.  In my case, I think it must be disquis.  I’ve updated everything and marked it as fixed.  I’ll update this post if the problem returns.

Well, the problem hasn’t returned, however, I have a screenshot of my webmaster stats showing the problem (and the results of work on my end in my htaccess file).


[Update 2012-12-30 19:15:24] Added graph showing the problem.

Image from Sean MacEntee via flckr

More on .htaccess

Beat out the old, beat in the new...

I’ve spent I don’t know how long trying to unravel the–very very cool–mystery of htaccess and mod_rewrite on Apache.  I thought I had a rule that would take old-stype URLs on my site and rewrite them to a new style.  And I thought I had it working.  This led me to spend about 3 hours going through some trace logs fixing 404 errors.  Don’t ask me why I didn’t see it sooner, but most of the URLs I was messing with were internal.

After enough of that, I decided I had messed up a rule so I started looking some more.  Finally, I found this page that was very helpful.  Specifically, I learned what the difference was between $N and %N and how they worked.  %N in a .htaccess file gives you a condition matched by regex in a RewriteCond line.  The $N in a .htaccess file gives you access to the regex match in the first part of the RewriteRule line.

What do I mean?  Here is an example for us to look at:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} &foo=([0-9]+) [NC]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !foo= [NC]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} !bar=([0-9]+) [NC]
RewriteRule .* http://XYZedDomain.com/%1? [R=permanent]

This will look in the query string and the first test will match &foo= followed by a number.  The [0-9] means match digits and the + means match one or more instances.  So, &foo= must be followed by 1 digit or more.  The [NC] means case doesn’t matter so FOO and Foo and fOO all match.

The second test makes sure we are not matching things like barfoo=.  The ! means we NOT whatever comes after.

The third test checks that the string does not contain bar= followed by digits.  I had some cases where my query string contained both foo=1234 and bar=0987.  I had to handle the bar=0987 part separately (and it overrulled the foo part of the string).

But what about the %1?  Well, the first test has a regex (the part within the () ).  Whatever that matches gets put into the % variables.  In my case, the first test has a wild match and the third test has a wild match.  so %1 contains whatever was matched after &id= (in my example above it would be 1234).  %2 would get the numbers from the third line (0987).  There is no % variable prduced on the second test because there is no regex matching.

Unfortunately, I still don’t understand too much about plain old RewriteRule.  You can do the same sort of regex matching there and use the matched part when you actually do the rewrite.  However, instead of using %N you use $N.  You still have to match   with a regex though, as I understand it.

Why did I go through all this work?  Well, have a look at the following graph:

Google Webmaster Stats (Server Errors) 28 Dec 2012

Yep, that shows server errors from my site.  At the start of this process, I had none.  It then spiked.  And the reason it went back down was me using htaccess and modrewrite to take any old URLs that were erroring and redirect them to where they were supposed to go.  I expect a similar drop in page errors; however, I’ll have to wait a few days to see that graph as google doesn’t crawl all of my pages every day.

Here’s the graph of page errors.  The long gentle slope up is from these errors here that were a Google problem.  But, have a look at the page errors.  I’ve got almost all of them eliminated simply by analyzing what was going on and putting a bit of work into the problem to help you guys out.


Don’t forget you can only have 1-9 in each case.

[Update 2012-12-27 07:17:13] I thought I would add an example…just in case.

[Update 2012-12-27 15:45:15] Added a graph and showed how my errors were eliminated.

[Update 2012-12-30 19:11:55] Added graph of page errors

Image from david anderson via flickr