Blogging

New site for my music YouTube channel

Oliver Brown

I created a new website to go with the music visualization YouTube channel I launched.

There is not much content there yet, besides details of everything that is on the channel. But those details are probably the most interesting part.

I created a tool using the YouTube data API that generates Hugo content based on the channel.

The process started simple and got more sophisticated over a few days. First I generate a page for each video. Then I get a list of all the channel playlists, and add a tag to each video page for each playlist. I also create a page for the tag that links to the actual YouTube playlist. Finally, for each video I parse the description adding YouTube chapter links where appropriate.

It highlights another interesting advantage of static site generators. It is really easy to create content with external tools. You don’t need to access any kind of API, you just generate text files.

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Blog moved to Hugo

Oliver Brown

After spending most of its time on Wordpress (initially a self-hosted version and then Wordpress.com), the blog is now a static site generated with Hugo and running as an Azure Static Web App.

Ever since I created the Tic-tac-toe Collection site on Hugo I’ve wanted to move the blog, but I never had the time. The recent events related to COVID-19 have, however, given me random bits of free time, so here we are.

Tic-tac-toe Collection is being run as a static website on Azure Blob Storage, which is a way of connecting various bits of Azure together to host a static site. The new Azure Static Web App Service joins them all for you in a much more straightforward fashion.

Under ideal circumstances, the minimal steps to set up a static web app are:

  • Upload your site to Github.
  • Create a new Static Web App pointing at your Github.

And, if you’re lucky, that’s it. It generates a GitHub action for you that does the actual building, and it’s based on Microsoft Oryx. Oryx is a slightly magical, slightly scary tool designed to auto-detect and then build static web apps using a range of different technologies.

Unfortunately, for me, the auto generated Hugo script did not actually work. I ultimately used the GitHub action from here.

It's alive

Oliver Brown

After languishing on a badly maintained Amazon EC2 instance for so long, I’ve finally made an effort to resurrect this blog and moved to Wordpress.com.

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New Look - New Features

Oliver Brown

I finally decided to start posting to my blog with some regularity again. Whether it will last, I can’t say. As part of the relaunch I’ve finally upgraded Wordpress to a more respectable (and secure) version, found a new theme and added some cool stuff, including OpenID support for comment posting. All the posts and comments should be intact and everything should be working properly, but random behaviour for the next few days shouldn’t be unexpected…

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Getting paid to review

Oliver Brown

Well it seems that PayPerPost isn’t unique as a few other people are jumping on the bandwagon. One of the notable ones is ReviewMe from the people at TextLinkAds. Although the theory is essentially the same as PayPerPost, the implementation is different. In PPP advertisers list opportunities which bloggers can the accept. The price paid ranges from about $2.50 to $10 (with the most common being $4 or $5). ReviewMe works the other way round. Bloggers list their blogs with a price (determined by ReviewMe) and advertisers choose which ones they want to review their product or service. The price paid is dependent on the blog (how exactly they determine I’m not sure but it seems to be some sort of PageRank, Alexa, back-links type combination) and seems to be significantly higher. Of course you’re likely to get fewer offers though. One offer they seem to be giving to everyone is to review ReviewMe itself (eerily like this) so every blogger accepted should earn something from them. And although I didn’t look at their payout details specifically, I would guess it’s the same as TextLinkAds - at the end of the month by PayPal with no minimum (and possibly other options with a minimum or a fee).

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How to get more visitors to old content

Oliver Brown

One of the main advantages of blogs as a publishing medium is also a big disadvantage at times - the time sensitive nature. The fact that the information is about as up to the minute as you can get (in general) means blogs are a better source of news (or more importantly opinions about news) than search engine results for instance. But this means that some of your content can be come rather pointless after a short time. Some articles are essentially timeless however. If you’re lucky and lots of people link to them you should be able to get some steady search engine traffic but people looking for something that specific aren’t likely to hang around after reading them. So FeedCycle.com have come up with a reasonably clever way of letting you push your old content but still keeping a blogesque feel to it. The idea is to create a custom feed of a subsection of your content. The example they push a lot is a podcast “series” about the same topic, but it can be any thematically linked (and generally ordered) series of posts from your blog. When someone subscribes they get the first post in the series. The next day, they get the next post and so on until the end of the series. There is a plug-in somewhere for Wordpress that lets you mark posts as part of a series and to create navigation links to quickly get between them. Used in conjunction with this would let your users read through the whole series or just sit back and have it delivered. Now if only I ever posted such a series…

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PayPerPost is getting a lot of flak

Oliver Brown

PayPerPost are a fairly new company offering yet another revenue stream for bloggers (although for most blogs the existing ones probably aren’t earth shattering). This one’s a lot more controversial on the surface however. You get paid to write content about something specific. And you get paid quite a lot (at least in blogging revenue terms), usually about $5 per post. It has however pissed quite a few people off. Jason, CEO of Weblogs seems to be one of the loudest. I’m going to take the wimpy way out and simply say it’s a tool with potential, that can be abused. But in the long that’s not a problem for the blogosphere. If you destroy your own integrity by blatantly posting ads instead of actual content you will lose out as surely as if you filled the page with conventional advertising. If you don’t annoy your readers however, you will be fine. In this case it means choosing “opportunities” (that’s what PPP call them) that are actually relevant. That’s how Google AdSense came to be accepted, remember?

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Linux is neither popular nor valuable

Oliver Brown

Controversial statement? Well that’s the point. There is a hilarious article over at XML.com about the traffic advantages of controversy on blogs. The funniest part of course is the number of comments from people who read the title of the post but not the content and just threw a normal anti-anti Linux rant. Unfortunately these things only work if you have a fair amount of traffic in the first place and I probably don’t quite qualify :P Linux, traffic, Linux sucks

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No more outages

Oliver Brown

Some of you may have noticed the blog being down regularly. Well I haven’t fixed it yet. But I finally got the script to work that was supposed to restart it. I eventually diagnosed the problem as an incorrect path setting for the cron daemon. Anyway, it should now never be down for more than a few minutes… bash, Linux, servers

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