Current Events Humor

My favorite take on “Meta”

My favorite take on Facebook-the-company renaming itself as “Meta” is the comment pictured above, which just happened to be posted to Facebook:

The whole Meta thing has the same energy as that one kid in grade school who spent like two months trying to make everyone call him Optimus Prime or something


“Accordion Guy” and “Global Nerdy” Stats for 2009

Hand with finger holding up a small stack of beans

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” is a maxim for many fields. Engineers, businesspeople and athletes may all have their own way of phrasing it, but however it’s put, they repeat it to each other all the time.

The act of measurement becomes murkier when applied to creative endeavours such as blogging. The qualitative stuff – How many people read the blog? Which articles were the big ones? Is the readership trend going up or down? – is pretty easy. A little StatCounter code embedded in the pages of The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century and Global Nerdy does the tedious stuff; I just look at the data and interpret it. As for the qualitative stuff, I’ll leave that as an exercise for the individual reader.

Accordion Guy’s Stats for 2009

Once again, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century passed the “2 million pageviews” mark. As of this writing, here’s how the numbers break down:

  • 2,198,906 pageviews – that is, the number of web pages from the Accordion Guy blog that were downloaded. Every time you, one of the individual article pages or hit the “refresh” button on your browser while reading my blog, it registers as a pageview.
  • 105,599 returning visitors – when you visit Accordion Guy, the StatCounter code embedded on every page attempts to leave a “cookie” – a tiny scrap of data stored by your browser – for anonymized tracking. If the StatCounter code sees that your browser has already stored an Accordion Guy cookie, it means you’ve visited the site before. The cookie data includes the date and time of your last visit, and if it’s been more than an hour since you last visited the Accordion Guy blog, you’re counted as a “returning visitor”.
  • 1,672,393 first-time visitors – the opposite of a returning visitor is a “first-time visitor”. If the embedded StatCounter code can’t see an Accordion Guy cookie stored by your browser, you’re counted as one of these.
  • 1,777,992 unique visitors – this is a calculated value: “unique visitors” is simply the sum of returning and first-time visitors.

Here’s an incredibly compressed chart showing the day-to-day activity on the Accordion Guy blog:

Day-to-day statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog

The spikes in the graph represent the most popular articles. The rightmost spike, which also happens to be the tallest, represents the How Fanboys See Operating Systems article from December 16th. That one got featured on Reddit and re-tweeted like crazy.

Here’s how the numbers look for each quarter:

Quarterly statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog

The trend is up-slightly down-up-slightly down, but still rising overall.

Global Nerdy’s Stats for 2009

Accordion Guy is my “hobby” blog. It’s the forum in which I express myself, tell stories and jokes, share pictures I’ve taken and point to interesting things I’ve found on the ‘net. I write it “just for kicks”, and the moment I stop enjoying writing it, I’ll stop.

Global Nerdy is a different beast. It is my second personal blog devoted to programming, internet technology and the nerd lifestyle, my first being The Happiest Geek on Earth (which Cory Doctorow called me in this Boing Boing article, which points to The Accidental Go-Go Dancer, in which I chronicled my brief stint as an accordion-playing go-go dancer at a downtown Toronto nightclub). Global Nerdy is both: T

  • An exercise to make me a better programmer and tech advocate through writing about the field, and doing the necessary legwork and research to support that writing, as well as
  • Self-promotion. Yes, it’s also a mercenary playing-to-win, look-at-me, hire-me, separate-myself-from-the-crowd, I-am-ten-Scobles blog.

I can say with certainty that Global Nerdy has helped me land my last three jobs, which includes my current one as a Developer Evangelist with Microsoft Canadaa job I landed in the middle of the econopocalypse of 2008 after getting laid off. In spite of all the job market doom and gloom, I was unemployed a mere three weeks.

This year, Global Nerdy crossed the “1 million pageviews” mark for the first time. Here’s how the numbers break down (for an explanation of the terms, see the Accordion Guy review above):

  • 1,608,638 pageviews
  • 60,340 returning visitors
  • 1,263,873 first-time visitors
  • 1,324,213 unique visitors

Here’s the chart showing the day-to-day activity on Global Nerdy:

Day-to-day statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog 

The spikiest period is in late January, which represents the buzz around the Winning the Gnu article, in which I won Richard Stallman’s auction for a plush version of the Free Software Foundation’s mascot, the gnu.

Here’s how the quarterly numbers break down:

Quarterly statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog

Eek – a downward trend!

If viewed in isolation, this would be a worrying development. However, there’s another blog that’s been getting the readers that would normally go to Global Nerdy, and I’ve included a screenshot of that blog below:

Screenshot of the "Canadian Developer Connection" blog

Canadian Developer Connection is Microsoft Canada’s developer blog, and it literally pays the rent. As a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, I’m paid to write it, and my performance – and yes, my bonus — is judged on the number of articles I write for it and the impact those articles have.

Furthermore, I’m trying to be Microsoft Canada’s most prolific, most-read and most influential blogger. After that, I’m aiming for Microsoft worldwide. I think my closest competition is my friend, and coworker (and guy who recommended me for the job), David Crow. Here’s how we stack up, blog-wise, according to Alexa:

Alexa stats for "Accordion Guy", "Global Nerdy: and David Crow's blog

In your face, Drinky Crow!

(I’ll admit, he’s got an edge on me in Twitter followers – I have 4,498, he has 4,719 – and we each have our own spheres of influence. And hey, he’s the man behind DemoCamp – I just help out.)

As a result, I’ve been doing two things:

  • I’ve been writing Global Nerdy articles and cross-posting them to Canadian Developer Connection.
  • I use Twitter to promote those articles, but I link to the Canadian Developer Connection one first, and the Global Nerdy one second.

I still think of Global Nerdy as my primary tech blog; I’m just  nice (and pragmatic) enough to share my material with Microsoft. Should the day come when Microsoft and I part ways – I can’t see such a day on the horizon, but the era of the lifelong “company man” has passed – I’ll still have it. There’s also the fact that sometimes, there’s stuff I’ll post here that I won’t post in Canadian Developer Connection, such as when I’m speaking for myself and not on behalf of Microsoft Corporation.

The Blogs Over the Years

Accordion Guy is a long-running blog – not the longest-running by a long shot, but pretty long-lived, having had its start in November 2001. I’ve been measuring it with StatCounter since 2005, and here’s how it’s been doing since then:

Yearly statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog, 2005-2009

There was a slight dip from the 2008 to 2009 numbers, and the cure is simple: write more, write better.

Global Nerdy is a newer blog – my friend George Scriban and I started it as a career-booster in mid-2006. George no longer writes for Global Nerdy, what with his being very busy with stuff at Microsoft’s main HQ in Redmond, and my job is a little more in-your-face than his. Global Nerdy’s maintained an upward trend, with an big shot in the arm from my joining Microsoft in late 2008:

Yearly statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog, 2005-2009

Again, the mantra for Global Nerdy in 2010 is simple: write more, write better!

To of you who read either of my blogs – thanks for the great year, and expect great things in the new decade!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


The Journey Begins

Anankin Skywalker leaves home as his mother Shmi Skywalker watches.It’s Monday, October 20th, which means that it’s Day 1 of my new job at Microsoft. Of course, if you’re a mathematician or a programmer — or Harry Belafonte — you might be inclined to call it Day 0. If you’re thinking in terms of old-school, pre-.Net Visual Basic, you can go with either Day 0 or Day 1, depending on the circumstances.

Developer Advisor

My business card, when it comes, will read “Joey deVilla, Developer Advisor“. Despite the fact that the group to which I belong is called Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE for short), Microsoft Canada prefers advisor to evangelist. The word “Evangelist” is seen as coming with some particularly unpleasant baggage: a certain inflexible, intolerant, dickish, “yes, we’re doing bad things, but it’s for the greater good!” kind of attitude. Hence “advisor”, a kinder, gentler, more Canadian term.

Mr. Mackey from "South Park": "FUD is bad, mmmkay?"While I understand the rationale behind “advisor”, I’m having a little trouble getting behind it. The word doesn’t have the same gusto that “evangelist” does. To my mind, “Developer Advisor” has the same ring as “Gudiance Counselor”. The title makes me feel as if I should be wearing an ugly tie, end my sentences with “Mmmmmkay?” and say things like “Have you thought about what programming tools you’d like to be using next year?” and that most famous of guidance counselor lines, “Remember, my door is always open.”

There’s also the fact that “technical evangelist” or “developer evangelist” is already a term in common use in the industry. There are also a number of people in who’ve brought great honour to the title through their actions: people like Mike Boich, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble, Geoffrey “Crossing the Chasm” Moore, Don Box, Alex St. John and David Intersimone.

(I have to give David Intersimone special mention because he had the most Sisyphean of evangelism tasks: evangelizing Borland’s — then CodeGear’s, now Embarcadero Technologies’ — perenially under-appreciated tools. I was once cold-called by Borland HR back in 2002 to become an evangelist for them; I didn’t have the heart to say “I think you guys are screwed without Anders, and I’m not sure you guys could market immortality.”)

You’ll probably find me using “evangelist” when referring to my position in casual conversation unless the boss is around. Maybe even then, as he’s a pretty cool guy.

What I’ll Be Doing

As a Microsoft Developer Evan– er, I mean Advisor — let me tell you what my job is not about first. My job is not about selling Microsoft developer tools. My hope is that you’ll eventually buy some Microsoft developer tools, of course, but when it comes times for the annual review, my work is not tied to the number of units moved or market share.

The creepy-eyed guy from the Visual Studio installer.What my job is about is getting programmers excited about programming using Microsoft’s technologies. It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re a True Believer who develops on Windows using Visual Studio, SQL Server and SharePoint with a Microsoft keyboard and mouse in a little shrine to Bill Gates or if the most you’ll ever venture towards the Dark Side is to use Internet Explorer for user experience testing. It also doesn’t matter whether you eat, sleep and breathe computer programming and know your monads from your closures or if you refuse to think about programming after five p.m.. As long as you’re doing development and there’s a chance that a Microsoft developer tool might be what you need, you’re one of the people I’m reaching out to.

They’ll still be measuring my performance, but the metric they’ll be using is satisfaction rather than sales. If developers find value in my writing, presentations, demonstrations, tutorials, example code, meetups and accordion playing, then I’m doing my job right.

Drinking from the Firehose

Scene from "UHF": "You get to drink from the firehose!"

I’m told that freshly-recruited Microsofters (‘Softies? Microserfs? Ozzie’s Army?) spend the first few months feeling as though they’re drinking from a firehose. Microsoft’s Evan — er, Advisor — for western Canada, John Bristowe, has used the term in conversation, and Program Manager Phil “Haacked” Haack used it in a blog entry during his first days at the company. Microsoft has cranked out a lot of technology in the thirty-odd years since Bill Gates was schlepping around in a blue van with his BASIC interpreter on paper tape.

I’ve already started to immerse myself in Microsoft developer stuff. I’ve already been issued my “developer” laptop, the first of two (two!) that are standard issue for Developer Evan — er, Advisors. It’s a Dell Precision M6300 with a Core Duo T7800 running at 2.6GHz and with 4 gigs of RAM. It’s loaded with the “Big Daddy” editions of Windows and developer tools and is meant for me to run demonstrations, write tutorials and build applications to inspire other developers. It’s a hefty, solid laptop; the only more solid-feeling laptop I’ve ever held is my deadbeat ex-housemate’s old Sparctop, which handily doubles as a bludgeon.

The next couple of weeks are going to be interesting for me, as I’ll be:

  • Poring over books and hacking out example code in my efforts to get up to speed with Microsoft’s development tools, which I haven’t used in a good long time
  • Going through whatever orientation process Microsoft Canada has, which may or may not involved getting Borg implants installed
  • Attending PDC2008, the conference where Microsoft’s tech kahunas will be introducing new tech and announcing the company’s technological direction for the next little while
  • Enjoying working with old friends already at the company, such as David Crow and John Bristowe
  • Getting to know my new co-workers, who are a pretty cool and very smart bunch

Let Me be Your Sexy Tour Guide

Sexy tour guide in a leopard-fur miniskirt.(If it makes you feel more comfortable, I can just be your plain old tour guide.)

Although I have a lot of ground to cover in my self-immersion into Microsoft tech, I’m not doing my job if I’m not communicating. In my interviews, I said that it would be a terrible waste if this were to happen. They liked my suggestion to have me treat my first days with Microsoft as a journey and my blog entries (and yes, I’m getting paid to write Global Nerdy!) as a travelogue. Perhaps a better way to think of me is not as your sexy tour guide, but as the late great Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter.

(Maybe I can shoot some video at PDC2008 where I wear a pith helmet and try to pin down Steve Ballmer and rub his belly.)

A good chunk of this blog will cover my exploration of Microsoft and its developer goodies, both the serious and not-so-serious stuff. I’ll probably talk a lot of developer tools, but I’m equally likely to do a photo essay on the fridges full of free pop at Microsoft headquarters. My mission is to out-Scoble Scoble, who was probably Microsoft’s best-known and most prolific tech evangelist.

But it won’t be “all Microsoft, all the time”, either. There’s a big wide world of development beyond Microsoft’s borders — I should know; I came from that world, after all. Even if you never ever intend to use Microsoft development tools, I think you’ll still find articles and info in this blog that you’ll like and fine useful.

And so the journey begins. I hope you come along for the ride; I promise to make it fun.