My Very Strange Readers

When I look at the logs for this website, I can often see what brought readers here. Sometimes it’s a bookmark or a link from another site (I am always grateful when others link to this site – though, as you see, I don’t have permanent links to other blogs here). Many times, it’s a search engine leading folks here.

Just to give you an idea, so far in June Google has sucked down 26.5 MB of bandwidth as it indexes this site. MSN, whose search engine is just ramping up, has pulled down over 100 MB! Nearly 1,300 visitors in these 11 days of June have come from search engines. At the moment, Google brings in 3 times as many readers as Yahoo, 10 times as many as MSN.

If you come from a search engine, like Google or Yahoo, the actual search query you entered is logged for me and it’s often fascinating info. For the past few months, many strangers have come here because of things I’ve written, or photography I’ve posted, about John Mayer and his road manager Scotty Crowe (Scotty has many fewer web citations, so I come up very high on a search for his name). They have been the 1 & 2 most popular search terms for months.

Now, joining them on the hit parade is “Carrot Top Shirtless.”

I don’t which is scarier – people are looking for Carrot Top – shirtless, or the fact that there’s content in my blog that makes geofffox.com show up in the search… in the second spot on Google!

100,000 Pages Served

Sometime on Monday the little counter on the bottom right of this website will spin past 99,999 and move into six digits. It’s my website, and I am impressed. I never thought there would be anywhere near this much traffic.

However, let’s keep this in perspective. Compared to a large commercial site like Google or Yahoo I’m not even a rounding error. This site has so little traffic that it easily shares a computer with dozens of other small sites (and my server is in Chicago).

For a one man operation with no promotion, and no draw other than a look at what I’m thinking on any given day (not much it often seems) 100k since July is livin’ large.

To define terms, each time a full page of this website is viewed the counter goes up one. This page counts as one. If you go back and look at a single archived entry, that’s another one. Looking at a full screen of thumbnails in my gallery is one more. And, if you click on any of them to get that single image in a larger view that is yet one more.

There are other counters at work on the site. Most of them operate behind the scenes on the management pages.

This is the 400th entry in my blog which started on July 4, 2003 (you can see the titles of each with links by clicking here). The combined text and images here take up 285 MB. This website has spit out a little less than 15 GB of data, enough to fill 20 or so CDROMs. There have been 56,000 separate visits to the site. If you count each individual file that’s called on, each image, style sheet, table and text files, you will be just short of 1.5 million hits!

This site is fully indexed on all the search engines, but gets the most traffic, by far, from Google. The largest number of referrals come from people entering the name, “Scotty Crowe,” John Mayer’s road manager who I had written about… and who doesn’t appear on other sites often enough to move me from a prominent showing on Google and Yahoo. In 2003, Scotty was only number 2, just behind “giblet gravy,” a term I had used in a context that probably wasn’t be searched for.

There are other Geoff Fox’s listed on the Internet – many others. But, I am the number one result when you Google my name. I’m also high on the list for ‘dissed’ and, of course, Scotty Crowe.

Each day, between 350-450 of you visit, looking at about 2 pages per visit on average.

There is a certain amount of exaggeration when you see all these numbers. Some do nothing more than reflect the Internet equivalent of a wrong number, as people come here by mistake. Others are reflecting robots and spiders and crawlers from search engines like Google, Yahoo and now Microsoft. Still more, less than 10% but significant, are from me… looking for errors and proofreading my work (I spend a lot of time spellchecking and proofreading my work and mistakes still get through all the time).

Actually, I often stay away from the public pages, lest I run up the counter.

If I told you how much this endeavor has cost, you’d probably be surprised. The main software is Movabletype, which is free. Same goes for Gallery, my photo gallery software and GrADS which produces the meteograms. All the software on this site is freeware.

Renting my little corner of cyberspace is also pretty cheap. I paid $100 for one year of webhosting, which provides the destination when you type https://www.geofffox.com. For that $100 I get 350 MB of space, more bandwidth than I can use, and the ability to control my mailboxes and truly be the master of my own domain! Owning geofffox.com is another $20 (I also own tv-cd.com).

Please accept my thanks for coming here and helping me stay motivated. I have become somewhat anal – posting virtually every day. I am surprised, gratified and a little scared when I think you’ve spent a time reading what I have to say.

Who Came Here in 2003

I don’t have an incredibly long history as a webmaster. So, for me, it’s often confusing and at the same time interesting to peek at the inner workings of this site. I have owned the domain name geofffox.com for a few years, but it’s only been since late July that I’ve mounted this blog and photo gallery.

My webserver is actually located in Chicago, and run by hostforweb.com. It is shared with other small websites. I have access to most of the server’s guts through shell programs.

In order for you to see what you’re reading now, I have to upload all the files and images and programs from home. There are a number of programs, like the one that produces the weather forecast meteograms that run on clocks and execute a few times a day. I had to write the scripts to do that too.

Running this website has forced me to learn a little about a bunch of computer disciplines, like php, Perl, bash shell scripts, html and a veritable alphabet soup of minutiae. It’s been challenging and like Blanche Du Bois, I am often dependent on the kindness of strangers. The more I learn about computers, the less I realize I know.

With the year over in less than four hours, I though I’d summarize a little of what’s gone through this site in 2003. Since it was only born in July, the stats are (hopefully) less than what I’ll get to publish in 2004.

7.76 GB That’s the total amount of data I’ve spit out. It melts down to 10 CDROM’s worth… or a few DVD’s. The majority of my hits go to the United States, but most of Europe and the Pacific Rim are represented as well.

271.69 MB That’s what Google slurped up. Loads of spiders and crawlers moved through the site, picking up the data that goes into search engines. Google took down nearly 5 times as much data as the next biggest search engine and was responsible for 6711 page views by users. I have chronicled elsewhere my rise in the Google rankings – a feat which both intrigues and fascinates me.

Giblet gravy That’s the most used search engine phrase that sent people to the site. They must have been disappointed because I used the phrase to illustrate a point that had nothing to do with cooking. The next most requested phrase was Scotty Crowe, John Mayer’s road manager.

Thanks to everyone who’s written to ask me for John’s email address. Even if I had it, I couldn’t give it out. You will be glad to know your admiration is not misplaced. There’s a whole lot to admire about John. I don’t think he’ll be spoiled by success.

I’m not sure how or why, but people searching for dangerous Internet cafes in las vegas nv and she had to remove her shoes airport ended up being sent to geofffox.com.

My cousin Michael and his wife Melissa in Sunny Southern California became blog readers. More than anyone, Michael made me realize I could use an editor from time-to-time. I try to spell and grammar check, but you need a dispassionate eye too.

My dad reads the blog every day. That pleases me more than he’ll ever know.

From time to time I’ve looked at my logs, seeing where readers are coming from. There’s someone at NBC in NY who reads pretty regularly, same at the vendor of our station’s weather equipment and Mississippi State University, where I’m taking courses. Most readers are connecting through residential addresses, but I’m amazed by all the different companies and universities that are listed.

Once, I made reference to probes of my home computer by a virus ensconced in a PC at a San Fransisco Honda dealer. I made an analogy that used the word ‘doorknob’. A few days later a computer at a doorknob manufacturer downloaded a significant portion of this site. They’ll be as surprised as the giblet gravy crowd.

In 2003 approximately 17,000 separate viewers came calling to this site. Collectively you visited 30,000 times, downloading 872,000 files. My page counter now sits just north of 60,000.

Every word I write is read, re-read, edited, punched up and perused again before it goes online. One of the more pleasant surprises of blogging is how challenging and how much fun it is to write. I never felt that way about writing before.

Often it is a cathartic experience, allowing me to get something off my chest. Other times it’s fun to let you in on something I observed and want to share.

My family puts up with this to a point. I reveal a lot in this blog, but not everything. A friend wrote to tell me he was surprised to see this ‘warts and all’ self assessment. If there are warts here, they are a small portion of my own personal wart colony. Like most people, I keep a few skeletons in my closet.

Thanks for reading. It really means a lot to me. Really.

Google and the Meaning of Life

On Google’s “page rank” scale of 1-10 I was a 2. Now, I am a 3! A good ranking on Google is what anyone with a website wants. Higher rankings means higher placements in searches which translates to more page hits.

Since I don’t sell advertising and would actually have to pay more for my website if it became too popular, it’s obvious that this is an exercises in vanity. Fine. Guilty as charged.

I know some of how Google works (though they’ve kept as much of their methods for page ranking as secret as is humanly possible). I’ve optimized my site so all the content stands out, all the images have meaningful names, the archives are named after the content, etc, ad nauseum. Google is certainly here often enough, hitting this site well over a thousand times in September alone and returning every day or two for a little more.

The big deal in Google, and the part that I can’t control, is who links to me. If, for instance, The New York Times linked to me from their home page (9 out of 10) that would give me ‘street cred’ and up my ranking. This has created controversies over time as some people have developed sites that do nothing but pass links back and forth. There have even been lawsuits filed by disgruntled proprietors of these ‘link farms.’

I can see when someone gets here through a search engine. There are logs kept and analysis tools on my web server.

Google links, among others, are quite distinct. So, for instance, during the month of September, search engines sent people my way because they asked about the Pixo AT700S monitor (advertised recently at Staples) that I use, or Scotty Crowe (John Mayer’s road manager who was featured in August after Steffie and I went to see John Mayer) or the phony satellite and hurricane pictures I’ve posted. Even my friend Peter Mokover brought me 3 hits! For an esoteric subject, like Scotty Crowe (I hope Scotty doesn’t mind that characterization because he was very nice to Steffie and me), I’m 9th on Google’s list:

My Permanent Record
Scotty Crowe who is part of our road crew will contact you and make arrangements

for you and your daughter to get into the M&G tomorrow.

www.geofffox.com/MT/archives/cat_john_mayer.php – 28k – CachedSimilar pages

I could be the most interesting, insightful writer in the world, but without Google’s blessing, I’m a tree falling in the forest… no one hears.

After the first few entries I wrote in my blog, I realized how cathartic a process this is. So, I’d continue to write even for a few readers. But lots of hits is more fun.

After all this, I should admit the biggest sender of readers to my site is word of mouth. After I posted over 400 pictures from last week’s Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk, the floodgates opened. So far 400 people have looked through my gallery, each stopping at a few pictures and possibly coming here to the blog side to see what I have to say.

Am I John Mayer’s stalker?

Click here for more photos from the concert

As of Wednesday morning, I still hadn’t heard from John Mayer’s road manager, Scotty Crowe, as promised. Just a little worried (it is my nature), I sent another email to the management folks and got a reassuring email in return.

By early afternoon there was an upbeat voicemail at work. We were good to go (literally and figuratively). The only surprise was the time. “Meet and greet” is normally a post show event. Not with this show. John would be entertaining at 7:00 PM.

Anticipating Hartford traffic (which we never saw), Steffie and I arrived at The Meadows a bit before 6:00 PM. A line had already begun to form the entrance. People with tickets for the vast expanse of lawn wanted to stake their claim and find a good seat.

Good lawn seating is miles away from the stage. Bad seating is in another time zone.

We hit the “will call” window, looking for our “Meet and Greet” passes. Nada. But, that’s not at all unusual. As it turned out, the clerk was looking in the wrong place, and a turn to the left produced two round adhesive passes and a small Xeroxed set of instructions to the marshaling point.

The gates to The Meadows actually open at 6:30 PM. But the real excitement starts a few minutes earlier as a PA announcement lists what you can and cannot do… can and cannot bring.

Digital cameras were on the forbidden list. I decided to take it anyway and hope for the best. After all, meeting John and having the passes might be enough of a mitigating factor. As it turned out, the ‘frisker’ took a look at he camera, pondered for two seconds, and pronounced it within reason. My guess is, with the lens retracted, he thought it was a non-professional film camera.

My first rock concert was probably 1966 or 1967. I went with my Cousin Michael and Larry Lubetsky to the Village Theater, aka The Fillmore East. We did that often on Friday and Saturday nights. It was pure fun and music (with the Joshua Light Show and the smell of marijuana pungent enough to knock you on your butt).

Things have changed

If there is something that isn’t for sale, or marked with signage, I didn’t see it. I’m surprised a wheelchair company doesn’t sponsor the handicapped ramp.

In the parking lot were four perky post-teens (male and female) wearing red t-shirts. They would be passing out Trojan condoms throughout the evening.

Dodge sponsored this, Comcast that, and Channel 30 something else. Dunkin’ Donuts was passing out Fruit Coolatas, but most everything else was for sale and over priced beyond belief (again, please excuse my naivet´┐Ż. I’m 53 and I’m not in the concert demo anymore).

Considering there is a law in Connecticut preventing a reseller from marking up a concert ticket by too much, you’d think the venue itself would follow that same policy when it came to bottled water or beer or pretzels. They could let you in for free and still make a profit.

A few minutes before 7:00 we met Scotty Crowe. It’s interesting how the Internet can catapult unlikely people into the limelight, and Scotty is one of them. Once I knew I’d be meeting him, I “Googled” him. Not only does he write John Mayer’s Road Journal, he also has some dedicated fans, including a Scotty Crowe bulletin board. Damn!

We went into the hallway that would serve as “Meet and Greet” central, and waited. I tried to make small talk with Scotty, but as is always the case when I do something like that, I came off as a total dork. At least I gave him a good PhotoShop tip (Ctl-L is perfect for enhancing video levels on digital photos).

John came out a few minutes later. I don’t notice these things, but Steffie said he was wearing the same outfit we saw him wear at Oakdale. He’s tall and thin and young and I’m jealous..

After saying hello and posing with the people in front of us, John came over. He was very nice (though after meeting him at KC-101, Oakdale and now here, I can’t help but wonder if he thinks I’m a stalker… or if I actually am a stalker).

As soon as he started to speak to Stefanie, he said, “You’re Stef, right?” I believe that was the magic moment as far as she was concerned. To be remembered by someone in his position, who meets so many people, was very gratifying.

I told John I thought he was smart, and a nice guy. But, I had seen others who had that… and lost it. I told him it was very important he remember to continue to be the kind of person he is now. I seriously think he will. But, as with Scotty a few minutes earlier, I felt like a dork after I said it. I hope he’ll think I was somewhat appropriate.

We had come very early and we found out we would be staying very late. Not only was John Mayer performing, so were the Counting Crows and an opening act before them. There was only so much we could take, so Steffie and I sat outside, people watching, while Stew (or possibly Stu… I wasn’t inside) performed.

We headed inside and found our seats before the Crows hit the stage.

If you have never been to The Meadows (and now that I’ve talked about all the commercialism, you should know, it’s the “ctnow.com Meadows Music Centre). It is a huge, high roofed pavilion with theater seating and a removable rear wall. There is no air conditioning. There are no ceiling fans. It was hot and sticky and uncomfortable.

I had never seen the Counting Crows and I was favorably impressed. Lead singer Adam Duritz, his hair fashioned with somewhat wild dreadlocks, is very talented and (and I always like this in a performance) a commanding presence on stage.

Toward the end of the set, he told a story of going to school in Watertown, CT and flunking a music course. Judging by the description, it is probably The Taft School. A website FAQ confirms it.

The Crows got off after 10:00 PM. The venue had not cooled down. Every once in a while, a brief whisper of air would move by, and you’d think, maybe it’s going to cool down. But the ‘waft’ was short lived; a tease at best.

Not quite 11:00, John Mayer took the stage. As appreciative as the audience was for the Counting Crows, they stepped it up a notch and a half for John. There’s no doubt that a packed house is good for the home team, and he is the home town here.

He is an artist who sounds just like his Cd’s (I wanted to write records, but that would make me very old, wouldn’t it?). That means his artistry is real and not produced into being. Most of the house stood for most of the performance.

He did the hits, and some cuts from the new CD (out in a few weeks) and then a phenomenal guitar solo. As good as he is as a troubadour, John Mayer is a masterful guitarist; as good as I’ve heard

There’s obviously some BB King in his riffs, and probably others I don’t recognize, but mostly it is his ability to make the guitar become its own voice that makes his playing so good. It is my contention that if he weren’t singing, he’d have an amazing career as a guitarist.

At 11:45 PM he said goodnight, only to come back on stage alone to do the first of two encore numbers.

We were out by midnight. As soon as I turned on the car radio, I realized I wasn’t hearing quite as well as I did when I went in! Within ten minutes we had navigated Hartford and gotten onto I-91 southbound.

Though Steffie tried (and she has pre-season field hockey practice tomorrow morning) she had only a few minutes of sleep before we were home.

Great night. I’d do it again.

Click here for more photos from the concert

John Mayer redux

Steffie and I are going to see John Mayer again tomorrow.

The first time we saw him was a great experience as everything really fell into place. He was at KC-101, and we went there and met him, had some photos taken, and then went home. We then went backstage after the concert and he signed the photos we had taken hours earlier.

I sent an email to his management company, looking for backstage access after the show and got my answer (positive) this afternoon.

Scotty Crowe who is part of our road crew will contact you and make arrangements for you and your daughter to get into the M&G tomorrow.

Helaine (who won’t be going) is probably just as excited that my contact is the person who writes John’s tour blog. Go figure. She has asked me to get John to sign a souvenir laminate (laminate is pronounced lamb-in-eight as a tribute to an overly aggressive Rick Springfield concert goer)