Kevin Baker’s blog turns 10. Kevin has been at this game longer than most of us, and he was one of the blogs I was reading before I blogged. How hard is it to blog ten years? Hard. There’s always dry patches, and times when you just aren’t feeling it, or times like this week, where you’re busy, and even if you weren’t, the news cycle is on some other topic that you don’t write about. So getting to 10, and still producing good material is quite an achievement.
Apparently my “profile” at Verizon for my FiOS magically disappeared. I don’t know what they mean by “profile,” but I’m pretty sure, based on how this played out and on my end, and through my own troubleshooting, their routing protocols didn’t know where to direct my IP addresses. I’ve had that happen once before, about four years ago, when they upgraded my service speed and wiped all my static addresses. This time it just seemed to happen out of nowhere. At 14 hours, this was the longest outage I’ve ever had from Verizon FiOS in the eight years I’ve had it.
We will now return to our normally scheduled blogging.
Needless to say, I have not been keeping up with blogs while we were away in Houston, so it’ll take some time to go through the RSS reader, get my live social media feeds up, and plug back in to what the hell is going on in the world. Normal blogging will resume shortly.
William Jacobson has noticed that the conservative blogosphere has changed considerably in the past four years, and highlights a lot of changes I’ve noticed too. He links to an article by Robert Stacy McCain on the same topic:
The problem is that if every blogger starts thinking of his own site as a destination, then the site’s value as a portal — directing readers to interesting material elsewhere — is necessarily diminished or eliminated. And if this destination mentality takes hold at all the larger sites, then there will be few opportunities for new bloggers to join the community, and fewer incentives for smaller bloggers to participate in the conversation, because nobody with any significant readership will ever link them. What will eventually happen, in such a scenario, is that the independent blogosphere will wither and die from neglect, and be replaced by a corporate simulacrum.
And this is one root of the problem. There are still plenty of people out there practicing traditional blogging who have big readerships, but the landscape is generally established, and the entrance of commercial players into the field has changed things. The truth is that it would be almost impossible for me to start and establish this blog today if I were starting out now, instead of 2007. If I wanted to be successful in this landscape, I’d have to use different tactics, which I would find unsatisfying and entirely too time consuming. I think it comes down to several factors, as to why it’s difficult:
- The death of the Pingback, and ability to reliably trace incoming links. You can now do this with Google, but it also catches a lot of junk. Spammers have largely killed our ability to see who’s linking us. This makes it harder to notice new upstarts who are looking to join the conversation.
- The signal-to-noise ratio in blogging seems to be a lot lower now than it was when I started. When I started, there were fewer blogs, and many of them had pretty reasonable audiences. It was pretty easy to keep track of who was saying what, and joining the conversation was a lot easier.
- The entrance of commercial blogs and SEO schucksters into the game. These sites have to view themselves as destinations, because that’s how you make money. There are multiple examples of these even in the gun blogosphere, and you know who they are. This is very good for those destination sites, but it’s a horrible thing for the blogging community.
There is also a tendency, when you’ve been blogging for quite some time, to get set in your ways. You get it down to a routine, and to some degree you have to do it that way to save time. I have 2-4 hours a day to spend on blogging. That’s about it. So you combine that with a lower signal-to-noise ratio, and no great way to see who’s saying what out there (because pingbacks and Google alerts are mostly junk from spammers or other ‘noise’), and the result is less linkage, except to the blogs I’ve been reading since before I was blogging, or who started around the same time I did.
I think a lot of people are quick to blame commercial blogging, and while I think that’s a factor, I still put that last for a reason. I think my first and second bullets are a bigger reason blogging as a community is harder now.
UPDATE: I would also note that in the past, blogs have traditionally published traffic stats. This meant that as an upstart blogger, it was relatively easy to see who had the traffic, and who you wanted to pitch to, or to get noticed by. That is also a lot harder these days. It’s very difficult to tell who has the traffic.
I have discovered and blocked our DoS attacker. He struck again this morning. I’m still trying to figure out whether I can prevent this for the future. It looks like the attacker would do a normal request, which just looks like ordinary traffic in the logs, then initiate a close with a FIN packet, then block the ACK from my server, leaving the apache process in a CLOSED_WAIT state. When I look at the traffic on the internet, the ack packet going out, and then get responded to with an ICMP packet saying the port is unreachable. I guess what I don’t understand is why retry the ack? It seems my server is trying to be too nice. If he blocks the ack it’s his problem. Call close and be done with him.
Apparently the New York Times says that “[p]ro-gun gun bloggers were furious” over the apperance smart gun in the movie Skyfall, and “were convinced it was a Hollywood plot to undermine their rights.” I haven’t even seen the movie, personally, and I don’t recall any controversy hitting the gun blogosphere. Also, does anyone believe staff reporters at the New York Times spend their spare time trolling gun blogs?
Doing a quick Google search, I can find only one gun blogger writing about it. I noticed that article was reprinted in a few places so my guess is that the reporter did the same Google blog search I did, and didn’t bother to notice the same article was reprinted by the types of publications *cough* Ammoland *cough*, who are wont to reprint other people’s material and grab the SEO for it. Personally, I’m surprised that a NYT staff writer even knows that there is this thing called gun blogging, and thought to search on it. Perhaps we should be flattered.
Busy day at work, and Bitter was busy painting today. Additionally, I’ve been investigating the incident this morning with the server, which I think may have been a Denial of Service attack on the blog. The server does have a failing disk, but it’s more just that I was looking and noticed that, rather than a bad disk being the direct cause of the crash. The direct cause was Apache hitting its MaxClients setting, and being unable to spawn more apache processes. You can see on MRTG the TCP connections shot way up. In the logs I do have a few probes for the timthumb exploit, but that’s a frequent occurrence, and might have just been a coincidence. The other thing that plays against a DoS attack is that things were fine after I rebooted, and I would have expected to see a lot of new TCP connection activity, which I didn’t. For now, I’m really anxious to track this down, but blogging will resume once I figure it out or conclude that I will never really know. I regret I was in a rush to get out the door and didn’t take time to investigate this when it was happening.
UPDATE: OK, coming tomorrow I think. I decided to hold off on replacing the disk for now. It’ll make more sense to change out the disk when I move the server back down to my office when it’s finished being redone.
Some of you might have noticed a hiccup on the blog this morning. That was caused by one of the disks failing in a way that hung up everything on the system. The system uses software mirroring, but when a disk gets serious read errors, it still blocks the process trying to do the read while it waits for a timeout. Unfortunately for us, the process was the kernel. I have checked the disk since this morning and it’s remapping sectors still. It has been spinning continuously for nearly 4 years straight, so I think it’s time to send it out to pasture. I’ll be doing the replacement tonight, probably around midnight.
My posting rate has eased up over the past day or so. For one, I had to fix some WiFi issues at work yesterday, which required being there (I usually am on Wednesdays and Fridays) and for which time was of the essence. I got back late enough I didn’t spend much time to find things to write about.
To make matters worse, the insomnia bug has struck again. I hadn’t really been sleeping great since daylight savings time kicked in, but lately I’m sleeping really light, and waking up several times during the night. I almost prefer the type where I just can’t sleep, because at least I can get things done. This way I just feel tired all the time. I blame the change of time without the usual change of season. I blame Phil, that insufferable groundhog. How does groundhog taste BBQd?
I just set up a Pinterest account for the blog. Yup. Pinterest.
I love Pinterest for personal use, and I questioned the value of it for the blog since we’re not heavy graphics posters. As a completely visual network, graphics are kind of important.
However, it really sparked when no matter how many times I loaded and reloaded the “home decor” category in my search for inspiration to use in our basement renovation, I kept running across a pin of a wall-mounted full-length mirror that actually serves as hidden firearm storage. The pin doesn’t just show a storage option that can hold valuables out of sight, it shows a modern semi-auto rifle with a sizable standard capacity magazine loaded. That’s pretty hardcore and awesome. Like I said, I saw this damn pin probably 80% of the time that I loaded the random pins across the entire home decor category.
So, that launched the idea I had to share some fun images that represent guns & common culture. Some new content and old posts with lots of photos justified a board on antique guns and novelties. I have some photos of awesome antique firearms to finish uploading to that board, plus some fun re-pins from the National Firearms Museum.
Today, I’ve uploaded some links to old content, shared a few videos on the relevant topics for each board, and done a little re-pinning from fun finds when you search for firearms on the social network. The fact is, I find an awful lot of pro-gun material on the social network that’s historically been dominated by women. That growth and acceptance among women is one reason why the anti-gun groups are so desperate. Bringing the ladies along usually means the entire family gets involved. Making gun ownership the normal, casual thing that’s not controversial for the gun owners in a person’s life means more voters will start to question the success of whether one more gun control law will really work. So, yeah, Pinterest.