There’s a new way to provide syndication feeds for websites. JSONFeed does basically the same thing as the traditional RSS or Atom feed, but instead of using XML it uses JSON. The big advantage of this is that the file size of the feed is much smaller and processing of the feeds can be much more efficient.
You can enable it now on WordPress using the JSONFeed Plugin for WordPress. You can find it by searching for JSONFeed via the Plugins->Add New option in the WordPress Administration Dashboard.
Enabling the plugin will make your feed accessible via JSONFeed. You can see an example by viewing the davidfindlay.com.au JSONFeed. I’m not aware of any feed readers yet that use this, but you can be sure they’ll come soon. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. I’m always keen on being an early adopter on things like this.
I’ve finally moved my site onto Amazon Web Services. It’s now running on a t2.micro EC2 instance in Amazon’s Asia Pacific Sydney region. It’s using Amazon’s linux AMI, with Apache httpd. MySQL is served via an Amazon RDS MySQL instance. The domain is delegated to Route 53 for DNS.
So far it seems to be faster than my traditional shared hosting and that’s without even looking at any particular optimisations yet. I’m going to try to get some metrics soon to prove it. I also plan to transition all my other sites across to this type of hosting.
The only thing still running on the old hosting is email. Amazon still has a particular gap here. I could run my own email server, but I’d prefer not to. I’m going to look into some options though.
I’ve been pretty lazy and busy lately, so my fitness has dropped off. I got to 85kg, the heaviest I’ve ever been. So I’ve set a goal to get back to peak fitness again.
Since I’ve been so busy with our baby, I’ve not been swimming as much. I used to swim at least twice a week and was state masters champion in some events. I’ve fallen a lot since then. In the last 12 months I have barely swum. For the last few months I’ve been swimming once a week when I can. Time to get back into it!
So as of today I’m 80kg, thanks to cutting back on sugar, particularly Coke, and walking a lot. I usually walk 8000 steps a day or 4-6km a day, according to my iPhone 6.
It’ll take a long time to get my distance swimming endurance back. However if I work hard on my strength and anaerobic fitness, I should be able to get back into sprinting quickly. I’ll need to improve my technique as well, as it’s not as good as it used to be.
Here’s my goal:
To swim 50m in under 30 seconds by the end of 2017
I’ve never done it before. My personal best is 30.51 in the 50m Long Course at Somerville House on 17/03/2013 at the Masters Swimming Queensland State Championships.
I did my first set using the app today, but didn’t make it all the way through. The exercises feel good though, and even my toddler daughter seemed to want to get in on it. Might have a training partner soon!
On Thursday 5th of January 2017, I hit the $1000 mark on Lifetime earnings on Google AdSense. All but about $30 of that was earned in the immediately preceding 12 months. This is a tale of how you can have some minor success with time and effort.
I started my site, Digital TV Help, in February 2014 on the topic of Do It Yourself TV Antenna work and TV setup. It was something I had previously done as a self employed technician.
Then I had basically zero traffic and zero income from the site. In the month of December 2016, according to Google Analytics, I had 9775 sessions with 8775 users. Last month I had estimated earnings of $102.42 Australian and just under a week later I reached $1000.11 lifetime estimated earnings.
Initially my site was very unfocused and I had the idea of educating both the DIYer and people entering the industry. I didn’t have a very good design, just a typical blog design, and I only had a few articles of poor quality. Didn’t have that many pictures either only the ones I’d taken while running my business.
By December 2014 I had written 65 posts, ranging from articles about how things worked, to tip of the day articles and only a few how-to articles. I’ve always taken a publish first, improve later approach. In December 2014 I had 494 sessions and 437 users, with $2.19 of estimated earnings. In the whole year of 2014 I had estimate earnings of $11.18.
A bit demotivated and busy with full-time work, study, the birth of our first child and other commitments, I didn’t do much over the following year. After March 2015 I didn’t do anything to my site until March 2016.
In January 2016 I discovered my site had received a huge increase of users and was earning me a lot more money suddenly. In that month I had estimated earnings of $7.56 from 4506 sessions and 4008 users. From January 2014 to December 2015 my estimated earnings were $33.70.
Between January and March 2016 I did some changes to my AdSense advertising based on research on various SEO sites. After checking my stats and doing some experimentation I determined that none of my AdSense income came from header or sidebar ads. All of it came from the ads in my articles. I eventually discovered best income came from 2 or 3 horizontal banners in my articles, one after the second paragraph, one before the last paragraph and maybe one in the middle.
Earnings steadily increased over following months until between March and July each month I had between $70 and $85 each month. I started receiving a bank transfer from Google every second month. Regaining motivation in March I started reviewing and improving some of my content and adding some new stuff. I now have 88 posts and about 6 videos. I still need to do a lot of work. (See SPI: 200 on Content Audits)
Eventually I started getting $100 or more a month in estimated earnings. From July to October I got a regular monthly payment of just over $100 from Google. A slight drop in earnings in November meant I didn’t get a December cheque. Since then the income seems to regained its losses.
On January 5th 2017 I hit the $1000 lifetime estimated earnings mark. Finally!
What Made the Difference?
The vast majority of my income has come from one post. It was post aimed at do-it-yourselfers. Over time it had just become my number one landing page with it’s acquisitions coming from Google. It seems I had just done a really good job of making that article. Over the whole time since I wrote it, the article has gradually increased in Google Search hits and income.
Over the lifetime of the site, it had these stats:
40655 pageviews (24.91% of site pageviews)
$215.71 Australian (30.19% of site income)
It is titled “DIY Antenna Alignment Methods for Digital TV”. This title immediately explains its usefulness to people as does the blurb. It matches pretty well to a search of “How to align a Digital TV Antenna” and the alternate searches people might use for that topic. It contains 756 words and is quite comprehensive on the topic. It has pictures, multiple headings and an embedded YouTube video.
I believe it’s just a matter of that as more Google search traffic clicked that post, the higher the pagerank rose. The quality of the article got it into the search initially, but clicks brought higher pagerank and more clicks.
One thing I did do to the article in December 2014 was to add a strong first sentence. A member of the mastermind group I meet with pointed out that the blurb that appeared for the article on Google Search was “In a previous article blah blah blah…” It didn’t say anything about this article. I changed it to add a new first paragraph(which is still there). It now says exactly what the user will get from the article. I think it helped increase clicks, which as I say bring more clicks.
Other articles on the sites do get hits and income. The 2nd best article on the site is another How To article. However it gets only half the landings and income of the best article. The rest of the landings are spread across the site.
I don’t get many landings on my front page(only 6%). Almost all my traffic comes from organic Google Search. I don’t do much social media promotion and no paid promotion.
How to do it yourself
These are my recommendations. I’m not an expert in SEO or writing. I’ve just followed what I’ve read from experts I follow and done some experiments. I certainly haven’t tried everything I could have tried and still have a lot of work to do to increase the quality of my site and increase my income.
This is what I think works for me:
Use the official Google AdSense WordPress plugin – it automatically makes ads responsive for mobile
Use only 2 or 3 horizontal banner ads, set between paragraphs of your posts
Allow graphics or text
Write lots of deep, quality content, including embedded video and photos
Write for people not search engines
Write useful articles, like do it yourself or how to content
Strong first sentence and paragraph – tell the user what they’ll get from your article – e.g. “Here are four methods to do blah blah blah….”
I think I could have reached where I am more quickly had written a lot more high quality do-it-yourself how-to articles earlier. Also more videos and social media promotion may have got me here quicker.
My aim now is to follow a process of reviewing and improving my existing content. I’m looking to significantly increase the number of high quality how to articles and embedded videos I have. Hopefully this will get me to a level of income where it can become my day job.
We purchased a trailer for our bikes to enable us to carry our toddler with us when we go for bike rides. We purchased the Skiidii Bicycle Trailer for $149 on eBay from seller Faji Plaza. The trailer has provision for two small children to ride on it side by side.
The trailer arrived in a flat square box weighing 17kg. We had ours delivered to our Australia Post postbox without any problems. Delivery occurred within a week of order.
On opening the box you find a large folded trailer body, some tubular sections, some wheels and other components. The tools required to assemble the trailer are provided with the kit, a couple of small spanners and an Allen key. I chose to use a socket set and ratchet spanner as this was easier. You’ll need an 11mm hex socket.
At first I thought no instructions were supplied and this made it difficult to figure out how to get the trailer properly assembled. However it turned out the instruction booklet had been wrapped up in the fabric cover for the trailer. Unfortunately, the instructions are pretty badly translated.
I started by unfolding the trailer body and installing the cross bar that supports the roof of the trailer and holds the uprights in the vertical position. It fits together using plastic brackets on each end and some locking pins.
After this I installed the axle(which required adjusting the holes it goes through). The wheels are locked into place with plastic clips that fit into retention grooves at the end of the axle. The diagrams in the assembly guide aren’t too helpful. Wheel protection bars are then connected which go around the outside of the wheels, retained by spring loaded locking pins.
The trailer can be used as a running pram, so either a front wheel or the tow bar can be attached. The tow bar attaches with two locking pins. You can then remove the bike attachment from the tow bar using its locking pin and install it on the bike’s rear axle. You simply remove one of the screws and put it on the axle before screwing it back on. I installed it on the side that didn’t have the gears.
The plastic brackets for the jogging handle are then installed, but I didn’t install the handle as I won’t be jogging with it. An orange safety flag is also provided. The fabric cover is attached with velcro at the front and back and provides a weathershield as well. There is pretty good visibility for your child to be able to see out.
Assembly took me about 45 minutes in total. Once done I attached it to the bike and gave it a try. At first I accidentally knocked the bike over but the trailer stayed upright. I was happy about that. Riding around with the trailer empty it bounces around quite a lot. With our toddler aboard it still bounces a lot but not too badly. The wheel protection bars do rattle a lot however. They don’t fit snuggly into their slots. So while they won’t fall off, they do make a bit of noise. I may look at putting some thin rubber in the slots so they don’t rattle.
The child harness isn’t particularly fancy, just being a strap system. This may be a bit of an issue for younger children. Our baby has no problems walking or sitting up but did tend to end up slumping down on the seat. For larger babies I don’t think this will be a problem.
Overall I’m happy with the Skiidii Bicycle Trailer so far. We haven’t taken it on long rides yet, but will in coming weeks. Build quality is pretty good for the price. The only real issue is the rattling of the wheel protection bars. I’m sure more expensive models would be much more solid. As noted the assembly manual isn’t too good either.
One other issue we did have was finding a suitable helmet. It seems they start at 48cm at the smallest. A smaller one would have been better for us.
It’s time to end anti-doping efforts. They have failed. More than that they are immoral.
Anti-doping regulations apply to all levels of sport, from junior, to elite professional, to masters. Yet we only test a small group of our elite athletes. Elite sport is only a tiny proportion of the actual sporting community. Who is checking that a junior soccer player isn’t being given a performance enhancing substance? Who is checking that a local B grade rugby league player isn’t taking performance enhancing substances.
Yet it’s likely that many masters athletes are taking prescription medications from the banned list. The banned list includes many medications such as vasodilators, stimulants, asthma treatments and growth factors.
Technically they’re supposed to provide us evidence of a medical need, but rarely do we get such evidence. Athletes could be taking a performance enhancing substance for a medical reason or not, but we have no way of knowing.
Why should we anyway? The medical conditions of amateur sports people should be their own business, nothing to do with us.
Advancing medical technology is one of the biggest arguments against our current anti-doping efforts. Several billion dollar companies are now working on anti-aging technologies and early indications are promising. In the past year Google has started a subsidiary named Calico Labs with the sole purpose of extending the human life span.
Already several medications are in testing that slow effects of aging. By definition these will be performance enhancing, allowing athletes to continue to perform like a young person as they age.
How could we possibly deny our athletes access to this technology? Are we going to say that if you want to be an athlete, sorry you have to age naturally? It would be absurd to even ask athletes to deny themselves access to anti-aging treatments that the rest of the community can access.
How is this any different to athletes using performance enhancing drugs available now?
One of the arguments often cited is the dangers to the athlete, particularly in relation to drugs that are not highly tested or administered in ways they’re not listed for. This is a case where the prohibition creates additional danger. If such drugs were not being administered secretively, proper clinical research could be undertaken and everyone would benefit.
It’s time to end this expensive, failing and misguided war on doping. We can replace it with scientific advancement of performance and anti-aging science that can benefit everyone.
Lots of Service Stations in Australia now have Pay at Pump systems. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone use them though. Yesterday I decided to give it a go at my local Caltex Woolworths Petrol station, and I found out why no one uses them.
Firstly you have to pay before pumping. I know this is the norm in some places, but generally in Australia we don’t think about paying until after we’ve already filled up. By that time you are locked into going inside. If you can pay after pumping by going inside, why can’t you pay after pumping outside?
As if pre-paying isn’t bad enough, they pre-authorise your card for a payment of $100. It warns you it can take up to 24 hours to release the unused funds. I usually fill my tank for about $50-60. Why should I have an extra $40-50 locked up for 24 hours just for a little convenience?
Usability is another major problem. I had to go through 5 screens, pressing buttons to select options before I could actually start pumping petrol. This took a couple of minutes. After finishing pumping I again had to go through a few screens with options before I finally got confirmation I had completed and paid.
I scanned my Woolworths Rewards card, although it took about 10 tries with the reader to make it work. You’d think you’d just present it flat to the camera, but no that didn’t work. Had to try a number of different angles to finally get it to work. That was a waste of time though because it didn’t apply the discount offer I had on the card.
Overall it was just a bad experience and I don’t intend to ever use it again. It seemed like a good idea. As a parent of a young baby, it’d be easier to not have to get her out of the car to go in to pay. After having used it, I think it’s easier and more convenient to go inside. I have to wonder if it’s a conspiracy to try to get people to buy stuff inside the store.
I don’t know why they’re even bothering with Pay at Pump if they’re going to provide such a bad customer experience. It should just be a matter of pumping your petrol, swiping your Woolworths Rewards card, tapping your bank card and off you go. Ten seconds max. Not ten screens and two and a half minutes of button pressing either side of the pumping.
We needed a sensor security light for our front yard at our new place. My first thought was the typical standard dual PAR38 sensor flood light setup. These use 2x 150 Watt PAR38 halogen globes. However at Bunnings we saw a new version with 2x 10 Watt PAR38 LED globes. This is a significant power saving over the traditional type.
The version we purchased required electrician installation, but was an easy install for our electrician because the cabling was already in place. The unit is IP44 rated, so is weather proof for outdoor installation. It does need to be out of direct rain though. Ours is installed under the eaves. They can be wall mounted too.
I was concerned that it might not be as bright as the traditional 150W globes. It is somewhat slightly dimmer than the traditional flood lights, but is still more than adequate for our needs. The dual unit sufficiently lights up our entire front yard, which is about 6m across.
The default twilight setting was fine for making sure the unit didn’t activate during daylight. The default duration time was 2 minutes 45 seconds, which I’ve left alone. I also didn’t have to touch the sensitivity setting. It does activate sometimes when ceiling fans are turned on or off in the house. There are also some other inadvertent activations for no real reason. I’ve been quite happy with it’s operation though. I’ve been able to set it to activate only when someone enters the front yard, or leaves the front door.
These don’t come in a kit, so you purchase each component separately based on your needs. At a minimum you’ll need two Double Sided End Uprights and four Shelving Beams. The end uprights come in two different widths, 450mm or 600mm. There are different heights ranging from 900mm, 1800mm and 2100mm. I chose the 600mm wide 2100mm high variety which fit under typical garage ceilings.
The shelving beams come in a range of lengths to suit your needs. I chose the longest ones, 2400mm. You also get a choice of shelf materials. There is MDF sheets or metal mesh shelves. You can get a range of attachments and accessories such as hooks, small shelves and drawers. I chose the MDF shelves as I had a lot of small items I wanted to store, which would just fall through the metal mesh shelves.
The construction is simple and tool free. You could do it yourself, but it’s much easier if you have a second person to help you out holding frames and the like. The end uprights have slots and the shelving beams have tabs, so you just slot it together and ram it home. A hammer and block of wood is helpful here to get a firm fit, but you could just do it by hand or foot. Metal retaining hooks slot into holes to keep it all safe.
The most frustrating part of construction is inserting the shelf tensioning straps. These go between the shelving beams on the longer shelves to keep the shelving beams from bending apart under load. The problem is that when there is no weight on the shelves they keep falling out. They do tend to vary in length a bit as well. The easiest way to get them in is to wait until you’ve put the entire shelf unit together and put a bit of weight on it. Then they’ll hold in position.
The coating of the metal frames of my shelves has held up pretty well, but there are some scuffs and scratches from moves. Nothing has bent or broken yet though. The MDF sheets shelves I’ve got have sagged a bit where I’ve had heavy items on them. In my latest move I just turned them over so they’ll bend back the other way. Fortunately it’s cheap enough to replace them when they eventually get too saggy. The other problem with the MDF is that it will swell when it gets wet. So just keep them in a dry spot and don’t put leaky things on it.
You could easily make your own ply shelves if you wanted to, but for the cost it may not be worth it. My relatives who have the metal mesh shelves have not had any problems with them.
The Bunnings Handy Storage Rack It shelves are very easily configurable and reconfigurable to any needs, much more so than home built shelves. I’d strongly recommend them to anyone who needs shelving in their garage or shed. You’d be hard pressed to do better with a custom constructed shelf.
Below I’ve listed the items required to build the shelf I show in this review.