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Shifting to Twitter; Event vehicle #4; Six years of blogging
TWITTER PAGE: Follow stormhighway.com on Twitter
The era of the Facebook 'like/fan' page appears to be coming to a close, and consequently I'm shifting this site's social media emphasis to Twitter. Chances are that if you're reading this post, you came here either from the RSS feed, from Twitter or from Google. If so, this change won't mean much to you. If you happen to be one of the few that came here from Facebook, it's probably because you're one of the few dozen that I regularly interact with on there. Even so, if you're a regular reader here, you are probably missing a lot of content if you just follow the Facebook page.
This change is in response to Facebook rolling out their Promoted Posts program, which has resulted page posts now being broadcast to only 5 to 10 percent of the number of 'likes' to the page (in some cases I have seen less than that). To get more followers to see the post, you must pay a fee. The more you pay, the more of the page's followers will see the post. This fee must be paid for each post you want to be seen beyond that 5-10 percent or so. Additionally, many people confirm that the 'show in news feed' fix that's been flying around the internet lately has stopped working. That is, even if you choose that option, you still won't see the posts of pages you want to follow.
Promoted Posts will be a boon to cashflow-healthy businesses as well as Facebook stockholders. But for your average small business, non-profit or individual like me, it means the end of the usefulness of having a Facebook page. I will crosspost to Facebook, so I won't be deleting the FB page. I'll simply be shifting my efforts of building up/maintaining the Facebook page to the Twitter page now. Regarding images, I will be removing all of the photos from the Facebook page and posting all future ones here on the site, the idea being to shift the traffic flow back here.
End of the Ford era
On the morning of the 19th last month, I turned west on Highway 161 on my way to work when my truck's engine started producing a loud knocking noise. I immediately called off work and limped it over to the shop. The verdict was worst-case: a slow leak at the oil filter had drained two and a half quarts of oil over the course of the last two months (the date of my last oil change), and the engine was a loss. With the truck out of warranty, that was the end of my Ford era.
I spent the rest of the day on an intensive car search, finally settling on a pre-owned 4-door Toyota Yaris. With a highway mpg of 35, this vehicle has dramatically cut my fuel costs for upcoming seasons. Despite its much smaller size, it is comfortable and has plenty of room for all of my gear. After about 4 full days of work, I finished installing all of my support systems (power, laptop, chargers, cables and switches) and the new vehicle is now fully equipped for storm observing. Its first storm outing was the October 22 lightning barrage.
The Ranger in action in 2010 (left), and the Yaris in 2012 (right).
During the past 10 days, I did two mpg tests with the Yaris. During one fill-up interval that consisted of city and highway driving plus about 40 minutes of idling, the Yaris got 31mpg. During the second full-up interval of all highway driving, it got 39mpg. This is almost double the mpg I was getting with the Ranger, so the fuel savings will be significant!
Six years of blogging
The years are flying by faster and faster every time I stop and look back. Every once in a while, I encounter something that serves as a stark reminder of that fact. This week, it was my decision to refresh the design of the subpages of this site.
For the purposes of this post, I did a couple of searches on my hard drive to get some numbers. This is blog post number 1,182 since I started on November 12, 2006, 6 years ago. There are 15,595 html files on stormhighway.com. Many of those are server side include files (each blog post has three associated SSI files), and several thousand of those are individual photo pages. Needless to say, this site is a monster in terms of management issues. Even after I implemented SSI call-ins many years ago to make design changes easier, a small change like this week's has forced me to go back and tweak thousands of older pages to make things look right. SSI include files and batch find-and-replace software has made that an easier job than it sounds, but it's still quite a chore.
Whenever I have to go back and edit code in files from 6 years ago or earlier, I can't help but read through a few of them. I have to say that building a web site and maintaining a blog is one of the best 'recreational' things I've ever done in life, something I'm very thankful to God for allowing and making happen. I've learned about life just by looking at how it's changed, and a lot of that is due to what I've written down over the years right here. Not only that, this site and blog has brought me new friends from around the country and around the world. Web pages and blogs have stood the test of time and passing fads. So, even in this age of rapidly changing technology and the whilrwinds of social media, I can't see moving from this online 'homestead' for a very long time, maybe ever.