Visual MSNBC Tool Spectra has a new “visual news reader” called Spectra. You pick buckets like politics, sports, etc and it starts displaying news items as 2.5D visual blocks.

I spent some time with it — and I like it. It’s not going to change or replace any of my RSS reading, but it’s a nice change of pace — also reminds me a bit of the Digg Labs work being done.

[ Spectra @ ]

2007 year-end stats for

Always fun to look at year-end stats.

I brought this blog back online March 23rd, 2007 – with the goal of posting about once a week — here are some fun facts for the past 9 months or so:

Overall site traffic:
7,796 Visits
12,747 Pageviews
1.64 Pages/Visit

A good traffic day during the week is about 150 pageviews, and a slow day is around 50 — on the weekends traffic is usually very light. For December 07 this site had 1,261 Visits and 1,869 Pageviews.

Overall RSS usage:
4,894 views of all items
2,813 clicks back to the site

Content Summary:
57 posts
66 legit comments
51 categories
40 tags

I clearly should have waited for tags in WordPress 2.3 — way too many categories 🙂

Akismet has stopped 8,000 comment spams. And the rate of increase is astounding — it took about 7 months to get to 4,000 spams, and in the last 2 months spam has doubled to 8,000.

Most popular web posts:
Blackberry Curve 8300 review
Viigo RSS reader for mobile review
Thanks Dow Jones – Hello Automattic !
Hit by the OS X 10.4.10 update problems – having flashbacks to BSOD
Garmin Nuvi 350 portable GPS navigator review

These top posts get most of their traffic from search engines. Clearly reviews and anything Apple related are being searched for.

Most popular posts read in RSS:
Blackberry Curve 8300 review
Video – Splendora Laughternoon Break
Useful Mac apps: Play WMVs, Google Analytics Widget, and Quinn
WordPress Facebook App
Big win for Shahar Peer at US Open tonight

I took a look at overall click-through rates from RSS items viewed to clicked, and the numbers crunch out to a CTR of 57% ! Lots of that is coming from resyndication (both legit and some spammy looking sites) and headline-only RSS readers. Also video doesn’t always render properly in RSS readers and I see posts with video getting clicked on by subscribers.

Top Traffic Sources
referring sources
12.93% Direct Traffic
28.23% Referring Sites
58.84% Search Engines

Top referring non-search engine sites: (most likely Google Reader)

Top Search terms from search engines:
raanan bar-cohen
ringtone ideas
blackberry curve
garmin nuvi 350

Top referring search engines:
( Google is blue, Yahoo is green )
Wow ! I’m sure this includes Google blog search for Google, but I’m surprised how little the other search engines drive traffic to this site. I saw a recent update that overall Google marketshare is now at 65.1% of search — I wonder what that number is for blog content.

Top Browsers:
Firefox 49.77%
Internet Explorer 35.12%
Safari 11.04%
Camino 1.77%
Opera 1.18%

A bit surprising, but the people I know personally who visit my site on a regular basis are all on Macs or a Linux setup.

I also recently added the Quantcast pixel tracker, and you can see some interesting demographic info about here.

Here’s to a great 2008 !

Why my TiVo usage reminds me of RSS consumption

tivo rssFirst my disclosure — I actually don’t have a TiVo anymore, I wish I did. But when I switched to HD I had to go with the standard, and very inferior (from a user interface / software perspective), HD cable box DVR. As Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, ” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.”

With that out of the way. I find myself converging on a certain usage pattern when it comes to both TiVO/DVR and RSS — and the consumption of new content.

My typical RSS experience with new content:

Step 1) Discover new content via delcious, other blogs, digg, search, links, etc.

Step 2) Browse the content, maybe tag an interesting article.

Step 3) If it’s compelling, add the RSS feed to GoogleReader, and tag it

I end up with way too many feeds, so I often trim them back based on GoogleReader’s trends data.  I prefer to over consume, knowing that I can skim all day, and ignore many feeds, but come back to them when I’m doing a deep dive ona  topic.

My typical TiVO/DVR experience with new content:

Step 1) See a promo for a new show on TV, online, or word-of-mouth.

Step 2) Program a recording / “season pass” for that program

Step 3) Try and find time to actually watch the show 🙂

Step 4) After watching it, keep the subscritpion, cancel it, or keep it knowing that I will only watch it once in a while.

Where I see the convergence is in a few spots:

– Subscribing and recording are a similar experience

– I prefer to over subscribe as a sampling strategy so that I can always watch things later

– I prefer to subscribe immediately when I find new interesting content.  DVR and RSS make that super simple via 1-click ( well actually 1 click with Tivo, and 9 clicks with DVR – but I digress )

– There are many RSS feeds, and many shows that I subscribe/record but only watch occasionally.  It’s a “skim” / monitoring approach that works well.

On a somewhat related note, I was happy to see the PBS FrontLine show pop-up on my DVR recently.  The latest episode on “Spying on the Home Front” is a must-see.

RSS reader for mobile review: Viigo

Last night I clicked over from GoogleReader, where I was catching up on some of my RSS feeds, notably, when I saw this promo on for ‘blackberrycool to go”:

Now I tend to try out at least one or two downloadble mobile apps a week, so i clicked through, put in my email and did a quick OTA (over-the-air) install on my blackberry 8700c. Not knowing exactly what it would look like, I was surprised and happy to see a very light-weight, fast RSS reader powered by a product called Viigo. (The blackberrycool version seems identical to the regular product – just a few extra pre loaded mobile oriented feeds)

So a quick review:

– ease of use: A+

– layout/format: A-. It supports images, and even displays Feedburner feedflares, but they aren’t really active

– connectivity: A. It downloads in the background so off-line use isn’t that bad. It doesn’t pull down images in the background, but other than that it feels snappy.

– RSS support: A-. Here is the funny part. It worked with EVERY feed I tried except when I tried to pull my own RSS feed. My suspicion is that it doesn’t like the redirect I do from to I use Steve Smith’s wordpress feedburner plugin which is great, but maybe Viigo can’t handle that. (UPDATE #1: Feedburner actually “adopted” this plugin a few days ago – props to the feedburner team for doing so. So I updated the plugin but still having the same problem. Need to do a bit more testing to see what the issue is.) (UPDATE #3: Viigo now supports the feed redirect, so my site and others that use this method are finally working — yey ! ) )

Extras: B+ A. It has delicious support built in ( very cool ! ), but no OPML import option. It also has a “full article” mode which strips out most of everything and pulls the full page — it’s somewhat useful. (UPDATE #2: Via the Viigo web account manager, you can not only import OPML, you can import your bloglines, and your MyYahoo setup )

Overall: A-. Definitely using this over the WAP/i-google mobile googlereader widget, which is what I was using up until now.

I posted earlier about going 100% mobile, and now I’m one step closer with this RSS reader. I’ve also been testing a killer mobile IM client that I will post about when it’s out of private alpha mode.

Update: So after 3 months of usage here are some ideas that would make this app even better:

– Instead of auto updating the feed every X minutes, the app should hook into a ping server to update the feeds
– Not sure the network providers would love this, but an option to download images in the background would be great.
– I obviously have lots of overlap with my web based Google Reader, and would like to see a way to sync back, so that any items that I read on Viigo would show up as read on Google Reader as well.
– Offline delicious support would be nice.   Right now you can only use delicious when online.
– Finding that I often want to follow a link — an option for links to open up in browser would be great.  Right now clicking on a link just brings up the menu within the app.
– Tag support.  example usage: would like to tag a few feeds as “sports” and then just read the “sports” feeds.
– Alerts.  Wold be great if it could alert me when a feed is updated via my blackberry inbox ( gTalk does a great job with this. )  For feeds with time sensitive info – like craigslist feeds – this would be a killer feature.