Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “blogiversary”

10th Anniversary of Notes from Underground blog

It’s ten years since I started this blog, which I’ve kept going more or less continuously since then.

It was the day that we got an ADSL broadband connection to the Internet, instead of dial-up, with a whole 2 Gigabytes monthly allowance, so for the first time I browsed the Web instead of just going to a specific site, looking at what I needed to look at, and logging off. And in doing that I encountered the Blogger site, and so started this blog on a whim, because Blogger looked easy to use.

I already had three online journals, so I thought starting a new one was an extravagance, but Blogger looked easier to use than the others — you could just start typing stuff. The others had a much clunkier user interface. The LiveJournal one is still there, though I don’t use it much any more.  I was introduced to that by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, who still blogs there, and what he writes is always worth reading. One of the nice things about LiveJournal is that you can have “friends”, whose journals can be presented to you in a continuous feed, so you can see what they have written. You can see my LiveJournal friends feed here. The other online journals were on Yahoo 360 (long since killed by Yahoo), and something called MyDiary, which had the clunkiest user interface of all.

But Blogger had a streamlined user interface that made it easy to just write thoughts down — ideas that you wanted to share and discuss with people, half-baked ideas that you wanted other people to help you bake by commenting on them, adding to them, or even shooting them down.

When I started this blog on Blogger I didn’t even know what to say, but a blog is supposed to be, first of all, a web log, a log of web sites visited, so I wrote about a site for finding old friends, and you can see the first post here Notes from underground: Seek and ye shall find, And yes, the “Reverse People Finder” I wrote about is still there, and you can still use it.

You may have noticed that this post is not on the original site., and that is because quite soon after I started blogging there, Google, who had taken over Blogger, began messing with the blog editor, and it suddenly became a lot more difficult to use, and lots of things didn’t work any more. In 2006 there was a mass migration of bloggers from Blogger to the WordPress platform, and I started a blog on WordPress, called Khanya, just to be on the safe side. At first it was there as a kind of emergency fallback, in case Blogger became completely unusable, but then I began using it for different things, so the two blogs continued side by side. Eventually the Blogger editor stabilised, and I continued to use it for quick ‘n dirty posts. One major difference was that WordPress allowed you to use captions on pictures, but Blogger made it easier to add pictures without captions.

So it continued until Google began messing with the Blogger editor again, which you can read about here Notes from underground: Blogger’s new user-hostile interface and other atrocities. So I moved the whole blog over to WordPress, and all was well until WordPress began messing with their editor and introduced the new Beep Beep Boop one, which I found completely unusable, and at one point, when they hid the old editor so I could not find it, I began using the old site again. Bad as the new Blogger editor was, it was still better than the new WordPress one. Eventually I found where WordPress had hidden the old editor, and though it is a schlep to find, at least it is still there.

Unless your a dedicated blogger, you probably haven’t got this far, because of all that boring stuff about blog writing software. One result of the deterioration of blogging software is that people have been abandoning blogs and prefer to use sites like Facebook. It’s a pity, because there are many things for which blogs are a much better medium than sites like Facebook. For one thing you can easily find stuff again, even years later, whereas on Facebook you can spend half an hour looking for something that was posted five minutes before, and anything more than 3 days old is gone forever.

There was something else to record on this day 10 years ago. We were visited by an old friend, Trevor Stone. I didn’t blog about that at the time, so I’ll add it here. I knew Trevor from Namibia in the early 1970s. He had come from the UK as a volunteer to work at the Anglican mission at Odibo in Ovamboland as a mechanic maintaining the church  vehicles.

Monday 28 November 2005

Trevor Stone, Pretoria, 28 Nov 2005

Trevor Stone, Pretoria, 28 Nov 2005

Trevor Stone came to see us. He brought news of people from Namibia that I had not heard, and has remained active in support of the work of the Anglican Church there. I learned that Nestor Kakonda, who in the early 1970s had been secretary of St Mary’s Mission, had been killed in a South African raid on Cassinga in Angola, during the wars there. Trevor collected books about Namibian history, and collected information especially about the Kwanyama people and their history. He was arranging for collections of Kwanyama artifacts in Britain to be photographed, so that they could be sent to the University of Namibia and schools there, to be available to students so they could know their own history.



Nine years of Notes from Underground

This blog opened with its first post nine years ago, on 28 November 2005, so I’ll look back on some of the highlights of the last nine years of blogging here.

When it started, Notes from Underground was on different platform, Blogger, and I was impressed with the east of posting quick articles. The very first post was a bit of an experiment to see what was possible, and you can see what it was about here: Notes from underground: Seek and ye shall find

I’ve lost touch with a few old friends, and so I’ve entered their details in a “reverse people finder” at:

Who? Me? Is someone (old friend) looking for you? People Search Finder.

I’ve subsequently found a couple of them.

One found me through my web page, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Another I found through Google — entering her name in normal search brought up too many hits. But I searched images, and wondered how easy it would be to recognise someone after 30 years. Well, bingo. Up popped an image, and my old friend had changed, of course, but was still recognisable.

That was before Facebook, and I’vw found Facebook a better way of finding old friends. but if your friends aren’t on Facebook, Who? Me? might be worth a try.

Quite early on, however, Google took over the Blogger platform, and began fiddling with the Blogger editor. I had been attracted to it by its ease of use for posting stuff quickly, but Google set about making i8t harder to use and reducing the functionalityy so that eventually I, like many others, moved this blog to WordPress. I left the original one up, so that links would not be broken, but nothing new has been posted there for the last two years.

Within a month of starting this blog it was involved in a blogging experiment. Two Christian bloggers, Phil Wyman and John Smulo, proposed a synchronised blog, or Synchroblog, where a group of bloggers would post on the same general topic on the same day, and post links to each other’s blogs, so that someone could read several different views on the same topic. The topic was Syncretism, and my contribution was an article which I had posted on a Geocities web site, since closed, but you can still see the article at Sundkler deconstructed: Bethesda AICs and syncretism

Abandoned places of empire: Ruins of an English monastery

Abandoned places of empire: Ruins of an English monastery

Synchroblogs became quite popular for a while, and there was one every month or so, with quite a wide variety of views. But eventually it came to be managed by a few people in the USA, who chose topices that were mainly US-centred, and a lot of the variety disappeared. Partly for that reason, I rarely participate in synchroblogs any more, but the main reason  for not participating is that there used to be a mailing list, with a monthly reminder, and those now organising the Synchroblogs disdain to use it, and without the regular reminder I simply tend to forget to find out what the topic and date are for this month. But it can be found out here. if one remembers to look, which I rarely do.

Looking back over the last nine years, some of the best Synchroblogs that I have participated in have been:

Not all blog posts are synchroblog posts, of course, and there have been other kinds of posts over the last 9 years. Still on the theme of the “new monasticism” is

Abandoned places of empire

and another post on the theme of abandoned places concerns the Metroblitz, the ill-fated predecessor of the Gautrain:

Trains and individualism

Other posts on trains seem to be perennially popular:

and, still on the theme of travel, our series of posts on a holiday trip around Namibia and Botswana in 2013, which covers three of our blogs, and so goes beyond this one.

Tales from Dystopia X: The banality of evil | Khanya

It’s my other blog’s fifth blogiversary today, so I’m referring everyone to the story at Tales from Dystopia X: The banality of evil | Khanya:

It’s about bureaucratic machinations in a conspiracy to stop one sick old lady from receiving communion.

It’s one of a series of posts on memories from the apartheid era in South Africa. The other posts in the series are:

And you can find the full list at Tales from Dystopia | Khanya

Notes from underground: six years old today

Today is this blog’s blogiversary, six years old today. I called it Notes from underground because I’d just re-read Dostoevsky’s novel of that name, and thought it would be rather nice.

Here are the first couple of posts, rather experimental Notes from underground: November 2005.

The world has changed a bit since then.

Back then I was saying that our President Thabo Mbeki, for all his faults, was a lot better than George Bush and Tony Blair.

Now I would say that our President Jacob Zuma, whatever his good points, is no better than Barack Obama and David Cameron, and in some respects a lot worse.

I don’t know how many posts I’ve written in this blog over the last few years, but different statistics report somewhere between 110000 and 138000 page reads, and visitors mostly come from:

United States – 45,166
United Kingdom – 9,163
South Africa – 6,393
Germany – 4,645
Canada – 3,004
Russia – 2,267
Denmark – 2,045
Australia – 1,836
Netherlands – 1,673
Slovenia – 1,394

The puzzling one there is Slovenia. Why Slovenia, I wonder?

Before starting this blog I used LiveJournal, but it was a bit clunky and difficult to use. It was intended more as a journal than a blog, and after seeing quite a lot of Blogger blogs I thought I’d try it out, and I was impressed with the ease of just sitting down and writing something.

What was most impressive was tools like the “Blog this” one, which made it easy to save the URL of a web site and comment on it, which is what blogging was originally all about.

At that time Blogger had just been taken over by Google, and about three months after I began using it Google decided to “improve” it, which meant that many features that I liked most, including “Blog this”, stopped working. Google seemed to be taking their time about bringing in the replacements for the missing features, and at that time many bloggers switched from Blogger to WordPress, because Blogger was broken for about 18 months.

Eventually I too started a WordPress blog, mainly to see how it worked, in case I too had to switch, but quite soon after that Blogger was fixed, and so I began using both in parallel. Each of these blogging platforms had its strong points. WordPress was better for graphics, and also used straightforward HTML markup, whereas blogger used about a lot of commands just to display something like italic text (what it puts behind the scenes for that is italic text, whereas WordPress uses the straightforward italic text).

But Blogger is much better at displaying third-party Javascript widgets, some of which are quite useful.

So where I posted something would depend largely on which features of the blogging platform I wanted to use. If I wanted pictures with captions, I’d use WordPress, while for pictures without captions, Blogger would do, though if there were many pictures you would have to move them individually to where you wanted them, whereas WordPress puts them where in the post you want them to go.

Blogger remains better for quick and dirty web-logging — using “Blog this” to post a link to a web page and comment on it.

I’m not sure why, but my WordPress blog, though started later, gets about twice as many visitors as this one.

And for quicker and dirtier stuff I’ve found Tumblr even better, so both this one and the WordPress one feed into Tumblr to be summarised.

Anniversary of this blog

Today is the anniversary of this blog, which I started five years ago today.

I thought it might be interesting to have a look at some statitics, like how many posts there have been, how many readers, and so on.

Here’s the answer: There was an error while fetching stats. Please reload page.

The first post was this:

Notes from underground: Seek and ye shall find: “I’ve lost touch with a few old friends, and so I’ve entered their details in a ‘reverse people finder'”

You can try it here: Is Someone Looking For You? Reverse People Finder - Who? Me?

And if you look down the sidebar on the right, you can see what the most popular posts have been, though I don’t think thay were necessarily the best or the most profound.

Some of my personal favourites, in no particular order, are:

Thoughts on blogging on a blogiversary

Today is the fourth anniversary of the starting of this blog, which prompts thoughts about blogging generally.

This wasn’t my first blog. I started an online diary back at the beginning of the millennium, but it seemed a bit clunky, so don’t write much there any more.

Then I was invited to LiveJournal by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, and it was a combination of an online journal and a social networking site. I still use it for personal things. But there were two problems with it: first, while it was fairly easy to network with other people on LiveJournal, it wasn’t so easy to link to people outside that circle — one can’t use widgets like MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog for social blogrolling, and while it is possible to have a blogroll of sorts, it has to be created laboriously by hand. The second problem is that unless one pays extra for a subscription, photos and graphics have to be hosted on a third-party site. I still have my LiveJournal, but my posts there often link to posts on my other blogs.

Then, four years ago, we got a broadband connection, which made web surfing more affordable, and also something that one could do at any time of the day or night, without waiting for times when phone rates were cheaper. So I discovered Blogger, and that it was useful for quick and easy blog posts. It seemed like a good tool for bouncing ideas off other people and things like that. So I started this blog.

About six months later, Google, having taken over Blogger, began messing with it and lots of features that I had liked stopped working. I liked the “Blog this” feature, where one could grab a bit of text from a web site or another blog, and make some quick comments on it. It stopped working for about a year. The problems of that period caused a mass migration of bloggers from Blogger to WordPress and other blog platforms.

At one point, when many Blogger features had not worked for six months or more, I too started a WordPress blog, to be ready to jump ship if necessary. I still have it, and it’s called Khanya, and I still use it. For some reason that I’ve never been able to fathom, it seems to attract twice as many readers as this one.

I use the two interchangeably, sometimes writing a post on one, sometimes on the other. Which one I choose depends mainly on which features of the blogging platform seem easier for the purpose at the time. WordPress makes it easier to enter pictures with captions, for example, so if I want to post more than one or two pictures linked to a narrative, I post them there rather than here. But widgets like the MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog ones seem to work much better in Blogger than in WordPress. I like to know who has visited my blogs, because that is a reminder to me to go and look at theirs.

Blogger seems to have settled down now, and most of the features are working again, so perhaps I’ll carry on blogging here for another four years, if it’s still around then. And thanks to everyone who has commented over the last four years, and linked to posts, and helped in the sharing of thoughts and ideas.


Today is the third anniversary of this blog.

It is now three years since I started Notes from underground on 28 November 2005, and in that time there have been 741 published posts (this is the 742nd).

This wasn’t by any means my first online blog or journal.

I atarted an online journal at DearDiary at the beginning of the new millennium

I was then invited by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist to join LiveJournal, which I still use as a journal for personal events and happenings.

I then discovered Blogger, and started a blog here, because the Blogger software was specifically designed from blogging rather than journalling. The distinction between blogging and journalling is rather fuzzy nowadays, but a blog, or web log, is still basically a commentary on things one finds on the web, and Blogger had the “Blog this” feature that made it easy to link to web sites and comment on them.

Then Google took over Blogger, and introduced a new beta version of the software, in which many of the features, including “Blog this”, no longer worked. At that point, from about October 2006, many Blogger users began moving to WordPress, and when more and more things in Blogger were broken, I myself started a WordPress blog, Khanya, in February 2007, in case it became necessary to move.

At first the Khanya blog was just experimental, just to see what could be done with it, but I began using it more and more, as Blogger remained crippled. Then about a year ago Blogger began to improve again, and many of the features like “Blog this” began working again.

So now I have two main blogs, which I use about equally. This one, Notes from underground, I still use mainly as a blog proper, to comment on other web sites, because the “Blog this” feature makes it easy. So if there is a distinction, this blog is more for news commentary, while Khanya is more for articles and ideas. But the distinction is not by any means absolute, and the choice of which blog I put something in is often determined not by subject matter, but by which one makes it technically easiest to accomplish whatever I want to do.

A lot of stuff that would previously have gone into my LiveJournal now also goes into this blog or Khanya, because they include pictures directly, while LiveJournal only allows one to link to pictures uploaded to a third-party site like Photobucket, which makes it more of a hassle to include pictures.

One thing that seems strange, however, is that even though I use this blog and Khanya interchangeably, the Khanya blog, on WordPress, always seems to attract more readers, as the following graph from Amatomu shows:

And that’s in spite of the fact that this blog has been going almost twice as long as the Khanya one, and should thus have been able to gather more readers.

Anyway, it’s now three years old, and I wonder if it (or I) will still be around after another three years.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who has read it and commented on the posts over the last few years. It’s the comments that make blogging worthwhile, and help one to see whether ideas are worth pursuing or not. Well, perhaps I should qualify that by saying intelligent comments. Spam comments, and other comments that have nothing to do with the post and so add nothing to the subject, are worse than useless.

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