I don’t always agree with Marco Arment, but his post today about the ethics of modern web ad-blocking really struck a nerve.

As a publisher myself I’ve been trying to figure out how to monetize my sites so they will at least pay for their own expenses. I’m not trying to turn my podcast into my sole income source, but it would be nice if it wasn’t a money pit, y’know? However, I want to support it in a way that’s not creepy — I really don’t want to track you, and you don’t want me to track you, I’m sure.

Recently my wife also was complaining about flashing and otherwise intrusive ads on a “free” game site she frequents. We talked about the ethics of blocking the ads on a free site, and she eventually decided that blocking the ads was worth reducing headaches from flashing and flickering junk on her screen. We installed an ad blocker for Firefox, and not only did the ads go away, but it actually improved the site’s performance on her computer (an older white MacBook model). This surprised me at the time, but blocking those JavaScript loads on the page really reduced the amount of work that her browser had to do.

In Marco’s article, he recommended the free Ghostery add-on, which installs in your favorite browser and shows a little pop-up of what tracking scripts are running on a given page. It can also block any or all of these, but the most interesting thing for me today has been just to see them, and realize that there was more going on on my own site than I knew.

Let’s take a look at what Ghostery is seeing on my own sites.

Upgrading Django to use Virtualenv on WebFaction

Recently, I wanted to upgrade my website on ye olde Django 1.6.5 to finally come up to speed with Django 1.8.3 (current, as of this writing). However, I realized that upgrading a WebFaction webapp in situ seemed to be a rather painful process. In addition, WebFaction doesn’t set you up with Virtualenv by default, and I’d like to be able to upgrade Django and the other packages I need for my site without affecting any of my other sites.

I’m going to show how I did my upgrade, but of course, you may have things set up differently, and YMMV. However for a relatively simple site, like mine, I hope this will be helpful.

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting Your Own Data

Hi! Sorry about that click-bait title. What one person can write an ultimate guide to anything, really? All I can do is tell you about my own experience, and some tools I find useful.

Have some other ideas to add? Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, and maybe we can actually build an ultimate guide together, as we hold hands and drink Coca-Cola — with crazy straws from a beer hat, obviously, since our hands are busy.

Let’s get started!

FeedPress Subscribers for Panic Status Board

Since the launch of my new podcast, I’ve been trying to keep track of stats on podcast downloads and subscribers. FeedPress has been my feed tracker of choice recently, and seems to work very smoothly (even if they only update stats once a day).

I’m also a big fan of Panic’s Status Board iPad app for keeping track of all sorts of stats — so much so that I’m considering getting a dedicated (old, used) iPad, just to hook up to a big monitor and display stats all day.

These are obviously two great tastes that taste great together, as FeedPress already supplies a JSON file that you can load into Status Board to see 7 days worth of subscriber data for a single feed. But what if you want to see more days? Or more than one feed? That’s where my Python script comes in.

Feedpress Subscribers Status Board Graph Panel

Yeah, it’s a mouthful, but at least it’s descriptive. You can download it on Github. Full instructions are included in the repository, and here, in my scripts page.

New Digs

If you’re seeing this, it means you’re seeing my new, migrated site. I realized that I wasn’t really using any of the extra features that Squarespace was affording me, and while they have given me great service (and I love their stats package), it was time to minimize my outlay to my various service providers.

Thankfully, Squarespace 6 has made it impressively easy to export your site to Wordpress, and so here we are. The export/import process certainly isn’t perfect (somewhat due to Squarespace’s oddly malformed XML), so you may see weird formatting or missing images here and there while I clean things up, but for the most part, the migration just worked, and I give my thanks to both the Squarespace and Wordpress teams for that little miracle.

Any saved bookmarks or other links from the old site should also still work, thanks to Wordpress’ permalink settings and a little bit of mod_rewrite magic.

Does this mean I’ll be posting here more often? I refuse to speculate on such a matter of national security, but as ever, if you want to hear my unfiltered ramblings, I suggest you follow me on Twitter or ADN.


Had a little hiccup with the RSS feed, but should be fixed now. Let me know if anything else seems broken. Thanks!