Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'around-the-blog'

: Apologies for the Overly Aggressive Spam Police

I don’t view my WordPress dashboard very frequently, so I’d missed that the Stop Spammers Registration plugin had trapped 75 registrations/commenters it shouldn’t have, some of whom are regular commenters here.
Nor did I know where the UI was for that. (I do now and have whitelisted all 75 of you.)
I’m sure 75 sounds like a lot, but let me give you context here.

OpenID Change

A while back, I switched from one openID plugin to another because the one I had been using was not being maintained. The new one apparently let through a lot more spam registrations than the previous one did—to the point where that was more than half of my email.
Then I installed the Stop Spammer Registrations plugin. Blissful quiet.

Stop Spammers in total has stopped 33,680 spammers since 2014/02/26.

And, unfortunately, 75 legit folks. (As well as possibly more who didn’t say, “Hey!”)

Almost Half Were Cache Problems

There’s a joke in computer science:

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things. —Phil Karlton

My host sometimes needs to service machines and switches me over without me noticing. This invalidates cache, and Stop Spammer Registration latches onto that like a fierce little puppy and growls.
Why? Because invalid cache is a security attack vector, unfortunately.

An Added Bonus

Ever looked at your Akismet spam queue? Even after setting it to delete the worst, I used to have 50-100 per day. Now I get 1-2 per week.


I’m going to look at the settings and see if anything needs to be tweaked.

: What I Learned from Google Analytics Today

I’ve been trying to be smarter about marketing, and part of that means understanding who finds your pages and how they find them.
Hence I’ve delved into the dark art of SEO, specifically landing pages: when people search and find/visit my site, what pages do they land on?
And…I was surprised! Who knew that 1,000 (~2%) people would visit my spork page?

What Surprised Me

I only looked at the top 25 landing pages. Here’s what surprised me from those results.

  1. I’m unsurprised that Marion Zimmer Bradley brought in the largest chunk of hits, especially given that one post was linked to from The Guardian. What I am surprised is that, SEO-wise, it’s a smaller number than I expected. Then again, she’s been dead over fifteen years, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.
  2. Similarly, I get a lot of hits on Ellora’s Cave posts, but it’s only 7% of my incoming search traffic despite having a high Google ranking for the search term Ellora’s Cave. Which…should say something about EC: relatively obscure.
  3. 20% of my incoming search traffic leads to my various art projects, mostly t-shirts. Given that I’ve been posting them for less than a year, this is very interesting to me. I was in the middle of a quandary: given that I want to focus mostly on graphic elements for sale, is it more off-brand to put those projects on or on The results say to me that I should keep these on
    Also a surprise was that this was my most-frequently-found art-related post.
  4. 9% of my incoming search traffic leads to two posts about fountain pens. I should do more of these. Did you know there are relatively recent patents about cool fountain pen technologies? It’s true!

Finding Your Own Landing Pages

You can find your top pages by doing the following in Google Analytics:

  1. Log into If you haven’t set up tracking on your site, now’s a good time to do so.
  2. Click on Reporting.
  3. Click on Acquisition.
  4. Click on Search Engine Optimization.
  5. Click on Landing Pages.

You can see more about how to do that in this blog post.

: Update: Indie Hugo-Eligible Works

[![Ice Flowers](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700-700x525.jpg)](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700.jpg)Ice Flowers, by [Thom Bouman](

Folks, I was really hoping that I’d have this by the 31st, but I’m going to need to slip a few days on that because I have the flu.
I’ve needed 12+ hours of sleep a day (one day, I slept 14-1/2 hours straight!), and I still have sooooooooo much to do it’s not funny. (Have you heard about my new t-shirts yet? No. I’ve been that busy.)
I’m changing my deadline to Feb 4th, but that’s assuming my sleep schedule gets less overwhelming.

: [Admin] Comment Notifications Are Fixed

[![Photo by Peter Olexa of Cruzine Design](/images/2015/01/vinretphoto09-700-700x467.jpg)](/images/2015/01/vinretphoto09-700.jpg)Photo by Peter Olexa of Cruzine Design.

Thought I’d update everyone: comment notifications are now fixed!
Turns out that, despite my thinking it was something I did at the receiving end, nope, it was at the sending end.
WPEngine’s awesome support said that basically I should use SMTP for email and recommended this plugin. I set it up and, lo, it worked.

: A Few Tweaks on the Blog

[![Ice Flowers](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700-700x525.jpg)](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700.jpg)Ice Flowers, by [Thom Bouman](

For people who read on (as opposed to tumblr, dreamwidth, livejournal, or Google+), I’ve finally made some long-overdue changes. 1. Lists (ol and li) in comments now show the list style. Because I allow Markdown in comments, you can just start bullet lists with a * on the left of each line in the list. Or 1. etc. for a numbered list.

  1. Tightened up the white space in the comment area.
  2. Added a thin border on the left of comments so it’s easier to track nesting of comments.
  3. The Leave a Reply and other comment-related items were still black text on navy. Not very readable. Now fixed and with better padding.

I’d like to thank my former colleagues’ work on the Web Inspector as being extremely helpful to getting this done quickly.

The Comment Notification Issue

I believe I’ve addressed the outstanding comments (though, as always, sometimes I’ll respond to a comment and a reply to that comment together). If not, I really can’t spend the time to dig further on it. It’s better to spend it addressing future notifications. Hence, if I owe you a reply on a comment, I’m declaring comment bankruptcy. Sorry.

: [Admin] Still Haven't Fixed Comment Notification Issue

[![Ice Flowers](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700-700x525.jpg)](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700.jpg)Ice Flowers, by [Thom Bouman](

Just a note that I’m still looking into the comment notification issue and it’s still not fixed. (I’ve not been receiving blog-related emails for 10 days.)
Here’s what I’ve done so far: 1. Dumped my old Bayesian database and re-set my spam settings so no non-RBLed accounts are getting filtered out.

  1. Verified that my domain’s host is not on an RBL list. (That has happened before, quite annoying!)
  2. Added the WordPress sender email address to my domain’s email accounts. If you need to change the default WordPress sender, here’s a plugin for that. Amazing that it’s not otherwise configurable!

My guess is that, due to a change in my email provider’s policies, it’s getting caught as an invalid IP address for sending mail for that domain. So I’m digging into that next.

: Sorry for Missing Some Comments (and Maybe Messages)

[![Ice Flowers](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700-700x525.jpg)](/images/2015/01/FDE-IceFlowers-700.jpg)Ice Flowers, by [Thom Bouman](

Sorry I haven’t responded to some comments for the last four days. When I’ve been on my iPad, I’ve seen the notifications, and responded then.
As for the rest….
Four days ago (I can narrow it down to an hour-long span, actually), I fat-fingered marking an email message and accidentally reported an email from my own website as spam. Even though I quickly hit undo, I’ve learned from experience that “undo” on marking something spam does not actually remove it from the Bayesian spam algorithm. Not on, anyway.
I’ve got my settings set as aggressive, meaning: > Known insecure email hosts/relays are always blocked (xbl)

Possible spam is placed in your ‘Junk Mail’ folder
Extremely probable spam is discarded without you seeing it
Email from people in your address book is definite not spam

None of those comment notifications appeared in my Junk Mail folder, so therefore:

  1. I’d failed to mark the address sending mail from WordPress as not spam by adding it to my contact list. Oops! (Now fixed.)
  2. Further messages were marked as “Extremely probable spam” and hence silently discarded.

One of my comment management strategies I’ve used is to auto-flag incoming comments, then delete the flag when I’ve replied (or determined that no reply was necessary). So, failing that….
Lesson learned, time to go actually look at the comment queue.

: WordPress Stats, Yo

2014 WordPress Jetpack Report
I’m sharing my WordPress annual report.
tl;dr version:

  1. Almost 1/4 million views.
  2. Over 23,000 in a single day, the day after I posted the Marion Zimmer Bradley story. Several weeks before The Guardian article, btw.
  3. 4 of the top 5 stories were related to MZB; the fifth’s related to Ellora’s Cave.

Fascinating that the post about supporting authors who have non-EC works is more popular than all my other posts about Ellora’s Cave—by a wide margin.

Best Move I Made This Year

My blog would not have survived the most popular day (nor several other popular days) without the excellent services of my hosting provider, WP Engine. They’re not cheap but you get:

  1. A staging area so you have a place to test and goof up. And wipe in a moment if you want to (or need to).
  2. Automagic daily backups, and easy-to-create other backups at will.
  3. When I had a security issue (my site was defaced after I visited a site with a malicious script), they copied over my site to a third staging area and had a security team look at it. My site was able to be immediately restored, and I had peace of mind knowing my site itself didn’t have security issues.
  4. Note that my number of visitors, divided by twelve, almost exactly fits into the personal plan at WP Engine. Almost. The post-May stats were a lot higher than the first half of the year. Most months, I have an overage of a few dollars.

: This Blog Gets Around

Some time in the past, I was sad that no one from Greenland had ever visited my blog. I am no longer sad.
Here’s how much of the world visited so far in 2014 (very light grey means no visits):
Not only did I get a single visit from Greenland, I got two from Cuba. Here are some others at the end of the long tail:
North America: everyone visited!
Central America: everyone visited!
South America: everyone but French Guiana.
Europe: missing a few Balkan states.
Middle East: Most countries, though I’m kind of disappointed about missing Yemen. I have Yemeni coffee every morning.
Africa: I count 24 countries (on the map, which means I may have missed smaller countries). Far from all of them, but that’s far more than I expected. Helloooooo, Africa!
Asia: Missing Iran, Turkmenistan, and North Korea. Two of those were a given.
Here’s the full list of the 178 (by ISO country code count) visiting countries and territories. Italics means I haven’t been there yet.
Afghanistan, Åland Islands, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyszstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Réunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Virgin Islands, British, Virgin Islands, US, Zimbabwe
Folks: I’m floored. Gobsmacked.
Thank you so much for visiting. I’ve been to 101 countries and territories by the Travelers Century Club list, which translates to 85 ISO countries/territories and 66 UN member nations (plus the Vatican).
I never dreamed that so many more countries than that would visit my humble little corner of the internet.
Thank you. Every one of you.

: 2014: Year in Review

This post doesn’t link to every post I’ve written, but a significant selection of them.

  1. Wrote about my problematic relationship with Spanish. I started writing it before the great taxi driver incident where we couldn’t remember the word “fifteen” in Spanish, but I believe I posted it after.
  2. Easter Island pic. Easter Island, in case you ever need to know this, is five days of cruising westward from Valparaiso, Chile. Three of those days without Internet.
  3. Pitcairn Island pic. Pitcairn is three days west of Easter Island and one of the remotest places on Earth.
  4. Mo’orea pic. Mo’orea, in French Polynesia, is two days west of Pitcairn and very close (a few miles/kms) to Tahiti.
  5. Bora Bora pic. My favorite picture taken this year. Bora Bora’s about an hour’s flying time from Tahiti, and is a gobsmackingly beautiful descent at sunset. Rick saw it; I didn’t get to because I was seated on the wrong side of the plane.
  6. 2-1/2 Years of E-Book Sales Data, which I like to trot out every time someone asks about the reasons not to make their book exclusive at Amazon. I’ve softened a bit: periods of exclusivity are one thing, but exclusive there all the time just strikes me as punting on sales. See also: Sell to Where the Reader Reads (and Shops)
  7. Village Voice on Writers of the Future, where I discover I’d made the Village Voice a couple of years ago. I also reposted to my own blog a comment I’d left on someone else’s.
  8. Asking for What You Want: My Letter to Steve Jobs. Before I was hired at Apple, I wrote SJ asking for a job. While it didn’t get me the job per se, what it did get me was calls from recruiters. The job I did get turned out to be one I hadn’t applied for. So, it worked, after a fashion, just not immediately.
  9. Sochi: A Visit. We visited Sochi in 2013. At the time, I thought it was kind of a rush to see a city prepping for the Olympics instead of seeing long-past history (though there was some of that too. If Russia ever gets its LGBT act together, it’s actually quite a lovely place to visit.
  10. Rick’s favorite mongoose joke.
  11. I write about my shift in understanding about trans people and pronoun use. In which I come out publicly about my trans ex (still a good friend, and in fact, I worked for her brother at Apple).
  12. My senior year of high school and why I took Independent Study Table Tennis. For real.
  13. Pinboard WordPress theme icons for Instagram and iMDB. Pinboard’s a great free WordPress theme, and I consistently get several hits a day on this post offering up two more social media icons. It only just occurred to me a few days ago to maybe write the people who make the theme and offer up my changes to them. Doh.
  14. Two Lava photos I took in 2011 and 2012. Here’s two more from 2011.
  15. Four Hugo recommendations. Hey! Randall Munroe did finally win a Hugo! My work is done. Not in the category I proposed, but that’s okay by me. Note: this was for the Hugos that have already been awarded, btw.
  16. That Odd Moment. When you suddenly realize that you’re more likely to have been places that erupt into chaos than not. Contains pictures of Odessa, Ukraine.
  17. Random Photoshop Things I’ve Learned Recently. I learned how to composite several night sky photos into one cooler image. Among other things.
  18. Two Alhambra Photos. A friend was expressing envy that we’d be going to the Alhambra again, so these photos from 2011 were for her.
  19. My short rant about the erasure of indigenous languages from dictionary derivations. A longer rant from earlier in the year.
  20. Apple’s Treatment of Mobility-Impaired Employees. In which I detail some of the WTFery I had to put up with after getting a handicap placard.
  21. Norilana Books Again. This, along with a few other posts, sheds light onto the problems of Norilana books, which I first posted about in late 2013.
  22. How much time it takes to set up a new pseudonym from scratch. Including book cover. Assuming one has all the requisite skills, of course. Related: Building a Brand: Object Lessons.
  23. What I learned about myself by making a fan site for my favorite actor.
  24. After several decades, I finally get an accurate diagnosis (and medication) for my chronic pain.
  25. After I called them out, changed their “Working at Box” page to be more respectful of women. That page is even better now than it was in April. Initially, it was just a photo swap out, but the page has since been redesigned.
  26. Our heartbreaking road trip to Canada. Which, in the long run, turned out okay.
  27. “Traitor to the Mens” t-shirts I designed for John Scalzi.
  28. Programming Sucks and Why I Quit.
  29. A Letter to My Sister-in-Law Written for extended family (and no doubt painful to read for those not in the family), but I get significant Google hits on this every day.
  30. The Seventies: Getting into Programming. My experiences back in the day.
  31. Author Media Kits.
  32. Mockups, the power of 3D.
  33. Typecon, in which I discover another group of “my people.”
  34. Jay Lake, RIP.
  35. Welsh countryside photo I took in 2013. Rick and I went back to the exact same point this year.
  36. My First Science Fiction Convention. Or: How I met Mark Hamill before anyone really knew who he was.
  37. A frustrating conversation with Amazon support. I’m amazed I don’t still have a dent in my forehead.
  38. Marion Zimmer Bradley Gave Us New Perspectives, All Right. My snarky response to a puff piece. After being challenged in the comments, I contacted MZB’s daughter, Moira, leading to Marion Zimmer Bradley: It’s Worse than I Knew. and other MZB-related blog posts. This led to pieces in The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. Here’s the complete series of posts. Tough stuff.
  39. Kitten, Morocco, 2011. Because Kitten.
  40. Doing the Right Thing. Design, but a great reminder of why suckage occurs.
  41. Some Thoughts on the Missing Stair Analogy.
  42. My birthday lookback at favorite things from the past year.
  43. The Great Namaste, aka I helped set a Guinness World Record.
  44. Rejecting Bad Writing Advice.
  45. My ode to OVERWERK.
  46. Branding Done Right. Typecon rocked it on so many levels.
  47. All the Important Stuff. I’m deeply honored that Michael Hyatt gave me permission to use his saying for my poster. It’s one I heard when I attended the World Domination Summit.
  48. Falling Back in Love With One’s Own Book. A few tips to get back in the groove.
  49. Reading Audiobooks. How my usage of the verb “to read” changed after a conversation.
  50. Delia Derbyshire, Overlooked Musician and Composer. Amazing woman best known for her performance—and some of the composition—of the Dr. Who theme.
  51. How to Get to Helsinki from Pitcairn. Fun post for the 2017 Worldcon bid.
  52. Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread. My Ellora’s Cave post series has been the second most popular on the blog this year. Book Reversion Game Theory & Consent is one of the popular posts as is Proving Substantial Truth.
  53. How I Became a Romance Reader.
  54. I’m on Writing Excuses!
  55. World Music Break: Tarkan.
  56. New Adult Romance: A Few Books. I need to write an update on this with more titles.
  57. My Day in Federal Court.
  58. My Favorite Indie Type Foundries. For all you type/font people.
  59. 100 Countries (and Territories). Made it!