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Blogging year 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 38 posts. There were 165 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 161mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 1st with 201 views. The most popular post that day was Lessons for “V d Tweeple” & “We the people” on forging India ahead .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, indiblogger.in, en.blog.wordpress.com, and expat-blog.com.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Lessons for “V d Tweeple” & “We the people” on forging India ahead November 2010
15 comments

2

A few words about me November 2009
15 comments

3

A good year spent in the land of cheese and chocolates! May 2010
47 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

4

Why is Rahul Dravid so underrated by the Indian media & public? November 2009
15 comments

5

Saurkundi pass trek – A travelogue. November 2009
2 comments

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Playing around with words, images & themes…

(Note: This was first written on April 15, 2010 based on that day’s blog template. I intend to keep updating this post as and when I make changes to my template, to trace the journey of my blog design!)

As people who visit this part of the virtual world would have noticed, this blog has seen a fair bit of tinkering over the last few days.

I would say my attempt at developing a good blog site, is going more or less according to a loose plan I had in mind last year, and here are some points beyond what I covered in an earlier post:

  1. Read a lot of blogs to get a sense of discussions in the blogosphere and develop my point of view. My first experiences of the blogosphere led me to believe that the most popular blogs are run by any combination of cute / hot girls, people who ultra aggressively promoted their blogs, people who wrote about topics designed to get greatest hits, people who poured their heart out with poems of love or wrote extensively about every guy / girl they met. (I read some very popular blogs by some girls that described their multitude of emotions with so many men, that I lost track, and wondered how they kept track so well as to record it!). Since I could did not fit into, or did not want to fit into, any of the above, I was fairly skeptical about blogging, but thankfully probing further revealed that there are some extremely impressive bloggers whom I could seek to emulate
  2. Get the content in – a good bunch of entries on a variety of topics. This is the most critical phase for an old-fashioned, “content is king” guy like me. This would probably explain why some of my posts are so long…it’s my obsession to look at a topic from all different angles and in-depth (which I don’t want to change), plus my writing style in general (which is evolving & improving constantly).
  3. Look at forums where I can promote my blog and read more blogs, and
  4. Play around with the layout, themes, widgets and tools to make it more interactive, attractive and for lack of a better word, jazzy

The next steps are to keep building on what I did well above and at some later stage think of having my custom website / domain. (I’ll stick to the free to use wordpress.com version without any ads for now).

It is step 4 above that’s been on my mind in the last few days, and I would say that’s the most challenging task for me. That’s primarily because I am not too artistically inclined. (I used to use terrible colors and fonts in my early days of work, before consulting helped me settle down to making professional content, but it’s never been jazzy or stylish). It’s also because I am a bit technologically challenged. Trust me, I took a long time understanding how to use widgets, create a web feed and all that. I used some type kit fonts on this blog and still don’t know if they are active or not 🙂

 So playing with a custom style sheet (CSS), or experimenting with a web template is a scary thought for me! At the same time I was really impressed with the templates used by a fellow blogger, Shruti. Check her blog template and the story behind that at: http://songofsacredeastwind.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-aeshu.html

And I do have a sense of imagery and a liking for photography. My Flickr page is lousy, but I have taken some pretty decent pictures over the years in so many places, that helped me appreciate the power of visuals.

So, I have tried to get a few images on my header, that blend well with the blog title (Journeys across a pathless land), and the nature of topics. Some random  keywords I had in my mind while looking through my pictures and that of others on FlickR were Journey / Travel, Climb, Rough terrain, Adventure, Beauty, Lonely  man / animal / vehicle, Nature, Unchartered or remote places, Fun, Learning, Movement, Mountains, Color / vividness

The previous picture I used, was taken by me during my trek in the Himalayas, and the full picture is below:

Himalayan sheep

I liked it for many reasons including the sheer effort I spent that tiring afternoon stalking this massive flock of sheep to get some pictures in.

The picture I have put up now, is titled “Shepherd in Morey Plains”, and attributed to Koshyk, who has been kind enough to authorize me to use it. It turns out that he his also a blogger and runs a very interesting blog! Do, pay him a visit at: http://scretlover.blogspot.com/

The full picture is reproduced here:

Shepherd in Morey Plains

It can also be found in his photo stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkoshy/2260639712/

It captures a shepherd and his sheep in the barren landscape of Ladakh. Ladakh has always been a dream destination, and if I make it there one day, I’ll probably end up dedicating a full day for pictures (to be shamelessly publicized on FlickR, Facebook and on my blog!)

I see myself experimenting a fair bit with a variety of images, colors, themes, and possibly some art (If I have the right friends for the job!). It also gives me the chance to use so many wonderful things others have done to their blogs / photo sites on the internet and leave a dedication each time. I know how nice it feels when someone visits your site and appreciates any words / images / videos that you have created!

So, please do leave any tips on how I can JAZZ UP my blog, and please give a feedback on the image I have used now. (I’ll also try to create a poll for that some time)

I pride myself in being well-connected with so many people who have special talent each, but I don’t have a single friend who can claim to be good at art! So till I can take that master piece of a picture myself, I will be hounding Suman, who is an awesome photographer, to take some pictures with my blog in mind. His photo stream is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vrsuman/

If he does take that perfect picture for my blog, the advantage is that I won’t have to pay him. After all, what are friends for?  🙂

Cheers!

Vasu

Update 1: April 19, 2010

New picture titled “Insuperable barrier of Nature – Lonely truck in the Himalaya”.

 

Many thanks to alles-schlumpf for allowing me to use a brilliant picture she took at Leh, Ladakh, in 2006. Danke 🙂

Update 2: May 6, 2010

I have adopted a newly launched theme called Bueno, which gives me new features such as Custom background, Featured posts. The picture that seems to look best on this background, is something I took during my Himalayan trek in 2007. It was the end of a long day of uphill climb, and some time in the afternoon I saw very interesting jagged rock formations, juxtaposed against the vast sky above. It was just me, the earth, the sky, and nothing in between.  It was a very spell binding, almost primal feeling.

So, till the next update, this would be my theme background:

Touching the skies!

 Update 3: February 2011

I set up this theme called Coraline. The custom picture I have used for the header, is that of a Tram approaching the picturesque Schützenhaus stop in Basel:

Tram 8 at Basel, Schuetzenhaus

Looking back at a thousand hits, and looking beyond the numbers….

This blog is reaching a small milestone of a thousand visitors today. Nothing great in the blogosphere, but just a mini landmark for me to acknowledge and smile about! It’s also time for me to look at more stats that WordPress lets you analyze, and reflect on the blogging experience so far!

To start with, some stats trivia for those who like stats for the heck of it:

The most read blogs have been:

  1. The home page – fair enough, you all want to know a little bit about the stranger who wrote the blog; but a whopping 417 people have visited my home page, and I dunno how many of them actually read any blog post!
  2. A few sentences I wrote regarding Ramachandra Guha’s book “India after Gandhi”. Damn this Guha man, much as I admire him, he is stealing my thunder. 70 people visited that page, must have gone to Outlook magazine from there, and onto reading more about Guha from there on. Who the hell is Vasu now? 😦
  3. My post on Rahul Dravid. That was original content, and I still find that funny. Yeah Jammy, you have given me so much cricket viewing pleasure all these years, and now more people have visited my blog because of you, than they would have otherwise. 65 hits out of a thousand tell me that cricket still sells big time amongst Indians. I could write a few hundred posts on the game I love the most, but thankfully, that’s not my intent! 

People from the following countries have been most frequent on the blogs: Switzerland, India, U.S, U.K, and Canada. More or less expected, but someday I want to expand to countries where I have never been, or don’t know anybody. I want to hear from people from Mongolia, or Uruguay, or Kazakhstan, or Madagascar, and reinforce my belief that our planet is a global village, and that people can connect and bond beyond barriers! 

Now this is the incredibly funny part. Here are the most interesting key words or search terms that have been used most visit my blog:

  1. Rahul Dravid shirtless (Also searched: Rahul Dravid ex girlfriend, hmmm…in some way  it makes me feel good that it’s not only the Indian men who are desperate!)
  2. Indian sheep (Also searched:  funny sheep, British sheep)
  3. Found the message before I finished typed
  4. Free typing program
  5. Mallu sex in net cafe & Kama stories in telugu (when did I ever become a porn writer / up loader? damn you people, find this stuff else where on the net!)
  6. One world one tribe (who are you, my psychic connection buddy?)
  7. Kraft locked down pcs (Hmmm I should get money from Kraft now!)
  8. Why don’t IT departments give employees money? (I wish I had the answer to that mate!)
  9. Manali bars (There is so much more to this incredible small town apart from bars)

 Now move over stats & silly jokes, it’s time for introspection. 

I have been writing this without any specific agenda or target. The key motivations were, and remain:

  1. Sharing my opinion on any current social topic, or an older one that I find significant. I also try and balance popular topics, with stuff people do not normally discuss much about. The big factor here is my transition to an avid reader of newspapers & watcher of T.V news to a fully online person. I shun most traditional media now, and the internet gives me incredible abilities to filter through biased opinions and get to the truth in most things.
  2. Getting stuff off my chest, that I do not have friends I can talk to about immediately
  3. Write something on a topic I am curious to learn more about, and use the incredible powers of Google, WordPress, and websites such as Swiss Expat blogger, Indiblogger, and Youth Ki awaaz to read more articles, and blogs on the same. It’s been a very rewarding exercise!
  4. Write something useful to share whatever good experiences I have had.  I wrote something about Yoga that a few people found very helpful and they signed up for yoga programs. A few lazy bum friends of mine signed up for YHAI treks based on my travelogue. I can’t claim to transform the world, but a few people benefitting from what I wrote makes me feel good. Really good!
  5. To try and have a creative pursuit / pet project that keeps me going beyond the four corners of my office cubicle, apartment. It’s been nice to constantly think of something to write, write a few drafts, delete them, write it up better, publish them, and follow what people say!
  6. To write about my culture and my country and spread the word about how cool we are; to challenge what we accept as cool, but is not quite so; and to share my experiences on the good things I have picked up where my travels take me! i believe every person who interacts with a foreigner or lives abroad, is an ambassador for his country and has to do his bit to break down artificial barriers we have created amongst ourselves!
  7. Now this is something I am yet to do justice to, but is a motivation nevertheless. To get out of my writing comfort zone and try things I haven’t before: Fiction, poetry,etc. Also, challenge myself to write crisper, write funnier (incredibly tough to do. I always thought i was a funny guy when I talk, but to translate that to words on a blog has been very challenging!)

But having done most of what motivated me in the first place, I know I can do much more! To do that, I would love to hear from people who have subscribed (Started off with family and dear friends, spread to some good Samaritans I have never met!), and other regular readers. I want to hear which blogs you liked, which you didn’t, which topics you want to read about, which articles made you think or had an impact (if any), and if you area non blogger, whether reading my blogs have made you feel like writing yours some day!

So, this is my biggest push so far to make my blog very interactive and conversational, rather than the way it is now with me saying things you never read, or ignored, or you had an opinion but never said it.

I need all the encouragement from friends, family, fellow bloggers or curious strangers! Even a one liner or a smiley as a comment on any of my posts, would be appreciated 🙂

Here is a big thank you to those who have been here, let alone read & commented.

Cheers!

Vasu

P.S: If you liked this post, you may enjoy reading: https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/playing-around-with-words-images-themes%e2%80%a6/

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