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My Annual Summer “I’m On Vacation” Photo

My 2021 I'm on my summer vacation photo

My vacation began just a few minutes ago and I couldn’t begin before taking my annual summer “I’m on vacation!” photo. It is nice to be on vacation after a very busy first half of 2021. We have some fun plans, which I’ll eventually write about here. There is something magical about the first few minutes of a new vacation. The waiting is over, and they entire thing is laid out before you. It is a great feeling and that is why I always look so excited in these photos.

For those who may wonder what my vacation means for the blog, it should be business-as-usual. I am on vacation from my day job, not from writing. And I’ve worked up enough of a lead here that I already have posts throughout most of my vacation just in case vacation fun eats into my writing time.

Here is a collage of various “I’m on vacation” photos from the last 6 or 7 years.

Can you tell that I am already having fun?

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If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Didn’t like it so much? Let me know why, either in the comments, or by reaching out to me directly. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for being a part of this community!

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Milestone: 3 Million Views on the Blog

Over the weekend, the blog passed a major milestone: 3 million views over its nearly 16 years life. It is creeping up on a second milestone, 1.5 million unique visitors over that same period of time.

When I started the blog (on LiveJournal! remember that?) I had no plan. I just thought it would be fun to have a place to write in public. The blog migrated from LiveJournal to WordPress (self-managed) back in 2009, and more recently to WordPress.com earlier this summer.

In the early days on WordPress (circa 2009), I remember getting 10 or 20 views a day and being happy that there was a handful of people out there enjoying what I wrote. Over the years, those numbers steadily climbed. I didn’t do much that I am aware of to make that happen. I just tried to write things that interested me. I remember when the daily views hit about 100/day that I was thrilled. After I began writing my Going Paperless posts, things really picked up and for several years, I was seeing 3,000 or 4,000 views per day on average, something that astonished me, but that also made me nervous. I knew most of those views were for the paperless posts, but I still wanted to write about whatever interested me.

As life got busier, as more of my attention was taken up with my kids and family, I wrote less. I “retired” as Evernote’s paperless ambassador, and retired the paperless column, which had always been an experiment in my mind. Readership went down on the blog and along with it, the daily views. I think last year (2020) was a low-point for the blog. I wrote less than ever before, and I missed writing here. That is part of the reason that I decided to try to write here every day in 2020. These days, the daily views on the blog are a tenth of what they were at the blog’s peak readership, but I’ve noticed a definite trend upward, and that pleases me because I am writing about what I want, and not trying to focus on one niche.

I used to obsess over the blog stats. I try not to do this anymore but sometimes, I can’t help it. I’m amazed that the blog has lasted as long as it has, and I’m grateful for all of my readers, especially those who have been around for a very long time. I’ve never tried to compare my stats with other sites, so I don’t know where I stand. I’m sure there are sites out there that get 3 million views in a single month (and possible in a single day), but I’m happy with the slow-but-steady accumulation I’ve managed over the last 16 years.

The first million views could have been an accident. The second million maybe showed that I was on to something. The third million just helps to convince me that there are people out there who enjoy what I write. What can be better than writing what you enjoy for people who enjoy what you write? I am eternally grateful to everyone that comes here to read what I write, who leaves a comment, or emails me with kind words, or questions. You have all made this more fun than I could have possibly imagined when I started out.

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If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Didn’t like it so much? Let me know why, either in the comments, or by reaching out to me directly. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for being a part of this community!

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204 Consecutive Days of Posts

I missed this milestone a few days ago, so I’ll mention it now. Today is my 204th consecutive day of posting here on the blog. My goal at the beginning of the year was to get back to writing and posting every day here, and so far, more than halfway through the year, I seem to be meeting that goal. In 204 days I’ve written 225 posts totaling 137,000 words, and averaging about 600 words each. It amounts to four times what I wrote for all of 2020.

Consecutive days of posting in 2021

It is not always easy. Sometimes I am at a loss of what to write about, but I sit down anyway and write. Some posts are better than others, and some posts that I think would get more attention go almost unnoticed. But I keep it up, and it is one of the highlights of my day when I sit down to write here.

I just bought myself a celebratory beer and am enjoying the milestone. And I’m looking forward to the 161 days remaining in the year, wondering what the heck I’m going to write about to make my quota for each day. Of course, thinking about what to write is one of the best parts.

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If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Didn’t like it so much? Let me know why, either in the comments, or by reaching out to me directly. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for being a part of this community!

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Original Fiction?

One thing that I have never posted on the blog over the last 16 years is original fiction: that is, fiction I’ve written that has not appeared anywhere else. The main reason I’ve never done this is because publishing a story on the Internet is considered a first publication. Since the “first serial rights” are not available once a story appears on the Internet, it can make it harder to sell the story to professional markets.

This was more an issue when I was still finding my footing as a professional writer especially when I was submitting and selling stories to the science fiction magazines and anthologies. Over the years, however, my stories have changed and it is really hard to classify them. I have two, for instance, that don’t fall into any category that I can name.

I was thinking of posting these stories here on the blog, but since what I write here is entirely not fiction so far, I wanted to get feedback from my readers to see if original fiction is something you’d be interested in. If there is interest, my thought would be to start with these two stories that I have sitting around and see how things go. Since I try to keep most of my posts relatively short (they’ve averaged about 600 words in 2021), I’d probably post these stories as serial, running one part per week over a period of several week.

What do people think? Would you be interested in seeing some original fiction from me here on the blog? Free, of course. At this point, I’m just looking for an outlet for these stories. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Or, if you definitely want me to post original fiction, just “like” this post and I’ll take that as a Yes vote.

(If you are uncertain and would like to see some of my published fiction first, check out my bibliography. I think all of the stories I’ve published on InterGalactic Medicine Show are now freely available. Keep in mind, though, as I said, that my writing has evolved, and I’m not sure how I’d categorize it today.)

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Didn’t like it so much? Let me know why, either in the comments, or by reaching out to me directly. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for being a part of this community!

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5 Blogs I’ve Been Reading Lately — And Looking for More

With all of the reading I do, my blog reading has dwindled a bit. In part this is because I have had a difficult time finding the kinds of blogs I enjoy reading. But there are five that I have been following lately that I enjoy and I thought I’d share them here in case anyone else wanted to check them out.

1. Melanie Novak’s blog

Melanie is a romance writer who also writes great posts about the golden age of Hollywood. As a Bing Crosby fan, I really enjoy those posts on old picture, and some of the backstories she provides.

You can find her at: https://melanienovak.com.

2. Paul Jacobson’s blog

Paul’s blog is pretty eclectic but includes some great posts on tools and technology. Dungeons & Dragons fans might enjoy his post on How I Use Obsidian for Dungeons & Dragons Games–a nice intersection of gaming and technology.

You can find his blog at: https://pauljacobson.me

3. John Scalzi’s Whatever

I’ve been reading John’s blog for as long as I can remember. Although he and I have different styles, his blog was an early inspiration for my own blogging, and I find his way of breaking down his thoughts into digestible points very helpful on many of his posts. His post on Being Poor is classic, even 16 years later.

You can find his blog at: https://whatever.scalzi.com.

4. Seth Godin’s Blog

I recently discovered Seth’s blog after listening to him on an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. This is another eclectic blog, with daily posts, many of them short and to the point, but occasionally longer ones. I like that Seth posts every day because that is what I try to do, too. I really enjoyed his post on Quality and Effort.

You can find his blog at: https://seths.blog

5. Brain Pickings

I’ve been reading Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog for years now. I even get the newsletters. If there is a hardest-working-blogger award, it would have to go to her hands down. I’ve been called prolific here on my own blog, but the writing she does on Brain Pickings make me look plain lazy. Plus, it is an incredibly eclectic site, where she writes on virtually everything. She tries to learn from everything she does (something I aspire to). Check out her post on 13 Life-Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings.

You can find Brain Pickings at: https://www.brainpickings.org


And I’m looking for more

Reading through the above, I used the work “eclectic” an unseemly number of times, but that is what most look for in a blog. It’s what I try to do in my own, writing about anything that interests me. Given what you know of what I write about, interests I’ve expressed, and the list above, I’d love for any recommendations you have for other blogs I should be reading (feel free to include your own). Drop them in the comments, and if possible, include a reason why you like it or why you think I’d like it.

Updates to the Blog, July 2021

This past weekend, I moved the hosting of this site to WordPress, and in the days since, I have been delighted with the results. The WordPress Happiness Engineers (especially Paul Jacobson) did an outstanding job of making this a smoother migration than I could possibly have imagined. With this migration, I wanted to point out a few changes effective today.

  • I have updated to a more modern theme for the site, one that is compatible with WordPress’s Gutenberg engine. So things may look a little different here, although I did my best to keep things organized in the same manner.
  • I have changed the 90-day limit for comments on a post, reopening it for all posts. Previously, after 90 days, comments closed on a post, but I decided that there were enough posts worthy of further comment so I opened it back up.
  • I revamped my About page, providing information about me, and the blog. Over the next week or so you should also see updates to the Contact page and my Bibliography page.
  • During 2021, I have been posting every day. So far that as amounted to nearly 200 posts in the first half of the year. Going forward, I still plan to try to post every day, but I’m not holding myself to post every day if I don’t have anything to write about that interests me. It means that there may be some days that you see nothing new from me. Even so, you should expect 3-4 posts per week in those conditions.
  • That said, beginning tomorrow (Friday) I am introducing a new weekly series I’m calling “Weekly Playbook.” Each week I’ll post and discuss a playbook that I use to try to be more efficient and productive with my time. As an example, the debut playbook will be about my morning routine. You can expect to find this every Friday. (I’ve got lots of playbooks so they should last a while.)
  • Finally, at the bottom of each post you’ll see a box like the one below. I don’t write here for money. This is a hobby, an avocation that I enjoy doing. I don’t have ads on the site; I don’t even have an Amazon affiliate link when I link to books. What this box is asking of my readers is two things, and I hope that they aren’t intrusive: (a) if you like the blog, subscribe, either by email or by following the blog in WordPress or through the RSS feeds; (b) if you enjoy what you read, tell your friends about it. That’s it.

I’d love to know what you think of the new theme, or anything other comment or feedback you have. I’ve been doing this for nearly 16 years now, but I am always open to learning and really want to improve.

Thanks again for reading!

Did you enjoy this post?
If so, consider subscribing to the blog using the form below or clicking on the button below to follow the blog. And consider telling a friend about it. Didn’t like it so much? Let me know why, either in the comments, or by reaching out to me directly. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Already a reader or subscriber to the blog? Thanks for being a part of this community!

Follow Jamie Todd Rubin on WordPress.com

Good, Good, Good, Good Migrations

I set a goal of moving my blog from a self-hosted WordPress install to one that was hosted by WordPress. My thought was that I would start planning the migration now, being the careful, step-by-step person that I am, and then execute the migration over the summer, doing my best to make it as seamless as possible.

It turns out the entire thing took about a day. So much for my great project management skills.

I think there are two reasons the migration went so smoothly: great tools, and outstanding support.

Some context

If you’ve been with my since the very beginning (circa, late 2005 — remember the trip to Hawaii?) then you know that this blog originally started on LiveJournal. An early 2010, I switched from LiveJournal to a self-managed installation of WordPress hosted with DirectNIC. That site became official on March 8, 2010. That worked well for a while, but I noticed that the hosting service wasn’t great. Performance was poor. I had to repeatedly open tickets with them. And finally, I moved hosts to GoDaddy at the end of 2011.

GoDaddy provided a reliable service for over a decade. But in January, as I really started to get back into blogging after taking much of the previous year off, two things began to bother me:

  1. The response time on the site seemed to be getting slower and slower. This got worse after GoDaddy moved me to another server to improve performance.
  2. After 10+ years, I was getting tired of the maintenance part of the job. I love writing here, but I didn’t want to do all of the maintenance work.

WordPress is a great tool, and after a little research and talking to people who I knew used WordPress to host their sites, I decided to move mine to WordPress’s Business plan.

The Migration Process

It turned out that the migration process was much easier than I thought it would be, in part because I was already paying for a WordPress plan that backed up my site regularly. Keep in mind, there are nearly 7,000 posts, just about as many comments, and countless media objects that make up this site, not to mention the templates, plug-ins, and other tools that make it work. It was still an easy process:

  1. Create a new site with WordPress.com using their Business Plan (which includes a free domain or domain transfer–I chose the latter).
  2. Run an import from the new site, pointing to the old site. The import uses the JetPack backup and restore capabilities. It backed up my old site, and then restored it to the new site.
  3. Choose a new template for the site. I didn’t have to do this, but I did it for two reasons:
    • (a) My current template was a customized version of a WordPress template from 2013.
    • (b) I wanted the site to look a little different so that when I transferred the domain, I could easily tell when the change had taken place.
  4. Point my domain to WordPress.com’s servers so that going to jamierubin.net gets you here.

It took about 3 hours for the backup and restore to happen. While that was going on I spent time looking at new templates and finally settled on Dynamico, which has a similar structure to what I had been using, but was a modern WordPress template that supports all of the current WordPress features. Once the restore was done and I had the new template setup, I updated the name servers for my domain. It probably took another hour or so for that to propagate.

I started this process late Sunday morning and it was all done by about 3:30pm Sunday afternoon.

The Secret Sauce: Fantastic Support

Probably the biggest factor in making this a smooth transition was the fantastic support I got from WordPress. As an I.T. professional myself, I know that support is a big part of the job and it is rarely just “okay.” In my experience, support is either very bad or outstanding. WordPress’s support was outstanding.

Paul Jacobson, who is a great blogger in his own right, and who works for Automattic, made all of the difference. I reached out to him for advice and he suggested I submit a ticket to WordPress support, which I did. He then saw to it that he handled my ticket. He answered the long list of questions I submitted about the over all process, and then made sure everything proceeded smoothly as I executed the transition, checking in with me as things progressed.

No migration of this scale is flawless, but in this case, the flaws were minor to the point of almost meaningless. “Likes” on posts made prior to the transfer did not get migrated for a technical reason. A few other little quirks showed up, none of them show-stoppers, and Paul investigated each of them, and was incredibly patient with my replies to him messages where I repeatedly made statements like, “Just one more question…”

There is no question that the support I received from WordPress made all the difference in making this a smooth, stress-free process. I would whole-heartedly recommend WordPress tools, services, and support. And if you are lucky enough to get Paul working on your support request, you’ve pretty much got it made.

The Results So Far

The general evaluation of success I use in most situations is: are things better than they were before? In this case, the blog and site are in much better shape now than they were before the migration. I noticed the performance improvement immediately. I mean, it was dramatic. There is also a sense of mental relief that I no longer have to do the behind-the-scenes maintenance work–upgrading, messing around with stuff to get things working right.

I also noticed a 50% jump in visits to the blog in the two days (so far) following the migration. It is too early to say if that related or a coincidence. I am, however, coming up to a milestone that will allow me to easily measure how well things go (in terms of traffic) with WordPress as a host. Sometime within the next few weeks, this blog will pass a lifetime 3 million views:

All-time stats for the blog, including the current number of views which stands at 2,993,869.

Once I hit that milestone, I can say that I transferred over to WordPress hosting when I had a total of about 3 million views and use that as a baseline going forward.

It seems like I jump hosts every ten years or so. This time may be different (assuming I can continue to keep this up for another ten years). The performance improvement is better than I could have imagined (just try doing a search for yourself and you’ll see how fast it is). And I don’t have to do nearly as much maintenance which frees me up for things like writing.

Coming soon

Now that I’ve got the transfer behind me and things are working so much better here, I plan on some changes for the blog in the near future (in some cases, in the very near future). I’ll have a separate post outlining these but in general they include things like: a new weekly column; a new schedule for posts; updates to some of the static pages like my About page, and more.

I want to once again thank Paul Jacobson, as well as Mariane A., another WordPress Happiness Engineer who also assisted with my migration for their help in making this a pain-free, stress-free process.

Site Transfer is Completed

I know I said that this site transfer and update would happen over the next couple of week, but it turns out this was much easier than expected. (It also helped that I had a WordPress expert giving me advice along the way!) The transfer is completed, and the new theme is in place. There are still some things happening in the background:

  • Followers and stats are still being migrated, so if you are a follower and you are not getting updates from the site, please be patient. I have a ticket in to get that resolved ASAP.
  • Likes didn’t seem to transfer either, so I am assuming those will get pulled as part of the stats.
  • I am still tweaking the new theme. It mostly works for me but there are a few quirks–the biggest being that the number of comments are not displayed at the bottom of each post. I’ll be working on the theme over the next couple of days

In the meantime, the DNS updates have happened and if you are here, you are looking at the new site. Have any thoughts or suggestions for the new theme? I’d love the feedback, so drop them in the comments.

Some Site Updates

I have been self-managing this blog for nearly 12 years now. I enjoy writing here and interacting with everyone, but not so much the work that goes into keeping the site up-and-running. So, over the next few weeks, I will be transferring this site to a WordPress.com-managed site. I am doing this for several reasons:

  • To free up the time I currently spend managing the site and keeping it up-to-date on the back-end so that I can spend more time writing posts and replying to comments.
  • To (hopefully) see some performance improvements on the overall site.
  • To have a place I can go on rare instances where I need additional support on the site.

All of the above items should be relatively transparent. As part of this migration I will be migrating the entire site, including all 6,700+ posts, comments, etc. The domains that point to this site will continue to work (although when the domain is redirected, there may be a short period of down time). Subscriptions should also continue to work normally.

As part of the migration, I am looking find a more modern WordPress theme for the blog than the one I have been using for eight years now. Whatever I find will have a structural similarity to what I have today. It will just be a more modern theme that I don’t have to customize or maintain separately the way I do today.

I am working with WordPress support on this to make it as smooth as possible. I am starting to plan out the steps required to perform this migration, and build a timeline around that. There are a few unknowns. I don’t know, for instance, how long it takes to migrate a site. Once I have that plan finalized, I’ll provide another update to let you all know that I will be starting the migration process.

If all goes well, you should see no significant interruption on the site. Once the migration is completed, I’ll let you know, but you’ll probably know just by looking at the site with the new theme in place.

I’m looking forward to getting this done sooner rather than later because I really am tired of doing the maintenance work myself. I’d much rather spend that time writing here than poking around in the guts.

If anyone has questions about this migration, feel free to drop them in the comment.

Call for Suggestions

My idea file for the blog has been running low lately and I haven’t had much time to fill it back up. I do plan on refilling it–sending off to Schenectady a la Harlan Ellison for batch of ideas. In the meantime, I thought I’d put a call for suggestions out to my wonderful readers to see if there is anything you’d like to see me write about here. Just drop your suggestions in the comments. And thanks again for reading!

Programming Note

I have been eager to write more about the cool stuff I am doing with Obsidian. At the same time, I don’t want this blog to return to the strictly “how-I-do-stuff” theme that it fell into back in my Evernote ambassador days. Nor do I want to indundate people with post after post about what is likely uninteresting geekery to most readers.

To that end, you can expect one techie post per week on average. Sometimes more, sometime, I’ll skip a week. But just to set expectations, once a week is something I can tolerate, and hopefully something you can tolerate (or skip) as you see fit.

So, expect my next post on Obsidian–and how I’ve automated my daily notes–on Tuesday, February 9th. Until, you can expect the usual stuff.