2016 The Celebrity Killer

Posted by TechyDad on December 27, 2016 under Life

The year 2016 has not been a good one for celebrities. We started the year off with David Bowie passing away. Soon after, Alan Rickman joined him. Later that year, Prince died. Singers and actors weren’t the only ones to go, though. Supreme Court justice Anton Scalia passed away as did Morley Safer, Muhammad Ali, and Elie Wiesel. Most recently (as of this writing), George Michael died. At every turn, it seemed like 2016 was robbing the world of another celebrity. I began to wonder if this was true. Is 2016 a celebrity killer? Or were we so acutely tuned to celebrity deaths that it seemed like a lot when it was really a normal amount?

To answer this question, I did some searching. At first, I tried Wikipedia, but they listed many people that seemed to be unknown outside of a small area. I was more concerned with names that most people would recognize – not ones that would require a repeat visit to Wikipedia to explain who they were. After some more searching, I found the website FiftiesWeb.com. They had a handy listing of deaths by year starting in 2000. The result was quite intriguing.

As you can see, 2016 did indeed see a spike in celebrity deaths. In fact,it has had almost 40% more celebrity deaths than the closest nearest year (2005). The good news is that I think 2016 is an aberration. Next year will likely see fewer celebrity deaths than 2016. The bad news is that it looks like the “normal level of celebrity deaths” is increasing. This makes sense as many people who became celebrities in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s are now 60’s or older. As the years go on, this crop of celebrities will die off resulting in more and more years like 2016 – albeit years with slightly fewer deaths.

Someone please keep an eye on our remaining celebrities. Although this year is days away from finishing, I have a feeling that we’re in for a rough 2017 as well.

EDIT: Unfortunately, after this post went live, it was announced that Carrie Fisher passed away. This brings the number of celebrity deaths in 2016 to 140 – or 46% more than the second place year (96 in 2005). If no more celebrities die this year, there will have been an average of one death every 2.6 days. No wonder it seems like the death notices have been coming so fast.

Here’s a Google Docs Spreadsheet with all of the data. I’ve also updated the graph above. The 2016 spike is now more prominent than ever.

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Happy 40th Birthday To My Angel!

Posted by TechyDad on December 9, 2016 under B, Birthday

27debbb6-ab51-4241-8b6c-771318b72718Today is a very special occasion: My wonderful wife’s birthday. It’s not just any birthday, though. Today, she turns the big 4-0.

Though she might not be in her thirties anymore, she’s just as beautiful as the day I met her. I’m so lucky to have her in my life. She’s a fantastic wife to me and mother to NHL and JSL. Whenever we need her, she’s there for us. If our kids need anything taken care of at school, she’s ready to fight for them. She ensures that everyone takes their medicine, takes care of us when we are sick, and puts up with the boys and me geeking out.

Happy Birthday, B. I love you with all of my heart!

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Where Trump Language Spam Is Coming From

Posted by TechyDad on December 8, 2016 under Blogging, Spam

A few days ago, I noticed a tweet from Amy Ozten:

I decided to look at my Google Analytics to see if I was being hit with this. When I loaded the stats for my new GhostThiefNovel.com website, I saw a big spike in traffic. My first thought was “hooray! My efforts to get the word out about my novel are paying off.” Sadly, though, my traffic hadn’t spiked all that much. Instead, my Ghost Thief site was being hit with the very Language Spam that Amy Oztan was talking about.

Needless to say, this upset me a bit. And when I’m upset, I tend to do what I always fall back on…

Collecting data.

(What? Everyone doesn’t collect data when they’re upset?)

I checked some other sites I manage and sure enough many of those were hit with the language spam just like my Ghost Thief site was. Thankfully, I was able to create a Google Analytics filter to weed out the spam. It won’t block the spammers from hitting your site (something that I’m actually working on), but it will let you see your actual traffic minus the “Vote Trump” language spam. Fortunately, Google lets you share out custom built filters (they call them segments), so click here to add it to your Google Analytics.

Next, I started to wonder where all this language spam was coming from. Was this spread out all over or was it localized in one region? I went through all of the sites whose Google Analytics I have access to and put together a spreadsheet. The results were obvious right from the start. There was a large array of countries that the spam was coming from including France, Japan, Hungary, and even the United States. By far, though, Russia accounted for the most language spam traffic. Russia’s share was 98.4% of the traffic. The closest countries – the United States and Ukraine – were tied at 0.19% each.

Put in a graph:

LanguageSpamOrgins

 

What’s the takeaway from this? Well, Russian hackers have been in the news a lot, so it’s tempting to bring them up and try to link these two topics. I don’t think they are linked – except in the sense of Internet “bad guys” coming from Russia. Also, it’s tempting to just say “Block all traffic from Russia,” but valid traffic can come from there as well. If your target audience is localized enough, blocking a whole country might work, but this definitely isn’t the right solution for most people. Instead, for now, use the Google Analytics filter to get your real traffic numbers and stay tuned as I work on my “anti-language spam” Google plugin.

 

Oh, and check out my book’s website. It’d be nice for the numbers to spike because of real traffic and not because of some spammers.

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Announcing My Big Ghost Thief Black Friday Sale

Posted by TechyDad on November 23, 2016 under Books, Stories, Writing

I’ll admit it. I’m not a big Black Friday fan. I don’t like getting up early and fighting crowds even if the deals seem good. Years ago, when stores first started “Cyber Monday”, that was more my speed. Recently, it seems that Cyber Monday has simply been rolled into an online version of Black Friday. Honestly, this makes more sense and I’ll happily visit my favorite sites to get a good deal.

This got me to thinking. I have something that I’m selling now. Why don’t I have my own Black Friday sale? Of course, I want to give people as much chance as possible to buy my book at the sale price so my “Black Friday” sale will go for eight days instead of lasting for just one.

From Friday, November 25th to Friday, December 2nd, the Kindle version of Defenders of Shadow and Light: Ghost Thief will cost only $1.99. This is a 60% savings off the normal price of $4.99. If you’ve been unsure whether you want to read this book, now’s your chance to get it for under two dollars.

Of course, I can’t sign Kindle copies, but if you want a signed paperback copy of Ghost Thief, you can enter either my Great Ghost Thief Giveaway or GayNYCDad’s giveaway to try to win a copy.

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The Great Ghost Thief Giveaway

Posted by TechyDad on November 14, 2016 under Books, Giveaway, Stories, Writing

defenders-of-shadow-light_fc_thumbnailYou might have heard that I’ve published a book – Defenders of Shadow and Light: Ghost Thief. It’s a tale about a thief named Murray Gastev. Murray’s just going about his day to day life “liberating” items in exchange for cash – as thieves often do – when he winds up getting fantastic abilities.

Murray finds that he can pass through walls and float about. There’s only one problem, though. He can’t really control his abilities. Alright two problems. He also can’t breathe while “ghosting.” Oh, and there’s the little issue of a “Dark One” who hunts and kills people with powers.
The story is the tale of how Murray meets up with other people who can help him use his powers and the great threat he encounters along the way.
Of course, this book is just the beginning. This is the start of a likely trilogy and I’ve already written one of many short stories based in the same universe. (The character in my short story is likely to appear in Book 2, so the short story can be her introduction.)

With as much enjoyment that I got from writing this book, it would be a shame if it sat on the virtual shelves of Amazon.com and nobody read it. So I’m trying to get the word out with a giveaway. I want to make this fun, so imagine that you inhabited the world of Ghost Thief and were granted special abilities. Given that people in this world don’t tend to put on colorful costumes and act like superheroes, what ability would you like to acquire and how would you use it? Perhaps you’d get super-speed so you could run into work – avoiding traffic and cutting your commute time down. Or maybe you’d like super-strength so you could vacuum behind the sofa with ease. Perhaps you’re a parent who would choose the ability to heal a person’s injuries and illnesses with a touch so that you could make your child feel better when they are ill.

Giveaway

One of my readers will win a signed copy of Defenders of Shadow and Light: Ghost Thief. To enter, follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below.

The contest starts today, November 14th and ends at midnight on December 19th. You must leave a valid e-mail address to enter so that I can contact you for your mailing address once the giveaway is over. Your e-mail address won’t be used for anything else – unless you sign up for my newsletter in which case it will be used to send you periodic updates. It will not be shared with anyone else. I will select the winner using Rafflecopter and contact you via e-mail. You will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to Continental U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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