My Top 10 Posts of 2014

As the year comes to a close, we naturally tend to look back over the past year and wonder:  Wait a second, how is the year over?  Wasn’t it just August a second ago?  Why is time moving so fast?!!  Is someone sitting on a cosmic remote control’s fast forward button?!!!  Ok, maybe I’m the only one who wonders this last question.

Still, now is the time to look back and see what were my favorite posts of 2014.  To begin, I should probably see how many posts I’ve made in 2014.  *checks* Uh oh.  I posted 125 times in 2014.  This might take some time to go through.  Instead, let’s go with a Top 10 Posts of 2014 as measured by Google Analytics.  NOTE: I’m specifically excluding posts from 2013 and earlier.  (Sorry, Freeware Review: Shape Collage which for some reason continues to be a highly visited post five years after I posted it.)  Also, I’m only counting traffic to the post’s page.  This means a ton of traffic to a blog post when it was on my main page won’t matter in this roundup.  Fair?  Probably not, but it keeps things simple.

10. Asperger’s, Empathy, and Butterflies

Too many people seem to think that having Asperger’s Syndrome means that the person doesn’t feel empathy.  The reality is that – while those of us with Asperger’s might have trouble understanding people – we do feel empathy.  If anything, we feel it stronger than neurotypicals do.  Our empathy can be so strong that it can become debilitating.  This was the case when NHL tried to go into a butterfly house.  His enthusiasm turned into horror when he began to worry that he might hurt one of the fragile butterflies.  This was so unacceptable in his mind that he refused to enter and watched from behind the glass.  His empathy extended not only to other people, but to insects like butterflies.

9. Phone Upgrade Reluctance

In this post from February, I told about how I was reluctant to upgrade my phone.  My old phone might have had severe battery issues, but I was afraid of having to start my games all over again.  This upgrade issue would repeat in early December when I upgraded to the Droid Turbo and was forced to join Facebook to move some game data.  Thankfully, I won’t be moving phones again for some time.

8. Dragons: Rise of Berk

From phone upgrade game data transfer to one of the games I recently wanted to transfer.  In Dragons: Rise of Berk, you play the story of the How To Train Your Dragon 2 movie – with some modifications.  You take on the role of Hiccup and help to manage Berk, hatch dragon eggs, train the hatched dragons, and collect fish and wood.  Since posting the review, I’ve gotten to later stages in the game where you get to upgrade your dragons to Titan class (bigger and better) and fight battles against the invading Outcasts.  I’ve been playing this game for over seven months and I’m still enjoying it.

7. My Sleep Study Experience

For the longest time, I wasn’t able to breathe through one of my nostrils.  It had been that way for so long, that I just accepted this as normal.  However, a night of stopping breathing while sleeping (which scared B), restlessness while sleeping, and waking up feeling exhausted (even when I got plenty of sleep) led us to worry about sleep apnea.  I went for a sleep study and wrote about my experiences.  It was just like sleeping in a motel – if the motel hooked you up to a ton of sensors.

In the end, it turned out that my sleep patterns were normal.  However, an MRI later revealed a bad deviated septum (which I already knew I had but didn’t realize was *THAT* bad) was likely the cause.  An operation later and I had to get used to the weird sensation of being able to breathe through both nostrils.  (It really did feel weird at first.)

6. Extreme Geekery: Printing A Hard Drive 

I’ve wanted to veer into the extremely geeky territory for awhile but was afraid I’d drive away readers.  Apparently, though, people liked this foray into the realm of the uber-geek.  Here, I wondered what would happen if you printed the contents of a full 1 TB hard drive.  Not assorted photos, documents, and videos that resided on it, of course, but printing the 1’s and 0’s that represented those onto paper.  Spoiler alert: You’d better have your space suit handy if you’re going to stand atop the stack of papers representing the contents of a full 1 TB hard drive.

5. Cheating On Cable

Cord cutting is a topic I’m very interested in.  While we haven’t cut the cord yet, the scissors are primed and ready.  One rate hike from the cable company and we’ll be ditching cable and getting our video entertainment from Internet Video sources (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube) and from DVDs (both purchased and rented from the library).  We might even get an antenna to pick up Over The Air signals of our local stations.  So why is this called "Cable Cheating"?  Cable companies wanted to rebrand people who use Netflix instead of paying their cable company more money for Video On Demand as "cable cheaters."  As if we are cheating on cable by going with another service.  The intention was to raise an image of marital infidelity.  Here we are, happy consumers married to the cable companies but then we go and watch Netflix and mess everything up.  The only problem is that we aren’t married to the cable companies.  We’re consumers – not spouses – and are free to get our video entertainment where ever we want.  If the cable companies don’t like it, they should try improving their offerings, not attempting to make us feel like we’re "cheating" by using anyone other than them.

4. Extreme Geekery: Jupiter Jump

This was another big geek-out moment.  I read a post by Phil Plait debunking "Zero G Day."  The story went that an alignment by Jupiter and Pluto would affect gravity on Earth so much that jumping at the right time would let you float in the air for five minutes.  While Phil showed why this was garbage, I decided to take another angle and – to borrow a term from the Mythbusters – replicate the results.  That is, figure out how close or how massive Jupiter would need to be to make the "jump for five minutes" story true.  By the way, as tends to happen with these stories, it is circulating again with a different date for "Zero G Day."  The date might have changed, but it’s still not true.

3. Learning Lessons From Frozen Songs

Who here has NOT heard the songs from Frozen at least a dozen times?  I’d be willing to bet few have escaped Frozen’s grasp.  I’ll be the first to admit that I love the songs.  They are powerful, connect well to the story, emotional, and have proven staying power.  They also have some good lessons behind them.  In this post, I delved into some lessons I took away from "Let It Go" and "In Summer."

2. Making Foam Lightsabers

After Perler Beads, this has to be my favorite craft of 2014.  Take a pool noodle, saw it in half, then apply some silver duct tape and black electrical tape.  You get a lightsaber.  (Actually, two since it is sawed in half.)  The boys still love taking these outside (when the weather cooperates) and having big battles.  They have even come up with combat rules.  You start with two sabers and drop one each time you’re hit.  If you lose both sabers, you’re dead.  (After a gratuitous strike or three to "cut you to pieces.")  Last Jedi or Sith standing wins.  No Force pushes, Force choking, or Force lightning allowed.

1. Defeating BuzzMyFx Content Scrapers

It is a blogger’s job to produce great content.  Unfortunately, a lot of people see that content and think they could get some great traffic if they had that content.  Instead of contacting the blogger and paying for the content, these people will use computerized programs to scrape the content off of the blogger’s website and put it onto theirs.  Some of these content scrapers will link back to the blogger’s website (as if that makes up for taking their content) and some don’t.

In the beginning of the year, a content scraper called BuzzMyFx pulled this on a big group of bloggers, myself included.  Unfortunately for them, messing with me meant they were messing with a webmaster who knows what he’s doing.  I was able to track back where they were coming from, how to stop their scraping tactics, and was able to replace their scraped content with a page that alerted anyone who stumbled upon the scraped site just what they were looking at.  In my blog post, I shared what I did so others could employ it to stop this scraper.  The good news is that BuzzMyFx disappeared.  The bad news is that there are other scrapers out there just waiting to pull content for their sites.

 

Well, that’s my top ten stories of 2014.  Now to go through the giant stack of posts that I made in 2014 and narrow it down to my favorites from the year.  Hopefully, this won’t take me long.  After all, there aren’t that many days left in 2014 – since SOMEONE keeps sitting on the cosmic remote control’s fast forward button!

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