Unfocused Mind

wandering-brainRight now, my mind should be focused on a blog post topic.

Perhaps, I should write about how tonight is the first day of Passover.  Maybe I could mention how tired I am from all the cleaning involved and how I’m not looking forward to eating matzoh for eight days.

Or else I could write about how this is Autism Awareness Month.  I could link to a bunch of my past posts about Autism, describe some newer experiences, and possibly even give my take on the "light it up blue" controversy.

If I wanted to get into local politics, I definitely would have a few choice words concerning the approval of the New York State budget and how this is going to hurt teachers and students.  I might get a bit heated when I mentioned all the politicians who voted for it "with a heavy heart" – even as they said it was horrible – for the sole reason of party politics.

All of these would be good topics and I’ll likely write about these at some point.

Right now, though, my mind is a blank when it comes to blog posting.  I sit down, see the blank screen, and no words come to mind.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  My mind is coming up with a lot of words for a song parody.  The problem is, I wanted to write a blog entry to post now and this parody won’t be ready in time.  I’ve written song parodies before and even attempted singing one once.  I don’t think I’ll be going on American Idol, The Voice, or any of those other singing reality shows anytime soon.  One day, I really need to find someone who is good at singing and video production to turn one of my parodies into an actual music video.  If you know anyone who is interested, please let me know.

Until then, I’ll be here letting my mind wander where it wants to go.  After all, I get some of my best ideas when my mind roams.

NOTE: The image above is a combination of "walking" by sixsixfive and "brain" by trubinial guru.  Both images are available via OpenClipArt.org.

Handling Old Posts: Update or Preserve?

update-postWhen you’ve been blogging for awhile, you can have a vast body of old posts that people might stumble upon.  Despite being years old, the content might still interest your visitor enough that he or she would want to share it with their friends on a hot new post-sharing platform such as Pinterest.  Except for one problem:  You wrote your post long before Pinterest ever existed.  All of the steps that you might take today to make your post Pinterest-friendly weren’t taken when your post was published.  Back then, you engaged in the best practices of the time, but best practices have changed.  What do you do?

Option #1: Update Your Post

Your first option is to go back and modify your old post.  Strip out those links to larger-sized images, change the title so that it is more SEO friendly, take a new photo and add text to it so that it will work on Pinterest and other social media platforms.  The benefit to this is clear:  Your post might go viral if you put some work into it.  After all, keeping your posts modernized is good, right?

The problem is twofold, however.  First of all, this seems like you are changing the past.  Your great post from couldn’t possibly have been Pinterest-ready when it published months before Pinterest launched, right?  To some degree, we do this when we update a website’s look and feel.  After all, when I launched TechyDad in 2008, mobile development wasn’t really a large concern.  However, were you to view my first post today, it would look nice on a mobile browser.  Still, there’s a difference between changing a site’s overall structure and changing the content of a post.

The second issue is time.  Sure, you might modify this one post to bring it up to date, but how many other posts do you plan on editing?  I have over 1,300 posts.  If I was able to "modernize" them at a rate of 5 per night, it would take me nearly nine months to go through them all.  This would mean no time for writing new posts or anything else.  Just updating my old posts to stay up to par with current standards – which might change by the time I’m done.

Option #2: Preserve The Past

This option entails no work at all.  Just keep your posts the way they’ve always been.  Sure, it might be a bit harder for people to share your posts, but you can focus more on creating great new content rather than updating older content.

Of course, the problem here is that you are ignoring potentially viral posts that you’ve already written.  Perhaps all your five year old post needs is a few new images and tightening of the copy and it will take the Internet by storm.  Should you really let a potential hit languish just because it is "older"?


I don’t think there’s any one good answer to this.  For the most part, I side with the second option.  My limited time available to devote to blogging/social media and my desire to preserve the past as-is makes me partial to not changing old posts.  However, I could be persuaded to make some minor changes to select old posts such as uploading a better image.

How do you handle old posts?  Do you keep them as is or update them to adhere to modern posting standards?

My 25 Favorite Posts of 2014

Looking through all of the posts I made in 2014, I tried to narrow the list down to just a dozen or so of my favorites.  Unfortunately, I wound up with 40 posts instead.  I narrowed those down a bit more and organized them.  So now I’d like to present my favorite 25 posts across five categories.

Autism, Parenting, and Life

This category contains posts about living with Autism, raising a child with Autism, parenting in general, or just the normal things that happen in life.

First up was Letting Your Child Shine (Or Fail) where NHL taught me a lesson about not imposing limitations on your child simply because they have special needs and "obviously" can’t do something.

Next, in Asperger’s, Empathy, and Butterflies, I told the tale of what happened when NHL tried to go into a butterfly house – but empathized too much with the butterflies.

I tackled a tough subject in Battling My Own Brain.  One I had wanted to write about for awhile but shied away from:  My own brain.  My brain can be amazing – giving me ideas that astound.  Unfortunately, it can also be a minefield.  One wrong move and I can get stuck worrying about something (see The Anxiety Loop later on) or I can get "bad thoughts" that try to paint everything in the worst possible light.  While I stop short of claiming that I suffer from depression (I don’t think it’s that bad and wouldn’t want to trivialize people who actually suffer from depression), it can be a challenge some days.

After my birthday, I spotted some grey hairs.  I went into full blown Aging Denial mode.  I even geeked up my denial by taking a photo of myself, using a photo of me from 2005, and morphing us together to prove once and for all that my hairline is NOT receding.  This would be told to me again a couple of months later.  "Once and for all" doesn’t last as long as it used to.

While NHL was succeeding in some respects, in others he found himself failing.  In Asperger’s and The Humor Struggle, I detailed the problems that those of us with Asperger’s have with humor.

Finally, in The Anxiety Loop, I detailed an anxiety attack that I dealt with after surgery.  In hindsight, we think this was brought on by some of the medication I was on.  I’ve had mini-attacks here and there since then (almost always at night), but nothing to the racing through the house at 2am panic attack I went through post-surgery.

Front Page News

This category is devoted to talking about the topics that made the news.

In March, Fred Phelps passed away near Fred Rogers’ birthday.  In Love and Acceptance Trumps Hate, I showed how tolerance and acceptance were more powerful than hatred and bigotry.

A month later, a baseball player named Daniel Murphy was taken to task by some sportscasters.  His crime?  Missing opening day to be with his wife as she gave birth to their son.  I posted In Defense of Paternity Leave Trumping Baseball to express just why I thought those anti-paternity leave arguments were just plain wrong.

Perhaps no news story spawned more blog posts from me than Network Neutrality.  If you’re not sure what this is, I’d recommend reading Save Our Internet, My Open Letter To The FCC Concerning Network Neutrality, and Network Neutrality Shouldn’t Be A Political Issue – my three favorite blog posts of mine on this subject.

Finally, just because a news story was on TV doesn’t mean I followed it.  Many news stories fell under my News Avoidance.  At times, there were too many sad and/or scary stories on TV and I had to tune them out lest I get overwhelmed.


2014 saw a lot of crafting in our household.

First, we made foam lightsabers.  In Making Foam Lightsabers, I showed how to construct these extremely inexpensively.  (Only $1 per lightsaber in materials.)

Later this year, we became Addicted To Perler Beads.  In The Perler Bead Addiction Continues, I showcased some of my newest creations.  Finally, I posted about My First Perler Bead Earrings that I made for B.


This year was a banner year for my geeky side.

I delved into the world of Extreme Geekery by Printing A Hard Drive and performing a Jupiter Jump.

I also wrote my Geek Bucket List.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to check off one of these in the coming year.

In Kicking Down The Door To Munchkin Fun, I detailed our introduction to the world of Munchkin – the tabletop card game where you kick down doors, fight monsters, and take their treasure.  We still have fun alternating between stabbing each other in the back and helping each other.

In fact, we loved Munchkin so much that the boys helped me write a parody song of "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman" called Do You Wanna Play Some Munchkin?  We even made a video of us singing it in Belated Father’s Day and a Munchkin Video.


What would this list be without my favorite fun posts?  I’ve saved these for last because I like to always end on an upbeat note.

In February, while struggling to stay warm, fight exhaustion, and push back the avalanche that was Frozen, B and I began tweeting each other some Frozen song puns.  I compiled them together for posterity in What Happens When Frozen And Exhaustion Meet On Twitter.

Later, on a whim, I decided to see what people named their Wi-Fi networks.  This whim turned into B and I laughing hysterically at some of the names and scratching our heads at others.  There was definitely a lot of Wi-Fi Weirdness afoot.

Finally, on NHL’s 11th birthday, he went on a big adventure with his cousins and brother.  I documented the photographic evidence of this Green Screen Birthday Adventure complete with a trip to Disney World and the Moon.  Those kids sure get around.


And there you have it.  2014 is drawing to a close and 2015 is raring to go.  What adventures will we have in the new year?  What stories will we discuss?  What topics will we geek out over?  I can’t wait to find out.

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!

Do More Posts Equal More Page Views?

Last week, I found myself extremely busy.  Between my day job, normal life activities, and a freelance job I had taken on, I had virtually no time left for blogging.  I felt bad, but except for one small "I’m still here" post, I didn’t post at all.

Over the years I’ve been blogging, my posting schedule has changed.  I used to post on an erratic basis.  Later on, I settled down to one post every weekday.  At some point last year, though, I was feeling burnt out and decided to cut back to only three posts a week.  That’s the level it has stayed at since, but some weeks still had more posts than others.  Perhaps I simply felt like I had more to say and couldn’t wait for the next week.  Or, maybe I was experiencing blogger’s block and couldn’t think of anything to write about.

Having a week with only one blog post led me to wonder:  Do slow posting weeks equal less page views?  Do more posts published mean more page views?

This was easy to test out.  First, I looked at my Google Analytics for 2014.  Thankfully, Google makes it easy to export your data.  First, I loaded up my data for the year.


Next, I arranged it into a weekly format.


Then, I exported it as CSV (comma separated values) to import into my spreadsheet.


Next, I used a mySQL query manager to see how many posts I made every week of the year.


After obtaining these pieces of data, I figured out how many page views I experienced, on average, when I had one, two, three, or four posts in the week.  (I haven’t posted five days a week this year.)  This gave me this graph.



At first glance, it would appear that posting four times is ideal and leads to immense growth.  Unfortunately, all of that traffic came from one period where a post of mine went viral.  (Or as viral as my posts get.)  The traffic that one post obtained was completely out of proportion to normal post traffic.  The fact that I posted four times that week was a coincidence.  I could have made that my only post that week and would have still beat out the other averages.  Ignoring the four post week data, then, we see that there isn’t a big difference between a one post week and a three post week.

This fits in line with a theory I’ve had for awhile.  When I was starting out, I felt the need to publish posts as often as possible.  I felt that not pushing new content out constantly would mean an immediate drop in readership.  Then I began to notice some websites that would update only twice a week or even less.  Though I wasn’t privvy to their exact numbers, it was clear that these sites had traffic figures far outpacing my own.  If readership numbers were truly tied to new content, how could a "one post a week – maybe less" posting schedule lead to more traffic?

The answer, of course, is that traffic is tied to many things.  Chief among these are content quality and spreading the word.  You can post five times a day, seven days a week, but if you are posting horrible content, you aren’t going to be driving a lot of traffic in.  On the other hand, posting once a week can be perfectly fine if your posts are well-crafted.

As far as spreading the word goes, of course everyone knows we live in a hurricane of content.  There is just too much out there for one person to ever take in.  Even if I quit my job and gave up everything including essential activities such as sleeping and eating, I could never view even 1% of the new content that is created daily.  Two years ago, DOMO made an infographic showing just how much data was created.  They estimated that 48 hours of YouTube videos were uploaded every minute and 3,600 new photos were shared on Instagram each minute.  Given that this  was in 2012, these numbers have likely risen.  Even at those levels, however, viewing everything is simply impossible.

Given that viewers have a flood of content to swim in, getting the word spread about your content is ideal.  I know I lag behind in this.  I honestly don’t have the time to spend crafting unique custom scheduled tweets or actively monitoring Twitter (much less a few other social networks) posting reminders to people about my great new post.  My content spread is regulated to automated tweets via a WordPress plugin.  Still, every bit has got to help.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you post every day or once a week.  Take your time and craft your post so that the final result is great and draws traffic.  Don’t just spit out post after post merely to increase how many posts you’ve made this week.

What steps do you take to increase your page views?  Do you find your page views increasing when you post more often?

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