Visual art news, views, reviews & calendars in Dallas, Texas, USA
I Got Dem Old Cosmic Hit Counter Blues Again, Mama
Story, Frustration + Photos by J R Compton
Lessons: 1 Hit Counters 2 Reader Feedback 3 Web Statistics c Rambling
I didn't really think it through. This page's original name was I Got Dem Old Cosmic Hit Counter Blues.* Besides being unwieldy, however, it turned out that counters were just the beginnings of a lengthening string of uphill, steep learning curve challenges (I could mix in a few more metaphors, but you probably got the gist by now) as I drag DallasArtsRevue and me kicking, biting and screaming onto a new web host.
* I know that's the current name, too. Trust me that there were a bunch in between.
DallasArtsRevue (I'm trying to avoid the DARts nomenclature, since almost no one ever says or types it the way I do.) were on Earthlink for three years. Long enough to figure out pretty much how they did the things I thought I could use. Now comes this new site host that offers more services at about one-sixth the cost, which I've already paid two years in advance.
After several days of all bad counters — they all counted the same page no matter what page I put them on (Earthlink's counter was the same code on each of all those pages, it kept track of which page it was on on its own and was grand fun to click Refresh to click up a number or two, as I did in several of the screen capture shots on this page).
After several days of all bad counters, I got fed up and went throught the rigamarole DreamHost insists upon. There, I learned that a lot of other people were wondering the same thing, without getting the right answer. So I boiled over in frustration and reached out (acted out).
In the grid below are my minor successes on the upslope of this new endeavor. Each of them counts something, although not necessarily what I wanted them to count, nor as high.
The No Count Blues
This is not just a copy of the code from the www.JRCompton.com site. It is the same code, which means this is the number of people who have "hit" my new personal site's Home Page since I installed it on May 23, 2005, a couple days before I tackled putting counters on DallasArtsRevue.
JRCompton.com was my first DreamHost site. It started there about a month before I finally wrangled DARts there, too, all the while dragging every new and updated page to both DreamHost and Earthlink. Thus my personal site has been this site's designated preliminary pooch.
When I finally got the right instructions from DreamHost (below), I installed a new Hit Counter code on each and every one of those, 29 pages, and am so excited about doing the same thing for this site's paltry 760 pages ...
This one's the DreamHost counter I produced by following their online setup instructions, which neatly ignore the fact that the code for each counter on each page has to be different.
It counts unique visits to the DallasArtsRevue cover page, and it seems to be working.
This counter is supposedly more accurate, in that it only counts new users, not the same old, returning users. I.e., I can't just keep hitting reload the page to "artificially" increase the apparent number of visits.
Neither can I expect the latest number to show up, since it only counts other people. So, essentially, these silly things have lost some of their value to me — to know how popular any new page is.
This is the DreamHost counter produced by following the instructions they E-mailed me back after I threatened to take both of my sites to another site host. I had come to the logical conclusion that there had to be some differentiation in the code for each and every individual page but I didn't know which variable varied (or which ever were variables, since I don't do HTML any more than I do PostScript).
Now, finally, I bought a clue. This counter actually counts new visitors (but not if you come back later) to this very page. As you can see it's not a very popular page, but it's only linked at the very bottom of the DARts cover.
I should note that this is the only hit counter on this page that is even trying to count hits on this page. All the others are counting the cover or something else.
Free Hit Counter
A free hit counter from the internet. Either of these latter two might disappear from here, since they are on the wrong page here. They were registered for the cover, from whence they are duplicated here.
This one, the next one and the one called “08” above were all implemented within a few minutes of each other. Note the wild differences.
For an in-depth explanation why three different hit counters for the same page might produce such divergent results, read "How The Web Works."
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Another Internet freebie, which seems to count somewhat differently from the one above or any others. Goes to show the variety of definitions of the words hit counter. Each implementation counts something distinct. The following error message is what the old, EarthLink page hit counters look like dangling at the bottoms of DallasArtsRevue pages now on Dream Host. (It may also show up from time to time below the counter above.) EL. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Cute, huh? Before I do a universal Find & Replace (a.k.a. Search & Destroy) to replace all 760 old page counters with some new one, I want to make sure the new one is not just adequate but accurate.
Well, they are all accurate — albeit a different accurate from most other counters above. But I don't want to replace the old, EarthLink counters on all those pages yet. I don't just want it to be right, I want the right one (which is usually what I find just after I install the nearly-most right one).
After reviewing the counting action on the above counters, all of which move/change — except the one designed for this page, I'm much less certain that this is the code form or syntax I have to use on all the pages that I want counters on.
It's true that I don't really need counters on pages I rarely see, just the ones I change often, thus see more often, thus draw more readers to. But the error notice (See the red type above.) is annoying, although it's way down on the bottoms of those pages.
I've got time to think about it. It would still be comforting if there were some unanimity or at least tacit agreement among the number(s).
Wouldn't it be amusing in a cosmic sort of way if the real lesson in all this muching about with cgi code is that I shouldn't be muck with cgi code?
My current plan (Plans changes often in an uphill battle.) is to replace all those old Earthlink counters with something innocuous but unique, somewhat DARts-like, probably something that doesn't count or do anything, just sits there occupying space till I figure out what to replace it with.
Not sure what yet. Maybe tiny text in white or a little graphic. Wish I could find some small throwing dart silhouette graphix in DallasArtsRevue collors.
Webstats + Pattern Rex
My next lesson is a form for a DARts reader feedback page. Been wanting one of those for a long time, to see who reads this thing, why, and what they really want. I've DLed (downloaded) DreamHost's instructions, and I'll test it out on this page, now knowing enough to never expect it to work right the first couple times, of course, but maybe it will after a little energizing frustration ...
Somewhere in the betweens of all this, I hope to figure out how DreamHost's Statistics Reports work. Like the counters, it looks abstruse — no simple nor direct page telling How To Do It that I've yet found, at least not written by a genuine human being with genuine (as opposed to Artificial Intelligence) — and I've ben looking.
Like the counter lessons, it's all scattershot intermediary links and missing steps that some cheery expert will provide if you beg or threaten or ask the right geek, saying all ya hadda do is ask, but when ya asked, they tell ya to go find it here and here and here.
One of my great skills is recognizing patterns. I've already recognized that DreamHost needs either a serious Geekectomy or an intelligent User’s Guide writer. Hard to imagine how they got this far without it. But at 1/6 the going rate, what could I expect?
I'll accept the savings and bear down on the learning curve. And gosh, if I ramble more here, I can make this a Midnight Ramble — sure been a long time since I did one of those. I thought it was 8 in the morning when I woke up awhile ago. Turns out it was 8 pm, and I got to watch some TV before coming back to this.
Uh-oh, if this is gonna be a Ramble, I'm gonna hafta find some more illustrations of some esoteric subject or nother. Hmm again.
Oh, BTW (by the way), DallasArtsRevue is going to be on this year's 14th Annual White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour, which wants to show its visitors the process of art. As I e-explained to Marty Ray, one of that tour's founders today,
As hard as I tried to get out from under the tour this year, including several email notices that I didn't want to, you included me on the list of returning whoozits, so I will be here then with balloons on.
What I now have planned is to do some serious process-ing. DallasArtsRevue will be open to having member artists come by and let me photograph their latest work, none of which will be hung on any walls or offerred for any sale.
In the meanwhiles, I'll be computer processing photographs for J R's New White Rock Lake Journal and/or updating DallasArtsRevue pages in my living or dining room.
I.e., I'll set up my computer, monitor, hard and soft drives, etc — but no printers — in my first or second room and show process out the ying-yang. I have not been and will not be printing new photographs, since I haven't done any of that so far this year, and it's not one of my usual processes — and it's expensive.
I tried to sell photographs at last year's tour and failed miserably. The only photographs that left my house that weekend went to my dear friends who sat with me — Thanks again, Ken Shaddock and Cindy Love. Although one visitor offerred me $5 for the most popular image all day.
This time it's process, process, process. And, I hope, some participation from DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members. It'd be really nice if some regular readers dropped by that day, also.
More later. This is just beginning.
As always, your feedback is appreciated.
about helping support DallasArtsRevue —
including a new, Easy Guide to Joining this site
is on the DARts Member Page Index.
Continued on How to Tell The Truth With Statistics