My blogjune 2014, by the numbers

Made it! Another June, another #blogjune challenge completed. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my posts, I hope you got something out of them. I must admit I didn’t feel as inspired or prepared this year as I did last year. I felt that a lot of this year’s posts didn’t have much thought or preparation behind them, and I was finding it hard to come up with anything semi-interesting to write about. Anyway, it’s done now, so I thought I’d crunch the numbers about my posts for this year and compare some of them to last year’s.

My most-viewed post for this year’s #blogjune was An interesting use of RFID, maybe because it may have been relevant to both geocachers and librarians. As far as the days of the week go, weekends saw the fewest visitors, but I couldn’t really see any consistent pattern from week-to-week. The visitors to the blog came from all round the world, with the top five countries being Australia, United States, Germany, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. These are pretty much the same as last year’s top five. Compared to June last year I had about the same number of unique visitors to my blog, but the number of visits, hits and pages viewed was down. Twitter was again the source of the majority of the referrals to the blog, and Firefox was the most commonly browser (followed by Chrome, then Internet Explorer). Interestingly, as far as browsers go, the number of visitors using either the iPhone or Android browser doubled from last year (2.0%) to this year (3.9%).

I also did a quick comparison to see how my stats stacked up to those for Blogjoon, my 5 ½ year old son’s blog. It looks like people found his posts more interesting than mine, as he got about 30% more page views than I did over the month. He also got more comments than me, too.

So, that’s it for #blogjune for this year. I will keep posting to the blog throughout the year, but not every day. Thanks for reading, and I’ll probably be back for #blogjune next year.

Organised day out

We had another day out today (a  bit more planned than yesterday’s outing). We took advantage of the Family Funday Sunday public transport ticket to take a bus ride into the city, and used our Merlin Annual Pass to visit the Aquarium. As part of their school holiday entertainment they had Captain Barnacles and Kwazii from The Octonauts visiting. Tom was happy to get his photo taken with Kwazii, but Blake wasn’t too keen on the idea.

When school broke up last week the boys made a list of all the things they wanted to do during the holidays. Visiting the Aquarium was on the list, so it’s good to cross one thing off.

Well, that was an interesting day

Today was quite an interesting day. We’d planned to take the boys for a bike ride in Richmond, for a nice morning out. On our way there, though, we thought that it would be nice to keep heading west up to Bilpin.

Before we got to Bilpin, however, we realised that we were a bit late in the season for picking apples. Since we were on the road, we thought we would head to Echo Point in the Blue Mountains. After stopping to buy a few apples from The Fruit Bowl at Bilpin, we had lunch in a park in Blackheath. While we were there the weather took a turn for the worse, with the clouds coming in and the wind picking up a bit.

It was a quick stop at Echo Point, just long enough for a few photos. Then it was off for some hot chips before heading home. As we left Katoomba it was 2 degrees at 3:45pm, which made for an interesting display on the car’s dashboard.

Interesting dayIt wasn’t the day we’d planned, but we all enjoyed it.

Entertaining spam

For a quick Friday #blogjune post, I thought I’d share some of the weird spam comments that I’ve received on my blog. This one came in a couple of weeks ago:

Goat care becomes enjoyable when the person giving care and the goat enjoys each other.

That’s good to know, if I ever need to look after a goat. These next ones came in over the last couple of days.

Our planet critically should review a great deal more of your teeth, if you’re any prolific publisher.

That reminds me, I’m overdue for a visit to the dentist.

My partner and i question the amount of efforts you add to create this kind of spectacular educational internet site.

I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment (“spectacular educational internet site”), or as a criticism (“question the amounts of efforts”).

Person, I absolutely cherished scanning this publish.

I have noticed an increase in the number of spam comments which use a name in them to try and make them seem legitimate e.g. “John, great job on writing this”. This one didn’t even bother to do that.

I seem to be getting fewer and fewer entertaining spam comments. Most of them are lists of links, or random phrases cobbled together. It’s nice when I get one which makes me laugh just before I hit the “Delete permanently” button.



Altmetrics: maybe not so “alt” any more?

The recent release of a National Information Standards Organization (NISO) white paper on altmetrics marks a turning point in the development of these research impact measurement tools. The fact that consideration is being given to develop some standards for altmetrics means that they are moving closer to being an accepted part of the academic and publishing landscape. The press release announcing the release of the white paper is available here, and the paper itself is here.

Some of the recommendations in the white paper include developing a definition of alternative metrics, identifying the types of research outputs that are most suitable to have metrics applied to them, and identifying the role of alternative metrics in research evaluation. Although I can see the merit in developing standards around the use of altmetrics, I’m a little concerned that the standards may become too prescriptive and limit the usefulness of altmetrics. Part of the appeal of altmetrics is that they can be used to describe a wide range of research outputs, so introducing definitions of what is and what isn’t an altmetric may limit their growth.

The white paper also notes that awareness of altmetrics is still low amongst researchers, and I think this is something that librarians can help to address. If we are approached by a researcher who has questions about measuring research impact, we should mention altmetric tools such as ImpactStory, as well as the traditional measures of impact such as citation counts. This is probably most relevant for librarians who work with researchers in the social sciences and humanities, who are not well-served by traditional metrics, but may find that there are suitable altmetrics available for their research outputs.

It will be interesting to see the final version of this report, and the standards that come out of it.


My experience as a tutor

Back in April I had the opportunity to get a taste of being a sessional academic. I was a tutor at QUT for five weeks, for an information retrieval unit. All the tutorials were conducted in Blackboard Collaborate on a Monday evening, so I was able to run them from home. The unit covered the sorts of topics and skills that I teach students in my regular job, such as search strategies, search controls, and evaluating search results. I think being quite familiar with the material made the teaching of it a bit less daunting, and I got to pass on some real-life examples that I’d encountered as a reference librarian. For their main assignment, the students had to assume the role of an information consultant and interview their client to determine their information need. I got to pretend to be Lee Dowling, a citrus farmer who wanted to know more about citrus canker, and answer the students’ questions. This was a really fun experience.

The students that came along to my tutorials were engaged and keen, and asked questions when they had to, so the tutorials always went smoothly. I enjoyed this role, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to have a go at expanding on their teaching experience. I’d certainly do it again if I had the opportunity.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff …

It’s been a windy day in Sydney today. We prepared last night by bringing the boys’ toys inside, and installing the anchor kit for the trampoline so it wouldn’t blow away.

There are a couple of advantages to living in a newly-developed area on these windy days. Firstly, all the powerlines are underground, so we don’t have to worry about trees falling on them. This relates to the second advantage, which is that there aren’t actually many tall trees around, so branches coming down on cars or houses are a rare occurrence.

What do Sir Donald Bradman and I have in common?

The number 334. Sir Donald Bradman set the record for the highest Test score by a batsman of 334 against England in 1930. The record stood as an Australian record (but not world record) until the 2003-04 season, when it was broken by Matthew Hayden, who scored 380 against Zimbabwe.

So what’s my connection to 334? It just so happens that my wife and I have found 334 geocaches so far. It’s a tenuous (and temporary) link to The Don, but I’ll take it. The next Bradman-related milestone we’ll reach will be 452 – his highest first-class score, which was made for NSW against Queensland in 1930. Hopefully we’ll get there this year.

Maintenance day

Today was a day for doing maintenance. I started by doing some work in the veggie patch. There were some tomato plants that needed extra stakes, so I put them in. I also added some fertiliser to the tomatoes, as they’re starting to fruit and need to be fed. It was also time to give the contents of our compost bin a bit of a mix, as we’ve had it set up for a couple of weeks.

After fixing up the garden, it was time for me to maintain myself. I went for the longest run I’ve ever done – 9.71km in 1 hour 8 minutes. It was one of my training sessions for the Bridge Run, and I was surprised how good I felt at the end of it. I maintained a nice steady pace, even after I had to stop and give a couple in a car directions after they asked. I’ve still some work to do to get my time down to under an hour for 9km, but I can see now that it is possible. All I need to do is maintain the training schedule and I’ll get there. I think I was a bit of a “runner’s high” at the end, thanks to the endorphins and I’ve got a better idea of why people get addicted to running. My knees aren’t so sure about this running caper though, and I think I’ll see a physio about them to see if there’s anything I can do to stop them getting sore while I’m running. Hopefully it will be an easy fix, and I can keep up the training.

Geocaching then and now

Today we went out and found another three geocaches, and yesterday we found five in about an hour. With our recent surge in geocaching activity, I’ve noticed a few changes in geocaching since we started back in 2007.

Of course, the first is the increase in the number of caches that have been hidden. This is a natural result of the increase in the number of people who participate in the hobby. Because most of these new hides are in urban areas, the size of the caches has dropped, and we’re finding a lot more “micro” sized caches than when we started. This has also led to a dramatic decrease in the amount of swapping of cache swag that we’re doing. Our first cache logs listed exactly what we took from a cache, and what we left in return. However, this has become a less common part of caching for us, as the caches that we’re finding are simply too small to fit anything in them besides a logbook. Today we took the boys back to a cache which we’d found yesterday which was large enough to hold some swag but was empty. We brought some swaps with us and the boys chose some things to add to the cache.

Adding swaps to a geocache

Adding swaps to a geocache

Now that the boys are old enough to come caching with us, we might need to be a bit more selective in the caches that we look for, and aim for those that are large enough to accommodate some swaps.

PS Thanks to my wife for suggesting the topic for today’s post – I was having trouble coming up with something.