Website housekeeping note–Google Feedburner

Some of you use Google’s Feedburner system to get notified of posts here and other blogs. Unfortunately, Google has deprecated Feedburner and no long supports it (and hasn’t since 2012). I’ve begun to notice a lot of errors crop up (not just here but from other blogs) from Feedburner emails.

As a result, I’ve removed all subscription links to Feedburner from this website. You can subscribe through RSS feeds (if you prefer), email, or any social networking. It all works easily. There are subscriptions links in the column to the left (or right, I may make a change).

Try to do it soon, so you’re always up-to-date on snarky skepticism.

And the Skeptical Raptor has returned from internet hell

 

For fans, haters, and those looking for information, you probably knew that this website and blog wasn’t working for the last 7 days. Obviously, we’re back.

I won’t give you the long story, but the short one was that I was stressing out the servers for the old web host, because so many people were reading my articles. It’s one of those good news/bad news situations. Daily, I had issues with the website going down, because I temporarily exceeded limits of the servers. My website emails me when it disappears from the internet, and I was getting 50 a day.

I tried to stick with the old web host for as long as I could, but they finally had enough, because there were so many hits here, it was impacting performance on other websites that they hosted. This host were really good people, but they focus on small websites, not like my monster. To protect their server, the old web host locked out portions of my website, which wasn’t fair, but I was violating their terms of service for number of hits. I was over by a 1000X.

So, in one day, I had to find the best host for my needs, determine if they had a good rating (they did) amongst users, pay for it all, transfer my website, then….WAIT. The internet doesn’t work very efficiently, as I’ve found out. Lots of people and things get involved with domain names and transfers. Lots of secret codes need to be emailed. And then you wait.

Now, while I was waiting, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t run tests. I couldn’t write articles. I just waited. It was like a vacation, except checking with the new web host every hour to see what was going on. I think they were annoyed.

Finally, today, the domain name officially transferred, then…problems. Too numerous to mention, but finally it all worked.

There will be lots of new articles. And we’ll have fun. I’m actually redesigning this website to be even more efficient with new graphics, but I think I’ve done enough this month. If you run into any problems with any links or anything whatsoever with this website, just comment here, or send a tweet to @skepticalraptor.

OK. Time for a little siesta or something.

The annual report of Skeptical Raptor’s blog–2014

2014-annual-report

Actually, it’s not so annual, cause this is the first time I’ve done it, more or less.

I started this blog in January 2012. Just three years ago. I really didn’t know what subjects would be my focus, but it was science generally. I kind of wandered around for the first few months, before I think I hit my stride with vaccines, junk medicine, evolution (though I really need to move back into that area), and other things that captured my interest.

In January 2012, I had precisely 262 page views. For the whole month. I really thought “why bother.” For 2012, I had 184,000 page views, which still made me wonder if the effort was worth it.

In November 2014, I had over 278,000 unique page views, meaning I did more in November than I did in all of 2012. For 2014, I had nearly 1.2 million unique page views, which meant this website is ranked 278,000th in the world. OK, that sounds terrible, except that there’s 1,200,000,000 (1.2 billion if you hate counting zeroes) websites on the interwebs as of this moment. So this blog ranks in the top 0.023% of all websites on the internet. It’s no Facebook or Amazon, but then again, I have reach goals for this blog, and those aren’t it!

My goal is to provide scientific evidence for science and medicine, while doing the same against pseudoscientific myths and memes that are popular on the social networks. I do it with my style–take no prisoners, and use the highest standards of evidence. I refuse to accept a cherry-picked study that supports an a priori conclusion, when the scientific consensus, based on a mountainous body of evidence, is a formidable fortress of knowledge.

I seriously get frustrated when people think that their opinion somehow trumps the scientific consensus. Or that they think they can lie or intentionally abuse data to fit their “beliefs.” Climate change deniers. Evolution deniers. Vaccine deniers. GMO deniers. HIV/AIDS deniers. All use the same methodology to make their points. Whining about so-called problems, based on nonsense and ignorance. Depending upon false authorities to “prove” that the denier point of view deserves respect. Finding the one study that is an outlier, and ignoring the mountains of evidence supporting the scientific consensus. Providing false-balanced presentations that make it appear that there is really a debate. Using personal attacks and conspiracy theories to attack the character of thoughtful and intellectually superior science supporters.

If it weren’t so dangerous, we’d laugh at these people. Well, I still mock them, but I know they are dangerous lunatics.

Continue reading “The annual report of Skeptical Raptor’s blog–2014”

New Disqus comments system

On 8 June 2014, I switched the comment system from Facebook based to Disqus, a different kind of commenting system. There were a few reasons for this decision:

  1. Facebook allowed too much spam in here. Because of Facebook’s tracking system, spammers could target fake comments that might be attractive to readers of various articles. It was almost creepy in how this spam fit with what was written
  2. You have to be on Facebook to comment in a Facebook environment, and there are a lot of people who did not want to set up a Facebook account. I empathize with that, so Disqus allows for several types of login, including setting up an account that is not on any social network.
  3. Disqus allows for threading of comments, which cannot be done with the Facebook system.
  4. Facebook constantly changed it’s programming which would break the comments section for a day or two every few weeks. It was frustrating, and because Facebook refused to publish its changes, they would happen without warning.
  5. Facebook had a binary moderation mode, either on or off. Disqus has a more vibrant one.
  6. You can up vote and down vote Disqus comments. This let’s the casual reader know who has contributed something useful to the conversation.

I pulled the switch on the change this afternoon. There are a few issues here and there, including a boatload of missing comments. I’m trying to recover them, and some have shown up, but others are being recalcitrant. They’re not lost for me, as I can see them in my database, but making the database talk to Disqus has been a challenge. Eventually it will be all worked out. I want to be able to see all of the antisemitic remarks for the Oberführer of whale.to.

A lot of websites now use Disqus, and it’s pretty easy to remain logged on, so that you can comment to your heart’s content across the internet. Because you know, one day, we will correct all of the mistakes on the internet. OK, maybe correcting the mistakes on Wikipedia will have to suffice.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or complaints, leave them here. Maybe I can fix them. Maybe I can’t. Maybe in a year, I’ll switch back to Facebook Comments. Probably not.

 

 

Notice about this website

At 2000 PDT (you can convert that here), my website will be offline for a few hours. I’m upgrading security with a built-in anti-hacking virus, that causes the attacking computer to just hit Justin Bieber arrest sites. You’ve been warned.

Plum hamantaschen. Slurp.
Plum hamantaschen. Slurp.

Yes, I get several hundred hack attempts per day. I automatically trace every hack attempt, and it’s rather amusing how dumb people are. Like I’m going to use a simple password here. Or keep server backdoors open. Vaccine refuser cult members should get a job sweeping floors. Seriously.

Also, I’m moving to another data center for my server, so that’s going to happen. And we’re going to get fully vaccinated. 

While doing this, I’m going eat some GMO filled hamantaschen. And you should be envious.

OK, see you in a few hours. 

I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Big Pharma Shill Party

The official Big Pharma Shill t-shirt.
My official Big Pharma Shill® t-shirt. Thanks to the Facebook group, Refutations to Anti-vaxx Memes. https://www.facebook.com/RtAVM

Occasionally, I receive thinly veiled questions about my integrity and ethics in the comments of various posts, in emails, or on social networking sites. Mostly, I laugh about them since they are a form of Ad hominem argument, called the Big Pharma Shill Gambit, where one side of an argument tries to dismiss the scientific evidence of another side by accusing them of being a paid mouthpiece for pharmaceutical companies. My response is generally to state that I am “polishing the gold bars stored in the basements of Big Pharma offices,” and I don’t get paid very much to do that–it’s just about the only answer worthy of the stupidity of these accusations.

The problem with actually trying to dismiss these accusations is that it’s nearly impossible to dismiss the accusations with evidence, because as we know, proving the negative is almost impossible. I could post my investment documents, and you will see that I own many shares of stock and mutual funds that invest in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Companies I might discuss might make up 0.1% of the holdings of the mutual fund, which means I own around 0.000000001% of a single Big Pharma company. Now, I am certainly not arrogant enough to believe that what I write has any effect on some company’s stock price, but if it did, I reap the rewards of ½¢. Woo hoo. 

Of course, even if I did post my stock holdings, someone will accuse me of hiding my 2 million shares of Merck stock in my secret offshore bank account. Which probably is in the same vault as the shiny Big Pharma gold bars.  Continue reading “I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Big Pharma Shill Party”

The reasons why I write a blog–and a bit about chocolate

blogging-is-goodIn just a few days, this website and blog will be exactly two years old. In the world of bloggers, I’m a newbie; in the science world of some blogs that have been around since the advent of the internet as we know it, I’m a mere infant. When I first started the blog in January 2012, I had a grand total of 262 visitors. For the whole month! Now, I’ll frequently get over 262 visitors in an hour. I’m just a few page views short of 1 million for the past 2 years. In 2014, I am hoping to exceed 1 million page views for the year.

Right now, according to Alexa (a website ranking service), this website is ranked #277,281. Out of six hundred million websites (give or take a couple), this one is in the top 0.05% of all websites on the internet. I make no pretense that I built this website’s ranking alone, I think I got lucky. I wrote a number of articles, that debunked common pseudoscience myths (wait, pseudoscience by definition is a myth), which became big hits on social media.  

And I have readers from all over the world. Most of my readers are from English-speaking countries like the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But I have boatloads of hits from Germany, France, Israel, Japan, Russia, Sweden, and many other countries. I try to remember that I’ve got an international audience, but I know some of my writing tends to be American focused. I try to resist the urge to use American metaphors, but sometimes it’s just not easy. Continue reading “The reasons why I write a blog–and a bit about chocolate”

Computer problems oh my!

zombie_computerYesterday, technology failed me. This website and blog were down for about 8 hours on 20 November because a server at my data center was overrun by zombies. Well, that’s my story, and I’ll stick to it.

The web hosting company did its best to get things up and running, but there were some “glitches” (thank you President Obama for making that word a part of non-computer tech speak) today. One of the major problems is that a corrupt database has replicated all of the comments made on this blog, not one time, not two times, not three times, but ten times over. This commenting problem has overwhelmed my blog, so I had to do some creative unglitching of my website.

Thus, all comments now must come from registered users of Facebook, Yahoo or AOL. Not sure why the commenting system I chose to use requires Yahoo or AOL (does anyone use AOL anymore?). You cannot comment if you’re a registered user of this website anymore. Most people are logged into Facebook 24/7, so it shouldn’t be any problem. I’m experimenting with a couple of other commenting systems, including DISQUS, mainly because I like the way its set up.

Because of the problem with the comments, any comment made before this morning all appear as one date to me, so I can’t see more recent comments. I don’t reply to every comment, but I do choose to reply to a few. So, if I didn’t reply it could be because I’m rude and didn’t want to do so, or because my website decided to not to cooperate. But starting this morning, I see all of the comments in chronological order again, so if you post a comment that tells me to go jump in a lake, I’ll see it!

Speaking of comments, I do not censor any comments. You can call me names if you wish, though anything racist will be deleted, just on principle. You can disagree with me, and I may respond, but it will be a better conversation if you have peer-reviewed research supporting your point of view. And don’t cherry pick. I hate it.

And I delete spam, because it’s obnoxious. If you want to sell your honey/hemp oil magical cure, go to some hack’s website, like Mercola or Tenpenny. They don’t like science. And if you’re trying to sell my readers a fake Louis Vuitton bag, the spam filter gets that in a second. Less even. And if you’re going to type long winded comments over and over, I’m going to delete a few if they appear to be spam-ish. 

So those are seriously simple commenting rules. No racism. Don’t attack other commenters (but attack me all you want). No selling junk medicine. No spamming. And you have to register through Facebook, but who’s not on Facebook anymore. I know, some of you think it’s a privacy issue. It isn’t. If you’re not a friend of the SkepticalRaptor on Facebook, there’s no way I can see anything that’s not public. And I don’t care to see it, since I’m more interested in writing.

That’s it. Thanks for being patient.