TonyJiang.com: Year 8

I was busy moving and starting my new job recently that I completely forgot about the anniversary for my web domain. TonyJiang.com is now 8 years old! And I started running websites a few years before and I got the domain name, so I have been in this business for probably 12 years. I definitely feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, even though my websites aren’t all that popular. I’m just glad I kept up my hobby for so long.

Over the last year, I haven’t spent much time doing any development on my sites, mostly because I was trying to finish my PhD degree and find a job. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to devote to my websites now that I have a full time job, but I’ll do whatever I can. I’m in the process of sprucing up the theme for the Travel Log and adding some new entries to the log. Literally no one visits the Travel Log, but working on the site gives me a chance to refresh my web design and development knowledge and hopefully learn a few new things as well. As for my other websites, the Crabbing Guide is doing quite well in the summer months and is the main traffic driver my websites. Obviously I’m not raking in the web ad earnings, but it’s good that some people do visit my website and find them useful.

1 Million Unique Visits!!!

My core websites (this blog, the crabbing guide, and the Smash Bros. guide) surpassed the big 1,000,000 unique visits mark some time during the last week. I haven’t been checking the web counter very often these days, so I’m not sure exactly when the count passed a million. It took almost 10 years to reach this mark, and you can see the stats in the graph below. Most of the hits come from the crabbing guide, and you can easily see the cyclical nature of the traffic where there are more visitors during the summer months than the winter months. I’m proud to get to 1 million and also proud that I kept my websites around for so long. Hopefully it’ll take less than 10 years to reach the the 2 million mark.

TJ web stats 10 years
Visitor count for my core websites since Aug 2004, courtesy of Statcounter. Click to enlarge

TonyJiang.com: Year 7

It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about back to school, although I will address that topic later in this post. I’m referring to the anniversary of my personal domain at tonyjiang.com, which has been in existence for 7 years. This year I worked on my websites a bit more than previous years, but in honesty I didn’t do that much either. The biggest change was to give this blog a brand new theme, which I worked on during winter holidays last year. My websites are chugging along as usual, and I’m glad to say that my websites, particularly the good ol’ crabbing guide, are now more popular than ever. The increased traffic also means my ad-serving venture is going better than ever, although I don’t think I can live off of my websites quite just yet. As long as I’m alive and able, I’ll keep maintaining my websites and post some updates on this blog every so often. While I may not be as enthusiastic about playing around with web technologies as before, I still find joy in running some websites and I hope they’ll at least be a good read to some visitors.

Moving on to another topic, classes have started again at my university. However, unlike the previous three years, I don’t need to go to class anymore. I have fulfilled my coursework credits for my degree, and I will spend this final school year working on my PhD dissertation. Not having to attend class, study for exams and do homework feels very nice of course, but this is certainly not the time for me to slack off if I want to graduate sooner rather than later. If everything goes well I’ll graduate in May. There is still a lot of work to though to get to that point, but I’m motivated by the fact that the finish line is finally in sight. Wish me luck.

New Theme

TJ Online has its first new look in 2 years. I finally finished tweaking the new theme today. The theme is a modified version of the Twenty-Twelve default WordPress theme. I went with a simpler look with cursive fonts and some… I suppose, ornate patterns to match. White is the dominant color this time around, and I took the opportunity to play with CSS3’s background color alpha-transparency properties. One element that returns is the random background images, but I opted for a simpler square frame this time to make adding future background images easier. I haven’t worked with web stuff for a while and took a little while to figure things out, but afterwards customizing the theme was simple enough. It’s good to work on my sites once in a while so I don’t completely forget my web design and Photoshop skills. Overall, I’m satisfied with the new look, and hope you guys like it as well.

Happy Holidays

I’ve traveled back home for winter break once again, and I’m glad to be home for a couple of weeks. The academic semester ended a little earlier than previous years, which meant I could go home earlier and save a few bucks on my plane tickets. As usual, I don’t have any plans. Grad students don’t get long vacations, and I do have to work on my research. On the other hand, I do have more free time on my hands since I don’t have to worry about shopping and cooking or classes. Maybe I’ll try to go learn skiing. One thing I’ll do is eat a lot, since it’s the holidays, and the Chinese food in Vancouver is much better than what I can get at my place of study. Hopefully I don’t gain too much weight over the holidays :lol: . I will also try to give my humble blog a new look. I’m probably looking for the minimalist look, but I want some transparency and rotating backgrounds that the previous theme had. I’ll play around with the new Twenty-twelve theme to see if I can modify it to my likings.

Anyways, I wish you all a happy and safe holidays.

TonyJiang.com: Year 6

I haven’t paid much attention to my websites lately, and thus I have completely forgotten about the anniversary of getting my own domain name until today. The anniversary is somewhere in August, but I don’t remember the exact date anymore. TonyJiang.com has been on the world wide web for 6 years and I have been running websites for probably past a decade now. I’ll be running websites for as long as I am able, and there should be plenty of years left for this personal blog and my other websites.

Over the last year, I haven’t done much work on my websites, but they’ve chugging along pretty well. Traffic is comparable to last year with my crabbing guide, Smash Bros. guide and this blog combining for around 700-1000 page views per day. Despite no real new content and steady traffic, ad revenue actually went up, and 2011-2012 is the first time my websites made over $1000 in a year, and I had a record-breaking month of nearly $150 in revenue. $1000 is obviously not enough for me to run websites as a full time job, but it’s a nice bit of extra income for a student like myself. My crabbing guide earns the vast majority of the ad revenue, showing that my first website is still the most useful website to visitors. Hopefully the ad revenue will keep on rolling in.

So what’s my plan for the next year? Not much. Graduate school takes a lot of time and energy. Of course I want to provide new content that will draw visitors, but I don’t have much to write these days other than post the occasional travel photos. Some people get a great idea and make it big on the internet, but I haven’t found that great idea yet. I’ll keep thinking about it though, and in the meantime I’ll continue running my websites. Hopefully I’ll remember to post on the anniversary date next year.

TonyJiang.com: Fifth Year on the Net

Tonyjiang.com has been on the net for half a decade.

Writing that sentence makes me feel old, but at the same time I do feel a sense of accomplishment for keeping my domain online for five years. Due to my busy life of being a graduate student, I really haven’t done much to my website in the 2010-2011 period, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing worth noting down. For one thing, traffic and ad revenue underwent some substantial growth. Read on to find out the details.

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TonyJiang.com: Fourth Year on the Net

I can’t believe it’s been four years already since I set up the tonyjiang.com domain. Actually, the anniversary is somewhere in August, but I was busy moving to a new place to start grad school so I didn’t have the time to make this post until today. Unlike 2008-2009, there were plenty of big changes to my website this year. Read on if you want to find out the inside scoop about tonyjiang.com over the last 12 or so months.

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Badminton Portal and Travel Log Rebuilt

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on some of my other websites and the work is finally (nearly) complete. Firstly, the main area of Travel Log has been rebuilt using WordPress at the request of its authors. For this redesign, I used a stock theme and didn’t need to do any importing as there wasn’t too much content in that site.

On to the second piece of news, JP’s Badminton Portal has also been rebuilt using WordPress, and what’s more it has been combined with JP’s Badminton Blog and moved to it’s own domain, www.jpbadminton.com. Formerly, the Badminton Portal was run using a self-wrote PHP content management system and the Badminton Blog ran on Textpattern. I had the Badminton Portal separate because I wanted to make the site truly bilingual (in English and Simplified Chinese), but after thinking about it I decided to combine the two sites to make administration easier. My self-wrote PHP script was buggy at places anyways. Importing from the Badminton Blog to the new Badminton Portal was fairly easy as there is an import script available online, but all the articles from the old Badminton Portal had to be manually moved. I also built a custom theme for the site using Thematic Theme Framework. There are still some minor tweaks for the new Badminton Portal, but it’s ready for visitors.

Hopefully the changes to both websites will improve the visitors’ experiences and draw more traffic.

Moved to a New Server

TonyJiang.com has a new home! These last few days I have been busy moving my websites to a new server. For almost four years, my websites have been hosted by 50webs.com on their Webmaster plan. Over these years, I never encountered any major problems with my old host and I am satisfied with their service. However, their plans appear to be a little outdated with the storage and bandwidth limits (or perhaps they are just being honest), so with my current hosting expiring in a month I started looking for a new web host. I have heard no shortage of shared hosting horror stories out on the net, so I spent a couple of days doing research. After looking around, I decided to go with StableHost, primarily because they had a coupon code that provided a very good lifetime discount on hosting. Their reputation seems to be decent too, so I signed up with them on their Stable Plus plan.

The move to the new host was pretty straight forward. I initiated the domain transfer process which took about a day, and during that time I transferred all my files over and set up the subdomains. Out of all of my websites, the only one that had any issues was this website. First of all, my new host uses the industry standard Cpanel which for some reason cannot point the default domain (tonyjiang.com or www.tonyjiang.com) to a subfolder within the public_html directory, so this WordPress blog didn’t work when I uploaded it as in a folder into public_html. Once I got that sorted out by uploading the WordPress files into public_html, I was met with the infamous White Screen of Death when I tried to access the admin panel. After searching on the web, I disabled all my plug-ins by renaming the plugins directory within WordPress, and my admin panel came back. After some troubleshooting, it seems that WP-Spamfree was the culprit, which is strange since I didn’t have problems with this plug-in on my old host. I killed that plug-in, but that wasn’t the end of my troubles. Afterwards, I tried to find a new anti-spam plug-in, but that caused WordPress to run into my host’s 32MB PHP memory limit. I didn’t want to delete any of my plug-ins, so I sent a support ticket to my new host, and thankfully they promptly replied by increasing the memory limit and everything was alright again.

I have settled into my new host, and everything looks okay so far. Hopefully my decision to move won’t come back and bite me in the behind. Since my websites receive little traffic, bandwidth and server load shouldn’t pose problems. Hopefully there will be no major downtimes or trouble with the host. Now that tonyjiang.com has found a new home, I’ll probably start working on some of my other websites.