WordPress Plugins: WordPress.com Stats and Google Analytics

When I redesigned my site at the beginning of June I added two new plugins for collecting site statistics. Both share the ability to exclude logged on site admins so my own site visits are ignored. The first is WordPress.com Stats by Automattic (so sometimes listed as “Automattic Stats”) and the other is Google Analytics by Denis de Bernardy.

WordPress.com Stats

WordPress.com Stats requires you to have an account at WordPress.com, although you do not need an actual blog there. The Stats are hosted on their servers. Also, you’ll need an API key from Automattic. If you have one for Akismet you can use the same key, and if it sees the key in the DB it will offer to use it.

Assuming you don’t already have an API key you can go here for instructions on how to get one. This process will also give you an account on WordPress.com.

One you have the API key you simply upload stats.php to your plugins directory and activate it in the plugins admin panel in your WordPress blog. You’ll be prompted to enter the API key, or use one it finds. They say it takes about 20 minutes for stats to start showing up which I found to be fairly accurate. My busier blog showed activity in about 15 minutes while my less active blog showed activity in about 30 minutes.

Stats are viewed by selecting “Blog Stats” on the Dashboard menu in your WordPress blog admin panel. This redirects you to your WordPress.com admin panel and you’ll be prompted for an ID and password unless you told it to remember you.

There’s a graph showing views over the last 30 days (but only from when you started collecting stats). The top 10 posts for the current and previous days are shows along with the number of views. All times are GMT so “today” and “yesterday” are calculated based GMT. You can also drill into the top posts and get daily reports for the past seven days. These list more than the top 10 posts but still eventually truncate the least viewed posts if you have a long list. You can also get summary reports for pages viewed in the last seven or last thirty days. On any of these post views there’s a graph icon next to each post listing, clicking it displays a 30 day graph of views for the post.

The main page also displays a list of referrers for the current and previous days. This also has the ability to drill into the detail but it ends up being one of the bugs in the plugin. Drilling in shows a heading “Referrers for 7 Days…” but only the current day’s referrers are shown. Even the previous day’s referrers that were shown on the previous page have been dropped from this report.

Search engine terms used to find the blog are also shown. Again, on the main page they’re shown for the current day and yesterday. But again, drilling into them results in a header that says “Search Terms for 7 Days…” but the result is only the current day’s terms. In my case I had sixteen referrals for one search term yesterday but it didn’t make the seven day drill down even though the top search term for those seven days had only two uses and only contained what appeared to be the current days referrers. It clearly should have been there.

Finally rounding out the major stats, the clicks on the blog are also tracked. This seems to only track outbound clicks. And again, the drill down has the same issues as search and referrers.

The plugin also keeps track of total views and the “best day ever”. It also lists a couple of recent incoming links while clicking “more” brings you out to a Google Blog “links” search.

If you have multiple blogs which use the same API key you can jump between them by picking the blog from a drop down and clicking “go”.

I also found some problems that appear shortly after midnight GMT. The “Today” and “Yesterday” stats for search, referrers and clicks are identical for a period of time although eventually they become distinct. It appears the daily rollover isn’t clean until some time passes or enough news stats are collected. Although the amount of time I’ve waited seems rather random. But since I need to be at my computer at a specific time it’s been hard to track, especially since it’s not a minor issue.

Summary: The graph of views and the simple metrics for post views makes WordPress.com Stats worth using for me. It provides a quick view of what’s recently active along with quick insight into the 30-day trend overall or for a specific page. The bugs in the referrers, search and clicks does leave gaps in it’s ability.

Google Analytics by Denis de Bernardy

In a bit of irony, prior to the redesign I used a theme by Denis de Bernardy but not his Google Analytics plugin. My main reason for switching to this plugin was it’s ability to ignore my own site visits. The plugin actually excludes visits from all authors, editors and site admins if you have a blog that uses these various roles.

You’ll need to set up a Google Analytics account before you can use the plugin. Once you do that you simply copy the contents of the plugin download to your wordpress plugins directory and activate it. Since there are two files I copied the directory contained within the zip to my plugins directory. Then, in the admin panel, locate “Google Analytics” on the “Options” menu. Paste the tracking code provided by Google Analytics into the box provided. You can also simply type your tracking number in the space provided since the code template is already there. In my case I simply replaced all the code with cut/paste from Google Analytics.

I’ve tested the ability to exclude my visits by viewing some obscure pages and Google Analytics did not report the views. Also, prior to activating the plugin my admin panel usage was tracked. This dropped to zero when I activated the plugin.

Most of my usage was with version 2.2 of the plugin. Version 2.4 is now available. The latest version uses roles rather than levels so isn’t compatible with WordPress pre-version 2.

Summary: The plugin has no purpose unless you use Google Analytics but if you do the plugin does a good job of limiting the stats to visitors. For those of you who are anti-Google Analytics (because it gives Google too much info) Denis also has a similar plugin for HitsLink which is a paid tracking service.

Additonal Information

You can find additional information about Plugins and WordPress on my WordPress page.

 

Apple iTunes 7.3 Released

Apple has released iTunes 7.3. It’s available through Software Update or as a direct download from Apple.

The first time you start iTunes after the upgrade you’ll need to agree with the license and then wait while iTunes updates your library. The update took about 20 seconds for my 7500 or so items but your times may vary.

The primary reason for the upgrade is iPhone support. This is the version that is needed to activate and sync with the iPhone.

Another documented update is “Wirelessly share digital photos from any computer in your home with Apple TV” although I haven’t looked into it myself.

Forget I said that

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,133019/article.html

Back on the 22nd I commented inĀ  a sidenote about an ISP survey that I was fairly happy with AT&T except for the lack of higher speed plans. As retribution I came home yesterday to find my phone service out (voice and DSL). I called AT&T and they were helpful although I consider myself lucky I could call it in as a voice problem. My only complaint is their phone tree asked for my phone number three times. In fairness I guess I should say the first was because I was calling from a different phone number. But come on folks, integrate your systems so once you get the info you can use it. They did detect a possible problem on the line so set up a service call which I didn’t have to be home for DSL came back last night (although very slow) and full service was restored today when some faulty equipment was replaced. I’m guessing heat related as it was the first real hot day around here and service came back a little once it cooled down a bit. In line with the survey, Comcast did worse by making me stay at home for the service call but never knocking on my door or letting me know the problem was fixed.

Google Updates Docs and Spreadsheets and Toolbar

Google updated Docs and Spreadsheets today. They did away with tagging and implemented folders instead. They’ve also added new keyboard shortcuts for those of us who like those things instead of a mouse. Rounding out the latest features are right to left text support and “easier invitations”.

The change was implemented without warning (at least none that I saw) which seems rather bold. While the changes are simple and easy to understand it’s a pretty significant UI change which always seems to cause problems when users encounter them without warning. Existing tags were converted to folders with the documents (that had the tag) in them. Documents that had multiple tags get put in multiple folders although all are actually the same document.

Starred documents are still marked with stars and there’s a folder for them. There’s also folders to hold documents by type, for documents you created, for trash and for documents you shared. OK, technically Google doesn’t call these folders and they aren’t included in “All Folders” but they’re in the folder pane.

Naturally there’s a search box up top so you can search your files.

The UI is pretty cool for a web interface. It was responsive to me like most Google stuff is. But it supported “Web 2.0” features like being able to drag a file into a folder. Dragging from one folder to another moves the doc, dragging from “All Documents” adds it to the folder.

One feature I really like in Google Docs is the ability to print to a PDF. This isn’t a new feature but I find it easier to use in the new interface since it can easily be done from the main page without having to open the document and print to pdf.

For what little I need a word processor or spreadsheet for I find Google Docs and Spreadsheets to be a good fit and the price is right. And being browser based it’s cross platform.

Firefox on my iMac also received an update of the Google Toolbar today. Based on the version number it was released May 25, 2007. I didn’t find the version listed in Google’s version history so I’m not sure what’s in it. I’m not a heavy user of the toolbar but I like the spellcheck (needed less with Firefox 2) and the ability to jump to one of the words in my search. Still, I only use it a couple times a week at most, usually sticking to the search box built into Firefox which is set to SearchMash (which is also by Google).

 

 

More Issues With Apple OS X 10.4.10

Well, I’m having more issues with the OS X 10.4.10 update. Lucky for me all the problems are on my Intel Mac Mini which sees limited use. My iMac has avoided the issues, but more through luck than anything else.

Apple released Audio Update 2007-001 that resolves this issue. It successfully fixed my Intel Mac Mini. Update 10.4.10 was also rev’d to version 1.1 so anyone getting the update in the future will not have the problem. My wireless problem remains.

The Apple Support forums have a long thread about audio problems titled Snap, Crackle, Pop. I have this problem on my Mac Mini but not on my iMac. My Mac Mini uses external speakers while the iMac just uses the internal speakers. In my case it’s the same popping sound I hear when I turn the speakers off or on. After the update I here the pop at intervals when nothing is playing. I only use this Mini to watch DVDs or play something from iTunes. It’s typically in sleep mode when it’s not playing audio or video. I don’t have any problems when I’m playing actual audio. I didn’t notice it until I was changing DVDs and there was nothing else playing. The support forum thread mentions it sounds like the sound card is going into power saver mode which at least makes sense with when I hear the sound. So far I haven’t come across a solution, but for me it’s a minor problem but I can see where it would be a major annoyance for others.

More annoying to me is the wireless problem I previously mentioned, It’s now official, whenever I wake the Mac Mini from sleep or reboot it I need to reconfigure the wireless network so it’s not an isolated incident and must be related to the 10.4.10 update. If I don’t find a resolution soon I may have to break down and contact Apple tech support.

 

Safari 3 Beta Updated to 3.0.2

Apple has released their second update since releasing the Safari 3 beta software. This update is for both OS X and Windows.

According to the Apple bulletin about the security updates included in Safari 3.0.2 it contains all the updates that were in OS X Security Update 2007-006. If Safari 3.0.2 is already installed on Mac OS X Security Update 2007-006 will not appear in Software Update. This does include security updates that were not in Safari 3.0.1.

Safari 3 beta on Windows includes numerous stability fixes in the areas of non-English OS’s, authentication, text, RSS, Yahoo Widgets and more.

Safari 3 beta on Mac OS X also includes numerous stability fixes. They’re in the areas of parental controls, Google news reader, email integration, iChat integration and more.

I installed the update on Windows without incident but due to its beta nature I don’t use Safari 3 very much. The page display in general does seem easier to read.

Apple OSX Security Update 2007-006

Apple has released a security-only update for the sixth straight month this year. It’s the appropriately named Security Update 2007-006.This update is needed for 10.4.9 along with the just released 10.4.10. It’s also needed for 10.3.9.

Two security vulnerabilities are addressed. One is in Webcore and can allow cross-site scripting attacks.

The second patched vulnerability was in Webkit and could allow remote code execution.

I applied the update to an Intel iMac and an Intel Mac Mini without a problem. The PPC Mac Mini isn’t hooked up at this time so it hasn’t been patched yet.

OS X 10.4.10 Issues with Wireless and Remote Buddy

I had a couple of minor issues with my Intel Mac Mini after the 10.4.10 update. Neither was apparent right away.

The first was my wireless network settings were lost. I had to go through the connect wizard and reconfigure the wireless network connection. This just involved entering the name (I don’t broadcast the wireless network name) and WPA password. It wasn’t a big deal. It’s also not the first time I’ve had to do this on the Mini so it may have been a coincidence and not caused by the update itself. The Mac Mini uses the built-in Airport and my WAP is a 2Wire 2701HG-B.

The other issues was with a 3rd party application I use. I use Remote Buddy by Iospirit to power the Apple remote. The software loaded fine after the update but failed to work. If I unloaded the software the remote worked fine with Front Row. There’s a new version of Remote Buddy and one of the fixes noted is “Improved Compatibility with OS X 10.4.10”. It was released June 21st. Once I installed the upgrade the Apple remote worked just fine.

PC World ISP Survey

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,133019/article.html

PC World has published the results of a ISP satisfaction survey. Much to my surprise my experience with two of them matches the survey, usually it isn’t the case.

AT&T Yahoo, my current DSL provider, is rated seventh (out of 16). I found their connection reliability to be excellent and they are rated “Above Average” in the survey. They are below average in both upload and download speed which is my one big complaint. They just don’t have higher speed plans available. They rated average in customer service and my few interactions with them were excellent. I’ve never dealt with their tech support which was rated average. They were rated above average in spam blocking but I don’t use them for email. (I like them now as an ISP, but don’t want to tie an email address to them or any ISP.)

Comcast was rated 10th. They were my previous ISP. I got good speeds but far below the advertised “up to 6MB”. The survey does list the speeds as “Above Average” for them so maybe others have a better experience. They were rated below average in customer service and I never had a good experience with them. Their spam blocking is rated below average which matches my experience of terrible spam blocking. Comcast was rated Average for connection reliability. While they were generally good, I had more outages with them than I do with AT&T. Comcast tech support was also rated below average which matches my experience.

The top ISP was Verizon with their fiber network. The top cable company was Cablevision as #2. Earthlink DSL was the top DSL company and #6.