Category Archives: Housekeeping

New Look, New Feel, Old Soul

Look ma, new CSS!

Yup, the old, venerable look was finally starting to show its age. So I did what any self respecting geek would do. I replaced with the newer, yet still stock, theme supplied by WordPress. Hello 2014, you’re looking real nice.

Hopefully, you’ll also notice that the site is much more responsive and that some of the images that weren’t showing up previously are working again. There are still a few minor bugs to work out, but overall things should be much smoother.

Let me know if you have any thoughts/comments/suggestions/rants/haikus for me. Again, thanks for reading.



Happy 2nd Birthday!

Happy Birthday (yesterday)! Yes, despite my best efforts, we’re still around, albeit, barely. It’s been a quiet year around here, with only a little traffic, and even fewer posts, but I guess that’s ok. For comparison, can see last year’s summary post here.

Without further ado, I present you 2013, in stats.

  • 13 posts (about half of last year).
  • 1,203 visits (a little less then last year at 3.29 visits/day, which isn’t bad considered I had half the new content).
  • 836 unique visitors (much more then the year before, so the audience is growing).
  • 3,354 page loads.
  • 2.79 pages per visit.
  • Average visit time was 2:38.
  • Visitors from 44 different countries (with the US and Canada being the highest).
  • 10 different browsers on 10 different operating systems (I think the 1 Blackberry finally gave up, by Symbian seems to still be a thing).

The pretty pictures:

The world is watching
The world is watching

As usual, most traffic comes almost entirely from the US, with a bit from Canada and Europe.

US Visitors 2013
Westward Ho!

In a surprising shift, the bulk of visitors are now from Washington (specifically Seattle), with Indiana supplying the third most traffic. Apparently I’m more interesting to Chicago then I am to my own family. (Yes, that was me showing my new PNW passive-aggressive side).

So that’s the state of the website, we’re but a small blip in the world of the internet, but it’s still my little blip, and I love it very much. If you’ve been trolling around here you’ve probably noticed that some images aren’t loading correctly, and that the site can take FOREVER to come up. Yeah, I need to fix that. I’m trying to get to it this week, I just haven’t had the time.

So thanks for sticking with me for another year, hopefully things will only continue to get better.

Another year old, and maybe a bit wide
Another year older, and maybe a bit wiser


Dear all,


I have not forgotten you, it’s simply the fact that it’s the end of the quarter and I’m pretty well swamped under with papers and such. Fear not, next week is my spring break and I have a few things I’ve been thinking about and I may spend some time elucidating them here. I’ve also been working on a few projects, some of which are pretty cool, so look forward to that.


In the mean time, here are a few things to keep you satiated.


1. This awesome video:



2. This cool paper [cite source=’pubmed’]23354052[/cite]


3. This innovative idea


4. The new share buttons at the bottom of the posts, you can even send directly to your Kindle for later reading. What will they think of next?


5. This great song



6. This picture of a cat




Until next time.


Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of this humble website! Yes folks, one year later and we’re still hanging around for better or worse (probably worse). We’ve come a long way from the horrifically winding, overly wordy, poorly grammarized inaugural post, and hopefully this time next year will be an improvement over the current situation.

As I do, I thought it might be interesting to give a few statistics, complements of Google AnalyticsOver the past few 12 months this site has seen:


  • 28 posts
  • 52 comments (2.85 comments per post)
  • 1,896 visits (5.19 visits/day)
  • 714 unique visitors
  • 4,560 page loads
  • 2.41 page loads/visit
  • The average visit duration was 2 minutes and 19 seconds
  • Visitors from 36 countries
  • 9 different browsers on 10 operating systems (It appears there’s only 1 blackberry left in the world)


Some cool images:

Where are they coming from?

As you can see, the overwhelming number of visitors are coming from the US.

'merica likes this.
‘merica likes this.

And, within the US most of the visitors were from Indiana. What a surprise.


Over the next year I’m hoping to keep up with regular posting. One of the professors I worked with challenged me to write everyday, primarily academic writing, but I’m taking that to mean here as well. I’m planning on expanding on some technical projects I’m working on, which will appeal to a much more limited audience but could be kind of cool.


Thanks to everyone for reading, it means a lot to know that you’re out there and hopefully enjoying it. Here’s to another year!


Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!



Home, Sweet Home

Welcome to the brand new, super awesome, incredibly modern, ‘cloud based’, fundamentally reinvented NICKROBISON.COM.

But you’re thinking, ‘it sure looks the same to me’. That’s because dear reader, it is the same, only vastly different. For the past year this site has been hosted with Webhostingpad, a budget provider who, while cheap ($75 for 3 years), has been the definition of slow and sometimes steady, also their management tools are pretty awful (though getting better). Most of you are intimately familiar with the ridiculously long waits associated with viewing some of the more visual articles and for those of you who stuck it out, I thank you and I’ve finally done something about it. I’ve been using Cloudflare for a couple of months now as my CDN of choice, and while they’ve been great it still hasn’t been enough to overcome the anemic performance of whatever pizza box server from the 90s I’ve been stuck with. So, last night I switched the entire site over to an Amazon AWS system consisting of a single Micro Instance with 2 EBS volumes (one for the database and one for the site files). Right now, it’s running within the ‘free’ tier, but when that expires in August the monthly cost will still only be $3.66, which is great for the features I get. I’ve also taken the time to go through and re-optimize the site itself, stripping out old plugins and cleaning up some of the various errors cropping up in the logs. The result is something that doesn’t make a T3 line feel like 56k dialup (this is not hyperbole), and also has a ton of expandability for future growth (I’m an optimist). I think you’ll all appreciate it, not only are things better and cleaner, they’re also more bloated and feature-full, let’s take a short tour hrough the new additions:

  • Social Networks

 In the top right corner of the home page you should see a collection of familiar icons with the phrase ‘The ‘other’ Networks’ emblazoned above them. I know you have all been dying to join the active community of users we have over here, and now you can through your favorite social networks! (Except Pinterest, because it sucks). You can login/register through the icon on the side, or through the comments box at the end of each post. So now, you can be a part of something without ever leaving the safe confines of something you like better, except Pinterest.

  •  Favicon

There’s a new icon by the url, sometimes, so now we’re in the same class as the big boys like Amazon and etsy. Be impressed.

  • Sharing

After reading through an especially brilliant article you’re probably wanting to share it with the rest of the world. And now you can! At the bottom of each article, right before (or after) you leave a particularly insightful comment, you can share it amongst your social circles (yes, even Pinterest). The world just got a whole lot bigger.

  • For the Lawyers

As part of the social integration I had to create an official privacy policy, which you can  view under the ‘Legal Stuff’ page, next to ‘About Me’. Basically, I use Google Analytics to track hits, so it collects IP addresses and correlates them to location. When you sign in with another social network the site stores your name and email address. With this information I will slowly begin to take over the world. Not really, but sort of. Anyways, you can read it all in excruciating detail, or not.

  • Header Images

The header images are all brand new and no longer the weird stock photos that come with the default settings. These photos are all mine (except the cats on the ‘legal stuff’ page) and fit the theme of the site much better. At least, that’s my opinion. I would highly recommend reloading the home page repeatedly to see all the pretty pictures.

Well, that’s about it. Thanks for joining us and don’t forget to pick up your gift bags on the way out. Things are still in a bit of a flux as I sort out various issues that continue to crop up. I think things are pretty stable, but they may not be. Good luck to us all.


UPDATE: The first rule of grad school is: If something is working perfectly fine, that’s probably a good enough reason to muck around and try something ‘new’. To that end, the site has moved once again, this time from Apache to Nginx [Engine-X]. I had some issues with Apache using all the RAM on the micro instance (you only get 768MB, I have a Pentium II box with twice that) and since I wasn’t using all of its fancy extensions and rewrite tools it made more sense to change to something a little more resource frugal. I also moved all the backend database connections from ports to sockets and implemented memcached to store session information, so that’s cool. Also, the site backend is now completely encrypted thanks to the free SSL certs from StartSSL, that means your highly sensitive data is now protected from thieving eyes. If you’re having a difficult time keeping up with all the improvements around here that’s ok, just be impressed.

The times they are a changin’

– Bob Dylan