Passenger jets and missiles don’t mix

Yesterday, we heard about Nicaragua’s problems with maintaining control of its shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. Today as I was driving, I heard on WTAM that several communities near Hopkins Airport in Cleveland have complained so bitterly about jet noise that the government has responded with a web site … where you can track passenger jets. That’s right. According to WTAM, you can log on to a web site and make sure passenger jets are at their designated altitudes and in their correct flight corridors.
Now, assuming I heard the radio report correctly, am I the only one who sees a problem here? We’ve potentially got missing SA-7 surface-to-air missiles floating around on the black market, a new web site reveals location and altitude information for air traffic around a major international airport, and just up the road in the metro Detroit area there’s a very large community of Muslims. Heck, we have our own home-grown terrorist fundraiser here in town (and don’t tell me he’s alone).
Hello? Is anybody home at the Department of Homeland Security?
I’ll keep looking for a link to the aircraft tracking web site, which I’ve not found yet. Boy, I hope I’m mistaken.

UPDATE (12:02 PM): I just got off the phone with WTAM’s news room. I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news: I heard wrong … there is no jet tracking web site. The bad news: Hopkins Airport is indeed putting such a web site together (according to WTAM). I’ve already left phone messages with Marty Flask, the Security Director at Hopkins, and with Laura Farmer (position unknown … I got her number from the Media Relations Manager, Pat Smith, who didn’t answer my question about the web site).
UPDATE (3:21 PM): Andrew Cochran of The Counterterrorism Blog just let me know that the Department of Defense has been chasing down Nicaraguan SAMs for two years already, which wasn’t in the original story. That’s reassuring, since I suppose that if the terrorists had a workable SAM they’d have used it somewhere by now (in Iraq or Afghanistan if not in America). The idea of the jet-tracking web site still sounds foolhardy, though.
UPDATE (9:16 PM): Just to clear up what might otherwise be murky in my hurried post, the government entity involved here is the airport itself, which is owned and run by the City of Cleveland (except security of course, which falls under the TSA). So far as I can determine, this web site idea is not a state or federal one. The feds ought to take notice of this, in my opinion, if it truly will allow detailed jet tracking online.
UPDATE (9:30 PM): Jeff Quinton has thoughts on a similar-sounding system he’s seen before, and I sure hope what Hopkins has got planned is no more detailed than that.

Tired of blogging without being noticed?

Ah, the vagaries of unrecognized blogging brilliance. So you’ve taken Hugh’s advice and started a blog, and nobody’s noticed you? Welcome to the club. Almost all of us start at the bottom, unless we’re already well-established authors or pundits or somesuch.
Being an unremarkable fourth-tier blogger myself, I’ve thought about traffic often. I’m no blogging stud; I average around 250 hits per day, with occasional big spikes of 500-1000 when some big name blogger links to me, or if a flood of search engine queries about a hot news event turns up one of my posts on the results page. I’ve been blogging since March, and though my own writing hasn’t brought me fame and fortune, I’ve picked up a few tips on how to legitimately increase my blog’s visibility in the blogosphere. Most of it’s covered by well-spoken folks like Wizbang and Bad Example, but I’ll add a baker’s dozen of pointers that have served me well so far.

  1. Have something interesting to say. The web’s already clogged with millions of blogs that do little more than link to what everybody else is talking about, adding nothing more to the conversation than a “hey, check this out.” There’s only one blog that gets away with one-word comments, and you’re not going to replace him. Be an occasional Thinker, not just a Linker, or some blend of both. You don’t need to create bloviating dissertations of 10,000 words, but do write about what you know and what interests you. Find your own way of saying things, and put your own spin on it. In time you’ll find you’ve developed a style all your own, and like-minded readers will find you.
  2. Link freely to other blogs, especially lesser-known ones and blogs you disagree with. Leave pertinent comments on their posts, and contribute to the discussion. They’ll notice, and might reciprocate if you follow Rule #1 above.
  3. Learn how to tweak your stylesheet, to make your blog appealing and easy to navigate. More is not always better.
  4. Be sure your blog is generating an RSS feed. Check your blogging software’s documentation to be sure. If you can’t generate an RSS feed, switch software. Trust me.
  5. When drafting a new post on your Movable Type blog, you can help search engines like Google find your blog posts by filling in some pertinent terms in the box marked “Keywords” … terms which you might use to search for web pages related to the topic of your post. Be sure that the following HTML code is in the template for your Individual Entry Archive, between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags:
     

    <meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow,archive” />
    <meta name=”description” content=”<$MTEntryExcerpt$>” />
    <meta name=”keywords” content=”<$MTEntryKeywords$>” />

    This code uses META tags to talk to search engines and let them know you exist. It won’t bring you lots of traffic, but it’ll put you on an even footing with other entry-level bloggers. It’s like hanging out a sign when you start your business; it’s no guarantee of success, but you’d be a fool not to.

  6. If you’re using Movable Type to blog, go to the Configuration menu, click on the link marked “preferences”, and scroll down until you see “Publicity / Remote Interfaces / TrackBack” … then check the boxes for blo.gs and weblogs.com, and paste the following text into the “Others” box:
     
    http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2
    http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc
    http://ping.feedburner.com
    http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
    http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
    http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/
    http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php

    Doing this will ping (notify) several tracking services whenever you update your blog, and they’ll send a spider program to come index your new entry. If you get error messages during the pinging process, it may mean you need to go sign up with one or more of the services. Don’t fret, they’re free.

  7. Join a blogging alliance (here’s a good one … and another), join a web ring, or start your own (I did). As long as you abide by the membership rules, you’ll usually find yourself on several blogrolls in no time.
  8. Learn about comment spam and trackback spam. Don’t harbor it.
  9. Be a polite blogger when you send a trackback.
  10. Learn some basic shop talk to avoid embarassing yourself.
  11. Don’t obsess over links and traffic. It’ll suck the joy right out of the whole effort if you’re blogging for fun. If you’re blogging for profit, then you’re seeking advice from the wrong fella. See Rule #12.
  12. Buy this book.
  13. Read Rule #1 a couple more times.

Blogging’s fun. Have at it.

UPDATE: Joe Carter has more good advice at Evangelical Outpost, in six parts (IIIIIIIVVVI).

UPDATE 2: Some progressive Christians look to be putting a blog alliance together. Here’s their aggregator page. Nice move!

Was the RNC bloggers’ traffic “light”?

Investor’s Business Daily misses half the story:

GOP blog readership is light
The 16 bloggers accredited to cover the GOP’s convention generated little readership during the week.
The New York Daily News characterized them as “unfamiliar men … bent over laptops [who] tapped out their own takes on the Republican National Convention.”
Traffic to their blogs was barely noticeable. Hitwise, an online measurement company, said the interest was miniscule. “This is not to say they aren’t important or influential. We’re simply saying the masses aren’t visiting them,” a spokesman said.
During the first three days of the convention, RNC blogs received less than 0.22 percent of Web traffic. On average, Blog.johnkerry.com receives nine times more visits that Blogsforbush.com, Hitwise added.

“Little readership”? Compared to what? Give us the numbers, please.
And what about growth in visitors? What about projected audience size? A tree is bigger than a seedling, but it’s worth asking if the former is a dwarf spruce and the latter is an oak. How much did the traffic on each of these sites increase this week?

Answer those questions first, and then you can talk to me about whether interest in blogs is “miniscule.”

UPDATE: Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, but these sure look like spikes at RNC Bloggers (a new site, admittedly) and Slant Point. I’ll add more info as I dig it up.
UPDATE 2: I’ve discovered traffic spikes on Hugh Hewitt’s blog, as well as on Wizbang (boy is that a spike!) and Captain’s Quarters.
UPDATE 3: How about Red State? Yup … spike.