Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Feature (Tripwire): Beta Testers Needed

Just today I've rolled out a new WunderCounter feature. I'm calling it Tripwire. Tripwire is basically an IP alert system. It's something that has been requested a few times going back several years, but I've only now had the time to do it the "right" way.

Basically, the feature works hand in hand with IP Tags and will only be available to Premium users for the time being. There are currently 2 ways to tag your IPs:

  1. By choosing IP Tagging from the Options menu
  2. By clicking a tag link when viewing your log pages
When creating or editing tags, you'll be able to turn Tripwire on or off for any tagged IP. Turning Tripwire on for an IP will flag that IP number so that you can receive alerts when this user returns to your site in future. Turning Tripwire off will (as you've probably guessed) turn off any notifications.

The Tripwire notifications will be initially be available in the form of an RSS feed. This means that you can use your favourite RSS reader (or even Outlook or your OS X Mail program) to alert you when flagged IPs hit your site. This can be handy when tracking the habits of any IP you are interested in, whether that be a friend, neighbour, ex boy/girlfriend etc. Hey, you've got your reasons and you don't have to explain anything to me. ;)

I'd like to have this beta tested for a couple of days by a few users before this becomes available to all Premium users. So, I'm looking for a few Premium users to test this out. If you're interested, just send me a note using the contact page and I'll add you to the list of beta testers. All you need to do is try out the feature and then let me know about any problems you encounter, what you like, don't like etc. It's all about getting some constructive feedback.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Myspace Photo Page Trackers

The other day, a WunderCounter user asked me if it's possible to track Myspace photo pages by putting the counter code in an image caption. My response was that if you can get HTML in there, you can get the WunderCounter in there. It turns out you can do it, so thanks for the tip, Lori!

So, here is how you would go about it.

First, log in to the WunderCounter and generate some Myspace tracker code. (You can do this by choosing Myspace Trackers from the Generate HTML menu). Copy the Myspace code to your clipboard.

Now, you need to get the code into your Myspace photo page(s).
  1. Log in to your Myspace account
  2. Select My Photos from the Profile tab
  3. Click Edit Photos
  4. Select one photo from the page you'd like to track and click on the image caption. If the photo has no caption, click on the edit caption link.
  5. Copy your WunderCounter code into the caption and save it
That's all you need to do. Now, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • If you have multiple pages of photos, you'll need to tag at least one caption on each photo page in order to track all of your pages
  • Putting tracker code into the caption may not leave you much room for something meaningful which people can read. You may be able to get around this by using a very short page name for your counter. Keep in mind that you can enter any page name you like when creating the code, so you can even use something short like myspace_photos_1 when naming your page
  • If you're using some sort of slide show on profile page, the slide show may spit out the WunderCounter code when it runs. That's probably not what you want. Really, the slide show shouldn't spit out raw HTML as text, so I'm going to say that the problem is with the actual software. However, if this is a concern, you may not want to use the counter in your photo captions.
That's pretty much all there is to it. Let me know if it works out for you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WunderCounter on Zorpia.com

I've just become aware that the WunderCounter works on profile pages for the social networking site Zorpia.com. What's very cool about this site is that the full JavaScript counter works on it. Now, I don't have a Zorpia account, so I can't tell you exactly how it's done, but I came across a functional version today so I know that it's possible.

Kudos to Zorpia.com for not locking down the profile pages to JavaScript like so many other social networking sites have done!

Friday, November 7, 2008

What Happened to the Facebook Tracker?

This article is an explanation of why you can no longer track Facebook Note views. However, I should point out that you can still track links in Facebook notes. For more information, please see the following posts:

Facebook Link Tracking in Facebook Notes
Tracking Facebook Links Outside of Notes

I do get a lot of questions about Facebook tracking and whether it's possible to track a Facebook profile page. Right now, the answer is "no". Some of you will remember that there was, at one point, a Facebook Note Tracker on the WunderCounter, but since Facebook has made some changes, it no longer works.

It's a pretty basic problem. The WunderCounter is really a tiny graphic, which needs to be loaded by a web browser. When you insert it into a web page (like a Myspace page), it gets loaded by each visitor to the page. In an effort to exert maximum control over how pages look and behave, Facebook has decided to cache the images displayed on their pages. It really speeds up page loads, but it gives you much less control over your page content. Personally, don't like it, but if you look at the load times for a lot of Myspace profiles you can see why they might want to do that.

So, if you add an image to a Facebook note (like the counter), you'll notice that a Facebook server will download the image once (this is the caching) and then you'll never see any more tracking stats on that note. Originally this was not the case, and it was possible to get an idea of how many people were reading your notes by tracking the accesses, but Facebook has tightened this up recently.

Having said that, I believe it may be possible to use the WunderCounter when tracking pages of a Facebook application, but that's something for Facebook developers rather than regular users.

So, don't blame me -- blame Facebook!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How to Track Blogger.com Pages (Part II)

OK. So now we know how to add a tracker to the blog template. That's nice and clean and it's under the radar. If folks don't look at the code, they won't know the tracker code is there. The problem is that it's pure HTML and it won't give us the level of detail that we could get with a JavaScript counter. That's where the gadgets come in.

First off, let's create some tracker code.

  1. Log in to the WunderCounter
  2. Choose Generate HTML -> Counter & Tracker Code
  3. For this example, I'm going to choose an Odometer style counter. You can select whatever style suits you best, whether that's graphical or invisible.
  4. Copy the code to your clipboard
So, we've got our code. Now, let's look at the blogger end of things.
  1. Make sure you're logged in and able to edit your blog
  2. Choose the Settings tab
  3. Select Page Elements if it's not already selected
  4. Click Add a Gadget
  5. Choose HTML/JavaScript from the list of available gadgets
  6. Now, you'll need to add a title and content for your gadget. For this example, I've given my gadget a title of WunderCounter
  7. Now paste your tracker code into the content box
  8. Click the Save button and you're done
You should now have a WunderCounter gadget which appears on your blog pages and tracks your visitors with referring URLs and all of that other good stuff.

If you want your tracker to be a little less obvious, you can rename the gadget and add some other content to the content part of the box. Another possibility is that you can add the tracker code to one of your other gadget boxes. In my case, I'm happy to let people know that there is a tracker on the page, so I'm not going to put any effort into concealing it, but it's certainly not difficult to do if that's important to you.

How to Track Blogger.com Pages (Part I)

If you're interested in tracking Blogger.com pages, please see this related post, which shows you a much more effective way of tracking Blogger.com pages:

How to Track Blogger.com Pages (Part II)

As I set this blog up yesterday, I naturally thought it would be helpful to track the page views. I had never added tracking to a Blogger.com page and there are no specific instructions up on WunderCounter.com, so I'll post a quick tutorial here. For the purposes of this tutorial I'm going to use the "Myspace" style tracker. Now, this tracker can be used on sites other than Myspace, so don't worry about the name. It's the right tracker for our purposes.

  1. Log in to the WunderCounter
  2. Choose Myspace Trackers from the Generate HTML menu
  3. Enter the URL of your blog (e.g. blog.wundercounter.com in my case)
  4. Submit the form and copy the code that is displayed on the following page
That takes care of generating the code. Now, log in to your blogger.com account. Once you are on your main blog edit page:

  1. Click the Layout tab
  2. Select Edit HTML
  3. Now inspect the HTML source of your template, looking for the <body> tag.
  4. Paste your tracker code somewhere after this tag
  5. Click Save Template
Now, load up your actual blog page. You should now have an invisible tracker in your blog header. To confirm this, refresh your WunderCounter dashboard page to make sure that your page hits are showing up. If you don't see any hits, make sure you haven't blocked your own IP number. (Check under Options -> Account Options -> Don't Count My Browser if you have a Premium account.)

This is a pure HTML counter, so it doesn't provide referring URLs, but it will provide you with a lot of helpful tracking info. There is, however, a way to add JavaScript trackers to your Blogger.com account and that will be the topic of the next post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why start a blog?

So, I've never really been big on blogs. In fact, I really like this shirt, but lately I've come to realize how blogs can be a really handy way of getting a message out. It's not as invasive as email and it can actually be better at getting a message across. Plus, you can easily archive the posts, making them available for future readers. Don't get me wrong, I'll still send out the occasional email, but posting a quick news item here is much, much easier than sending out an email to 10,000+ addresses. Mailing on that scale has its own special headaches.

So, that brings me to the WunderCounter blog. I wanted a quick way to get little news bits out to folks. I do like to post items on the dashboard page so that people see them when they log in, but I've found that some people either don't see the notes or find them easy to ignore. I'll continue to post important messages on the dashboard, but the dashboard doesn't allow you to comment back, so that's another thing the blog has going for it.

I think what really brought me around is the fact that in the latest Mac OS (10.5), RSS feeds are built in to Mail. I've found it to be ridiculously easy to add a few blogs to that section of Mail and the layout, which is a lot like a regular email message, gives me an easy way to get a quick overview of new posts on blogs that I care about. I believe Outlook has something similar built in, but since I'm not a Windows guy, I can't really comment on that. If you're using the latest version of Mail, just select File -> Add RSS feeds and specify the custom URL of the blog feed you're interested in. Hopefully you'll choose to follow this WunderCounter blog and you'll pick up some helpful information along the way!