Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Connect via LinkedIn

If you've got an account at LinkedIn, please feel free to check out my profile and add me as a connection. If you're a satisfied WunderCounter user and you want to give me a recommendation, I'm happy to accept. It's a bit difficult for me to give a recommendation back if we haven't worked together on a project, but if you've hired me or if we've collaborated on something I'll gladly return the favour.

My profile is at

As long as we're talking about social networking, if you'd like to connect on Myspace you can add my band (Vile Richard) as a friend:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

IP Alerts via Twitter?

After reading about how people are using Twitter to get alerts from their washing machines, cat flaps, etc I decided to have a look at the Twitter API. I have to say it's incredibly simple to use. I'll even take the time to integrate Twitter support with the WunderCounter if there is some demand for it. Possibilities include getting a tweet for:
  1. IP Alerts: If you've flagged an IP, get an alert that this person is currently visiting your site
  2. Account capacity: Get an alert that you're about to or have already exceeded your daily hits
  3. Billing: Get an alert when your account is due for a payment
  4. Alerts about new blog posts, scheduled downtime etc
Tweets #1-3 would come in the form of a direct message, which means that these updates would not be viewable in your public stream. At this point, I'm mostly interested in seeing if there is some demand for this. You can already code #1 yourself if you're an enterprising individual and are using the WunderCounter API, but full site integration would make it just a couple of mouse clicks away.

So, if you are interested in such a feature, just follow the WunderCounter Twitter feed. I've just set up the feed, so there aren't currently any followers. If that continues to be the case, I'll know that there's no interest. ;) Just testing the waters at this point.

Having said all of that, here's an example of how easy it is to use the API. In just 4 lines of Perl, you can update your Twitter status:

use Net::Twitter;
my $twit = Net::Twitter->new({username=>"myuser", password=>"mypass" });
my $result = $twit->update({status => "I use the WunderCounter!"});

You can't make it much simpler than that!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

API: Geo-location Info Now In Tripwire and Watcher Feeds

The API has now been updated and geo-location info is now available in the feeds. This means that your Watcher and Tripwire feeds will now include City, State/Region and Country information where such information is available. In addition to this, if you examine the XML tags of the RSS feeds, you'll see that longitude and latitude has been added as well. These points don't represent the user's exact location, but they will point you at the correct location for the city (if available).

This kind of information is very handy when coding your own applications to interace with the API. The longitude/latitude info enables you to add pushpins to Google maps without first having to look up and geocode the locations provided in your feed. It opens up a lot of possibilities for working with WunderCounter data and for creating 3rd party applications. Since the RSS feed is made up of valid XML, you can quite easily parse the feed via Perl/PHP/Ruby/Python etc to create some really cool stuff.

If you're a developer and you have some requests for API features and/or documentation, please get in touch with me. I'll try to post some Perl code samples in future, so that you can get some ideas for mashing up your WunderCounter hits with your own web site. If anyone wants to submit some code in other languages, I'd be happy to post it here or point others to your site to get inspiration.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Free Counters are Back!

As I mentioned in a previous article, the WunderCounter started out as a totally free site. It was just a hobby I worked on in my spare time while I was an undergrad. It worked out so well that I eventually had to throw the brakes on the whole free part of the equation and I stopped offering them. The free accounts were maybe a bit too popular for me to handle at the time. However, anyone who had a free account at the time was allowed to keep it (to this day many thousands of people have done so), but it just wasn't possible to get new free accounts.

As of a couple of weeks ago, I'm once again offering free accounts. A brief explanation of the Wunder Free account as well as the signup link can be found here. CPU and bandwidth are plentiful these days and I'd like to encourage you to get the word out to friends and colleagues about these counters.

16 Different Styles

The idea behind the Wunder Free accounts is that these accounts produce only graphical (viewable) counters. They don't track stats, but they offer 16 different graphical styles to choose from. These counters work on, Myspace, LiveJournal, eBay etc. They look great and they're a handy first step to getting involved with web analytics. These accounts can be upgraded to paying accounts at any point, but there's absolutely no pressure to do so. If all you really want is a free counter, you're at the right place. The counters are currently unbranded. That may change in future, but I'm not 100% sure on that. We'll see how the unbranded counters work out to start with.

Earning Money via Free Accounts

You can even earn money with these free accounts. Each graphical counter links back to with an affiliate link. If you opt in to the affiliate program, you can earn money for every paying customer you refer back to the WunderCounter.

So, you can actually earn money while taking advantage of the free counters. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Packages and Pricing: I Need Your Input

One of the toughest things about running the WunderCounter is trying to figure out a transparent structure for pricing and packages. Initially, it was an easy task, since everything was free. Not many calculations to do there. As the site grew in popularity and users, expenses increased dramatically. So, I introduced a voluntary paid service for users who wanted to upgrade their accounts. That account was called the Premium account. There were still free accounts available, but they required users to display branded, graphical counters. Eventually I also added an account which had less features than the Premium account and also had a lower price. It was called the Invisible account. The free, branded accounts were called the Regular accounts and they were fairly limited in use, but there was no commitment to pay.

The packages available were: Regular < Invisible < Premium.

Eventually, I had to choose between spending a lot of time supporting the Regular accounts or no longer offering new accounts of that type. I chose to take that option offline. Users who never removed their Regular accounts still have access to them, but new accounts haven't been offered for a few years. That has allowed me to focus on the paying accounts. (Free accounts are now once again available, but that's a subject for a different post).

The packages now available were: Invisible < Premium.

Now, I find myself looking at the packages available and trying to find a way to make them simpler for you to understand and I see that the package names are suboptimal. The Invisible package is a source of confusion, because it implies that that's the only package with Invisible counters, which is not the case. To solve this problem, I need to find a more descriptive name for this package. While I'm at it, I'd also like to bump up the features of the Invisible package.

It can be a bit of a problem to rename an existing package and change the feature set. So, rather than just renaming the Invisible package and tweaking its features, what I've decided to do is to introduce two new package types, which are below the Premium pricing. I'm going to retire the Invisible package as these two packages will effective replace the Invisible. If you currently have an Invisible account, you'll have the option of switching to one of the newer packages. If you're happy with your current account, there's no need to change, but you will have the option to do so if you'd like to take advantage of it.

I've already started restructuring things and I'm working out some ideas. If you'd like to be a part of the process, contact me via or comment back here. Tell me which features you like most and also which features you don't care about. Tell me what you love about the WunderCounter, but also tell me what you hate about it. How do you use it? What makes it useful to you? And, most importantly, tell me what it's worth to you. How much do you pay now? How much would you like to be paying?

As far as what is coming, I can tell you that the Premium package is going to be bigger and better than it now is, but that the pricing is not going to change. Premium users will get a beefed up account without any increase to the current price. Of the two remaining packages, the pricing of one package will be slightly higher than the Invisible account and the other will be lower. That will introduce a pricing range that covers a little more ground and gives users more flexibility in choice.

I can't please everyone (and I never will!), but your feedback is extremely helpful when making these sorts of (very important) decisions. So, let me know where your head is at and I'll keep you in mind as I roll out the new packages.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to Use Counter Filters: Delete and Freeze

As of today, I'm introducing the concept of filters, which can be applied to the counters and trackers in your account. Filters have been introduced in order to allow you to permanently delete counters and trackers in your account. In the past, if you deleted a counter the same page name would re-appear in your account if it was visited again by you or someone else. In some cases, this is not the desired behaviour and the filters will correct this.

There are currently two filters: delete and freeze. To apply a filter, log in to your account and choose Counter Reset & Delete from the Options menu on your dashboard page. You find the filters on this page.


The delete filter does pretty much what you expect. If you apply this filter to a counter, the counter will be removed from the pages tracked listings on your dashboard page. It will also be removed from search menus on your reports. It will not be removed from aggregate stats or daily log files. So, if the page which you have just marked as deleted was visited 50 times yesterday, your stats for yesterday will not decrease by 50 hits -- they will remain the same and you will still see them as you browse yesterdays log files.

Hits to this counter which take place after you have applied the delete filter will not appear in your stats. If, in future, you choose to re-enable this counter, you may do so by selecting to show deleted counters and then removing the delete filter from this counter. At that point, your counter will begin tracking again.

Some users choose to delete their counters daily as a matter of preference. If you're in the habit of doing this, do not apply the delete filter to your counters as they will become inactive. What you really want to do is reset your counters to zero. This is probably what you want to be doing anyway. If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with me.


The freeze filter is a completely new concept to the WunderCounter. Applying this filter to a counter means that your counter will continue to display, but it will no longer increment or continue to track any stats. You may find this useful if you only want to track certain pages on certain days or if you want control over which stats are collected over certain periods of time.

Removing Old Counter Code

If you really do want to delete a counter, you should also remove the actual code from your pages. This is in the interest of conserving CPU and bandwidth. If thousands (or tens of thousands) of users don't remove unused counter code, it creates a lot of traffic on the Internet (and on WunderCounter servers) which is unnecessary. It eats up resources and electricity. So, in the interest of a greener online experience, please take a moment to remove any counter code which is no longer relevant. It's a bit like turning the lights off when you leave a room. It's a small gesture, but when applied on a grander scale it can make a big difference.

Myspace Blog Trackers

A Myspace Blog Tracker can be added in the following way:
  1. Create your counter code by choosing Myspace counter from the Generate HTML menu on your dashboard page
  2. When the WunderCounter asks you for a page name, use something like this:
  3. When you get your WunderCounter code, copy the URL (everything between the quotes) to your clipboard
  4. Now create or edit a blog post.
  5. Choose the "add image" button
  6. When asked for the image URL, paste the WunderCounter URL which you just copied from your code
  7. Preview and post your blog
You'll want to refresh your dashboard page to ensure that your new blog is being tracked and then that's it -- you're done!

The Lazy (but less effective) Way

Now, if you don't want to add a counter to every single blog post, there is a workaround. It's not as effective, but it gets the job done for lazy people (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

To create a generic blog counter:
  1. Log in to your MySpace account
  2. Click the "Blog" link
  3. Click the "Customize Blog" link (under "My Controls")
  4. Find the "Page Header" section
  5. Add the counter code to the "Your Own Header HTML" text box
  6. Click the "update" button at the very bottom of the page
Now, because the code is going into your blog header, the counter won't distinguish between blog articles. So, all blog article views will be tracked under the same page name. This is convenient, because you don't have to add a counter for each new article that you write. The flip side is that you won't be able to track which article is more popular.

Personally, I prefer the first method, because I want to see which posts are being read most, but there's no right or wrong way here. It's all a matter of personal preference.

How To Track Myspace Music/Band Pages

First off, make sure you select "MySpaceTrackers" from the "Generate HTML" menu when starting the code generator. Once you have created your counter code, there are several ways you can install a counter on your MySpace page. I'm giving you the "easy" way here.

If you have a Band/Musican page:
  1. Log in to your MySpace account
  2. Click "Edit Profile"
  3. Click "Band Details"
  4. Find the "Bio" box
  5. Click the edit link for that box
  6. Copy and paste your counter code into this box
  7. Preview and save the "Bio" section
  8. Refresh your dashboard page to ensure that your new counter has in your account
That should be all there is to it. Just keep in mind that MySpace may not update your account page right away (although it probably will). Since MySpace doesn't explicitly support web counters, this is mostly a "workaround" solution, but it works.

Please keep in mind that MySpace bans JavaScript, so the counter is a pure HTML counter. It will work very well, but it won't have all of the info that a JavaScript counter has. Most notably, you won't get information on referring URLs.