Second annual report of a tiny, little blog

Even though this tiny, little blog has been maintained for many years, I started the annual report only from year 2009. I found it’s a very good exercise  for me to review what I have done in the past 12 months, and then focus on how I can make this blog better. So here is it, the second annual report of the

One big achievement last year was the traffic, it reached the all time high in December, 2010 and the number of pageview was almost 10 times more than just two years ago. Really happy about it.

I think there is a couple of reasons of the traffic surge, one obviously is the ever growing popularity of the Amazon Kindle eReader. Many blog posts in this website were written about this fantastic device – Kindle news, tricks, and review reports. Another possible reason is I wrote some other blog posts about iPhone, iPad, Olympus M4/3 and blog engine setup. One last reason is I added the Facebook Like button to each blog post and it helped a lot to the traffic as the sharing of a blog post to my Facebook fans will get back many incoming traffic.

OK, back to the sales … year 2010 was a great year. I sold over 120 Kindles (4 times better than 2009), over 120 physical books and eBooks (6 times more compare to year 2009). And surprisingly I sold a few camera lens from Olympus and Panasonic as well. However, the most stunning sale was someone bought 20 Zune HD music players with one order !!

Lastly, same as year 2009, there were many bizarre sales such as Hair regrowth treatment, coconut oil, bed raiser, soap dispenser, Yamaha guitar, and even X’mas LED bulbs. Amazing.

So that’s about it, what’s going to happen next year ?! I will let you know same time next year.

What to share and what your friends all care about ?

WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Plurk, Foursquare, Gowalla … there are so many “networking” sites in Internet that you can access everyday from your laptop, cafe PCs and your mobile devices. Many times I ask myself why I want to share with my friends or a total stranger of what I am thinking, where I am and how to resolve some tricky problems.

I think the answer is simple, because many of us want to be a part of larger group, a good cause, or simply of something you care.

Not a frequent blogger, twitter myself but every time I want to post something on these social networks, I can’t help but to ask myself what the purpose of that blog post, tweet, news, or location is ? The information may be about Kindle, iPhone, photography, Information technology, web usability, food but the bottom line is – will my “friends” or “followers” benefit from it ? If not, then why post ?

Couple of days ago when I was reading the book Delivering Happiness : A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, a picture popped up in my mind.

That was, all these “information” I wanted to post in these networks actually intersect with each others and each of the intersections may serve a different group of my audiences. Then I drew the following picture / graph … about how I want to serve you, as my friend; with my expertise, news, views and where-abouts.

Facebook effect on blog

According to Facebook’s own statistics, they now have over 250 million active users. In other words, if Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populated country in the world, just behind China, India, United States. So what does it mean to a blogger ? I actually don’t know / care until I checked the web traffic of my tiny blog last night.

First I checked the top 10 posts of my site, and here is the list:

  1. Facebook photo album image size
  2. Using Kindle outside US
  3. Buy Kindle 2 from outside US
  4. Buy Kindle books from outside US
  5. Reading PDF documents in Kindle 2
  6. Registering Kindle 2 from outside US
  7. Kindle for iPhone from outside US
  8. Gallery
  9. WordPress Thesis theme
  10. Kindle 2 vs. Kindle DX

Yes right, even though I wrote many posts in the last six months on Kindle 2 and Kindle DX (and in fact sold quite a few units of them via Amazon), but as you can see the top post is Facebook photo album image size. That is, a lot of Facebook users really care about how to format their photos, and make it crisp in their Facebook albums.

And then I checked the most popular search terms which led to my site, here are the results:

  1. Facebook photo size
  2. Kindle outside us
  3. Facebook picture size
  4. Facebook image size
  5. Kindle hong kong
  6. Using kindle outside us
  7. Kindle 2 hong kong
  8. Kindle 2 singapore
  9. Register kindle outside us
  10. Buy kindle books outside us

Similar findings here – lots of searches about Kindle reached my site, but 3 of the top 4 searches are actually related to Facebook photo / picture / image size. So, the lesson learnt ? Keep writing good blog posts related to Facebook, as long as it is one of the most popular websites in the world.

Claim your Facebook Username

So, any plan for the coming weekend ? Or more specifically, 12:01 noon 13rd June Hong Kong time ? It is important for you all Facebook users, as it is the day, time that you will be able to “claim” your Facebook Username. Imagine millions of Facebook users want to do it at the same time, I can tell it will be a nightmare for the Facebook IT support / infrastructure team. And of course, the user experience will not be great either.

Anyway, if you get your dream Username, you can refer to your profile like the following. And of course your friends will find you easier with this easy-to-remember URL.

Facebook profile link

The problem in fact is how you can secure your dream Username … According to the Facebook blog, in that particular day, you will have an option to select one of the suggested names or define your own if you don’t like the suggestions.

Claim your Facebook Username

If Facebook keep their promise, it means we all can now envisage what the suggestions will be displayed on screen coming Saturday. And if those are not what you want, then you better dream up a good one for yourself and fill up the text box “Choose Your Own”. So here is my recommendations to you all:

  • Before this weekend magic moment, i.e. in the next two days, login to your Facebook account and search your own name. Then check how many people in Facebook world have the same name as you – it means you will know how many potential Facebookers will fight for the similar dream name in your mind.
  • Start jotting down what dream names you like, and prioritize them – it means if you cannot get the first priority name, quickly type in the next one …
  • Double check your hardware and Internet connection before that specific date / time. If there is any problem in the Saturday morning, seek help immediately.
  • Once you secured your dream Username, Twit it, mail it, blog it, and change the Facebook profile information in your Visual CV, LinkedIn and Google Profiles (if you have any one of those …)

Enjoy the web traffic that day !!

Facebook photo album image size

Are the pictures in your Facebook album all look blurry, or out-of-focus ?

The reason is simple, your pictures are not optimized to be displayed in Facebook. Even though nowadays’ digital cameras can capture very high resolution pictures but you shall not upload your full-size pictures to Facebook album straightaway. That requires Facebook to resize the pictures to fit their page layout, and makes your pictures look blurry.

In fact, the optimal size for pictures in Facebook album is 604 pixels high (or wide). Therefore, before you upload the pictures to your newly created album in Facebook, try first resizing the picture to 604 pixels wide or high. Then, use the sharpening tool or unsharp mask within your image editing tool to sharpen the pictures. Lastly, upload those processed pictures to the album.

Update 1 : From January 20th 2010, Facebook has upgraded their photo album feature to support 720 pixels high (or wide). So if you have fast Internet connection, then why not resize the photos to 720 pixels and share those with your friends ?

Update 2 : From 2nd October 2010, Facebook upgraded their photo album to support upload of photos with 2,048 pixels. In addition, the site rolled out new uploader, friend-tagging feature and lightbox based viewer.

Update 3 : From end August, 2011 – now Facebook can display the photos up to 900 pixels (you can upload photos with bigger size, but it will downsize it to 900 pixels to display).

Update 4 : Just in case you are searching for this … the new Timeline Cover image / photo size is 850 x 315 pixels.

Update 5 : From March, 2012 – Facebook  upgraded the photo viewer application to support a full-screen view up to 2048 by 2048 pixels, the maximum upload size for users. However, the upgraded view will only work in recent versions of Firefox and Chrome. Users can open up the full-screen view by clicking “Fullscreen” in the options menu beneath the photo or clicking the arrow icon at the top right hand corner of the picture to expand the size.

Update 6 : So …. Google+ also changed the profile layout, and if you want to make a cover photo just for Google+, don’t forget to resize it to 940 by 180 pixels.

Update 7 : I just prepared some Facebook Timeline cover images for you all to download and use for free. Enjoy !!

Here you go, one sample album from my Kyoto trip with my beloved Olympus camera (link to E-P3, but the photos were taken with E-510). Enjoy !!