Comments Enabled

I have enabled comments on the site for all new posts (including this one). I have some posts currently in draft that I want to encourage discussion on and I feel it would be best to have it centralized on the post itself, as opposed to scattered on social media.

If you have a moment, please leave a comment on this post so that I can ensure the comment system is working. You should be able to comment without an account, or use your WordPress.com or social media account to post.

If you encounter any issues, please let me know.

Site Statistics with Matomo

Since moving to WordPress, I’ve been wanting to add some form of visitor statistics to my site. This proved more difficult than I expected, though, due to some strict requirements that I had:

  • The data has to be self-hosted, to ensure that I know how it is used. I will never provide collected visitor information to a third party willingly.
  • I have to be able to respect the privacy requests of my visitors, such as the Do Not Track setting in browsers.
  • I have to be able to anonymize the information as much as possible. While I want to know aggregated information, I have no desire to know and be responsible for the detailed specifics of my visitors.

With those three requirements, many common services, such as Automattic’s JetPack and Google Analytics, were ruled out as there is no option to self-host the data or visibility into how anonymized the data was.

Recently, I stumbled upon Matomo. From their site:

Matomo (formerly Piwik) is the leading open-source analytics platform that gives you more than just powerful analytics: free open-source software; 100% data ownership; user privacy protection; user-centric insights; customisable and extensible.

Matomo ticks all of the boxes, and even a few I hadn’t thought of, such as having a mobile app and being open source. It even has complete WordPress support through the WP-Piwik plugin.

It respects the privacy of my visitors through a variety of methods, including:

  • Honoring Do Not Track requests.
  • Having an option (which I’ve enabled) to anonymize all IP addresses, allowing me to see the country a user was from but no more.

As of Saturday, June 4, 2016 I have enabled site statistics for this site using a self-hosted Matomo instance. If you would like to opt out of statistics for this and other respectful sites1, enable the Do Not Track setting for your browser.

Update January 10, 2018: Piwik changed their name to Matomo; I’ve updated this post and links accordingly.


  1. Websites have to volunteer to respect the Do Not Track setting; web browsers can only ask. [return]

Mailing List Working Again

My mailing list was failing to send updates for the past few weeks due to a technical issue. That issue has been fixed now, and the mailing list should resume this Friday morning (or today, if you’re reading this from the email).

Sorry for the inconvenience. I wrote some posts that weren’t sent out, so if you’re interested take a scroll down the homepage to see what you missed.

Launching Mailchimp Popup on Click

When I added an email newsletter to this site, I wanted to have a link for readers to subscribe. I’m using MailChimpto send the emails and they provide a few options for the destination of that link:

  1. Dedicated subscribe page, hosted by MailChimp.
  2. Automatic inline popup, which appears a specified amount of time after arriving at the site.
  3. An API to roll your own solution.

The first option works, but feels disconnected from the site.

The second option is a mixed bag. The popup is nicely designed and keeps the reader connected to the site by appearing over the page. It’s also evil by appearing automatically, and I wish MailChimp wouldn’t encourage this sort of behavior on the web.

The third option just requires work. I’m not willing to put in the time to make it look and feel as good as the MailChimp provided popup.

The second option was exactly what I wanted, except for it appearing automatically. So, I set out to use the pop-up that MailChimp provides, but have it only appear after a user has clicked a link. This way the reader’s experience isn’t interrupted.

A quick bit of searching online, and Stack Overflow had the answer (as always). Two new click handlers are required, but overall an easy fix.

See how it works by clicking the “Email” subscribe link in the sidebar.

Subscription Options

If you’re looking to keep up to date with the things I post here, you can find a variety of options in the sidebar (or menu if you’re on mobile).

My latest addition to the list is email subscription, provided by the awesome MailChimp. By subscribing you will get an email every Friday with a summary of all posts from the previous week.

Pick a subscription option that works for you, or keep checking the site and enjoy! Thank you for reading.

Starting Fresh

Moved to a new city.

Started a new job.

Joined a club.

Made new friends.

Rebuilt a website.

We can all use a fresh start sometimes. Welcome to the new Colin C. Williams.

Photos

Some of you may have noticed a new section in my navigation bar. That’s right folks, I’ve officially added a Photos Section!

For a while I’ve had a casual interest in photography, but haven’t been able to invest a proper amount of time into learning. Since I got my iPhone 4, I’ve been trying to take more photos as I always have a camera with me and it’s not half bad!

To help with organizing and sharing my photos, I’ve been using Instagram. So, since all of the photos I take are on my iPhone, and the ones I deem good enough to share on Instagram are the ones I want people to see, I’m simply showing those on this site.

As for the styling, I decided to break the mold of the rest of the site a bit. Everything else has a pure white background and, while I do like it for text, I don’t think it suites photos very well. I find that the photos got lost in the background. On black, however, I find that the photos really “pop”, or stand out.