2022 Recap

That’s a wrap for year two of my blog. It’s been mostly more of the same. I look back at encouraging trend lines from Google, and forward on what’s to come.

A collage of memorable events from the past year. Pages from a calendar, flying through the air, as if blown by a whirlwind.
A collage of memorable events from the past year. Pages from a calendar, flying through the air, as if blown by a whirlwind. Image by Dall-E.

I realize it’s been over a month since my last post here, but that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned this blog. I’m still writing regularly, but everything has been accumulating in my drafts folder. I’ve got three other articles I’m working on, and then I realized I needed to do a recap post for this year.

Another time sink is blog meta-coding. By which I mean, coding tasks on the blog itself as opposed to making content. I like tweaking things and making adjustments to personalize this space. One example of that is the work I did setting up a notification system for building the blog locally. Lately I’ve been working to integrate Mastodon. I don’t have that quite working yet, but it should be ready soon and once I have that up I’ll write it up.

This year I had 29 posts in 2022, which is 5 more than I posted last year. However, this blog started in April 2021 so it was only 8 months, versus a full 12 this year. I’m posting at a slightly slower rate, but as I stated above, I’ve been filling my drafts folder.

Google has been sending me some encouraging trends. Here’s a graph of impressions over 2022:

Google impression trends for 2022

Almost all of my Google traffic comes from my technical posts. I have three areas of focus for this blog: the Reiterate app itself (release info, tutorials, etc), personal development articles (how to improve at the game in general), and technical articles (development notes on the app and website). From the data Google gives me, I’m guessing it’s because the keywords in the technical articles are more focused than what I write in the personal development articles. But that’s just a guess.

Technical Improvements

So what have I been working on? This year I did a lot of work to improve the mobile rendering of the site. One of the benefits to switching the main site to Tailwind has been the nicer way it handles screen breaks; that is, laying out the site differently for small screens vs desktop. I don’t have that yet on the blog, although it’s on my todo list. But it inspired me to take a closer look at some of the screen breaks in the theme, and I made the menu work better. It also helped with the Google score for mobile accessibility.

I made some changes to the site metadata. Tag icons are now clickable, and it takes you to an index page showing all posts with that tag. Then I got rid of Fontawesome, which I was only using for some small icons like the tag and folder in the post metadata. That got replaced with SVG icons.

I added a new comments plugin. I had resisted adding comments before, for fear of spam bots, but that has proved to be unfounded. This blog is far too small to get targeted by spam. But just to be sure I added some backend structure so the server can send automated email, and I’ll get emailed whenever anyone posts a comment. If anyone ever posts a comment.

Next, I tweaked the social icons. Those all got SVG icons. I started some work integrating Mastodon, but the final version of that got put off until next year. Then I went through and added alt text to all my images.

I also got an account on OpenAI and started using Dall-E to make images for my posts. I added a plugin to automatically credit Dall-E for those images.

Lastly, I spent some time on the MacOS side, creating a plugin that automatically reloads my site locally when I’m editing it, and puts up a display notification when it’s ready.

Article Breakdown

Posts this year were split evenly between Tech and Reiterate. Most of the Reiterate posts documented my long struggle with the Acknowledgement feature. I’m pleased with how that turned out. I’ve been trying for a long time to come up with a system that forces the user to engage. The app is meant to get you to focus, but if you can simply tune it out then it’s not doing its job. I knew this from my own testing. You’re using the app in one of the most attention-hostile environments imaginable – while playing a video game. But forcing the user to speak out loud, and checking if they do it correctly, really makes it work. I truly believe Reiterate is unique in this regard, and could help a lot of players improve their game.

Technical notes, besides covering some of the site improvements I’ve already mentioned, touched on Swift coding notes for the app, such as making a REST API and creating custom bundles.

I also wrote my first software review, for 4am’s delightful Million Perfect Letters.

Looking Forward

What’s in store for 2023?

First of all, I have a major update for Reiterate. I’ve reworked the UI for the main Clips tab, modernizing it and improving some of the key flows regarding muting clips and editing sessions. I hope to have that in beta test soon, and then I can put up some posts on it. I’m working on an article about some surprising similarities between esports and real-life sports, and how Reiterate bridges the gap.

I also see that Debian should release the next version (bookworm). When I transitioned the site to this current release (bullseye) it went fairly smoothly, but one thing I wanted to try was to automate the server rebuild process. If I can do that for this upcoming release I’ll document it here.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy new year, and continues to improve in all aspects of their game.

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