Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 30 January 2015

Why are these flies spinning on their backs?

Over Christmas and New Year I was in three different houses over a three week period: my own, my family's and a friend's. In my own and my family's house I witnessed a (single) fly flying past erratically, landing on its back and spinning at great speed. In my friend's house I heard my friend's husband wonder out loud what on earth a fly was doing - "is it spinning on its back?" I asked him - "yes".

What's this all about?

Are the flies trying to right themselves, recovering from a stunning injury, trying to free themselves from something, dying (seems awfully effortful, poor things), spinning for the hell of it or having some other neurological problem?

After a chat about it on Twitter it seems that it might be the effects of a pesticide that's causing a neurological effect. Perfectly plausible although none of us in the houses mentioned were using it, however flies do fly and they may have been sprayed elsewhere and arrived later at our respective houses in their agitated state.

A few months ago I had a wasps' nest sprayed with a white powder via a puffer. Shortly after the powder had been puffed on the nest the wasps left and swarmed outside it before dropping down and twitching (slowly) before dying.

This thing with the flies is very strange to see, I've never seen anything move that quickly under its own power - as you can see in the videos below it's quite a remarkable performance. This is just a selection of several videos on YouTube showing this phenomenon.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Blog stats for this blog part 5 (31 December 2014)

I've had this blog since June 2009 and in May 2010 I added Google Analytics. Blogger (which hosts this blog and is owned by Google) also has its own 'Blogger stats' which began in July 2010.

Google Analytics are generally believed to be the more accurate figures, whereas Blogger stats are approximately 3x the figure - Blogger counts every time a search engine indexes the site (a regular occurrence).

For the last five years I've reported, on a roughly annual basis, my stats according to both Google Analytics and Blogger. I do this in case anyone else is curious / nosey. Although the largest figure (1.6m views) sounds bonkersly massive (well it does to me) this is a cumulative figure over 5 years of blogging, and is probably inflated threefold.

My blog is visited and indexed by Google and for some search terms it appears on the first page, however it is certainly not a big hitter but it does get a few hundred visits each day, which amazes and delights me given that it's not really about anything. Niche blogs generally build an audience and do useful things, I just witter on and record stuff for later. Most of my blog posts get tiny numbers of views but one or two are very popular and the 'hits' are almost entirely due to them ;)

Figures in brackets next to each month are the number of posts published in that month.

Month Blogger Stats Google Analytics
January (11) 59,624 17,103
February (2) 58,153 17,792
March (10) 71,487 18,697
April (7) 65,703 18,040
May (12) 62,413 16,351
June (7) 65,194 15,781
July (11) 73,391 17,243
August (8)  68,295 16,540
September (8) 61,177 14,835
October (12) 69,856 12,950
November (2) 57,221 10,920
December (10) 67,118 11,455
Totals 779,632 187,707
Monthly avg 64,969 15,642

Total blog visitors (lifetime) is 424,084 according to Google Analytics, this is a much smaller figure than the 1.6m (pageviews, not visitors) that Blogger Stats currently displays. As you can see in the pic below up until March 2014 this blog had had about 300,000 visitors so there have been around 120,000 since then (187,000 from Jan-Dec 2014 in total).

Almost all traffic is from Google with a pitifully small amount of traffic from Twitter. I do share some of my posts on Twitter but because my blog deals with a lot of techy stuff and the people who follow me are probably quite techy themselves it's not surprising that Twitter visits are much lower.

The picture above shows the stats for this blog according to Blogger with the marker for December 2014 (at 67,118 visits). There was a dip in October 2013 (16 posts) with 37,909 pageviews, which still sounds like lots of page visits to me!

Previous blog stats posts