Saturday, 4 October 2008

A Busman's Holiday




Mike's verandah, his gecko and stag beetle


With Cat on her term break from the college and me tired of sitting in front of my computer writing blogs, at last we’ve managed to get away for a few days.

We went to stay with Mike and Air at their home out in the rice fields near Phibun Mangsahan three hours east in Ubon province and have just got back home after a very pleasant few days.

And what did Mike and I do while we were there? We sat at his computer most of the time doing an update of my website, www.thaigirl2004.com !

This is the one I set up to promote my novel, THAI GIRL and now, fully updated, it has some new stuff about MY THAI GIRL AND I, the book about my life in Thailand with Cat.

I hope you’ll have a look as the updated site as it was an enormous task!

For me the most interesting things on www.thaigirl2004.com are the eighty or so comments I’ve received from readers of the book (sent to me at arhicks56@hotmail.com) which are collected together on a READERS FORUM, and also the various extracts from magazine reviews, interviews with yours truly etc. In other words the stuff not written by me!

The good, the bad and the ugly about the books are all now there for your scrutiny.

Do have a look too at the Picture Gallery which illustrates particular episodes in THAI GIRL… especially if you’ve read the book and don’t know Thailand. It always seems a shame to me that novels have no pictures.

Anyway, Mike is an IT specialist so for him doing this for me was a real busman’s holiday and I’m more than grateful to him for it. It’s a wearisome task so his karma has just taken a big upwards swoop.

I’m admiring also not only of his skill in grappling with HTML and other hellish complications, but also with the calm and methodical way in which he negotiated each hiccup. Believe me these were many and loud and would have had me in a frenzy.

My cerebral software must be missing as I cannot do computers. They are cussed, capricious, deceitful and thoroughly infuriating… and as for the Web! I pity anyone who gets trapped in its tangled threads. There are spiders crawling there and without Mike’s help they’d have been the death of me.

So we sat on the verandah of his rural hideaway, totally surrounded by rice fields, invaded by over-friendly dogs, noisy insects and gekos, the heavy humidity and summer rains sweeping through every few hours… and page by painful page we updated the site.

Less than a kilometer away runs the Mun River, a major tributary of the Mekong and when our eyes were square we wandered down there and gazed across its brown and swirling expanse. With not a structure in sight this could have been an Amazon or a mini-Congo. And when we were hungry we drove back to the bridge with the whole family and sat at red clothed tables on a floating pontoon under a grass roof, trying the best dishes and watching the grey squalls of rain approaching us and blotting out the view.

Secured by three ropes the pontoon felt safe enough but slip the knots and we’d start a rapid passage downstream and end up who knows where. The clumps of water hyacinth swirling in the current were passing by very fast indeed.

How long, we wondered, would it take this water to reach the Mekong, to descend through Laos, past Champassac to the great rapids on the border with Cambodia and on down through Vietnam to the sea. It’s one of great river systems of the world and the awesome power of nature just next to the table was a nice antidote to obsessing about my websites.

Thinking of which…!

This blog gets plenty of visits but of course every blogger wants to find more readers. Maximising traffic is a dark art I don’t understand, but there’s one thing that particularly puzzles me. And somebody must know the answer.

Not so long ago this blog used to receive many visits from surfers doing Yahoo searches. Now it gets loads from Google searches but almost none from Yahoo. Why has Yahoo apparently forgotten my blog?

If you search ‘Thai Girl’ on Yahoo, up pops my website, www.thaigirl2004.com , (a static site rarely updated which gets relatively few hits) on the first page of the search result. In peculiar contrast, this blog, www.thaigirl2004.blogspot.com now doesn’t appear on the Yahoo search at all, or perhaps is hundreds of pages down.

Yahoo used to find it but now it doesn’t.

Can anyone tell me why?


arhicks56@hotmail.com The Thai Girl Blog Copyright Andrew Hicks

5 comments:

Lloyd said...

The liklihood is that your "page rank" in Google has increased on your blog because it is linked, and links too other websites that have more relevant content that matches specific search criteria.

Static websites can drift down in ranking if they do not have many internal and external links and the content is not specific. 'Thai' and 'Girl' are generic search terms that alone would not give you a good ranking, they may have previously.

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

Thai Girl said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Lloyd.

In fact it is my website, www.thaigirl2004.com which is static that is easily found by Yahoo searches.

This blog which has much better Google and Alexa ratings and is updated regularly has fallen off Yahoo's radar. Google still finds it but Yahoo no longer does.

I shall follow up the Google link you recommend anyway.

mike said...

Thanks for the kind words Andrew; we enjoyed your visit and look forward to next time.

Lloyd said...

Take a look at the links to and from your blog.

http://validator.w3.org/checklink?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thaigirl2004.blogspot.com%2F&hide_type=all&depth=&check=Check

Blogger is google and is often indexed within hours of new content being added, it also indexes image names and 'alt' text which yahoo cannot due to the protection from the servers.

Thai Girl said...

Thanks again, LLoyd.

Unfortunately as with most things computer related I hit an impossible barrier. In the links you've given me to follow up about Google searches there's a character I can't read. It looks like a back to front 'E'.

For example at the second link... '.com%2F?thide_' (The mystery character appears at the '?'.)

If you can tell me what character I should input here, I will follow up the links.

Anna tells me it's been 5 degrees in Petersfield but that there have been some nice autumn days.

All the best,

Andrew