I have opinions

And I’ll state them here. I used to host a wordpress blog over at a personal domain, but I’ve turned that into a family blog. I also have another blog for professional (biostatistics and drug development) entries over at Realizations in Biostatistics. Here I’ll just write on random things, though given the saturation of politics in this election year I have the feeling that I’ll be writing more on those.

There’s a whole year of entries that are missing, but I’ll try to recover them. They’re in a WordPress .xml file, but I’m having problems uploading.

Update: there’s also this issue with the fact that I used to use the markdown plugin.

Comments are moderated

Damn spammers.

Closing up this shop, perchance to open once again

So, lately, I’ve been thinking about where to take this blog. Late last year, I spun off my professional stuff to a new blog called Realizations in Biostatistics, and pretty much kept this for my personal opinions. This particular blog has a long history, having been hosted on Blogger, .mac (using iBlog), ibiblio (using Pivot), Liverack, and finally Host Department. Each service has had its upsides and downsides. The latest has the nice benefit of theoretically infinite bandwidth (something I was running into problems with at Liverack, though their nonexistent customer service made the problem much worse). However, the server must reside on a Commodore 64 (what kind of chip you got in there, a Dorito?), and sometimes I can’t even post using the WordPress admin pages because of the bad response time. Earlier this year I reached 20,000 visitors, which is a nice milestone for a low-traffic blog like this.

I’ve gone from about 10 readers a day to about 40 (or over 100 at various times), and recently I’ve dropped to about 5. I gained a small but intelligent readership, which was perfect for me. However, I feel I haven’t been able to do this blog or its readership any justice, and I’ve just let it fall by the wayside. It’s been more of an eclectic personal blog, and I’m finding as time passes that I’m less interested in personal blogs and more interested about what viewpoints people have on topics on which they have a lot of experience or expertise. I guess I’m losing interest in personal blogs and am finding more interest in professional blogs with a personal angle. This blog is no different. I guess I’m losing interest in sharing personal things, not to mention that life has cranked up enough where I need to spend more time living it and less time sharing about living it.

I’ve also been thinking about why I’ve had a sudden drop in readership, and I’ve come up with three for 4 reasons:
1) A lot of the readership pretty much stumbled upon this blog, and left quickly after finding the random bit of information they were looking for
2) My hosting company did some “upgrading” recently, and as a result I’ve been left with a blog with a very slow response time
3) I’ve been letting this blog go recently, and it probably shows (and so I haven’t really done much about #1 and #2)
and maybe
4) I think as blogging matures the personal stuff is going to services like Twitter or Myspace and blogging is becoming more of a topical medium, a professional outlet (like the major news outlet blogs), a community tool, or a cult phenomenon.

So I think I am going to go in the direction of #4 as well and keep Realizations as my primary blog, which I update less frequently but with matter that is less connected to the particular time it is published and is more oriented to doing biostatistics. If I decide to blog my yoga practice (and I may well do so) then I’ll start a topical blog on that. This domain and blog will remain until the time I prepaid runs out, but I don’t think I will renew them. Or maybe I’ll run WordPress backup and move this as an archive to wordpress.com.

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RandomJohn.info is friendlier to mobile browsers

I just installed WordPress Mobile Edition for you mobile browsers out there. Enjoy Random John from your phone!

New directions

So, I’ve been thinking about where I want to take this blog. Mostly, it has been a personal outlet, and I’ve been writing pretty much what comes to mind. I still want that personal outlet, and Random John Reloaded will remain that forum. However, I think I need an outlet for professional blogging as well. The public is becoming more informed about health care issues, and even drug development in particular. Unfortunately, public trust in the scientific process with regards to the development and marketing of drugs is faltering, and I do think there is a contribution a biostatistician can make to the to turn this around. I think waning public trust in the process is a pretty bad thing because then we don’t know how to take care of ourselves. I do think that critical thinking skills, honest skepticism, transparency, and a good understanding of the scientific process are essential in rebuilding trust in our healthcare system.

Therefore, soon I will be starting a new professional blog, still to be named. The goal of that blog will be to give people information on how clinical trials are run, how drugs are taken from the laboratory to the market, how we learn about drugs, and biostatistics in general. I will probably submit entries to carnivals such as Bio::Blogs. Random John Reloaded will still exist as a personal outlet, including topics on politics, alternative medicine (when it doesn’t relate to studies, trial design, or analysis), and personal issues.

So without further ado, I present to you Realizations in Biostatistics. It’s on Blogger Beta for now, I know. Blogger annoyances will one day force me to move it over.

The comment spam firehose

Did the spammers recently compromise one of the big supercomputers? I think 90% of the spam I’ve removed is in the last month. Fortunately, my spam killer has had nearly 100% sensitivity and specificity, or else it would be a whole lot harder.


I’m out actually doing statistics rather than talking about it. I should start appearing around these parts a little more often after Labor Day.

Busy busy

I’ve been keeping pretty busy as of late, and no time to tend the blog. In fact, my blog reading has fallen to pretty much nil. I’ll scan headlines in “bloglines”:http://www.bloglines.com, but usually not read much more in depth.

At any rate, you might have heard some of the hubbub surrounding the FDA’s ringing endorsement of adaptive designs. This is a good thing, as adaptive designs when properly run have the potential to decrease time to marketing a good product or sending a bad one to the biomedical waste bin. I’ll be around to comment on that in the moderate future. I still have a while of spending what little free time I have trying to recover from stuffing my head full of new information.

I also realize that with the server move, my old images have disappeared. Specifically, my graphs about the Geiers’ autism paper have gone. I’ll dig those up and put them back when I get a chance.

Anniversary of a rebirth

On this day last year, I moved Random John over from “ibiblio”:http://www.ibiblio.org using “Pivot”:http://www.pivot.net blogware. As it turns out, using ibiblio with Pivot was a rather popular choice, given that Pivot stores its posts in text files rather than an SQL database.

I’m glad I made the move going to Liverack was the right move at the time. It was $3/month with 2 free months (i.e. $30/year) for 100 MB space and 1GB bandwidth. However, I clearly have outgrown that, given that I am now transferring over 1GB using text only.

At any rate, Liverack never responded to my support tickets, or inquiries to upgrade my account, or anything at all. When I ran over my bandwidth last month, I tried to contact them to pay another buck or so to keep my account going for a day, but they never responded. They mysteriously suspended my account on Monday. They don’t post their phone number on their website, and even the phone number that I found via Whois was disconnected. And today, they had the gall to try to charge my Paypal account.

So yeah, I posted about another bad customer service experience. I should post about a good one.

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Pardon the mess

So my webhosting company pulled the rug out from under me a few days too early. Fortunately, I had a backup of my WordPress database from about 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t 100% compatible with my new web hosting company. But I managed.

Gone are the themes and cool sidebar widgets. For now. In time, I’ll get them back. But this comes in between family, long hours of work, and recovery from a trip to Seattle which had a rude interruption on the return flight. Yes, I was caught in the long lines in the wake of the foiled terrorist plots.

But most of my blog entries are still up.

There are improvements to the new site. I have a lot more bandwidth and a lot more space. So it’s time to let the photos flow!