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Blogging with iPhone (and Android)

I am all in an experimentation mood these days. I guess I am all bored with writing about same old visits to restaurants and I had run out of ways to say things like “the meat is tender and juicy”. I guess I want to push some boundaries of in food blogging. One of the things that I want to do is to find ways to make things interesting so that I can engage you on the blog.

A few days ago, I was having breakfast with Suanne in Lido. I came across an item on the menu I had never noticed before. I ordered that and I wanted to share with all of you what it looked like because I thought it would be a conversation maker.

Naturally I thought of using Twitter or Facebook but I wanted to do something different. So I whipped out the iPhone and tried to blog from it. I was doing it for the first time and so it was a lot of slow pecking and fumbling around. That 20 minutes breakfast turned out to be 40 minutes! Poor Suanne had to sit patiently while waiting for me to blog about it on the small device.

I am getting a hang of it. Each post I made gets easier and faster. However, this is just experiments. I don’t foresee I will blog a lot on-the-go. This is because these sort of posts are sort of quick and dirty — short sentences, poor quality pictures and all. I guess it will be useful for those “breaking news” type of posts or a single-dish-dining-alone restaurant visits.

I had been using the WordPress app on the iPhone a lot already. However, I was just using that app for checking new comments (above, right) and I use that feature a lot.

Chowtimes.com is written on WordPress and there is an iPhone app for WordPress. For those of you who blogs on Blogger, there should be an app for that. You just need to search the Apple AppStore for it. I am not familiar with Blogger and so will just cover WordPress on this post.

Talking about Blogger, I would like to encourage those of you on Blogger to consider moving to WordPress. Chowtimes.com started as a Blogger site but over the years we moved to WordPress and I am glad we are on it. There are pros and cons with moving to WordPress. The key thing is that WordPress … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Top Vancouver Area Food Blog of February 2011

Alright. Here is the latest leaderboard of the Top Vancouver Area Food Blog for February 2011. We cull these info from the chowtimes blogroll. There was quite a bit of work initially setting the process up. Once setup, it is providing a wealth of info of the state of food blogs in Vancouver. I find it amazing how one thing led to another from the blogroll.

Blogroll-Traffic-06Mar2011

The use of the blogroll had steadily increased. It used to hover just above 300 pageviews per day. Since the last two weeks, it went above 400 pageviews. It shows us that people do actually find it useful.

We were thinking of how many people actually attributed to these pageviews. Unless everyone puts up their hands to be counted, we can only guess. Let’s do that shall we? We know there are about 727 food related posts generated by vancouver blogs last month and that makes it 727 / 28 days = 26 blog posts a day (LOL! That’s A LOT isn’t it?)

Assuming that whoever uses the blogroll reads everything out there, we are looking at at least 16 people using the blogroll. But I know it is more than that. I think it should be way above 30 people. It would be great if blogroll users stick their hands up and be counted by leaving a comment.

In January we had 121 blogs on the blogroll. In February, the number of blogs that writes about restaurants in Vancouver has increased by another 14 websites  to 135. Isn’t it such a staggering number?

Frequency-Blog-Posts-Jan-Feb-2011

The above is the comparison between January and February of how frequent bloggers publish a post.

The blue bar represents the blogs that … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Weekend Musings: My Name Is Ben And I Am a Stats Junkie …

Hi. My name is Ben and I am a stats junkie.

[Here is the part where all of you are supposed to say collectively ... Hey, Ben ...]

It’s true. I can’t peel my eyes off the stats on chowtimes. I guess that is one of those things that keeps us going with the blog. We use a variety of tools to keep track of the traffic. Our primary ones are sitemeterFeedjitStatCounter and Google Analytics.

I like Feedjit because it is realtime and the sound it makes each time someone hits a page … ding-ding-ding-dong-dong-ding-ding … sweet music. LOL! Every time when furious dings emitted from the computer, we are alerted that something is up (most likely visits from our dear friend, Google bot).

Suanne loves statscounter but I hate it. She likes that because she likes to see what keywords that Google brings traffic to the site. I think I know why. You see Google brings more new readers to chowtimes via recipe posts than restaurant ones.

The Flagcounter is a pretty one but it is quite useless for us. This is located way at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.

I think we had maxed the number of flags already because for the past six months there had not been any addition of countries. I think there are either 100 flags or 104 flags (so hard to count those tiny flags).

It goes with saying that most traffic is from Canada. Although a lot of the content in chowtimes are Canadian, the traffic from the US is pretty high too. So it is good to know that the reach of chowtimes does extend beyond the 49th parallel.

The UK and Australia took 3rd and 4th spot while Malaysia and Singapore was not far behind.

Of particular interest to us is China (2,924). There used to be … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Top Vancouver Area Food Blog of January 2011

Every since we created and started maintaining the blogroll of all Vancouver Area food blogs, we have at our disposal quite a database of the blogs. Believe it or not, there is a total of 121 blogs that writes about restaurants.

So with the blogroll along with the use of a couple of tools, we are able to quickly pull data out from the feeds of the blogs and put together some interesting stats of the state of food blogs in vancouver

I don’t think it is any surprise that not every blog is active but there are five which are worthy to be mentioned for their sheer hard working in hammering out at least one post a day.

Between 84 blogs that has at least one post during January 2011, there is a staggering 803 posts.

That works out to be an average of about … GOSH … 26 posts a day. LOL!

OK, time to call out the MOST PROLIFIC Vancouver Food Blog (restaurants only) for January 2011 because these bloggers deserved to be called out for their sheer hardwork to keep all of us informed and entertained … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Poll: Do You Use Facebook?

Many of you know that we have a fan page on facebook. The number of people who “liked” the page had been slowly increasing and is now at over 500. For those of you who have not but wants to “like” the facebook page, the page is on http://www.facebook.com/chowtimes.

I am trying to see if I should invest my time in integrating chowtimes.com more closely with FaceBook.

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This is because we saw a marked increase of referrals from facebook to chowtimes. This tells us that a significant percentage of the friends of chowtimes does come to our site through that social media site.

What I am thinking of doing is to integrate not just the post from chowtimes to our facebook fan page but to also to cross post your comments from chowtimes to facebook and vice versa.

Also I am thinking of dropping our existing altlike in favour of facebook’s native alt functionality.

Can you please take a moment and participate in this 5 seconds survey. I would like to know how many of you uses facebook so that I see if it is worthwhile spending time working on this. Thanks a lot!

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Weekend Musings: Avatars, Blogroll and Polls

Hi everyone!

There is nothing particularly entertaining for this week’s musings. Let’s just say that this week’s musing will be educational instead.

Get Your Own Avatar

I had just turned on the feature on chowtimes to show your avatar against the comments you make. Have you ever wondered how this is done? It is pretty cool and simple.

It seems like most of you does not have your own avatar yet. You might want to consider getting your own avatar. If you don’t have an avatar, the system will generate a graphic pattern to represent you. Not too pretty.

An avatar is an image that follows you from blog to blog appearing beside your name when you comment on avatar enabled websites.

You can assign a proper picture to your own avatar if you want. It is associated with your email address. Here, check this out … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Weekend Musings: On-The-Go Blogging Equipment

An old friend of mine had been feeding me interesting emails. He knows I am blogging about food and he always sends me stuff he comes across. I just don’t know where he finds so many of these interesting stuff.

So a few weeks ago, he sent me a series of pictures with no details. Just the pictures. I thought this is interesting and share these pictures with you. At the same time, people asked me about what Suanne and I carry with us when we go out blogging-eating. So, I’ll share with you what is in our bag … and hope that you foodies out there also tell me what you bring along!

Off hand, I would discount this little device which looks like a gun but what caught my attention is the most important equipment to a foodie — the spoon.

Hey actually, maybe the spoon is not the most important equipment to the foodie. I mean a committed foodie will eat with their hands, no problem.

But if there is one thing that I absolutely need, it is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Weekend Musings: Vancouver Food Blogs Rock The World and List of Most Active Food Blog in Vancouver

We all know for sure that Vancouver has a very lively and active food blog scene.

A little while back I put up a blogroll of all the Vancouver Food Blogs on chowtimes (link here). To tell the truth I was completely and pleasantly surprised that we have so many food blogs dedicated to writing about restaurants and dining outs in our city.

Do you know how many sites there are on the chowtimes’ blogroll?

114!

Isn’t that awesome?

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Just last week, Fairchild TV aired a documentary on chowtimes. In the introduction, it highlighted a point I made about how active the food blogging site is. In the absence of a better stat, I pointed to Fairchild the Urbanspoon Leaderboard above.

As you can see, Vancouver dominates 6 of the top 7 positions on the leaderboard for the number of posts published. The top Vancouver food blogs lead all the other blogs by a far margin. [Note: Victoria in the list refers to Victoria, Australia … not BC]

So that brings to our mind. Does Vancouver have the biggest community of food bloggers? I know Urbanspoon does not represent a lot of countries, particularly Asia where food blogging is not small.

You know what I would love to do? I would love to …

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