Category Archives: Site Admin

Do not adjust your set

The Build Doctor is married, back from honeymoon and straight back onto a project.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that this blog took too long to load pages. Pingdom would taunt me every month with reports of the response time being 2 over 2 seconds. That turned out to be the expensive WordPress theme making a lot of SQL queries as it constructed the page. With Google now making an emphasis on fast, I decided to play along and change my theme.

Things might get … minimal.

Site outage tomorrow, 9am GMT

Update: this is all done.
In any case, you North Americans should be sleeping, or partying: That’s 5 hours before US East Coast, 8 hours before the West Coast.

If you’re in Europe or the UK, that’s another story. Sorry. The VPS server is being moved.

Job survey, redux

I posted a survey on Friday, and yanked it the same day. Sorry, it was pants. Sorry too if you got an RSS feed entry or a tweet about it. My bad.

I have made a different and hopefully better version. If you could take the time to answer 3 questions, you get to help steer the decision I make on this. Thanks in advance!

Link to survey

New Year Site Admin

Happy new year! I have done some long-overdue admin work – silly things like upgrading WordPress plugins, etc.

  • The Related Posts plugin has been replaced because it didn’t actually seem to work. Hopefully as I finish adding the right categories to pages, it’ll be useful.
  • The Creative Commons license didn’t migrate over from Blogger. It has now.
  • At least one RSS aggregator is republishing this blog. That one cheeky site is in violation of the CC “No Commercial” license. There’s now a little footer on the RSS feed to let people know where the content came from.

Stay warm everyone. Unless you live in the southern hemisphere. You’re probably doing just fine.

Site admin – change to links

I just deactivated the plugin for WordPress and the Feedburner Link Splicer on this blog. In their place will be a daily post of interesting links. It seems simpler this way.

Hang onto your hats.

(image taken from *clairity’s* photostream)

The dust settles

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with CITCON, my Scrum Master training, moving the blog and trying to have a life.

This blog is now migrated away from Blogger. It now runs WordPress hosted on a Debian Linux VPS, humming away in a datacentre somewhere. I have all the articles moved over. The Feedburner RSS feed now serves out the new versions of the pages. Some of the internal links need updating. Where I find 404 errors in the Apache logs, I am making redirects so the right content can be found. This will take some time to fix. Normal service should resume on Tuesday with a guest post.


Build Doctor Retrospective Season: Traffic

I had no idea how the Internet was going to respond to my little niche blog. At first, it didn’t. Slowly things built up and a pattern emerged. My audience is mostly in the USA. Almost all the traffic in the week, barely any in the weekend, and most of it driven by Google searches. For a niche blog, I think that’s fine.

Here’s the most popular pages:

1. The guest post by Michael Brunton-Spall on the Big Visible CruiseControl Status Screen (see why we stuck with “Radiator” as the name) had the highest traffic. Getting linked to from The Guardian’s blog helped.

2. Five build patterns was close behind. There’s a lot more to be done with this topic.

3. Of all the CruiseControl posts I have, this is the most popular. Tidying up the config file really seems to strike a chord with people.

4. The Ant series had the most positive comments (thanks everyone). Not surprised it’s in the top 5.

5. Antcall is evil is the post I wanted to be number one. It’s a warning to all those who are tempted by the siren umm, call of antcall. Not sure that I should have rolled up a .NET post in there as well.

In summary, I’m pretty content with it. It was difficult in the beginning but I’m learning about how to write and publicize posts. There was more readers when it was on the ThoughtWorks aggregator, but there was no feedback. Onwards and upwards.

Build doctor: a standalone blog once more.

Build doctor: a standalone blog once more(image arranged and photographed by my 5 year old daughter)

Its been a little over a week since this blog was removed from the Planet TW aggregator. It was absolutely the right thing to do. That didn’t stop me being nervous about doing it. The problem was the lack of feedback from the users that read the blog via Planet TW’s website or RSS feed. Darren Rowse of had kindly confirmed my suspicion that I wasn’t really connecting with people.

The other issue that I had was that none of the branding came through Planet TW. It was all posted under my name and not the Build Doctor brand.

After some correspondance with the ThoughtWorks IS department, Last Thursday evening Hongtao pulled this blog from the aggregator for me. And nothing really happened. Well, I went to the pub (my local has Broadside on tap!).

Hits still continued to be mainly from google searches, with a few referrals and RSS readers. Traffic was a little down at the beginning of last week but:

  • I hadn’t posted much content last week anyhow; and
  • The drop wasn’t all that significant, and things picked up a little.

What has been interesting is the growth in subscriber numbers. is a new-ish, niche blog that I haven’t promoted very much. The subscriber numbers haven’t been huge. Since the disconnection, the RSS subscriber numbers have been slowly but steadily growing.

Hurrah. A metric that I can actually use.

Exit Planet TW (you can subscribe via my RSS feed to keep reading)

Exit Planet TW (you can subscribe via my RSS feed to keep reading)

(image taken from Ade’s photostream – which is appropriate as he made the Planet TW aggregator what it is today)

The Build Doctor has been up and running for almost 6 months now. I don’t have a target for subscriber numbers or page view at the moment. This blog is about creating some useful advice for people who are trying to build software, and trying to form a community. I don’t need the gratification of immense numbers of RSS subscribers, but I do need some feedback. And feedback, if you’re reading this blog via the ‘ThoughtWorks Alumni’ feed or site, is what I want to talk to you about.

In January I had this blog added to the Alumni feed. It’s been a nice way to get the message out there, but I hadn’t counted on the effects of this: I don’t really know how many readers I have. Am I helping? Or I cause readers to yawn into their coffee? To try and resolve this, I did an experiment. One of last week’s posts doesn’t have the image hosted in the normal place. It’s on my web server, where I can read the logs. That gave me some indication of how much traffic I got to the post. 24 hours later, there had been just over 300 requests in my Apache logs for that image, but barely any page views for the post.

So I know that more pages are being rendered than what I know about. That doesn’t mean that anybody is actually reading, but I have a good feeling about it. So if you read this via Planet TW, you should know this: I’m going to mail ThoughtWorks IS and ask them to remove this blog. You can subscribe via RSS and Email from my blog. Details below. I hope you can come with me. I’m not nearly done yet.

Subscribe in a reader

You can also subscribe via email, follow me on Twitter, etc. Link.

How to get repeat prescriptions from the Build Doctor

How to get repeat prescriptions from the Build Doctor(image taken from Tevor’s Photostream)

Thanks for all your comments so far. It’s nice to know that people are reading and (in just a few cases) correcting me. I do appreciate feedback – of all kinds. Here’s an outline of the ways you could track what’s going on here, and get in touch.

How to keep up to date:
RSS Feed. If you already use RSS feeds, then perhaps the most sensible thing is to subscribe to the feed for the blog. We publish a full feed which gets you ever article published, as well as daily build and deploy links from

Email Subscriptions. Every page on Build Doctor has a link for subscribing by email. I take privacy seriously, and will not disclose your email to anybody. If your internet access is restricted, this could be an option.

Twitter. Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with people, that seems to be quickly gaining traction. I’m going to announce new posts on Twitter.

Talk to the doctor:
You can email the surgery at ‘medic (at) build (dash) doctor (dot) com’

Every Build Doctor blog post has a comment section. I approve comments before they are published, so feel free to drop me a comment. Tell me if you’d like to be emailed back, and I can delete the comment before it gets published.

Twitter is also a good way to get in touch.

Tell your friends:
Every article also has links to social bookmarking sites at the bottom. If yours isn’t there, tell me and I’ll try and squeeze it in.

Thanks to the hipsters at the Disco Blog for the title gag.