Monday, September 22, 2008

Logging Counts/Tracking Visitors

Like many sites, EMRR started with a freebee site hits counter. I was happy when after two months of operation EMRR had 825 visitors. Remember, at this time we started with 25 reviews and had grown to 102 reviews when hitting 825 home page visits.

By the end of the first year, EMRR had 7,246 visitors averaging about 21 per day.

In July 1999, I eliminated the freebee counter and implemented my own Perl script counter. At the end of 1999, EMRR was at 32,668 visitors averaging for the year about 70 per day.

In February 2000, I added a Vendor and Contributor link out counter to monitor how often folks were linking out. At the end of 2000, EMRR was at 71,051 visitors averaging for the year about 105 per day.

In June of 2001, I did a bunch of counter re-write and created various reports to monitor site traffic. At the end of 2001, EMRR was at 152,363 visitors to the home page, averaging for the year about 226 per day.

Starting our fifth year, on 1/14/2003, EMRR had had 244,690 visitors to our then 1,360 articles (any many other site features), averaging 253 per day.

The following were the per day visits average for the next several years:

2003 – 297 per day
2004 – 302 per day
2005 - 423 per day
2006 - 445 per day

In July 2006, I stopped tracking it. I was having ongoing issues with my scripts and they were overwriting the log files and I was missing counts. Between July 2006 and October 2007, I kept shutting off the actual scripts that did the tracking.

Interestingly, EMRR is back to a freebee counter since mid-Jan 2008. In general, the site averaged about 450 entries per day through 2007 and 2008.

February of 2009 showed the average to be 545 entries per day with nearly 4000 page views per day.

EMRR still runs the "# of Guests On" script and this basically looks for how many unique IP addresses are on the site at one time. The buffer is cleared on the hour, so even if 20 guests are on at 10:59pm, at 11:00pm it will reset to 0 and start recording over. I like to track this, but the freebee counter does a better job (see below).

One last point of interest… the most guests on EMRR at one time since 1/1/03 was 99 on 10-17-2004 at 0:53am.

As a side-bar: by comparison, EMRR does not get the same number of daily hits as PlanetRocketry or TRF (and possibly ROL). This is completely understood because these sites have forums that draw traffic frequency. In addition, those sites update more frequently than EMRR, which averages 3 times per month.

All-in-all, I’m pleased with the continued growth of EMRR and the counts tell part of the historical story behind EMRR.

Next Up: Vendor Recognition

I'm worried about you...

Really! Looking at all the prizes available and with only 8 days left... Where are your rocketry video entries? Oh, well, the left over prizes will flip over to the very popular Before-After contest.

Enjoy all the new reviews and add flight logs with PICTURES!

My Favorite Rocket's 60th Flight

I successfully flew my favorite rocket, the now OOP Nordic Rocketry Meanie for its 60th flight on Saturday. Here is the write-up from CRMRC's (Vermont's NAR Club) President:

"It was great to have to have Nick E and his son back on the flying field for fourteen flights. This included a Estes Blue Ninja on an unrecorded motor, a blue rocket called "no name" on an A8-3, a red Quest Superbird twice on a B6-4 and once on a AT D13-7, a black Estes Amazon on both a B6-4 and a C6-5, and a white Orion on a C11-5. All of these flights arched upwind and then floated quite a ways downwind. Kicking it up a notch, Nick├ó€™s Hypersonic flew on an AT G64 and H165R. Nick had quite a walk on that one, as was his Binder Design Dragonfly on a no-longer available F101. This motor burned in less than half a second for a great kick off the pad, and another walk. Nick's yellow Nortic Meanie flew it's 60th and 61st flights on an Estes D12-5 and a big kicker AT E11-5; a great life for this rocket. The same can not be said for this 2X version of the Meanie 2X, which was attempted on a seven AT motors: 1-H165R, 3-G35W, and 3-E28. Unfortunately, the motor nozzles did not allow the same igniter in all of the engines. So the 3 E28s had a faster lighting igniter than the other motors. The 3 E28s lit but nothing else did so the rocket only got about ten feet high and then crashed hard to the ground."

EMRR Corner 9-09-08


As seen in:
Apogee Components' Free Peak of Flight Newsletter #217

Subscribe HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

EMRR makes Sport Rocketry Magazine

Nice article from James Gartrell!


While I'm at it, the new NAR Member Guidebook is a wonderful resource. Join NAR to get yours. It is worth it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why not a true rating system?

A question that has come up several times: Why doesn’t EMRR have a real rating system with set criteria to determine rocket “scores”?

I quickly realized that people interpret things differently. So I decided that maybe EMRR shouldn’t have a rating system. I bounced that idea off of a few initial contributors and was told something I can not repeat… but the point was that we needed a rating system.

So 4/15/98, EMRR announced a rating system and a key. On 5/2/98, we made a tweak to the rating key and to this date the system has stayed the same:

5: Perfect, wouldn't change a thing
4: Very Good, might need something (tell us what)
3: Good, this is basically average . . . it get's by
2: Eh! Needs improvement just to make average
1: Please make drastic changes Mr. Vendor

Since this is a historical document, let’s share what some of those rating boxes looked like (note EMRR’s have always been slightly different… after all, it is my site).

1998 - Rogue Gnat

1998 - Rogue Hex Courier

1999 - ASP - WAC Corporal

2002 - Binder Design - Dragonfly

2008 - Sunward - Interplanetary Shuttle

The challenge of having a set criteria is that there are so many writers who all have different likes and dislikes. For example, some might see a balsa nose cone as a very bad thing and rate it poorly, while another sees it as a non-issue.

Another contrast is some of the different "standards" of high-power verse low-power. For example, provision of motor retention (much more common in low power), rip-stop nylon parachutes (much more common in high power), decals, plywood, phenolic, etc.

The other issue with having a criteria is that it would make submitting a rocket review too much like real work. We encourage thoughtful ratings and have challenged some submitted ratings, we are more interested in the content of the review so that others can think about the details recorded and decide if that sounds like a rocket they’d like to build.

Last month (8/08) EMRR added some "thinking boxes" to the review submission form to try to improve the standardization of the ratings. Here are the three sections:

Now with all that being said, I believe most reviews tend toward the 4+ rating when really they are “average” and should be 3’s. I also believe people are somewhat hesitant to give a kit a 2 or below. We seem to be a small community, but hey, everyone makes one that has issues. Telling about those issues will help the vendor “make drastic changes”.

The company I work for had a former CEO that said: “Bad News is Good News, No News is Bad News, and Good News is No News”. Think about it. Hearing the bad news allows for continuous improvement.

We thought you would be interested in some "bad news". The three-way tie for kits reviewed on EMRR with the worst ratings 1-2-1:

Das Modell - Jumbo 3
Estes Industries - SpaceShipOne E
OOP - North Coast Rocketry (NCR) – Patriot

EMRR’s personal worse rated kit, also with a 1-2-1:

Estes Industries – Mongoose

Now in all fairness to the manufacturers… let’s just state the facts, highlighting the good and the areas of concern for various rockets.

Next up: Logging counts/tracking visitors

EMRR is proud to introduce...

After, oh so long, we are pleased to announce a Flight Log Management feature so that guests can edit, delete and otherwise manage their flight logs. In addition, guests can now submit Flight Pictures to their flight logs (excellent suggestion from Tim Dicke)!

Dick Stafford wins a $108 shopping spree from Super Hit List reviews.

New reviews and WARNING: Contest deadlines fast approaching.

14 DAYS left for calendar pictures... please send 'em if you got 'em!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Can't Even Begin to Tell You...

So much scripting has been done. Mostly for the up-n-coming Flight Log Management (Read about it on the EMRR BLog). You can now use the new Flight Log form (better than ever)... and there are new features coming!

Oh, yes, enjoy the new reviews, too!

1 MONTH left for calendar pictures... please send 'em if you got 'em!

Look for this wonderful picture in the Mercury Engineering Grave Danger Review by Mark Rose.

EMRR Flight Log Overhaul

Started the EMRR Flight Log Overhaul today. The end result "should" be:

1) Individual Flight Logs that can be edited by the guest
2) Faster Form Loading for input
3) Improved Motor Recognition Algorithm (for motor letter graph placement)
4) Improved Flight Profile with some level of customization

The steps I see that need to be taken:

A) Move Flight Logs to own directory- Done 8/26

B) Create Entry Form only script (decouple from search, list, etc)- Done 8/28

C) Implement Midnight Catalog building for forms- Done 8/28 (determined not needed, didn't save any load time)

D) Implement Directory Scan and Read script for all Logs- Done 8/29 (impacted 13 scripts, broke analysis tools, added another action)

E) Implement a Flight Log Profile Creation Script (this will generate individualized files that will allow editing)- Done 8/31 (EMRR Logs are now in their own file!)

F) Create Guest Flight Log Entry Forms (must be specific through profile to tie to individualized logs)- Done 8/31 (Big Win here... use the same forms... added code to key off your name.)

G) Create Flight Log Edit Tool (on the above file)- Done 9/02 (Just putting on the final touches)

Even though the basics were done on 9/02, this took me into many new areas. I cleaned up areas in the Flight Log form (no more plus "+" in names, extra spaces removed, capatilize the first letter of names, etc. Also a new Flight Log Entry Form (Chan Stevens inspired). Also revamp of the Flight Log Entry form that can be embedded in Club Websites (thanks to Quark's Tim Dicke). A lot, A lot!

H) Create new Profile Statistics with updated Motor Recognition Algorithm

I) Create customizable Profile

J) Fix Flightlog Administrative/Analysis tools

K) CIP: Automate Multi Flights for same Rocket (right now it is manual)

So I hope this all goes well... it is a lot of work.


Friday, September 5, 2008

New Flight Log Entry Form

Really getting some nice input from the beta-testers and I look forward to implementing it...

... I have finished a Chan Stevens suggestion that now allows you to select a Kit, MOPS, one of your previously logged rockets, or a custom rocket name.

The form is active for everyone (sure hope I tested is well enough... especially since I'm going on vacation for 1 week starting tomorrow!)


Thursday, September 4, 2008

While Doing the Flight Log Management Update...

... I discovered a way to:

Eliminate the extra spaces that are now randomly showing up in MOTORS
Eliminate the extra PLUS "+" sign on some names
Test for the random and rare double flight log on 1-line trick

Also, fix three complaints that our #1 Review Format guy has been dealing with (probably for years)... and the fix was easy... just didn't know about them.

Tremendous amount of backbone work driven by the Flight Logs Overhaul.

Do you notice any issues with EMRR site that you'd like fixed?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Many Reviews and Articles added!

Enjoy this update! Doing a lot of background work... check out the BLog under the label EMRR Backbone.

Yes, still need good pictures for the EMRR Calendar (to be considered).

Monday, September 1, 2008

3-Way Quest Superbird Drag Race

We planned a 3-way Quest Superbird Drag Race for today and had excellent weather (although a tad bit windy). My 11-year old son, our 17-year old friend and I all built (independently) a Quest Superbird.

My rocket weighed in at 3.5 ounces, while their’s weighed in at 2.9 ounces.

First race (LEFT) on B6-4's... I clear took the lead off the pads with our friends and then my son's following. My flight was the lowest, while the other two tied for altitude.

Second race (RIGHT) on C6-5's... Again, I took the early lead followed by my son's by a hair and then our friend. The 17-year old’s was the winner for altitude and duration!