Getting noticed on the web

My website is typically a fairly quiet and underused affair. Written while I was at University, it was meant to be an online CV to help me apply for a job. And it served it’s purpose – it got me a few interviews, and on a couple of occasions interviewers would ask questions about stuff that I’d put on my online CV but not had room for on an application form.

I’ve not really got much use for it now, as I’m not looking to leave IBM any time soon. So, it has largely been left to languish. I will update it every now and then with an end date for something – so that I don’t claim to be doing something that I’m not. But I normally can’t be bothered to update it with new stuff, and several projects and side activities have never made it to the site.

I’m explaining this by way of background. I mentioned yesterday about a few emails that I had received about my Windows Mobile wiki note-taking app. I’ve had a few more since, which was surprising as I didn’t think that anyone would have come across my little tool. I’ve got AWStats installed so, out of curiosity, I had a look at my web server statistics to see how many times it had been downloaded, hoping to see perhaps a dozen or so downloads.

Wow… few more than that! Last time I checked – the app has been downloaded 713 times. I was gobsmacked – where had all these downloads come from?

Actually, never mind that for the moment – what had happened to my bandwidth usage? Bandwidth usage is how much data is downloaded from my site. As I said, my website is quiet. Very quiet. In fact, before I got into blogging a few months ago, I think my web host could’ve deleted it and I probably wouldn’t have noticed!

In August, my bandwidth usage was 37MB. In July, 36MB. And in June, 29MB. This is the sort of quiet I was used to.

Last month? “November – 190MB”. Huh? “December – 247MB”! And we’re only a few days into December!

After a brief panic about the possibility of going over my 3000MB bandwidth monthly allowance and getting sent an unexpected (and unwanted!) bill, I went back to looking at where all these people had come from.

It seems that my note-taking app (written partly as an excuse to play with a Windows Mobile developer kit, and partly for something I could use to take notes myself) has got noticed by a few people.

The first site I looked at was a Spanish site called softonic. (Actually, my language skills aren’t so great – I had to try translating it with Google to see what language it was in.)

It was quite a surprise to see my tool described on a Spanish site I’d never heard of! And I found a bunch of other links from other sites. Annoyingly, some of these like clieuk were showing screenshots hosted from my server on their front pages. Every time anyone looked at the frontpage for their site, an image or two would be downloaded from my site. And these are apparently reasonably popular sites.

This explains the spike in bandwidth. Now I think about it, downloads of the app couldn’t account for it – it’s only 74kb, which is tiny! (Most of the bulk of it is in .NET).

A List Apart explain it well:

If a 100K JPEG is hotlinked on a site that gets, say, 1,000 hits a day, that’s 100MB of data transferred from your site without a single person actually visiting your site.

And remember, I only have 3000MB a month before I start having to pay!

I’ve done a bit of looking into this, and it should be possible to stop sites from doing this.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll need to. My brief spot in the Internet limelight is coming to an end. It’s all relative – it hasn’t been that busy. But for code which was my first stab at PHP about five years ago, and in comparison to what it’s used to, my poor little site has been getting hammered! 🙂

I think things are quieting down – the links to my site have dropped off the front pages of the referring sites, and the graphs spat out by AWStats are showing downwards-sloping curves. It looks like things will be back to their quiet norm in another few days.

It’s been interesting. And the emails I’ve got from people saying that they’ve found it useful has been really touching.

So that’s what it’s like when you get noticed on the web! Old php creaks a bit, you get a few nice emails, and you panic about bandwidth bills. 🙂

One Response to “Getting noticed on the web”

  1. […] I went for a hosted service this time, rather than set it up all myself, so if I don’t have to worry about bandwidth usage if it proves to be popular. […]