Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

internetarchiveContinuing in our series on the Internet Archive, we have the one thing it might be known best for, the Wayback Machine! There are over 462 billion web pages saved in the Wayback Machine, which leads to some powerful options.

The Wayback Machine is named for the WABAC time machine from the Peabody’s Improbable History segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and like a time machine, everyone has played around with the most basic usage of the Wayback Machine. Want to know what looked like in 2003? No problem, the Wayback Machine has it. How about what looked like in 1997, or what looked like in 1998? The Wayback Machine will be hours of fun if that’s what you’re looking for, but what else does it offer?

The power of the Wayback Machine is in what it stores: everything. The entire source of the page, along with any available media, is stored. First of all, you might be thinking, “I’d better block that immediately!” Don’t. No one is going to purposefully visit your site through the Wayback Machine instead of just normally visiting your site, that’s silly. Allow your site to be archived for history, there’s no reason not to.

So, what does this “everything” get you? Quite a bit actually. Ever wonder what would happen to your site if you found out your backups were bad? The Wayback Machine is here for you to copy and paste whatever text you need to, and to re-upload any media it was able to archive. Does something seem odd in your site lately, something you can’t quite identify? Instead of fully restoring an old backup, compare your site to last month’s archive on the Wayback Machine. If you can identify what’s different, you can even view the source like you would on any normal web page to dig into the deep details.

As a true story of its power, we use the Wayback Machine almost every day in Jetpack support. When you connect Jetpack with your blog, it ties everything to your blog’s URL, and assigns that URL a unique blog ID. If you’re running the Stats module, you can find that ID in the source output towards the bottom. Just look in the source for “blog:’number'” and that number is the blog ID. Sometimes people move their blog to a new domain, and Jetpack will get confused and think it’s a new site (we’re working on ways to improve that). If we can find the old site in the Wayback Machine, we can find the old blog ID in the source, and then we can fix everything.

The Wayback Machine has a lot to offer, and you only need to start digging to get a good grasp of just how much there is. Storing so much data isn’t cheap though, and the Internet Archive needs your donations to keep it running. Dive into history with the Wayback Machine and see what you can uncover! Next time? Smart 404 handler! in 2015

2015statsAccording to this report from the good folks at Jetpack, 2015 was another big year for Along with some interesting stats, the report sums it up best:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2015 was a bit slower for than last year, so I’ll see what I can do about publishing a bit more content in 2016. šŸ™‚

The Desktop App

wpappThere’s a new desktop app for WordPress blogs, this time from the good folks at Automattic, the people behind I know many of you have heard me say that WordPress.comĀ andĀ WordPress are two entirely separate entities, so let me clear this up right now. You can use this app with both and self-hosted WordPress(.org) blogs! Despite theĀ app’s name, you can connect your self-hosted WordPress blog to with Jetpack and it’s Manage module, allowing you to work with your self-hosted WordPress blog in both and the app.

The new desktop app is mostly a wrapper for Calypso, the new interface packed full of the latest web technology. Calypso is where the real fun lies, conceived as an answer to “What if we rebuilt WordPress from scratch today?” It’s fast, responsive, and open source, with real-time notifications, the ability to work with multiple sites through the same interface, and a thoroughly re-built editor.

The desktop app brings Calypso to you in a browser-free app, free of occasionally troublesome browser extensions and poor support of the latest web technologies from certain browsers I dare not name, leveraging the processing power and local storage of your computer. It’s a whole new way to experience WordPress, packed into one convenient application.

Try the new Desktop App today, or even just Calypso at itself, you won’t be disappointed. šŸ™‚ in 2014

annualreport2014 was another big year for, and as usual, the folks at Jetpack prepared an awesome recap of my year for me! There’s some fun numbers and charts in there to round-up the year, as well as this gem:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

2014 was a great year, so here’s hoping for an even greater 2015!

Finding Stats

Mint BarsAfter three years of blogging on, I moved back to a self-hosted installation so I could re-learn what I had forgotten and tinker with things that I had never tried before, like caching. When you’re on, you can only use’s built-in stats program, but now that I had a chance to tinker with many of the available stat services and software, I found that I wasn’t missing much (or didn’t need what I was missing).

Obviously, I’m running Jetpack, which gives me the same stats that I had under, but I was on my own now, and I wanted more. The first thing I went to was Google Analytics, but I stopped just short of installing it. Everyone knows what Google Analytics is, and so do I, but if part of running my own WordPress installation was about being on my own, why did I want to dive head-first into a hosted stats program? So, I moved on to what seemed to be the next best thing, Open Web Analytics, an open source and self-hosted direct competitor to Google Analytics. It wasn’t all that great. It has a lot of data, almost too much, but it has no way to filter out my own views, which I consider to be major failure in any stats program. Jetpack stats block your own views as long as you’re simply logged in to your WordPress site, it’s a great feature. If I visit my blog 80 times, and I get 84 visits in the day, I want to know that I actually got 84 visits, not 4.

Moving on, I found Piwik, and I loved it. It provides far more data than I could ever find under Google Analytics, it’s free and open source, it’s hosted and controlled entirely by me, it has a free iOS app for both iPhone and iPad, and best of all, I can block my own visits from being recorded! Piwik is great, and I really wanted to love it, but it’s just too much. At the very least, it reminded me that I really didn’t need all that data.

I wanted more than Jetpack’s stats, but not that much, which brings me to Mint. I had used Mint before moving to, and it’s still here and just as lovely as ever, and I can still block my own views with it. Mint starts off as a simple bare-bones stats experience which you can extend with Peppers, like plugins for WordPress. Just by adding the User Agent 007 Pepper, I had all I needed in addition to the stats provided by Jetpack.

You may notice that there’s a lot of feature overlap between Jetpack and Mint, but that’s a very good thing. No stats program is perfect, not even Google Analytics. Each one filters out bots and bad visitors to a certain degree, some “security” browser add-ons block certain stats programs, and the occasional bug or glitch can foul anything. You will never find two stats programs that agree with each other, and that’s why it’s nice to have more than one to average things out a bit.

In summary, if you have a huge site and love data, I highly recommend Piwik. It’s a gorgeous stats program that I wish I could justify using. As for myself, I’m sticking with Jetpack and Mint.

Back on

So, before I get too far into this post (or perhaps before I even start it), I should point out that there are essentially two recognizable types of WordPress. There’s the main one,, which is blogging software that you install on a hosting provider. You own it and manage it, so there are fewer restrictions, but there are more responsibilities. Then, there’s, a blogging service which offers you a free WordPress-powered blog with the option to purchase additional upgrades. Someone else manages it for you, so there are some restrictions, and additional features cost extra, but you don’t have to worry about anything (like features breaking, incompatibilities, downtime, etc). For a more in-depth analysis, please refer to this handy chart.

I used to blog with, but since joining AutomatticĀ about 3 years ago, I switched to, since is an Automattic product. It was great to get down in the trenches with our users and help to put out fires as I found them, but I found that my ability to code in PHP and JavaScriptĀ had degenerated quite a bit. There’s really no way to tweak a blog outside of CSS on, so no way eventually lead to no need, which lead to no want, which lead to a severe lack of practice and ultimately a loss of knowledge. Now that we have grown to 190 Automatticians, I figured there’s enough of us in the trenches on that I could go back to Being back on frees me up to experiment with code again and break things on my blog, which I have been doing all weekend.

With the polite prodding of Mike Schroder over the years, I came back to my first-ever hosting provider, DreamHost. A lot has changed over the past nine years at DreamHost, all for the better. Resurrecting a nine-year-old dormant hosting account was no easy task, but Mika Epstein saved the day. It was like moving back into an old and much-loved home. Transferred a blog this size was rather rough and interrupted with frequent errors, but Michael Koenig of the Guided Transfer team had the magic touch and had my blog up and running on in a matter minutes. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for one of our products, but the ability to sit back and let someone else who does this for a living (dozens of time a day) take charge of the whole situation is well worth the price.

There are a lot of handy built-in features on that are unfortunately left behind when you switch to, but it’s easy to either get them back or supplement them with something else. First, you’ll need Jetpack, which provides many of’s built-in features. Then, it’s just a matter of finding things to provide you with the security and reliability that is known for. Having talked with the folks behindĀ Sucuri several times, I went with them for security. They’re good people, and you can trust them with the safety of your site. I also locked this down a bit more with aĀ two-factor authentication plugin. Choosing what to use for reliable and automatic backups was an easy decision. I went with VaultPress, another Automattic product that’s well worth the price. Finally, you don’t have to worry about updates on, and you don’t have to on either, as long as you’re running the Automatic Updater plugin (from fellow Automattician Gary Pendergast).

In short, if you don’t like breaking things, stick to If you want to experiment, is for you. DreamHost is great, and you’ll want to try Jetpack while securing everything with Sucuri, VaultPress, two-factor authentication, and the Automatic Updater plugin.

Tweet From Your Blog

Are you tired of your Twitter client, or do you just want to turn your blog into your own social media hub? Well, now you can Tweet from your blog!

Yes, I did mention this briefly in my earlier Timepiece post, but I figured it was so cool that I had to mention it again.

If you have a or Jetpack-powered blog with Publicize enabled, posts with no title (typical of the Aside post format) will be sent to your Publicize connections (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) with a 100-character excerpt and a link to your post. Of course, you know what that means, but I’ll say it again anyway. You can now Tweet from your blog!

Any untitled post will send the excerpt via Publicize, along with a link to the post to bring the discussion back to your blog.

If you have a blog, feel free to try it today! If you don’t, there has never been a better time to own and control your own content, and to break your reliance on other social networks.