% Better/Worse

This showed up in my Facebook memories this morning and I quickly shared it.


Then I thought about it for a minute and the scale on the chart seemed out of whack, so I deleted the post. I opened up a Google spreadsheet and started messing with numbers. Here’s what a real chart looks like if you improve by 1% each day.


What does this really show though? If the starting number 1 represents your current ability in some skill, the end result is your ability in that skill. So if you improved by 1% each day, at the end of a year your skill level would be over 37x what it currently is. Conversely if you got 1% worse each day, at the end of a year you’d be left with about 2.5% of your original ability. I can’t think of any skill where either that much of an improvement or decline is possible by any stretch of the imagination.

What about 0.1% changes though?


If you got 0.1% better each day for a year, your skill level would improve by 44% and if you got 0.1% worse each day you’d be left with just under 70% of your ability. Now we’re getting somewhere realistic!

It’s still hard to grasp what that means though, with 1 representing some ability or skill level. To put this in perspective, I’ll use the time it takes to run a mile. Starting with a 10 minute mile on day one makes it easy to understand.

If you run 1% faster each day, you’d have to run a 15.5 second mile at the end of the year. Good luck!

If you run 0.1% faster each day, you’d be running a mile in 6:56 at the end of the year. That’s seems possible doesn’t it?

Historical Currency Exchange Rates

Usually when I need to get a bunch of past exchange rates I use the GOOGLEFINANCE function in Google Spreadsheets. Something like this…

=GOOGLEFINANCE("EUR", "price", DATE(2016,1,1), TODAY(), "DAILY")

It’s quick and easy, but once in a while you’ll run into a currency where this doesn’t return enough precision, compared to the value you get when using Google’s currency converter. Even worse, today it was giving me a bunch of data that was quite different from what Google Finance showed for the current and historical data.

I found a site run by the University of British Columbia that’ll give you whatever data you need. It’s not pretty but it does the job. Those Canadians are always so generous!

Performancing Metrics

Performancing came out with a free public beta of a blog tracking service earlier this week, called Performancing Metrics. I haven’t used it a very much yet, but it looks very promising. Most statistics services and packages are bloated with useless data. PM gives bloggers access to the data they’ll need most often and it works great. The site responds quickly and stats are updated every hour. Best of all…you can track multiple blogs from one account!


I just read a very interesting article by Vince Barnes of HTML Goodies.

Three Golden Rules

Intriguing title, don’t you think? We’ll get to them in just a second. First, let’s take a quick look at the “coming to life” of your website.

Imagine if you will, all the thought that goes into a website; then the work involved in it’s actual creation; the care with which its various elements are interconnected; and the pride with which it is placed onto a web server and published for the world to see.

Next, a little time goes by and the site evolves with a tweak here, add a page there, put a database link in this, and so on. Pretty soon the site has grown a lot and represents its developer’s blood, sweat and tears. Then the server crashes and the call comes in from hosting company to say “sorry, you’ll have to upload your pages again.” Pages? PAGES? WHAT PAGES? The horror dawns on you that your only copy is that original set that you first created. All that extra work was done after that upload and was added piece by piece to the live site. Only the live site had it all. And that database of contact information you’ve been collecting — it was up there too!

Now to those golden rules. They apply to everything to do with computers, but we’re especially interested in how they apply to website creation and maintenance. I’m sure you’ve guessed the first part by now. That’s right — Backup!

Rule number one is backup your stuff! When you make a copy, however, things can go wrong with the copy process. It’s a good idea to make a copy of your existing backup before you start to copy over it — just in case! Now you have a one generation old copy and a current copy.

Then there’s Murphy’s Law. “If it can go wrong it will. If it can’t go wrong, it’ll go wrong quicker.” (If that’s not actually Murphy’s Law, I’m sure he’d be pretty proud of it anyway!) Here’s the scene (it’s based on the last one): as your hanging up the phone after the call from the hosting company a knowing smile stretches itself across your face; “I have those two copies in the other room – let me get one and send it up,” you think to yourself. As you do, and as if in direct response to your smirk, a bolt of lightning comes out of the blue, smashes its way through your roof, through the back room, through your computer and melts your CDs and floppies as it goes.

Oops! (Thank goodness it missed the cat – this is, after all, a family style newsletter!)

Yes, that’s right — you should have made another copy and kept it at work or in your safe deposit box. An off-site copy is another very reasonable backup. Of course, its possible that the call comes from the hosting company, a bolt takes out your PC and a flash flood washes away the bank. If this happens to you, you might want to examine your life a little – the universe seems to be exceptionally mad at you.

So, more correctly stated, rule one would be “backup your backups.” That would leave rule two as “backup your stuff” and rule three as “backup your stuff again and keep the backup off-site.” The short form of the three golden rules is:

Backup backup; backup; and backup again.

Say that to yourself a few times. Now ask yourself “did I just say that, or have I actually done it?”

-Vince Barnes

Working for a Support Center, I see people losing data/files all the time because they didn’t have a backup copy. I have no sympathy for these people. I know that when I have something important, I always keep several copies of it. I’ll keep a copy at home, at work, on a CD, in my email…anywhere I can think of. Maybe someday people will learn their lesson.