Statistics Trackers: pMetrics Review

I have something of a stats fetish. When I started this blog about two years ago, one of the first things I looked for was a click counter. As a small website, a click counter was the only thing I paid any attention to. Fast forward to the present and any half decent statistic tracker has information about clicks, referrers, physical location, system specifications and much more. At any one time in the past year, I’ve used a combination of Statcounter, Google Analytics and, more recently, Reinvigorate beta. Each has features that the others lack. I prefer Statcounter for its ease and simplicity of use, Google Analytics is just plain powerful (but can be overkill as well) and Reinvigorate is awfully pretty.

So can Performancing’s relaunched pMetrics replace all of these? Based on the comparison with other popular stats trackers, pMetrics seems to have all bases covered. But there’s a danger in having oodles of features: can they be presented in a manner that doesn’t confuse and/or intimidate the user? Are the most useful/used features at the top of stack or does the user have to dig for them?

My first impression was positive. Even before trying out the demo, the screenshots gave me hope. The design is open, clean, and intuitive. The home page gives a nice overview of the most recent activity. It presents some of the most important pieces of information at first glance, such as the number of visitors, number of actions (clicks), visit duration, and top 10 activity lists for the day. Further navigation is presented at the top, in tab form.

pMetrics Home

Under visitors, you can (logically) see more detailed information about visitors, including location and system specifications. You’re also able to click through using the list of IP addresses to access user-specific information. I especially like this screen. You can view all the information about that specific user, but you can also easily go back one level and have all the recent visitors presented to you in a less information-heavy manner.

pMetrics Visitor Details

A very unique feature of pMetrics is it’s so called ‘Spy’ tracker. Visits and actions are tracked and updated instantly for your viewing pleasure. I’m not certain of its actual usefulness, but it’s (scarily, I might add) addictive to watch new people pop onto your site. It must be some sort of self-indulgence thing. As well, there are RSS feeds available for people who’d like the info to be available without having to go to the tracking site itself. I can imagine some creative uses of the RSS feeds; placing it on the site you’re tracking would allow visitors to see what’s popular and drive more traffic to areas they wouldn’t have seen.

PMetrics comes in two grades, the premium version, which costs $14.99 per year (up to 10 000 pageviews per day), and a free version for sites that get less than 1 000 pageviews per day. The free version loses features such as Spy and RSS, and stores statistics information for a shorter period of time. Finally text ads are placed above the stats with the free version – Performancing’s got to make money somehow! 😉 When you sign up, you automatically get 21 days of the premium service free, as a trial, after which the service is downgraded, assuming you don’t pay for the premium service.

I’ll admit, I initially signed up for pMetrics due to the 1 free year of premium service Performancing is giving out to the first 100 reviewers of the service. But as I use it, it’s becoming clear that this has the potential to cut down the number of stats trackers I use from 3 down to 1, pMetrics.

Nokia 2125i Review

I never found much use for a call phone in all of my high school years. While many people were already carrying around the little mobile devices around, I thought it too much of a burden. Did I really want to be within reach of others 24/7? Once you give someone your cell number, they expect to be able to contact you at every waking moment and sleeping moment for that matter.

But by the time university rolled around, I started realizing that all the times I wished I had a phone and didn’t was beginning to outweigh the potential annoyances of a cell phone. Plus, I kept getting these weird looks when I answered that I didn’t have a cell phone to people asking for my cell number. I did a lot of research and drooled over a lot of nice phones. I went through all those nice gadgets but realized I didn’t really need anything other than the phone itself. I have a digital camera and MP3 player which would blow away, in terms of quality, any of the integrated features of a cell phone. I thus settled on one of the phones I could get for free with only a 1 year term at Bell Mobility, the Nokia 2125i.

The Phone

The phone is a two-tone gray color scheme with chrome trim. It’s pretty understated and doesn’t look fancy or feel fancy. It’s the classic Nokia candybar phone but compacted a bit. It doesn’t feel big or awkward to hold at all. It’s a little slippery feeling though. The screen is also pretty anemic in size, but that’s probably more to do with the overall size of the phone and the candybar design. It’s hard to place anything larger than the 96×96 resolution screen. That’s probably why many makers are moving to the slider and flip phones nowadays. The buttons have a hard-rubber feel to them as opposed to the plastic feel of many phones’ buttons. There is also no external antenna. The power button is at the top, which also houses the light bulb for the flashlight function. At the bottom, you’ll find the charger connector as well as a connector for connection external Nokia accessories.

User Interface

The user interface is governed by the small display. You won’t get a bunch of icons to move between. Instead the menu is navigated using the up and down button with each menu item taking up one ‘page’. You get your regular phone features like list of call, contact list, messages, gallery and organizational features like a calendar and alarm clock. Don’t get too excited; the very limited memory will limit what you can do.

Pressing the up button at the main screen sends you to the profile selection page where you can choose from several presets. You can modify those presets through the settings. Pressing the down button at the main screen shortcuts you to your contact list. All the main functions of the phone are easily accessible and should be fairly intuitive for most users.

Windows Vista December CTP

Okay through it all, I tried to keep in mind that this is after all a beta version of Vista, which is not actually due out until the end of this year. But it was still a terrible experience nonetheless.

I had this ‘great’ opportunity to install and use Windows Vista at work. I was tasked with getting a working system going so we could do some preliminary testing of our software. I had just finished up some general testing with a 64 bit version of WinXP.

Okay so maybe the machine I tested on wasn’t absolutely blazing, but I would hardly call it slow. In fact an Athlon64 3000+, 512MB RAM and integrated nVidia 6100 graphics is probably a bit above the average computer one would get at Future Shop or from Dell. Let’s put it this way, when Vista actually launches at the end of the year, I’m sure we’ll see many boxes comparable to the one I tested on. How did it run on that machine?

Awfully.

I’ll even set aside the crashes that were possibly caused by me getting frustrated and trying to open up too many programs at a time. But even with only Internet Explorer running, my free memory was down to around 150MB. Opening up any more than two or three programs would cause responsiveness to dwindle to the verge of unresponsiveness.

Keep in mind this is with the normal Aero theme. Vista will apparently ship with two visual modes. One is the normal Aero style as I’ve mentioned. The other is much fancier, incorporating window transparencies and whole shebang. Using Aero, Vista looked essentially like a skinned Windows XP with a bunch of new applications Microsoft’s created to keep your computer a little better organized. Oh, you also get a lot of warning notifications, for your enjoyment, of course.

So it’s a tech preview so many all those system messages were okay. But more often than not, all it wanted was for you to allow some program, you clearly just double clicked on, to run. “Do you wish to run this dll as an application”, “Do you with blahblahblah to do blahblahblah”. I’d think most of the people who are using the tech preview are pretty computer literate. After all, it’s only open to Technet and MSDN subscribers currently. (And all you bittorrenters had ought to know what’s going on too.) What scares me more is that this will actually be the way it ships to the mass public. I can only imagine Granny Smith wondering whether the hell she really wants to “run a dll as an application”. And those messages aren’t just for third part stuff either. Oh no. I mean be damned if you want to open up display properties. I’m gonna assault you with some warning messages first. Yes security is important but this is going to scare away many people who don’t know what they’re accepting or denying anyways. (It’s like George Bush justifying spying on citizens with “National Security”. Security is only good to a point.) Usability is key for any operating system. I hardly want to click 5 times just to change my desktop background.

Another gripe I had probably has to do more with the fact that I currently use XP on my main machine. It’s always been said that technology was converging. That means you can get one gadget that takes pictures, plays music and allows you to communicate with others. It means that the PC is moving to the living room and taking over the place of the home theatre. It means you should have to do less to get more out of your operating system. With all that in mind, it’s hard to understand what those Vista developers were thinking. Take this example as case in point. In WinXP, you can right-click on the desktop, select properties, and control basically everything about the overall user interface in one window. Microsoft decided, this time around, it would be fun to split EVERYTHING into separate applications that you can only have access to through the control panel. So to do the same thing as right-clicking and going to properties, I now get to search for 5 different applications in the control panel. What fun.

Apple 5th Generation iPod Review

Apple is a company with an image. Think sleek and aesthetically pleasing. Just have a look at those fancy keynotes they hold. The anticipation that builds up before them and the utter excitement that surrounds the events is staggering. I’ll be honest; I was looking forward (shock!) to Apple’s iPod launch. I sat through lectures with my laptop, refreshing Engadget and Gizmodo, hoping to get a glimpse of what was coming. And it came alright, the 5th Gen iPod, or what many people like to call the iPod ‘Video’. But don’t think video. Think of it more as a music player with added video functionality. With this in mind, I’m going out on a limb to say that this is the closest thing I’ve seen to the perfect digital audio player for my needs.

The One-of-a-Kind Apple Packaging

For anyone who has ever purchased an Apple product, you’ll know that they pride themselves on the design of not only the product itself, but the packaging that it comes in. It’s sad but the packaging is almost as exciting as the actual thing it contains. But that’s the sort of feeling Apple wants to convey. They’re definitely eye-catchers, but in a subtle sort of way. They don’t scream out at you with flashiness, but merely draw your curiosity with the simple and elegant design, not that the Apple logo doesn’t count for something on its own…

The box is designed very nicely and everything fits together in the package. Before even opening it up, I noticed the relatively small size of the box. I had already read about what to expect with the iPod so I wasn’t shocked. Compared with my old 3G iPod, this box is tiny. The packaging has become a lot more efficient compared to before. As well, a wall power adapter is no longer included. If you want to charge up your new iPod, you’ll have to do it through your computer. Otherwise, you can purchase the optional USB wall adapter or you can use an old wall adapter if you have one. (I do! :))

Another surprising disappearance is the Firewire cable. Like the recent generation of iPods (I’m talking the Shuffle, Nano and now the full 5G) it doesn’t come with Firewire support. You can hook it up through a Firewire cable if you happen to have one from an older iPod, but it will only charge. The actual data transfer capability may have been disabled, or more likely, the firewire control chip has been scrapped to reduce cost. The truth is, Firewire isn’t much faster than USB at all and USB is a much more common interface on most computers.

You do however get a basic neoprene case which can provide some protection from the notorious scratching that is evident especially on the black iPod Nanos and now 5Gs. I’ll discuss this more later, but you can be assured my iPod will be staying very close to, or inside that case most of the time. I can say that even after one week, it scratches a lot easier than any device I’ve ever used before.

ASUS Z71V Barebones Review

I had been in the market for a laptop for my university studies since the early part of this year. I will be entering into a computer engineering program so I needed something a little more powerful than your regular word processing, email sending machine. After reading tons of reviews and user comments on various models, I narrowed my picks down to the Dell Inspiron 9300, 6000D, the Toshiba M40 and the ASUS Z71V. Now the first three were easy to come by at the time in Canada while the ASUS was barely available in the United States. The M40 popped up at the local Futureshop so I decided to take the plunge and snap that up. This was in March. I tried it out and quickly returned it due to the frighteningly slow hard drive and dismal battery life. After that debacle, I decided to wait until the Z71V became available in Canada as the 9300 seemed too big and the 6000D didn’t have the video power wanted as a computer enthusiast (and a medium gamer). Of course, being me, I once more changed my mind when the Z70V appeared. That seemed to be the perfect laptop aside from the less than stellar video card. However due to some unforeseen circumstances, I needed the laptop ASAP and the Z70V was unavailable, so I returned to the Z71V. I must say, I’m not disappointed.



There aren’t many places in Canada that will do the configure-to-order ASUS laptops such as ISTNC, ProPortable or the like that you have in the States. Instead I bought the barebones and parts separately and decided to set out to build it myself. Of course I had read about the little mod that you could do with this laptop making a 400MHz FSB processor run at 533MHz FSB, essentially giving you a free 33% CPU performance boost. I decided on the safe bet and purchased a 1.6GHz Pentium M that is almost guaranteed to run at 2.13GHz, giving you a $800CAD CPU from a $250 one. Not a bad deal I’d say! Anyways, here’s a list of the parts I got for slightly under $2000CAD after taxes and shipping:

  • ASUS Z71V (I’m sure you can find what’s included with the barebones if you go searching even a little bit. 😉
  • Pentium M 725 1.6GHz (400MHz FSB)
  • 1GB OCZ PC4200 DDR2 SO-DIMM
  • 80GB Seagate Momentus 5400.2
  • TSST (Toshiba/Samsung Storage Tech) DVD+-RW DL
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 2915 802.11a/g/b

As a person who has assembled many desktop systems, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out how everything was supposed to fit together. I booted up the computer with the dipswitch set to 533MHz FSB and went on to install Windows at 2.13GHz problem free.