Archive for the ‘cars’ category


Musings for today: back on Facebook, untracked ads, Autocade rankings

16.05.2022

It’d be unfair if I didn’t note that I managed to see a ‘Create post’ button today on Lucire’s Facebook page for the first time in weeks. I went crazy manually linking everything that was missed between April 25 and today.

Maybe I got it back as it would look even worse for Facebook, which still live-streams massacres as a matter of course in spite of its “promises” after March 15, 2019, if white supremacist murderers had more functions available to them on the site than honest business people.

The upshot still remains: get your supporters going to your website as much as possible, and wind down whatever presence you have on Facebook. You shouldn’t depend on it, because you never know when your page might disappear or when you lose access. Both are very real possibilities.
 
Bob Hoffman’s newsletter was gold this week. It usually is, especially as he touches on similar topics to me, but at a far higher level.

This week’s highlights: ‘Blogweasel calculations indicate that adtech-based targeting adds at least 100% to the cost of an online ad. In order for it to be more efficient it has to be more than twice as effective. I’m slightly skeptical.

An article in AppleInsider this week reported that, “Apple has revealed to advertisers that App Store search ads served in a non-targeted fashion are just as effective as those relying on targeting via first-party data.”’

Indeed, ads that might use the page content to inform their contents (contextual advertising) work even better. Why? The publisher might actually get paid for them.

I’ve seen so many ads not display at all, including on our own sites. Now, our firm doesn’t use trackers, but we know the ad networks we use do. And for whatever daft reason, there are ad networks that won’t show content if you block trackers. (Stuff is even worse: their home and contents’ pages don’t even display if you block certain cookies.)

If we went back to how things were before tracking got this bad, the ads would be less creepy, and I bet more of them would display—and that helps us publishers pay the bills. If you don’t like them, there are still ad blockers, but out of my own interests, I would prefer you didn’t.
 
I came across Drew Magarry’s 2021 article, ‘There’s No Middle Class of Cars Anymore’, in Road & Track’s online edition.

‘You’re either driving a really nice new car, a deeply unsatisfying new car, or a very old used car.’ Drew notes that there are nasty base models, and also fully loaded ones, and the former ‘treat you like absolute shit, and everyone on the road knows it.’

It seems what’s happening is that the middle—the “GLs” of this world, as opposed to the Ls and GLSs—is getting squeezed out.

It says something about our society and its inequality.

Interestingly, it’s not as bad here with base models, and that might reflect our society. But look at the US, as Drew does, or the European top 10, where cheap cars like the Dacia Sandero do exceptionally well.

This goes back many years, and I’ve seen plenty of base models in US rental fleets that would make a New Zealand entry-level car seem sumptuous.
 
Finally, the legacy pages are reasserting themselves on Autocade. When the latest version was installed on the server and the stats were reset, the top 20 included all the models that appeared on the home page, as Mediawiki recommenced its count. Search-engine spiders were visiting the site and hitting those the most.

Fast forward two months and the top 20 are exclusively older pages, as visits from regular people coming via search engines outnumber spiders.

Until last week, the most visited page since the March reset was the Renault Mégane II. It seems the Ford Taunus 80 has overtaken the Mégane II. Peugeot’s 206+ (207 in some markets) follows, then the Ford Fiesta Mk VII and Renault Mégane III.

Before the reset, the Ford Fiesta Mk VII was the top model page, followed by the Taunus 80, then the Mégane II, Opel Astra J, and Nissan Sunny (B14).

Probably no one cares, but as it’s my blog, here’s the old, just before the switchover:
 

 
And here’s where we are as of tonight:
 

 
You can see the ranking for yourself, as the stats are public, here.

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May 2022 gallery

02.05.2022

Here are May 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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Farewell to Drivetribe—and a reminder to keep your own copies

24.04.2022


Not much of my old Drivetribe channel left now
 
Sadly, I was late to the demise of Drivetribe—though as some on Reddit point out, the brand still exists on other channels. But as for hosting the content themselves, that ended in January, and we content creators had till then to get our stuff off.

I had been checking in there less and less over 2021, which is a real shame. It had been a favourite site of mine—cars, and like-minded fanatics—but I guess it takes a lot more than a community to make a community.

Maybe it was the people I followed, but I never really got the right mix of news and entertainment. Others might beg to differ. I had little desire to follow the founders—Clarkson, Hammond, May, and Wilman (sorry chaps, I’ve watched you all in one shape or another since the 1990s, and given Wilman’s nude appearances on Top Gear, they are not necessarily shapes I want in my head)—so it was down to other content creators and contributors.

Twitter gives me some joy because of various car accounts there—Andrew at the Car Factoids and Andy with what must be a world-leading private brochure collection—and contributing seems a breeze. Drivetribe was somewhat hampered with a less-than-easy-to-use interface and somewhere along the line, in its first year if I recall correctly, the typography changed for the worse (at least to my eyes).

And like so many social networks, it was about keeping the content there in the hope it would generate money for the core business. It did indeed have a separate programme for creators, where they expected to share in the loot, but ironically after I was approved to join, I lost interest in contributing. Maybe it was because I had my own sites that I could work on. Autocade eats up spare time with each model taking a good 15 minutes on average to illustrate, research and write.

Anything I wrote for Drivetribe exclusively, and there were a few pieces, is practically toast. There may be a few links on the Wayback Machine, but the rest is online history. It’s hardly their fault: the closure was covered in automotive media extensively, although I never received any emails about it. It’s a lesson once again to ensure that you keep copies of your own content; in my case, I might still have them in WordPerfect format on a DVD-ROM somewhere. Relevant ones appeared in Lucire and Lucire Men.
 
Speaking of hosting your own stuff, I wonder if this is what the future holds.

This comes at a time when another Tweeter I follow has lost his Instagram account for no reason he can fathom, and I shared with him that I wouldn’t mind hosting my own photos on this very site. Instagram is a once-every-few-months network for me now, at least when it comes to posting on my personal account. (I’ll look at it more for Lucire.) If John is right, we could be looking at a separation again: those who can host their own will, and those who can’t, rely on the mass services. There could be less interaction between groups of people, but then the social networks only have themselves to blame for fostering toxicity. We are only human: we found others to interact with and learn from in the early 2000s before Facebook and Twitter, and we can again. We might even find it more productive as we claw our time back from those services.

And if it’s about traffic, each post I make here gets multiples more views than most things I’ve posted to Instagram. Seven hundred is pretty normal. Is there any point, then? The negatives seem to outweigh the positives, and this becomes truer every day. You’d be a mug to want to buy one of these services in 2022.

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Autocade reaches 28 million page views

19.04.2022


 
On March 19, 2022, Autocade had accumulated 27,647,011 page views. That was the last recorded total, and the new site went live the following day. That means over 10,000 views didn’t get added to that total, but as it’s the last I have (unless the Wayback Machine has one from the 20th ult.), then that’s what I’ll have to use as the new zero point.

The new stats’ set-up on the more modern Mediawikis does not update the numbers live; instead, that happens once a day. Some time overnight it ticked over to 351,079 on the new server.
 
27,647,011 +351,079 = 27,998,090
 

Even being very conservative, Autocade will have served its 28 millionth page view by now—though I may update this page tomorrow after I confirm it.

Sorry, for those who hated these statistical posts, the new server hasn’t seen the end of them! OCD is OCD!
 
March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for 10th million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for 11th million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for 12th million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for 13th million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for 14th million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for 15th million)
June 2019: 16,000,000 (four months for 16th million)
October 2019: 17,000,000 (four months for 17th million)
December 2019: 18,000,000 (just under three months for 18th million)
April 2020: 19,000,000 (just over three months for 19th million)
July 2020: 20,000,000 (just over three-and-a-half months for 20th million)
October 2020: 21,000,000 (three months for 21st million)
January 2021: 22,000,000 (three months for 22nd million)
April 2021: 23,000,000 (three months for 23rd million)
June 2021: 24,000,000 (two months for 24th million)
August 2021: 25,000,000 (two months for 25th million)
October 2021: 26,000,000 (two months for 26th million)
January 2022: 27,000,000 (three months for 27th million)
April 2022: 28,000,000 (three months for 28th million)
 

Currently there are 4,551 models on there, with the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse the newest entry.
 
PS.: And here we are, the following day. Autocade’s new stats’ page shows 361,627.

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Better a Tesla Model 3 than another truck

15.04.2022


 
I know Tesla gets a lot of flak on social media. Some by me. But I still remember the plucky firm in the 2000s, Martin Eberhard and his stated commitment to transparency, and Lucire’s recognition of the firm by calling the Tesla Roadster its Car to Be Seen in. And while the Roadster didn’t have the range in real terms, and looked too much like a Lotus Elise for one to charge 911 money, it kicked things all off for Tesla.

When I see a Model 3 on the street, and there are an awful lot of them, I think, ‘At least it isn’t another SUV.’ It may be the car to move the trend on, away from the behemoths. Bring on small frontal areas and slippery shapes, which is where we should have been heading anyway. Unlike most people, especially those who bought SUVs, trucks, UVs and crossovers and actually didn’t need them—thereby becoming the second biggest contributor to carbon emissions in the last decade—I’ve thought petrol was expensive for a long, long time. Even if you have an electrified SUV, you’re still using more energy because of basic science about how air travels over an object.

In 1974, the Volkswagen Golf represented a new era, looking bold and sensible during the fuel crisis. The Tesla Model 3, especially the better-made Chinese imports, feels, trend-wise, like a modern, far more expensive equivalent.

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April 2022 gallery

02.04.2022

Here are April 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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What’s popular on Autocade

31.03.2022

What’s been quite fascinating with having the stats reset on Autocade is getting a fresh perspective on what its most popular pages are. When a website has been going for 14 years, and the stats have never been refreshed, it doesn’t give you the most up-to-date picture. You know historically what was most popular, but what about in the last year? Unless you really kept an eye on the rates of change, you wouldn’t know.
   Here’s how things looked on the old site before the move (March 17). It’s a corner of the ‘Popular pages’ page:

   It’s a pity I didn’t take more screenshots on subsequent days, but I had been watching the models linked from the home page occupy the top slots for the last week. That only seemed logical: both readers and search engine spiders were hitting them more. Here’s how things looked on March 23, with Autocade at its new home after a couple of days:

   But here we are today, a week later:

   You’re beginning to see the earlier highly trafficked pages reassert themselves.
   For a long time, the Nissan Bluebird (910) page led the table, before being overtaken by the Toyota Corolla (E120). Now it seems the Renault Mégane II, Ford Fiesta Mk VII, Ford Taunus 80, and the Peugeot 206+ and 207 are leading the way. I see a few other top pages make their way up: Opel Astra J (which isn’t that old a page), and the Holden Commodore (VE), Chrysler–Simca 1307 range, and Ford Cortina Mk III (which are old pages, from the first years of Autocade).
   I assume these pages have been somewhat grandfathered by the search engines. It’s a relief to know that the transition to the new box has been relatively seamless for the search engines not to notice.

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March 2022 gallery

28.03.2022

Now we are on the new server, here are March 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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Most of our top 10 sellers reflect our ignorance

25.03.2022


The Suzuki Swift: one of the saving graces on New Zealand’s top 10 list.

At the Opel relaunch briefing yesterday, I was shocked to find that these were New Zealand’s top selling vehicles for 2021. I knew about the first two, but had always assumed a Toyota Corolla would follow, plus some regular cars. From this, I gather the rest of New Zealand thinks the opposite to me. I personally believe petrol is expensive.

1. Ford Ranger
2. Toyota Hilux
3. Mitsubishi Triton
4. Mitsubishi ASX (RVR on the home market)
5. Toyota RAV4
6. Mitsubishi Outlander (presumably the outgoing one)
7. Mazda CX-5
8. Nissan Navara
9. Suzuki Swift
10. Kia Stonic

   Not a very discerning lot, are we? We say we care about the environment yet enough of us have helped fuel the second biggest contributor to the carbon emissions’ rise in the last 10 years: the crossover or SUV.
   And I’ve driven those RVRs. Why are people buying, in 2021, a vehicle that feels like a taller, larger Colt from the 2000s?
   I have no issue with those of you who really need an SUV or ute. But for those who pose, you aren’t helping yourself or your planet. And even if you bought some electrified variant, I thought it was universally understood (certainly for any of us alive during the 1970s fuel crises and those who observed the aerodynamic trend of the 1980s) that tall bodies and big frontal areas would consume more energy.

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The new Autocade is coming soon

17.03.2022

At just past its 14th birthday, Autocade will return on a new server, with a new Mediawiki installation.
   Because Mediawiki got rid of the stats with v. 1.25, sadly they weren’t imported into the new version that we’re running. We’re going to start the count from 0, though of course right before the changeover I’ll take note of where we got to.
   For those sick of me commemorating every millionth page view, you might get your wish, because of the extra arithmetic that’s going to be involved.
   I’d like to thank my friend for doing all this work anonymously behind the scenes. Unlike 2000, websites are far more complex things, and just customizing the look took me a few days. You can imagine how much more complex it was to import a PHP database and hooking up the site to Plesk.
   What we have is an Autocade that looks familiar—like Lucire’s website redesign last year I tried to keep everything as close as possible—but there are minor tweaks that go with the newer software.
   Certain pages did not make the transition, namely the ‘About’ and community portal, so these had to be added manually from the original. But as far as I can tell, all the cars are there, and that’s the reason that almost all of you visit. You can see how it all works very soon.
 
I imagine this blog will be next—and then I will likely get back to updating it at the usual pace. Though as my experience with social media demonstrates, it’s remarkably easy to break a habit!

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