Fun With Referer Logs

Well, now. It turns out that Kathy has had a website for months now. Silly Kathy — you thought you could hide indefinitely, eh? Your clever subterfuge is no match for the power of my referer logs!

Ah, referer logs1. What’s a “referer”, you ask? Well, according to the W3C, the Referer is “an optional header field allows the client to specify, for the server’s benefit, the address ( URI ) of the document (or element within the document) from which the URI in the request was obtained…” Hey, you! Wake up and pay attention! Where was I? Oh, yes. In short, the referer tells you where your website visitors are coming from. It’s not foolproof, but it works some of the time.

The really neat thing about referer logs is that search engines nowadays list your search terms in the URL or the results page itself. For example, if you search on Google for “Effective Head Noogie Techniques”, the URL:

http://www.google.com/search?q=Effective%20Head%20Noogie%20Techniques

represents the results. This means that if you go to the top listing for that particular search (which happens to be “The School of Physical Violence Course Curriculum“) the webmaster of that site will see that Google URL in his or her referer logs, and will therefore be able to deduce that you arrived at the site by searching on “Effective Head Noogie Techniques”.

Okay, everybody clear on this?

Good. Because I’d like to share some of the more… interesting searches that have brought visitors to this site in the last month.

  • The male equivalent of “mistress”. Several web denizens were just as flummoxed as I was in coming up with a gender-neutral term for this. I’m sorry to say that neither I nor M’ris could come up with anything better than “gigolo” or “paramour”.

  • Where did Vinnie from ‘Sarah and Vinnie’ go? Honestly, people, I don’t know where Vinnie went. I couldn’t really follow that radio show for much longer than ten or fifteen minutes at a time anyway (although that beats my Howard Stern record by at least a factor of three). My friend Mike told me that Vinnie had a nervous breakdown and they had to throw him off the show. I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly makes sense. Vinnie never struck me as particularly stable, even by morning-radio-DJ standards.

  • Harvey Pitt’s religious status. There were a surprisingly large number of searches of the form, “Harvey Pitt Jew” or “harvey pitt is he a jew”, etc. I’m not sure why so many people want to know the answer to this question, nor do I know why the queries are not in the form, “Is Harvey Pitt Jewish?”, which would be the non-Aryan Nations way of asking the question. Frankly, it’s all a bit disturbing. Let’s move on.

  • EverQuest character hacks. It’s been a long time since I’ve played EverQuest. Even when I did play, I didn’t know of any character hacks. And even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted them used or spread around. So bugger off, you wannabe EQ hax0rs! I like you even less than the Harvey Pitt-searching people.

  • Petra, Petra, Petra. A few months ago, I wrote an innocent little blurb about former Playboy Playmate Petra Verkaik, and how she took young Toby Hocking to his high school prom. Well, now I get around ten searches for Ms. Verkaik a month, even though there are thousands of sites that reference her, and mine is buried somewhere in the middle of the pack2. Now, some people might accuse me of purposefully seeding my site with racy words, as a cheap trick to get some extra traffic. To those people, I say: what kind of boob do you think I am? The naked truth is that those sorts of accusations make me really hot under the collar. Let me be perfectly clear: there are no nude photos of Petra Verkaik on this site whatsoever. Good, that’s settled now.

  • Dada Engine and OS X. Well, I do know something about the Dada Engine… although I compiled and ran it on Linux, not OS X. If you have new Dada Engine scripts, I’d love to see ‘em!

  • Importing Outlook PST files. I actually did manage to successfully convert all my Windows Outlook Express .mbx files to standard .mbox format, and once you’ve done that, it’s fairly straightforward to move them to Apple Mail. Unfortunately the first part is not easy, and there’s also a lot of misinformation on this process out there on the Internet. I should probably write it all down someday… if I can still remember how I did it. As for Outlook .pst files… that’s a tough one. There’s a SourceForge PST to MBOX converter out there, but I haven’t tried compiling and running it.

  • Burn Rate, the Game. Great game. Go buy it.

  • “photogenic wife” ‘Fraid I don’t have one at the moment. Sorry.

  • “Postmodern Marketing +professors” Errrr…

  • “tricks on getting pregnant” Ummmm…

I think it’s time to quit while I’m ahead.

1. Some of you might be wondering, “Shouldn’t ‘referrer’ have another ‘r’ in there? Well, that’s the difference between you and the titanic intellects that are responsible for our Internet standards. You know how to spell.

2. The only logical conclusion is that there is a large community of web surfers out there that is spending a considerable amount of time looking for porn! Yes, I was shocked too.