Traffic spike on website for no apparent reason!

Traffic spike

A client just had a traffic spike on their website which has about tripled traffic for the past seven weeks. So, not only did traffic spike, the increase appears to be sustainable and steady. Which absolutely is great news. However the question is, what caused it?

The chart is from WordPress Jetpack. The data shows that about 80% of the hits are from Google Search. However it does not show what the search is for. So, a little detective work is needed. The site is a psychic site and usually spikes in November and December as people look for predictions for the new year. So, given our twitchy, highly politicized current times, maybe people are looking early for predictions? December last year was 13,000 hits. October this year was 12,000, compared to 4,000 last year. If my theory is correct, then December will be way over 13,000 this year. So, our strategy will be to add fresh content rapidly now so new users find what they are looking for.

Websites don’t always need big traffic. Another client is a violin teacher in Santa Monica. I’ve optimized her site for the search phrase “violin teacher Santa Monica.” She gets steady business from the site, even as she only gets about ten hits a day. However, those hits are generally someone looking for exactly what she does.

Another client is a management consultant in Connecticut. Her site has a wealth of info about what she does. She uses the site to provide info to potential clients. Most of her potential clients from the web are via blog posts which she reposts on a mailing list, LinkedIn, and Facebook. This is a good strategy because there are so many competing management consultants that popping to the top of Google search would be difficult. She’s figured out a way to route around that. If someone is on her site, they already pretty much have been pre-qualified.

In all three examples here, word of mouth is the best way they get new clients. The website then provides clear information about their services.

Let me know if I can help on your website or marketing.

Las Vegas City Council votes to criminalize being homeless

Homeless. Bill Morrow.

The Las Vegas City Council just passed a controversial ordinance by 5-2 that makes street-camping illegal in certain areas if beds are available in non-profit shelters. There are 5,500 homeless in Vegas on any given day. The shelters only have room for 2,000. Metro will now be able to arrest people for sleeping on sidewalks if the shelters have vacancies, even if the homeless person is ten miles from a shelter with no way of getting there. Police can also chase homeless someplace else if the shelters are full. So, if there is one vacancy, do the arrests still happen? This really should be a job for social workers, not for law enforcement.

Also this only applies to shelters in the Corridor of Hope, which is a few blocks long north of downtown, and not to other shelters. Thus, the downtown Las Vegas Rescue Mission (which is big, well organized, and helps many people) could be full, with people sleeping outside. But if there are vacancies in the Corridor of Hope a few miles away, then the sleepers get rousted, maybe arrested?

Not only is this mean-spirited of the Las Vegas City Council, it seems badly thought out, rushed to completion. It’s unclear how homeless will get any help out of this. I participate in alcohol / drug recovery meetings at the Rescue Mission. There’s never just one reason why someone becomes homeless. Usually it’s a mix of alcohol / drug abuse, intolerable living situations, job loss and medical bills, and mental illness. And people can and do recover.

Yes, homelessness is absolutely a big problem. And since there are few if any public toilets in homeless areas they are going to poop somewhere. Maybe on someone’s lawn or behind a business. I wouldn’t like that happening when I lived or worked and neither would you.

Interestingly, the primary area being targeted is downtown, where Fremont Street Experience is. The Strip has few if any homeless. There’s just no place for them to wander and sleep. Private security will roust them. Everyone knows this. Rule #1 for Las Vegas locals is ‘Do not interfere with Strip business.’ Period. Full stop.

The real issue is that homelessness is a regional issue and needs to be dealt with on a regional basis.

There may be real challenges in coordinating communication between the courtyard and other facilities with Metro officers and the city’s own homelessness field workers. Metro has experience dealing with homeless issues. Although Mayor Carolyn Goodman has called for a roll-out of the ordinance by mid-November, it’s possible the enforcement will be delayed until February.

Even if it’s successful, there’s another problem, one that plagues local governments on this issue: The city would be chipping away at a regional problem. Without an accelerated countywide approach, any success figures will be short-lived.

Third Party and Independent presidential candidates aren’t threats

Green Party ballot status. Balletopedia.

Could the repulsive Tulsi Gabbard run for president as an independent or on a third party? She could. However, it probably won’t happen. Justin Amash, original Tea Party member of House and now an independent, might also run. However – and this is really important – if they run as independents and not as nominees of a major third party that has ballot access, they will be complete nonentities. Crickets. Hardly no one will even know they are running, because they almost certainly will be write-in candidates.

Ballot access for a third party means their presidential candidate appears on the ballot in a state. It’s a big deal.

The Green Party has ballot access in forty four states, write-in for three, and none in three. Putin Pal and former Green Party candidate Jill Stein thinks Tulsi would be a ducky candidate. (I’m still undecided if Stein is a operative or just an idiot, and say I that as one who was very involved in the Green Party once.) However, Green Party founder and long-time activist Howie Hawkins probably will be their nominee. Also, Hillary Clinton pretty much demolished any attempt by Gabbard to make a non-Democratic Party run.

The Libertarian Party has ballot access in all states, which is impressive. If Amash runs, this would probably be his choice. He’ll take votes from Trump, so that’s fine with me.

The far-right Constitution Party has ballot access in twenty four states, write-in for twenty two, and none in four. There are several big / battleground states where the Constitution Party does not have ballot access, so it essentially is a minor player at best in a presidential race. Even more odious coal baron Don Blankenship wants to be their candidate. Great. Let him. He’ll take votes from Trump too.

Running as an independent is really problematic. Every state has different rules for placement on the ballot. Most require a specified number of signatures. Battleground state Florida is particularly difficult. It wants signatures from 1% of registered voters, which in 2020 will be over 137,000. Just getting on the ballot in Florida as an independent would require a large investment of time and money. An independent candidate just doesn’t have those resources. And that’s just one state.

Write-in candidates do not appear on the ballots. However thirty three states require write-in candidates to file paperwork. So, even doing this requires serious resources.

Image and data from the excellent Balletopedia article.

Microgrids can help solve California power outages

Microgrid. Siemens
Microgrid. Siemens.

Microgrids generate and store electricity in small geographic areas. While they can create power anytime, they are designed to generate electricity locally if the main grid is down. If there is an outage, they detach from the grid. That’s important. Then they use solar, wind, diesel, natural gas, fuel cells, battery storage, whatever they got to create power. These grids are specifically designed to operate for days in a general outage. Rooftop solar on a house generally can’t do this. However, 5,000 houses and businesses in an area linked together in a microgrid can.

Microgrids can be especially useful in emergencies because they continue to provide power to crucial areas like hospitals, fire, law enforcement, water pumps, and more.

Also, microgrids can be built faster and cheaper than, say, burying PG&E main transmission lines, which would cost tens of billions and take well over a decade, assuming money was available, which it isn’t. With a microgrid, an area doesn’t much care if the main power is down for a few days.

From Popular Science:

The system is basically a small power grid that can either work in parallel with the greater grid or isolate itself in what’s called “islanding.” A microgrid has its own internal power source—often solar panels, diesel generators, or some combination thereof—that it can use to keep a community functioning during a blackout. Because of its local scale, a microgrid doesn’t need a vast system of overhead lines to deliver power and could therefore keep safely functioning when a central grid turns off due to fire hazards.

California already has several microgrids, which have been successfully tested. They performed well during unexpected outages and are cost-effective. One reason is they can use their own power when prices are high, saving money. Microgrids also provide resilience to their area.

These demonstration microgrids are delivering a reported utility bill savings of 20 percent to 60 percent, primarily in avoided demand charges, and some have successfully islanded during power outages.

State regulators believe microgrids, or localized grids that can operate apart from or in concert with the traditional power grid, offer solutions to some of the challenges facing grid operators, including integrating distributed energy resources.

San Jose may leave PG&E, develop microgrids in municipal utility

Microgrids. Green Energy Corp

PG&E is the poster child for a dysfunctional utility. It is doing deliberate blackouts to avoid possibility of fires because they haven’t done maintenance on power lines. Even worse, their CEO says blackouts could last for years. (Gosh, we’re sorry, he says, now let me go pay myself millions more in bonuses.) San Jose wants to create their own utility, and microgrids would be a major way they would do it.

Microgrids are Non-Wires Alternatives (NWAs). Electricity is generated locally on distributed grids and does not come on long-distance transmissions lines. This saves money on infrastructure, plus the local microgrid is more flexible and resilient. San Jose would probably install local PV solar everywhere, with lots of battery storage. This could easily provide much of their power, and any additional needed power would be bought on the open market.

A big advantage is is the major grid has an outage, a microgrid can detach itself from it and keep generating power. It has to detach during an outage because if it didn’t it would send power upstream and that could hurt or kill people repairing the damage on the grid.

From Green Energy Corp.

A microgrid is a small-scale power production and delivery system comprising distributed generation facilities co-located with the loads they serve. Microgrids encompass multiple types of energy generation resources, storage systems, and efficiency programs,
allowing for optimal utilization of renewable energy resources and facilitating advanced energy management, demand response, and load reduction solutions.

Microgrids are able to be connected to the utility grid to purchase power from the grid or sell power back to the grid as conditions dictate. Microgrids can be designed to operate “islanded” when the utility grid is not available.

San Jose.

[Mayor] Liccardo drafted a memo that will go before San Jose’s rules committee next week asking staff to investigate creating a city-owned utility to develop independent power systems such as microgrids, as well as other less draconian short and long-term measures that would protect the city from future shutdowns. “PG&E faces financial and repetitional liability for wildfires, but very uncertain liability, if any, for lost lives and livelihoods resulting from lengthy blackouts,” the memo states.

“PG&E’s ostensible exposure to only one side of the risk equation puts the well-being and safety of millions of Californians on the other side…It’s time to explore a San Jose without PG&E”