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The end of the month means that it is time for our 19th month-in-review post. February proved to be one of the most eventful months in the short history of our perennially virid online magazine. At the beginning of the month, I moved our entire website from Bluehost’s shared hosting to a Cloud VPS server with Hetzner. Our site performance improved dramatically, and I took the opportunity to make some adjustments to our site structure and flow. But while there were exciting events going on behind the scenes, we also published plenty of new content. Shortly after the move, we published our 500th article – an accomplishment that I recognized in our 501st article.

A photo of a cloud from Arthur W. Clayden's "Cloud Studies"
Photo of a cloud from Arthur W. Clayden’s Cloud Studies (link). I chose this photo to highlight or move to Hetzner’s Cloud VPS.

Below, I will review the month that was in February and look ahead to what promises to be a fruitful March.

The Site Transition

On February 5, I completed the move of The New Leaf Journal from Bluehost’s shared hosting to our new VPS server with Hetzner. Within a week, the issues that existed from the move had been resolved. Because I already wrote about the move extensively, I will point you to my previously-published content rather than re-telling the entire story.

Why did we move? I explained in a January 29 dialogue through my fictional dialogue duo, Justin and Justina, that our site performance had utterly collapsed – likely due to our using too many resources for Bluehost’s shared hosting plan.

In our January month-in-review, I noted that I would complete the move of the site in the first week of February.

On February 3, I prepared readers for potential down-time on February 4 or 5, and otherwise stopped posting content to focus on our site’s move.

After about two hours of down-time, I completed the move of The New Leaf Journal at about 1:30 PM on Saturday, February 5. We always send out our weekly newsletter on Saturdays. Because I was a bit tired from the move, I published our 68th newsletter, which discussed the move, as a special New Leaf Journal article.

Other Site News

After completing the move, I spent some time making sure that everything worked properly and completed a wholesale change of our SEO system to improve our site’s standing with search engines. I discussed our SEO change tangentially in a post about our new sitemap.

I changed the layout of our homepage – and our header and footer menus in particular. I think the new site presentation should make more sense to visitors.

In addition to our 20 articles (see below), I added a couple of new pages to The New Leaf Journal. Firstly, I completely revamped our RSS and Atom hub. The page now provides a better explanation of how to use RSS feeds to follow The New Leaf Journal. Moreover, I also included links to our Atom feed and our new JSON feed for people who prefer those formats. I also revised our newsletter archive page to use its RSS feed to show links to our most-recent nine newsletters.

I created a new page with RSS and Atom feeds for every place I publish content outside The New Leaf Journal. We look forward to creating a similar page for my colleague Victor V. Gurbo in the near future.

Finally, I added a humans.txt file to The New Leaf Journal. You can see it here. What is a humans.txt file? I will discuss that in a March article.

Notable Articles of February 2022

While much of my February work on The New Leaf Journal focused on technical matters, I still found time to publish 18 articles before the instant post. My colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, also contributed his first article since Christmas Eve. I recommend perusing all 20 of our February articles in our monthly archive. Below, I will choose five articles to highlight from the month that was.

“‘Kitty’s First Pie’ – An 1881 Children’s Poem From Harper’s Young People”

Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 1, 2022.

Content.

Our final article on our former server was my re-printing and review of an 1881 children’s poem – “Kitty’s First Pie.” The humorous poem comes with the original illustration that accompanied it in Harper’s Young People.

“Justin and Justina 〜 A Christmas Card For Valentine’s Day”

Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 14, 2022.

Content.

Shortly before Christmas, I published an article about how one-half of The New Leaf Journal’s resident dialogue duo, Justina, never checks her mail. She ended the dialogue with the promise that she would open her friend Justin’s Christmas card in time for Valentine’s Day. As you will find here – the promise was fulfilled.

“An Introduction to RSS and Other Feed Formats”

Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 20, 2022.

Content.

Our most-read New Leaf Journal article of all time focused on the subject of RSS feeds. I have more feed-related content in the pipeline. Accordingly, I decided that it would be cumbersome to explain the concept of feeds in the introduction to every feed article. Thus, I created a gentle introduction to RSS feeds (as well as Atom and JSON feeds) to refer back to in all future feed posts.

“Masonic Portrait of George Washington”

Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 22, 2022.

Content.

I celebrated George Washington’s 290th birthday with an article about one of the lesser-known portraits of George Washington as president – the hero of the revolution in Masonic garb.

“Peekier Search Engine Review”

Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 26, 2022.

Content.

I wrote a review of alternative search engines last June. The purpose of that review was to introduce readers to the universe of alternative search engines and explain how they work. For my penultimate post of February, I reviewed the most unique of the search engines I discussed in brief last June – Peekier.

A Look Back at February 2021

Now that The New Leaf Journal is in its second full year, I enjoy looking back at what we published the previous year. We published 26 articles in February 2021, making it one of the busiest months in the history of our humble magazine. Our full February 2021 archive is available here, capped off by our February 2021 month-in-review.

The highlight article of February 2021 was my post on RSS as a Facebook alternative, which crashed the first page of Hacker News in early March 2021 and became the most-read New Leaf Journal article of all time in short order.

That month was notable for two music articles by our own Victor V. Gurbo. In the first, he teamed up with fellow Brooklyn musician Mark Caserta to cover Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. For the second article, Victor posted and discussed one of his original songs, Mondrian.

I began two series in February 2021 that would leave impressions going forward. On February 5, I posted an article on “Blob Dylan” graffiti seen in Bushwick, which would lead to a second and more-read post on the same subject in April 2021 (see next section). Exactly one week later, I wrote an article about the hair color of anime character Iroha Isshiki, which began a small (and ongoing) series of posts.

12 Most-Visited Articles Of February 2022

Our overall daily visitor counts were a bit down from the highs we reached in late December 2021 and early January 2022, but we began to recover in the last third of the month after our site performance issues were fixed. Below, you will find our 12 most-read articles of February 2022 along with notes about each post. Where applicable, I will note where an article ranked in February 2021.

  1. The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #1.
  2. Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021).
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 27, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #3.
  3. Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013).
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #2.discussed one of his original songs, Mondrian
  4. The Last Stand of Constantine XI.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
    January 2022 Rank: #6.
    February 2021 Rank: #4.
  5. How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 19, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #5.
  6. Performing Site-Specific Searches With DuckDuckGo.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. August 8, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #9.
  7. An Introduction to RSS and Other Feed Formats.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 20, 2022.
    January 2022 Rank: N/A.
  8. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam).
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
    January 2022 Rank: #8.
    February 2021 Rank: #3.
  9. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
    January 2022 Rank: #7.
    February 2021 Rank: #2.
  10. A Follow-Up Post on the Meaning of “Blob Dylan”.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. April 12, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #16.
  11. Sending SMS Messages From My Computer With XMPP Through JMP.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. September 8, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #13.
  12. How the Forget-Me-Not Flower Found Its Name.
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 11, 2021.
    January 2022 Rank: #15.

Analysis

My tsuki ga kirei article posted its best overall month since November and led our monthly standings for the sixth consecutive month. While it led the standings handily, my review of F-Droid apps took over as our most-visited article for the last third of the month and achieved the most unassisted views (meaning not driven by a sharing event on social media, Hacker News, or the like) of any non-tsuki ga kirei article.

Three articles that featured in our February 2021 top-12 repeated the feat in 2022, this time led by my May 2020 article on the last stand of the last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, which tied its best monthly rank in 4th place.

Missing from the rank, however, was our most-read article of February 2021, Victor V. Gurbo’s review of two protective masks. That post had never finished lower than eighth place in a monthly ranking since it was published in December 2020, but it came in 15th for February 2022, ending its long streak (is nature healing?).

My late-February post on introducing RSS and Atom feeds became our first 2022 article to make a monthly top 12 – bolstered by a few sharing events to make up for only being online for eight days.

One debut worth noting is my piece on the name of the forget-me-not flower. Originally published in March 2021, it has generally been a solid performer, slotting in as our 22nd most-read article of 2021. However, it never ranked as high as 12th for a single month. The forget-me-not flower approaches its one-year anniversary on a high note.

Eight of our top-12 articles from the January rank returned to the top-12 in February. In addition to the aforementioned mask review (which was 4th in January), my posts on installing Bodhi Linux on a 2007 MacBook (10th in Jan; 20th in Feb), the Ghostwriter markdown editor (11th in Jan; 13th in Feb), and former President Herbert Hoover’s pet possum (12th in Jan; 19th in Feb) dropped out of the ranking.

Looking Ahead to March 2022

I will continue looking at different ways to improve The New Leaf Journal’s performance in March. However, with the heavy-lifting done, I look forward to focusing heavily on content in March. I have several reviews that are currently in the works and other interesting content. Moreover, I may unveil a new side-project in March as well.

I hope you continue to follow The New Leaf Journal in March – I look forward to reporting back on what promises to be an exciting month at the end of the month.