Today marks the third birthday of The New Leaf Journal. We published our first article on April 27, 2020. I celebrated our first birthday with a look back at our first year and our second birthday with a Justin and Justina dialogue about an eraser’s birthday. I thought about what to do for our third birthday celebration against the backdrop of our being blacklisted by Microsoft’s Bing search engine (and by search tools that rely on Bing). Our Bing issues harm discovery, and the fact that we now have 807 articles (not to mention 290 Leaflets and Leaf Buds and 132 newsletters) may make finding interesting content here at The New Leaf Journal overwhelming for new visitors.

Photograph of April 27 in the IKIGAI 2023 full color calendar by Willow Creek Press with "New Leaf Journal Birthday Party" written as the daily intention.
My penmanship is something special.

After considering our current circumstances, I decided to use our birthday to create a New Leaf Journal Birthday Reader. What does this entail?

  • I will list our 36 all time most-visited articles. Unlike my year-in-review posts (see 2020, 2021, and 2022), this will be a straightforward ranking. All statistics come courtesy of our local privacy-friendly analytics solution, Koko Analytics. (We used Google Analytics from May 2020 through July 10 of that same year, but those stats would not alter our top-36 ranking).
  • I will describe each of the 36 most-visited articles in one sentence and include an additional sentence about its ranking history.
  • Most importantly — for each of the 36 most-visited articles, I will include two related article recommendations from The New Leaf Journal. The only rule for these “articles of interests” picks is that they cannot be among the 36 most-visited articles.

This birthday celebration accomplishes two things. Firstly, it showcases our most popular articles from our first three years online. Secondly, I hope that my curated recommendations help readers find articles in our archives that may be of interest to people who discovered our site through some of our more popular pieces.

The article ranking

I will start our ranking from our most-read article and work down to 36.

1. Review of /e/ – An Android Alternative For Mobile Phones

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 21, 2021.

Summary: My review of /e/ OS, a mobile operating system that is a fork of LineageOS, which in turn is a fork of the Android Open Source Project.

Ranking Notes: This article made page one of Hacker News in August 2022 and achieved a record number of visitors in the process.

Articles of interest…

2. The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on March 14, 2021.

Summary: I peruse English language sources on the story that Japanese author Natsume Sōseki once translated “I love you” into Japanese as “tsuki ga kirei, desu ne.”

Ranking Notes: Our most consistently high-performing article has been in our weekly top-five for 104 consecutive weeks and counting, and it has been the most-visited article for 60 out of those 104 weeks.

Articles of interest…

  • Anime Recommendations of the Decade (2011-20): I first came across the tsuki ga kirei story in a 2017 anime series titled Tsuki ga Kirei. This happens to be one of my all-time favorite series, and I featured it in a list of recommended anime series from 2011-2020.
  • The Pine Tree Lovers of Takasago: Two old and beautiful English-language summaries of a classic Noh drama about eternal love, the Takasago.

3. RSS as a Facebook Alternative

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on February 21, 2021.

Summary: I made the case for RSS and ATOM feeds as an alternative to using Facebook for discovering news and interesting writing.

Ranking Notes: This article made page one of Hacker News in March 2021, and in so doing gained enough views to be our most-read article of 2021.

Articles of interest…

  • Against Twitter as a Content Curator: This summer 2022 article contains similar arguments to its Facebook predecessor (I think it is the better of the two, for whatever that is worth).
  • Feeds and Read-It-Later for Online Reading: In March 2023, I made the positive case for using feeds in conjunction with a read-it-later set-up as the best way to read interesting writing on the internet.

4. Man Uploads 2,000,000 YouTube Videos

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on May 8, 2022.

Summary: A very short Leaflet post about a video covering a man who has uploaded 2,000,000 YouTube videos.

Ranking Notes: Inexplicably appeared on page 1 of Hacker News. It is the shortest piece in our top-36.

Articles of interest…

5. Recommended F-Droid FOSS Apps For Android-Based Devices (2021)

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 28, 2021.

Summary: A review of some of my favorite F-Droid apps for Android and Android-derived mobile operating systems (I really should publish a new version).

Ranking Notes: Performed strongly out of the gate and was consistently among our most-read articles in 2021, posting seven first-place weekly finishes. While it faded from its peak, it is still a strong performer in 2023.

Articles of interest…

  • DecSync Review: My review of DecSync, a very interesting solution for syncing contacts, calendars, tasks, and even RSS feeds with Syncthing. There are three DecSync companion apps available in the F-Droid repositories (I did not discuss DecSync in the 2021 F-Droid review).
  • Falcon Photos With Retroboy Camera App: Thanks to F-Droid, I discovered Retroboy, an app that turns your phone’s camera into a Game Boy Camera. I used the app to photograph a falcon in Brooklyn Bridge Park (why not?).

6. Installing Ubuntu Touch on a Google Nexus 7 (2013)

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on July 5, 2021.

Summary: The story of how I installed Ubuntu Touch on a 2013 Nexus 7 tablet and my initial impressions (note the newest versions of Ubuntu Touch do not work on the Nexus 7).

Ranking Notes: This article has been consistently strong since it was published and is currently the 5th most-visited article of 2023 (notwithstanding the fact it is a bit outdated now).

Articles of interest…

7. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam)

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 15, 2020.

Summary: A review of the Persona 4 Golden digital deluxe edition PDF artbook, available on Steam.

Ranking Notes: This article has performed well since it was published (especially during Persona 4 Golden sales on Steam), but it definitely peaked in 2021, when it was our 4th most visited article and posted six weekly first-place finishes.

Articles of interest…

8. The Last Stand of Constantine XI

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on May 30, 2020.

Summary: The story of the last stand of the last Roman/Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, in Constantinople.

Ranking Notes: The earliest article in our top-36 took a while to get going, but picked up steam in 2021 and has been the strongest of our 2020 articles since 2022 (it will likely pass the Persona 4 artbook review within the next few weeks).

Articles of interest…

  • The Enigmatic Life and Death of Emperor Otho: Otho ruled the Roman Empire briefly in 69 AD. He fascinated historians with his decision to take his own life rather than continue a civil war because his reputation during life was poor. I examine the historical accounts in more than 18,000 words and tie Otho’s story in with Constantine XI’s in the conclusion.
  • The End of the Western Roman Empire: The slow end of the Roman Empire in the West is an interesting story, but suffers from the lack of a heroic Constantine XI-esque character.

9. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 13, 2020.

Summary: My very early review of Pixelfed (a FOSS federated Instagram alternative) after about one month of use.

Ranking Notes: This article was our dominant post in late 2020 and early 2021. It has had ebbs and flows, but surprisingly posted its best-ever months in May and November 2022 before trailing off again.

Articles of interest…

10. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask

By Victor V. Gurbo. Published on December 2, 2020.

Summary: Victor V. Gurbo reviewed two protective masks back when such masks were still in vogue.

Ranking Notes: Our third most-read article of 2021 topped the weekly ranking on 10 occasions that year. It then posted its best-ever month in January 2022 before it fell off a cliff along with the mask trend.

Articles of interest…

  • Reviewing Three Boutique Guitar Strings: Before he reviewed masks, Victor, who is a professional musician, reviewed three boutique guitar strings. Guitar fans will also enjoy his photographs of three vintage guitars from his collection.
  • Reviewing Buddy Simulator 1984 for Switch: Victor would later review Buddy Simulator 1984 for Nintendo Switch. While he liked the game, he strongly recommends buying it for computer instead of Switch.

11. How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on June 19, 2021.

Summary: I explain how to subscribe to Substack newsletters via RSS instead of email.

Ranking Notes: This article peaked in the second half of 2021 and early 2022 before fading. It still has its moments, however.

Articles of interest…

12. Lukol Search Engine Shows Up in Logs

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on April 28, 2022.

Summary: A supposedly privacy-friendly search engine appears to be less privacy-friendly than it claims.

Ranking Notes: Four words: Hacker News page one. It is our only page one article to never lead a weekly or monthly ranking (the poor thing made page one in the same week as the 2,000,000 YouTube video Leaflet).

Articles of interest…

  • An In-Depth Look at Norton Safe Search: An in-depth look at Norton Safe Search. While I would not use this any more than I would use Lukol, there were a few interesting things about the search tool that made me interested in learning more.
  • If you can’t trust GLBSUNION and CUZMAK…: A humorous dialogue discussing how oddly-named Chinese sellers on Amazon may not always be sources of trustworthy, quality products.

13. Stop Saying Bob Dylan Can’t Sing

By Victor V. Gurbo. Published on July 23, 2021.

Summary: Victor V. Gurbo simultaneously defends the singing ability of his favorite artist while trolling his fellow Bob Dylan super-fans.

Ranking History: This article was shared on Expecting Rain, a site and forum for Bob Dylan fans. It turns out that Expecting Rain can be a big referrer.

Articles of interest…

14. The Pokémon Special Split in Generation 2 – Statistics and Analysis

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on January 18, 2022.

Summary: An in-depth statistical analysis of the effect of the Special stat split that occurred in the generation 2 Pokémon games, Gold and Silver (charts included!).

Ranking History: This article gained traction about three months after I published it and has been a consistent top performer ever since. It is currently our third most-read article of 2023.

Articles of interest…

15. Review of the Teracube 2e Smartphone

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 19, 2021.

Summary: My review of my Murena Teracube 2e smartphone (it came pre-installed with /e/ OS). I mainly published this article so I would not have to discuss the phone while reviewing /e/ OS the operating system.

Ranking History: Despite my writing this article as an after-thought, it was one of our strongest performers in 2022 and significantly out-performed the /e/ OS review until the latter made its big spalash on Hacker News. It has, like the phone, largely fallen off in 2023.

Articles of interest…

  • The ideal phone, e-ink and QWERTY: While Teracube 2e served me well until it started dropping calls several months after my review, it was never my ideal phone (other than its having a replaceable battery). I describe my ideal phone in this article.
  • Farewell to BlackBerry 10: I bid my BlackBerry Classic and its operating system farewell (I used it through April 2021).

16. Cross-posting from Mastodon to Twitter

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on April 18, 2022.

Summary: A short Leaflet on a now-defunct online tool for cross-posting from Mastodon to Twitter and from Twitter to Mastodon.

Ranking History: This Leaflet exploded after Mr. Elon Musk took over Twitter, posting a first-place finish in November 2022 to go with six weekly first-place rankings. However, the developer’s instance no longer works thanks to changes in Twitter. The post is no longer a strong performer.

Articles of interest…

  • Fediverse Clone Wars and Decentralized Social Media: While I like the idea of the Fediverse, I faulted Mastodon and other Fediverse platforms for hewing too closely to the structural design of flawed proprietary big tech social platforms such as Twitter.
  • Quick Thoughts on Musk and Twitter: I do not like Twitter. With certain caveats (see the above recommended post), I prefer Mastodon and other free and open source federated platforms. However, unlike most people (I am guessing) who read my Mastodon Twitter Crossposter reviews, I supported Mr. Musk’s takeover of Twitter. My opinions, expressed in the Leaflet, remain unchanged.

17. Peekier Search Engine Review

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on February 26, 2022.

Summary: A review of Peekier, a privacy-focused Bing-based search alternative with a unique UI for showing search results.

Ranking History: Peekier debuted in our weekly top five in its first full week live and has been a consistent performer ever since. It is our 4th most-read article of 2023 thus far.

Articles of interest…

18. Tiki paralogue trick in Fire Emblem Engage

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on February 3, 2023.

Summary: An essay on a neat trick I discovered on one of the DLC paralogues in the newly released Fire Emblem Engage for the Nintendo Switch.

Ranking History: After finishing in second place in our weekly ranking in its first full week, this article has notched ten consecutive weekly top placements and is currently our most-read article of 2023.

Articles of interest…

19. A Follow-Up Post on the Meaning of “Blob Dylan”

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on April 12, 2021.

Summary: I returned to the matter of Blob Dylan graffiti I photographed in January 2021 to consider the meaning of “Blob Dylan.”

Ranking History: This article began to perform well in May 2021 and was one of our strongest articles in the second half of 2021. It faded in 2022 but still generates some interest and traffic.

Articles of interest…

20. The Nice Boat 〜 A Look Back at the School Days Anime

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on May 6, 2021.

Summary: A comprehensive review of the infamous School Days anime and its Nice Boat meme.

Ranking History: The School Days review has been a consistently solid since it was published, posting top-25 finishes in both 2021 and 2022. It has been even stronger in 2023. It is our 6th most-visited article of 2023 through April 27.

Articles of interest…

21. Performing Site-Specific Searches With DuckDuckGo

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on August 8, 2021.

Summary: With an emphasis on Project Gutenberg, a guide to using DuckDuckGo for domain-specific searches (this would not work for since we are blacklisted by Bing and DuckDuckGo is a Bing front-end).

Ranking History: It shot out of the gate in August 2021, faded, and then posted several strong months in early 2022 before fading again.

Articles of interest…

22. How the Forget-Me-Not Flower Found Its Name

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on March 11, 2021.

Summary: Inspired by a poem, I research how the forget-me-not flower gained its memorable name.

Ranking History: It took a few months to find its groove, but it has been a consistently solid performer since the second half of 2021. It is on pace for a sixth place finish in April 2023, which would be its highest-ever monthly finish if it holds its position.

Articles of interest…

23. Ghostwriter Markdown Editor Review

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on October 7, 2023.

Summary: My review of the Ghostwriter markdown editor, which I used, and still use, to draft all of my writing.

Ranking History: Was generally solid and unspectacular in its first year. The article had a surge in October 2022 when the markdown editor was acquired by KDE before settling back into its prior rhythm.

Articles of interest…

  • The Newsletter Leaf Journal at 100: I started working in markdown after switching to Buttondown as our service for The Newsletter Leaf Journal. I syndicated our special 100th newsletter to The New Leaf Journal as a regular article.
  • A Writer’s Case For Markdown: I make the case for writing in markdown from my perspective as a New Leaf Journal writer and legal research specialist.

24. Biden, Lincoln, and Counting Back From the President’s Birth

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on April 29, 2022.

Summary: My learning that President Joe Biden was born closer to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln than to his own first inauguration inspired me to undertake a research project.

Ranking History: Posted an extremely strong month in April 2022 before coming down to Earth. Had a strangely strong January 2023, but seems to be rather boom or bust in terms of views.

Articles of interest…

25. A 2021 List of Alternative Search Engines and Search Resources

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on June 13, 2021.

Summary: A look at popular alternative general-use search engines (most are Bing front-ends).

Ranking History: After a strong first month, faded into generally consistent but largely unspectacular territory.

Articles of interest…

  • Reviewing Elephind: A Powerful Newspaper Search Engine: My 2021 search engine review focused on general-use search. Elephind, which I wrote about separately, is a powerful search engine for archived newspapers.
  • Adding custom search shortcut for Wayback Machine: I advocate using browser search shortcuts for managing different search engines and site-specific search. However, shortcuts can be used for other things as well Here, I demonstrate how to create and use a shortcut for archiving web pages with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

26. What is Becovi Search?

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on July 10, 2022.

Summary: I took a Leaflet-sized look at the Becovi Search Engine and examined whether reports of its being malware had any basis.

Ranking History: It made Hacker News page one, which was the beginning and end of its presence on our article view leader board. Although its Hacker News page one stint was more modest than the other four New Leaf Journal articles to earn the distinction, the Becovi review was our most-read article of July 2022.

Articles of interest…

27. A Look at ProxiTok, a TikTok Frontend

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on May 14, 2022.

Summary: No one should use TikTok. No one should even use a TikTok front-end. But if one must, I figured it would be interesting to review ProxiTok, a privacy front-end for TikTok.

Ranking History: The ProxiTok review started performing well in the summer of 2022 and hit its peak in December. It has fallen off a bit in 2023.

Articles of interest…

28. Reviewing Bob Dylan’s “Shadow Kingdom” Stream

By Victor V. Gurbo. Published on July 19, 2021.

Summary: Victor offered an in-depth review of Bob Dylan’s 2021 pay-per-view Shadow Kingdom stream.

Ranking History: It was shared by Bob Dylan super-fan site Expecting Rain and experienced a brief, meteoric surge in views which made it our most-read article of July 2021.

Articles of interest…

29. Nintendo Power’s 1999 Yoshi in Pokémon April Fools Prank

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on April 1, 2021.

Summary: My first-hand memories of a fun 1999 video game magazine April Fools prank (you could not, in fact, acquire Yoshi in Pokémon Red and Blue.

Ranking History: It was a decent performer until a sudden, unexplained surge in October 2022 nearly gave it a weekly first-place finish. It is having a solid 2023 thus far.

Articles of interest…

  • The Two Decade Mario Party Finally Ends: The story of my finishing a round of Mario Party that I had left waiting for almost 20 years.
  • Bill’s Secret Garden – A Pokémon Generation 1 Urban Legend: While the original Pokémon games are well-understood now, the same could not be said of kids who played the original generation one games in 1998 and 1999. I tell the story of a particular urban legend that I heard from a classmate in May 1999 along with my big picture perspective on why those sorts of stories thrived at the time.

30. Sending SMS Messages From My Computer With XMPP Through JMP

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on September 8, 2021.

Summary: My review of JMP Chat, a service which gives you an XMPP phone number (I am still a happy customer).

Ranking History: This article did very well in late 2021 after it was shared by the official XMPP community. It did not maintain its momentum, but it still has decent weeks here and there.

Articles of interest…

31. Installing LineageOS on a 2013 Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi)

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on July 28, 2021.

Summary: It is very much like the article wherein I describe installing Ubuntu Touch on a 2013 Nexus 7. However, instead of installing Ubuntu Touch, I installed LineageOS.

Ranking History: It has lived in the shadow of my Ubuntu Touch-Nexus 7 article, but it had a big August 2022 in the slipstream of my /e/ OS review’s Hacker News surge.

Articles of interest…

  • Visual Novel Review: Bad End: My two Nexus 7s are not the only legacy tablets that I have covered. I reviewed the Kindle (Kindle version no longer available) version of a Japanese visual novel called Bad End on my old Kindle Fire HDX 7 for Halloween in 2021.
  • Transferring Photos From My BlackBerry Classic Using KDE Connect: I had to find a way to include my guide to using KDE Connect to transfer files from my BlackBerry Classic to my computer on this New Leaf Journal birthday list.

32. Usagi Drop 〜 A Complicated Anime Pick

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on January 19, 2021.

Summary: I would have included the Usagi Drop anime in my 2011-2020 recommendations article but for one point which warranted a longer, article-length discussion.

Ranking History: The Usagi Drop review has been consistent with a few surges in views in individual months.

Articles of interest…

  • That Longest Year of School Finally Ends: An essay on a quote by Watari Wataru on the end of his long-running Oregairu series.
  • Visual Novel Review: May Sky: My long review of the excellent freeware Japanese visual novel, May Sky. While its subject matter is different, the core romance does feature a notable age difference (albeit without the weirdness and baggage of the Usagi Drop manga’s ending).

33. Using an Amiga OS-Inspired Window Theme In XFCE With XFWM4

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on January 2, 2022.

Summary: My review of an Amiga OS-inspired window theme for XFCE’s XFWM4 window manager.

Ranking History: This article has been a strong and fairly consistent performer from the day it went live.

Articles of interest…

34. Reviewing the Mastodon Twitter Crossposter

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on May 10, 2022.

Summary: After seeing my Leaflet on the Mastodon Twitter Crossposter earn some views, I wrote a full-length review of the software and former free service.

Ranking History: Like its shorter predecessor, it surged when Mr. Elon Musk bought Twitter and finished second on our list of most-read articles in November. However, it lagged well behind my shorter post on the subject (much to my chagrin). It has fallen off in recent months.

Articles of interest…

35. Understanding Hair Color in the Kimi ni Todoke Anime Series

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on August 19, 2021.

Summary: Examining hair color in the Kimi ni Todoke anime (why not?).

Ranking History: The Kimi ni Todoke post squeaked into our top-50 most-read articles of 2021 and 2022 before finding its greatest success in early 2023. It is currently our 12th-ranked article of 2023, and it is largely on that strength that it is our 35th most-visited as of our third birthday.

Articles of interest…

  • Hair Color and Albinism in Red Shift Visual Novel: The protagonist of Kimi ni Todoke has naturally black hair. However, the heroine of Red Shift, a freeware visual novel, is naturally albino (the article links to my full Red Shift review).
  • Brown hair and dress codes in Ippon Again!: I published a new anime hair article just three days before our third birthday. I dare say this article, which brings together real-world hair dress code stories from Japan and anime, is our best anime/game hair color piece to date.

36. The Story of Billy Possum, President Hoover’s Pet Opossum

By N.A. Ferrell. Published on November 30, 2021.

Summary: An article with original sources about President Herbert Hoover’s pet opossum.

Ranking History: This was not an article that I expected to do well, but it somehow attracts viewers and is having a solid 2023 thus far.

Articles of interest…

Wrapping up our birthday party

While the Bing situation hinders the growth of The New Leaf Journal, the overall state of the site is strong. We continue to publish new content and I look forward to starting some new projects for our third year. I am also in the final stages of setting up a couple of external sites to help people discover New Leaf Journal writing. I thank all of our new and regular readers and I hope that you join us in looking forward to what promises to be an exciting fourth year of writing at The New Leaf Journal.