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This Advent: Simplify

Every few years, I spend some time trying to trim any excess off my online presence (sites and social media profiles). For some time, that resulted in consolidation of many websites into one. Lately, as I've built up a larger network of sites and services, I've simply tried to ensure that all are manageable and don't require too much of my time to be effective.

My bandwidth for managing multiple sites and accounts has been reduced this year as I've started a new 'in-the-office' job, and also have a beautiful baby (almost 1 year old!) to care for.

Thus, I'm trying to whittle things down again during this Advent; what better time than the new liturgical year to refocus my online presence and work on making it align with my calling in life—to be a good husband and father, and to give honor to God in all things.

3 million pageviews

Wow. Just glanced at stats for 2008-now on, and it looks like I've passed 3,000,000 page views, with more than 1.6 million unique visitors (I didn't keep stats from 2004-2008, so I don't have data for that time).

Thanks for all your visits, and for helping me improve this site through your feedback! I've received over 1,500 comments and 1,000 emails over the course of 800 blog posts, 60 articles, 31 reviews, and 1,100 photos posted to this site. I've written over 40,000 words in the posts on this site (not yet enough for a novel), and I've written similar amounts for sites like Open Source Catholic and Midwestern Mac.

One of my greatest dilemmas is whether to consolidate sites like those into this site, or to try to keep Life is a Prayer more about personal things, marriage, family life, etc. Here's to another 40,000 words figuring it out!

New St. Louis-area Catholic Blogger

There's a new blog in town: thiscatholicgirl, by friend and former co-worker @ESWesthoff in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She's witty, funny, and has good insight.

While I'm on the topic of new things, I can't forget to mention that I've been brushing up a bunch of new reviews of microphones and audio devices, and I'm hoping to start testing the iPhone 5 with as many audio gadgets as I can to supplement my article External Microphones for iPhone 5, 4S, iPad and iPod Touch Audio input. More to come!

Life is a Prayer - Looking great on your smartphone!

For the first time ever, I decided to make one of my personal sites look good on mobile phones by incorporating 'responsive' design. Basically, I use some spiffy CSS to say "when you're viewing Life is a on an iPhone, or Android phone, or a window smaller than x pixels, change the layout of the site so it's a LOT easier to read. - Responsive design on iPhone 4s

So, if you have a mobile phone that runs iOS or Android, whip it out really quick, head over to Life is a, and tell me what you think (even the comment form works great now!).

If you don't have a smartphone, but you use a modern web browser, try making the browser skinnier until you see how the content on the site re-flows (and images resize) so they fit the window a bit nicer!

What happened to Life is a

[Update: I've finished building a new theme for Life is a; it's a bit of the old, mixed in with a bit of the new. What do you think?]

I'm in the middle of upgrading Life is a to Drupal 7 (to the non-geeks out there: I'm changing up the structure of the site a little bit, and giving it a new coat of varnish).

So... for a while you'll probably see a few things here and there that are out of place (especially in sections like the Pictures area, where photo galleries are displayed). Please report any problems you have in the comments below, and wish me luck as I start redesigning the site to make it look even better than ever!

(This current look is only temporary - Things will be back to normal soon!).

Removed Leaderboard Ads over Articles

Over the past 10 years, I've tried many different ways of monetizing this website; I've run Google Ads (using AdSense), adding tip jars (accepting donations through PayPal), and adding particular ads and revenue-generating links (like affiliate links).

The most annoying monetization is always a glaring, leaderboard or sidebar (or even worse, in-content) ad. Therefore I've decided to simply remove all leaderboard ads on this site; the only places where you'll see ads anymore are either in the top of the right sidebar, or in the bottom of the page (a few text links).

The amount of revenue I earn from Amazon affiliate links on just one or two pages (like my page showing how you can use external microphones with the iPhone 4s) is more than four times what I've ever earned by placing annoying/distracing Google ads on the site.

Plus, I may start highlighting my affiliates page—to which I typically refer people who ask me how they can show some appreciation :-)