Ads and Support

Updates to Google’s ad system did a number on the layout of this website, spraying ads everywhere, so I’ve disabled ads until I can get that sorted out.

They’ll probably have to come back at some point, because while I like the site without ads, it does cost me money to host this site, and time to work on it. If you like what I do here, this wouldn’t be a bad time to send a few dollars1 toward The Map Room’s hosting bills, or to me directly via Ko-Fi. (Both methods use PayPal; minimum of $10 and $3 respectively.)

As always, your support is not necessary, but it’s greatly appreciated, and I do not take it for granted.

Map Books of 2019 Page

The Map Books of 2019 page lists all the books scheduled to come out this year—at least the ones I’m aware of. If there’s a book coming out in 2019 that should be on this page, let me know.

So far there are not many books listed, but that will change as the year progresses. Also keep in mind that publication dates shift all the time: keeping on top of those changes can be a sisyphean task, but I’ll do my best.

Security Updates

So, two things. The Map Room has its TLS/SSL certificate and is now running on a secure server; existing links should redirect to their https:// equivalents. And, because spam via those forms has become a problem, I’ve added a reCAPTCHA requirement to the contact and link submission pages. Hopefully neither change will break anything for anyone, but let me know if it does for you.

Oh Look, Another Privacy Policy Update

So The Map Room has had a privacy policy (of sorts) for years, but since all the cool kids have been updating theirs in preparation for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, I’ve gone and done the same. This policy, posted on my personal website, will apply to all the websites I own and operate: since they’re all one-person operations, and I’m the person in every case, it didn’t make sense to be repetitive. Also, said operations are likely too small, too inconsequential and too uncontroversial to invite scrutiny from European regulators, and anyway at the moment I don’t hold any personal data unless you comment or contact me via a web form. It seems politic to spell that out in detail, though.

2017 in Numbers

Number of blog entries posted: 386 (including this one).

Five most popular posts published in 2017: (1) The Medieval Fantasy City Generator (27 Jul); (2) World Life Expectancy (28 Dec); (3) ‘They Just Wanted to Fix Some Things About the State Borders’ (13 Oct); (4) Mapping the August 2017 Solar Eclipse (21 Jul); (5) The Territory Is Not the Map (27 Sep).

Two posts from 2016 that would have made the top five: Streetwise Maps Is Apparently Closing (31 Aug 2016); Mapping Star Trek (15 Sep 2016).

Least popular post published in 2017: Deadline Extended for Corlis Benefideo Award Nominations (4 Apr).

Books reviewed: 5.

Books received in 2017 that are still in my to-review queue: 1.

Bestselling book: Picturing America by Stephen J. Hornsby (my review).

Top five countries by page views: (1) United States; (2) United Kingdom; (3) Canada; (4) Netherlands; (5) Germany.

Countries generating a single page view in all of 2017: Afghanistan, Åland Islands, Angola, Bhutan, Côte d’Ivoire, Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, Grenada, Guyana, Liberia, Sint Maarten, Somalia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vatican City.

Embedded Videos and Email Subscriptions

A reader just brought to my attention an issue that will probably be familiar to the four hundred or so of you who subscribe to The Map Room’s daily email digest: embedded videos (such as YouTube) included in blog posts don’t work in email clients, and in fact can bork the formatting of the email. A little digging on my part revealed that this is a longstanding issue: email clients don’t generally display scripted or embedded elements. Not sure whether this is something I can fix from this end, but in the meantime I’ll try and hold off on the embedded video.

Server Upgrade

On Friday I finally upgraded The Map Room’s hosting plan, moving from shared hosting to a virtual private server.

There was a small hiccup: initially the VPS was housed at my web host’s Oregon data centre while the MySQL server was in Virginia: this led to pages hanging for about seven seconds before loading unless you loaded a cached version. But that got sorted out late Friday night (or early Saturday morning, depending), and now everything is snappy and fast and not at all likely to throw server errors. There’s tons of CPU, memory and disk space to spare on my VPS; The Map Room had been just slightly too much for shared hosting, but now it will have lots of room to grow before I have to upgrade again. Honestly, I should have done this years ago.

Reader contributions to my hosting bills are a big reason why this upgrade was able to happen. Thanks to all who sent money in that direction. Your support is very, very much appreciated.

Pledge Break

If you like what I do here and you have a couple of extra dollars, pounds, euros or kroner lying around, this would be an awfully good time to send them The Map Room’s way: sent directly to me via Ko-Fi or, if you don’t trust me to handle money, directly to my web hosting bill.

That bill, by the way, is about to go up. This blog has been on the edge of need-to-upgrade/don’t-need-to-upgrade since I restarted it nearly two years ago, but it looks like I’ve done all the optimizations I can under shared hosting. It’s time to get a VPS. Which will cost a little more.

Given the dreadful state of online advertising (my ad income is one-twentieth what it was a decade ago), blogs like The Map Room will increasingly have to rely on reader support. I’m not very comfortable with periodic pledge breaks like these, so I’m exploring the idea of setting up a membership system, which if I go for it would launch some time in early 2018. The trick with me using systems like Memberful or Patreon is that a blog like The Map Room isn’t really geared toward members-only content: I’m a link aggregator, not a content producer. But if I can make this project a bit more financially viable, I can spend time on it rather than other work.

Your support, as always, is not required, but it is deeply appreciated.

Map Books of 2017 Updated

I’ve finally updated the Map Books of 2017 page to account for all the books that were brought to my attention over the past few months.

Later this month it’ll be time for me to post the 2017 edition of The Map Room’s Holiday Gift Guide. Each year I put out a list of some of the noteworthy books about maps that have been published over the previous year. This year’s guide will be a rather smaller selection of the above list, focused on gift-giving (academic monographs and GIS manuals make less-than-ideal gifts, I’m thinking); the Map Books of 2017 page is meant to be more comprehensive.

Importing Older Map Entries

During The Map Room’s hiatus (June 2011 to January 2016), any map blogging I did went on my personal blog. I wrote a total of 201 map-related blog posts during that period. At the moment I’m starting to remove older material on my personal website, so those posts have now gone dark over there. I’d like to keep them around, so I’ve started the process of importing those map posts over here. I did 2011 earlier today, and I learned that each post is going to need a lot of cleaning up, so it’ll be a slow process.

The Fantasy Maps section that once resided on my personal site is now more or less over here, too—though it’s as bare-bones and incomplete here as it was over there.

Pre-2016 Archives Offline

Blog posts prior to January 2016 are offline for the time being, the result of my changing this site to a new FTP user account on the same server without taking into account some of the hard links in the PHP code of my legacy pages. Sorry about that. I think I have some idea how to get them back up and running; I’ll let you know when I do.

Books Update

A lot of things accumulated in my inbox during the move, and the backlog is kind of overwhelming right now, but I’ve finally updated the Map Books of 2017 page to include all the books that came to my attention during that time.

Speaking of backlogs, I still have several books in my reviewing queue, which I hope to be able to tackle soon.

And speaking of reviews: publicists should note that while my mailing address has not changed, my street address has. If you’re sending me review copies by any means other than the postal service, please contact me to get my new street address. (See also my reviewing guidelines.)

A Programming Note

Just to let you know that I’ll be moving house throughout the month of May; as a result, posts to The Map Room may be a bit more erratic and sporadic than normal this month. (Not that posts aren’t already erratic and sporadic, but you get the idea.)