Tag Archive for ‘Mint’

Hacking Mint to Recognize Modern Operating Systems

Despite Shaun Inman’s announcement late last year that he was suspending sales and support for Mint, I’ve continued to use the software to track visitor statistics on Initial Charge. In the eight years since I first installed Mint on my server, I haven’t found anything that offers the same level of simplicity, clean design, and overall peace of mind about where my stats data is stored.

I’ll continue to keep my eye out for alternatives, but nothing’s unseated Mint yet. Piwik and Tiny Stats came close. But no one I know that has tried Piwik has stuck with it and when I tried Tiny Stats, I ran across a few bugs that soured the experience for me. I’ll probably move to something new eventually, but I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.

UserAgent 007 on iPhone

With my continued use of Mint, there is one bit of code that will have to be updated regularly — the list of recognized operating systems in the User Agent 007 pepper. For those who are unfamiliar with Mint, the software has support for plugins, called “Pepper”, that can enhance the core software’s features. User Agent 007 keeps track of what browser and operating systems your visitors are using, as well as the display resolution and whether or not they have Flash installed (which is far less useful in 2017 than it was in 2007).

In order for UserAgent 007 to recognize operating systems newer than Windows 8 and Mountain Lion — which were added in the last update — you’ll have to edit the class.php file located in mint/pepper/shauninman/useragent007/. I highly suggest making a backup of this file just in case something goes wrong.

Windows Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Within class.php, you’ll want to look for an array that tells Mint how to determine what version of Windows the visitor is using. If you’ve never edited this file before, the top entry in the array should be Windows 8. To add support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, simply add the following two items above the Windows NT 6.2 entry, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'Windows NT 10.0' => '10',
'Windows NT 6.3' => '8.1',

macOS Versions Array in UserAgent 007

Scrolling down a bit further within class.php, you should find an array with versions of macOS listed. The last one should be Mountain Lion. To add support for newer versions of macOS, be sure to add a comma after the Mountain Lion entry and add the following five items, just as I’ve done in the image above.

'10.9' => 'Mavericks',
'10.10' => 'Yosemite',
'10.11' => 'El Capitan',
'10.12' => 'Sierra',
'10.13' => 'High Sierra'

Unfortunately, this doesn’t retroactively change the statistics that have already been recorded. But eventually, the “Unknown” listing will be replaced in your short-term platform stats with properly identified operating system names. And without officially released updates to the UserAgent 007 pepper, as long as you’re still using Mint, this process will have to be repeated as new operating systems are released with the correct version number and OS name. But this will certainly add some longevity to Mint for us users who aren’t ready to move on just yet.

Goodbye Mint, Goodbye Fever ➝

Shaun Inman:

As of today I’m officially suspending sales and support of Mint and Fever. But! As self-hosted software, absolutely nothing changes and you can continue using both Mint and Fever as you were yesterday. […]

I am unbelievably grateful for everyone who found some utility, personal or professional, in these things that I built over the past decade. I also want to apologize to anyone who didn’t get their activation key in a timely manner or has had a pre-sale or support request go unanswered for too long. I hope Mint and Fever treat you well for as long as you continue to use them.

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaun Inman’s software for years — I reviewed Mint and Fever around the time I first installed them and they’ve been my favorite web analytics and RSS syncing services ever since. But the writing’s been on the wall for both of them for quite some time — development has drastically slowed over the past two years. I expect I’ll continue using them for a while, but eventually I’ll have to migrate to something else.

This is sad news, but I’m glad Shaun will be able to spend less time on projects he’s no longer interested in and more time on the software that gets him excited to code.

Considering Piwik

Nick Heer, on his decision to install Piwik on Pixel Envy:

I want you to know that I’m taking Piwik for a trial run. Piwik is analytics software that is self-hosted, so none of your information is going to a giant advertising company. I’ve long been an ardent supporter and user of Mint, but it hasn’t been updated for a while so it’s not super great at reporting recent versions of iOS and OS X, for example.

I had never heard of Piwik until John Gruber started a discussion on Twitter over the weekend about whether or not Google Analytics was a privacy-invasive tracker. I saw several responses that suggested he take a look at Piwik, a freely available, open source analytics package that can be installed on your own server or hosted by their cloud service.

I replied to John pointing out his own policy regarding Google Analytics on his Markdown Dingus — preferring not to have analytics tracking to ensure its users that Google couldn’t read what they were inputting into the text field. I also noted that I observed in Ghostery that Google Analytics was loading a tracking script from Adometry on Daring Fireball.

Adometry, as far as I can tell, is a company owned by Google which helps Adsense properly attribute revenue to the sites which contribute to a successful advertisement conversion. I also observed DoubleClick trackers appear on sites like The Loop, which I can also only assume are being loaded because of their use of Google Analytics. I prefer not to be tracked at all, but I’d certainly consider Google Analytics to be a privacy-invasive tracker when it’s sending my data to ad-related services even when I visit webpages that don’t include Google-served ads.

I haven’t used Google Analytics in years because I was always concerned that they were using the collected traffic data for more than just the betterment of the sites who use it. But until this weekend, I never really had any proof of it. I have been using Shaun Inman’s Mint, which I still consider to be a great analytics system. But as Nick points out, Mint hasn’t been updated in quite sometime and I’m starting to wonder if I should switch to an analytics app that’s more actively developed.

There’s a lot to like about Piwik — there’s a native iOS app, it respects Do Not Track, and I’ve noticed others deciding to test it as well (Ben Brooks being one of them). But I’m not jumping in just yet, I’d like to see how Piwik works out for Nick and Ben first and I’m not sure if Piwik tracks RSS subscribers like Mint does with the Bird Feeder pepper. This means I might have to find an alternative solution if I want to switch to Piwik while continuing to keep tabs on the number of RSS subscribers to Initial Charge.

Piwik might not be the best option for every site — there’s plenty of other options if you look around. But those of us who run websites owe it to our readers to not give up their browsing information to third-parties so easily, particularly when it’s not happening transparently. At least you have some idea of what’s happening when you visit a page that displays Adsense ads, but that isn’t the case when you visit a site that simply uses Google Analytics.

I would especially like to see John Gruber move Daring Fireball away from Google Analytics. He sparked this whole conversation to begin with and is someone who cares deeply about treating his readers with respect. And I think the respectful thing to do would be to stop sending his reader’s browsing data to third-party, ad-related tracking services like Adometry.

Why Not Google? ➝

Marco Arment:

I didn’t set out to aggressively quit Google-everything, but once I changed my browsers’ default search engine to DuckDuckGo, that has mostly happened. The most surprising part was how easy it was for Google to mostly fall out of my life, how quickly it happened, and how little I missed it.

I too have slowly dropped Google services from my life. At this point, Gmail and YouTube are the only two Google products I continue to use. Gmail, because I have a decade-old email address that I’m not quite ready to give up on and YouTube because it’s the video service where all of the content is.

But unlike Marco, I have made a conscious effort to remove Google from my life. When they turned their back on Google Reader users by shutting down the service I realized that I should never rely so heavily on products that I don’t pay for. Because if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.

That’s why I’ve been using Mint for several years, DuckDuckGo for several months, and have been slowly transitioning from Gmail to having my email hosted on a Media Temple virtual server. And, the changes have been going smoothly — I haven’t found myself missing Google’s equivalents at all.

Those that Made for a Better 2009

The year 2009 is over and 2010 is upon us. But, I think that we should reflect 2009, remembering the people that made the year better for us. There have been plenty of people that made my life better last year. There’s the obvious friends and family, but I specifically want to shine the spotlight on some of the writers, developers, and podcasters that made last year so good.

I’ll start out with an easy one. It’s not one person in particular, but all of the folks at Media Temple. They have been great to me this last year. And their fantastic 24 hour phone support is just the beginning, they’ve also moved my database to a SQL burst container (for free) when my web traffic demanded it. My site went down a few times throughout the year but Media Temple’s professionalism and courteousness went well beyond expectations, which managed to make up for any ill will that could have been built up from down time. I haven’t had too many web hosts in my time, but I can safely say that Media Temple is the best.

The next person I want to mention built two fantastic web apps that I started using this past year. Shaun Inman is the man behind Mint, a web analytics app that you host on your own server. Mint has been around for a while but I just discovered it this last year. I had been using Google Analytics for my sites but was very happy to find a good replacement which would keep all of my stuff on my own domain. But, it’s not only Mint, Shaun released an RSS reader in 2009 called Fever. I happily switched to it shorty after its release. The most clever part of Fever (and one of reasons I switched to it) was its use of a “Hot” section which displays the most popular links from the feeds I subscribe to. Shaun Inman has also developed an iPhone app, named Horror Vacui, a URL shortener called Lessn, and a sort of Quicksilver for the web service called Shortwave.

Speaking of Quicksilver, let’s give some credit to Nicholas Jitkoff. Nicholas now works for Google and the Quicksilver updates haven’t been coming as quickly as some of you may have liked, but the app continues to make my life easier every day. Nicholas Jitkoff developed an amazing app with Quicksilver, one with nearly limitless possibilities, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of it. Quicksilver isn’t the only application developed by Nicholas that made my life easier, though. He’s also the man behind Telekinesis, a simple application that you install on your Mac that allows you to access files and share your screen with your iPhone or iPod touch. It’s a clever (and free) application that comes in handy when I need it (albeit rarely). Nicholas has developed several applications and utilities that you can find on his website, Blacktree.

While Nicholas Jitkoff’s Quicksilver helped me be more productive, I’ve spent spent (or arguably wasted) countless hours with Tweetie. Loren Brichter’s delightful Twitter client for the iPhone. Earlier in the year Loren was well on his way to making it into this piece but really kicked it up a notch when Tweetie 2 was released in October. There’s no doubt that Loren Brichter made my life better with Tweetie 2 but his iPhone programming lecture at Stanford was what made me look up to him even more as a fantastic developer. Aside from Tweetie 2, Loren has also developed Tweetie for the Mac and Scribbles.

Later in the year I finally got around to signing up for Marco Arment’s Instapaper. Not only does Marco run Instapaper the service, he also developed the Instapaper app for the iPhone. Before using Instapaper I felt as though I was reaching a point where I was spending way too much of my time reading short-form content rather than the longer, more well thought out pieces that good writers put so much effort into. Marco’s service has made it easy for me to save all of the longer articles that I’d like to read. When I have time to read them I can do so where I’d like, whether it’s on my iPhone with Instapaper Pro, on the web, or on my Kindle using Instapaper’s fancy Kindle-friendly export feature. I really enjoy the fact that I read so much more well thought our pieces by the writers that put a little bit more into their articles, and it’s all thanks to Marco.

Speaking of writers, it’d be hard for me to write something like this without mentioning John Gruber. His website, Daring Fireball, is always the first feed I check when I load up Fever in the morning. Out of all the people mentioned here, John has probably had the most influence on me. Whether he’s writing 2000+ words on a JavaScript framework for iPhone web apps or writing about HTML5 he always manages to keep me interested from the first word to the last footnote.

I happened to discover Patrick Rhone this past year. Patrick Rhone is the man behind Minimal Mac, a weblog about minimalism, Macintosh, and related geekdom. Although I don’t follow Patrick Rhone’s “journal,” I do read every single word he writes on Minimal Mac. I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to keep things simple and Minimal Mac has fed right into my obsession with minimalism.

One of my favorite podcasts is MacBreak Weekly, it’s one of the first podcasts I listen to when it shows up in iTunes. I enjoy all of the regulars on the show but one person stands out above the rest, Andy Ihnatko. Andy Ihnatko regularly writes for the Chicago Sun Times and his Celestial Waste of Bandwidth. But in my opinion, his best work is on MacBreak Weekly. He always has a fantastic pick of the week (whether it be a book or otherwise) and often times is the one trying to keep the other hosts from jumping to conclusions regarding whatever the latest outlandish Apple rumor is. I don’t read his articles as often as I’d like, but I always find time to listen to MacBreak Weekly.

The final person that made my life better in 2009 was John C. Dvorak. He’s another writer/podcaster and like Andy Ihnatko, I believe his best work is in his podcasts. He is a regular co-host on This Week in Tech and co-host of both DH Unplugged and No Agenda. Whether you agree with his political stances or not he does a great job of trying to keep Adam Curry grounded in reality on No Agenda and keeping the folks on This Week in Tech on topic. He always has something insightful to say and often tells fantastic anecdotes about the topic at hand.

2009 was a great year for me. I had a lot of fun, I wrote more than in any previous year, and I certainly read more than in any previous year. I consider all of the people mentioned here to be incredibly successful. All of them and their work certainly meant a lot to me this past year. And, without them, this year wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable or productive.

I’ve taken the time to build a Twitter list that includes all of the people mentioned here. If you’re even the least bit interested in any of them I would suggest following them on Twitter.

Update 1/4/09: Somehow I neglected to mention that Marco Arment is also the lead developer of Tumblr. Tumblr is a wonderful weblog platform that I used for a brief period of time in 2008. I really enjoyed using it but eventually decided to keep all of my content on my WordPress weblog instead.

Mint, A Fresh Look at Your Site

Mint LogoMint is a self hosted website statistics package created by Shaun Inman. For me, it has replaced both Google Analytics and FeedBurner for my websites statistics. Although Mint costs $30 per site it is still (in my opinion) the best option out there for anyone who is serious about their website.

Installation

Mint is self hosted, which means you have to download some files and upload them to your own server to make them work. There are some server requirements to getting Mint working but Mint’s website offers an easy to use Server Compatibility Suite that you can upload to your server before purchasing Mint to make sure that it is compatible with your server.

Installing Mint is incredibly easy, and if you’ve ever installed WordPress you’ll feel right at home. Just input some database information into a configuration file, upload the Mint directory to your server, visit yourdomain.com/mint, and follow the browser based instructions.

Using Mint

A default install of Mint already does practically everything you need it to, it will track page view, unique visitors, search keywords, referrers, views on individual pages along with the ability to backup or restore your Mint database. But, similar to WordPress, Mint has a plugin architecture called Pepper that allows you to add new functionality.

Mint’s website has an area called the Peppermill, it is a directory of all of the Pepper available for you to install in Mint. My favorites, in no particular order are:

  • Bird Feeder Pepper – Highlights subscription trends across multiple Feeds and clicks on individual feed items.
  • User Agent 007 Pepper – Shows what browser, OS, and what resolution your visitors have.
  • Attention Span Pepper – Displays bounce rates and pages per visit.
  • Locations Pepper – Displays the geographical location (based on IP address) of your visitors.
  • iPhone Pepper – Gives you an iPhone-friendly version of your Mint stats when visiting from an iPhone or iPod touch.

The extension of Mint doesn’t end at Peppers, you can also install new “styles” for Mint so you can view Mint in any color scheme you want.

Mint has a very clean design that makes viewing your stats very comfortable. All of your different stats are organized into Panes that are can reorder from the preferences page. Although the default preferences for Mint makes it difficult to minimize white space just by reorder panes, a little bit of tweaking will get you an even cleaner look to your stats with very little white space. I had to turn on “fix pane height and use scroll bars” otherwise I would end up with one row of panes much longer than the others, it didn’t look very good, and since I’m a little bit of a design nut I had to fix that.

Gripes

However, there are some downsides to Mint.

The font size on Mint pages is a little small, I could easily use my browser to increase the font size but that would increase the font size for the entire domain, and since Mint is on the same domain as this site it would also increase the font size for me here.

There aren’t any quality graphing options available to visualize traffic throughout the history of your site (I kind of prefer line graphs). The Fresh View Pepper comes closest but it always displays a graph including the current day, which means the end of the graph is always significantly lower than the rest of it (depending on the time of day you are viewing it of course), and there isn’t any way of ignoring the current day when viewing the graph.

There isn’t anyway to view statistics history. You can view page views and uniques by day, but only within the past 6 days, you can view them by week, but only within the past month, etc.. I’m sure I could see day by day stats if I looked into the database but I shouldn’t have to do that. I should be able to (just like Google Analytics) select a period of time and see statistics for it.

Conclusion

Mint is clearly the best option out there for those who want good statistics, clean design, and more control over where your stats are stored (i.e. not on a large company’s server, like Google’s). There is also a great community around Mint. Mint’s website has a fantastic forum filled with people ready and willing to talk about Mint and help you with problems that might arise while using it. The forums even has a section dedicated to Pepper ideas, so if you have an idea for a Pepper but don’t have the skills required to build it you can offer it up to someone in the community to build. Since most of the problems I have with Mint could easily be fixed by Peppers I will probably help contribute by inputing my ideas into the Pepper ideas section of the forums.

By the way, did I mention that the domain for Mint is “haveamint.com?” Just based on the name alone, how could you not buy it?

Update 4/9/09: If you were wondering how I got Bird Feeder to track my RSS feed stats, I didn’t actually edit any of WordPress’s core files, I just installed the Bird Feeder for WordPress plugin.

Update 7/26/09: I’m currently using the Clearmint Ice style and here’s a full list of my Pepper:

New RSS Feed ➝

If you are currently using a FeedBurner feed then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to subscribe to the new feed.

https://initialcharge.net/feed/

I recently started using Mint to track all my stats here, I have installed a few “Peppers” (Mint’s name for plugins) and one of them allows me to track RSS subscribers. In my quest to keep everything simple here I’ve decided to stop paying attention to the stats on FeedBurner and start supporting the feed above exclusively.

The old FeedBurner feeds should continue to work but I can’t make any promises for the future of the feeds, I will no longer be actively supporting it. There are no indications that it will quit working but if any issue arises with them in the future fixing it will not be my highest priority.

Thanks to all who have subscribed and I really hope you continue to enjoy the content on this site.