January 9, 2007

Finding Free Stat Counters that Won’t Crash Opera

Posted in Linux/Zaurus Tips and Tricks, Zaurus Trials and Tribulations at 5:27 am by sdjf

Trying to find a free stat counter service that won’t crash Opera 7.30 has been an absolute bear.

Many services that sound really cool are limited to certain markets, like a couple in Belgium that are only for Belgian-related websites.

To start with, I went with WebStat, which is easy to use. The one drawback is that it looks like their free statistics don’t include the referral source. For me, that is just as important as the top search engine.

So, I signed up for Google Analytics. That has been a nightmare. It won’t work in column mode in Opera. It doesn’t recognize my clicks unless I go into full-screen mode. And then, shortly thereafter, Opera crashes.

I tried bookmarking the pages for reports and that didn’t help much. I could get a little closer to the ‘referring source’ data, but Opera would crash while the data was loading.

So, the steps I’m trying to follow now which seem to work, to get the data without Opera crashing, are:

1. Clear buffer space before opening Opera. Make sure it’s over 2500. I personally do that by calling qpdf and exiting immediately. I choose not to use extra swap and don’t want to discuss that here, although it might help those of you who want to use it.

2. Go into Full-Screen Mode before going to Google Analytics. Changing from column-mode to Full-Screen Mode seems to make Opera re-load the whole webpage and result in crashes. So I’m trying to start in Full-Screen Mode and stay there.

3. Once you have a Google Analytics account, go directly to the Google Analytics Sign-in page. You can try the following direct link Google Analytics Login.

4. Once you’ve signed in, don’t wait for the next page to finish loading. Instead, immediately click your bookmark for whatever page you want to go to.

What can be somewhat confusing is their massive menu system. For example, the Referral Source report is under ‘Marketing Optimization’, under ‘Visitor Segment Performance’.

Column mode does make it easier to study the menu system and figure out where you can find what you want.
When I find a report I want, I bookmark the page so I can go right to it immediately after my next sign-in.

With ROM 2.38, never being sure which click will bring you a downpour of data and Out-of-Memory warnings and a crash, it can be really helpful to study that chart, bookmark a report or two (if Opera doesn’t crash first), close Opera, clear buffer space, and go back into Opera.

Another very disappointing thing about Google Analytics is they only gather data once every 24 hours, and that means testing tag installation or monitoring a new site with little traffic can’t be done quickly.

If you don’t need their specific reports, check out some of the alternatives that provide faster service.

I like the NextStat/WebStat people at http://support.webstat.com./. As I said above, NextStat works quite well with Opera 7.30 in full-screen mode. Their service does not require images to be turned on, and never causes any crashes. Their reports also load very quickly, in seconds with a 56k dialup connection, compared to several minutes for Google Analytics. Again, my problem with WebStat is they don’t include referring site statistics as part of their free service.

I’ve tried signing up for several other services and most make Opera crash pretty quickly as part of the sign-up process. I hesitate listing all of them here as I lost track of what happened at which of them and don’t want to make any false reports.

I can say that I thought I signed up for ServuStats, but have a hunch that Opera may have crashed before their signup process was complete. They definitely emailed me the tags, but I can’t get signed in, and I’m now waiting for a response to the email I sent. There wasn’t any “I’ve forgotten my password” button! If they have one, it’s buried in an image that I don’t see with images turned off.

Not a good sign. I prefer to never turn images on as generally that keeps opera from crashing much. But there is no “I’ve forgotten my password button” with images turned on, either.

In Opera, after entering my login id and password at ServuStats, I repeatedly get the response:

Secure connection: fatal error (47)

https://buildtraffic.net/banner.pl?id=24

Transmission failure

Site Meter is great, so I’m trying them out now. What seems really cool about them is they will email reports so I don’t have to go to the site to see my stats. They also say they can count visits to my page here at wordpress.com and I’m trying that out as well. But, so far, I haven’t been able to get their image to display properly in the blogroll.

sdjf

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