Free “Star Naming” is ending

Many years ago, I noted that you could name a star and get the name recorded in the Library of Congress for free — with just a tweet. This is possible because every single tweet is currently being recorded in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress has announced starting January 1, 2018, it will only record tweets on a selective basis.

You still have a few days left. Name any star. Create and print your own certificate.

Most importantly, go outside, look up, and enjoy the night sky.

Update. I wrote on Facebook in response to a friend who noted this could be “the perfect anniversary gift”:

You’re not limited to naming just one star. In researching this post, I found a bunch of star registries. Most of them don’t claim to get them “registered” with the Library of Congress, just recorded in their “registry.” I have a Google Sheets spreadsheet handy… ;-)

For that matter, you’re not limited to naming just stars. Name a galaxy. There’s one 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda that you could (re)name. Then, in a dark spot on a romantic summer evening, you could find 200-400 billion stars honoring your love — no telescope or binoculars needed. :-)

Update 2. If you’re lost in the night sky, I have a book recommendation for you.

Luis Suarez’ Twitter Unfollowing Experiment

“What if Twitter decided to drop off the count of both followers and following? Would you still make use of it, like you are doing today? Imagine if Twitter decided get rid of that vanity metric, so that we would focus more on the conversations themselves, i.e. on topics, hashtags, events, etc., etc., do you think you would still be making use of Twitter and enjoy the overall experience as much as you are doing nowadays?” —Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez tried the interesting experiment of unfollowing everyone on Twitter and using Twitter lists instead. He documents what he learned in the process.

It’s interesting how ego plays such a big role in social media. I remember when I first removed visitor analytics. Would I still write if I didn’t know whether people visited? Would it matter?1

It’s tempting to try Luis’ experiment. What do you think?


  1. Unfortunately, web analytics has been replaced with email subscriber analytics. MailChimp dutifully informs me every time I get a new subscriber, or lose a subscriber, and my subscriber count. 

My New Christmas Profile Picture

Ho! Ho! Ho!

With the Christmas holiday season upon us, it’s time to unveil my new Christmas profile picture. I’ll be using this online everywhere: here, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Quora, Gravatar, etc.

Ho! I hope you like it. *<:-)

Update: Oops! I almost forgot Disqus and IntenseDebate. Corrected. *<:-)

A Zippy Blog

You might have noticed blogan.net is a little zippier. A few things have changed recently:

  • My web hosting service moved my site to a new, faster shared server. Thanks, WebHostingBuzz! This is what inspired me to make more changes.
  • I combined my print CSS into my regular CSS file. One less file to download.
  • I removed all the Facebook, Twitter, and +1 social media cruft. It’s amazing how much these slow down a page load. They also allow Facebook and Google to track when you visit blogan.net.
  • I installed W3 Total Cache. Very full-featured with caching, minifying and setting expires for browser caching.
  • I removed a bunch of plugins, with the hardest to remove being Easy Fancybox. It’s very pretty, but includes multiple JS, CSS, and image files.1
  • I started using CloudFlare.2
  • A little while back, I started using WP Smush.it which losslessly compresses uploaded images automatically.

I think the results speak for themselves: a YSlow rating of 100!


  1. I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep Easy Fancybox disabled. It would be nice to have a quick Lightbox alternative without a bunch of support files. I haven’t found one yet… Maybe the minification will make it a non-issue. Yeah, that’s it. ;-) Update: I wasn’t able to keep Easy Fancybox disabled. It just works too well on posts with large galleries of pictures. Adding it back dropped my scores to 95. 
  2. This seems to be causing a “Network Error (tcp_error)” using the standard proxies at work. WHB doesn’t think it’s their issue. 

Unfollow Friday

cutebirdTwitter got too noisy for me.

Today I pulled out the machete and started hacking. I unfollowed:

  • The “meta-tweeters” who tweet only about tweeting and how to get more followers1
  • Those who I’d followed only because they’d followed me first
  • Those who tweeted about things that used to interest me, but not anymore
  • The companies whose products/services I don’t use anymore
  • Those who don’t interact with others
  • Those who use Twitter only to announce new blog posts
  • Those who haven’t tweeted for months (even a few who had never tweeted!)

The difference is amazing. My Twitter stream is filled with people I know and topics I like.

I think I’ll keep that machete handy.

Have you considered an unfollow Friday?


  1. Yes, I recognize the irony.
    Maybe I should have just linked to my Twitter Landing Page. Actually, I’ve edited my Twitter Landing Page in response to this post. 

Name a Star for Free

You’ve heard the ads: “Name a star, get a parchment certificate, and have it recorded in the Library of Congress.” Do I have a deal for you. Name any star you want in a tweet1 and it will be recorded in the Library of Congress. You’ll have to print your own certificate if you want one. Or you can rest in the knowledge that it’s online for all to see — and you saved a bunch of money over those star registries.

You’re welcome. ;-)


  1. I named the sun Brent. Feel free to rename it or find another star.
    For those who don’t detect my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, here’s the real scoop on naming stars