Eugen Paraschiv – Meta Baeldung Marketing experiences growing Baeldung Fri, 15 Mar 2019 16:08:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Recording Studio Tue, 28 Aug 2018 16:45:59 +0000 I’m quickly becoming an audio geek – or maybe “audio aficionado” sounds better.

Ever since I recorded my REST With Spring course – audio quality was always top of mind.

You can tell a lot about the production quality of a course by the audio it’s using. If it sounds warm, rich and crystal clear – it has a high impact and helps get you in the right mindset for learning. If however it sounds choppy and has a lot of echo or harsh highs and lows, it’s probably just thrown together with a 5$ build in mic on a laptop.

So, obviously, I wanted to go for the high-quality sound – which is why I invested in studio level equipment now that I’m recording again.

Here we go.

Shure SM7B Microphone

You can feel that the SM7B is a great mic by simply picking it up – it’s heavy, super high quality and very well put together.


+ on Amazon

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

The Scarlett is a fantastic preamp, but the SM7B is a very gain-hungry mic, so in order to drive enough gain into it, I also had to get a CloudLifter to go along with it.


+ on Amazon

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1

Simplicity itself – works exactly like it should, by driving an extra 25dB of clean gain to the mic.


+ on Amazon

RØDE PSA1 Boom Arm

This boom arm is a solid but also remarkably easy to set up. I used the stand grip, not wanting to drill a hole in my desk – and it stayed there ever since, with no discernible movement.


+ on Amazon

Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones

My normal headphones aren’t meant to let you hear the raw audio – you need studio focused gear for that. They’re of course not great for normal use, but for recording, you’re able to hear yourself perfectly – which is very helpful.


+ on Amazon

Other Components

The final piece of the puzzle are of course the cables – good balanced XLR cables to connect the microphone to the Cloudlifter and then that to the preamp.

Total Investment and Results

The audio quality I’m getting from this setup is incredible. It really surprised me the first time I played it audio that requires very little post-processing and a simple way to record, given the boom arm can be safely tucked close to the wall when I’m not recording, and comes right in front of me when I am.

The total investment was just over of 1000$ (1049$ including shipping), but my courses sound like they’re professionally recorded, because they actually are 🙂

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Baeldung Q2 2015 Report Mon, 13 Jul 2015 07:44:35 +0000 The second quarter of 2015 is over, and this year I decided to move my reports to a quarterly cadence.

Here we go…

Traffic in Q2 2015

Let’s start with the traffic numbers:

Baeldung Overall Traffic for Q2 2015

Baeldung Overall Traffic for Q2 2015

Things have been nice and stable – no more de-indexing incidents like the one back in January.

The metrics of the site are also similar to Q1:

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q2 2015

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q2 2015

Finally, the referrers of the site have shifted a bit – but nothing significant:

Baeldung Referral Traffic for Q2 2015

Baeldung Referral Traffic for Q2 2015

The official Spring site broke top 10, and Twitter has been growing well but other than that – business as usual.

Email Subscribers

Email is also consistent – 2865 new subscribers over the last 3 months:

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q2 2015

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q2 2015

I’m outgrowing Aweber, so the next screenshots that I’m going to post about email signups should hopefully be from Drip.

Also – I’m finally replacing my old optin wordpress plugin – OptinSkin, with one that is simply better and will allow me to do a lot more A/B testing over the next quarter.

Other Goings On in Q2

So these are the Q2 numbers – very much stable. What else is going on? Traveling mostly, but quite a few other things as well.

The first bit of news is that I decided that, if I want to keep growing Baeldung, I can’t do it all myself. So – I opened up the site for external authors; not just guest posts, but payed articles, with clear budgets and well defined writing guidelines.

Took a while to fine-tune the process, but now it’s finally open and moving forward. So – it’s going to be interesting tracking the results of other authors writing for the site.

Next – I continued putting together webinars. Not a lot of them – since I’ve been out of the country for a couple of months. Now that I have my feet wet with webinars, I’m going to start building a proper funnel around these and will be starting to write about that here over the summer.

New Studio And New Course

The next bit of news is that I finished upgrading my recording gear, preparing for the lots of recordings I’m going to do during the summer. I picked up:

So I finally went professional to get a better sound quality for the new course.

Which leads me to my next focus in Q3 – recording the REST With Spring video course. My Spring Security course with Packt is now almost 2 years old so it’s high time I step up my game and get into recording again. It’s a huge amount of work to put together a high quality course (took me 6 full months on the previous one), but I also learned a lot in terms of editing, voice and mic technique, etc – so I expect this new one will take slightly less.

And that wraps up Q2. Q3 will be all about recording my course – so that’s certainly going to keep me busy for the summer.

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The Costs of Running a Blog Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:44:37 +0000 I’ve been taking stock of the paid recurring services I use to run Baeldung. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on these things, otherwise they run the risk of getting out of hand.

So, with a goal of transparency – here’s what the costs of running the blog are on a month-by-month basis.


Baeldung is hosted over on Websynthesis, using their Professional plan, which runs at 97$ / month.

Images and any other static files are hosted by MaxCDN, where I’m using their 100GB, 9$ / month plan.

And of course, I’m using Pingdom to know when the site goes down. I’m on their Starter plan, which is 15$ / month.

So, overall, hosting and keeping the site up and running on autopilot works up to about 121$ / month.

Marketing and Email

Marketing is an interesting category to look at – email being of course the largest expense.

First, the email list is managed over on Aweber, and the service costs 19$ for the base fee and $50 for the subscribers, totaling 69$ / month.

This is for under 10.000 subscribers. As you as you go over the 10K (which for Baeldung is going to happen this week) – you jump over to 130$ / month, which would total 149$ / month.

Because of this jump, I’m moving to Drip this month. That’s 149$ as well, but in terms of features, there’s really no comparison.

Now, because Aweber on its own can’t do email automation for jack, I’m using Aweber Pro Tools to integrate with Aweber and do that right; the service is 29$ / month.

Moving on from email, I’m making good use of Leadpages on their Standard plan, at 37$ / month. They run a fantastic product over there.

To sum up, the email and marketing overall cost is 215$ / month.

Developers, VAs

Running a site isn’t just about content. Things go down. Things break. Things need to be improved. Things need to be managed and researched.

To that end, I work with a WordPress developer on a monthly ongoing basis, to do some of the custom stuff on the site and occasionally fix things. It’s a small, recurring contract at 100$ / month.

I also work with a VA to free me up and do the more administrative tasks – which usually is 50-100$ / month (depending on how much work there is).

They’re using Tahometer to track their work, on their Small plan, running at 12$ / month.

So, overall, this category sits somewhere at about 187$ / month.

Totals and Conclusion

Finally, adding everything together, the total monthly cost of running Baeldung is 523$ / month. I’m sure I skipped over some small service or other, and there are of course a lot of one-time expenses, but this looks about right.

Hopefully that will give you some insight into the costs of running a site.

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The 8 Types of Optins on Baeldung Mon, 25 May 2015 22:29:35 +0000 1. Overview

There’s no shortage of ways you can opt into my email list over on Baeldung.

And make no mistake about it – nudging a random reader to raise their hand and opt in is the best way to connect that reader to your brand. Not social media and not anything else – email.

Here’s a quick rundown of the various optins that you might see on the site at any point in time.

The sidebar optin is probably the most visible one.

It’s reasonably effective as well, and that’s because I’m using 3 of them – contextually. Depending on where you are on the site, you might the optin offer one of the following lead magnets:

  • REST Services with Spring eBook
  • Get the Most out of HttpClient eBook
  • Persistence with Spring eBook

Overall I would say that, if you can – contextual is the way to go – if you can create multiple lead magnets for different areas of your site, your conversion rates will definitely improve.

3. Bottom of Every Post Optin

The “Bottom of Every Post” optin is exactly what the name says – it appears under all articles on the site.

This one usually has a better conversion rate than the sidebar optin – simply because by the time a reader sees it, they already received value out of an article. The flip side of that is – as you would expect – this optin has a lot less impressions than the sitebar optin, because not everybody reads through the whole article.

4. Exit Intent Optin

The “Exit Intent” optin is an interesting variation to the standard popup optin – it only appears when the reader signals their intent to leave the site. Usually that means that the mouse cursor goes out of the page and towards the Back button. It’s at that point that this popup appears and asks the user if they’d like to opt in.

Now – popups are a tricky one to get right. First – you need to be able to easily close a popup – none of that “the close button is almost invisible and not where you’d expect”.

Next – popups need to only pop up once. If the reader opts in – great. If they don’t – don’t bother them again.

5. What Would Seth Godin Do? Optin

This is a fun one. WWSGD is a WordPress plugin that I’ve been using for a few years now. It’s dead simple but has good results.

What it does is – it shows new visitors a message. After you visit the site for a few times (configurable) – you don’t see the message any longer.

With that in mind, the message could be something like: Welcome to my site – start here…

But it can also be something along the lines of: If you’re new here, you may want to get the {insert lead magnet here}

6. Content Upgrade Optins

The Content Upgrade is a super-powerful way to boost the conversion rates on a page. The simple idea is to use a lead magnet that is custom, valuable and highly relevant for that particular page.

Easier said than done though.

On Baeldung – I picked a few of the most visited pages on the site – and went for it with Leadpages. The lead magnet I’m using is the code sample itself – which checks all the boxes – it’s valuable and highly relevant for the page. And for the most part – it works great.

The one big downside is Leadpages doesn’t check if the user actually confirms their subscription and sends out the lead magnet immediately. What that means is that there’s a decent chance that they’ll simply forget to confirm their subscription into the email list (or choose not to).

7. Custom Optin Pages

Finally, I also have a few individual, custom optin pages on the site. These server very specific purposes and overall represent a very small percentage of my total new subscribers.

8. Conclusion

As you can see, implementing a mature, diverse optin strategy does take some work. These optins need to be checked monthly (by a VA), A/B tested and generally maintained.

But – it’s also very much worth it, as email is really the only good way I found to keep in contact with my readers and continue providing value.

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Giving a Talk – Lessons Learned Along The Way Wed, 20 May 2015 10:31:26 +0000 1. Overview

Public speaking can certainly be daunting. It can also be a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

I gave my first international talk last month at Spring IO in Barcelona and learned quite a bit by preparing for the event. Here are some of the steps that helped me be confident in my content and my delivery, when giving a talk.

2. The Slides

You have two simple options when it comes to the design of your presentation – you can go with a clean, simple design or you can have a professional designer do it.

My suggestion – especially if you’re just starting out – is to pick a simple stock template and move on. Overall, the design of the presentation is a lot less important than you might think.

If you do chose to go with a designer, you need to keep two things in mind.

First – aim to have the full design finished at least 1 month before you have to deliver your talk – design projects take more time than you originally think, much like software.

And second, as a reference point, having a 30-40 slide presentation designed (well) will cost you about 300$ or more. You might think that I can go to – your designer friend/brother/Odesk and pay less – but, speaking from experience, that’s almost always a mistake.

3. Speaker Notes

The first time I wrote the speaker notes for my presentation, they came out long and conversational – as if I was reading them word for word on stage. But after several trial runs of the talk, I started to see how these weren’t worth a damn when moving around.

No – speaker notes should be list-style and short – enough to remind you of the main points of the slide and get you back on track after a quick glance.

4. Preparation and Trial Runs

With the speaking notes dialed in, you need to start practicing and honing your delivery.

The first thing I learned through practicing was to do full passes through the entire presentation.

A practice run doesn’t mean starting from slide 15 and taking a coffee break on slide 30 – it means a full pass. Piecing things together has it’s use but ultimately you want to get familiar with what it means to actually delivery your talk start to finish. Out loud.

Next – I found that the transitions between slides are the hardest but also the most impactful – get these right and the talk will flow. So one type of practice is only do the transitions; skip the content – just go from one slide to the other and run through your transitions to make sure there’s a natural progression to them.

Another nuance of the preparation process is movement – don’t practice sitting down in front of your computer. If you’ll be moving on stage when you give the talk, so move around your room when you’re practicing. That introduces a lot more constraint in the process and it will naturally shape both your delivery but also the content of the presentation. Constraints are good.

5. Story Time

I was on stage hitting my points and going through my talk – when my speaker notes died out! The slides were up and perfectly fine on the main screen, but the speaker notes on my laptop were just gone.

I was on slide 7 out of 55.

I did briefly consider fumbling around to re-start them, but that would have messed up the flow of the entire talk. On video. Luckily I was reasonably confident that I can deliver the talk without them – and so I did.

Do a few runs without looking at your speaker notes. Don’t rely on having these available during the event – they might not be.

6. Webinars

Trial runs are a useful tool, but nothing can replace the real thing. Delivering your talk to an actual audience is the best thing you can do to prepare – and webinars are a great way to do that.

I did 3 webinars in preparation for my Spring IO talk – and looking back I see that I learned the most by doing these. I saw exactly where the talk wasn’t moving naturally, where I was taking things for granted, where people had questions or concerns. I also saw where my timing was off – the first webinar took me an hour and a half for what should have been a 50 minute talk.

I learned what worked and what didn’t, and integrated what I learned back into the talk each time.

7. Conclusion

Conferences are a fun and useful experience, and the best way to get the most out of one is to be a speaker.

Hopefully my notes here will come in handy if you’re preparing for an upcoming talk or just thinking about it.

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Running a Giveaway with Gleam Mon, 18 May 2015 23:38:31 +0000 This week I hosted a Giveaway/Contest for the readers of Baeldung. I gave away 5 copies of my Spring Security Video Course (Packt) – using Gleam (

I really had no idea what to expect going into this – so now, at the end of the event, I’m publishing the full results here for anyone thinking of running a similar campaign.

1. The Giveaway

Let’s start with the Giveaway Page – as you can see, the entire Giveaway content is set up in Gleam and only embedded on this page:

Gleam Io Baeldung Contest Giveaway

The main way to enter the giveaway is of course email – that counts as 1 entry. I have set up 3 alternative ways to increase your chances of winning:

  • Follow Baeldung on Twitter (@baeldung)
  • +1 the Baeldung page on Google Plus (G+ page)
  • Refer Friends (via Twitter, G+, etc)

So – pretty straightforward all in all – took me about an hour to set up and off it went.

2. How I Promoted the Giveaway

Promotion of the Giveaway is of course the most important thing. Here’s what I did:

  • I emailed my list (~10.000 subscribers)
  • I tweeted the giveaway page out (~2500 followers)
  • I posted on G+ (in the Java community)
  • I posted on Facebook

3. The Numbers

Here’s what the final Gleam stats show:

  • 2315 impressions
  • 1195 actions (~52% conversion rate)
  • 750 users (~32% conversion rate)

And here’s the breakdown of the actual results that came out of the campaign:

  • 239 – Google+ Followers
  • 179 – Twitter Followers
  • 258 – Email Subscribers

Finally – here’s the full traffic, actions and users – graphed for the entire duration of the event:

Baeldung Giveaway Results

4. What You Can Do Better

First off – Gleam is a nice system for running a Giveaway; it’s not free, but it is reasonably priced at 39$.

Now that the event has finished, the one thing I would recommend if you’re aiming to go beyond the results I had here is to up the ante with the giveaway. Basically – give away something more valuable to your audience. The Spring Security Video Course is (usually) priced at 30$, so the value of a copy isn’t huge. Going with a higher ticket item – but still relevant to your audience – will increase the engagement and the virality of the campaign.

For my next event, that’s what I’m planning to do – pick something that is both highly relevant for my readers, but also just higher value overall.

5. Conclusion

Hopefully that gives you some insight into what kinds of results you can expect out of a Giveaway/Contest like this. The numbers aren’t huge, but they’re definitely not negligible either.

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Baeldung Q1 2015 Report Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:34:02 +0000 The first quarter of the year is over, and this year I decided to move my reports to a 3 month cadence.

Here we go…

Traffic in Q1 2015

Let’s start with the traffic numbers:

Baeldung Overall Traffic for Q1 2015

Baeldung Overall Traffic for Q1 2015

As you can see, January had a couple of weeks with nearly no search traffic. That was because I somehow got the site de-indexed from Google by checking a setting in WordPress. I was also in the middle of some heavy client work, so I didn’t notice right away either. Fun times.

Let’s now take a quick look at the other stats of Baeldung:

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q1 2015

Baeldung Traffic Stats for Q1 2015

And finally, the referrers that have been sending me readers during the first 3 months of the year:

Baeldung Referral Traffic for Q1 2015

Baeldung Referral Traffic for Q1 2015

All the usual suspects are in there – plus a newcomer – Reddit. I’ve submitted just a few articles lately and most have predictably flopped but a handful actually saw some good traction, which is why Reddit is number 2 here.

Email Subscribers

On the email side of things, my list has been growing steadily, though not quite at the 1200+ rate that I was seeing at the end of 2014:

Baeldung - New Email subscribers - Q1 2015

Baeldung – New Email subscribers – Q1 2015

I haven’t focused on A/B testing and regular optimizations of my funnel lately, so this makes perfect sense.

Other Goings On

What else has been going on with Baeldung over the course of Q1?  A number of thing actually.

First – I finally worked with a professional designer to get a more professional look for my “REST with Spring” eBook. It’s amazing to see what an impact design can have when it comes to the quality of reading experience.

I have also released my first Youtube video on the Baeldung channel. Certainly not a big splash, and certainly not yet consistently putting out work on Youtube, but it’s a start.

Next – webinars. I’ve been reading about webinars forever. I’ve been attending them and getting a lot out of some of them as well. So – why not step out of my comfort zone and host one for something I’m passionate about?

With only a few days to spare in Q1, I did that and hosted my first live event on the subject of “CQRS and Event Sourcing Architectures“. Setting up the webinar involves a lot of manual processes (which I’m getting better at) – so that’s not super fun. Delivering the content though – and hearing from the attendees that CQRS finally clicked with them – that was cool.

Which leads me to the next and final point – public speaking. I’ve traditionally being speaking locally at Meetups and User Groups, so speaking at a conference is definitely an interesting step up from that. I’ll be closing the first day at Spring I/O with a lot of engineers I admire, which I’m very excited about.

And that’s it for Q1 of this year; and of course – a number of things in the pipeline for Q2 and forward.

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Baeldung 2014 – Year In Review Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:12:21 +0000 If you’re going to be late, at least commit. This post is exactly 3 months late, so you can’t blame me for not committing.

The 2014 Review for Baeldung – here we go.

My Traffic in 2014

Let’s start with a high-level view of the traffic for the year:

Baeldung Overall Traffic for 2014

Baeldung Overall Traffic for 2014

And a more detailed breakdown of the Sessions/Pageviews, Bounce Rate and Pages/Session:

Baeldung Traffic Stats for 2014

Baeldung Traffic Stats for 2014

The top 15 referrers sending traffic to the site:

Baeldung Referral Traffic for 2014

Baeldung Referral Traffic for 2014

And – a fun one – the visits from email that Baeldung has been getting:

Baeldung Email Traffic for 2014

Baeldung Email Traffic for 2014

This is cool to see – since 2014 is the year I really started to build out my email list.

Email is definitely the best way I connected and got to know my readers of the course of the year.

Email Subscribers in 2014

Let’s now extract some information out of Aweber and see what 2014 looked like. First – the old list:

Baeldung - New Email subscribers on old list - 2014

Baeldung – New Email subscribers on old list – 2014

And then, the new list:

Baeldung - New Email subscribers on new list - 2014

Baeldung – New Email subscribers on new list – 2014

A few months into 2014 I created a new list to allow me to change my autoresponder sequence without affecting the subscribers that were already on the old list and to make sure I don’t sent the same person an email twice.

Overall, I increased my list by 5315 new subscribers in 2014.

It was actually quite a bit more, but I regularly clean my list and try to only have people there that are actually engaged and are getting value from the stuff I send out.

New Content in 2014

2014 also looks to have brought some consistency to my writing habit – with 130 new articles out for the full year. In the past, I struggled keeping putting out work consistently, so I’m counting that as a win.

I also started a new series at the very start at the year – The Baeldung Weekly Review – curating the best technical articles I read each week. This has definitely kept me on track and kept my writing – as these reviews are a lot of fun to do.

Goings On in 2014

After quite a bit of planning, I finally took the plunge and went into working for myself in 2014. Working for myself has been challenging, fun and more time-consuming that I thought it would be.

2014 was also the year I didn’t release a product. I had started working on a course during the summer, but the move to consulting made sure progress was slooooow. So, instead of dragging out the process and not making progress, I tabled the idea until I can dedicate a good chunk of time to it and create and do good work putting it together.

Finally, 2014 was definitely the year of email. I got to connect to my readers, actually find out who they are, answer their questions and really talk to them one to one over email. I’m more convinced than ever today that email is and will continue to be the best way to actually connect with and help your readers.

All in all, 2014 was a great year. I have big plans for 2015.

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Baeldung November Report Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:19:15 +0000 We’re already half way through December, so my November report is definitely late. Better late than never – let’s take a look at the Baeldung traffic for the month of November.

My Traffic in November

Another slight decrease but nothing major – these <5% fluctuations are natural as we reach the end of the year:

Baeldung Overall Traffic for November 2014

Baeldung Overall Traffic for November 2014

Baeldung Traffic Stats for November 2014

Baeldung Traffic Stats for November 2014

My referrers are quite stable as well – with The Server Side being present this month as well, since I’ve started re-submitting my content there.

Baeldung Referral Traffic for November 2014

Baeldung Referral Traffic for November 2014

It also appeared that I’ve started ranking in Duck Duck Go – almost the same as my Bing traffic in November. It’s not much, but it’s an interesting one to pop up in my Top 10 Referrers.

Email Subscribers

On to the bad news – my email subscribers are down 7% in November, continuing the trend from last month.

Baeldung - New Email subscribers - November 2014

Baeldung – New Email subscribers – November 2014

Now – I think I narrowed down what the problem is. At the end of a good portion of my articles, I replaced the direct link to github, where the tutorials project is hosted, with a Optin created via Leadpages.

This custom tailored optin allows the reader to optin and download the actual code of the project. Unfortunately, the major downside of using Leadpages for these per-article Optin Magnets is that the reader will receive the magnet (the code) before having to confirm their subscription. This is obviously a big problem in the mechanism, and it looks like it’s been the major cause behind my recent conversion problems.

So – in December, I’ll be removing these per-article optins and replace them with the standard link to github.

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Baeldung October Report Sun, 02 Nov 2014 20:27:57 +0000 October has rolled around and it’s time we dig into Google Analytics and see what the month looked like for Baeldung.

My Traffic in October

Traffic is steady with only a slight decrease across the board:

Baeldung Overall Traffic for October 2014

Baeldung Overall Traffic for October 2014

Baeldung Traffic Stats for October 2014

Baeldung Traffic Stats for October 2014

The referrers that have been sending me traffic are generally unchanged, with one interesting exception – The Server Side.

A few years back, when I was just starting to blog – I saw good results on TSS. All throughout 2013 though, I stopped submitting my content over there – and I have recently picked up and starting submitting again. The results are good – TSS has been my third referrer this month with just a single article showing up on the site for a few days.

Baeldung Referral Traffic for October 2014

Baeldung Referral Traffic for October 2014

Email Subscribers

October has been a less than stellar month for Email Subscribers. I really had no time to keep up with my A/B tests and experiments, so the existing Optin offers lost their effectiveness over time – as all offers do.

So – a slight decrease to report in October – mainly due to a bit of neglect:

Baeldung - New Email subscribers - October 2014

Baeldung – New Email subscribers – October 2014

Also – the issue with my unconfirmed email subscribers is still there. I do plan to look into it as soon as I have some time, but for the time being – it’s just looking that some readers simply don’t like to confirm their email address.

A quick report for a busy month – I’m aiming to change that in November.

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