Stats and analytics for 2022

Happy New Year! As 2023 gets underway, I think it’s fun to look back at the past year and see how the website performed. Thanks to my web host and Google Analytics, I have quite a lot of data to dive into for measuring such things.

My annual caveat applies: this whole thing is just for fun! Running this website is a hobby for me, not something I endeavour to take too seriously, and even if no one was tuning in I’d still be writing because it’s something that I enjoy doing. I’m not intending to turn this website into a full-time job, nor am I interested in chasing “internet points” or going viral. So everything we’re about to discuss should be considered with that in mind!

A lovely stock photo of a man reading on a tablet.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s reflect on the progress Trekking with Dennis made in 2022. This past year has been much less consistent on my side, with long breaks in between posts and a general slowdown in my writing. I wrote far fewer pieces for the website this year than I did in both 2020 and 2021, and the second half of the year in particular was much more sparse in terms of new articles, lists, and other posts.

That isn’t something I plan on addressing, at least not intentionally. As I said back in November when I last talked about this: the point of Trekking with Dennis for me is to talk about the subjects I fancy or that pique my interest at my own pace. In 2020 and 2021 I obviously found more things to talk about than I have this past year… and I’m actually okay with that. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets – there are films, television shows, and at least a dozen Star Trek episodes that I wish I’d found or made time to review in 2022. But I’d rather pace myself, take breaks when I need to, and continue enjoying what I do here instead of forcing myself to write to arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines and end up feeling burned out – or worse, no longer enjoying the creative process.

In short: if I find more time and energy to write in 2023 than I did in 2022, that’s great! But if not, that’s okay too.

I may or may not write more this year!

The website saw some significant milestones in 2022. The final post of the year – my annual “End-of-Year Awards” piece – was the 650th article that I’ve published here since I began the project in November 2019. That’s quite a lot of writing! The total number of visitors that the website received in 2022 was just over 67,000 – which is an absolutely incredible number! That makes 2022 the best year on record for Trekking with Dennis, beating 2021’s visitor numbers by a little over 6,000. That may not sound like much (especially considering the massive year-on-year improvement from 2020 to 2021) but it’s an increase of almost 10%, which is pretty darn good. I’m running at almost the same level as inflation!

Another big landmark came on April Fool’s Day, when the number of total hits ticked past the 100,000 mark for the first time. That means that, since November 2019 when Trekking with Dennis first went live, more than 100,000 people had visited the website. I marked the occasion with a banner at the top of the website for a few days!

Readers once again came from all over the globe – from Tanzania to Finland and from Japan to Peru!

Hello, Tanzania!

All that being said, I feel that 2022 was rather “front-loaded” in terms of visitors! Thanks to a couple of big posts about Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season (which we’ll look at in more detail in a moment) the website did impressive numbers in January, February, March, and into April as well, before things started to tail off in the spring. Don’t get me wrong, even the quietest month of 2022 was still nice and busy, but we definitely saw the majority of visitors in those first few months.

In total, I wrote 471,500 words in 2022. That’s as many words as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and James Joyce’s Ulysses combined! It is, however, significantly less than my word counts for 2020 and 2021, but again that’s because I wrote fewer pieces for the website this past year. It’s still a lot of words, though!

So let’s count down the top ten most-read articles that I wrote in 2022!

Number 10:
Diablo Immortal is a monument to everything wrong with modern gaming

My piece about the truly awful Diablo Immortal takes the number ten spot, partly thanks to being published within a couple of weeks of the mobile game’s release. I detest not only Diablo Immortal itself, but what it represents: the worst excesses of an incredibly greedy video games industry. And I held no punches in my tear-down of the appalling little game, calling out publisher Activision Blizzard for one of the worst, scummiest mobile games of the year.

Significant line: “I was surprised when I began seeing ads for the game all over my social media pages, and even more surprised to learn that Activision Blizzard has only just finished pushing this absolute turd of a game out of its corporate anus.”

Number 9:
The classic Star Trek dilemma: Kirk or Picard?

I had a ton of fun writing up this tongue-in-cheek clash between Star Trek’s first two captains – a debate that has persisted in the Trekkie community since The Next Generation premiered all the way back in 1987! I also had fun mocking up a poster for the article’s key image, basing it on the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match poster that I think a lot of folks would be familiar with. I end up sitting firmly on the fence at the end of the article after considering the cases for both Kirk and Picard – because I like them both too much to say that one is definitively “better!”

Significant line: “Most Star Trek captains who have followed embody elements of both Kirk and Picard’s styles of management and leadership while remaining distinct characters, but when it comes to the franchise’s first two captains, there seems to be a major clash of personalities.”

Number 8:
Video game spotlight: Banished

In 2022 I kicked off my “video game spotlight” series, in which I plan to take a look back at some of my favourite games of all time. The first title to get the full write-up treatment was Banished, an indie town-building game that makes regular appearances on other lists here on the website. Since I’m far too late to reasonably call a piece like this a “review,” I settled on “spotlight” as a name, and I had a lot of fun talking about why Banished is such good fun. Hopefully I’ll add to this series in the new year; there are at least a dozen games I plan to shine a spotlight on in future!

Significant line: “The fact that I’m still playing [Banished] almost eight years later should tell you how I feel about it!”

Number 7:
Ten “comfort episodes” of Star Trek for difficult days

I wrote this piece at the end of February, just days after the war in Ukraine kicked off. I wanted to highlight a few Star Trek episodes from different parts of the franchise that, at least in my opinion, make for great escapism. The episodes I chose are almost all lighter in tone, with themes of humour, family, and coming together front-and-centre. If I were doing the list all over again there are certainly more episodes I could include, but overall I’m happy with my picks. And if the list helped even one single person find something to watch when they were feeling low, then it’s been a rousing success.

Significant line: “A future where humanity has succeeded at conquering not only the problems of today but also many of the baser, more primitive aspects of our own nature holds an appeal that can be difficult to put into words…”

Number 6:
Ten games to play instead of Hogwarts Legacy

As the title suggests, this list – which was also my most-read piece about gaming in 2022 – shows off ten games that I consider to be decent alternatives to Hogwarts Legacy for anyone who doesn’t want to play or support the game. I wanted to contribute something to the discussion around Hogwarts Legacy that was a little more positive and that didn’t just consist of saying “J.K. Rowling is a horrible bigot who hates the Harry Potter fan community.” She is, and she does… but that isn’t what this piece was primarily about. As above, if it helped even one person find something to play, I consider it a success.

Significant line: “Hogwarts Legacy, just like the rest of the fictional setting that J.K. Rowling created, is not irreplaceable.”

Number 5:
Strange New Worlds Season 2 theory: Una Chin-Riley

It’s hard to say what this piece is about without spoiling Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Suffice to say that I came up with several theories about Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. “Number One” – and where her story may go when Season 2 rolls around. I had fun putting the list together, as well as stepping back to consider her role in The Cage, where she might be during the events of The Original Series, a connection to Star Trek: Enterprise… and much more besides.

Significant line: “I’m looking forward to welcoming back Captain Pike, Una, and the rest of the crew – and getting a satisfying end to this storyline, too!”

Number 4:
Star Trek: Picard Season 3 theory – who is Captain Vadic?

This theory – that I only wrote in November – has been racking up a lot of views! Without spoiling anything, a new character named Captain Vadic is being billed as a villain in Star Trek: Picard’s upcoming third season, and I took the opportunity of her appearance in a trailer shown off at Comic-Con to consider a few possibilities for her origin and what her mission might be. If my current track record with theories is anything to go by I’m going to be wide of the mark by miles… but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a ton of fun to speculate!

Significant line: “As much as I like the idea of Vadic having a major connection to an event in The Next Generation or one of the films, if you forced me to place a bet right now, in November 2022, I’d have to put my money on her being someone brand-new…”

Number 3:
Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 – So who is Ruon Tarka’s “friend?”

This theory did huge numbers in the first quarter of the year – while Discovery’s fourth season was running. I was ultimately disappointed by the way this storyline ended, but it was still fun to delve pretty deeply into the history of Star Trek to consider some potentially interesting character possibilities. It isn’t possible to say too much more without getting into spoiler territory! I had fun making up a rather jokey key image for this piece, too!

Significant line: “With Discovery taking an unplanned six-week break, we’ve got a little time to settle in and collect our thoughts.”

Number 2:
Twelve Star Trek episodes to watch before Picard Season 2 arrives!

Shortly before Star Trek: Picard Season 2 premiered, I put together this list of episodes that I felt might have a connection of some kind to the upcoming story. I focused on what we knew about the season from pre-release trailers and marketing material, and selected stories that focused on time travel, the Q Continuum, Guinan, and the Borg Queen. I like to think that basically all of the episodes that I put on the list did something to inform the story of the season, even if I’d probably make a few changes in hindsight!

Significant line: “I think we’ve hit most of the key subjects – at least, those that we’re aware of at this early stage – and got a good mix of stories…”

Number 1:
Star Trek: Picard Season 2 theory – what happened to Q?

So we come to the most-read article that I wrote in all of 2022! Blowing all of the others out of the water by several thousand hits, this theory about Q that I wrote in the aftermath of Picard Season 2 is clearly of interest to Trekkies! Partly, I must say, that’s because of how poorly-explained parts of the story of Season 2 ultimately were (the season isn’t one of my favourites, if you didn’t know). But regardless, I found it interesting to take what feels like an incomplete, muddled story as the starting point for another of my Star Trek theories, and even if we’ll never know what really happened, I hope that my guesswork at least makes sense and feels consistent with what we know of Q and the Q Continuum. I can’t say more without seriously spoiling the story of Picard Season 2.

Significant line: “As Trekkies and as fans who’ve followed Q’s journey over the span of more than three decades, it definitely feels like there’s a missing piece of the puzzle.”

So those were the most-read pieces of 2022!

But wait, there’s more! There are posts on the website going all the way back to November 2019, and some of them had a pretty big year too! Before we wrap things up, let’s look at the top five most-read posts from previous years.

Number 5:
Star Trekkin’ – a number one hit!

Although it seemed not to light up the board when I first published it in August 2020, this piece about the 1987 pop hit Star Trekkin’ has since become one of the most consistent performers here on the website! It was one of the most-read pieces in both 2021 and 2022, and I look forward to seeing if it will make the cut again this year! In the piece I talk about the history of the song and its composition, as well as my own thoughts and personal connection with it. The song is a fun one, and well worth a listen for any Star Trek fan.

Significant line: “The song was – perhaps understandably – rejected by several record labels…”

Number 4:
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 theory: The abandoned Borg origin story

Another piece that didn’t seem to get a lot of attention at first, my theory about Discovery Season 2 gained a lot of traction in 2022. It’s hard to get into specifics without spoiling things, but suffice to say that one of the main storylines in Discovery’s second season felt like it was setting up an origin story for the Borg – one of the Star Trek franchise’s biggest and most iconic villainous factions. In this piece I consider why it felt that way and whether it’s possible such a story was attempted and then abandoned, leaving behind clues in its wake.

Significant line: “I know for a fact that I’m not alone in having speculated that Discovery Season 2 was setting up an origin story for the Borg…”

Number 3:
Five things to watch at New Year (instead of fireworks)

This piece kicked off 2022 with a bang – and saw the year end on a high note, too. In 2020, with practically every major New Year event both in person and on television being cancelled, I put together a short list of things to watch instead, as well as time-stamps for getting a specific scene or line on screen at the stroke of midnight. The post did exceptionally well at New Year in both 2020 and 2021, and the same thing happened again in 2022, even with many in-person and televised events returning. This is one of those pieces that gets practically no views all year long, but then sees one massive spike over a relatively short period of time!

Significant line: “I’ve never been particularly impressed by fireworks. A professional display can be fun to see if you’re there in person, but on television much of the impact is lost.”

Number 2:
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – what’s the best ending?

I’m not surprised to see the most-read article of 2021 continuing to do well. But I stand by what I said last time: I think a lot of folks are clicking on this piece looking for a “how-to” guide or walkthrough to achieve a specific ending to Mass Effect 3 – and that’s not what it’s about! The article takes a look at the different endings of the Mass Effect trilogy from a narrative point of view, and I tried to consider which would be the “best” – subjectively speaking, of course.

Significant line: “Like it or hate it (and my god do some people hate it) Mass Effect: Legendary Edition retains the three-and-a-half possible endings present in the Mass Effect 3 Extended Edition DLC from 2012.”

Number 1:
Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 – Unknown Species 10-C: The Suspects

Earlier I talked about how 2022 was kind of “front-loaded” in terms of hits… well, here’s one of the main culprits! My theories about Unknown Species 10-C – a faction from Discovery’s fourth season that was shrouded in mystery – did absolutely huge numbers while the season was running, as many Trekkies were clearly just as interested as I was to learn more! I put together a whopping list of some twenty-six possibilities from past iterations of Star Trek, and if nothing else it was a lot of fun to speculate about how any of them could potentially connect with the story of the season.

Significant line: “Right now, this is one of the biggest mysteries in Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season – and one of the most tantalising storylines that the series has ever teased us with.”

So that’s it!

Those were the most-read articles and columns of 2022 – and with that, I think that about wraps up our look back at the year. I tend not to go back and re-read things that I’ve written very often, but once a year it can be fun to take a step back. Taking a look at the pieces folks are most interested in doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to try to write more of that type, but it’s certainly interesting to see what people are most likely to click on!

Click!

As I said, 2022 was a year of ups and downs. The website broke records and passed milestones, but at the same time I definitely felt the need to take a break and to write less frequently. That doesn’t mean I’m not still having fun – but in order to preserve the enjoyment and not feel like I’m under pressure or in danger of getting burned out, I need to recognise my own limitations and take a step back when necessary. Perhaps that’s the lesson of 2022 – at least for what I do here on the website!

Stay tuned, because in the days ahead I’ll be looking forward to some of the entertainment experiences that lie before us in 2023 – some of which, all being well, will get the full review or write-up treatment here on the website when they’re ready! And if you missed it, you can take a look at my annual End-of-Year Awards, in which I dished out a few make-believe trophies and medals to some of my favourite films, games, and television shows of 2022.

I hope this was a bit of fun, or at least a mildly interesting look back!

– Dennis, Tuesday 3rd January 2023

All titles mentioned above are the copyright of their respective studio, owner, corporation, distributor, broadcaster, etc. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Stats and analytics for 2021

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 3-4, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, and Star Trek: Voyager.

Now that 2021 has come and gone, I thought it would be interesting to look back on the progress the website made over the course of the year. Thanks to my web host and other analytics I have a fair amount of data to measure the website’s performance.

A big caveat: this is just for fun! Running Trekking with Dennis is my hobby, not a serious job, and I don’t write here because I’m desperately chasing huge numbers of readers or “internet points!” I enjoy having a space of my own where I can share my thoughts and review some of the films and TV shows that I’m interested in – and I’d still be here even if no one showed up to read any of it!

It’s time to look at some stats and numbers for 2021.

If 2020 had been a year of slow and steady growth, 2021 was a wild rollercoaster! A couple of articles went “viral” – or at least as close to going viral as I’m ever likely to get – and those two posts accounted for significant spikes in views in June and again in December. Other articles generally did well, and I saw decent views for most of my Star Trek episode reviews, which was great, but those two pieces in particular seemed to get a lot of attention.

Overall, more than 61,000 people visited the website in 2021 – up from 14,000 in 2020. That’s a year-on-year increase of more than 300% – meaning the website more than quadrupled the number of hits this year. That’s astonishing, and the fact that so many people showed up to read articles that I’d written is actually quite a humbling feeling.

The number of visitors to Trekking with Dennis in 2021 could fill London’s O2 Arena more than three times over!

Visitors came from all corners of the globe, too. Trekking with Dennis picked up readers from the heart of Africa, every nation in South America, India, Russia, and even China! I guess I’m allowed through the Great Firewall (at least for now)! Every country in Europe was represented in the stats, including smaller countries like the Faroe Islands. Hi, Faroese readers!

Of course, the majority of views came from the Anglosphere, with the United States being the number one country. The UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa were all well-represented, too. Considering the website is in English and deals with a lot of American-made films, games, and television programmes, I’d expect to see most of the views coming from those regions.

Hello, Faroe Islands!

In early November, the website’s name changed – and so did the URL. This change was disruptive, but far less so than I had initially thought. Though the number of hits definitely dropped following the change in URL, things actually got back to normal pretty quickly, and in December I saw the second of those “viral” posts I mentioned – something I definitely wasn’t expecting!

Across 2021 I wrote 263 articles – slightly more than in 2020. And those articles contained a combined 649,000 words! To give you an idea of how much that is: it’s the equivalent of approximately eight “average-length” novels, 100,000 more words than Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, or roughly the same number of words as Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. That’s a lot of words!

So let’s take a look at the top ten most-read articles in 2021. These are the ten pieces that I wrote in 2021 that scored the most hits.

Article #10:
Preliminary Star Trek: Strange New Worlds predictions

This was the third part in an unofficial series that I ran in the early part of the year, looking ahead to several upcoming seasons of Star Trek. In this article I looked ahead to Strange New Worlds and made a few predictions – guesses, really – about elements the show might include. As luck would have it, later that same day came the announcements of five new members of the main cast! That was some strange timing, especially considering that this was the first piece I’d written about Strange New Worlds in more than six months at that point.

One of my predictions has already borne out: I said in this piece that I was sure there’d be a redesign of the uniforms, and the teases we saw at Star Trek Day proved me right! With the show still a few months away, though, we’ll have to wait to see if I was right about anything else!

Significant line: “I’m really looking forward to Strange New Worlds. It seems to be offering more of a “classic” take on Star Trek when compared to recent projects, and I’m 100% there for that!”

Article #9:
(When) Will Marvel reset the MCU?

I don’t talk about Marvel a lot here on the website. Comic books and their cinematic adaptations aren’t usually my first choice, and while I’ve enjoyed some Marvel films as popcorn entertainment, I just don’t have the nostalgia or connection to the world of comics that many folks have. Regardless, on this occasion in June I talked about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its growing complexity – and asked whether a potential reboot or reset might be coming any time soon.

Keeping up with all of the goings-on in the MCU can feel like a full-time job sometimes! And because of Marvel’s love of crossovers, the shared fictional universe that its films and TV shows inhabit can feel intimidating or even offputting to the newbie or casual viewer. As the MCU has moved away from being “the real world plus superheroes” into a connected, shared setting with its own lore and almost fifteen years’ worth of history, it’s become dense and complex. Not every MCU title is inaccessible as a result – but some are getting to that point. Just like the worlds of comic books have been reset (such as in DC’s famous Crisis on Infinite Earths series), I feel it’s inevitable that Disney and Marvel will eventually do the same, rebooting the MCU for a new generation of audiences.

Significant line: “The legacy of characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk could pass to new iterations of those characters with new actors taking on lead roles in stories inspired by earlier films, but remaining distinct from them. New backstories could be created, perhaps based on different versions of the superheroes from other editions of their comic books.”

Article #8:
YouTube channel spotlight: Cruising the Cut

Back in February I took some time off from sci-fi and fantasy to highlight one of my favourite YouTube channels from the past few years. Cruising the Cut is part-travelogue, part-documentary, part-lifestyle vlog, and follows the journey of a man who lives aboard a canal narrowboat here in the UK. When I first started watching, Cruising the Cut only had a few thousand followers, but the channel has recently passed the 200,000 mark – a milestone that is thoroughly deserved.

I’ve always had a fascination with the canal network – a series of artificial waterways made in the early years of the industrial revolution. Cruising the Cut often has fun and interesting canal facts, but it’s also the kind of slow, gentle viewing that I think we all need sometimes. High-octane action and tense drama is great – but sometimes taking a break from that and slowing down is just what the doctor ordered!

Significant line: “Canal narrowboats only have a maximum cruising speed of around four miles-per-hour, so don’t expect Cruising the Cut to be zipping all across the country in each video.”

Article #7:
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – Death by a thousand cuts

“Death by a thousand cuts” was the somewhat dramatic title that I gave to my review of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition in June. I felt it encapsulated my feelings about the so-called “remaster”: that there wasn’t one single overwhelming fault, but a plethora of little ones that built up and contributed to a sense that it was far less than it could have been.

I adore the Mass Effect games, and I went into Legendary Edition hoping to get a good version of the original trilogy. But unfortunately, BioWare and EA took the path of least resistance, putting together a pretty crap “remaster” that I felt was not worth the asking price. There were bugs that had been present in the original versions of all three games that hadn’t been fixed – and I couldn’t excuse such extreme laziness and such a lack of care. I recently crowned Legendary Edition my worst game of 2021.

Significant line: “Legendary Edition represents a phenomenal missed opportunity to take these games and do more with them.”

Article #6:
Star Trek: Voyager – The torpedo and shuttle “problem”

I have to admit I was surprised by the response to this one! In the late ’90s, some fans argued very strongly that the USS Voyager had used “too many” torpedoes and shuttlecraft over the course of its journey through the Delta Quadrant, and the argument did the rounds in some parts of the Trekkie community for a while. Though I hadn’t really seen many people discussing it in recent years, the argument always bugged me – so I finally wrote out my response.

In short, I argued that a combination of resource gathering, trading, and building replacements was more than acceptable as a counter-argument, and in particular the fact that the crew were resourceful enough to build not one but two Delta Flyers was proof of this. Obviously “it’s just a story,” and the number of torpedoes fired or shuttlecraft used was at the whim of the writers. But from an in-universe point of view, I don’t see why it has to be considered a big deal. It seems at least some people are still interested in this argument after all!

Significant line: “It stands to reason that, contained within Voyager’s databanks, are the designs and schematics for both torpedoes and shuttles.”

Article #5:
Star Trek: Discovery – Was there a last-second change for Tilly?

All the way back in January, shortly after Discovery’s third season finale, I wrote this relatively short piece looking at Tilly. This focused on the short epilogue at the end of That Hope Is You, Part 2, specifically the scene in which Captain Burnham arrived on the bridge to assume command for the first time. Amongst the assembled officers and crew was Tilly, but for some reason her uniform colour had been digitally changed – and pretty badly, too!

Tilly was originally supposed to be wearing the red colour of the command division, but seemingly at the last moment her command red had been changed to science blue via some pretty awful digital effects. She was only on screen for a few seconds, but this was pretty noticeable on a re-watch. Now that we know Tilly’s destination in Season 4, I wonder if the original plan at the end of Season 3 had seen her character go in a different direction? Maybe the original intention was for Tilly to remain on the command track, or perhaps even to serve as Burnham’s XO? We may never know!

Significant line: “It’s possible that this literally was a last-second change; the low quality of the texture used for the blue stripe may mean it was something thrown together in a matter of days…”

Article #4:
Star Trek: Discovery – eight “gravitational anomaly” theories

I wrote this list-article shortly after Star Trek’s “First Contact Day” digital event. Sonequa Martin-Green had introduced the first trailer for Discovery’s fourth season, and it was in this trailer that we first got wind of the “gravitational anomaly” – unnamed at the time. I put together a handful of theories based on what we’d seen and heard in the trailer, and even as we’ve hit the halfway point of the season, at least a couple of those remain plausible!

This was the first opportunity I’d had to talk about Discovery Season 4 outside of pure speculation, and the trailer had dropped some hints as to the anomaly that we now know as the DMA. I had fun putting the list together, and going back to past iterations of Star Trek for inspiration – and it seems a lot of people found it interesting, too. This article did well throughout the year, but really saw an uptick in hits around the time Season 4 premiered, and has continued to perform well as the season has progressed.

Significant line: “Star Trek’s past didn’t provide the key to understanding the Burn last season. Will something we’ve seen before come into play in Season 4?”

Article #3:
Mass Effect theory: unlucky humans

Replaying the aforementioned Mass Effect trilogy got me thinking about a theory I’d kicked around when the games were new. In short, my theory was that humanity was particularly unlucky to emerge as a spacefaring race only around forty years before the Reapers attacked. Had the Reapers’ invasion come earlier, or had humanity’s progress toward faster-than-light travel been slower, it might’ve been possible to avoid the Reapers altogether and to emerge into a galaxy with no other sentient spacefaring races.

Had the extinct Citadel Council left behind plans and warnings, humanity could have had a 50,000-year head-start on preparing for the next Reaper War! This was just a fun one, an idea I’d had when the Mass Effect trilogy was new. Giving it the full write-up treatment was fun, but in all honesty I didn’t expect it to gain much traction. Being timely helped this article a lot, though, coming only a few days after the launch of Legendary Edition. I guess there’s a lesson there about getting my articles written on time!

Significant line: “If humanity hadn’t encountered the Mars archive when they did, or if the Ilos scientists hadn’t prevented Sovereign from contacting the Reapers in dark space when it originally intended to, it seems plausible to think that humanity might have been overlooked by the Reapers – at least in this cycle!”

Article #2:
Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 – Unknown Species 10-C: The Suspects

This is the first of the two “viral” articles that I mentioned. Published in mid-December, shortly after the episode The Examples confirmed that the DMA is artificial in nature, this piece really took off! I put quite a bit of work into this long list-article, considering twenty-six different possibilities from past iterations of Star Trek – from The Original Series to Picard – as possible culprits for creating the DMA.

In the aftermath of The Examples, my head was swimming with half-formed theories about Unknown Species 10-C. It took a while to write it all up, but what resulted was definitely one of the more fun and engaging writing projects of the past few months. Discovery’s fourth season – like the third before it – seems determined to go in an unpredictable direction, but even if that’s the case I can still say I had fun considering all of these different possible connections to past iterations of the franchise. And apparently, at least some Trekkies were just as interested in Unknown Species 10-C as me!

Significant line: “I keep thinking back to Season 3 and the Burn storyline, and how the ending to that story was something completely unpredictable and brand-new to the franchise. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Discovery go down that road again.”

Article #1:
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition – what’s the best ending?

So we come to the most-read piece of the year! Published in late May, a couple of weeks after the launch of Legendary Edition, in this article I considered what the “best” ending of the Mass Effect trilogy might be from an in-universe point of view. I tried to consider the pros and cons of the synthesis, destroy, and control endings to Mass Effect 3, giving my thoughts on each.

I suspect that the reason this article got so many hits is that players were looking for a guide to achieving a specific ending to the game – something the article doesn’t provide! So unfortunately, despite this being the best-performing article of the year, I suspect many readers came away disappointed having not found what they were looking for! However, I hope those that stuck around found an enjoyable and thoughtful piece, one in which I did my best to consider how the various endings to the trilogy might impact the Mass Effect galaxy, and the friends Commander Shepard made along their journey.

Significant line: “I have a hard time making this choice – it’s by far the most difficult in the entire trio of games, even though the short epilogue that follows is anticlimactic at best.”

But wait, there’s more!

Those were the top ten most-read articles that I wrote in 2021. But the year also saw several articles from 2020 pick up a number of views, and I thought it could be fun to briefly look at a few of those. We’ll just do the top five, since this article is already running long!

Article #5:
Introducing someone to Star Trek for the first time

This article, from back in June 2020, didn’t pick up much attention at the time it was written. By the standards of the website at the time it did okay, but even then I didn’t feel it was breaking the bank in terms of its view count. But for some reason it did much better in 2021, picking up dozens and then hundreds of views in a slow trickle throughout the year.

In this list-article I picked out fifteen episodes and films that I felt could make for a great “first contact” for a new viewer; someone unfamiliar with the Star Trek franchise. I tried to avoid the obvious ones, like The Wrath of Khan, and suggested a few different stories that showcase the varied nature of Star Trek, and how the franchise can dip its toes in some very different genres. I’m glad that it found an audience in the end – and if it helped even one person introduce a friend or loved one to Star Trek, then it’s more than done its job!

Significant line: “I tried to pick a few examples of stories that hopefully show off not only the franchise at its best, but that it can be different to the preconceived notions many people have.”

Article #4:
Star Trekkin’ – a number one hit!

This is an article that I had a ton of fun researching and writing in August 2020! If you’re a big Trekkie you’ve probably at least heard of The Firm’s 1987 song Star Trekkin’, which, as the title of my piece suggests, topped the charts here in the UK. The song is ridiculously silly, and the music video that accompanies it is even more so, but it’s a weird and wonderful piece of Star Trek’s history that I wanted to acknowledge. It’s also a curiously British thing, in some ways.

I had this song on cassette many years ago, and I can remember listening to it through headphones on the school bus with the volume turned down – just in case anyone could overhear! I also bought the mp3 of the song again when I transitioned to digital music, and I confess that I still put the song on occasionally for both a bit of fun and a blast of nostalgia. Star Trekkin’ is a weird song, but it was fun to write about – and I’m glad that Trekkies are checking out what I had to say about it!

Significant line: “It’s well worth a listen for any Trekkie who hasn’t heard it, and while I don’t promise you’ll enjoy it as a piece of music, you might just crack a smile.”

Article #3:
Can we PLEASE stop calling things we don’t like “objectively” bad?

From the silly to the serious! I wrote this piece after getting sick to death of hearing so-called critics using the expression “objectively bad” to refer to things that they personally didn’t like. I’m not trying to nitpick or get mad about a technicality, but when I hear the word “objectively” used in the context of basically anything in media, and narrative choices in particular, I feel there’s a conscious attempt to try to shut down any counter-arguments. Media criticism is practically always subjective, not objective – no matter what anyone may claim.

There is no such thing as a film, video game, or TV programme that is “objectively” bad – nor “objectively” anything else. There are certainly works of entertainment that don’t follow established rules or precedent, but in every case opinions will vary from person to person. There are myriad examples of works of fiction that I personally hate that I know other people adore. Neither opinion is “objective” – and that’s that.

Significant line: “It’s got to a point where it’s been proclaimed so often that any time I see or hear the phrase “objectively bad,” I stop reading or listening. Any critic making such a statement has lost my respect and lost the argument.”

Article #2:
Five things to watch at New Year (instead of fireworks)

This one is pretty straightforward! In 2020 – and sadly, again in 2021 – many New Year events that are usually televised were cancelled due to the pandemic. For several years in the second half of the 2010s I’d spent my New Years Eves with the London fireworks display on TV basically by default, but with the event cancelled due to covid in 2020 I got thinking about what I might watch instead – and this list was born!

Beginning on the 30th of December 2020 and running through to the early hours of New Year’s Day, this post saw a huge spike in views, and the same thing happened this past New Year. Due to the huge number of hits it had got in the wee hours of the 1st of January it was already quite high on the list, but the extra attention it got in December 2021 propelled it to becoming one of the best-performing pieces of the year!

Significant line: “Hopefully by the time we’re thinking about the next New Year’s Eve, things will be much closer to normal.”

Article #1:
It’s time for Deep Space Nine and Voyager to get the HD treatment

This article was the most-read of 2020, so I’m not shocked to see that it continued to perform well in 2021! In this article I called on ViacomCBS to remaster Deep Space Nine and Voyager, both of which remain in standard definition at time of writing. I argued that the move to streaming should be the reason why the shows get remastered, because the process will be less expensive this time around due to improvements in technology and far less of a need to produce and ship optical discs.

It doesn’t seem like ViacomCBS cares about Deep Space Nine and Voyager right now, sadly, and even though Paramount+ is playing host to both shows (in regions where it’s available), there’s still no sign of a remaster. I think it could be a good investment, because a lot of Trekkies who remember the shows fondly would be interested to see a remastered version; it would certainly drive some sign-ups to Paramount+. There are some decent fan-made remasters that you can find online, though… so that’s something!

Significant line: “A lot of folks seem to have given up on the idea of ever seeing those series in HD given the move toward online streaming and The Next Generation’s lacklustre performance on Blu-ray, but CBS All Access should be Deep Space Nine and Voyager’s ticket to a full-HD remaster.”

So that’s it!

Trekking with Dennis exceeded all of my hopes and expectations in 2021, with more than 61,000 people showing up to read the pieces that I wrote. I’m thrilled with how well the website has been performing, and I hope 2022 will be another good year.

To those of you who joined me in 2021, thank you. I hope I was entertaining, informative, or just a fun way to kill some time! You can look forward to more of the same in 2022, as I have no immediate plans to shake things up or make changes to the kind of things I do here.

2021 was a wild ride in so many ways, and it wasn’t a great year for many of us. Entertainment experiences – like films, video games, and TV shows – are some of the things that keep me going, and writing my thoughts or reviews of some of them is an extension of that. A chance to spend more time thinking and writing about Star Trek and some of my other favourites continues to be an enjoyable hobby, and a great escape, at times, from some of the less pleasant things going on out here in the real world.

Thank you for your support over the past twelve months – and here’s to 2022!

– Dennis
Wednesday, 5th January 2022

All titles mentioned above are the copyright of their respective studio, owner, corporation, distributor, broadcaster, etc. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Making a few changes… please bear with me.

Just a very quick update today. I’m in the process of making a few changes and alterations to the website. Hopefully nothing will be deleted and none of the content will change, but I want to get a slightly different and more modern look going forward, especially on the homepage.

Previously every blog post was just represented with a title and a short quotation, but I’m looking at adding images too. At the moment these images aren’t displaying exactly how I’d like – you might have noticed a huge image at the top of this post and other more recent articles. Fixing that is a work in progress!

So please bear with me while I make these changes and updates over the next few days, and if things look janky for a while please know that I’m planning to fix it – just as soon as I figure out how!

It’s been that kind of week!

I usually try to write at least two or three posts a week, and with Star Trek: Picard being so prominent on the website at the moment, I’ve been trying to manage at least one non-Picard article in between my reviews and theory posts. The latter has become an unexpected weekly series! But this week I’ve had some technical issues with my computer, and honestly it’s been so frustrating!

I’m not a tech expert. I dabble in the tech world, sure, but when it comes to the details of programming and such I’m well out of my depth, and I rely on Google searches to fix problems when they arise. The most frustrating thing is when something absolutely should work… but it doesn’t. This is the situation I’ve been in this week.

I use a television as my main PC monitor. I know that’s a little unusual, but I like to have things displayed on the biggest screen in the house – and since my PC is also my DVD/Blu-ray player, gaming device, and all-round entertainment centre, even a “large” PC monitor is too small for my preferences. Ever since I got this TV, though, I’ve experienced a certain amount of screen tearing and flickering. I tried changing my graphics card (currently an AMD Radeon 560; we’ll come to that in a moment) but to no avail. I eventually realised that the television will only display 50Hz and the graphics cards I’ve used were – for some inexplicable reason – set to 59Hz by default. So I scaled it down to 50Hz and some of the screen tearing and flickering, but not all, went away.

That was a few months ago and it had been ticking over more or less okay since, running in 4K at 3840×2160 pixels. But this week the flickering got worse, and eventually the graphics card I’d had – a GTX 1060 that was a couple of years old – crapped out on me and stopped displaying any picture at all. I couldn’t get it to work so I swapped in the Radeon 560 I mentioned above. The Radeon 560 is a slightly weaker card, and draws a little less power, but nevertheless should be able to output the same 4K picture. The key word there being “should”.

I can accept that components eventually break down, and while I was disappointed in my 1060’s demise, it’s not the end of the world. But the replacement card just isn’t working right, and despite hours of work and searching I just can’t find any solution.

Firstly, around half the time, the card just fails to display any picture at all. I get a blank screen when I turn on the display; the only solution being to forcibly restart my computer. Secondly, it stutters when switching to and from full-screen mode for videos. And thirdly, when it tries to display a 4K picture, it does so in a “letterbox” mode, with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Nothing has fixed these issues. Uninstalling the card, uninstalling the drivers, reinstalling everything, rolling back the drivers to an older version, using AMD’s Radeon software, not using the software, and of course searching online for answers. The Radeon 560, for some reason, will not output a full screen 4K picture, and has those other issues. So I’m stuck with a downgrade to 1080p, which looks fuzzy on my large display – when it works at all. So frustrating!

Because I’m not an expert, when something doesn’t “just work”, and playing around with its settings and looking online doesn’t fix it, it really irritates me. As a disabled person, I rely quite heavily on my computer for contact with the outside world and obviously I need it to work right! It’s also very difficult to open it up and fiddle with components inside, despite me keeping the computer in an accessible place. And as someone on a fixed income, I don’t have money to waste on barely-functional components.

It is partly my fault for choosing a screen that was only 50Hz. I genuinely didn’t realise how much of a problem the television’s refresh rate would be for modern graphics cards. I hope to upgrade the screen later in the year – something similar in size, but I’ll make sure it’s a 60Hz panel instead of 50Hz. Having now essentially busted two different graphics cards with different chips from different manufacturers, the only consistent thing that could be causing these graphics problems is the television itself. I’m hoping a different model will lead to the situation improving.

This isn’t the only frustrating “shouldn’t-be-a-problem” that I’ve had in the last few months, either. I’ve had issues with my phone syncing to my PC and downloading photos and videos, problems with my mail app and client not sending push notifications, bugs in Windows 10 which, upon investigation, were reported to Microsoft up to three years ago and still haven’t been fixed, and others besides. When something has been working, and no settings have been changed, and then for some unknown reason it just ceases to work, I just have no idea why or what to do. The graphics thing is just the latest example – why on earth is it behaving that way? Why do I have to reboot my machine to get it to display a picture? Why does it stutter when going to and from full screen mode? Why can it only display 1080p properly?

Honestly, messing around with this has been so annoying and taken up so much time the last few days that I haven’t felt like writing much. I hope to get something sorted out at the beginning of March as a stop-gap to get me through to later in the year when I can perform some much-needed PC and television upgrades! For now I’ll soldier on, and try not to lose my temper and break the damn thing! I know, I know. First world problems. “My moderately expensive graphics card won’t display an ultra-HD 4K picture on my big screen TV” is not the worst thing in the world. And I’m grateful for what I have.

The internet has been absolutely huge in just my lifetime – I remember when I first got an email account having to ask people if they even had a connection to the web, and having to say to friends I could only be online at certain times because my dial-up connection was tying up the phone line! And now look at where we are, practically everyone has an internet-enabled computer-phone constantly connected via wireless or mobile data about their person at all times. My PC, even though fibre-optic broadband isn’t available, is still connected at speeds I couldn’t have dreamed of back then. And 1080p would have seemed amazing then too, even if it feels like a downgrade this week.

And again as someone with health issues, being able to stay connected and keep up to date with what’s going on in the wider world, as well as shop and organise aspects of my life online, are really important things. As disappointed and frustrated as I’ve been, I try to remember that! It could be worse, after all. And I’m lucky to have the knowledge of computers that I do, so that I can perform some tasks myself. I shudder to think how much it would have cost to have a computer repair person visit, or how inconvenient it would be to send the machine away for repairs. As things stand, it works in a roundabout way, and I know how to get around the bugs that are present. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll get my stop-gap solution up and running so that things can get back to normal. I just wanted to share this little “life update”, since it explains why there’s been more of a gap than usual between articles.

Until next time!

This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.