Well, the visitor counter passed 15000 sometime after 9PM tonight.
And the winner is…well, it looks like it might be a tie (possibly a three-way tie). I'll announce names once I've successfully contacted and verified everyone.
How could there possibly be a tie for the 15000th visitor, you ask? Well, it looks like the counter might have a bit of an issue, especially for sites with a fair amount of traffic. I run a version of sphpblog, slightly tuned and modified for my own needs/interests. Indeed, that's how I was able to program in the “contest” to declare a winner when the counter hit 15000. However, the counter seems to have stayed at 15000 over three visits from three unique IP addresses, which resulted in a “tie.”
I have gone through the site logs to verify this; and I will honor the prize for each of the people who can legitimately claim to have “won.”
As for the counter, I will either have to write my own to replace the current one, or use one of those outside services. It looks like the total visits for CatSynth may have been severely undercounted because of this, and I might try some simple statistics to get a better estimate. Note that this only affects the internal site counter, not any of the outside services, like “Top 100s”, or ads.
Certainly a reminder to question the reliability of some other electronic counters out there: