Realtime Features of feedhaus

For those of you taking part in the private alpha, did anyone notice any of Feedhaus‘s realtime features?

Well, here are some hints as to where to look:

1) The main tag cloud — if a new story comes in that’s associated with one (or more) of the tags, the tags will blink and then grow. And, if a feed hasn’t been updated in a while, the tag will shrink.

2) The “detail” page — when you click on a tag, you get stories, flickr photos and YouTube videos. If a new story comes in while you’re on a detail page, it will magically appear at the top of the story list! Plus, the photo badge from flickr is constantly updating too.

3) The top stories — I’m sure you noticed the top five stories that appear and then “drop out” of site. But did you notice that they’re constantly changing? Those represent the five most recently added stories across all feeds in Feedhaus!

Now, are these features really realtime? Well, not really. But they’re pretty close. We built a multithreaded agent, the Feed Update Daemon (or FUD), which runs every 30 seconds to check every feed in the system for updates. FUD’s threads push updates to a Cometd-powered web service which pushes them to a browser near you using a revolutionary feature called continuations (a.k.a. long polling).

If nothing in the last paragraph made any sense to you, that’s okay — you can still enjoy using the realtime features in Feedhaus!

We’re alpha!

I’m very pleased to announce that this evening I installed Build 0 on our development server, so now we’re officially alpha.

Here’s the note I sent to the people who registered for the private alpha:

Greetings,

Based on the interest you’ve expressed in doing an early evaluation of the web’s newest community news aggregator, I’m sending you instructions on how to sign into the feedhaus private alpha.

1) Visit http://www.feedhaus.com.

2) Enter the username “********” and the password “********”. That’s it, you’re in!

Here’s a small primer on how to use the site:

First, check out the newest stories that appear at the top (you can’t miss ’em). Then, click on any tag to see all articles across all feeds that match that tag, along with relevant photos and videos. Finally, slide the history slider at the bottom backward to see what the tags and articles looked like in the past.

You can always return to the present by clicking on the feedhaus logo in the upper left.

That’s the entire end-user experience. However, if you want to become a power-user, I recommend that you click on the “register” link to create an account. You’ll need to fill out a form and validate your e-mail address. After that, you’ll be able to tag feeds, which makes you a contributor to feedhaus’s concept of “what’s hot now.” Click “add a feed,” enter the feed URL (RSS or Atom), enter some tags, and off you go. Remember, unlike del.icio.us, you’re tagging feeds, not web sites. So instead of entering http://www.cnn.com, you’ll want to find CNN’s RSS or Atom feed and then add that URL (for example, see http://www.cnn.com/services/rss/).

The outer basic authentication will be removed when we go to beta, but for now, we need your help in ferreting out as many bugs as possible. We’re also interested in usability suggestions and any other feedback. Please channel all feedback through the blog (by commenting here).

That’s it! Go get ’em and thanks a million for your help!

Best regards,
Chris Bucchere

P.S.: Thanks to Andrew Bays for all his hard work on the feedhaus backend and to Allison Bucchere for her fabulous visual and graphic design.

It’s not too late to register for the alpha! E-mail us at [email protected] to join the party.

Upcoming AquaLogic Training Classes in DC

bdg is hosting an AquaLogic (Plumtree) Training Class in Washington, DC the week of September 24th.

We’ll be sticking with the format we used last time:

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: ALI Administration
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: ALI Portlet Development

Wednesday will be a “double up” day when we do advanced administration for admins and introductory administration for developers.

Training will run 9AM-5PM each day with a break for lunch. The location will be as follows:

Nextec Corporate Headquarters
465 Herndon Parkway, Suite 200
Herndon, VA 20170
Please contact us at [email protected] to sign up!

ALI Administration (Mon, Tues, Wed)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of all the most commonly used aspects of AquaLogic Interaction (ALI). Students will learn how to install, configure and administer the ALI 6x portal. It is also for the person wanting to understand how to conduct an ALI implementation project. In three days you will implement a portal that can be used as a departmental solution. All aspects of ALI are reviewed including MyPages, Automation Servers, Search, Web Services, Portlets, Communities, Experience Definitions, the Knowledge Directory, and best practices to keep the portal up and running smoothly.
Course Modules
  • ALI Architecture
  • Basic Troubleshooting of the ALI Environment
  • Configuring the Automation Server and Jobs
  • Performing Routine Portal Maintenance
  • Creating an Administrative Hierarchy
  • Configuring Portal Access and Permissions
  • Implementing Advanced Object Security
  • Community Fundamentals
  • Creating a Community
  • Advanced Community Topics
  • Building Subportals
  • Configuring ALI Web Services
  • Importing Users and Groups
  • Extending the User Profile
  • Adding Content to the Portal
  • Maintaining the Knowledge Directory
Exercises
  • ALI Enterprise Planning Role Play
  • Using PTSPY and the Migration Utility
  • Using the Admin Hierarchy
  • Creating a Community
  • Creating a Subportal
  • Registering an Authentication Source
  • Registering a Profile Web Service
  • Managing the Knowledge Directory
After the training, the student should be able to:
  • Register Automation Servers
  • Create, run and troubleshoot Jobs
  • Perform routine Portal maintenance
  • Use PTSPY and the new Migration Wizard
  • Create Users and Groups in the Portal  Set up Activity Rights for users
  • Manage permissions using Access Control Lists
  • Create Communities
  • Create Projects in Collaboration Server
  • Create Experience Definitions and understand their use
  • Configure Web Services
  • Configure an AD Authentication Web Service
  • Configure a User Profile Web Service
  • Understand all of the content management objects in the Portal
  • Create a Crawler to allow access to external content through the Portal
  • Maintain Portal content and its search index
  • Implement Portal best practices

ALI Portlet Development

This course is an all-inclusive portlet development course that will coverbasic through advanced ALI Portlet development concepts. Although there is a small lecture component, the course is primarily exercise-based. Students who meet the prerequisites and who successfully complete all of the exercises will leave the course ready to design and write enterprise class ALI Portlets.
Prerequisites:
Basic understanding of the Plumtree Portal, MPPE & Portlets; proficiency in Java or C#; proficiency in web programming.
Course Modules/Exercises
  • Introduction to ALI, the MPPE, Portlets & C#/.NET or Java
  • Demonstration of ALI Portal and Integration Products
  • Install a Java IDE and come up with an idea for a new Portlet
  • Design an ALI Portlet and create a associated objects; add to MyPage and Community
  • HTTPGP/MPPE & the Gateway
  • Yahoo! Search Portlet: Design a portlet that allows the user to issue a search in Yahoo!
  • TCP Tracing: Use a free utility to trace TCP activity on port 80 (HTTP); observe CSP in action
  • Interaction Development Kits
  • Gateway Specific Configuration
  • Design an ALI Portlet that uses a Gateway Setting
  • Introduction to Settings
  • Change Font Color: Use a Portlet Setting to allow the user to personalize the Portlet with a font color
  • My Bookmarks: Design an ALI Portlet that displays an end-user customizable list of bookmarks to web sites
  • Settings Review
  • Community Bookmarks: Design an ALI Portlet that allows the community manager to set a customizable list of bookmarks to web sites
  • Introduction to Portlet Frameworks and Database-driven Portlet Design
  • Database Schema: Design database schema for a Data
  • Entry and Browse Framework Portlet
  • Administrative Settings Review
  • Administrative Settings: Design the Administrative Preferences page for a Data Entry and Record Browse Framework Portlet
  • Data View/Entry Form: Design Data View/Entry Form for a Data Entry and Record Browse Framework Portlet
  • Record Browsing: Design Record Browsing for a Data Entry and Record Browse Framework Portlet
  • Portlet Caching, Performance and Scale-ability
  • Caching: Add ETAG/IF-NONE-MATCH caching to Data Entry and Record Browse Framework Portlet
  • Enhance Record Browsing with Pagination, Sorting and Filtering
  • Internationalization/Localization
  • Create a Localized Portlet

meebo Sells Out

It has been a long time coming, but meebo has finally succumbed to the pressures of a basic business truth that they’ve been dutifully ignoring:

in order to stay in business, you actually have to make money.

Since their initial $3.5M financing round in December, 2005, they’ve been very good at two things: spending money and generating buzz around their service offering: free, browser-based multi-band instant messaging that supports AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, GTalk, Jabber and ICQ. New features, including “meebo rooms” and iPhone integration, have also generated a fair amount of hype. But back to dollars and cents . . . .

Their primary investor is Sequoia Capital, which has a great track record that includes companies like Cisco, Yahoo!, Paypal and Plumtree. From their point of view, investing in meebo in order to flip it to a larger company doesn’t seem viable because if any of the big players (Google, AOL, Yahoo! or Microsoft) bought meebo, they would most certainly shut down the other channels, which is one of meebo’s most compelling features. So, how does Sequoia intend to monetize meebo?

The team has been fairly tight-lipped about their plans, although co-founder Seth Sternberg has dropped a few hints on their blog including selling ad space, partnering with other providers to provide fee-based SMS or other services, and (my personal favorite) selling virtual goods to “spice up” your IM avatar.

San Jose Mercury News quotes Seth as saying:

“There are tons of ways we can make money, but we have to choose our priorities carefully.”

When you take the venture capital route, however, choosing the company’s priorities involves more than just the management team. Whether it was investor pressure or just common sense, we’ll never know, but yesterday meebo finally started devoting some of their copious dead space to advertising. They’re calling the new feature “meebo sponsors” which is a euphemism for, ehem, “meebo advertisements.”

meebo_adI have to give the team some credit because the introduction of ads on meebo was tastefully done — the ad is small, out-of-the-way and you can disable it with a single mouse click. However, if you click on the “try the Talib background” link, the results are quite shocking. Moreover, there’s no easy way to stop “trying” the Talib background. You have to navigate into your preferences and reset the background to whatever you had before.

A little “Are you sure?” could have gone a long way here.

meebo also plans to use the “holy grail” of advertising — targeting — to make sure these sponsor messages hit home. From the meebo blog: “We’ve already got a bunch of ideas to make [the ads] better, including preferences for the types of things you’re interested in. We’re hoping to figure out how to be selective, so if you indicate that you like movies, but not rap music, future sponsors will reflect that for you.”

It’s just a matter of time before meebo will be combing through your IM conversations looking for keywords like “BMW” or “Rolex” and using those data points to drive targeted ad campaigns.

Succumbing to financial pressure to allow advertising on your site is a slippery slope.

I’m curious to see where this leads and if meebo can continue to provide ads — and their free service — without the ads becoming too obtrusive, which will cause their user community to resent them.

While I commend them for finally taking a step toward financial responsibility, I worry that it won’t be long before the ads on meebo become burdensome enough that the users no longer want to use the service, e.g. AOL pre-welcome screen pop-ups of the late 90s.

I’m definitely interested to see how this one plays out.

Visual Design

feedhaus_public_alphaWe started applying the visual design tonight, which means one thing: we’re getting close! The image to the left is the first cut at the logo. The background gradient is a friendly green, but all the windows where you will actually interact with the site are white with blue hyperlinks and black text, which provides a nice sense of familiarity. Since much of what we’re tying to do here — applying tags to feeds — is so new to the masses, we want the site to be as friendly and as un-intimidating as humanly possible.

Progress Report

The wheels of the Feedhaus machine are spinning along . . . .

Today we installed an early prototype on the development server and validated that about 90% of the functionality is implemented and basically working. You can sign up, sign in, sign out, edit your account, tell a friend, tag feeds and view the main tag cloud and detail pages. Well, you can’t just yet, but we can. The Feed Update Daemon (which we affectionately call “FUD”) isn’t quite ready yet, so it’s not activated on the development server.

We’ve chosen GoDaddy.com as our hosting provider as they’ve been doing all the hosting for bdg since I started the company in 2002. They provide great customer service, reasonable prices, flexible plans, and most importantly, their hold music features a great 90s retro/neo-swing band, The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Hordes of people have already signed up for the private alpha. What are you waiting for? E-mail us to sign up today!

bdg Becomes a BEA VAR

All of us at bdg are very pleased to announce that we’ve converted our BEA partner relationship from a “Select Services Partner” to a “Value Added Reseller.” We’re now authorized to sell any and all of BEA’s 40+ products. Now bdg can be your one stop shop for BEA products, top-notch professional services and add-on products such as Project Excelerator. Contact us today at [email protected] and find out what we can do for you!