Not resting on our laurels

Feedhaus_StickerTeam Feedhaus put out a new release tonight. This was primarily a bug-fix release. Here’s a run-down:

1) Speed up history detail pages — we’ve got more than 1.2 million stories stored up since our private alpha began in early September. Finding those records to show required some heavy lifting, but by adding some indexes to that table and making a few code changes, you can now play with the history slider all you want and pull up old stories almost instantaneously.

2) Speed up regular detail pages — some browsers were having trouble displaying some of the detail pages, mostly just because they were too big! We’ve capped the number of stories now at 20 per detail page. Eventually we’ll add pagination, but for now, there’s still plenty of news and blogs for you to read, with the latest and greatest stuff always bubbling to the top.

3) Detail page clipping — some tags returned feed content that was too wide for the detail page, which required you to scroll horizontally to see the full extent of the content — yuck! (We’ve had lots of complaints about this.) Using some CSS hacks, we fixed that for all the major offenders that we could find. If you find any other “wide loads” (i.e. detail pages that are too big for their britches), please let us know.

bdg welcomes Rémy Miralles!

remyI’m very pleased to announce our first hire of the year, Rémy Miralles!

Rémy hails from just outside Paris, France, so this marks the first time bdg has hired outside the US. He joins our team as part of the AIPT Trainee program, which granted Rémy a J-1 visa that allows him to work for us as an intern/trainee for 18 months.

During that time, he’ll be applying the web visual/graphic design to our Participate 2008 Social Applications and also porting them to the iTouch/iPhone. Given that no bdg-er is ever content to work on “just one thing,” I’m sure he’ll be involved in lots of other projects as well, including Feedhaus.

Rémy has already proven himself as an outstanding developer. In fact, he recently built a Facebook application that has 15,000+ users even though it’s only been out for a few months now.

Needless to say, all of us at bdg are very excited about working with the newest addition addition to our team.

Please join me in welcoming Rémy Miralles!

How to Build your own Temple of Ego in Five Minutes

My wife is arguably my biggest fan, although my mom probably deserves “honorable mention.”

If you too are a fanboy or fangirl of someone, like, say Robert Scoble, you may want to know what he’s blogging about, pod/vod-casting about, Twittering about, etc. Someone put together this great aggregator called Robert Scoble’s Temple of Ego.

I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own Temples of Ego?

Back to my wife. Despite her self-professed fanhood, she’s been having trouble lately (well, okay, ever) keeping up with all my web activity. This all stems from the fact that Feedhaus, a site I built and launched last fall, was selected as a SXSW Web Award finalist and I’ve been blathering about this fact in every online setting imaginable, including here on dev2dev. (Please vote for us, BTW.)

So, with upwards of five different blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader shared items, flickr, YouTube and del.icio.us — keeping track of my enormous ego is a formidable task.

But now, with the power of the semantic web and a great tool called Yahoo! Pipes, you can create your own Temple of Ego in five minutes.

Here’s mine.

Simply go to Yahoo! Pipes, log in and create a pipe. In the “Fetch Feed” node at the top, simply enter the RSS or ATOM feed from whatever you want to include in your Temple of Ego. For example, I included all my blogs, my tweets (from Twitter), my Facebook posted items, my Google Reader Shared Items, my del.icio.us links, my flickr photos and my YouTube videos. That’s a good start.

Now, drag in a “Sort” node and sort by descending pubDate. This puts all the newest stuff first, known to geeks as “reverse chronological order.”

Finally, wire together the Fetch Feed node with the Sort node and then the Sort node with the Pipe Output node.

Now, if you’re really egotistical, you can email all your friends a link to your Temple of Ego and encourage them to add the pipe’s outbound RSS to their feed reader of choice. (Here’s mine.)

So, what on earth does this have to do with ALUI?

ALI 6.5 — which the good folks at bdg are using to build social applications for Participate.08 — has some pretty slick RSS capabilities and some really beautiful user profile pages. Imagine if everyone’s profile page had the output from their Temple of Ego embedded in it. How powerful would that be? And, with ALI 6.5 and a little Yahoo! Pipes magic, setting this up in your ALI deployment will be a breeze.

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Thanks for helping me keep the title of “your biggest fan” — your Pipe implementation is working beautifully.

    Posted by: allisonbucchere on February 13, 2008 at 1:17 PM

  • this reminds me of a similar feature on google reader that lets you create a public feed based on your tags. so i could tag multiple feeds with the same tag. then if i make that tag public, it results in a feed that combines all feeds with that tag. pipes looks to be a little more powerful with respect to sorting, etc, but if you don’t need that, reader offers a little bit of the same. james

    Posted by: jbayer on February 13, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Feedhaus Selected as a SXSW Web Award Finalist

2008_web_awardsWe’re very pleased to announce that Feedhaus has been selected as a finalist for a prestigious SXSW (South by Southwest) 2008 Web Award!

We’ve been selected, along with four other great nominees, from among a pool of hundreds of sites for the “Technical Achievement” category, which, according to SXSW, describes “sites that are re-inventing and re-defining the technical parameters of our online experience.”

As a finalist, we’re also eligible for the “People’s Choice” award, so please vote for Feedhaus (daily until March 3rd).

Kudos to the SXWS committee for recognizing Feedhaus! Hope to see you in Austin from March 7th-11th for this great conference.

St. Croix, USVI

mermaidIn early February, 2008, we took a long weekend vacation on St. Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands. The trip was very spur-of-the-moment and it only came about because we noticed that one of our favorite bands, The Grandsons, was planning a USVI tour. Their music consists of a fun blend of 50s-style rock’n’roll, New Orleans R&B; and some very witty original numbers. Needless to say, they’re very dance-able.

It seems like on all our previous vacations, we’ve made such an effort to find places where we could dance. This vacation had the dancing “built-in.”

We planned to see three or four Grandsons shows while also spending a significant amount of time relaxing on the beach and indulging in our other passions, e.g. eating and discovering new cities and towns.

hotelWe arrived Friday, February 1st, leaving behind sub-freezing DC temperatures and a lovely morning of freezing rain, ice and slush. Getting off the plane in St. Croix, we were treated to their version of cold winter weather, which consists of 75 degree temperatures and light breezes. We took a taxi to our lovely resort complex, The Buccaneer, which came highly recommended by multiple friends. We were wowed by the palmtree-lined entrance and the pink grandeur of the hotel’s main buildings along with the perfectly manicured lawns, sprawling flowers and water fountains.

Getting a free upgrade to a luxurious ocean-view room with a four-poster bed, marble floors and a huge balcony was the first of many wonderful experiences we had with the hotel staff.

beachAfter getting settled in, we immediately hit the Mermaid Beach for conch salad, rum cake, sand, sun and surf (and ping-pong). We headed into the quiet town of Christiansted for dinner that night, having chosen the highly-recommended Bacchus Restaurant. We dined on beet salad, seared Ahi and “the best lobster ever.” We then headed to Chicken Charlie’s Roadhouse, a shanty-cum-dive bar frequented by pleasantly rowdy (and very much inebriated) locals whose only care in the world was how to have a great time. The Grandsons rocked the roof off that place and we danced the night away.

After our first dance, Chicken Charlie himself and his wife hit the floor followed by several other couples. Seems like we started something that night.

Saturday morning, Groundhog Day 2008, we slept in and then were treated to an amazing buffet breakfast including creamy and delicious grits, fresh strawberries, potent coffee and numerous other delights. We trekked up toward Cane Bay for the “St. Croix de Gras” parade and block party, which is the island’s version of Mardi Gras, if that wasn’t obvious form the name. (Tuesday is Mardi Gras, which fell early this year.) We were probably the only tourists at this parade (other than The Grandsons) and we were pretty much blown away by the raucousness, recklessness and rowdy-ness of this whole affair which consisted of cars, trucks, ATVs, floats and hordes of totally wasted party-goers. Beads, Jell-O shots and beers were flying left and right amidst honking horns, hooting and hollering locals and spurts of water from some indiscriminate water-pistol wielding marksmen. We ate beef and vegetable roti at a makeshift roadside stand and, later, at a beach shack bar thingamajigger, we drank rum punch made with the storied Cruzan rum, which is pretty much the best tasting rum we’ve ever tried. In fact, it doesn’t taste like rum at all — it tastes more like candy than alcohol.

viewWe arrived a bit late at this whole St. Croix de Gras affair, so we missed The Grandsons playing on Chicken Charlie’s float. We waited around a while for another show, but it never actually happened, so we hopped in a taxi and headed back to The Buccaneer for a cat nap on the beach. After getting cleaned up, we sat and listened to an amazing jazz pianist in the Buccaneer lobby while sipping “vintage” cocktails. He did a mean “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” and a “Take The A Train” that really rocked the house.

We danced. Of course we did.

That night we enjoyed an amazing dinner at the Thai/Mexican-style restaurant Savant: Vietnamese summer rolls followed by sesame seared Ahi (Allison) and a bacon-wrapped double-cut pork chop over jalapeno cheese grits (Chris). We sat in a most lovely and romantic, candle-lit, stone-walled garden replete with native vegetation and even a few chirp-chirping birds to accompany our fabulous dinner. Then it was back to Chicken Charlie’s for a reprise of the previous night’s dance-fest to The Grandsons. This evening we closed out the bar and helped the crowd of totally sauced locals convince The Grandsons to do an encore, which turned out to be Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” — a real gem.

Thomas the taxi driver, who had picked us up and dropped us off at nearly all of our destinations, arrived to pick us up that evening.

He tried to convince us that he was not the only cab driver on the island, but we remained dubious.

allisonSuperbowl Sunday arrived with many of the thematic elements from the days before: perfect temperatures, gentle warm breezes, a fantastic breakfast buffet and more Grandsons. After a luxurious post-breakfast nap (when do we ever get to do that?), we headed over to the islands other major city, Fredericksted, located on the island’s West side. There we had a great lunch at Blue Moon, a fine establishment billed as a “jazz cafe” which was completely true other than the “jazz” part. Our disappointment over the music (or lack thereof) was mediated by the great food — steak and eggs and a fantastic grilled shrimp caesar salad with homemade dressing. We topped it off with an “almond joy” sundae and mint chocolate chip ice cream cake.

We spent the afternoon reeling and rocking to the Grandsons at another beach shack/dive bar called Rhythms at Rainbow Beach. You could sit outside or in or sit on the beach or even go for a swim in the ocean and still hear the band playing their unique blend of American roots rock and New Orleans jazz and swing. We danced, we drank more Cruzan rum punch and we snacked on local dive-bar delicacies.

Sunday evening we had a lovely dinner at The Terrace restaurant in The Buccaneer overlooking the glimmering lights of Christiansted. We dined on beet salad (again), spinach and bacon salad, shrimp cocktail and Mahi Mahi over risotto. Mmmm. We closed out the evening by watching the second half of what turned out to be an amazingly close, nail-biter Superbowl game in which the Giants edged out the undefeated Patriots 17-14, coming back from behind (as a wildcard team) and spoiling what would have been a perfect season for them. Amazing.

chrisMonday morning, our last day in paradise, started the same way — we slept in late, had another phenomenal breakfast, had a spa appointment (Allison) and then hung out on the beach where we enjoyed a swim, more Ahi and Mahi Mahi, more ping pong and some welcome warm rain showers to cool us off. As Allan MacEwen of The Grandsons said,

“If you don’t like the weather on St. Croix, just wait five minutes.”

Whereas following an indie swing band around a tropical island may not be for everyone, it was certainly the right vacation for us. We may just have to do it again some time soon.