Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Memeflow Still Gives Me Warm Fuzzies

I'm always astounded my the number of people that use goto, my little ajax experiment from a few years ago.

Yes the number of seven day actives is only a few hundred, but the fact that it still runs, unassisted and with no real problems gives me the warm fuzzies :-)

It was a nice little project that solved a personal need and obviously solved the need of a few other people out there.

At that is reason enough to keep it ticking along.

Memeflow Gets Some Lockergnome Traffic

Thanks to Chris Pirillo linking to memeflow from his Pirillo's Picks, traffic jumped by 4000% yesterday. Of course, that isn't hard to do given the low usage of the site, but the normal 500 hits per day jumped to over 20,000 with an associated boost in membership of 25% to over 500!

A nice little ride for my unattended side project.

I shall christen it the “Pirillo Effect”.

Thanks Chris!

Memeflow Is Still Up And Running

My server was unreachable today for about six hours due to some hassle at the colo, but I was reminded that Memflow, a service I put together in 2005 as an experiment, is still being happily used by quite a number of people.

I was reminded because I got a bunch of email from quite a number of people wondering why their favourite “start” page was down!

Sweet!

If you're looking for a fast, image-free (ok, there's an RSS icon) start page, may I suggest you give Memeflow a try?

Here are some posts about the site from a while ago.

Memeflow gets it right…

A little bit of kudos for my bookmarking Ajax service, GoTo.

From the Ajaxian

Lazy Registration Most of these portals are missing a big opportunity to let people try it out before they register. Protopage and Memeflow are two portals that get it right. Use cookies to let the user play around with the site indefinitely, and keep making them aware they can register anytime. “Take your settings with you”, “Keep your data forever”, “Survive a browser crash”, etc. (I've seen a few of these phrases aronud the place, but not sure which sites.)

Sweet!

Memeflow bug fix for IE

In my last update to Memeflow on October 30th, I broke the ability to add a new block of links when using Internet Explorer.

Either everyone is using Firefox, or no one has created a new block! I hope that hasn't turned people away from the service, but no one has reported the bug either…

Ho hum. Fixed now.

btw, Memflow is now standing at 214 registered users…

Collapsible Blocks

I just added a much asked for feature to Memeflow - collapsible blocks. You can show or hide the contents of the block and the state is persisted on the server.

What's cool is that you can still drop links onto a block even though it is collapsed. I have a block full of stuff to check out, and this feature has proved pretty useful over the past couple of days.

Let me know what you think, and let me know of other work-flow optimization features you think would be useful.

Memeflow and Internationalization

While I was implementing the GoTo service I always had internationalization in the back of my mind, but I am by no means an expert on the subject (even though I subscribe to, and regularly read, Michael Kaplan ). I made sure everything was utf-8 end to end and did all the right sort of development things and kind of hoped for the best…

I am by no means a language expert and being a one man band had no test resources1. I cut and pasted some text from Japanese sites, linked to some and all seemed to be well. So I was very happy to see some (what I think are) reviews of the service on websites that I cannot read. For example, here's one2].

It looked like everything was working fine.

Then today I received an email from someone who doesn't have good English (his words, not mine), asking for help as he could not log in.

Uhh Ohh.

One issue that the service has is that it authenticates the XML response from the server with every transaction. If the XML is malformed, then the authentication doesn't work and you are effectively locked out. I suspected that this is what had happened.

So I looked at the database, and sure enough his last entry had had the title automatically filled in by a background job that scans the web pages for newly added sites. This code had an internationalization bug in it.

I fixed the bug; nuked the title; re-ran the title scan, and hey presto, he can log in.

1 If non-English readers could confirm/deny that things are working well for them, I'd appreciate it! 

2 If someone could translate this site for me, I'd appreciate that too! 

Memeflow GoTo - Fixes and features

Time for an update on Memeflow GoTo, my little bookmarking web service. It's been a while...

The big new feature is RSS feeds. You've always had an OPML feed of your links, but now you can get that as a full RSS feed, with each block as a separate item, or a changes RSS feed with an item per day detailing all the additions to each block.

The changes RSS feed is pretty nice as you could have a block set up for a particular topic (or, dare I say it, tag) and you and others can subscribe to the feed and see your changes. I'll probably add feeds for the specific blocks too.

The layout of the site has been tweaked too, so that all the informational blocks on the right-hand side are now placed on tabs. Take a look at the changes tab for a list of bug fixes. Most of the bug fixes have been to do with UI problems:

  • Make OPML compliant to v1.1.
  • Fix a bug where clicking another mouse button while left-click dragging a block or item would cause weird things to happen.
  • Fix a bug which could cause multiple edit boxes to be open for edit and out of sync in page.
  • Small pages adjustments. Separated system blocks into tabs.

In the queue for new features we have:

  • RSS feeds for specific blocks.
  • Provide a public facing page, so you can provide other people with read only access to your page.
  • Allowing re-ordering of items within blocks.
  • Import of bookmarks from IE or Firefox.
  • A place to enter comments or tags for links.
  • Some form of collapsible UI for the actions at the end of each link.
  • The ability to collapse blocks.
  • Pages of blocks.

Please let me know of any other ideas or bugs...

Recent Memeflow fixes and blog coverage

Over the weekend I made a few fixes to bugs/suggestions reported by users:

  1. Items could temporarily disappear if moved from blocks with only one item. Fixed.
  2. Fixed display of confirm box in IE.
  3. Deletion of items now requires confirmation.

Thanks to Andy and Xavier for reporting them.

On a secondary note, I've got a few new features in the works:

  1. Public pages.  This basically means that your GoTo page is available in a read-only fashion and you can link to it.  I'd been meaning to do this for a while, but Dr Martian's post has pushed me into getting it finished.
  2. Ads.  Yup, I think I'll do this, but only for the public pages.  As a registered user, your own private view of your (i.e. the one you have set as your home page) will remain unencumbered.  Gotta (hopefully) pay the bandwidth bill somehow!
  3. RSS feeds.  You already have an OPML feed for your content - this will provide you and your subscribers a feed for updates.

If anyone has any comments or questions about this, either email me, or preferably leave a comment here.

As a side note, I'd like to thank everyone that has posted reviews or mentioned Memeflow on their blogs or websites.  The feedback has been 100% positive which is a great sign.

Some links in chronological order:

The Scoble Effect

I was just thinking that I couldn't have written anything interesting recently as I haven't been linked to by Robert Scoble for a while, when low and behold a new post from him shows up in my PubSub feeds. Not only for my Ajax service GoTo, but also for yesterday's podcasting article.

Cue a nice spike in traffic, both for this site and for GoTo. Cool.

The really interesting thing for me was that the big influx in trial users for GoTo showed off an oversite in my recent changes to support lazy registration, aka trial mode. When I added the trial mode, I also added a default set of blocks and links so that new users aren't presented with what amounts to a blank page.

Of course, this meant that the statistics for those sites went through the roof, so I've excluded links from trial users from the "Top Ranked" statistics.

Need help testing edge cases of your code under load? Just figure out a way to get Robert to link to you...

Tracking Clicks

Being a bit of a neophyte (well, maybe I'm a journeyman now) to javascript, I have been tracking the links that users click on in my AJAX homepage site by having the URL for the link be something like http://www.memeflow.com/goto/goto.php?hit=234, which after noting the hit would redirect to the requested page. Rather cryptic and problematic.

The problem is that this url is what shows up in the status bar, not the url for the site that the user is expecting to navigate to. The other problem is that you can't right-click on it to copy the url to the clipboard.

So, along comes various threads on message boards about google tracking clicks by rewriting the url on the 'onmousedown' event. Very sneaky and very clever.

I've told users that I'm tracking the clicks since day one, so this isn't a problem for me. So now, the url for each link is exactly the correct link for the site the user is expecting to visit, but the element has this attached to it for the 'onmousedown' event.

this.nodeItem.onmousedown = function(evnt)

{

var left = true;

if ((evnt) && evnt.which)

{

if (evnt.which != 1)

left = false;

}

else if (event && event.button)

{

if (event.button != 1)

left = false;

}

if (left)

this.setAttribute('href', 'goto.php?hit=' + id);

}

Most of that code is actually checking to make sure the click was from the left button, so that a right mouse-click has the desired behaviour.

I hope someone finds this useful...

Recent Updates To GoTo

Following on from the release of GoTo, my ajax powered home page, I've just released a bunch of updates, including the most requested feature - support for adding a page to GoTo via a button link when at that page. You can now also move links around between blocks, just like you could move blocks around.

Updates:

  • By dragging the link "Add to GoTo" to your browser links area in Firefox, or right-clicking the link in Internet Explorer and adding it to your favourites, you can automatically add the current web site to your GoTo subscriptions. They will be added to a new block under the "Top Links" section, and you can drag the items to your normal blocks from there.
  • You can now delete a block by clicking on the "Delete block" link.
  • If using Internet Explorer, you can now hit "Enter" in edit boxes to complete the operation.
  • Blocks and items are now sorted by creation time.
  • Fixed issues regarding slashes being displayed after text has been escaped for storage.
  • Editing an item now selects the contents rather than just giving focus.
  • Fixed bug in ranking (links linked to by the same user multiple times now only counted once).
  • Now supports all URI schemes, not just http.
  • Added the ability to reset your password.
  • Deletion of blocks now requires confirmation.
  • You can move items around between blocks by clicking on the "#" icon next to the item

Please send any comments or suggestions to me, or goto@memeflow.com. Cheers!

Mucking Around With AJAX Website Design

Over the past couple of weeks I've been mucking around on and off with a website idea. You can try it out on my "other" site over here.

GoTo!

The basic idea is that the site acts as a very fast homepage. You create blocks that you can move around, and in them you place links. It's all in an AJAX style using XMLHttpRequest stuff, so there's no page reload - everything is edited in-page and hopefully everything happens very quickly.

So there you go. If you give it a try, please drop me a line with your experiences.

I've got a bunch of other features in the pipeline for it, and I hope to keep everything stable.

GoTo!

tags:

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.