What Was I Thinking?

Archive for October 2007

Weekly Update – Weeks 5 and 6

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I was bad. I missed my weekly update for the past couple of weeks. Here’s what’s been happening:

  1. Took a bunch of food photos
  2. Posted 6 fruit and veg posts
  3. Added Glycaemic Load
  4. Added Calories
  5. Dropped foodquote
  6. Changed the style of the food info box based on feedback – apparently it was “threatening”
  7. Talked to a graphic designer mate about getting a proper logo
  8. Added a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England and Wales licence
  9. Worried needlessly about a replacement for Gravatar

So lots of little things. Add them up and I now have a fully operational almost-stylish food info site! :) Pity Google seems to indexing everything BUT the individual food info pages. Must look into that.

I was originally going for a very simple approach to nutrition – eat the right portion sizes from the right food groups and you should be reasonably healthy. My sister convinced me to add calories and glycaemic index. I think she’s probably right that people are used to calories – may as well give them all the info at once. Glycaemic index is another matter. It seemed a bit faddish but is supposed to be very sound advice. I’m keeping it for now. Must do more background reading to make sure it’s ethically okay. It certainly seems to be.

Foodquote – whe I first designed everything, the food info boxes looked a little empty. I had planned to find interesting, amusing or informative quotes for every food. Turns out it’s a lot harder than you’d think to find short literary passages on the subject of cherry tomatoes. Not only that, the information section is now rather full with the addition of calories and GL. For the moment, I have deemed the foodquote unneccessary.

Written by Weefz

19 October, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Automattic Avatars

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Remeber those issues I had with Gravatar and unreliability? Automattic, owners of WordPress.com have acquired Gravatar.

Looks like I won’t need to search for some other solution after all. Freaking sweet! :)

Seems that Automattic are aligning the planets for my startup these past 6 months. I needed tags for One Serving – hey presto, tags were available in the next version of WordPress. I needed simple, reliable, hosted avatars – ta-daa! Here they are. I need millions of pounds to be waiting for me when I get home tonight…

Written by Weefz

18 October, 2007 at 3:18 pm

More Focus for OneServing

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I’ve been thinking about the social-networking side of OneServing for the past couple of weeks. As you may know, the drive for the site is twofold: 1) To provide basic portion sizes and nutritional info in an easy-to-follow layout. 2) To provide a space for users to share their food tips without the hassle of managing and promoting their own blog.

For a while I thought that contributors would want a more developed social side. People seem to like all that friend-linking, author-tracking, customised profile, personal messaging functionality. After talking to the guys from KickApps and OneSite at FOWA London, I’m beginning to think that it would just add needless complexity. (Sorry, Michael and Dax! Not the effect you were hoping for, I’m sure.)

I don’t want to run a social-media empire. I just want to spread the word about food portions, and let other people do the same. WordPress provides author RSS feeds that I can link in the template. Users can communicate through comments and provide whatever contact info they want on their author pages. They can link to their own blogs. I don’t need or want to manage all that stuff. I’m sticking with my core concept and the KISS philosophy.

Written by Weefz

7 October, 2007 at 1:04 pm

FOWA London and Me

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I took the day off work on Tuesday, to attend the expo at FOWA London, conveniently held in Docklands. It was much smaller than the last web-related expo I went to, InternetWorld (hereafter known as IW) but, imo, much higher quality. At FOWA, everyone I spoke to was incredibly enthusiastic about showing me how their system would help solve a pressing problem of the current web. At InternetWorld… I dunno. People seemed enthusiastic but at the same time there was this general feeling of… corporate-ness? I’m not sure. The only thing I got out of it was that Pizza Hut now take online orders but hey, that’s a pretty valuable bit of knowledge in itself.

Maybe it was me – I was just exploring IW back then. This week I was actively looking for a CMS/social media solution (sort of – more on that in my next post). OTOH, I actually attended some of the talks back at IW and found them disappointing. I’m a fairly normal Internet user (I think) and they were pitching far below my level – most other attendees didn’t appear to know what blogging was and the general atmosphere reflected as much. Even the presentation from SixApart could be summarised as ‘People trust “blogs” more than press releases. Your company should have a “blog”. “Blogs” are good. The End.’

But back to FOWA – being a lowly public sector worker, I wasn’t willing to risk £245 of my own money. The website, while pretty, simply didn’t provide enough information on what would be available. Sure, there were big names up there like Matt Mullenweg, Kevin Rose, Michael Arrington, etc. But… with only the talk names available (and sometimes not even that) it just wasn’t worth risking two or three days off work and £240 that might be better spent paying off my credit card bills. If I’m going to be spending the equivalent of a new premium Xbox 360, I want to know the actual thrust of the talk, not just the trendy sales-pitch title. So, I opted for the considerably cheaper £5+VAT expo pass and single day off work.

And it was money well-spent. Met loads of keen people, saw a bunch of exciting things and got some positive feedback from the few people that I told about OneServing. FOWA’s a great place to meet people if you’re at all interested in the web.

From what I gathered, there are two movements within the web at the moment. The first is social media sites – this has been growing for a while and (unfortunately for the companies involved) is rapidly becoming saturated. There’s too much choice and it’s all getting very confusing for us poor consumers. Too many passwords and logins and places to whore out our homegrown product. I think niche topics are definitely the way to go but at the moment, the software seems more focused around the users and not enough around content management. ICBW.

The second is aggregating existing product. I thought Favourit looked pretty cool but they’re currently suffering from a major flaw – I binned my promo card and have no idea what their address was. It was something like fa.vour.it or fav.our.it.
Edit: After 20 minutes of searching, it’s fav.or.it.

It’s a more sophisticated (i.e. user-friendly) version of a feedreader. Think of it as a better-designed Technorati that also allows you to read the whole posts, rank the post or site, post and read comments from within your reader, track your conversations (I hope) and find similar posts or topics, all from the same place. I signed up at the stand so hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.

The other exciting thing is in very early stages at the moment. Remember that I had issues with Gravatar? MeeCards might be a viable alternative. While Favourit are allowing you to view and respond to everyone else’s stuff from one place, MeeCard are letting you show off all your own stuff in one place. They weren’t the only people to show something like this but they were very friendy and keen and we had a good chat, so I’m slightly more favourable towards them than Second Brain.

Finally… everyone is going blue. Stop it with the blue websites already!

Written by Weefz

6 October, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Host Migration for OneServing

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I am switching hosts for OneServing. Best to get this out of the way earlier than later. The site is down at the moment until I verify that everything is working on the new host. I’ll do that tonight and then switch the DNS servers over. Everything should be peachy tomorrow.

I originally went with MediaTemple because I wanted to check out their crazy grid server thing. I did this over my better judgement – 9rules runs on MediaTemple and it is, to be blunt, one slow-ass site. I thought it might just be their setup – pulling lots of feeds and a large userbase.

Nope. MediaTemple are just slow. Managing OneServing was a lot slower and more frustrating then The Average Gamer. Maybe it was due to The Average Gamer being hosted in the UK (where I am) and OneServing being in the US. Nope, that’s not it. Check out these stats from Google Webmaster tools:

Googlebot activity in the last 90 days
Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds):

Site Maximum Average Minimum
OneServing 4124 1351 202
The Average Gamer 897 775 638

As you can see, OneServing is generally slower and also less consistent. I’ve experienced this and it’s annoying. We don’t even have any traffic yet. I’m switching to LiquidWeb for no other reason that Dooce uses them and her site seems pretty fast and reliable.

Sure, there are probably more number-crunchy and informed ways to choose a service provider. But this one seems to work.

Edit: I use United Hosting for The Average Gamer. I’m very happy with them so far. I just don’t want all my sites hosted with the same people right now.

Written by Weefz

5 October, 2007 at 1:42 pm