Listing your latest played songs on your Web site

Audioscrobbler/ provides a useful service which tracks which songs you listen to on your PC. It collects this information and uses it to generate statistics about your musical interests. They provide an RSS feed so that you can get a regularly updated record of what you're listening to, and FeedDigest means you can get this list onto your blog/Web site for visitors to see.

Brian Pipa has posted a tutorial on how to do it. Nice work, Brian!

Two bug fixes

Nothing exciting this week, but we've fixed two bugs which were causing some users a lot of inconvenience:

  • Some ISPs were rejecting our queries for feeds as our requests were slightly malformed. 99.9% of feeds have worked perfectly, but some ISPs have very picky conditions set up to prevent security problems, and such. The FeedDigest feed crawler has now been updated to a high standard and feeds which were being rejected before now appear to be retrieved correctly.
  • Some users have also reported that when using the "show only live items" feature, sometimes their digests appear blank. This occurred when a feed was unable to be fetched (due to network issues, slow remote site, feed is down, etc) and the FeedDigest crawler had already set the feed's items to be "not live" anticipating the live items to be renewed again in the crawl. We have now fixed this issue.

Yes, FeedDigest receives funding!

Yes, you heard it here.. last. News has a funny way of leaking out when you're in the Web industry, so it'll be news to many, but not to some. FeedDigest has received funding and is proud to take its place in the Curious Office incubation partnership. You can read our official press release if you like.

Curious Office and FeedDigest have also begun to get their first writeups by the old-school media. The Seattle Times looks at the whole Curious Office approach, and The Puget Sound Journal looks at Curious Office and FeedDigest in a more technical sense.

So, we've arrived for the party.. we just need to get dancing. Thanks for all the support of our customers, the bloggers, and all the industry insiders who've helped us get to this point.

(Added October 1, 2005: Further mentions by and Thanks!)

Using FeedDigest and Blogger to make a photo gallery

Some people's creativity never fails to surprise me. This guy has worked out how to use Blogger and FeedDigest to create a photo album site. Smart!

Help Raise $1 Million for Katrina Victims

Not FeedDigest related, but something we want to promote. Did you see Million Dollar Home yet? A 21-year-old British guy is selling pixels of advertising space for $1 each, and has already made enough to pay for his university course.

Well, now it's gone one step further and you can buy pixels at a dollar each at Million Dollar Help and help Katrina victims at the same time. A good way to preserve the memory of Katrina and help its victims get some more much-needed cash too.

FeedDigest consultants

Are you a proficient webmaster with basic PHP and HTML skills looking for new clients? It's slow at the moment, but we are beginning to get people asking for help with installing FeedDigest on their sites. While we aim for FeedDigest to be easy for anyone to install, many people who aren't techncially confident can still gain a lot from FeedDigest, but want to pay someone to put it into place on their sites. We want to see if there are any people out there interested in being listed on the FeedDigest site in the near future so that some FeedDigest customers can get third party help with setting up FeedDigest for their own sites. So, any interest?

Contingency plans for Rita

Due to where we are on our development (as in, right near the start) our contingency plans aren't quite up to the levels of Google or Microsoft just yet. We have multiple servers, but they're all sitting in Houston (though in different buildings), or, as we're saying today, the path of Hurricane Rita! We're reasonably confident they'll stay up, but in order to hedge our bets we've set up a standby in Seattle. It's underpowered, but it's something. If the worst happens, and FeedDigest goes off the air, we have the ability to run a bare-bones service almost immediately, even if feed updates have to slow down quite a bit. So, we're keeping our fingers crossed, and hoping this one rides out okay. Wish us luck!

Hurricane Rita and FeedDigest

FeedDigest's servers are located in Houston, TX, which may be hit by Hurricane Rita on Saturday morning Central Daylight Time. The storm has shifted to the east somewhat, but staff have been evacuated none-the-less, with the data center being staffed by a large group of brave volunteers. Not being directly on the sea, there shouldn't be any real issues with flooding, but we wanted to get a note up here just in case! Frequent backups will continue to be taken, in case the unlikely happens and we have to switch data centers rapidly. Our architecture is robust enough to be up and running again anywhere in the world within hours, but not so robust that we have an instant switchover plan in case of data center catastrophe just yet (that's for the big budget companies only for now).

Those who are feeling adventurous might like to check out our beta local feed proxy and cache system, so that if FeedDigest fails, your digests still keep on coming. It is VERY BETA at the moment, however, but feel free to report any issues or conclusions in that thread. Thanks!

Database migration complete

Phew, the database (very large!) has now been migrated to a very powerful machine, a nice dual Pentium 4 stacked up with CPUs and memory. The Web site, application, and server daemon are still on a different machine, and database access is being done across a network. The FeedDigest daemon will be moved to a faster server soon too, but this is the first stage of the migration complete. We managed to do it without taking the Control Panel down at all, although if you were doing major work in there for a small four minute window, you may find your changes have been reverted. If so, we apologize!

FeedDigest performance will now be improved by quite a bit, but once we migrate the server daemon to a faster machine, it'll be positively flying. Now we can start using some of this extra power to deliver those features we've been promising like statistics and automatic digest generation!

Delay to crawling, and confirmed upgrade time

Today there was a delay in crawling, so some digests will seem a little behind the times. I'm running multiple crawlers to catch up now, and have learnt a good lesson in managing the crawl cache! I'm investigating and testing new options for the feed cache right now, and will have something ready for the 'next level' soon. Thanks for your support.

It also seems that the server upgrade is now all ready to roll Friday morning/lunchtime (UK time), so those in the US should wake up to a better functioning FeedDigest tomorrow. :)

I'm still working on a migration for today but a few hours later than anticipated! Verrry busy :)