Archive for the ‘Improvements & New Features’ Category

Recent Changes at DeafRead

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Over the weekend, Jared and I got together and worked for 7 hours on DeafRead, giving it much needed changes.

Categories are wiped out. Replacing them are three super-categories. They are People, Organizations and Captioned. People are individual bloggers. Organizations are teams of bloggers, or blogs by organizations. Note that organizations’ blogs appearing on DeafRead are not for-profit, with the exception of DeafRead’s sponsor, Purple Communications.

Finally, the third super-category is Captioned. Also of note, this Captioned category is NOT moderated. Further, the feeds coming into the Captioned category must be dedicated to captioned videos only. Blogs having a mixture of both captioned videos and uncaptioned videos or no videos will not be added to this category. Make changes to your blog if you wish to be fed into the Captioned category – and let us know. Captioned entries do NOT appear in the main page. To see Captioned entries, click on the “Captioned” button on the navigation menu area.

That is, the main page shows a mixture of only People and Organizations. Click on their respective menu buttons to narrow down on these types.

We found and marked scores of blogs as Organizations. If we missed any, do let us know.

What to do if your blog doesn’t appear on DeafRead

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Video
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Hello Long time no SEE!

I’ve made a few posts lately but none of them were vlogs for the past month or so. When you’re busy, vlogs are harder to produce as they take more time. Also, those posts weren’t as important as others, so when I need to reach out to a wider audience, because of its importance, I try to make it into a vlog. So yes, I wanted to make this post into a vlog.

There have been a couple of blogs that had a concern about not being included in DeafRead. We have no reason not to include them–unless. There is one blog that was banned almost a year ago. The blogger harassed in e-mails sent to Human Editors. It was unhealthy for our team. We tried to deal with the blogger–diplomatically. Even during this time, we continued to publish entries by this blogger. But when started receiving harassing e-mails, that was the end. Thus the ban. We continued to receive harassing e-mails some months later from this blogger. Unfortunate.

That’s the only blog that’s been banned in almost two years. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing. There’s been no reason to expel a blog from DeafRead–our tolerance is HIGH. We realize that the moment we start censoring–people will have grounds to question our neutrality and trust. We certainly do not want to go into that direction. We care about DeafRead and know that changing our policy could result in its demise.

We run DeafRead on a dedicated web server. This means a whole server is almost fully dedicated to DeafRead. A server is layered in “racks” in a data center. This single server is quite powerful and is not shared with other websites (that are outside our control)–which eat away at our server demands. Only a few websites run on this server, leaving abundant power to DeafRead.

Here’s the reason why DeafRead requires a lot of server power: the RSS feed fetches that we do hourly. We subscribe to between 450 and 500 feeds. When DeafRead is fetching RSS feeds, it uses a lot of memory and CPU power. If we ran on a less powerful server, it would impact the speed at which you are able to visit DeafRead because the server is slowed down, possibly crashing it.

Our server “guy” let Jared and I know that it was hard on the server when feeds are checked for new entries. So we worked to make the code more efficient and to take less time to execute. When we are checking approximately 500 feeds, it can take as long as 6 minutes. The script is quite fast, but when you have this many feeds, it does take time. One strategy we thought of, to reduce the processing time, was to skip feeds that hadn’t been written in months.

(If your blog was de-activated after being quiet for some months, let us know by e-mail and we can easily re-activate it. We just need to be notified.)

To reduce the number of blogs, we suspended subscriptions to approximately 40 blogs that were “dead” or, rather, on haitus. :)

We continued to list inactive blogs on our DeafRead Subscriptions page because we still wanted to send traffic their way, although they hadn’t been written to in a while. This page has been re-vamped.

Active blogs appear on the top of DeafRead Subscriptions, and on the bottom, there is a separate section that lists inactive blogs. Currently, there are approximately 153 inactive blogs at DeafRead.

If you write to your blog after a long period of silence, here are the steps to take:

  1. Is your blog in the active subscription list? If not, e-mail us!
  2. Is your feed working? At your DeafRead Profile, click “Check now”. Example DeafRead Profile
  3. Was your entry published to DeafRead Extra? We publish everything–either to DeafRead or DeafRead Extra.
  4. If your blog is marked as inactive, wait 24 hours or more. Our new script that checks inactive feeds runs once daily. More about this below.

Regarding #4, it is rare that we completely delete an entry. Since the deletion feature was added, I think there’s been only 2 or 3 entries that was completely deleted. They are extreme cases. For example, pornography will be deleted. We cannot publish pornography at DeafRead or DeafRead Extra.

If your blog is active, the blog’s RSS feed working, and the entry not in DeafRead Extra, and it’s still not appearing on DeafRead, notify us and we will gladly look into it for you!

Here’s the link to the inactive blogs list on DeafRead Subscriptions.

I forgot to add one more thing. Today, I added a new script. Like I said earlier, active blogs are checked hourly for new entries. The new script will check inactive blogs every 24 hours. We are fetching new entries on active blogs each hour as usual; and now are checking inactive feeds too, only once a day.

In this case, if you’ve written to your inactive blog right after this script has checked your feed, you will need to wait a full 24 hour before it is picked up. Also consider the time it will take for Human Editors to login and moderate incoming posts.

So we are now checking ALL feeds, whether they are active or not. Those that are inactive will be checked less frequently–once a day. I hope this solves the issue! :)

Watch for another post coming sooooon!

DeafRead Extra changes

Monday, January 7th, 2008

I visit DeafRead Extra to find offhand or interesting posts. I never fail to find one on each of my visits. :) Anyway, I did three changes regarding DeafRead Extra. I hope you’ll like them.

Visits
Instead of clicking on the box to vote for a DeafRead Extra post, the box to the left of the title now displays the number of visits that post has received from DeafRead Extra. Read about how visits are different than pageviews, in that visits are counted only once per visitor at DeafRead.

The link to vote is still available. It is to the left of the title. e.g. “2 Votes”

Filter Posts
At a blog’s DeafRead Profile, you now can filter that blog for 1) Published 2) Extra and 3) All posts. At DeafRead Blog Subscriptions, blogs are listed. Click any of them to view its DeafRead Profile. On the right side, under “DeafRead Active Posts” and “DeafRead Total Visits”, click on the drop down to filter the blog’s posts. Example: y3′s DeafRead Profile

filterposts.png

Extra Count
In the middle column (or, if you like, the second sidebar from the left), we display the number of total posts moderated in the last 24 hours. I’ve added the total count of Extra posts published in the last 24 hours. In the below image, “All (28)” will continue to reflect the total of both Vlogs and Blogs shown on DeafRead, and exclude those of DeafRead Extra. Below, you can see that when I clipped a snapshot of the buttons, 11 posts were published to DeafRead Extra in the last 24 hours.

extracount1.png

Enjoy the improvements!

DeafRead Hidden Feature

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Vlog
Video not working? Watch it at DeafVIDEO.TV

Hello everyone! In a previous vlog, I announced Adam Betts as the designer of the new DeafRead look and while I wanted to focus on that, I mentioned there were new features that were added along with the new design.

There are two new features. One is hidden. Maybe some of you discovered it, but I haven’t heard of anyone finding it? The second feature is clearly showing itself on the bottom right. It displays the 5 top posts classified by blogs and vlogs. Click on blog or vlog and also which date range you would like. The available date ranges are last 24 hours and last 7 days. The default is “vlog” and “1 day”.

The bonus of this feature is that the official Top Ten does NOT list top posts in the last 24 hours. This is available only through the Top Posts widget on the bottom right. (Important: the widget does not display on DeafRead Official Blog-check it out at DeafRead)

As for the hidden feature, first notice that the box showing the numbers of “hits” is no longer labeled with “views” but rather with “visits”. This is a more accurate label because if I visit a link twice, the counter increments only once. If we displayed “views”, it would increment once for each click, which opens itself to abuse.

The hidden feature is that you can click on this box to fetch the latest number of visits.

Now suppose you load DeafRead in your browser, and return to it five minutes later, clicking on the visits box, if people visited the link during the past five minutes, will display the latest number of visits!

If you’ve posted something and want to follow its number of visits, you do not need to reload DeafRead. Simply click on the visits box.

Enjoy the new features!

For your pager: New DeafRead Mobile

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Vlog
Video not working? Watch it at DeafVIDEO.TV

Hello everyone! I have a new feature to announce. DeafRead Mobile, designed for your mobile phone, is quick to download. It works on mobile phones such as Sidekick, Blackberry and the iPhone as well as other mobile phones.

Like on DeafRead, it features pagination which allows you to jump to sequential pages. Clicking on the post title will connect you to the Skweeze service, which compresses webpages into a format that is more friendly on mobile phones.

Welcome to the new DeafRead Mobile! Try it out at the address: m.deafread.com

Be sure to bookmark it! Enjoy!

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