Fish Changes

I've been sidetracked for a bit, but I'm able to focus on Gefilter Fish again. I've fallen behind on implementing the suggestions people have been sending, but the next week should be pretty productive on this front.

These two changes have been rolled out to production:

  1. Invite List - Lots of people have been asking for a way to see who's been invited to an event. This makes a lot of sense, so there's now a page allowing you to see who has received an email for the event generated through the site. It lists the people with their domain masked, like this:

    Right now, anyone can add other people to the invite list, we'll see if that needs to needs tweaking.

  2. Standard Event Format - I've gotten lots of suggestions to integrate Gefilter Fish with people's calendars and blogs. Holy crap, the event format standard is a messy space! Lots of interesting terms floating around...ESS, EventsML, ESF, caldev, OpenEvents, hCalendar, iCal, Structured Blogging, and more...

    There are lots of great ideas floating around for a standard event format, but most of the groups seem to be acting independently. So, while all the ideas share a lot in common, there are notable differences. And, worse, it's hard to tell who's still actively trying to make this happen, some of these projects look like they've been abandoned.

    Luckily, I met Tantek last week after Tag Tuesday, and we discussed . It's an interesting approach and it looks like have a lot of momentum going these days.

    So, building upon work by others, I've added a couple of new features. As with most of the things I've thrown into Gefilter Fish, this is just the first of many iterations, and we'll see how this feature now plays out.

    New Features:
    • After an event has gone through Date Voting and a date have been set (or you skipped straight to RSVP mode), you now have the option to set the date and time in hCalendar format on a page incorporating Ryan King's hCalendar-o-matic. This hCalendar event snippet can then be copied to a blog or website. Hopefully soon, aggregators will do interesting things with hCalendar and everyone's personal calendars will handle them natively.

    • There's also an option now to enable an iCal button on your event, which uses Brian Suda's hCalendar-2-iCalendar xslt. If users click on the iCal button, the event should then be imported into Mozilla Calendar/sunbird or iCal.

    It's easier if you just see it in action. Here's an example:
    July 9, 2005 - 19:00 - 22:00 - Iron Chef Dinner Party - at Dusty's house
    The concept is simple. We all agree on a single ingredient that would make for some interesting dishes. Each party preps a dish using this ingredient (appetizer, entree, dessert, drink, whatever) and we meet at someone's house and feast on some unusual concoctions. If everything ends up terrible, we just order some pizzas. The question is, what would be a good first ingredient? Olives? Ramen? Tuna? Spam?

Posted on Thu, 23 Jun 2005 15:26 by Seni Sangrujee (2195 day(s) old)

Gefilter Fish Changes

I just made a bunch of changes to Gefilter Fish based on recent suggestions.

  • Inverted the order of the discussion area so that the most recent posts are now at the top and you no longer have to scoll down
  • There's no longer a separate RSVP page. If the event is in RSVP mode, this feature is now on the main event page where the thumbnail calendar usually is
  • When creating an event, there's now an option to skip the whole date voting rigamarole and put it directly into RSVP mode. This is for cases when a date is already set and you just want a quick RSVP mechanism to use. (i.e. "let's go see Batman Begins on opening night. Who's in?")
  • There's now an option to move a page into post-event status, where there's no RSVP, no Date Voting, just a simple follow-up discussion. This is useful for event communication that happens even after it's over. (i.e. "Click here see pictures I took during the event", "Someone left a jacket, anyone know whose it is?", "Everyone owes me $100 for the ski cabin")

Posted on Wed, 8 Jun 2005 17:16 by Seni Sangrujee (2210 day(s) old)

Little. Orange. Different.

My mind is shot from dealing with beagles all day, so I need to clear my head a bit, relax, avoid coding, and think about happy, little orange buttons.

I've been asked to add email notifications to Gefilter Fish recently. This was a harsh reminder that not everyone believes in the RSS religion.

There have been some really good comments recently about how counterintuitive it is to subscribe to feeds here and here. They're totally right, I'm surprised users are still getting subjected to this, the process is a huge barrier to entry.

I don't have any good suggestions though, I can't even decide on which type of button to add. If you look at Gefilter Fish today, I'm currently using a pretty indecisive button.

I'm not happy with this choice, though, so I'm trying to find out what's most commonly used and might come close to approaching some sort of easily recognizable standard.

Wait a minute, it's a lot worse than I thought, there's more options now than ever! Thinking about these little orange buttons isn't relaxing at all! [anger rising...]

Maybe it'll help me to see them all together. Hmm, actually, I kind of like the "feed://" one.

Posted on Fri, 3 Jun 2005 17:14 by Seni Sangrujee (2215 day(s) old)


Thanks again for the feedback on GefilterFish. I've fixed a few of the bugs already and my "features to be added" list is now pretty impressive. I also got a great suggestion for the vote tally on the calendar to update on a mouseover, which I just put in, and it rocks.

I've been spending a lot of time on new features, but I'm going to get back to tweaking the UI. Lots of people don't like the DHTML popups, so they've got to go. I'm also going to get rid of the list of suggested dates on the right column of the calendar. It's kind of redundant and takes up a lot of space.

Also, I've been looking at the site on a bunch of different machines and the colors are terrible. On my laptop the colors appear subtle, which is what I was going for, but on my desktops, everything has a Technicolor, over-saturated look. I thought it was the color settings on my laptop at first, but I've been told that the site looks ok on other laptops and flatscreen displays.

Posted on Wed, 1 Jun 2005 13:04 by Seni Sangrujee (2217 day(s) old)

A little more Fish

Thanks for all the great suggestions last week for GefilterFish. I decided to throw most of the suggestions onto the site and see what sticks:

  • added voting history and rsvp history pages so you can see if there was any unusual activity involving votes getting maliciously overwritten by others. If this really ends up being a problem, I could always add IP or subnet blocking settable per event. The event Initiator now has the ability to delete votes, too.
  • tinkered with the Calendar UI a little, but this still needs more work when I get the time.
  • Added new Event options settable by the Event Initiator.

    a) An event can now be configured so that things like editing the description, closing the date voting, setting the final date/time are limited to the Initiator or editable by anyone (default).

    b) An Event can also now be set so that anyone can participate(default) or only registered users can play.

    c) The Initator can also set a date at which the date closing will automatically be closed.(but it can be re-opened) This might motivate people to get their votes in earlier rather than procrastinating.

  • Cleaned up the login page and added an even more open option allowing people to participate anonymously if they'd like.
  • Started exploring a new feature listing the most likely date based on current voting. This will likely get flushed out more, but I wanted to lay the groundwork.

    a) added a fourth voting option called "Top Choice". This allows people to express a preference for a date rather than just listing it as available.

    b) I wanted to start this out very simply, but it will likely change. 2 points for a "top choice" vote, 1 pt for "available", 0 pts for "maybe", -1 pts for "Busy".

    I started implementing something where you only had X number of points to allocate, but that became lengthy to explain to first-time users in a small amount of space. Also, I'm concerned that a fixed number of points to allocate encourages people to tamper with the voting, including creating multiple personnas.

    Then I realized that this shouldn't be about gaming the system, it should be about finding an optimum date for a group as a whole. If someone feels that strongly about an event being a certain day, they can just close the voting and declare the event on that day. I'd rather err on the side of leaving things flexible.

    Anyway, here's a sample movie night to see the changes:

    Movie Night - Retrospective and Regression

    Let me know what you think of the latest changes or would like anything else changed.

Posted on Tue, 31 May 2005 15:10 by Seni Sangrujee (2218 day(s) old)

Which approach to take: Web 1.0 or Web 2.0?

Some of you have already heard this from me, but I wanted to open this up to more people and get some additional opinions. So instead of emailing everyone I know I thought it would be easier to reach people by just blogging about this. (and since no one seems to use email anymore :) So far, opinions have been split, so I wanted to get a bigger sampling.

The Background
I've been thinking about how much of a pain it is to get everyone together these days for things like group dinners, LAN parties, movie nights, CafeSFs, local tech talks, etc. We've often had ideas for getting together, but when actually trying to coordinate it, there's often too much inertia and it never happens. Sometimes the problem lies in scheduling difficulties and sometimes the email discussions just lose momentum. So I'm curious as to whether this is something that could be coordinated online and made more efficient beyond the event/meeting tools currently out there?

Here are some of the things I jotted down that might be useful in a tool for this:

  • a collaborative calendar
  • rsvp functionality
  • more power for the group, with less onus on the host/event initiator
  • rss feeds so that those interested can subscribe, instead of spamming everyone
  • event-based, to avoid having to define overlapping or subset groups of friends
  • the ability to decide how public or private the event would be by who receives the event url (emailed to friends or posted on a blog)
  • deploy a site that could be rapidly revised to evolve as we go along

So I cobbled together some prototypes from pieces of apps I've written in the past to convey the concept. I've gotten a lot of great suggestions from a handful of people so far (especially from kwc), and it's now on the 4th iteration, but I'm looking for more input. The latest prototype can be seen at the URLs below. The underlying code needs to be cleaned up, but everything should work, so feel free to play around with it.

Sample Event #1:
(event in scheduling mode)

Sample Event #2:
(event in rsvp mode)

I'm almost to the point where I'm happy with the concept and I can start cleaning the code up, but there are a few issues where opinions have been strongly divided and I wanted to get more feedback from a larger audience on a few things:

1. User-accounts vs. open participation - This is probably the biggest issue, and people have taken both sides. The first few prototypes didn't have a user account system, and I wanted to make things really easy and totally open, like commenting on a blog. The idea was that among friends, there would be a wiki-style trust and people wouldn't mess around with impersonation and date vote tampering. The whole Read/Write web thing.

But I also understand the argument for a slightly closed system with user accounts, which allows for more customization, privacy, and nice features like "My Events" and easier ways to create get-togethers with the same people.

On the other hand, it's a pain signing up for yet another account on a website. Years ago, when I wrote the login/membership/subscription section of mcafee.com, I wasn't happy with the decision to make everyone sign up for an account just to see the rest of the site. I got to see on a large scale how many people dropped off when confronted with "please login/register to continue".

Hmm, but there's also the problem of how to keep a gathering small which might hard to restrict without accounts.

Well, as you can see, I'm very torn on this issue and would be interested in any opinions.

2. Pure html vs. AJAX/DHTML - The other issue of contention is the browser experience. The initial concept was for really lightwight, pure-html pages, but many people suggested a more interactive UI with AJAX and DHTML. I've added some DHTML and AJAX XMLHttpRequests to the calendar in places that made sense, but there's a lot more I can do if I decide to go full-on with a beefier client. What do you think? Do you prefer a thin or a thick experience on the browser?

Which direction?
These issues are part of a larger dilemma that I have, which is, would you rather see this tool be built with a Web 1.0 or a Web 2.0 approach. For example, I'd love to make this thing easily integrate with everyone's blogs as well as make it work with iCal and Event RDF, but I don't know if enough people I know would use this to go in that direction. I'm really more interested in what you guys would find useful than trying to cram in as many trends as possible (semantic web, AJAX, read-write web, APIs, etc.)

One of the benefits of a Web 1.0 approach would be fast and familiar development. I can probably recycle code that I've used a dozen times before in different apps. One of the benefits of a Web 2.0 approach would be easy integration with other sites and an evolving online world. A potential downside is a misdirected focus and losing sight of making a tool that truly addresses our needs.

I realize that the two approaches aren't mutually exclusive and things will evolve over time, but I want to make sure I start with the proper focus now, since it might be harder to change down the road.

Oh yeah, the name Gefilter Fish doesn't have any significance. It's just a domain name I had planned to use for a service to filter and translate web sites for small screen devices (filtered Babel Fish), but I never finished developing it, so it was just sitting around.

Holy crap, this was way too long. Sorry about that. I'm done.

So what should be done to make this tool useful? What would you do? Let me know what you think at wombat@wombatmobile.com or leave a comment here.

Posted on Thu, 26 May 2005 10:30 by Seni Sangrujee (2223 day(s) old)

June 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat 
<  May | Jun |  Jul  >


Subscribe with Bloglines

Email: wombat