Tourneytopia's Speed Boost

posted on 03/11/06 at 11:13:55 pm by Joel Ross

If you happened to be perusing Tourneytopia's offerings early this morning (around 12:30 or 1:00 AM), you might have noticed a little bit of downtime - something we are very cognizant of as we get close to the Big Dance. We try our best to prevent down time, unless we have a good reason. This time, we had a good one - we switched servers to one that's much faster.

The NCAA tournament presents a challenge - there are five days when you get absolutely pounded. From the time the selections are made until that first game, we typically get more traffic than any full month (other than March, obviously), so we want to make sure that we are on a server that can handle it. So, last night, that's what we did. Moving the domain and getting the new environment all set up gave us a little bit of downtime, but overall, I don't think we were down for more than 5 minutes, if that. We had the new machine set up, and was just waiting for the DNS to switch over. We did have one deployment issue, and that was the license for the Tourney Bracket Control - yes, we even have to have a license! We use the same build you can get on our site.

Anyway, we're all moved over and don't have anything that we want to add, so now it's just a waiting game. Tomorrow will get hectic again, and around 5:00 PM?or so, we'll be busy again. We want to watch the Go-Live process and ensure that everything works as expected, and then at 6:00 PM, it'll be time to get the teams in. By 7:00 PM, we hope to be live and ready to go, and by 8:00 PM, most pools will be open to accept picks. We'll monitor it all and ensure everything runs smoothly, as we will all week.

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Categories: Develomatic


Virtual PC Performance Tweaking

posted on 03/10/06 at 10:59:54 pm by Joel Ross

As promised, Andrew Connell has his first Virtual PC post online. It's a tips & tricks article about squeezing performance out of your Virtual PC images. I'll definitely be tweaking my images over the next few weeks.

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Categories: Software


Google Using Yahoo's Media RSS

posted on 03/10/06 at 10:48:58 pm by Joel Ross

When Yahoo first launched MediaRSS, a lot of people screamed that we didn't need yet another format. Yahoo pressed forward, and while they've been using it, I haven't heard about many others using.

That changed today. And it's one of thier biggest competitors. Google is going to be using the extension for Google Video. Maybe Google is back on track now - it looks like their calendar app is going to be pretty good, and now, cooperation with the enemy when it makes sense. This could be the edge that MediaRSS needs to make it in the main stream.

Anyway, where is Google using it? Google Video, of course. It's not publicly available from the site, but there are a couple of different sample links: top videos any search result

It'll eventually be available from the site, but in the mean time, they are looking for feedback. That's impressive in itself!

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Categories: RossCode Weekly


Spamming 101: Token Replacement

posted on 03/10/06 at 09:37:23 pm by Joel Ross

No, I'm not starting a series on how to spam. I know we all hate spam, but I at least thought the spammers were pretty clever with some of the tactics they take. Well, not all of them are, as demonstrated by an email I got earlier this afternoon. Here's the header of the email:

Spammers Are Dumb


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Categories: General


RossCode Weekly #039

posted on 03/10/06 at 04:45:08 pm by Joel Ross

RossCode Weekly #039?- 03.08.2006

This week's late, so it's a little longer. One thing I do try to do though, is make sure the signal to noise ratio is high. This week, I wanted to quantify that a bit. I went over 49 stories in 34 minutes. 40 seconds per story. Not bad...

Like I said, I'm taking a week off to celebrate March Madness - actually, I'll probably be working harder for most of it, so I won't have time to do one. I'll be back the following week though.

Intro - 0:00
Download this episode -?34:30 /?16.6 MB
Subscribe to RossCode Weekly

Previously On RCW - 1:19
TiVo announces KidZone
30Boxes adds Outlook, Yahoo, and iCal import
Origami Revealed
PS3 delayed until Christmas '06?
Google stripping ads from mobile news

News & Views - 4:37
Passport to become Windows Live ID
Microsoft buys Apptimum
Microsoft buys Onfolio
DOJ going after record companies for price fixing online music sales
Wireless movie tickets in real time
Schedule TiVo recordings from your?cell phone
Don't forget: March Madness games online
YouTube signs content deal with MTV
YouTube gets the Oscars
Google pays $90,000,000 over click fraud??
Tower Records launches TowerPod

The Cold Wars - 11:38
RIM & NTP settle for $612,500,000
TiVo's new service plans
Google Adwords allows demographic profiling
Google to buy Writely?/ Google Buys Writely
Skype conference call limitations cracked
Sony's first Blu-Ray Vaio by midyear
LG to drop Blu-Ray player in favor of combo player
Goowy to add IM and File Sharing
New features for
New Windows Live toolbar
Wiring the Web
MapQuest offers API
AOL released AIM SDK
Creative looking at movie download service
ABC offering free videos
iTunes offering season passes

The Grapevine - 23:30
iTunes movie download service coming
4 inch iPod video?
New Google Search Option: Date?
Google working on GDrive
Google CL2 - a reality
Yahoo feeding Google's secrets
Firefox made $72,000,000 from Google
AOL Layoffs?/?Nope, not quite
Wireless USB coming
Seagate launches Wireless USB drive
Dell to buy Alienware?
AT&T to reunite Baby Bells?

Odds & Ends - 30:56
Track your packages with Google Maps
UK wants to make DOS attacks illegal
Wikipedia on your iPod
14 year old discovers gmail flaw

Next Time?- 32:40
Firefox 2.0 Alpha expected soon

Contact / Feedback
weekly @ rosscode . com
206-424-4729 (4RCW)

Production Notes
Background music provided by Chronos (Introvert 4) and the Podsafe Music Network.
Hosting of RossCode Weekly is provided by
Would you like to sponsor RossCode Weekly? Contact me at sponsor @

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Categories: RossCode Weekly


Google CL2 (Calendar)

posted on 03/09/06 at 01:51:39 am by Joel Ross

Mike Arrington is among the first to provide some hard evidence?that Google Calendar is actually real. He's got a whole series of screen shots and claims they are real. With the sheer amount of shots that he has, I tend to believe this is the real deal. It looks dirt simple to use, and I wonder how this will effect a company like 30 boxes, who is just getting their feet off the ground, only to have a major player release something (presumably) on the heels of what 30 boxes is offering.

Of course the calendar app is integrated with gmail - that was always a given, right? It's got the familiar keyboard shortcuts that were made popular in gmail, and it's got AJAX, making the interface qucik and clean. SMS reminders are included, as is sharing. It sounds like Google may actually get a new product right, something they've struggled with lately (well, almost since gmail's roll out).

They should get it right. A google calendar rumor has been around for a long time. I first mentioned it to RCW listeners (well, readers back then) on October 1st!

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RCW Coming, But Late

posted on 03/08/06 at 11:18:25 pm by Joel Ross

I have a client in town, so today was a meeting day. Combine that with the night time Tourney Logic work, and there's just not enough hours in the day. I hope to have something up by the weekend.

Of course, the 2 hour dinner at Carrabba's didn't help either. The sacrifices you have to make for your clients...

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Late Nights With Tourneytopia

posted on 03/08/06 at 01:55:46 am by Joel Ross

Here we are, about 1:30 AM, and I'm just finishing up deploying a minor (very minor) update to Tourneytopia. We're definitely starting to stabilize, as we were able to skip a build last night, and both tonight's and Sunday's build were purely cosmetic.

Now, Saturday's build was a different story. We had some major fixes in there. The web services we expose weren't working, so we fixed those. We didn't (and still haven't, really) hyped those, but we offer a few feeds that allow you to get data out of Tourneytopia, so you can use it on your own site. There's quite a few integration scenarios that you can do, so instead of just listing out what we offer, we'll walk through a quick scenario.

Let's say you run a forum and you decide to use Tourneytopia as a promotion for your members. First, you set up a custom user demographic field to collect their forum member id (we're hoping to have a better user account integration story later this year), and once all picks are submitted and the window closes, you go export all of the entries and users to an excel file. Work a little data magic, and you can import entry IDs for each user in the system. That's the first part. Now, whenever a user comes to the site, you can do a couple of things. First, the simple one. You can show them the top overall standings. Then, you can show them how they are doing - you can query our site for information about their entry IDs, and we'll give you information about them, including their total points and current rank.

But that's not all. You're the forum administrator and everyone knows you. So you set yourself up as a Featured Entry. You can also query Tourneytopia to get the featured entries and show them on your site too. You can also get the featured entries based on an entry - so you can show a user how their pick is doing against the featured entries.

You can also query the standings by name, email address and entry id, so you also have some searching capabilities too. Overall, it's a nice way to bring some of the information in Tourneytopia back and be able to use it in your site. Of course, if you just want the standings, you can just use the RSS feed that we have for those.

One last feature we added? A new way to upload images. Before, we allowed you to upload an image and then we put a size on it. Unless you did some planning to get a logo the size we specified, you could end up with a pretty distorted image. So we fixed that, and now are using a tool that resizes your image to fit into our space, but keeps the image looking good.

I'll talk more about that tool a little later, but if you want to check it out, head over to Tourneytopia and set up your own pool, and test it out.

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Categories: Develomatic


Linking Directly - The Proof is in the Pudding

posted on 03/07/06 at 05:25:48 pm by Joel Ross

Yesterday, I posted about why you should ensure that you are linking directly to someone's post, and not to their feed's link - specifically for people who are using Feedburner for their feeds. Feedburner links you to Feedburner's site and then redirects you to the actual item.

I discovered the difference when I linked to an O'Reilly article about ASP.NET development heating up. The article was picked up by Memeorandum, Tailrank and most of the other meme trackers, but my post, which was done pretty early, did not. And Technorati didn't recognize that I'd linked to it either. So I figured out why - I was linking to the feedburner URL and not the actual URL.

Then I wrote that post proclaiming that you should link to?web pages and not feed links. Then I did a little test to see if what I was saying was true.?Actions first, proof later!?I was going to write about AOL opening up the AIM network anyway, and I chose to link to Dave Winer's announcement to see what would happen. Everything he writes ends up on the meme trackers, so it was a good bet.?And guess what? This morning, there's listed on Memeorandum.

Oddly, though, Dave's post isn't.

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Categories: General


The Internet Clipboard

posted on 03/07/06 at 05:24:24 pm by Joel Ross

Today, Ray Ozzie gave a speech where he revealed his latest idea: the clipboard of the web. He revisited computer history, discovering that the clipboard built into Windows was the first step toward software integration.

He goes on to say that since the inception of the web, we've been missing that easy integration. So, he set out to fix that, and today, announced a new initiative: Live Clipboard. It's idea is simple: allow the same integration that we've enjoyed in Windows using the simple cut and paste methods, but extend it to the web. A standard format for moving data between websites and from PCs to websites. He calls it wiring the web, and it doesn't sound like he came up with it on his own. Dave Winer seems to have quite a bit of details about the inner workings of what's going on, and since Dave is a techie, he's got some good insights into what's going on behind the scenes.

This sounds like a very promising idea. I'd be interested to see what the format of the data looks like, and how difficult it is to implement. It's always difficult to envision what this will really be - how do you know what can be copied and pasted into another application and what can't be, but it's been figured out before, so there's no reason why you can't do the same thing on the web, right?

Imagine, copying and pasting between a Windows app and a website, only later to retrieve that data from a Linux or Mac machine.

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