Spurl.net

Server outage

This looks bad. Second outage in 4 days.

This time it is my hosting company that is not doing their job. I just spoke with support and the problem is being taken care of, although they couldn’t say when it would be up and running again.

I am looking at different hosting options that will have more reliability and can run the service without hickups even with more increase in traffic and additional planned features. My current hosting plan should handle at least 10 times more than the current traffic, but they simply are not living up to their promises.

I’ll keep you posted on progress.

Update (March 9th): Hostway claims to have solved the problem with the server, and assures me that furhter problems of this sort should not occur. So happy spurling.

Spurl innovation from Italy

As you have probably noticed, there has been an upsurge of usage from Italy over the past 3-4 days. Welcome!

A lot of Italian bloggers have put the Click to Spurl button on their pages, and others are syndicating the lists either using the Javascript method or the RSS feed. Spurl lists of the Italian spurl enabled bloggers that I have come across can be found at the end of this post.

One of the coolest usage I’ve seen so far comes from Gat. As you can see on his blog, he’s put a “spurl it” link next to every blog entry header and even posted information to show how others can do the same.

This allows a blogger some flexibility, as it allows users e.g. to alter their blog templates so that clicking a “spurl it” link next to a entry header on the blog front page will spurl the ENTRY’s permalink, not the FRONT PAGE itself.

If you would like to do the sam, this is the code you would use:

Another idea might be to add a related spurls link to your blog, or entry – so that your readers can see the stuff that people that have spurled your blog have also spurled (i.e. related pages). Such a link might look something like this:

In both cases the text in the brackets (including the brackets) should be replaced with the appropriate content.

If you come up with, or see other clever Spurl innovations like this, please let me know and I will try to post them to share the joy. In some cases this also gives a hint to what users like to do with Spurl and thereby affects the line of features I’m planning to implement.

Update March 27th, 2004: Vanz at Maestrini per Caso pointed out to me that if the title of the blog entry holds certain special characters such as quotes, the javascript doesn’t work. This is correct and can not be fixed in a simple way. The workaround for those of us that like to use quotes in our titles (a lot I’d guess) now is to put a fixed title on the link, something like …link_title=’+escape(‘An entry from Mercury Labs blog’)+… in my case.

I will continue to think about this and see if I’ll come up with a better solution. Suggestions welcomed.

Italian bloggers using Click to spurl:

Italian bloggers syndicating Spurl lists:

Service out due to DNS upgrade

Due to a neccessary DNS upgrade Spurl.net has been unreachable for more than an hour.

I’m sorry for any inconveniece this may have caused, but I did not know on beforehand that this upgrade would cause any downtime. In any case, the upgrade is a step in improving the service, so please bare with me.

The page is gradually becoming available again (depending on where you are sitting in the world) so please be patient. :-s

Your spurl beam

I added a little pet feature this morning. I call it a “spurl beam”. It is basically a timeline showing the pages that you have spurled.

It may not have a lot of practical value, but it is kind of cool. It shows what is floating through one’s head at the time.

To make your own spurl beam, go to the syndication page (login required) and follow the step by step instructions.

Currently it is limited to a specific size (175 x 400 px) and there are very limited customization features, but I will add more of those later on. Among other things it will allow people to open your spurl beam to zoom and pan through it and it will allow you to limit the beam to certain category or categories.

The name “spurl beam” is taken from David Gelernter’s term “information beam” discussed among other things here on my Wetware blog.

Anyways, you can see my spurl beam to the side. As before, all comments and ideas are more than welcomed.

RSS feeds for related pages and search results

I added two features today that are natural extensions of the “search” and “related pages” functionality, namely to syndicate these results as RSS feeds.

Simply go to the search or related pages, perform the search you want to do or click the related icon () next to any webpage in the spurl lists. The little XML logo at the top of either results page:

…will hold the magic URL.

You can use this for example if you want to create a list on your blog that says “people that spurled my blog, also spurled…” or if you want to watch fresh spurls containing the phrase “search engine”. Anyways, it is yours to find out – I think it is natural that any possible list from Spurl.net can be syndicated in this way.

Have fun.

Comments from blocked text and upload bookmarks

Two notable upgrades in the last couple of days:

  1. If you block a part of the text on a webpage before clicking the spurl! button, that text will be automatically used as the text for the comment for that page (see the “Advanced” tab in the spurl! window). This improves the usability of the comments a lot, as there is usually some descriptive part of text on the page (e.g. the intro to an article) or you want to store the page because of a certain point made in the text and it makes sense to store that bit as the comment on the page.

    So, simply block a piece of text on the page and then click spurl!. Needless to say, careful comments make it a lot easier to search for pages later on as the search functionality searches the comment text as well as the title, url and description.

    Note! In order to use this feature you MUST HAVE THE LATEST VERSION OF THE spurl! BUTTON. Go to “My profile” on spurl.net (requires login), delete the old spurl! button and drag the new one to the links bar instead.

  2. Secondly, you can now upload your bookmarks to your spurl.net account. The upload feature supports exported bookmarks from any Netscape compatible file (that includes Internet Explorer and Mozilla) as well as exported bookmarks from the Opera browser. Go to the upload page for further information. The step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process.

Search functionality

Just added a search function to search for entries in the entire Spurl.net database. This first version is very simple. It simply searches:

  • the spurl title
  • the url
  • all user comments
  • and the description

…for a search string match. The search is not limited to whole words, so searching e.g. for “interest” will return also return spurls where the words “interesting” or “interests” appear in the searched fields.

Users can limit search to their own spurls in order to search for something they’ve previously spurled themselves.

There will be more search features soon, but I decided to introduce this limited functionality now as it is already quite useful and interesting.

Add a “Click to spurl” button to your page

You can now put a “Click to spurl” button on your webpages or blogs. It’s a single line of Javascript that you put in the code of any page where you want the button to be displayed.

The button looks like this:

The grey area will show the number of users that have spurled the page, and allows users to spurl the page simply by clicking it. If the users aren’t spurl.net users already, the pop-up will direct them to the spurl.net webpage for information and sign-up if they want.

So, the button helps promote your site through spurl.net and helps building spurl.net by drawing users and usage from already existing users.

To get the button, simply go here for instructions and the code sniplet.

Spurl from RSS feeds and a new list

Two minor updates today.

Those of you that are using RSS readers of some sort (I for one use NewzCrawler) – you can now spurl a link directly from the feed, so it saves you one trip to the browser if you know the page or site already. You can also open a Related search or open the “Add info” page for the page directly from the RSS feed.

Secondly I added a new list: Domains. It accumulates spurls for pages on a given domain so e.g. all the different articles that have been marked on Wired, The Register or BBC News also count as spurls for their respective domains.

Javascript lists improved

Improved on yesterday’s syndication list builder and made the Javascript list a lot more flexible.

You can now include the date the page was spurled and your comments or the description for the page either as a text in the list or on a mouseover. See the builder for details (requires login).

You can see two very different examples of lists made with the builder on my Wetware blog (“Wetware spurls” on the right hand side) and the front page of spurl.net (the “What people are saying about…” list at the bottom). In both cases the list shows a single category from “My spurls”, so now every time I either see some discussion about spurl.net online or a page that I think the readers of Wetware will like, I spurl it into the respective category and it shows up right away on the right place. How cool is that?!

The CSS tags in the Javascript list allow very flexible formatting. You will find details on that in the aforementioned syndication list builder.