Fast and Furious...

Now I understand why most of the startup blogs out there suck… it’s because the founders become too busy to get around to writing in their blog. I can’t believe I didn’t post anything yesterday! That would have been an unforgivable sin to me a year ago when I was writing a blog regularly! Interesting how a different role can affect your mindset when it comes to blogging. ;-) That said, I know from being a reader and subscriber to a bunch of now dead or insanely boring startup blogs that it’s pretty important keep the blog going, to let everyone know what’s going on and to continue to give an inside look at the day to day of the company. Even if someone doesn’t subscribe, clicking on that blog link is a good way to catch up and get a sense of what’s going on in the company. Also, I really like blogs with actual opinions as well - the dotmobi blog has been a great one in that regard.

So! What have I been doing? Well… I’ve learned my lesson about saying “coming soon” as I’ve yet to get around to doing any real documentation of the site… there’s always stuff I want to get done before I write it all down. So that’ll get here when it gets here… new bug fixes and features over the past couple days:

* I think I got the character encoding to a reasonable level. It’s definitely not perfect, but at least it looks readable for a vast majority of sites. I’ve been monitoring the urls to try to see what people are using and sampling - whoever checked out helped quite a bit as getting that site working seemed to be the ticket for a lot of other sites, though recently a hungarian site I noticed had a lot of problems and I have *no* idea if a chinese site that passed through looked okay or not. This will be an ongoing battle, I’m sure.

* I bumped up the default page size a bit to around 12k characters. This should be okay for most phones without blowing them up. I’m going to try to get something more intelligent in place but for now I’ve hard-coded a LOT bigger pages for blackberry users as well. In my opinion the only real way to solve the device capabilities issue is with user contributions - i.e. the people who are most interested in using the service should be able to help specify the capabilities of their devices in an open way.

* I added a history link to the bottom of the page and got rid of the chat feature. Though I think communication and community are core parts of any mobile site, no one was really using the chat very much. I tried to spur conversation by automatically inserting the page you were on when you clicked into the chat, and re-contextualizing the chat as more of a “leave a random message” page, but it didn’t take - so it’s gone for now… though, actually the url is still active, /wall, I’m just not linking to it directly.

* I added back in a Squid proxy which broke at one point for some reason. This has helped the page rending times incredibly - I think not only because of the caching that can occur on the second or third page request, but because Squid is an industrial strength proxy already and is obviously managing external connections much more efficiently. That means my code only needs to talk to Squid and Squid talks to the rest of the world. That’s a very good thing - it ends up making the page loads noticeably smoother. And the great thing is that the proxy has a bazillion optimization options which I can start to tweak as well for even more stability/security/caching, etc. in the future. If you’re a Squid guru and want to give me tips, by the way, I’d love it. :-)

* Finally, I added in a counter to the footer of the pages which count mobile page views. These are actual page requests that come from mobile devices only - and doesn’t include things like images, etc. Basically only when the footer is shown on a mobile device do I increment the counter. I linked through to a page which shows the phones and country of origin as well, which is a neat way of seeing where the mobile web is taking off and on which devices. As of right now there’s been just over 45k page views since midnight on Wednesday. I know of some sites that’ll get that in an hour… but I’m happy so far.

Behind the scenes, I’ve been adding in functionality so I can get a better view of the links people are viewing - lots of porn to be expected - but also lots of people viewing news sites and myspace accounts, which is good. My hosting provider gives me just over a terabyte of data to work with each month, and I’m running around 5GBs of data right now per day (x 30 days == 150GB) so I’m good in that area… but that’s definitely going to get interesting as traffic increases.

Okay, that’s all for now, lots more to do this weekend! If you have any thoughts, please email me or use the forum! Thanks!


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