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Happy Valentine’s Day

Written by Scrivs on February 14, 2006

The 9rules crew would like to wish all of our readers a Valentine’s Day. Not going to say happy Valentine’s day because I know for a lot of people it isn’t a happy day, although it should be so I figured I would just extend our best Valentine’s Day wishes to everyone.

Do with them what you want. Personally I like them in caramel, but I’m in that type of mood today.

Building the 9rules Network: Episode 3

Written by Colin Devroe on February 12, 2006

As I mentioned in Episode 2, I wanted to tell you how I used our page views to build our cache of member data. This episode is more of a documentation of my thought process than how I programmed it all to work. More of a why than how.

For quite a few months, we’ve featured the latest five post titles from a random set of our members. There are many ways I could have pulled this off, but I chose the Occam’s Razor approach. When I was given a choice between several solutions, I chose the simplest solution to implement, which was to use our members feeds as our primary means for collecting their headlines.

Once I had chosen how I was going to collect the data, I had to make a decision on how I’d automate that process. At the time, our server was little more than a 3-dollar linux box sitting in someone’s closet behind the extra toilet paper and the boxes of winter clothing. To be fair, that machine served us well for quite sometime, but it left us with little options when building robust automated solutions.

So how was I to automate the caching of our member data when I had very little access or control of our server? I used our page views. Each time our page was hit, I’d randomly load about a half-dozen of our member feeds and create a local cache of those entry headlines. Once the local cache was older than about an hour old, the next page view would end up looking for a new copy of the member feed. This solution was extremely sloppy, horrible with page load-time and weight, and did not add much value to our site. Yet, we had very little choice at the time.

The very first version of our 9rules member data cacher ran on lastRSS. After seeing its extreme limitations we quickly moved to Magpie, which allows us to parse every RSS version as well as Atom. We’re still using a customized version of Magpie to this day.

In our next episode, I’ll post some code to cache XML feeds locally, which could be of much use to many of you out there.

Design Philosophies

Written by Mike Rundle on February 9, 2006

Emily Chang just posted a fantastic article on the design philosophies of some “web 2.0” companies:

“It’s taken a while to free web and UI design from the bonds of graphic design emulation (early 1990’s) or the web as self-contained animation (late 1990’s flash). Blogs, CSS, web standards, content management systems, and the cry of “usability!” finally put a stake in these paradigms (early 2000’s), but they also introduced something else that could have been just as blasé – the template. Luckily, user experience, long accepted in other industries, came into the web scene and gave design decisions a social and anthropological basis for understanding how subtle shifts could help or hinder a user.”

I believe the 9rules Design Philosophy™ would be: never settle. Never settle on one widget if you could be doing it a little bit better. Never settle on your features or functionality if you could be providing better features and more useful functionality. Never settle on something you don’t think is 100% perfect, because having one thing that’s not 100% will knock the rest of your stuff down accordingly. Never settle with being a follower when you can be a leader and an innovator. Never settle with “good enough” because “good enough” is never a competitive advantage, it’s a handicap. Never settle with doing things like everybody else, because if everybody is doing something then there’s no way to differentiate yourself and move ahead of the pack.

That 9rules Communities Look

Written by Mike Rundle on February 7, 2006

Kristin Pishdadi just published a tutorial on how to tweak your WordPress theme’s categories to emulate the faviconographical (yeah, that’s right) look of the 9rules Communities page. You can check out her interpretation in action over at her links page. Cool!

Treehouse Magazine February 2006

Written by Colin Devroe on February 7, 2006

ParticleTree, 9rules Network Member and creator of Treehouse Magazine, has recently released the February issue for public consumption. Several of our members have contributed to the creation of Treehouse Magazine over its few months of being in existence. To see a full list of the contributors that Treehouse has managed to bribe, check out their contributors list. It’s an all-star cast to be sure, and well worth the small investment to see what the Internet’s best has to say.

Treehouse Magazine also features a digest of 9rules Network news, so for those of you that’d like to have a small snapshot of each month’s news coming from our members, Treehouse Magazine is a great way to do that.

I’m only mentioning this issue in particular because my name was mentioned in it. See where a little ego-stroking gets you? Everywhere!