TweetNotebook: Custom Notebooks Filled With Your Tweets

TweetNotebook LogoTweetNotebook is a fun site by an interactive company from Belgium called Boondoggle. The premise is simple: enter your Twitter username and it generates a notebook filled with a random selection of your tweets in the footer of each page. For $12, you get a 320-page notebook with a different tweet on every page. The site lets you select your choice of cover (and print a specific message on the cover as well) before peppering each page with a random tweet from your Twitter history.

You can preview the book beforehand and regenerate the notebook as many times as you’d like, though for now, you can’t hand-pick tweets for the notebook. The notebook also appears to only have non-ruled pages much to my chagrin, but it sounds like TweetNotebook is planning on beefing up their offering in the near future if this takes off. For now, they have three different covers available, onto which your current avatar and cover tweet appears. Here’s mine:

my_tweetbook

Suffice to say, I’ve already bought mine. I think it’s a fun conversation piece, and I think that it’s a fun look into what was relevant to you a few days, weeks, or for some of us, even a year or two ago, in a blurb. It’s almost like thumbing through a diary in a sense, a simple snapshot at the bottom of each page that makes you pause and try to remember what context surrounded that tweet.

We’ve seen Threadless make T-shirts out of great tweets, and I think it’s no stretch to imagine other potential products that can be built out of a users’ Twitter feed. Consider a timeline, complete with tag cloud, friend diagrams, statistics, and more. Twitter lends itself to these sort of changes in medium because of their brevity and relevance—no one’s wearing a shirt with excerpts from their blog on it, but a poster that shows off my activity on Twitter is fun enough even if you’re not a raging narcissist.

For now, there’s also nothing to stop you from using someone else’s tweets, like a celebrity. (Or a friend, for a gift.) That situation may change if copyright issues arise. All told, my order was just $14.50, including shipping to Tempe, Arizona. Here’s hoping they’ll offer different sizes, bindings, and rulings in the future.

TweetNotebook | via TechCrunch

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Tech News

Google Speed Tracer Makes AJAX Optimization Easier

SpeedTracer-SluggishnessDetailGoogle today announced Speed Tracer as part of their Google Web Toolkit offerings. While most of the GWT focuses on enabling developers to create web applications in Java (which compiles down to optimized JavaScript), Speed Tracer is a useful profiling tool for any developer wrestling with XMLHttpRequest.

What makes Speed Tracer different?

Developers have long used Firebug to identify what AJAX requests were causing bottlenecks and to analyze responses to those requests. Firebug is an extremely powerful tool and does a serviceable job with this approach, but Speed Tracer takes things one step further, analyzing the “sluggishness” of your application by examining how busy or blocked the UI is in your browser. This can help developers analyze why their application feels slow, instead of simply focusing on network-based bottlenecks.

Speed Tracer makes use of specific, unique APIs built into Webkit for this very purpose, which gives it a unique advantage compared to other profiling tools. Instead of simply guessing and checking, developers will now have full visibility into what’s causing their applications to appear slow:

Using Speed Tracer you are able to get a better picture of where time is being spent in your application. This includes problems caused by JavaScript parsing and execution, layout, CSS style recalculation and selector matching, DOM event handling, network resource loading, timer fires, XMLHttpRequest callbacks, painting, and more.

Very cool stuff. What’s more, it’s free, open source, and available for users of Google Chrome right now. Check out their tutorial below:

Google Speed Tracer

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Development, Tech News

Anatomy of a Smart Survey: Netflix Email Surveys

netflix_surveyNetflix is a company built entirely around efficiency. When you deal with the volume Netflix does, every penny, every action, every little detail counts immensely. Take their mailer: Over the years, it has evolved from a cardboard-backed affair, to a paper-based piece with a foam insert, to today’s design: thin, simple paper. (They determined the breakage rates didn’t decrease enough with the padding to make it cost-effective.)

It’s no surprise then that they’d take the time to get surveys right. Netflix (like most companies trying to make a profit) has a need for constant feedback from their customers. They want to know how their distribution system is working, where there may be bottlenecks, and other things like how their new instant streaming service is performing. Instead of producing staid, time-consuming, multi-page affairs, they send an email with a single question.

In my most recent survey, that question read “How was the picture and audio quality?” Simple enough. The real stroke of genius lies in how the user is asked to respond: Three links are displayed, each with a different quality option: “The quality was very good”, acceptable, or unacceptable. You click the link and your survey response is sent. Done. That’s all there is to it.

The survey requires exactly one click to respond to. Users aren’t asked to login, fill out demographic data, attempt to remember details they aren’t likely to, or even read anything to qualify their answer. They are given three relatively unambiguous options and clicking the link from within the email submits their response.

Since not every company has the luxury of being able to boil their customer feedback loop down into simple multiple choice questions, let’s look at a few key points almost anyone can replicate: Read More »

Posted in: Design, How To

Senior PHP Developer Position in Tempe, Arizona

synapse_office

Our company Synapse Studios is hiring a senior PHP developer right now. Specifically, we’re looking for someone who can help lead our talented team and establish methodologies that scale and make for a more powerful team. More information on the position is available here, but you’d be working in our offices in downtown Tempe, Arizona, right on Mill Avenue. It’s a great space with fun people and exciting work, so if you’re interested, view the job post on our site and follow our instructions over there.

Senior PHP Developer Job Posting | Synapse Studios

Posted in: Announcements

Starting Simple: Launching with the Minimum Viable Product

Venture Hacks has a great interview with serial entrepreneur Eric Ries that discusses the value of launching a startup with the “minimum viable product”: basically, the absolute most barebones product you can launch with while still being able to appropriately gauge customer interest, to avoid the common pitfall of spending months developing an idea only to realize that no one cares.

In spite of the fact that parts of the interview sound like it was recorded at a high school basketball game, Eric provides some great insight, even suggesting at one point to “launch” an idea with just marketing materials and an ad campaign, and no backing product. Based on the clickthrough/conversion rate when customers move to subscribe or purchase your product or service, you can reasonably gauge how the idea might do.

There may be an argument to be made about potentially losing those individuals as sales, but you can ask their email, make up an excuse, or explain that things aren’t ready yet and thus limit your costs to just a simple ad campaign and marketing/informational site. If you’re presenting the idea as you will once it’s built, and no one is clicking through, it’s a good indication that you’re going to want to tweak the idea or that you’re headed down the wrong path.

The interview is split into two parts, and I’ve embedded the first part below.

What is the minimum viable product? (Part 1) | Venture Hacks
Opening Board Meetings (Part 2)

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Posted in: Cool Stuff

Google vs. Facebook Interface Design: Design by “Committee” vs. Baptism by Fire

Once again, Facebook has released a complete failure of a feature set or upgrade and been hit with such a strong backlash by their users (who, they assure us, are listened to even BEFORE launching such drivel) that they have had to backpedal to appease the masses. Facebook seems to have this bizarre mentality that shaking the etch-a-sketch and slapping the user in the face is a great way to spring new changes, regardless of the thoughts of their users or their preliminary feedback. Beacon, un-restricted Minifeed, new Facebook, new Facebook again, rape-and-pillage privacy policies—you would think someone over there would suggest that they NOT continue to learn these lessons the hard way, as one time of baptism by fire tends to be enough for most people.

With the exception of the penultimate “new Facebook”, they have had to rollback or significantly change tack from their initial position of “this is new and you’re going to like it,” forced  instead to listen to their users, post a mea culpa and attempt to save face with the global press and the blogosphere collectively rolling their eyes at each new foible. TechCrunch has an idiotic post about how when Facebook listens to their users, God kills a kitten for bowing to the masses and “designing by committee”. Robert Scoble backed this up with a misguided treatise about how Zuckerberg is on track to score billions from these changes and how they shouldn’t/wouldn’t start listening to their users. I call bullshit. Read More »

Posted in: Design, Rants

Better Memory Management Tools for Web Apps Coming Soon

mem_usage

Developing a “web 2.0″ application brings with it a host of new challenges previously unfelt or easily ignored with older, single-page-load-per-action apps. The browser has evolved from a simple page renderer to an application platform that busily executes JavaScript and receives, parses, and displays loads of new data without ever leaving the page. Developers are now struck with the challenge of ensuring their applications manage memory properly and efficiently—your JavaScript can leak memory, killing the user experience on your site, but also impacting the user’s complete experience with their system across the board.

To date, it’s been a bit of a struggle to manage memory, since developers are essentially forced to rely on their operating system’s memory managers to even monitor the memory usage of their browser. Even then, testing can be frustrating, as Firefox, for instance, stores all tabs in the same process. Google Chrome is multi-threaded; each tab is its own process. Chrome also features its own built in task manager, so you can identify which page is using exactly how much memory, CPU, and bandwidth. Even at its most detailed, the stats available only show aggregate memory and virtual memory usage—these abstract figures make troubleshooting individual pieces of your code difficult to say the least.

The folks over at Mozilla’s Developer Tools Lab are looking to change that by building a memory analysis tool that helps devs understand exactly how their application is using memory, and the behavior of the cycle (garbage) collector:

We plan on the initial implementation of this tool to be simple. For memory usage, we want to introduce the ability to visualize the current set of non-collectible JavaScript objects at any point in time (i.e., the heap) and give you the ability to understand why those objects aren’t collectible (i.e., trace any object to a GC root). For the cycle collector, we want to give you a way to understand when a collection starts and when it finishes and thus understand how long it took.

Ben Galbraith and the team are soliciting help and feedback, so if this is an issue you’ve had to deal with in the past, make sure you comment.

A New Memory Tool for the Web | Ben Galbraith’s Blog via Ajaxian

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Posted in: Cool Stuff, Development

10 Things That Suck About The New Facebook

Just eight short months ago, Facebook redesigned the home page for a logged in user. At the time, I bashed on the News Feed, as it made a poor use of whitespace and seemed haphazard and disheveled. Facebook took to repair and tighten the design down a good deal, and I grew to find it functional, informative, and useful.

Facebook began rolling out their new design two days ago, and it’s frankly simply terrible. The first thing you’ll notice about the Facebook redesign is that it looks a lot like a basic Twitter page. Facebook talks a lot about how this new layout helps show a “live stream of your social graph” and a lot of other nonsense that would seem completely applicable if they were switching from the new design to the old.

The reality is that they are angering their customers by making things difficult to find, dramatically altering the aesthetic and interface of the site, and in many people’s opinion, taking a dramatic step backwards in usability. My exposure to this nightmare of an interface began just today, but I get a distinct impression that it won’t grow on me like the last changes.

What don’t I like? Let’s take a look: Read More »

Posted in: Rants

Periodic Table of Typefaces

periodic_font_table

Design firm Squidspot has published a very cool and useful Periodic Table of Typefaces. They’re grouped roughly by “family” and “class” groupings, and ranked roughly based on their popularity from several different font ranks, though they’re loosely grouped in order to enforce the aesthetics of the table.

This will be very useful for anyone trying to play the mind-numbingly difficult Deep Font Challenge game. My personal favorite is Frutiger, followed very closely by Myriad. (Naturally, I also love and respect Helvetica and all its gifts to the world—I mean, it’s the only typeface to have a documentary produced about it, and is listed, quite fittingly, as the Hydrogen of the table.)

Periodic Table of Typefaces | Behance
Deep Font Challenge | via iLT

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design

Track Twitter Unfollows and See Who Thinks You’re Boring with Qwitter

Image representing Qwitter as depicted in Crun...

EDIT, 12/28/09: It appears that Qwitter is no longer functioning, but the site makes no mention of this. Your mileage may vary.

If you’ve ever spotted a dip in your Twitter followers count and wondered which of your faithful disciples haven’t been quite so faithful, sign up for Qwitter. It’s mind-numbingly simple: enter your Twitter account name and your email address and you’re off to the races. Qwitter doesn’t need your Twitter password since the follower information is already available, so they just basically run a diff and see who you’ve managed to bore away, sending you an email with their name and the (potentially) offending last Tweet that convinced your follower to bail.

Qwitter

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Posted in: Cool Stuff