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Feedwhip was acquired by Alerts.com in 2008. For more information about Feedwhip and to take a look at their other notification services, please visit Alerts.com.

Feedwhip suffered from stability issues the past few weeks, but I think I’ve got them straightened out. Enjoy.

Holy moly, I just pushed out an update to Feedwhip.

It’s certainly been a while. Feedwhip has been pretty much running itself for the past six months while I focus my energies on other exciting projects (like Picnik and my two-year-old daughter). But I had some time and inspiration today so I cranked up the ol’ text editor and fixed a few bugs.

I also installed some tracking code so I can see just how many RSS pages I’m serving on a day-to-day basis. My guess is that it’s at least an order of magnitude more than regular HTML pages. It’s a shame that adsense doesn’t publicly support RSS feeds.

You can now specify one of four different kinds of emails for your Feedwhip notifications. They are:

  1. Just an alert. The subject tells you the name of the feed that changed, and the email body contains just a link to the Feedwhip page with all the changes. This email format is perfect for sending as a text message if you’ve got an email-to-SMS gateway for your mobile phone.
  2. Just titles. Only the titles for the changes are sent, with links to the full changes back on Feedwhip.
  3. Short descriptions. Both titles and a truncated version of the change are sent. This is perfect if you typically scan through a list of changes looking for something specific.
  4. Full descriptions. Titles and the complete text of the change are included in the email.

The default is “short descriptions”, but it’s easy to change to whatever you like. First of all, there’s a default delivery type for each of your email addresses. Just click on the “account settings” link to set it up.

It’s also possible to handle one feed differently from all the others. Click on the “delivery” link when you’re looking at a feed’s page, and you’ll be able to specify delivery options just for that one feed.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think of this change.

Walkers were randomly dying on some specific feeds. After wandering around with things for a bit, I noticed that the HTML for those feeds had some really, really stupid nested tags — hundreds and hundreds of nested <font> tags, for example. Anyway, it turns out that PHP isn’t very good at recursion and when a website hit somewhere around 500 layers of nested HTML tags, PHP threw in the towel on behalf of my html-simplification routines.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer: PHP is simply not a suitable choice for creating stable back-end processes.

Feedwhip has finally been kicked out of its parents’ basement and has a nice new home right on the beach. The raw server from ServerBeach was nicely pre-configured with just what I needed, and setting up Feedwhip code was only slightly painful. The server has now been running happily for an hour or so and so far, so good. Mail might still be a little screwy, but we’ll see…

Moving the complete database over the ADSL line would have taken forever, so I didn’t copy any feed histories to the new server. Any website changes which occurred between around 11am and 4pm pacific time today will not have been noticed. Every feed now has a fresh snapshot, though, and you should start getting notifications and RSS updates as they happen.

Hopefully everyone will notice a big improvement in the performance of the website. If you do (or if you don’t) I’d love to hear about it.

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be joining the incredibly talented team over at Picnik on Monday. Picnik makes an outstanding online photo editor that towers over its competition and is an amazing example of just how good web applications can be. Walt Mossberg agrees.

FWIW, Picnik hit just about every workplace criterion I was looking for (see my blog post about jobs).

I am really, really excited to be joining Picnik’s team. Working from home for the past three years has been wonderful, but lately I feel like I’ve started to stagnate. It’s time to reboot my career.

For all you Feedwhip fans out there, don’t worry: it isn’t going anywhere. Not away, and, unfortunately, for the time being, not forward. I’ll be spending the next few days setting up a hosted server, and then I’ll be spending minimal time on Feedwhip for at least the next few months while I get settled into my new job. Things will probably be quiet on this blog, too. Every now and then, though, I might come across a few spare hours to throw in some of your most-requested features.

In the meantime, I’ll see you over at Picnik!

I’ve (finally) signed Feedwhip up for a dedicated hosted server. We’re moving out of the basement! The increased bandwidth and beefier server will improve both the performance of the web front end as well as increase the capacity of the website-checking back end. Unfortunately, this server comes with a hefty monthly price and the advertising on Feedwhip doesn’t even come close to paying the server costs. But don’t worry, I won’t be pulling the plug any time soon. Anyone want to donate some cash to a good cause?

Today I pushed out an update that lets you see what changes you’re NOT being shown. The idea is that this will help you to tweak your filter settings to get them just the way you like.

And just like that, I took out the automatic tagging code. It was kind of a burden on the server, but mostly I had gotten enough information out of it. I just wanted to seed the tagging system with some (more or less) useful data — now that the system is populated, user-generated tags can start to take over.

There’s not a lot of immediate benefit to users who tag their feeds, other than making it easier to direct your explorations of other feeds. I’m considering adding some more tag-centric features like being able to group your feeds by tag. Anyone have other ideas that will make tags even more useful?