Category: Blog

Facebook rolled out new code around the 4th of this month that further attenuates the news feed you see. If you thought posts from your friends and interests were being filtered before, you’ll be shocked – SHOCKED, I TELL YOU – to find out that it’s much worse, now.

Businesses are starting to push back, but not nearly hard enough. Businesses who have put time and effort over the years to gather tens, if not hundreds of thousands of “fans” are finding that only a very small percentage of them will see their updates unless those businesses pay for promotion. Even businesses that paid Facebook for ads to gather those fans are finding that they now have to pay again (and again, and again) to reach them. I’ll say that again: they paid to acquire the fans, and now have to pay every time they want to reach them.

Even the “trick” of adding a page to your interests lists no longer works. I thought it did, but after being told that it didn’t seem to get the job done, I did a little research and, sure enough, it’s now filtered as well.

There’s a business opportunity here – there’s no reason someone can’t write a bot that hits pages directly, gathers the permalinks, and creates an RSS (or some other protocol) feed that can then be imported, perhaps even on a subscription level.

Is this the beginning of the end for the Facebook news feed? What happens if everyone gets so fed up that they start their browsing day using, say, the new Social API that FireFox is currently testing in beta? What if some inventive service aggregates all of your social feeds into a nice, digested format for you?

Yes, I know, the light bulb just went on for you, too. I’ll just come out and say it:

What happens if FlipBook switches from using Facebook’s feed API and directly hits pages to ensure they get 100% of your desired feed?

Hey Facebook? Fix it quick or someone (ahem, FlipBook) is going to fix it for you.

Just saying.

(Please feel free to share, but attribute – I’m addicted to social cred like good crack)

We’re about a full month into the third quarter, so it’s time for a quick look at where we are and what we’re up to at Insider House.

Progress on the next version of our core platform continues, with, as is typical in all huge projects, some components ahead of schedule and some components behind. Ahead of schedule and complete are things like our core infrastructure, user management systems and image portfolios. Taking a little longer than we’d hoped are our forum enhancements and the new casting calls and travel notice systems for Model Insider. While they’re a little behind, they’re still well past the midpoint and completion is definitely in sight. Most of our systems are currently in an internal testing phase, and once we get the user interfaces to the point where they’re reasonably understandable (if not yet pretty), we’ll be ready to open the development site to our internal beta testers.

A number of smaller sites have been stood up in the past few months, mostly projects that were developed either on free time or, in most cases, as vehicles for proof of concept on one of the new platform components or to test a completed subsystem. Sites such as Discount Indulgence and Model Justice fall into these categories. While it may not be apparent, these parallel projects all tie into the major core development of our next generation platform.

The Rocky Horror Community continues to enjoy success as the largest online Rocky Horror community. Our Facebook Page has over 24,000 active fans and, a little over a year since opening our doors, we’ve demonstrated to the RHPS community that we’re here to stay and support the show.

We’ve also teamed up with an incredibly talented artist, Sarah Elizabeth Hartman to bring you Dear Future Boyfriend, a great web comic. Sarah is truly a gifted artist and her outlook on relationships will bring a smile to your face.

What are the plans going forward? Quite simple: we complete the new generation of our platform, starting with an upgrade of Model Insider, and then expand our communities extensively using the new, scalable platform. Its development isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we do see the finish line approaching. With all that we’ve learned in the past few years, we’re putting into practice some good lessons that will serve to allow us to continue to grow in the future. The upgrade of Model Insider will include a completely new user interface and simplification of what, we agree, is a site that, while powerful, can be confusing and cluttered.

We also have a new feature set for our ZenAllure profiles, including a number of new designs with some pretty spectacular surprises for both free as well as premium members. ZenAllure will also be available for some of our other communities, as we’ve had many requests from those who would like to show off their images in other areas. We’ll also be bringing back our Model Insider chat, due to popular demand, with a new system that addresses all of the concerns our membership had with the first version.

And, of course, we continue to develop and prepare Covocity, our “stealth mode” project that will take our properties to the next level and integrate what we do into a single, cohesive offering. If all goes to schedule (and that’s a big “if,” of course), we expect to announce Covocity in Q4 and hope that it will be met with a chorus of, “Oh, my, now I get it!”

 After a long wait, we’re happy to announce that Wronkled has returned!

 http://www.Wronkled.com

Insider House

Our new Insider House logo!

There’s an interesting time between when a company defines goals and tasks for new projects and when the code for those projects is done enough to be tested and made visible. In a way, that time feels like we, as a company, disappear from view. We’re all busy working on our tasks and we sometimes forget to communicate with the outside world. So this blog post is about doing that communication and letting everyone know what we’re up to, what we’re doing, and give a little insight into our plans (without revealing too much, because some of the things we’re working on are going to be quite a cool surprise!)

First, allow me to present you with our new logo. This summer, we decided that our basic logo wasn’t quite cutting it. While we liked the concept of the “i” inside the “house,” we knew that it was time we got something a little more polished, so we hired a designer, told him what we liked and didn’t like about our logo, and were pleased with where he took it. Over the next few months, as we roll out our new versions and products, we will be using this basic design for all of our sites to create a consistent brand. This has been pretty exciting, because as we point out often, we’re programmers. We make incredible software, and now we’re working with some very talented designers to make it gorgeous as well. This will be reflected across all of our sites and projects.

Model Insider

Model Insider

Model Insider’s next version is looking very impressive. Our list of improvements was huge, and even after a major triage this past summer, we still had a very ambitious list of things we wanted to do. After our four day company meeting this past October, we prioritized the work and have been making serious progress towards the next major revision to the site. First and foremost is, of course, the issue of usability. The number one thing we hear about the site is that it’s incredibly powerful but terribly confusing and difficult to learn and use. We’re taking that to heart and, in addition to enhancing the functionality of the site, we’re simplifying how it works and doing a complete overhaul of the user experience. For better or worse, we took the path of “make it work right” first, and now we’re focused on “make it easy to use.” We think you’ll like it.

The Rocky Horror Online Community

The Rocky Horror Online Community

The Rocky Horror Online Community at RockyHorror.org and Rockypedia.org have been more of a success than we could have hoped, and we’re not stopping to rest. We’re hard at work on a complete cast management system that will allow Rocky Horror casts to coordinate their shows, which cast members are available for each show, and many other components of running a Rocky Horror cast. We’re also moving forward with some ambitious plans for serious promotions in 2012 to get, as we like to say, more butts in seats. Rocky Horror is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and we’re doing all we can to help and expand that. Our Facebook page has over 21,000 fans and continues to grow.

Sorry, no link - this project is in stealth mode (and if you check out covocity.com, you'll see a basic web template :-))

Covocity

Covocity is the code name for a new project that will debut on all of our sites. What is it? Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Let’s put it this way – we were discussing how we could improve and enhance some of our core functionality on all of our sites when we had the realization that there was an improvement that was just as obvious as it was evolutionary. Our first reaction was to ask ourselves, “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?!” We still don’t know the answer to that question, but we’re not waiting around to find out – we’re doing it. And soon, we hope, you’ll agree that it’s a giant step forward. We seriously intend to change the landscape with this project and can’t wait to debut it!

Add to all of this some sweeping design changes, and you’ve got multiple white boards full of progress for the first half of 2012. On the back of all of these improvements, we’re working on plans for marketing and promotion to take our platform up a few notches. We’ve spent just over two years getting to where we are now, and we see the first finish line in sight – but that finish line is just the completion of a lap, really, as it signals the start of our next phase of taking this incredible platform and turning it into community sites that far outpace anything else out there. It’s a heck of a goal we have for 2012, and we intend to hit it out of the park.

So I have just crushed another bug and here I am to tell you about it.

The bug: We have a character counter on a textarea for user feedback on how much more they can type.  On IE only if the box was filled so a scroll bar appeared on the right side when the character counter was updated it would visually jump from the end where someone was typing to the top of the box. It wouldn’t move the cursor, just what you could see in the text area.  Which lead people typing blind into the box which of course would lead to more typo’s and other written mistakes.

So I tore the page apart sure that it was the javascript that was causing the problem.  As with any page when debugging I took it down to it’s bare bones and built it back up.  It turns out that the issue was not the javascript, or at least not directly.  On the input form I had the following styles applied: width:99%; min-height:350px;

Changing those to hard values: width:885px; height:350px;    Fixed the problem

So My guess is that when the page is updated by javascript it would also recalculated the area the textarea was supposed to be taking up (the changes did not effect the size at all).  This recalculating caused the focus point in the textarea  to refresh and instead of being at the bottom it would shift to the top.

So today’s lesson is very simple.  Javascript is not the only thing that can cause strange behavior on your pages.  Sometimes you have to check your CSS too.