taylorbarstow.com

NYT Explorer: Now with Customization

I just added a feature to NYT Explorer which lets you use additional refinement categories (technical term: facets). The newly available facets are:

  • NYT “Desk”
  • Organization
  • Publication month
  • Publication year

There are other facets available too, but the ones up there now are the most user friendly. (Perhaps I should provide an “advanced” mode which would show you all of them, even the unfriendly ones.)

To choose which facets you see, hover over the “Refine your search” area—a “Customize” link will appear in the upper right hand corner.

Enjoy! Any feedback is appreciated.

simple_pagination

I just pushed a new project to github: simple_pagination. It is a dead simple, standalone pagination library.

Some might say I’m reinventing the wheel, but I don’t see it that way. I realize there are some great pagination libraries for Rails/ActiveRecord (will_paginate), and I’m not trying to compete with or replace them. Rather, I see simple_pagination as a compliment to these projects. It is useful when you aren’t using ActiveRecord but you have data to page through… such as when you are consuming search results from a remote API.

(In fact, if mislav wanted to, he could refactor will_paginate to use simple_pagination. I doubt he wants to though. I know I wouldn’t want to.)

I hope other people find this useful—I know I’m tired of writing pagination logic when dealing with non-ActiveRecord data, which I am doing more and more of. Anyway, enjoy!

Lessons for an Entrepreneur

Here are some observations I’ve made over the past week. Most of these have been true for a long time and will continue to be true for a long time. Nonetheless, I just learned (or re-learned) them recently. What lessons have you learned recently?


These people are getting a lesson in making personal connections.
  1. Put yourself out there. Success is still (and always will be) about personal connections. Actively seek out new connections. Go to meet ups and conferences. Don’t be shy. People are the world’s greatest resource: they are your sounding board, your marketing firm, your user base. Embrace them.
  2. Keep It Simple, Stupid (aka, “The KISS Protocol”). Your next great idea is probably too big—simplify it, get it out there, generate feedback (see #1), and iterate. Getting something out there and starting a conversation will always be more valuable than weeks of brainstorming all holed up in your apartment, wild-eyed and crazy-haired.
  3. Trampoline off the efforts of others: seek out and make use of the wealth of data- and service-related APIs on the web. (This also gets back to #2 and helps you keep in simple.)
  4. Finally, follow your nose and have fun! Make something you think is cool. For one thing, this will help you when it comes to promotion: genuine enthusiasm on your part will probably get other people interested too. For another, this will enable you to create a better product: when it’s your baby and you love it, you are going to do your best to make it look and feel great.

(See also: Getting Real, by 37signals.)

Mini Updates to NYT Explorer

I’ve made some minor changes to NYT Explorer over the past two days:

  • added spelling suggestions using the YAHOO! BOSS spelling suggestion API
  • added thumbnails where available
  • added a feedback forum; if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, I’d love to hear them
  • modified layout slightly to be more flexible; I think it’s more attractive now too

Enjoy!

Times Open Debrief

Yesterday’s Times Open event was a huge success. For a developer program in its infancy, turnout was excellent—140 attendees out of about 400 total applicants, according to Derek Gottfrid, the MC and principal organizer. Topics ranged from APIs to widgets to business models, but the message was clear: The New York Times is, suddenly, a platform company.

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