May 5, 2007

Travelvice Updates
Vancouver, United States

Busy as a bee.

The Weather Where I'm At

I woke up one morning, checked my local weather online, and thought: It wouldn't be sort of neat/useful to see this displayed on Travelvice?

I didn't know if something like this was possible (or even practical for me to try and do), but after discovering that you can sign up for a free weather.com account that lets you programmatically query the site for weather reports, it was all down hill. Several hours later I'd integrated the complimentary little upgrade into the Last Known Location section of the sidebar, smiling at the result.

Travelvice will query weather.com every 15 minutes for an update, and refresh the sidebar accordingly. I thought it more appropriate that the temperature displayed be the subjective "feels like" temp (as opposed to the exact number). Clicking on the icon representing the current conditions will take you to the 10-day forecast for my location.

Yes, this is yet another thing I have to update when I reach another location, but the one-click access to my local forecast is useful, and something that I'll probably end up using as much as anyone else.

RSS Overhaul

Blogger, the publishing engine I (unfortunately) use to for this site, has really dropped the ball on the way they've recently started managing RSS feeds. The new protocol places old posts that have been edited at the front of the feed. This is good for alerting people to new content on old posts, but very bad for people (like me) who occasionally go back and fix wording or a broken hyperlink.

I've been discretely using a service called Feedburner to serve up the RSS feed for this site since its inception, but have had to rethink things now that Blogger has created such a nuisance. It's not in the best interests of this site to depend so heavily on third-party companies for content delivery, but I have little choice (as Feedburner lets me publish the posts in their proper chronological order).

New updates include a visually overhauled sidebar, and the addition of a visitor comments feed (as people comment all over the site, and not to the most recent postings). If you're currently subscribing to the Travelvice RSS feed, I'd suggest updating your readers to the new URL, just in case.

Comment Moderation Enabled

I have been receiving an increasing amount of negative, off-topic comments posted to the site by anonymous visitors. I've never been fond of the idea of censoring visitor feedback, but hateful, off-topic comments and won't be tolerated. I won't be an enabler for such ego-driven misbehavior.

That being said, I still believe in publishing the negative comments along with the positive—so long as they're relevant to the post. Disagreements of opinion are welcome here.

Moderation means that I'll have to approve a queued list comments, waiting in unpublished limbo for me to take action. This means delays between the time you hit the publish button and the time it appears on the site.

Looking on the bright side though, I've removed the captcha word verification—no more character guessing before contributing—and with the new comments RSS feed, you shouldn't miss anything.

Still feel the need to get something off your chest? I suggest taking a visit over to http://grouphug.us.

Searching For Something?

A Google-driven search portal has also been added to the sidebar, just below the RSS and e-mail subscription hyperlinks. Your query will only return search results from this site.

Photo Captions/Comments

Writing photo captions can consume just as much time as writing posts that go up on the main part of the site. I was getting visitor feedback that it was bothersome to scroll to the bottom of an image to check and see if I had written anything (as I don't always put a summary caption on the thumbnail page when I've written a larger one).

So, included in the general tweaking done to the snapshots gallery, I've moved the captions (if any) to the top of the page. We're creatures of habit, and I still haven't gotten use to looking at the top of an image to view my comments, but I suppose that will fade with time. Feedback has been positive.

Behind The Curtain…

I've spent oodles of time on lots of little site upgrades that aren't really worth mentioning. Some of them are just for me—admin stuff—to make my life easier, and Travelvice more stable over the duration.

I've got to give yet another big thanks to Andy Collington, the programming man in the UK that I've never met, but continues to offer up his brainpower for my often complicated Web site project brainstorms.

Time Investment

Sometimes I feel like a yacht owner with this Web site. I watched these guys in the Caribbean spend 90% of their time working on their boats, and just a fraction of it sailing—constantly tweaking and upgrading their vessels. There's still a sizable wish list of things I'd love to see done to Travelvice, but I don't want to be like one those guys—I want to sail my boat.

Comments:

Brodie

May 10th, 2007

So you are now in Bangkok then? It would be useful for us who are in the modern world if it were also possible to have the temperature display in degrees Celsius.

Babak

May 11th, 2007

you should buy a boat :)

Australia

Craig | travelvice.com

May 11th, 2007

How did you do the visit comments feed subscription thing?

Do we need feedburner?

Andy

***

Andy,

You don't need Feedburner to syndicate your visitor comments. You do, however, need to enable it in the settings for you blog, under Comments.

Blogger doesn't publish this feed to an XML file for those who have an externally hosted/published site (like us) — instead you'll have to use the copy that Blogger keeps on their system. The URL to this would be:

http://www2.blogger.com/feeds/ [your Blogger blog ID] /comments

or, for full text in the comments,

http://www2.blogger.com/feeds/ [your Blogger blog ID] /comments/full

Australia

Craig | travelvice.com

May 11th, 2007

Brodie: You're right to ask for such things — and the thought had crossed my mind — but to write the toggling script would have been too much effort for a visiting audience that is still 65% from the United States (although I have a tendency to write posts in kilometers and kilos instead of miles and pounds). Perhaps as the visitor count grows from other countries (and shifts above the 50% mark) I'd consider an upgrade :)

Malaysia

Craig | travelvice.com

May 30th, 2007

I totally caved on the Celsius thing.

Mouse over (hover over) the weather icon to read what it represents and when it was last updated.

Enjoy!

Note: Comments are open to everyone. To reduce spam and reward regular contributors, only submissions from first-time commenters and/or those containing hyperlinks are moderated, and will appear after approval. Hateful or off-topic remarks are subject to pruning. Your e-mail address will never be publicly disclosed or abused.