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About time!

March 12th, 2007, 3:12

By in News
Yes, it's been a very long time since the last post here in the ZoomClouds blog, and I think, like the title says, it's about time I'll post an update on the project.

While there hasn't been any major development on ZoomClouds in the last several months, yes we've fixed a few bugs here and there, and what's even more important than that, last week we took the ZoomClouds database and moved it to a dedicated server. Up until now, ZoomClouds was sharing the database server with other projects - of course each of them using their own database, but all running on the same server.

However, both ZoomClouds and the other projects were starting to slow each other down to a point that I figured it was about time that ZoomClouds got its own database server. And after a brief downtime of about 1 hour, all data was safely moved to a new server.

With this move, first I want to make clear that ZoomClouds is far from abandoned. Quite the opposite. Having now a dedicated database server is above all a commitment that we plan to continue running ZoomClouds for many years to come. Also, this move should have speeded things up a bit, despite the data in ZoomClouds just keep growing and growing every time a cloud is reanaylized.

Also let me tell you what things we're planning to do in the next few months.

First, complete and absolute internationalization. Someone has argued that ZoomClouds is good at extracting English terms and nothing else. That isn't quite true because the two word analisys tools used by ZoomClouds don't discriminate words based on language, although it is tue that our content analysis tool learns more as it processes more data, and since most of the content that ZoomClouds analyzes is in English, it may show that it knows a bit better how to handle terms English.

The "complete and absolute internationalization" project refers to enabling ZoomClouds to use and understand non-Latin languages, or in other words, to make it UTF-8 compliant. Today it is not, and so for example, clouds from a CJK language (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) look like crap.

The second improvement I plan to make within the next few months is to design a better caching system, so that the clouds do not need to be re-calculad everytime they're drawn. The current caching system is not terrible but it can be improved a lot, and that's what I plan to do.

The third improvement - but only after these other two are complete - is to offer a private label and ad-free version of ZoomClouds, so that you can display your tag cloud in your blog or website, and when people click on a tag, they are presented a page without ads (at least without our ads) and branded to resseblme your own site, so your visitors don't get the feeling that they've left your site. The ads- free service will not be free, but the private-label service will.

Anyway, that's it for now. I apologize for not having kept this blog a bit more up-to-date. As these new developments are made, I'll be posting them here.

Cheers!

Realtime stats

March 15th, 2006, 15:45

By in News
We said stats would be coming. Well, they've come!

Now, when you're in your ZoomClouds account and click on any of your clouds, along with the usual menu options Design, Edit and Filters, you'll see a new option, Stats.

There you can see how many clicks were made on the tags of your clouds. You can see clicks by the hour, by day, week, month or year, and for each of them, you can get a small report to see what tags were clicked the most, as well as from what countries those clicks were made.

Keeping track of clicks on your clouds

March 9th, 2006, 4:37

By in News
Starting right now, ZoomClouds is also keeping track of clicks made on each and every tag in each and every cloud.

Now, we have not prepared yet the pages where you can see how many clicks is your cloud getting, so don't look for them yet,  but we will be implementing them soon and expect to have it "live" early next week.

When that's done - and we'll announce it right here - you'll be able to see things like:

  • How many people are clicking on tags in your clouds, with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly reports.
  • How many clicks any given tag is getting, as well as a list of "most clicked tags".
  • From what countries these clicks are coming.
  • Whether the click comes from a human or a robot or spider (or we might simply exclude robots and spiders from the reports, we're still thinking about this).

And perhaps a few more details.

ZoomClouds does not use cookies or any other method to track personal information when people click on the tags. The only information that's collected is:

  • The cloud and tag (obviously) that gets the click.
  • The IP from where the click is made. This is used only to figure out the country from where the click is made. We will not disclose IP addresses.
  • The country from where the click is made.
  • And the time and date when the click was made.


And that's it! Now, our approach to ZoomClouds is to keep it simple, but we just could not stop from offering this feature, as we believe it makes a lot of sense, and we hope it will help you see how and how often your cloud is being used.

New, faster in-house content analysis tool

March 8th, 2006, 1:07

By in News
Shortly after we posted the "We've been Techcrunched" post, we fixed the slowlyness of our in-house content analysis tool. We didn't announce it right away because well, yesterday was a really busy day in all counts.

In terms of speed, the improvements are amazing. We tested a 20 posts feed (200 words per post average) with our previous engine and it took about 75 seconds to process - along with putting up quite some stress on the server, nothing significant on its own, but it would be if we were to do that for 100 feeds simultaneously.

Then we tested the same feed with our new engine and it took less than 9 seconds!! That's including the time to connect to the feed and fetch it, which on average can take between 1 an 4 seconds, depending on how fast the other server responds. Ok, now that's a lot better. In fact, we believe that time-wise it beats Yahoo's API, but being fair, Yahoo's API also does things that our content analysis tool doesn't.

We had to make one small sacrifice though. And that's to ignore, as we analyze the content and select terms and words, all words of three characters or less, unless they contain at least one capital letter. In other words, if ZoomClouds updates your blog/feed and finds the word "drm" 25 times, it will ignore it anyway (unless you've added that word to your list of "wanted terms" of course). However, if it finds DRM, Drm, dRM, etc (you get the picture), then it will consider it. Two and one letter words are and were ignored before.

Other than that, the quality of our content analysis is exactly the same as before, but now it's over 8 times faster. Why didn't we do this before launch??? Ah...

By the way, would you be interested to know what are the three more popular terms in ZoomClouds clouds so far? The winner is blog, followed by Google and then podcast. That's interesting :-)

We've been TechCrunched!

March 6th, 2006, 14:25

By in News
Well, sort of. No, the site hasn't gone down or anything like that, but at some points, updating a cloud might have seemed to take forever. Here's why and what are we going to do about it right away.

If you read my previous post I mentioned the two content analysis tools we use with ZoomClouds to extract relevant terms: Yahoo's and ours. I also mentioned that for user-generated updates (like when you build a cloud for the very first time) we only rely on Yahoo's content analysis API mainly because it's a lot faster, leaving our homemade content analysis tool for the behind-the-scenes updates.

But as I also mentioned, Yahoo currently has a 5,000 calls limit for every 24 hours, and when that limit is reached, we have no choice but to use our - not worst but a lot slower - content analysis tool. And that's exactly what happened today. We reached the 5,000 calls limit rather quickly and ZoomClouds started to use our tool instead, resulting in some clouds taking well over a minute, sometimes even two, to get completely analyzed and built for the very first time.

That is not acceptable. So we went back to the drawing board and tried to come up with a way that, without giving up functionality at all, would do the processing a lot faster. And after some time brainstorming and scratching our heads, I think we've got it. Now we'll be working in developing, testing and implementing this new approach, and I expect to have it live-to-site within 24 hours. If it actually turns out to be really efficient, we might even include it on each and every update, whether it's user generated or not. I'll keep you posted!

ZoomClouds opens!

February 26th, 2006, 11:07

By in News
After a couple of weeks having ZoomClouds accesible to just a couple of dozen of beta-tester friends, today we officially open its doors to the public.

I'd like to start by clarifying a few things and getting some FAQs answered, but since we're going to have the FAQ right here on this blog, I'll be posting about all that on separate posts during the next coming days.

Welcome to ZoomClouds!

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