Friday, December 14, 2007

V1 Done

So I consider V1 to be wrapped.

Linking is fixed - all using a href's now, intead of (those damn) LinkButtons. I'm making some minor look and feel changes (mostly font sizes). But the site is otherwise cranking along.

Added 28 or so new users in the last two days, and some are using the site - need to get LOTS more though!

I also changed RSS to use a link (and changed to time, so it's like the rest of the site).

AND one big thing - Recent now just orders by the time a story was made Popular - instead of score and then popular. This is more digg-like. I originally didn't want to do it this way, but it's the default page - and I think having newly popular stories show up like this will help move them up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Next Evolutionary Step in Social News?

Social news aggregators strive to collect the best of the best. NewsNozzl takes that a step further and adds "the social" to the mix. This isnt your mom's news reader.

Nozzl got up on Mashable last night; this Digg story posts to it. Hoping to get on TechCrunch still...

So the FUN thing here is I'd love to have this up on the main Nozzl site - but I can't, as it needs to make its way up on some other site, like digg, before it'll show up :)

read more | digg story

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Spent some time this weekend working on the whole LinkButton thing.

asp:LinkButton is pretty cool. It looks like a hyperlink, but when you get the click, you get a POST - so you get all the form data. Nifty, easy to use, lets you do some cool things - so I used it. :(

The problem is it IS a POST back. So you get various results on BACK - and often a "page has expired" when trying to go back to the last page. And if you've clicked through a bit, you may get several.

100% not usable, at least not for what I'm doing.

So the whole thing was a bit of a trap - oh well.

It actually took a fair amount of time to rip all of that out. I've got EVERYHING on standard a href's now, except the pager, which I will finish up later (maybe this weekend? - Got Jury duty all week, so prob won't have a lot of time).

I'm not going to deploy until the pager is done, as I will need to re-test a lot to make sure everything is a-ok. The site actually LOOKS the same to users, but all the main links are now handled different.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


While I'm not DONE, I may be "done" for the version.

Users can tip other users now, and the auto-cash system is in place. It runs every few hours and figures out who's done what since the last process time, and awards cash.

I've still got some things to do (the POST issue, allow users to configure defaults, and a few other things) but the site is very usable.

I'm going to put together a FAQ with some screen shots - try to show what's different between Nozzl and other news sites.

I think that list is:

  • Users don't submit news; we feed off the top stories from top social news sites.
  • On-page preview of stories
  • Direct link to story mirror (either Google Cache or Dugg mirror)
  • Nozzl Cash/Tipping system
  • Wiki
  • Submit Nozzl stories to other sites (not exactly new, but you can't submit a Digg story to Reddit, from Digg).
And, of course, even with the limited number of users we have now, I think the site can be BETTER than others. Less crap on the front page. Wider range of stories (because of how we feed off of other sites).

Once I get some screen shots and info together, I'll submit it around a bit and see what happens. Probably do TechCrunch first (great site, but wouldn't be the mass influx of some of the bigger news sites). My big fear here is not getting a nice swell of users - going to be hard to attract attention. Or getting too many :)

While I'll continue to work on the site, until I get a user base, I'll probably work on other things (and the things I DO work on will be more trying to get the user base then coding). I am planning working on some other projects (putting voting up for SR, and working on a Android version of AE)

On another note, I've been having memory issues on the server - I'm looking at going from 2GB to 4 or 8 GB. Should help.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nozzl Cash

I've got the basis for Nozzl Cash in. Users earn NC by voting for stories, adding comments, and voting on comments. Users can also give other users cash ("Tip" them). And by using Tips.

Users can use cash to vote up a story. It's a sliding scale - the more a user "Tips" a story, the less actual votes they will get out of it. Which is perfect, as users CAN slant a story they want, but the more they want to do so, the more pain it will cost, in the form of decreased cash.

Also something else big here - the ONLY way to do a negative vote on a story is by using a Tip. So if something is really bad, there's now a way to decrease a stories votes.

Next to each story, the user can click the Tip graphic
A pop-up will let them do the tip (got some cleanup here still)

The main screen shows the users with the top cash

And the users profile will show how much they have

I'll probably also put a top tipper/top tipped for the day/week/month/year on. Also need to be able to allow users to tip other users (and tip on commenting and comment voting - which is 2nd priority right now).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Published vs Popular

So until tonight, the date shown for stories was the "Loaded" (aka Published) date. This is when the second pass of the loader inserted the story into the DB.

This wasn't working well, as older stories would drop off after 12 hours (on the front page), even though they may have been made popular only a few hours ago.

So I went ahead and fixed that - if the only Loaded is available, that's the date displayed - otherwise it's when it was made popular (and I'm now setting that at the correct threshold). As I am now also selecting and order on that on everything but "All" (as those may not be popular yet), I had to go in and update the DB to correct old stories.

Looks to be working nice :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Last 10...

I've finally got the right column up. It shows (up to) the last 10 votes and last 10 comments,
Because I'm staying away from the emphasis on friends, I need to make users visible able to each other - this is one way to do that.

It's 100% cache-based, as I don't want to hit the DB. Looks pretty good, I think - and now that I have the right column set, I'll be doing other things (like showing top tippers by time...)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Like-Minded, Part 2

Whew, ended up doing some more on this. Now when it returns any like-minded, it will also show a list of WHO was like minded.

I'm trying to make sure the social part of this (as in, users connecting to users) is still around. This is one of the things to help with that.

Also cleaned up some of the screens - I've ended up going to a centered column, so made sure everything is doing that (login, register, user, etc. was left still).

Like Minded

So I think I've taken like minded to its conclusion.

Instead of a straight # threshold, it does it as a % of like-voted stories. And the user can now configure that, either on their user page or when they do like minded on the main page.

When doing like minded on the main page, they'll get this:

The low the %, the more open it is. The higher, the more alike (voting-wise) the stories will be.

Not sure how much more I'm going to do right now - still would like to flush user profile out (default sites and cats for the most part), but I'm getting a bit fried :)

I also put in a RSS link, so the RSS buttons in IE and Firefox now show up.


Enough Digg smacking :)

So a few new things have gone in. On the preview screen, you can now comment.

And I've added Ajax to all commenting - when you make the comment, it will in-place make it, then show that it made it. Which helps navigation on the story page a LOT - as back will now take you to the previous screen, always.

I MIGHT do the 60 seconds timer for edits on comments - have to see. Not a huge deal, but might be a 2.0 thing.

Big thing left is user profile. Going to keep that very simple for now, but I at least need to get some basics in (pop window on click, % for like minded, etc)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Critical of Digg = Be censored by Digg?

So an interested thing happened last night. I had posted a blog entry about how annoyed I was with the quality and type of ads that Digg has been showing over the last couple of weeks. And sent it off to Digg

I didn't really mean for it to go anywhere, I was just venting. But I guess others had gotten tired of the annoying video ads, so it ended up getting voted up. It entered the front page, and was on the "top in 24 hours" in 2 hours.

By 5 PM EST it was in the #1 spot on the Top 10 in All Topics, and by 11 PM it was in the #2 spot for "top in 24 hours", and rising fast.

Around 11:45 PM it was removed.

So, my question is, why? I would guess it had either been buried by users, or Digg itself removed it.

It very well COULD have been buried - a lot of the comments seemed to be thinking the point of the post was about having to look at ads (and from there, pointing on there are ad blockers that could be used). That wasn't the point.

I've been using various forms of Ad blockers for a long time, so am aware of them. I happen to be on a new install and had not gotten around to installing Adblocker (something I did a hour after the first post, as I was really really tired of watching that $@!#$ girl every time I brought up Digg).

The point was the low quality of ads on Digg, almost NSWF, and very distracting. A lot of people want to support the site through ads so don’t install blockers; some don't have a clue about ad blockers (or are using IE). And some can't control what they can install on their machine ('cause they are at work, or are using a public machine or someone else’s machine).

Considering how many people DID support what I was saying, and after seeing the continuing Diggs (I was watching it on Stack), I do have to wondered how a post like that could all of a sudden been buried? It would have probably hit the number 1 spot for 24 hours.

So was it buried or censored by Digg? Did someone at Digg not like the amount of slams they were getting on their partners poor choice of Ads? I realize this is a touchy subject, as the site is getting 100% of their revenue via ads, and they don't want to piss those people off (and as I said before, I SUPPORT Digg using ads – I just would like less intrusive, SFW ads, you know?)

Anyway. I don't really care that much, just thought it was interesting. I haven't had anything I've submitted go up like that before; it was cool, and then disappointing to just have it removed. I really HOPE it wasn't Digg that censored my opinion - if so, then the site has a lot more to worry about then the lousy selection of ads they are running!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

DIGG: Please stop with the $!&@ front page video ads!

Yeah, I know, you need to make money, fine. But it seems like every time I bring Digg up I'm seeing this girl w/ live video. Yeah, she's pretty good looking... but I'm trying to READ, damit, and having some animated bit of fluff in the lower right of my window is very distracting. So how about using some of that $300-million-value-pull and drop the !@#!@ video adds? OK? I promise I'll click on some of the less-annoying static ads if you do. THANKS!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Site Buttons

So I've been using the force vote to submit to digg, which is working GREAT (68 stories in 2 days - usually VERY hard to get a new one in).

So I was thinking. I'm not really in competition with the other sites. I'm actually feeding off of them, NEED them to have lots of new stories. So why not let my users submit to those sites (if the original story wasn't from. So I've done that.

I've also given credit to the sites that we're feeding off of in the footer (under "Sites we use") with a link.

I still need to figure out what to do with user profile. Should I get it full of stuff, or keep it very simple as it is today?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


RSS is up and running. Asking some testers what they want, beyond what I've done.

I've also set up a twitter account that gets stories when they first go on the front page ( and am using Force Vote to Digg (there's a button that will digg a story, nice). The userid for that is

I hope that both of these will drive traffic - the twitter info directly, and the digg one indirectly (a couple of front page stories would help a lot, as that will get the user ID visible to a lot of people)

Friday, November 2, 2007


Not a lot of time to work on Nozzl this week... but I got Search in. Works pretty nice.

Also moved away from the mutli-select on the categories- you can now only select one, and there's a "All". While I think the old way was better once you knew what was going on, it was uniformly confusing the hell out of people. Fun :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


A lot going on last weekend. Lots of little things (look and feel), and a couple of big ones:

Like-Minded is in. This will filter stories based on what other people like you voted for. So it matches you with people that had a high % of similar votes, and then only shows what those people voted for. As most people only like to hear what the believe, this should be nice :)

Story Preview is done. This allows a user to click a icon next to the main story name, and actually SEE the story. I'm not exactly sure why other sites aren't doing this... One of my users is new to social news. He asked me why, after he clicked on a link to a story, there wasn't a vote button available? I personally automatically open stories in new windows on tabs. And I don't want to automatically open a new window on Nozzl. Or frame it, like Propeller does.

I've been thinking about improving story viewing and voting for a while, and came up with a preview. This isn't a thumb nail preview like a lot of sites do - it's a in-window modal popup that has the story info at the top (where the user can VOTE), and then the actual story, fully readable, below.

I think this has a really large potential - it should make it much easier to read and then vote for stories. And it's slick :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More done

I've been VERY busy with the Day Job - had to go to a week long meeting, so very little time to work on Nozzl.

While I managed to get a nasty cold last week, I managed to get a few hours in today. Most of it was just working on CSS and the look and feel of the site. I"m somewhat happy with it:

Still got a ways to go, but it's a lot tighter now. And I think generally looks better.

As I've still got a small number of users, I needed a way to seed more votes on stories that are useful (as I want NEW people to find use on the site). This is NOT something I am planning on using when I have more users. But will be handy for now. It's a .NET Windows app that can list X hours of stories... and then I can view each story, and vote Y times for each one (using the base ID).

I could actually make a nice little app like this for users to use, I guess... have to think about that a bit.

Just did the deploy (almost midnight now, and my cough is doing down hill).

I've still got to flush out the user profile (Voting, friends, voted stories, commented stories). Then not sure what else, but continue to work on the look and feel.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Ah, 5 AM Saturday morning, and I'm just wrapping up. Another fun one :)

Day job got very busy this week, so haven't had a chance to work on nozzl until late last night, after getting home from dinner.

Got a LOT done. More clean up (mostly on the load)... AND I have the wiki working!

As stories make the front page (configurable threshold), I auto-send the info to the wiki. The Title, original URL, and description.

Any stories that have a wiki entry now show a link next to the story info. Anyone can edit the wiki info. My hope is that for important stories, people will go edit and add real info. This could become a fairly useful source of information, over time.

I'm using screwturn wiki, which I've used before. Very nice, GNU, all in .NET 2.0/C#. Had to do some SLIGHT modifications to the code base. The actual story insert happens direct to the DB, so it's very quick.

We'll see what happens - this may end up being something people don't use much. But if it gets used, with REAL info, and if the top stories over the long term build up a bunch of info, then the wiki itself could become a great history of what happened.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Comment Voting

Got comment voting in tonight. Still need to "bury" comments (on - vote) and report comments.

Beyond that, the last big piece is user profile.

But i THINK site is fairly usable now.

Showed it to Donald, who has a few friends looking at it - so I have several people on the site. Need to start to draw more in at this point.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Added Newsvine - looks like fairly good social news site. A lot of the smaller sites seem to be mostly spam, so I'm trying to be careful what I add. Still looking for a couple of more - but that's it, as the "All" page will slide more than I want.

Did a bunch more cleanup, on both the web site and the Loader. The Loader is URLEncoding title and description now, which is a must-have. Old stories will still show ????, but new ones should work fine now.

I am getting the Author name and URL for Newsvine. I am NOT bypassing the main link (I actually wrote the code for the loader to get the real url, but pulled it). And I am now getting the real URL on Reddit.

I'm trying to be careful to not annoy the sites I'm feeding off of. I REALLY hope they won't be, as THEY are just feeding off of other sites. And I'm giving them full credit (by linking back), and not changing what they have (kinda acting like Google news). The deal on reddit is they are not providing anything on the link but the forward - so I'm just getting the real link, and using that.

Both Propeller and Newsvine actually return something on the internal URL... so I am not bypassing them. Now. Will see how that goes. I also have code that will get the real link for Propeller, so can switch both if need be.

Also added duggmirror and google cache on all links that are likely to have them.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Top Page

So, when I got up this morning, the top page wasn't showing any results. It takes 2+ votes (right now) to show up on the top page. As I hadn't voted (and Todd hadn't), the page was empty. So I put some logic in to increase the hours shown (up to 4 days) if the "top" page doesn't end up with info.

I hope, as I get more users on the site, this won't be a issue - but if *I* am driving things, this needs to be in place.

And, as I get more users, the min vote # to get on the top page will, of course, increase from 2....

Comment Sysytem

B wasn't feeling good, so I decided to do some more work tonight.

I've done the basic comment system. Looks much better now, and it allows a one-level response. While the database and underlying business layer allow a infinite level of comment-response, I've chosen to limit to ONE level of responses.

I'm using Digg as the model of a social news site.. and in my opinion, their comment system has been out of control for some time now. I want Nozzl to be SIMPLE, easy to use, fast, etc. I may looking at allowing to go two levels down, but for now, one is going to be it.

The only thing I need to do now is voting. Got some of that in, in the DB and such, but need to get the page using it. Figure I should be able to do that by Sunday night, if Halo 3 doesn't DISTRACT me too much! :) (Not to mention BioShock).

I went ahead and cleaned the loader up. It's now threaded, and show some useful info:

And yes, if you are interested, the ENTIRE friggin site is dependent on that loader running on my laptop 24x7. I will eventually convert it to a a service - which should be easy, as both the web site and the loader use a class library to do everything - just need to write the service, set a timer, and make 2 calls every x mins (2, right now).

I was going to get voting in, but I'm past my programming/Guinness limit right now, so I guess it's time for some Halo!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Bunch more work tonight. A lot of cleanup, did password recovery, improved voting (now shows "thanks" if you vote, and when you re-load, will not show anything on those stories you've voted for), don't allow dup comments on refresh, really got the pager smoking, and a few other things.

I'm really happy with it. Big dev work to go is the comment system.

I also want to look around again and see if I can find some more sites to add. I'll probably remove slashdot - it's NOT user driven, as far as voting and such, and they seem to be updating their RSS all at once - so it FLOODS the front page when it goes. Not good.


Beta site is up. Or is is Alpha? Whichever, I'm only going to be using it to start.

Worked on the look and feel, got cats fully in, did more on the loader (now link back to the original comments from the loaded site, plus some extra cleanup), along with a bunch of other stuff (LATE Night tonight!)

Got the DB up on the domain, and upload the site. Went fairly smoothly, which is nice.

As I said, I'll be using the site for a while, then get some others on it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Site names, Loader... Done!

So B had a idea for the site name - NewzNozzl. Kinda funky, catchy.. I like it. So I've got it (newznozzl, newsnozzl, newznozzle, and newznoz). Already created, DNS pointing to the correct server, and a placeholder up. So I can go live at any time (well, have to set the DB up and move the site, etc.)

Made some VERY good progress tonight. I moved off of Racoom.Xml RDF reader (it kept getting in a infinite loop. What fun). And I'm using the Digg API. Category selection, authorname, and authorlink are working.

Just ran a clean load (@ around 12:05 AM EST), and it looks good.

I just need to hook cats cats up on the web site now - most of the plumbing for that is done. And then do the logo's and clean up work, then should be GTG.

I think the biggest hole I'm going to have is the comment system - while it will WORK, it's not great. Well, ok, it stinks.

I'm going to be using it for a few days myself (keep the loader running, then use the main site for my daily news), and see how it goes. If everything is good, I'll try to get a few friends on it. See how THAT goes, to figure out if I want to invest more time in.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Started late tonight, around midnight. Made some real progress on Categories. I have come up with a Generic MetaSites category list. I've mapped digg, slashdot, and propeller to those cats (The others don't have static categories).

And then I've got the main page using those cats, with the full interface in. Woot! :)

I now need to get the loader parsing that out and saving each stories cat. And then I can hook up what the user has selected.

I've also go the time frame code in, and have cleaned up the site selection.

Here's a screen shot:
That's what it looks like when it comes up, with all sites and cats selected.

And that's with some of the sites and cats turned off. So for example, this will only show general, science, business, enterainment, and videos from, digg, and slashdot.

This works really well - the site/date restrictions are working (even though I may have some long term work on date vs vote vs submission), and the cat interface is there. And all the interface is there - still have cleanup, but I like how it works.

So I need to get the loader working - cats + better parsing + use the Digg API. Then some cleanup - and THEN I should be ready for beta.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What to release

So I've been thinking about what I really need to get done. I'm going to focus on what *I* really want in a site like this, and go from there.

While I'd like to get comment voting and sub-commenting, I think I'll wait on that for at least the beta, as it's going to take a fair amount of time to do that.

Probably the same for bury/spam reporting on both stories and commenting.

So on the site, that leaves the final look and feel (mostly the footer and header at this point, as the rest is ok).

The biggest piece beyond that is the loader. I WAS using the Digg RSS, but am going to move to the API (they give the direct link on that). Still need to clean up some of other feeds. And then there are categories.

I really want to get that in - without categories, it's going to be hard to find things. I mean, being able to filter by site is nice, but being able to do that AND cat's will be great. The problem is going to be normalizing them between site (and some of them won't have any cats at all, so will just have to go into some kind of generic bucket). It'll be interesting to see where I get with that :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


So I made some progress this evening. Story detail and commenting is in. I've continued to shape up the look and feel; I think I'm getting close, at least enough to get some alpha users on it.

The big thing I need to figure out here is how munch do I want to get into the site, before getting others on it.

Like - do I need to allow voting for comments? Flat comments or allow people to respond (subcomments). How about bury/spam reporting, etc?

Friday, September 14, 2007


My cat, Kotz, died this morning :(

She was 16 1/2 - I've essentially had her my entire adult life, so her loss is really tough. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer last Dec, so it's been a very stressful year. As she's so old, the Vet agreed to more focus on quality of life instead of trying to really treat the cancer. She DID give her some steriods, which shrunk the tumor, so she was been doing great, until a couple of weeks ago, when she started to show signs of liver failer. The vet thought it would still be a while, as was otherwise doing ok (eating well, active for her age, etc).

Still not sure what happened - she was doing fine until early morning, then just.. died. The vet thinks it might have been a heart attack. I'm not sure which was tougher for me - having to bring her in at some point to put her to sleep, or to watch her die over a hour period of time at home. While I have no doubt it was better for HER to be at home, watching her struggle like that is going to haunt me for a long time to come.

Anyway, way off topic for this blog, but wanted to say something. Going to be pretty... raw for a while, not sure how this is going to impact NewzNozzl - I figure I will either stop working on it for a while while I distract myself in some other way, or I'll work like a mad man on it in the evenings, using THAT as a distraction.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


So I've got the basic web site working - I used some of the AJAX voting and commenting I did for TZ - ended up leveraging a lot, which was nice. Then used some of the look and feel from TZ.

It actually is going to look a lot like Digg. I LIKE that site the best, and think it has the best look and feel of all of them. I've actually used bits and pieces of Digg over the last year, while I've been learning AJAX - will need to make sure none of that is still in the CSS (It's NOT in the Javascript, as I'm all .NET). Hard to tell what's what now, as I've been trying to find (and use) the best-of-the-best for a while now.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I've got the basic loader working. It is actually a two stage process. It first loads all news stories from the various sites into a flat table. This stage is quick (just getting raw data).

Step two takes that info, processes it, and creates the new stories in the db (with 1 vote for each). It actually follows some of the links back to the social site, and gets the real story link. Which is a pain and will break, but it's all I've got for some sites.

This second step can take a while, as it's having to process a lot of info.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sites and feeds

So, been looking around. Most of the sites have some kind of feed -anywhere from a formal API (Digg rocks) to RSS. A problem with a lot of these are they don't provide links to the actual story, but a back-link to the social news site.

While I want to be able to present a link back to the social site, I want users to be able to go directly to the story. So I'm going need to deal with that.

Right now, the working project name is "MetaSites". Which is waaaay too techie, so I'm trying to think of something else. Not much luck as of yet. Fun :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Start of Project

So I've been thinking about this for a while now. I use a few really good social news site, like digg, slashdot, reddit,, etc. But it's kind of a pain to be going back and forth on each site all day long.

So why not aggregate them? A few have done this (just a straight merge of their RSS)... but why not go a step farther, and add a social element on top of this meta site?

That is, as each site posts new news, load that and suck it into the meta site. Those new stories would then be the front page of that site, and people could vote and comment on each story. Each story would start with 1 vote.

Then there could be a top (and top in X time frame, etc). Users couldn't submit directly to the meta site - the news item would need to at least make the popular/front page of the sub-sites to even show up on the meta site.

Anyway, going to poke around a bit and see what sites really give enough of a feed to do all of this...