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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Joule's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
5:27 pm
End of the line?!
Well, crud. Quoted from the horse's mouth:

Joule: the end of the line

An unexpected server move means the end of the line for Joule.
Thank you to everyone who has helped and used the system over the years.
You may still download the source code if you wish.
Any further enquiries may be addressed to thomas@thurman.org.uk.

I guess that means I should uninstall the Joule Firefox plug-in, too...
Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
10:04 am
Monday, January 17th, 2011
5:31 pm
Git tree
For programmers who prefer git to bzr, I have placed the source code of joule in a git tree.
Sunday, January 17th, 2010
3:09 pm
Joule down temporarily
Joule's down for about an hour for another server switch. Sorry for the interruption. I'll update this post when it's back.

In unrelated news, I'm sorry Twitter support has been so flaky recently; real-life work has been keeping me rather busy.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
2:10 pm
Joule is back
In case you hadn't noticed, Joule is back. Thanks to everyone who sent encouraging messages when we were down, and everyone who offered to help.

We have switched to advertising using Project Wonderful, which is a rolling auction. You can bid if you like; currently it'll cost you a US penny to have your ad up for one day.

I may bring in a thing where in exchange for a donation of a certain size it will turn the ads off for your account.

Dreamwidth support is coming before the end of the month.
Thursday, October 1st, 2009
12:34 pm

Popped on today and I got a 404 error from it today. Says it cannot be found.

What's up?

Current Mood: blank
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
7:57 pm
5:10 pm
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the current user interface for Joule, and how it can be improved. Currently, you have three things to enter, in a space that looks like this:
Show me the fans of on as a or .
You need to enter
  1. Your username. This is a text box.
  2. A site. This is a drop-down list containing all the sites we support. If you came to Joule from a particular site (say, Twitter), that site will be pre-selected. Otherwise LiveJournal will be pre-selected.
  3. You must press either the "chart" button or the "graph" button.
Let's call these "the controls". I would like to simplify them a bit. I wonder whether we should make any of these changes:
  1. "Graph" isn't much used (92% of all reports are charts), and it probably should be something you can select when you're looking at the chart rather than from the front page. So maybe there should just be a "go" or "OK" button on the front page that took you to the chart.
  2. I would like to have other options than "chart" or "graph", like a line graph showing the change in the number of your followers over all the time you've been using Joule. We could have this accessible in the same way as just discussed for the bar graph, so there wouldn't have to be three or more buttons to choose from.
  3. Perhaps the controls shouldn't be on the reports page because they clutter up the report, and it would be better just to have them on the the main page, and a link back to the main page on the other pages.
  4. Most people (93%) don't go to their page using the controls. I think what happens is that they use them the first time, and then bookmark the report page. So perhaps we can simplify further and we shouldn't have the sites box. Instead you'd just type your username and it would give you a list of charts you might be interested in. That takes a little longer for the first-time user, but perhaps it's a bit less alarming or confusing than all those controls.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
11:33 am
joule is down briefly
dorothy (the server which hosts joule) is briefly down. Should be back within the hour. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
8:03 pm
What "Many" means, and what to do about it
If you have more than 100 follows or unfollows since the previous check, Joule displays "Many" instead of the names.  (This used to be "Hiccup".)  The three reasons for this are:
  1. We have to do a separate lookup in Twitter for every userid we haven't seen before, to get the icon and username.  For 5000 changes in a day, that slows page load times a lot.  This is still a problem.
  2. There is an old pre-Twitter assumption that 100 follows or unfollows means either that Joule broke, or that LJ broke when it sent us the names.  Clearly this is outdated.
  3. There isn't enough space in the chart for more than a few hundred names a day without making the page insanely long.
Carmen has suggested replacing "Hiccup" with a link to a sub-page which displays all the names for that day, possibly allowing paging through them to get around the first problem I mentioned.  I think this is a very useful idea.
Saturday, June 20th, 2009
6:37 pm
Twitter and identi.ca: direct messages
I have created a Joule bot which sends you direct messages to tell you your stats every day. It is both @joulestats on Twitter and @joulestats on identi.ca.

All you have to do in either case is follow the bot. It will send you a DM every night, except when you have no changes that day. The icon for the DMs is a Joule lightbulb, but it's blue to differentiate it from the yellow bulb on the main Joule news accounts on Twitter and on identi.ca.

Doing this is equivalent to visiting the site, and will add a row to your history.

The bot will also attempt to follow you on identi.ca because you can't send DMs on identi.ca to people you don't follow. (You can on Twitter.) I think it's better if the bot doesn't automatically follow people on Twitter, though.

What each DM contains
  1. The number of people added and removed, like "+3-2" for three people added and two removed.
  2. As many names which have changed as fit. They have a "+" or a "-" in front of them. Priority is given to "-" because you get emailed to tell you when someone adds you.
  3. The word MORE if there are too many names to fit on the line. This doesn't actually happen very often.
  4. The URL of your chart page on Joule. I included this for two reasons. Firstly, it's the only way to see your changes if you get MORE. Secondly, I just like seeing visitors on the site; hit counts obviously dropped off a lot after we introduced RSS feeds, and I miss seeing you folks there!
It might be sensible, in the case where you would get MORE if the URL was included but not if it wasn't, to drop the URL. I think I will add this in the next version.

Known bug

Twitter and identi.ca give us user IDs rather than names, so Joule has a separate step to convert IDs into names. Sometimes this step fails, in which case a name appears as +@? or -@? depending on whether it was added or removed. (On the site, they appear as (?? userid ??).) When I find out why this step occasionally fails, I will fix it. Suggestions are welcome.

Suggestions are also welcome as to how this whole subsystem can be improved.


In unrelated news, this will show you Joule in the Shavian alphabet, and this will set it back to ordinary English spelling.
Sunday, June 14th, 2009
4:42 pm
The Joule Firefox addon, version 0.1
screenshotCollapse )

Version 0.1 of the Joule Firefox addon I mentioned last week is ready for testing. The add-on is released under version 3 of the GPL.

Please be aware that this is still alpha-quality software, and it probably has bugs (and as with all GPL software, there is no warranty). If you find any bugs, or have any suggestions, I'd like to hear about them; just comment here. Anonymous comments are fine.

How to install it and set it up.

1. Log into the Firefox addons site here; create an account if you need to. Then click the green "Add to Firefox" button on that site to install the addon.

2. Restart Firefox. You should now see a lightbulb in the statusbar.

3. Go to the Tools menu and choose "Add-ons". Find Joule in the list. Press its "Preferences" button, and fill in your site and username which you want to track.

4. Close the Joule settings dialogue and the add-ons dialogue.

5. Click the lightbulb and it should update to show the number of people who have friended and unfriended you today. You only need to do this once. (I want this to be automatic when you close the dialogue, but I haven't found out how to do this yet.)

This concludes setting up.

Normal use.

The add-on polls the Joule server every six hours looking for updates. This should be plenty, since the Joule server only updates once a day. (A side-effect of this is that as long as your browser's open you don't have to check every day to get Joule updates listed; the browser's checking will do that for you.)

Clicking the bulb will take you to your Joule page. (Clicking the text doesn't do anything. I believe that this is a limitation of Firefox.)

If the number of additions or removals changes to a non-zero amount, the bulb should light and the text should become bold. Clicking the bulb will reset them to their ordinary state.

Update: By the way, after you've been testing this for a while, please leave ratings or reviews on its page on addons.mozilla.org. The only way it can get out of the "sandbox" and be installable without having to log in is if it gets a certain number of ratings and reviews. Thanks, everyone.
Friday, June 5th, 2009
12:26 am
The Joule Tool. Statusbar thing. Whatever it is.
I'm playing around with the idea of a Firefox extension to put a Joule monitor into the status bar:

screenshotCollapse )

There's not enough room in there to show the names, so when something other than +0,-0 comes up on a new day, the bulb lights up and the text goes bold, and you can click it to go to your Joule page and see what's happening.

It should be testable by Sunday or so. Does anyone fancy beta testing?
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
11:27 pm
Graphs for communities?
Hey, I was wondering if there would ever be something similar to the friending graph for communities? Something that shows when people join and leave the community?

Current Mood: curious
Monday, May 4th, 2009
1:47 am
Any Digg users in the audience?
I'm fiddling around with Joule-for-Digg. Would anyone like to test?
Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
6:18 pm
Thanks for spotting the problem
I fixed the problem (caused by the fix to yesterday's problem!) and rolled back yesterday's changes from LJ so that all the erroneous data was removed. Thanks to pling, cacahuate, macthud and minkrose, all of whom reported the error, and to you all for your patience.
Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
5:18 pm
Error in some of today's results
A regular expression error (to do with the introduction of community support in 3.5, but affecting mainly support for personal journals) which was found independently by geekchick and jarel caused LJ results to be incorrect for about three hours today. You may see a record of people friending you who were actually only friended by you if you've checked in the last few hours.

I apologise very much for the mistake.
12:28 pm
Joule 3.5 released
Joule 3.5 has been released. Included in this release are:
  • Twitter support.
  • identi.ca support.
  • Support for communities on LiveJournal.
  • Back-end rewrites of the comparison and internationalisation systems.
Not in this release:Comments and suggestions are, as always, very welcome.
Thursday, April 30th, 2009
5:29 pm
[consultation] Inversion
There's something a number of people were asking about which won't be in this week's release, but I wanted to raise the topic and get some discussion going.

Currently or soon Joule will be able to read:
  • lj, LiveJournal: for personal journals: the people who have you friended
  • lj, LiveJournal: for communities: the people watching that community
  • de, delicious: the people who have you listed
  • dw, Dreamwidth: the people whose reading list you are on (? whatever it will be, when DW is enabled)
  • tw, Twitter: the people reading an account (your "followers")
  • id, Identica: the people reading an account
Many people have asked for something I'm calling "inversion", which I'm going to represent with an "i" prefixed to the site code:
  • ilj, LiveJournal: for personal journals: your friends
  • ilj, LiveJournal: for communities: the members of the community
  • ide, delicious: the people you list
  • idw, Dreamwidth: the people you are reading
  • itw, Twitter: the people you are reading
  • iid, Identica: the people you are reading
Firstly, should we do this at all, or is it overly intrusive? (It's all public information, so we can, but should we?)

Secondly, how should we do it? (Feel free to skip this bit; it's just technical discussion.) The obvious way would be to register these as new kinds of sites: perhaps just reverse the code so tw was Twitter followers and wt was Twitter friends. But that wouldn't work because LJ sends the lj and ilj data together, so we'd end up polling twice a day, which is more than we're allowed to do. Instead I'd like to consider inverted data as a new kind of data for the existing sites, which is why I'm adding the i prefix. However, we'd still have to poll non-LJ sites twice, and it could be prohibitively slow to do this in one go for people like Stephen Fry on Twitter who have tens of thousands of friends and fans/followers. So maybe we just count a pull from LJ as a pull for both lj and ilj, but do the other sites separately. But then what if someone doesn't care about ilj, and we store all that information anyway? Maybe we should just store it if they've previously looked up their ilj information?

Thirdly, what would the user interface look like? We could keep the current drop list and add "LJ friends", "LJ fans", "DW friends", "DW fans" and so on, or add an extra drop list where you chose "fans" or "friends", or maybe have a link on the fan history which took you to the friend history... I'm not at all sure.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
2:49 pm
Joule for communities
Joule 3.5, which should launch on Saturday, will support communities (at last!)

Do you want it to log the people reading the community (which would be analogous to its current function of logging the people reading personal journals), or the members of the community?
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