Pretty nifty. Nothing "incredible", since the concept has been used since the dawn of the web... But interesting.
I have updated the "Updated MSN Spaces List" on AndNBSP.com. Check it out...
Update to the update: I added a *TON* of features to the list tonight. I hope you like them. Sorry for all the advertising, but I have to pay for my SQL Disk Space and bandwidth somehow...
I thought that I would point out that if you are having trouble staying under the maximum 512-character limit imposed on the new "HTML Module" in MSN Spaces, try removing all quotes from HTML "attributes" and remove the "www." in front of web addresses and possibly trailing "/" at the end. So, my normal link might look like:
<a href="http://www.andnbsp.com/"> AndNBSP.com</a>
But, I could shorten it to:
<a href=http://andnbsp.com> AndNBSP.com</a>
The popularity of my custom MSN Spaces Updates list has definately made a dent in my statistics, but the bump that worries me the most is my SQL disk space usage. The amount of space I use is averaged across each day in the month, so I'm not all that worried yet. However, as the chart shows below, I have come just below my maximum of 350Mb. If the monthly average goes over 350Mb, I get charged $5 for every 50Mb over that amount each month! So, I have removed all of the historical data from other tools I've written and made a significant reduction in total space used today. I have also compacted / shrank the database. But, the size will continue to escalate, likely well above my 350Mb max. I placed Google Ads on the page that will help offset any costs incurred by the additional space, but it won't be enough and won't allow me to build any new things in my database.
If you find yourself having to change your name, e-mail, and / or url everytime you make a comment in MSN Spaces, then you have come to the right place. Visit this link, follow the steps and voila!
Update 2005-08-12: Also made the tool bring the cursor focus to the comment box after automatically populating the fields, so you can simply click the button and start typing your comment.
MSN Spaces has answered our prayers for a custom HTML module my friends! But, there's a catch! Only 512 maximum characters in length allowed! Find out how...
They also added modules for adding a video or sound file / music to your space as well as the ability to tweak the interface colors. However, I am a little disappointed. They didn't do a single thing on my petition!!! I was also hoping to specify a background image, but that's not possible.
All things considered, they are making progress and I'm all good with this progress!!! Thanks spaces team!
Hey, hey! Positive and negative feedback = good feedback and GREAT software. I'm really grateful for all of the comments.
Updates to the MSN Spaces Updates List
- You can now remove your space from the list and even add it back in!
- The list is only updated every 10 minutes
- Your space will only be visited a maximum times of once every hour. It would be rare if your space was indeed updated ever hour, so you won't see 15 "hits" in your statistics all in a row, except your RSS feed still shows a hit for every post no matter what. I cannot control this, so talk to MSN about it not me.
A little "aside" to one of my readers:
My old lady asked me to remove her, so I did! Thank you mom for being so immature by throwing insecure jabs at me... referring to me as "kid" and "young man" as only a mom can do. I hope Jesus forgives you. FYI: I am a father to a 16 year old, guardian to a 15 year old, will be adopting a 10-13 year old, have purchased my second house, owned 2 of my own businesses, started a national non-profit organization, and more stuff you don't care about. I am not telling you this to boost my ego, but rather to explain my pride of maturity through these life-changing events and circumstances. You were running to lawyers, because you didn't understand something that was happening to you. Not for advice, but for "revenge". You made posts pointing the finger at me, when I was trying to help. You posted links back to your blog when you were asking for privacy. ... and people wonder why religious people are stereotyped as "hypocrites". Thanks for contributing!
*Stricken from the record, since she was nice and said "Thanks".
For those that care, I have posted a complete disclaimer on my "MSN Spaces Updates" list:
Disclaimer: This list aggregates information that exists in the public domain and is freely available to persons on the internet. The content provided is copyrighted by each respective author and this website in no way represents the authors or their content. It does not include information that has been intentionally marked private or confidential in accordance with internet standards. For more information on limiting access to the content of your own "MSN Space", reference the MSN Spaces help. Both I and this web page are in no way affiliated with Microsoft, MSN, or MSN Spaces.
Okay... I concede. Apparently not everyone understands how search engines work when they launch their website or mini-website (like an MSN Space) on the internet. I have begun to get a small number of e-mails and comments regarding, "Why am I listed in your list? I didn't ask to be listed." These range from incredibly hostile to confused, but excited.
Before I jump into the details of the "Why", I'll make the unformal announcement that I have stopped automated processing of additional spaces until I can provide additional support for authors to remove themselves from the list and to limit how many times a space's content is indexed in a day. The hows of all this are up to me, but I'll give everyone an update within the next couple of days. For those of you who have been included in the list and already voiced your desire not to be included, I apologize, but you will have to wait. Read everything below if you are upset by this.
My List Works Just Like a Search Engine
If your "website" does not completely limit access to its content, the content is said to be "in the public domain". However, search engines recognize that not everyone wants their web pages to be included in the results, so they implemented a solution. Well, more of a "good practice". The program that updates my list is known as a "web agent", a kind of "internet bot" that seeks out information on the internet. It works similiar to a search engine spider. My program could also be considered a news aggregator
How Websites Limit Access to Content
Webpages may include a special HTML tag that tells an internet bot / web spider / web robot whether or not to index the page's content and whether or not to follow any links within the content. Another file, known as "robots.txt", can specify how an bot accesses your website or a specific web directory within the site. Links in HTML may also include information that tells a bot not to follow it, giving the web page's author complete control. However, internet bots that automatically read web pages are not required to respect these standard guidelines. This is an unfortunate reality on the internet. So, an author might specify everything to limit access to their content, but ultimately, unless the content is physically protected, it's up to the internet bot to decide.
How MSN Spaces Limits Access to Content
Most authors of mini-websites, like MSN Spaces, do not have control over "robots.txt" or the HTML tag for controlling web page indexing. So, MSN Spaces has provided the option to physically restrict access to a person's "Space" as well as providing support for specifying that a link is not to be followed. So, what if you do not want to restrict physical access to your space, but want to restrict access to your content by search engines or internet bots?
How MSN Spaces Should Limit Access to Content
Building on their existing support for limiting content, MSN Spaces should provide the additional options for limiting access to content:
- MSN Spaces should give us all the option to limit how an internet bot accesses our content, possibly providing a checkbox in our "Settings" panel for "noindex" and "nofollow" commands.
- MSN Spaces should also enable us to specify whether or not to include our Space in their own "Updated Spaces" list that appears on most spaces or in their "More Spaces" list.
Okay... everyone needs to calm down! My "Updated MSN Spaces" list has grown to include 3,930 new spaces in the last 15 minutes! This means that more than 40 people have viewed the page in that amount of time. I suppose it's good everyone's finding it so useful, but geez...
... to top off my very recent rants and raves about MSN Spaces quirks and the members of spaces, I just got the message "Sorry, we are unable to complete your task at this time. The MSN Spaces service is experiencing difficulties. Please try your task again later."
MSN Spaces Team - I get this message daily! What's up?! You guys have millions of customers to provide a free and extemely popular service to or something?
"Why do you keep visiting my space?"
I'm NOT! This thread will get lost in space eventually, but let's make one thing absolutely clear... I very rarely visit random spaces!
Here's how this works...
- If you are seeing, "ericis.com" as the referrer to your space, then my automated program for providing updates to my "Updated MSN Spaces" list has found your space adorable and loves it so much that it read everything you have posted in your RSS feed and even listed your space for free among tens of thousands of others just like you! How exciting...
- Someone ELSE visits MY space.
- They see a link to your space from mine most likely in the "Updated Spaces" list provided by the MSN Spaces team and click on it.
- Someone ELSE visits MY space.
- They simply type in your space's URL in their internet browser address bar and visits your space.
Scenario #4 - Not likely
- I am on MY space.
- I see your space listed in the itty-bitty "Updated Spaces" list provided by MSN, or I happen to know your space already and I actually visit it! This scenario is the least likely to happen, because I simply don't have the time to go browing other people's spaces and, if I did, I wouldn't be visiting your space from my own... I would be visiting it from someone else's space that referred to your space as kick-ass and you would see THEIR space in your stats.
Yes, the MSN Spaces statistics suck...
First of all, the idea of showing you RSS hits in your statistics is rediculous, because EVERY story displayed in the RSS feed shows as a "hit". I think it ought to simply tell me that I had a single RSS hit, essentially telling me that a person read my blog via RSS. I had 10,000+ hits in my statistics when I first logged on this morning (just this morning!), because of the RSS fluke.
Secondly / Thirdy / Finally - I'm tired of scrolling and clicking!!! Not only are my statistics pointless because of the RSS problem, but I have to click-scroll through pages and pages and pages and pages and pages to get anything useful. Where's my download option?
Yesterday my list of "Updated MSN Spaces" was just below 100,000... I was looking forward to announcing the news this morning. But, I wake up this morning and jump on the internet only to find that there are more than 140,000 spaces listed! Apparently the list is getting more popular, because the exponential growth of the list depends on those viewing the list.
Since launch on July 23, the list has grown by an average of a little less than 8,500 spaces. I expect this to climb much higher, considering the last 18 hours have increased the list by more than 50,000.
It also took forever to load the page... I have fixed this and it is screaming fast! The technical details involved indexing the database table for fields that are commonly searched, limiting the total number of records returned to the client, and creating default filters on the data if no search has been performed.
I have updated the MSN Spaces Petition to include a few new points of interest surrounding the RSS feed and general admin features. Check it out.
The "Updated Spaces" list is back online:
*The RSS feed is working as well:
I revamped my website during the process:
The new design is just plain simple with absolutely no pizazz. Why? 'Cause it was really time consuming to make updates. I could have planned the design better, limiting the time to create a new page, but I just decided to dump it for now... We'll see what happens.
I added an RSS feed to my customized "Updated Spaces" list, which has grown to include more than 50,000 spaces! The feed outputs the last 25 updated spaces in the list. You can add the feed to my.msn.com or your favorite RSS aggregation program.
They're also protecting us from any malicious scripts. With the rise in security concerns across the internet over the years, they're just playing it safe, which is a good thing if you've ever been hit by a virus of any kind. I'm not saying that a virus is going to jump out from a website into your computer system (that's up to browser vendors to take care of).
As a person who loves to customize everything can tell you, it is nice to visit an entire world of related websites without things following your cursor around or big obnoxious flashing things flying around.
To be honest? I think there's another way. But, they wrote it the way they did and they're sticking to it.
If I say anything below, I should be saying this: "MSN Spaces team, will you please publish a list of languages that you currently provide direct translation for? Or, change the RSS feed to report the EXACT language that the space content was written in rather than the language I am requesting in?"
The pros and cons of making international software "smart" are numerous. Encountering problems are a certainty when making any robust software available on the global market. Certainly there have been many successful products, but I am having difficulty with the solution MSN Spaces employed in their RSS feeds for each of our spaces.
Language and Software
In my humble opinion... the MSN Spaces team is reporting the wrong language in many of our RSS feeds. The "gray" line is how you interpret "subregions" or sub-populations of a language. In code, an application is usually written in one language and then translated into other languages. The software program often attempts to find your specific language and, if your specific language does not exist as a translation, it attempts to provide the next best translation. So, if I speak another version of Spanish than the one provided by the software program, it will give me the version of Spanish it has.
How MSN Spaces Handles Languages
Without going into detail about the various layers of how MSN Spaces handles languages, my problem with their implementation comes to this... When you request a web page or RSS feed from MSN Spaces, it looks up your preferred language (using your internet browser and / or Passport preferences) and attempts to provide the MSN Spaces text in that language. However, the content of the space may be a different version of the language provided, since the text of MSN Spaces might not have been translated into your EXACT language or possibly not at all.
Here's a great example... When I request the list of "more spaces", I get a list of spaces that have either the same language as mine or the closest thing to it. So, if my language settings say "en-US", I should see only English spaces. But, if my language is German, I should see only German spaces. Get it? Well, what if my language is some other version of English that MSN Spaces hasn't been translated into? Then it would probably give me English spaces.
So, when my automated program visits a space in a specific language (say "en-US-Eric"), MSN Spaces responds with only "en-US" spaces in the "Updated spaces" box. But, what happens if someone's blog is written in "en-US-Nada"? Of course, MSN Spaces will assume it is "en-US" as well. So, when I request "en-US-Eric", I will get spaces in "en-US" AND "en-US-Nada"...
... unfortunately, the RSS feed would report that the language for all of these is "en-US-Eric", since it is the current language, and not "en-US" for spaces that are simply English and "en-US-Nada" for spaces that are something else!!! So, if your space was written in a "primary" language when my automated program is requesting another version of that primary language, EVERYTHING will be reported as the other version and not what it really is!
I'm not blaming anyone at MSN Spaces for this. It's not technically a mistake on their part. Technically, it's a very robust feature that happens to not support what I am trying to use it for. Ever try to use the back of a screwdriver or the side of a wrench instead of going to get a hammer? Problem is, I don't know where the MSN Spaces team keeps the hammer or if I even have access to it.
My Own Version of the MSN Spaces "Updated Spaces" list!After only 6 hours of dedicated weekend time, I now present you all with the ability to see "Updated Spaces" like you've never seen it before! My list includes additional information about spaces you will not see in the lists provided by the MSN Spaces' website (including "Updated Spaces" and "More Spaces..."), like blog's name, title, "total posts" (that appear in the RSS feed), last entry title, last entry date/time, and Technorati profile.Give me feedback on what you think! I appreciate all of your comments, suggestions, etc. for improving the tool:2005-07-24: Update - Added profile images to the report.2005-07-25: Update - Added notification when zero records are returned by a search. *Thanks BestMonty2005-07-25: Update - Added the ability to Submit Your MSN Space2005-07-25: Update - Added languages, since it seems that the Spaces' RSS feeds occassionally report a different language2005-07-26: Update - Fixed bug in languages addition. The list should now include many more non-English spaces.2005-07-26: Update - Location with a link to Google maps was added and languages was removed! Although I am still storing "Language" for each space, I have removed it, since it doesn't seem to be working out as expected. To compensate, I took the 20 minutes to add "Location" for you all. Since everyone can input their own location, I do not offer a way to filter by a known list of locations. *sorry*2005-07-27: Update - SPEED! The list will now load much quicker, since I have removed the logic that updates the list and placed it into a auto-scheduled program.2005-07-29: Update - Top 25 Updated Spaces RSS feed. Now you can get the list of updated spaces from around the world fed directly to your favorite RSS program, including to My.MSN.*I am in no way affiliated with Microsoft, MSN, or MSN Spaces other than being a member of spaces and enjoying tinkering with their services.