Saturday, March 18, 2006

Latest Development: No Development

Due to extensive professional and personal obligations, I don't foresee any updates to MyBigRiver in the near future (my previous post notwithstanding), though it will remain online as-is for quite a long time to come. Fortunately, it's pretty useful and fully-baked as it is (aside from the well-publicized no-keyword quirks). Let it be known that I'm certainly willing to entertain offers to sell the site/technology to the right buyer. I'm looking at you, Mr. Bezos ;)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Something New in the Works

For those who are currently enjoying MyBigRiver, and for those who have publicized it on their blogs and websites - thank you! For those who have commented that it's pretty cool, but don't see much use for it, this message is for you: We're cooking up something new and very cool, using "MyBigRiver" technology. I strongly suggest that you subscribe to this blog's feed so you'll get the announcement when it's ready to launch. Meanwhile, you probably won't see many changes to the existing site, or posts to this blog, for a while. But we'll be coming back with a bang!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

MemeBigRiver

Laze.net proposes exploiting Amazon.com's quirky Web Service search engine (read this for background) for the following entertainment purpose: Enter your own name and see what comes up! For me, it would be "Transporter 2". Not bad. Never saw the movie, but the guy dresses well, at least.

Friday, January 27, 2006

MyBigRiver Mentioned in Geek News Central Podcast

MyBigRiver was mentioned in the latest Geek News Central podcast. They don't say a whole lot about it though, so if you already know about MyBigRiver (and you wouldn't be here if you didn't!) it's probably not worth listening just to hear the mention. But still, pretty cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New Keyword: Kitchen

I added a new keyword to the site: "kitchen". This was obviously a trivial change, so you may not find it especially blogworthy. I don't either. I only mention it because it was inspired by the amusing fact that a search for "Cuisinart Blender" turned up the Legally Blonde DVD. Go figure. Again, see my earlier post - keywords are your friends!

MyBigRiver Search Plugin for Firefox!

You can now add MyBigRiver to your Firefox search box! Just click the link on the new "Cool Tools for MyBigRiver" page to have it added.

There have also been a couple minor UI/usability tweaks and behind the scene code changes today, but nothing really to write home about. They were mostly changes to make me feel less embarassed about the quality of my code!

There's plenty more to come! Be sure to keep an eye on this blog however you prefer to keep your eyes on blogs!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

MyBigRiver and Amazon Referral ID's

Some users have noticed that the HTML links generated by MyBigRiver.com contain what is known as an Amazon Referral ID. What this means is that when someone purchases something from Amazon via this link, MyBigRiver.com receives a small portion of the purchase price as an incentive. Nothing about Amazon.com behaves differently when users arrive via this type of URL - Amazon is just providing a reward for the traffic.

Now, you may think it's unfair that a URL you are putting on your site generates revenue for us instead of you, and that's actually a perfectly reasonable thing to think! If you want to make revenue via links generated via MyBigRiver.com, sign up as an Amazon.com associate, and replace "mybigriver-20" in generated URL's with your own associates ID.

Of course, the referral links are how we make money. And money keeps the site up and running, and inspires further development. We're pretty sure there are enough users with no interest in setting up Amazon Associate ID's that we'll still make a decent profit, even if there are a good amount of URL-changers.

What we don't want happening is people without Associate ID's just being nasty and striping our ID off without adding their own. If you're inclined to do this, just remember that all you're doing is taking money out of the pockets of a small independent web site and putting it back in the pockets of a giant multinational corporation.

For those who feel we should publicize the Associate ID situation even more openly, the reason we're not inclined to do this is to avoid encouraging the type of behavior we just mentioned. Anyone who uses Amazon referral ID's is likely to know what's going on with the URL, and how to change it to suit their needs. Anyone who doesn't use Amazon referral ID's really does not need to be concerned with our referral ID because it doesn't affect their usage of generated links in any way whatsoever.

We're totally understanding about people wanting to modify links to put money in their pockets, but we're kind of reluctant to openly advertise how people can take money out of ours, for no good reason.

Use Keywords - Really!

Several site users have reported getting really weird results for certain queries. A search for "linux" turns up the Batman Begins DVD. A search for "blog" turns up a Bloc Party DVD. A search for "Jakob Nielsen" returns a Danish-language "gritty and frank coming-of-age drama". A search for "Matthew Haughey", an author of several technology books, who was kind enough to link to the site, turns up a Golden Girls DVD collection.

Here's what's going on. As you may know, MyBigRiver.com relies on Amazon.com's Web Service API to return results. When no keyword is entered, the Amazon search engine performs a search of all of Amazon.com. Which makes sense, except that for reasons completely unknown to me, it doesn't return the same results that a regular Amazon.com search would. I can't find any documentation or exact explanation of how this works, but I've deduced two things. 1) A full-catalog (or as Amazon calls it, "blended") search, skews heavily toward DVD's. 2) There appears to be some kind of "spell-checking" going on when doing a full-catalog search, that can't be turned off. Hence the "blog" -> "bloc" connection.

The solution is simple. In all of these cases, adding the appropriate keyword returns a much more reasonable "best guess". Also, keep in mind that MyBigRiver.com is geared more towards finding a link for something you already know about, rather than finding out what's available for a broad topic. So be sure to enter the complete title of something you're looking for (or as much of it as you can remember). You'll have a much better experience!

Welcome to MyBlogRiver

Welcome to MyBlogRiver, the blog for MyBigRiver.com. Although I'm a huge fan of blogs, I originally felt that a blog devoted to this site would be a tad unnecessary and pretentious, being that it offers such a simple service. However, in the short amount of time it's been online, I've received tons of constructive feedback that I'd like to comment on.

There are also a great number of small changes that I'd love to make to improve the site, and I figure this would be the place to announce them as they are launched. I have some major ideas in mind that will likely take months, but there are a few tweaks I plan on adding that should only take a few days or weeks. So please subscribe to the RSS feed and keep an eye on the things. MyBigRiver.com will only get better!