- My new toy
I know, I owe this site some new words, and I've had a swirl of half-ideas drifting back and forth through my mind the last few days. But I haven't had time to form any of them into ascii as I've been tweaking the final tweaks on my new website: Byliner. I hope it's self-explanatory.
- Bye bye Byliner
After months of agonising over the decision I've decided to close down Byliner from the end of this month. It's a real shame as I do think it's quite a useful service and could be developed into something even better, but I just don't have the time. It feels horribly like defeat, but I guess I'm finding there is actually a limit to the amount of stuff one can put online and not spend every waking moment staring at a computer screen. The site has sentimental value for me, being the site on which I taught myself PHP and MySQL, although this does mean the code's a little ropey. Anyway, here's the email I've just sent to the 299 people who had signed up for the service...
- Hello Byliner!
Damn and blast. It took me weeks of agonising to decide to shut Byliner. And the moment I did I had second thoughts. Was I really going to close a site after so long just because I couldn't be bothered to do the small amount of maintenance? Of course, it didn't help that Pepys' Diary was taking up so much of my time. Now I can't bear the thought of saying goodbye to a useful site, or, to be honest, of handing it over to someone else. So, I'm going to rewrite it, redesign it. and add new features starting with RSS feeds, as suggested by Yoz and Ben Hammersley. It's a relief to have belatedly reached the right decision.
- Byliner is reborn
Byliner, my site that lets you keep track of when (some of) your favourite writers publish new articles, has been completely rewritten and is now in a position to get some new features (more on that here).
I'd appreciate any comments, especially if you notice something that's broken. I haven't had a chance to test it on Windows browsers yet but hopefully it's not too bad; I'll fix PC compatibility next week. I managed to rewrite all the PHP, HTML and CSS in a couple of weeks, thanks to having the existing logic and SQL to work from and the set of PHP classes on which I now base all my sites. Even so, it's been pretty hectic.
It's pretty safe to say that what with this and Pepys' Diary I've been more productive in the past six weeks of my free time than I have in the past six months at work. But then that's not much of a challenge.
- Byliner RSS feeds
Back when I was wondering whether to dump Byliner one of the things that swung me back towards keeping it was the idea of producing RSS feeds for each users' stories. RSS wasn't used much when I originally wrote Byliner but when Yoz and then Ben Hammersley suggested RSS feeds I became enthusiastic about the site again.
- Greil Marcus
One of the few writers I used to use Byliner to track was Greil Marcus and his 'Real Life Rock Top 10's on Salon.com. Most music writers seem to drain music of all excitement just by writing about it, but Marcus doesn't lose a drop. He can describe a track by someone I'd normally dismiss out of hand and after a paragraph I'll be hunting the MP3.
- And Nancy Banks-Smith too
Yonks ago (less than five, but certainly more than a couple) I wanted to add Nancy Banks-Smith, the Guardian's masterful TV reviewer and national treasure, to Byliner but I couldn't find a suitable page to index. Then -- duh -- I realised I could monitor the paper's search results for 'Nancy Banks-Smith'. So here she is, all Bylinered up. While her writing doesn't make me wish I'd caught, say, last night's EastEnders, the turns of phrase at least have me relishing her reviews of it, a talent no other writer can match.
- Byliner stats
It's been more than four years since I launched Byliner and for months I've been meaning to look at how sign-up rates had changed. The site languished for a long time, and for a while I was telling myself I'd put the site out of its misery if there wasn't a single new registration in a calendar month. But that never quite happened.
- Byliner is closing
But the time has come, again, to say goodbye.