Monday, December 11, 2006

Changes - Reposted With Comments

"Changes" was originally posted on Monday, September 26, 2005 in Demo Junk (our old test blog). I am reposting it because it relates to this post and I am deleting the test blog.


I removed some things from Firemind and put them here.

Clustrmaps shows where visitors are from. It's fun for a while but then gets boring.

Tag Cloud may be useful in the future but is too buggy now. It analyzes keywords and creates clickable tags. So far it seems to only read the index page and lists any common word. For example, it will list "Party! Party! Party!" as one word. Another problem is frequency. I liked seeing blog listed but found multiple links to the same post where I used the word a few times. This is NOT how it is supposed to work. It isn't as good as wordpress categories.

Update: Read the comments for more on Clustrmaps.

Discussion In Comments:

Marc said...

Hi (Marc from the ClustrMaps team here); naturally our views will differ given where I'm coming from, but I just wanted to say that

a) regarding 'boring' I think this is obviously a personal thing and depends on the rate of growth of the dots on the maps; you can go in to the Admin page and change the archive frequency (for example) so you have fresh maps more often; it is also the only setup that allows you to see the 'gestalt' of thousands of visitors to your site at a quick glance. Sure, if your maps gets covered quickly in clouds of dots then that might get tedious, but if you alter the update and archive frequencies, the emerging patterns are of great interest and use to many people.

b) in your front page summary you comment that the images are slow to load; I'd be interested for you to double-check this in some controlled experiments; you'll see that the thumbnail image is pre-computed by us, so you are literally loading a 12K image; not actually an enormous overhead, given the 'gestalt' view it provides, and given that on your main blog page you're already using stuff like a 6.7K background image (

Naturally, it's all about cost/benefit analysis for the individual user, but I think your claim of "causes your blog to load slowly in browsers." is unwarranted... please let me know if your later experiments confirm or refute this claim!!! All the best...


Leon said...

Marc - 'boring' - yes this is a personal thing. When I first used the program it was fun and new and I would check it a lot. As time went on my map filled with red dots and changes weren't as noticeable. I also miss the Hitmap features of being able to zoom into various areas such as North America.

"I think your claim of "causes your blog to load slowly in browsers." is unwarranted..." - I can only go by my own experience on this. Some outside programs can cause a blogger blog to load slowly depending on circumstances.

I have seen this happen with Flickr badges, Blogrolling blogrolls, and other programs. What I see is "contacting (or loading) clustrmaps" (for example) at the bottom of my browser.

One slow loading item can mess up my whole sidebar. I had been ignoring my clustrmap for a while and only noticed it when it was slow to load for about a week straight. I was frustrated because I had trouble checking other items. Since I wasn't interested in it anymore I decided to remove it from my blog.

I hope this explains my comments. I wasn't planning on doing a full review and discussed it with some other members already. Thanks for reminding us our comments/opinions are public.

Marc said...

Thanks for responding and clarifying your views... nice to see some clear and well-thought-out constructive commentary (instead of just flames)!

I think you'll find that the 'slowness' issue is a thing of the past - an artifact of an older server hosting environment that we have moved away from, and we'd be keen for you to try again!

Regarding the 'zoom to continents' feature: we describe in our FAQ that we still have this feature but have had to restrict this to new "ClustrMaps+" users (available for a token 99 cents monthly), and for a good reason -- in a nutshell, your desire for speedy maps and your desire for 'zoom to continents' are diametrically opposed, and we've been 'walking the tightrope' to meet both sets of needs!

The solution is that we pre-calculate *ALL* images for our users (hence the shiny new server farm!). This means that delivery is relatively compact and fast, but at the cost of some inevitable storage overheads for us. This means that if you get the balance of update and archive frequency correct (your own choice), you get (i) more interesting and rapidly changing thumbnail images; (ii) very speedy thumbnail map delivery always; (iii) great-looking continent maps, that are pretty fast, and on separate pages don't slow down your site anyway!

I say all of this because as you can see we're keen both to correct any mistaken impressions *AND* to 'get you back on board' - email me directly if there's anything we can do to help run any tests and/or convince you that all those objections have been satisfactorily met! [I'll pick it up via anything sent to the Contact addresses at ClustrMaps

Finally, although your comments are more or less directed at your own 'interest group', once Technorati grabs em, the summary that appears to the world is pretty devastating ('boring', 'slow', 'junk'... from the name) and completely turns off potential users ... (hence my enthusiasm for setting the record straight) ;-)

All the best, and thanks for listening!!



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