Monthly Archives: September 2008

Yahoo! Messenger 9.0 and Pingbox

Tonight the next major version of Yahoo! Messenger (9.0) was released. This release has been a long time in the making, with an extended beta period to help shake out as many bugs as possible. Check out the Messenger blog for the long list of feature improvements.

One unique addition is the Pingbox, a Flash widget you can embed on your blog, MySpace page, etc. Visitors to your site can use it to have an IM conversation with you directly, without the need for signing up or logging in. It should be a safe way to host anonymous conversations like this, not revealing your Yahoo ID or email address in the process. The Pingbox can be customized with various backgrounds, colors, and overall dimensions. A simple 240×180 instance looks like this:

Conversations from the Pingbox widget appear in your Messenger client as part of their own group, for example:

Creating a Pingbox widget in Movable Type 4.x is very simple:

  1. View an existing simple widget to copy the HTML markup
  2. Create a new widget and title it “Pingbox”
  3. Start with the copied HTML snippet, then insert the embed code from the Pingbox site (see this example showing the final widget code for my site)
  4. Save the widget
  5. Add the widget to the appropriate widget set and rebuild your site

The Pingbox should be a great solution for anyone looking to connect with their site visitors. It would also be a quick solution for small business wanting to offer a “live chat” customer support capability.

Stack Overflow: Programming Q&A

Today the new “Programming Q&A” site Stack Overflow launches. With the large tech crowd that follows founders Joel Spolsky (Joel on Software) and Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror), this new site should have no problem building an audience of its own.

According to the About page:

Stack Overflow is a programming Q & A site that’s free. Free to ask questions, free to answer questions, free to read, free to index, built with plain old HTML, no fake rot13 text on the home page, no scammy google-cloaking tactics, no salespeople, no JavaScript windows dropping down in front of the answer asking for $12.95 to go away. You can register if you want to collect karma and win valuable flair that will appear next to your name, but otherwise, it’s just free. And fast. Very, very fast.

Questions and answers are coming in at a steady stream right now. Seems to be a race to answer questions as quickly as possible. They’ve also implemented a reputation score system that rises as you perform various activities on the site. As your reputation score rises, your ability to do things like voting answers up/down and editing questions goes up as well.

The eventual goal for the site is to become the best reference site for programming questions. It’ll be interesting to see if their answers can bubble up in search results to get past all the other poor sites that are out there now. (Tip: Add “stack overflow” to your list of browser search providers. Works for Firefox 3, but not IE7 at the moment.)


NFL Viewership Maps

No, it’s not “red state” vs “blue state”. It’s the NFL’s allocation of regional game broadcasts on the two main broadcast networks (Fox and CBS). The site NFL TV Distribution Maps has the (unofficial) word on which games are shown where each weekend. The maps won’t tell you why your city gets a game you don’t care about, but at least you can see what a hodgepodge it is.

NFL Viewership Maps

(Via The Map Room)