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It Will Blend
So, as you may already have heard, we did a thing.  While I've been able to tell a few people, I've been waiting to talk about it publicly for a while.

We've gradually begun to launch Blendix.  Blendix aims to be the one site that you need to visit every day to tell you what's happening in your world.  Right now, it's an aggregator for various kinds of data around the web.  You can pull in the usual suspects (RSS, ATOM), but it's a bit more than just an RSS aggregator: today, it understands a few more specific things (last.fm tracks, amazon wishlists, yahoo weather, flickr photos), and lots more are planned.  Although I'm practically bursting with awesome ideas for its future development, I will try to refrain from commenting too much on those plans.  As I've said before, software is like frisbee — predictions more specific than "hey, watch this!" can be dangerous :-).  However, since I know it's the first thing you'll all suggest, I can say that yes, there will be richer integration with social networks.

In brief, it works like this.  You log in, and you create some people.  Some feeds may be automatically discovered based on their email addresses, and you can add your own.  Maybe you subscribe to some people: if you're looking for one to subscribe to, may I suggest "Glyph Lefkowitz".  I hear he's pretty interesting.  Finally, you visit your "dashboard" page, which — thanks to the magic of Athena — will update whenever blendix detects that one of the people you maintain or are subscribed to publishes some new data.  You can expect to see more of that magic as it develops.

A word of warning, though: it doesn't work with Safari (or IE, but I don't imagine that a lot of you are using IE).  We're working on it, but for the time being, Firefox is strongly recommended.  (Firefox for the mac works fine.)  Most of the work involved in supporting Safari is in Nevow, which is all open source, so if you are familiar with these sorts of problems, please submit patches!

This is our first live, fully public deployment of a Mantissa server, and I'm really glad to have it out there.  We are, of course, working through the usual kinks of getting our first batch of users ("beta" isn't a web 2.0 buzzword for nothing), but I'm fairly pleased with it so far.

Blendix itself isn't open source — yet.  We've mainly been keeping the product as a whole behind closed doors as a matter of expediency.  We didn't want to support an API that was heavily in development.  However, one of my goals as we get closer to a bigger launch is to get enough of the code out there for you folks in the community to write extensions and improvements for it.  There's already enough for some things (like supporting Safari!), even at the application level.  For example, a big chunk of Blendix is the "Person" object, which is available in the public Mantissa code, along with UI for editing, browsing, and viewing.

I'm really glad to have something "out there" to share with you all, and I'd like to encourage you to share back.  Please check out Blendix, and make liberal use of the information you find under the "Contact" link at the bottom of every page.  Let me know what you think, especially if you're a programmer and you've got some ideas for hacking on the code. This will be especially useful as get into the initial phase of pushing the core out to the community.  Also, we really want to make sure the experience is as bug-free as possible, so let us know about any problems you have.
Comments
puzzlement From: puzzlement Date: January 19th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I assume this will come in time, but in due time I'd be interested in a feature comparison with Red Hat's mugshot.org. At the moment, your Blendix page is not very different from, say Jeff Waugh's mugshot page.
glyf From: glyf Date: January 19th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the link. I'd actually not heard of Mugshot before.

They're quite similar - mugshot actually has some features (like the desktop applet gizmo) that I'd hoping to do something like for Blendix. And I quite like the "love it / hate it" interface for listing feeds - I might steal that :).

But without getting into hypothetical future features, the key difference with Blendix is that "it's not just about you". It lets you create and maintain pages for all of your friends as well. In other words, it's not a social network. Your friends are already publishing feeds elsewhere, you don't need to get them to create an account on Blendix in order to track them with it. In fact it lets you track different features of your friends - you can see that I've published a "Ying Li" person who is different than Ying's self-maintained "Ying Li", because she's left some feeds off of her own profile that I want to keep track of :).

(To be honest, Mugshot is so slow right now that I can't poke around more to give a more detailed feature comparison, but I'm loath to poke fun, because I'm sure that Blendix is going to have its share of performance problems as soon as more people start using it :)).
puzzlement From: puzzlement Date: January 19th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Being able to personalise a feed of a person does sound like a useful feature. (Although — even though I know they could do it manually — I'm always a little bit scared of tools that make it easy for someone else to bring together a nice coherent picture of my life for Google or other interested parties.) Is it possible to base one's feed for a person off their own feed, or would Blendix require that I keep checking their self-maintained page for evidence of sprouting an Amazon wishlist etc?
glyf From: glyf Date: January 20th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm always a little bit scared of tools that make it easy for someone else to bring together a nice coherent picture of my life for Google or other interested parties.
Well, for one thing, maybe you shouldn't be publishing so much information then :). But we do value privacy quite a bit, and one of the things we are going to be doing in the future is adding different levels of sharing, so you can create "people" which are private, or shared only with a certain group.
Is it possible to base one's feed for a person off their own feed[...]?
This feature is planned, but I can't say exactly what shape it will take yet; we haven't scheduled it or figured out exactly how it will work.
puzzlement From: puzzlement Date: January 20th, 2008 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, for one thing, maybe you shouldn't be publishing so much information then :)

Quite possibly, but a more interesting situation is stuff I publish under a psuedonym that people shortly thereafter link using my legal name. Thanks a lot, world.
crackmonkey From: crackmonkey Date: January 19th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
BTW, your SSL cert appears to fail to validate because of the CA. But you probably know that, since it looks like you are the CA :)
glyf From: glyf Date: January 20th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
This is definitely the most reported bug so far ;). We are working on getting that, and the "mixed content" warning, fixed.
djfroofy From: djfroofy Date: January 20th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Congrats

I guess I'm an early beta user (for about two months) and didn't even realize it. Blendix is great - it's the easiest way for me to aggregate news and information about myself and other people without some bloated desktop application.



I think there are number of areas that need some improvement to get more people using this application:




  1. Yet again, support for other browsers/platforms (Safari on IPhone, ITouch for example)

  2. A recognized CA - yes you've been told this

  3. Better registration path *




* I think this is important. You need to explain how the product works and what it provides in simple steps before/after the registration. For example:




  • Add a friend

  • Import their feed URLs

  • Start connecting



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Glyph Lefkowitz
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