Monday, May 17th, 2010
As per the plan I spent today working on Live Brum.
Much of the day was spent catching up on correspondence. The email@example.com inbox had got wildly out of hand but is now sorted and under control. But look, if you are waiting for a reply from me and haven’t had it then please email me again as I may have missed your message. From here on in you can always expect a reply by the following Monday at the very latest.
As ever, events information that you send to firstname.lastname@example.org will continue to be dealt with as soon as possible but almost always within 24 hours.
Dealing with the Live Brum email backlog took longer than I anticipated but I did manage a few small improvements to the site today.
Digital Brum joins Live Brum
Events from Digital Brum are now also included in the main Live Brum listings. The main advantage of this change is that upcoming Digital events will be seen by a much wider audience and that feels like a good thing to me.
Live Brum sources
Each event now has a more prominent ‘source’ link below the title. This shows where we got the information from. This is the same as the ‘more information’ link over there on the left but it seems that lots of people were missing that.
Send to a friend
Send to a friend functionality has returned. After giving up the battle with the spambots in late 2009 (who at one point were submitting rubbish to that form over 10,000 times a day) I have had another go at crafting something that puts a stop to the bulk of that while keeping it easy to use. To recap: If you click on ‘send to a friend’ when viewing an event you get a small form slide into view so you can send that information to your friend via email.
Share event information on other sites
Until today there was also a panel called ‘Bookmark’ which had some increasingly out of date links. That panel now has a title of ‘Post this event to’ and I’ve updated the options to cover Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Reddit and Stumbleupon. Along with the ‘Subscribe’ panel this is also now open by default.
There is now a Live Brum Uservoice Forum where you can add your own requests and vote others up and down. This is the place both to ask for new features and report things that may be broken. If you use it then I will let my Monday’s be guided by what you think is most important.
There is also an ugly Feedback tab on the side of every page of Live Brum now. I promise to make that fit in a bit better next week.
That’s it. Not a huge amount for my first Live Brum Monday but not nothing either.
At the top of next week’s list is the first release of some WordPress widgets. These will enable you to put Live Brum listings in the sidebar of your WordPress site. A very early version of these can currently be seen in the sidebars of this very blog. They won’t be finished next week but I will make them available over at developer.livebrum.co.uk for other people to start testing and playing with. Full details next Monday.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
It is with both mild surprise and huge delight that I can announce that Live Brum has reached the ripe old age of two. Two years! The usual ‘has it really been that long’ comments mingle with ‘feels like ten years’ to show that time is different for each of us.
To celebrate our first birthday we launched an entire new design. This year I have something slightly different but first a bit of background.
There are two key aspects to running Live Brum. The first is the maintenance of the listings. This is a big deal and, two years ago, was the biggest hurdle to overcome. There was, naturally, some doubt that we would be able to sustain the site in the longer term. I’m delighted to say that due to a small number of dedicated volunteers, the listings remain impressively up-to-date. We can’t guarantee to show everything that’s on in Birmingham but I think we are amongst the most comprehensive and reliable of your options. Most of this isn’t down to me.
In particular, Live Brum has one amazing volunteer who enters more data than everyone else put together. This person wishes to remain anonymous – and we must respect that – but we all owe them our gratitude for an incredible ongoing effort.
Right now we have approaching 26000 events in the database of which about 3500 are upcoming events. Events are being added at a rate of just over 1000 per month.
Before patting ourselves on the back too much though, this is not true of all related projects. Digital Brum limps along with just enough data to be useful. That’s pretty impressive actually as I haven’t personally entered an event on there for months. One or two more volunteers who could enter a couple of events a week would get that ship shape. Anybody?
Art Brum meanwhile is in the doldrums. Volunteers haven’t stepped forward to help with that one and while I thought I could maintain it, turns out I was wrong. As ever I just don’t have enough time. Again, if anyone wanted to volunteer to do some data entry then that would be delightful.
And then there’s All Brum. This shows the entire contents of the database. Live, Digital, Art and a few stray categories with little in them – results of half-developed ideas that petered out. People do use All Brum but it only gets about 10% of the traffic of Live Brum and, more to the point, it depresses me.
So, good and bad on the data entry front. But more good than bad overall.
The second aspect of running Live Brum is the maintenance and development of the code powering it. This has had precious little attention in recent months and is becoming a concern.
This code is also in use now on The Isle of Wight, in Worcester and the global Kiting Community amongst others. Similarly, the data is being used by an increasing variety of other sites and I am painfully aware how awkward some of the feeds are to re-use on your own sites.
I have a list a mile long of improvements I would like to make, features I would like to add, but simply haven’t found the time this year so far. This frustrates me. So it’s time to fix that.
After a bit of determined life-rearranging I am delighted to announce that from 17th May and for the forseeable future I will be spending every Monday working on Live Brum and family. That’s probably all I’m going to manage so progress isn’t going to be super fast but it will be steady and it will be ongoing.
The meat of what I have planned will have to wait for Monday 17th May, my first Live Brum day, but in short, you can expect news on the following soon.
- A place for feedback where you can tell me what you most want to see (and others can agree/disagree)
- A new space for those wanting to use the data, http://developer.livebrum.co.uk
- Live Brum will soon cover all genres including Digital and Art (not just live performances)
- All Brum will metamorphose into something slightly more general (to be defined)
- The Live Brum archives – easy access to our entire history of events in Birmingham
Ultimately I plan to start work on a new improved codebase which will lead to Live Brum version 3. However this will be some time in the making as I am not abandoning the current site where I have a raft of small improvements lined up.
Live Brum V3 will start with an API with a website to follow. The tentative plan right now is to start exposing that API to you lovely people a chunk at a time. With each release there will be example code showing you how to make use of it to put the data on your own site.
Additionally, there are some new flavours of the site brewing. A single venue version is bubbling away as is a ‘custom’ version where you can choose which venues/genres to show.
My plan is to write up my day’s work and post it to the Live Brum blog every Monday evening so you can keep track of what’s happening where.
Does this seem good to you? Sound off in the comments below and I’ll post an update on Monday 17th May (and every Monday except Bank Holidays after that).
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
And out of nowhere, in the blink of an eye, jumping the queue in front of Art Brum, we now have Digital Brum.
Digital Brum will provide listings for all things web related. So, Bloggers Meets, LovalGovCamp, Hack Sessions, Social Media Surgeries, stuff like that.
Although burbling around as an idea for a while, inspiration to get on with it came from this post by Jon Bounds on the Paradise Circus Forum.
If you have an event that you think should be on then let us know. If you would prefer to add the data yourself then you need to create a new account and then send an email to email@example.com requesting editing rights.
All feedback appreciated.