Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More neat and cool stuff coming out...

I have actually been working on Web sites in some of my spare time lately. So has Dixie, for that matter.

She has redesigned the Tolkien Studies Web site and in the process given me a new template to beat to death (bwahahaha!). It looks pretty good, although I don't believe the blog is ready (haven't looked in a day or two).

I've also been working on the long-promised site about the Compuserve IMPs. Several IMPs wrote back to me with information I can use for articles. I just haven't put enough stuff together to make a decent beginning to the site. I don't think I'll wait until I have all the interviews and features done, though. It's just been too time-consuming a process and I'm not one of those people who puts off releasing a new Web site just because it doesn't have all the content.

Keeps people coming back if you keep adding content, you know?

In other news around the Xenite network, we now have a pretty cool Science Fiction Search Engine that I created through Google Coop's Custom Search Engine. It may not be as sexy as their featured CSE role models but it was still one of the first Custom Search Engines created.

And this past weekend I surpassed even myself by creating the Entertainment News Search Engine, which is even way cooler than the Science Fiction Search Engine because it can be configured to do Harry Potter News searches, and Spider-man News searches, and Star Wars News searches.

That is, it scopes out the mainstream media AND all the large science fiction mega sites for news about actors, directors, movies, whatever.

So you can satisfy your entertainment curiosity in one place, from Paris Hilton News to Narnia News.

I'm not too happy with the weighting (basically, there is NO configurable weighting), but hopefully CSE 2.0 will allow us to say, "Site X is more important than Site Y" in some reasonable fashion. I'm thinking if they would give us a scale of 0 to 20, that would work well (and no one would confuse it with that stupid Google Toolbar PageRank).

Of course, it would help if -- when they introduce a new feature for the custom search service -- they would actually explain what they are talking about rather than just say, "Hey, we've added this service". What's up with the circumspect posts, Googlers?

But enough about Google Custom Search. I've incorporated the Entertainment News Search Engine into several older Xenite news search pages, so I think it will get some long-term use. I have to tweak it a little more, but it's a pretty flexible search right now. I had to look at several hundred online news sources to get good indexing. Unfortunately, services like UPI and Reuters don't make their content very crawlable. Why do they have Web sites if they don't want people to search them? Guys. Drop me a line. I can hook you up with some great search engine optimization experts.

And then there was the October Fiasco, where I thought I had redesigned the Xenite.Org poster store pages so that I wouldn't have to update them as frequently as the old way required. Nope. I mangled that badly. Our most popular page in November was the Santa Claus Posters page and all it showed was "Chronicles of Narnia" stuff.

Yeah, you can guess how many posters we sold in November. I saw the problem some weeks ago but didn't have time to fix it. And all I can say is that I'm glad I cranked up the Google AdSense earlier this year because it's been paying the server fees. We normally sell a lot of posters in the last four months (September through December) of the year. Didn't happen this time around, but hopefully December sales will pick up.

I'm not happy with the way AllPosters has reconfigured its affiliate service. The interface just absolutely sucks. But if their dynamic poster stores work better than downloading static code, well, maybe that will be okay. I don't know. I'm just afraid I'll have to restock the dynamic stores every couple of months. That's the problem with being ambitious. You get to be too big for your britches -- and you don't have enough time to fix everything that goes broke.

So, anyway, that's the latest from Xenite.Org, although I'm sure I've left out a few things.


Blogger Co-op said...

Thanks for the feedback on the features you would like!

Guha (CSE engineer)

3:51 PM  

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