We signed up for Netflix recently, and I love it. I’m not sure why I held out for so long… Anyways, the boys have fallen in love with it too and are now ruining my recommendations by watching nothing but Mythbusters and Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. Now, whenever I log in, the “Top Picks” list is all Jamie and Adam or Tom Servo and Crow staring at me. No documentaries or alternative standup. Nope.
(Max, if you’re reading this, I’m kidding. I just think it’s funny.)
It reminds me of the Tivo Thinks I Want WHAT?! episode. When Tivo first launched, there was an option to fill up the empty space with stuff it thinks you’ll like based on your recording and viewing preferences. Max was two or three at the time, and into Blue’s Clues big time. We were into The Sopranos, Oz and The Wire. So, what did Tivo think would make us happy? The Price is Right and a bunch of old game shows from the 80′s.
Collaborative filtering is great and all, but when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong.
Have you ever been plagued by that question? I know I have. So, at Rails Machine’s hackfest last night, I set out to answer the question once and for all. How did I do it? With this: Do I Need Pants Today?.
Yes, it’s ridiculous, but I got to draw underpants and build something completely silly and launch it in about an hour and a half.
Yes, it’s overkill. But, it was fun!
Oh, and it should look awesome on your mobile device too, in case you need to know the answer and you’ve already left the house.
I used to work on a big search product at AOL and still love search, even though that’s not what I do anymore. So, when I saw that IndexTank and Heroku were having a contest to build a cool app with IndexTank’s search-in-a-box, I couldn’t resist. I knew I had to keep it simple since I don’t have a lot of time for hacking outside of work, but I knew I had to do something.
I had two ideas, and went with the simpler one: What would happen if you broke a book down into individual sentences and made it searchable? Would it be useful at all? I decided to try Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, since it’s not too long, is public domain, is quotable and full of vernacular that can screw up indexers, and I knew it was available from Project Gutenberg.
I call the result… Huck Smash, and I think it’s pretty cool.
I’m going to try to spend more time outside of work playing with single-purpose sites and fixing Ficly up. I need to keep things constrained so I don’t bite off more than I can chew or over-commit, but this was so much fun I want to do it again.
I’d love to hear what you think of Huck and any ideas you have for improvements.