Jonathan Porta

Adventures in diy, electronics, programming, remote control and anything else.

Minecraft Twitch Streaming Integration is a Win

by Jonathan on January 9, 2014

I finally had a chance to checkout the new Twitch integration in Minecraft 1.7.4 and I was amazed at how easy it was to get started.

I was up and streaming within a few minutes.

All I had to do was login to my Minecraft account and connect it to my Twitch account. I did have to restart Minecraft because the streaming settings didn’t appear at first. Other than that, no issues. Just hit F6 and you’re live.

It was nothing fancy, but, here is a recording of the stream:


Watch live video from wjporta on TwitchTV

Facebook requiring all shared links to have a thumbnail or it will pick one at random for you.

by Jonathan on November 21, 2013

It appears that Facebook is rolling out a change requiring all links shared on the social network to include a thumbnail. Presently, the thumbnail is optional.

“Gee, that sure is a swell link you got there about your grandma’s obituary! Use this cool cat pic as the thumbnail. I found it on your website somewhere.”

The change seems to be rolling out gradually and is only effective on a per user basis. I was consistently shown the same version of the post form across several test machines, operating systems and browsers. But, one of my co-workers was somehow switched to use the newer version and this seems to stay the same for him across various platforms.

Screenshot of new Facebook post form.

With the new version, you get whatever Facebook feels like picking out for you.

It was not clear whether the changes are related only to Facebook Pages, or if the change affect all link posting. I tested by trying to post the same URL to a Facebook Page of which we are both administrators.

So, what’s the problem?

Ah, the reason for writing this post! When posting a link using the old version of the post form there is an option of “no thumbnail”. The new form does not include this option.

Old Form - Thumbnail and Options

The old version allowed a choice between several thumbnails or post without a thumbnail. Posting directly on Facebook via the status update box included these option plus the ability to upload a custom thumbnail.

If the link you are sharing contains content with a relevant image, Facebook seems to be smart enough to find it. But, when an image exists on the page, and there is no image directly associated with the post content – think accreditation medals in the site footer or thumbnails of related/recommended posts – then Facebook seems to grab an image at random. If Facebook doesn’t find a suitable image on the linked page, it attaches a grey “no thumbnail” image to your post.

Old Form - No Thumbnail

Here is what would happen on the old form when Facebook couldn’t find an image.

In my opinion, some content simply does not need a thumbnail image. And, with the exception of an exposé on ADHD, no content is helped by an associated image selected at random.

I also noticed that a link shared via a third party plugin, such as AddThis, doesn’t include the option to cycle through thumbnails or upload a custom thumbnail. Fortunately, pasting the link into the status update box on Facebook affords you these two privileges still.

If you know more about this, or have feedback let me know in the comments below!

Does GoDaddy raise domain prices based on keywords?

by Jonathan on November 7, 2013

Is GoDaddy Selectively Raising Domain Prices?

Is GoDaddy Selectively Raising Domain Prices?

GoDaddy wanted me to pay $200 to register a domain. Know that the domain was not already registered, I went to NameCheap and registered it for the normal amount.

Does GoDaddy raise the price of domains based on certain keywords? That makes me uncomfortable shopping with them.

Minecon 2013 Capes Are Here!

by Jonathan on October 30, 2013

With just two days to go until Minecon 2013 kicks off, the official Minecon 2013 cape has been released to all minecrafters lucky enough to have scored a ticket.

In case you didn’t look at the giant image above, the cape depicts a sticky piston fully extended facing upwards on a green background.

This is my first Minecon cape, and I will wear it proudly!

Random Thoughts on Implementing Transactions/Orders in a Shopping Cart

by Jonathan on October 21, 2013

How should one setup the relationship between an order/transaction, an immutable record of products at prices with payments, and products?

For example, products change over time. They may have a different price. They may be discontinued. How should the relationship between a completed transaction and a product be implemented in order to preserve the record of the sale while allowing the user to see product pages of products purchased in the past?

Obviously, it wouldn’t be ok for the price of a product to change on a past order, neither would it be acceptable for the product to disappear from the order because it was removed/discontinued from the rest of the site. Plus, if I am a customer, I would want to be able to click and look back at the product page in the future.

I suppose one method would be to store a denormalized dump of the transaction data, including the product id. Then when the user looks at a previous transaction, the product, the price and the payment information are there and I could link the product to the current product page via the id.

If the product was discontinued, the page would say so and direct the user to the replacement product, if any. If the price was different, the product page would just show the updated price.

I am sure there are other ways to tackle this problem, but I think this will work for now without limiting my options in the future if it needs to change.

If you have any ideas, that is, if anyone reads this, let me know in the comments!

GTA 5 Online Launches as Government Shuts Down

by Jonathan on October 1, 2013

The real reason behind today's government shutdown.

The real reason behind today’s government shutdown.

As I sit here waiting for my ride, I thought I would offload my pent-up GTA5 Online angst in a blog post. The title of this blog post kept coming to mind.

GTA 5 Online Launches as Government Shuts Down

Coincidence? I think not!

I don’t really think these two events have anything to do with each other, but in light of such a serious issue, I need to find some humor to cope.

While I spent most of the day working on various shut down related “things” – I wrote this article, and this one, and this one – it seems that Rockstar had its fair share of bugs to work out:

Hopefully by the time I get home and can download the GTA5 Online update, some of the issues will be fixed. Fingers crossed!

Who are you scaring away? The power of first impressions: One website that totally nailed it for me

by Jonathan on September 17, 2013

StatusPage.io

I really like a lot of things about this link: https://www.statuspage.io

I wasn’t looking for this company when I stumbled across their web site. I wasn’t even out comparing similar services. I was looking into ways to manage continuous integration testing and deployment for web applications. That is what brought me to the Travis CI website. Travis CI is a set of tools, a service, that can handle your application’s continual integration needs. I was impressed with what I was seeing.

Looking into Travis CI naturally sent my brain firing off questions. Who supports this product? Who is funding development on this product? Where did it come from? I didn’t have to do any digging at all to find a link to the parent, StatusPage.io. What I saw impressed me so much that I am writing this blog post about it. Neat, eh?

StatusPage.io Tutorial Video Screenshot

One huge part of it is that I really like seeing companies turn their internal tools into a marketable product, which is what I am assuming happened with Travis CI. If I am assuming correctly, StatusPage.io had a need for a tool such as Travis CI. They solved the problem by developing the tool and when they were done decided they could offer it as a product. They would likely be investing developer dollars into Travis CI just to meet their own needs. Why not make it available publicly? In addition to the potential of subsidizing development costs with license sales, their software would be subjected to ever more vigorous scrutiny. More corner cases could be found. Use cases would expand. Features would be requested. And, ultimately, a more robust piece of software is created.

Status Subscription OptionsSecond, StatusPage.io’s selective attention to detail screams out to in two distinct locations on their website: the video demo of the administration console, and the status subscription options available on their status page(ha…). The video demo showed exactly what I was expecting to see, given the information I had thus far gathered about the service. The interface presented was clearly designed by someone with a passion for the user experience.

The provided sample status page, which happens to be the status page for StatusPage.io itself, shows off the ability for a casual user to subscribe to receive status updates. Yeah, it is kinda cool, but I don’t remember the last time I subscribed, via email, to receive downtime notifications from a service. Plus, I already get way too many emails. But, as I would expect by now, they take it further by offering several options for notifications. How about an RSS feed? Sure. How about an SMS? Ok. How about I send an SMS to the person that is filling in for me while I am on vacation…done. Suddenly, this evolves from a cute feature to something powerful. I could absolutely make use of a multi-alert status notification system in production, if not only for the ability to spam myself with notifications the second something really bad happens. Heck I could even subscribe my wife’s mobile number in case, while on vacation, I drop my mobile into a storm drain after leaving my laptop, tablet and {{for device in devices}} in my laptop bag at the airport lounge.

“Here I am, take it or leave it.”

To me, there is something simply brilliant about that statement and that is the statement that resonates throughout this company’s website, marketing, and product line. I love the design and layout of their website. Clean…Focused…Trustworthy are all adjectives that I associate with this design. I feel like they are providing a clear, 100% upfront look into what type of company they strive to be. A company that provides exceptional quality. A company that doesn’t need to distract me with marketing-puke. A company that would go swimming without its shirt on and not give a shit. A company that truly follows the age-old adage of “…do your best always, even when no one is looking.”

I am not even going to get into all of the other little things that won approval with me: HTTPS, giving back to the open source community, cool TLD, sexy logo, great choice of font…I could keep going for a while…

In a word: sold.

Now, let’s see if everything I took away from this company’s image truly does translate to reality.

If you have any experience with StatusPage.io, I am anxious to hear how well any of my conclusions stack up against reality. Fire your thoughts off below!