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FeedBlitz Premium Services - Call for Betas

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

We're looking for a few good feeds! Help us wrap up testing on FeedBlitz's premium capabilities.

There will be two classes of premium publisher service to be tested:

1) High Performance - will poll feeds and deliver emails faster than daily.
2) Feed Branding - will customize email and subscription pages to match your look and feel.

Volunteers are sought in both categories. There are no guarantees that you'll be selected as we're looking for a range of feeds to test with before these services get rolled out. Testing will be with a parallel "beta" version of your feed(s); subscribers to production feeds will not be affected by the testing process.

For high performance services indicate whether you'd be interested in 12, 8, 4, or 1 hour polls, or the 15 minute "turbo" version.

For branding, please indicate your blogging platform and be prepared to share template / design information.

Interested? Then mail us at info@feedblitz.com with your information. You must (obviously) be a current FeedBlitz user to qualify.


FeedBlitz Powers Hackoff.com Blook

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In "FeedBlitz at 40 Days" I promised to blog about innovative uses of FeedBlitz's capabilities. One really cool use is the Hackoff.com blook, a murder-mystery sent in the dot-com bubble and delivered to subscribers using FeedBlitz.

A "blook" is a book delivered over a blog (geddit?). As well as FeedBlitz email updates and a traditional blog, it also features a hackoff.com wiki, a forum and other features to provide an Internet presence for the b(l)ook and its backstory. Very cool. Tom Evslin is also using FeedBlitz's "multi-feed" subscription capability (described here).

Oh, and the third episode of chapter 1 is out today, and will go out in tonight's mailing. So why not sign up?

If you think you've got a cool FeedBlitz application, drop me a note and I'll blog about it.


It's all in the timing

Friday, September 23, 2005

So, briefly, let's take a little time to talk about FeedBurner. Many FeedBlitz feeds are sourced from FeedBurner, and the integration of FeedBlitz circulation data into the FeedBlitz metrics (now separated out into a separate "Email Subscription Services" category) is a major plus for publishers.

Now, FeedBurner is based in Chicago, Illinois, an hour behind FeedBlitz. When the FeedBlitz nightly run starts, shortly after midnight Eastern, it's shortly after 11pm in Chicago. FeedBlitz's early morning circulation metrics therefore get counted at the very end of the day by FeedBurner.

As FeedBlitz has grown and grown - and grown - and grown - the daily polls are taking longer. On occasion they've taken longer than an hour, and so some users have seen FeedBurner metrics drop for a day as FeedBlitz misses the midnight cutoff in Chicago. It can be gut wrenching to see the stats disappear and then come back a day later, simply due to timing.

To stop this from happening, as of today, FeedBlitz polling will take place shortly after 1am Eastern instead of just after midnight. This way, FeedBlitz stats will be counted by FeedBurner after midnight in Chicago - no more timing risk, no more missing the cut off. FeedBlitz's emails will simply go out an hour later than usual, starting sometime after 1am Eastern, 11pm Pacific, 6am in the UK and 7am CET. This will be a permanent change, as I think it serve the majority of FeedBlitz's / FeedBurner's users better this way. If you have strong feelings either way please comment on this post.

In addition, other changes, tweaks and fixes newly available this week include:

  • Multiple performance enhancements for the nightly poll
  • Better transmission encoding for HTML non-Latin character-sets
  • Graceful handling for feeds with posts having an empty title tag


Important Support Message - All Clear

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Update 10:13 AM Eastern Sept 22:

The hosting service is back on track; email is transferring properly so tonight's run will be at the standard time, shortly after midnight eastern.

Original Post from Sept 21:

FeedBlitz's hosting service (not FeedBlitz itself) is having significant email issues today, starting around 8am US Eastern. Emails to and from FeedBlitz are being significantly delayed as a result. This not a fault with FeedBlitz per se, but a major network problem at the hosting service where the FeedBlitz servers are kept.

FeedBlitz excels at delivering better service and better feed email services than anyone else. We take deliverability issues very seriously. While many issues regarding emails "not arriving" are almost always related to issues in source feed data or sp*m filters, this is different. You, our customers, need to know what is happening and the steps we're taking to mitigate this third party problem.

To reiterate, the FeedBlitz service - the code that reads feeds and decides what to send out - is working fine, but the intervening fiasco at the hosting company is nevertheless affecting email delivery, both inbound and outbound. This situation is beyond our control, but it affects us and, more importantly, you and your readers.

FYI, the current latency for emails in and out of FeedBlitz is running at about four hours. It's been that way since early this afternoon, which is when email delivery finally (and oh so slowly) restarted. This time lag currently does not show any significant signs of improvement. As a result, we're not in a position to say how successful tonight's run is going to be at getting emails into your reader's inboxes in a timely or reliable fashion.

So here's what we're going to do as we try our best to get your posts out to your readers despite these problems.

1) Tonight's run will be delayed five hours. This is to give the hosting company a chance to fix whatever it is that is broken before FeedBlitz dumps thousands and thousands of emails on them. The emails will contain exactly the same content as the standard midnight run; it will just start later.

2) Email generation will be paced so as to stretch delivery over a longer timeframe. This is to lighten the load on the hosting service's systems and to increase the odds of successful delivery.

No action is required on your part. As and when there are any useful updates to share I'll post them here.


Glitch in mail sent TO feedblitz.com 9/13/2005 midnight to 11:00 AM eastern

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Well, I'm not superstitious but due to a problem at FeedBlitz we were unable to process any email sent to us this morning. The feed mails went out OK, we just did not receive any emails sent to me or to support for the last 12 hours. If you sent an email to FeedBlitz this morning, I apologize for they hassle, but please resend it.




Multi-Feed Subscription Form

Sunday, September 11, 2005

For those with multiple feeds, you may like this feature to simplify signup for your readers. In the HTML form code that's generated, you see a hidden field called FEEDID which identifies which feed the user is signing up for.

To add a user to multiple feeds you simply include multiple FEEDID entries. First, use the HTML generator to determine the FEEDID values for your feeds.

Then, to offer a list box or set of check boxes instead, you will need to hand modify the generated HTML code to replace the hidden field with one of the following approaches:


<select name="FEEDID" multiple>
<option value="ABCD" selected>Feed one</option>
<option value="PQRS">Feed two</option>
<option value="WXYZ">Feed three</option>

which generates...

Use the "selected" option to preselect one or more default entries, and replace "Feed One" etc. with an appropriate label for the feed in your language.

Check Boxes

<input type="checkbox" value="ABCD" name="FEEDID">Feed One
<input type="checkbox" value="PQRS" name="FEEDID" checked>Feed Two
<input type="checkbox" value="WXYZ" name="FEEDID">Feed Three

which generates:

Feed One
Feed Two
Feed Three

Use "checked" to create default selections, and replace "Feed One" etc. with an appropriate label for the feed in your language.

If you have just one feed you need do nothing - the automatically generated code (click "My Feeds" from the "My FeedBlitz" menu, then pick the right hand icon (grey box, angle brackets)) for you is unchanged. Also, if you manage more than one feed or blog, you don't have to use this solution either. This approach only makes sense if you have multiple feeds which are different but that may still appeal to the same user.


FeedBlitz at 40 Days: Nearly 10,000 subs, 700+ feeds

Friday, September 09, 2005

A scant 40 days ago FeedBlitz’s existence was first made public on some FeedBurner forums, and in a couple of emails to a few FeedBurner users who’d expressed a desire for a Bloglet alternative.

Forty days, 9,500+ readers and 700+ feeds later, FeedBlitz has grown and matured - thanks in great part to the enthusiasm and, yes, the bravery and faith shown by its first users. You people are crazy (and thanks!). I’m simply amazed at the creativity, energy and commitment that there is out there, as shown in the variety and quality of the blogs and feeds that FeedBlitz is mailing.

So, for what it's worth, I thought I'd take this anniversary (of sorts) to give you all a little more insight into what's happening at FeedBlitz, and to call out those whom I feel have gone above and beyond for the service. I owe you guys.

A Few Metrics

  • The vast majority of feeds serve an audience of 50 or fewer, but...
  • 23 feeds have 100 or more subscribers.
  • The two largest feeds have ~1,000 subscribers each.
  • Feed languages used include Hebrew, Spanish, Swedish, German, French, Japanese and Chinese.

As well as “traditional” blog and web site RSS feeds, several users are using FeedBlitz in more creative ways, including:

  • FeedBlitzing a Google news feed.
  • Collating daily job posts into a FeedBlitz email.
  • Creating daily real estate listing updates.
  • Notifying readers of cheap flight schedules.

I’m sure as RSS and FeedBlitz evolve there will be some additional mashups possible. I’ll blog about some of the more interesting ones that I see to inspire the rest of us.

The Future

Next week brings the next set of major enhancements, on a beta basis, to FeedBlitz. We’ll be testing the premium plans on a small scale to a select group. In addition, a partnership that I’m very excited about will start to see the light of day. More news on that as and when timing permits...

The Blogroll of Thanks

FeedBlitz, as I’ve already mentioned, wouldn’t be where it is today without the help, advice, suggestions and persistence of many. I’d like to publicly thank and acknowledge those who’ve gone the extra mile over the last 40 days. If I miss anyone out, it’s only because there have been so many that I’m losing track – my thanks to you, and please accept my apologies for the inadvertent omission.

So, in no particular order, my thanks go in particular to:

And, most importantly, my thanks to my family, without whom none of this would even be possible.


FeedBlitz Service Update

A quick note to let you know about a few minor changes that have been made to the service since my last post.

  • Problems with email rendering on AOL / AIM webmail have been fixed.
  • Significant deliverability improvements have been made to the emails to improve the odds that they will actually reach the recipient's inbox without being filtered out.
  • The FeedBlitz home page has an updated list of metrics (updated nightly, see below).
  • Automated undeliverable subscriber rescuing has been enabled. Subscribers are automatically moved out of "undeliverable" if they are sent an email which does not bounce within the next 24 hours. The manual options remain.

The metrics on the home page are:

  • Subscribers: The number of unqiue email addresses in the system.
  • Circulation: The number of email <-> feed pairs (so if I subscribe to two feeds, I contribute a count of two to the circulation total).
  • Active Feeds: The number of unique feeds with subscribers.


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