Skip to content

Archive for September, 2011

Sharing on #Summify Gets Easier With New Like and Share Buttons

We’re fans of simplicity and sometimes we should take our own advice – KISS – keep it simple Summify. In this spirit, we’ve made liking and sharing stories from your summaries easier for you – no more clicking multiple buttons to share to multiple networks from your email or the web (like you guys actually did that anyway – we wouldn’t have). Here’s a quick look at the changes we made.

Before and After: Summify’s Like and Share Button Enhancements

Email and RSS Before

The presentation of your summary in email and RSS (e.g. Google Reader) are very similar so we’ve grouped them together here.

No like button existed and there were separate buttons for sharing to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader – talk about clickphobia.

Email and RSS Now

You’ll now see a Like button and just one super Share button, allowing for universal sharing from one spot.

Web Before

The Like button was only visible when you hovered your mouse on a story title and there were separate share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, email and Instapaper.

Web Now

The Like button is always visible and can be found under each story with it’s hearty new look. All previous share buttons have been consolidated into one super Share button.

The Share Bar, which you see when reading a story on the web, also showcases the Like button’s lovely new look.

So what happens when I click…?

Clicking the Like button helps teach Summify what you enjoy reading, and you will also Like the story on Facebook if one of the story’s sources was a Facebook user.

Clicking the Share button, regardless of where you find it, will bring up a universal share box for all of your networks.

Web

Email and RSS

Mobile – share from email

What more could you possibly ask for? Yeah yeah we know, Google+!

“I heard Google released the API, so why are you Summify slugs taking so long?!” Nobody actually said that to us, but it might be what you’re thinking, so here’s an update. The Google+ API is currently read-only, so at the moment we can only get the public activity of one of your friends when what we really need is all the activity of all of your friends. On top of that, we’re unable to share content to Google+ yet. Rest assured, when Google+ is ready to be added to the Summify experience, you’ll be the first to know. For now, enjoy the new buttons and expect to see an iPhone update coming up in October!

Code Reviews: A Framework for Startups

You know how your teachers and parents always told you to get a friend to proofread your paper before you handed it in for marks? Well, it’s age-old advice for a reason.

There’s a lot of electronic papers, ie. code, being handed in here at Summify and when most of that code will be affecting a @#$@ load of data, reviews become critically important. Until last week, our squad captains, Mircea Pasoi and Cristian Strat, were reviewing all the Summify code – not the most sustainable practice. It was time to bring the entire team into the code review process, but we needed a structure to help guide the move. The following framework has been working well for us and we wanted to share it with you.

Our tool of choice for code reviews is Review Board.

Getting Your Review On

1) Goals

Eliminate bugs as early as possible

Share knowledge to learn other sections of the code, new libraries, tricks, and algorithms

2) Take your time

Doing so will speed things up. It may sound like a paradox, but finding bugs in later stages, such as post-release, can cost 10-100 times more than it would cost to catch them during review. The following data on fixing bugs is from the book Code Complete.


If you ever catch yourself thinking “Oh, I’m kind of busy, should I really bother nitpicking this piece of code?” the answer is always Yes. You might find a bug which will save your team hours upon hours of work down the road – think longer term.

3) Ensure correctness

When done properly, a code review is one of the most effective ways of detecting bugs. A proper code review will detect about 55% of bugs, double the effectiveness of unit tests (see the below table from Code Complete).

Everyone has experienced those moments when someone looks at your code for 10 seconds and points out a ginormous filthy bug, right under your nose, despite the fact that you were looking at it for the last 3 hours. Sadly for them, it doesn’t mean they’re 12,000 times smarter than you; they just have the fresh eye and the clear mind.

When you’re reviewing someone’s code, you’re the fresh onlooker and you’re in a very good place to spot bugs, so do it.

4) Demand quality

Don’t be afraid to ask for unit tests, good refactoring, and adherence to coding style. Never accept code that’s of lower quality than the average code found in the repository.

Demanding quality during reviews begets quality further down the road, leading to faster test writing, second nature coding style and fewer lazy habits, refactoring code when necessary. Remember, you’re not slowing things down, you’re just forcing people to learn how to write good code, fast.

Also, always ask for screenshots when the change involves UI.

Besides being a code reviewer, it’s equally important to submit good code for review. Here are some tips:

Submitting Quality Code – That’s Your Job

1) Don’t rely on reviewers to find bugs – submit code with confidence

You should be so sure of your code quality, personally unable to find any more bugs, that you’d be happy to deploy it into production right away, even without a review process. Your reviewer may come up with something you haven’t thought of, but never lower your own standards.

2) Reviewers have a tough life

Understand that your reviewer only sees a diff and some bug types are very hard to detect this way. For instance, if your change requires that you search for all occurrences of function X in the code, your reviewer cannot confirm you did an exhaustive search. That’s your responsibility.

It’s also your responsibility to think about the implications of your changes. Does it break the iPhone? Does it break the archiving process? Does it grind the website to a halt? Realizing these implications is 80% of an engineer’s job. This is the meat, the hard questions engineers must think through. Remember the time when you thought something over for five hours and then made a two-line change? The hard part was figuring out if that was the right change, and that’s your job; it’s not the reviewer’s.

If you find yourself thinking “Hmm… I’m gonna change this but I don’t know if I’m breaking stuff,” then you’re not doing your job, and you’re offloading your work to the reviewer.

3) Run the tests

Reviewers won’t do this for you and they can’t figure out if you break tests. Better yet, implement continuous integration – we use Jenkins.

4) Leave no comment behind

When submitting a second or third diff for the same change, your reviewer assumes that for every comment he or she wrote you either

a) implemented the change, or
b) replied to it

Don’t expect the reviewer to go through the list of previous comments and validate that you’ve addressed each one. That’s your job.

5) Attach screenshots if you’ve made a UI change.

6) Learn and improve

Learn from mistakes and shape up your code. Shoot for a 90% “perfect ship-it” rate. Every time your reviewer has to return your code, a kitten dies. When you pass 90% it means the code review process really works and everyone’s doing a great job.

Sharing the code review responsibilities across our team is really paying off and soon we’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a few weeks ago. It feels like we’ve upgraded to Summify v1.1. A few more upgrades like this and we’ll be an unstoppable kick-ass team, sort of like a Canadian version of The A-Team, or an organized crime syndicate – the Summify Mafia. Anyways… until then, we’ll continue asking ourselves “how can we improve team processes and communication to increase productivity?”

Are you doing code reviews? Share your thoughts, productivity tips and questions below.

P.S. Please, think of the kittens.

Summify Spotlight – Jodi Ettenberg

Very quickly, Jodi’s @legalnomads Twitter handle became familiar to me as she happily sent out Summify referrals into the Twitterverse and asked us questions about our latest updates. I had to know more about her. After seeing a recent tweet about her podcast interview on Suitcase Entrepreneur, I took a listen. It turns out she’s a rather interesting former lawyer gone world traveler who shares my love for SE Asia, and that right there is what our new Summify Spotlight series is all about – exposing new sources and encouraging new connections by shining the light on the wonderfully different and fascinating Summifyers in our community.

About Jodi: After working as a lawyer for five years to save up money for travel, she quit her job and bought a one-way ticket to Chile. Over three years later, she has traipsed through South America, Siberia, Mongolia, China and a good swath of Southeast Asia, with no plans to stop anytime soon. Throughout, Jodi has blogged about her misadventures on local transportation, her obsessive love of street food and the politics of the places she visits. She currently works as a freelance writer and photographer (while trying to eat as much sticky rice as possible).

Enter Jodi Ettenberg

Jodi with Pancake the Tiger - Chiang Mai, Thailand

How do you like to consume your news?

As social media and travel become more tightly intertwined, services and apps have cropped up to streamline the digestion process. Be it aggregators like PopUrls or talented curators like Brain Pickings or Kottke, funneling the tremendous volume of information can be an exhausting endeavor for those who want to stay current. As a result, I’ve come to value services that allow me to tailor information and fast-track the most relevant stories straight to my inbox. Summify has proven an excellent addition to my tools.

As someone who has been travelling and eating my way around the world for the last few years, I’ve found myself in a bit of a strange position. I’m a hard news and technology junkie, but I’m often in extremely remote places. While I have thoroughly enjoyed disconnecting from the Internet during trips to Laos or Myanmar or Mongolia, I’ve returned wanting to know what I missed in the world. It’s not about connecting with others (though I do miss the interaction) so much as keeping myself attuned to what goes on elsewhere. I didn’t want to return home from longer stretches of travel and find myself unaware of what happened in the interim. Reverse culture shock was much easier to handle when there were points of news to discuss with family and friends, and I knew what was going on in the world.

Jodi with Pa-O tribeswomen - Inle Lake, Burma

Enter Summify. I initially heard of them via Twitter, of course, and signed up from my apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ve been using them since early 2010 and have foisted the service on anyone who will listen, especially journalist friends who have a need to consume a serious amount of information but rarely the corresponding time to do so. Despite not having a traditional job, doing freelance writing and travel photography requires at a lot of moving around, away from the computer. Besides, how would I sit and read BBC News on a train to Siberia? Even if there was WiFi (there isn’t) I’d prefer to chat with a local family about what they ate for dinner. So instead, I get an email from Summify listing the 10 top stories from my networks. I’ve recently increased the frequency to twice-a-day summaries in an aim to tailor the service further.

How do you use Summify?

When people ask about my social media tools, I suggest Summify first because each user’s feeds can be whittled down to what they want their summary to be. Ultimately what we each think is relevant is a subjective and moving target, so the amount of tailoring is an important feature for the service. I receive a lot of fellow travel bloggers’ feeds on Google Reader and I tend to use Twitter as an RSS feed, following few people and using it for location and news updates as I travel. My aim was for Summify to supplement my news access when I was unable to remain online, to be my bulletin for the prior day.

Working in El Nido - Palawan, Philippines

It’s been a great success for me, floating the stories my network has highlighted during the course of the day while at the same time allowing me to “x” out domains that I don’t want to appear or “thumbs up”ing articles I want to see more of. Over my months of use, I’ve seen my Summify moving more and more toward hard news, science and technology, which was my aim in signing up.

I’ve been recommending Summify in podcasts or interviews, and when they approached me to participate in their new spotlight series, I was happy to explain how the tool has worked for me. It’s been a very satisfying supplement to an active Twitter community and some choice curators, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they tweak the service going forward.

Some interesting follows I recommend:

@pkedrosky – investor, media guy, humanist, hater of fluorescent lights
@brainpicker – interestingness curator & semi-secret geek obsessed with design…
@mathewi – senior writer at GigaOm, former journalist for The Globe and Mail…
@markmackinnon – East Asia correspondent for The Globe and Mail…
@antderosa – Social Media Editor at Reuters…
@openculture – The best FREE cultural & educational media on the web…
@kirstinbutler – Cultural canary, unapologetic generalist, pie-lover…

Want to hear more? You can connect with Jodi on Summify, her Legal Nomads blog, Facebook or on Twitter.

Let us know what you think of our first Spotlight! If you’d like to be considered for future Summify Spotlight posts you can email us at team@summify.com.

New Options For Sharing: Limiting Mentions and Customizing Auto-Publish Messages

Everyone has their own way they like to do things and that doesn’t stop when it comes to the social web. Summifyers of all sorts fancy the ability to automatically publish their new summaries to Twitter or Facebook, making sharing easier than ever, but this feature isn’t quite right for everyone. In an effort to accommodate the differing preferences of Summifyers, we’ve adjusted how we use mentions and given you the ability to customize auto-publish messages, improving the Summify experience for everyone.

Twitter Mentions are now limited

You may have noticed Twitter messages promoting a user’s summary and thanking those who have contributed to it:

“Summify iPhone Update 1.1″ and other stories in my summary http://smf.is/6qloN (via @mirceapasoi and @cgst)

These mentions are enjoyed by most Summifyers, but every now and again we get a request to stop someone’s mentions, and that’s fair enough, because if you have a large following you’re bound to see a few of these shout-outs. To find a balance, we’ve now limited mentions to once-a-day per user. Note – we cannot stop anyone from manually mentioning your name when they share on twitter.

If you still find yourself feeling that once a day is too much, simply log in to the Twitter account for which you’d like your mentions stopped and tweet “@SummaryMentions stop mentions”.

Customizing auto-publish messages

At the bottom of the Notifications area you’ll now see a text box which previews your auto-publish messages. As you adjust your settings, you will notice the message changing to reflect them. Click the refresh button in the top right hand corner of the text box to cycle through some sample messages.

You have two options here:

1. Use one of Summify’s stock messages and choose to mention people or not:

Unchecked box (default) – auto-publish messages may mention the names of your summary’s contributors

Checked box – auto-publish messages will not mention any names besides @summify

2. Customize your message by clicking the box that says “Let me choose my own message” and filling in the text box. Once you’ve entered some text, click outside of the box to see a preview of your message.

Stories are meant to be shared. Play around with the new options and find a setup that works best for your sharing style. If you find a favorite way to share your summaries using the new settings let us know – we’d love to hear about it. Summify is for you after all, so don’t be shy to share your experiences, ideas, questions, problems or praise. Drop us a line anytime!

The Dynamic of Influence: Social Analytics Arrive at #Summify

As your summary begins to make it into your daily reading routine, you’ve probably noticed that certain people in your network tend to contribute more to your summaries than others. Maybe it’s just a feeling, but it stirs up some interesting questions.

Who contributes to my summary the most? Who contributes to my contributors’ summaries the most? Wait a second, who do I influence? Slow down tiger. We’ve added in a dash of analytics to help you scratch that itch of curiosity. The beginning of social analytics is here and on your profile page you will now see an area we are calling “Influencers.”

The Influencers area is made up of two rows of images and some small numbers.

Influenced by, the top row, highlights the connections in your network which appear in your summary the most, and how many times each of them as appeared in your summary in the last 30 days.

Influencing, the second row, highlights the summaries which you’ve appeared in the most, and how many times you’ve appeared in them in the last 30 days.

Hover your mouse on a profile picture for an explanation of influence or click on any profile picture to view that user’s summary. If you’re browsing from within your own profile and click the picture of a user who is not yet on Summify, a “thanks” message will appear.

That’s not all. The Influencers section isn’t only found on your profile, it’s viewable on any public Summify profile, allowing you to explore and quantify the dynamic of influence between other users.

Explore

Influence is here to be explored. From the Explore area of your web summary you can now browse two new categories: users you are “Influenced by,” and users you are “Influencing.” Keep in mind that only those who are using Summify will be visible in the Explore area.

It’s a whole new world of social influence now and everyone is finding their own way to navigate it. Whether you’re a master of content sharing who holds great influence or a newbie wondering what you can do to increase your influence, we want to hear from you! Leave your ideas, tips and questions as a comment or email them to team@summify.com and we’ll be sure to share them with the Summify community.

Getting the Most from #Summify: How to Make Your Summary Better

Most aspects of our lives could benefit from a little clean-up and our content consumption is no exception. Summify filters through heaps of incoming content and helps you consume only the most relevant stories, reducing your stress and increasing your productivity. We have some helpful tips on how to make your summaries even better, but before jumping in to that, take a quick look at our post on How Summify Works for some helpful background.

When piecing together your summaries, Summify considers links from everyone you follow and all of your RSS feeds. Do you really want all of these sources influencing your summary? Maybe not. Here are some helpful ideas on how to manage influencers and maximize your summary’s usefulness.

Optimizing your accounts

The more accounts you connect, the better your summaries will be.

Twitter

1. Clean up your account – only follow people that you’re actually interested in. You can put other users, who you don’t want news from, into Twitter lists. This allows you to receive news from those you follow, while keeping an eye on other useful people. If you’re unsure if you want to follow someone, create a list and name it “new people.” If you like what they share after a couple days, follow them, if not, they’re out!

2. Find interesting people to follow using http://twitter.com/who_to_follow

Suggestions – Twitter accounts suggested for you based on who you follow and more.

Browse Interests – select the topics you are interested in. Browse the list of people and find a few new people you want to hear from.

Find Friends – search through the other services you are using to find your friends who are on Twitter. Look through your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, AOL and LinkedIn accounts.

Influencers of influencers – who comes to mind as one of the most interesting people you follow? Find your favorite people and look at who they follow; it’s a great way to expand your network and find new people who share similar interests.

Facebook

Since Facebook is used more for casual socializing amongst friends than Twitter is, there is a serendipity in the way our conversations occur, especially between people we don’t interact with all the time. For this reason, we don’t suggest a major cleansing of your “friends” list, unless however, you’re one of those people who adds everyone under the sun. Instead of deleting any friends, our suggestion is to discover pages you like and add them to your News Feed.

Discover Facebook Pages allows you to explore pages you might enjoy. Browse by category, see your current page invites, and see which friends like similar pages to you. Click like on any page to receive updates in your News Feed.

Google Reader

Google Reader shows you all of your favorite sites in one convenient place. It’s like a personalized inbox for the entire web. Watch this one minute video to better understand Google Reader and how to add subscriptions to your account. Now that you’ve been acquainted, you can get started by adding subscriptions from your favorite websites. Not sure where to start? Browse and Search some feed bundles here.

Using Google Reader with Summify allows you to customize which feeds you want considered for your summaries.

1. Connect your Google Reader account by clicking the “g connect” button in your settings

2. Once connected, all of your Google Reader feeds will be imported into Summify. Go to Feed Settings and manually X any feeds you don’t want considered for your summary.

Note: Your Google Reader account does not synch automatically. If you add feeds to your Google Reader and want them considered in your summary you must re-connect your account in Account Settings by re-clicking the “g connect” button. Likewise, if you delete a feed in Google Reader it is not automatically deleted from your Summify feeds. If you would like to delete a feed, you must do so manually in the Feeds area of your settings.

I use a feed reader other than Google Reader

No problem! Import an OPML file to populate your Summify feeds. An OPML file is package of feeds that you can grab from your other feed reader. The button to import an OPML file is in the Feeds area of your settings.

Filters: domains and users

If you realize that a certain domain contributor is responsible for uninteresting stories in your Summary just X them out. In your web summary, hover your mouse on top of the story’s domain source and click the X to filter it out from future summaries. Likewise, hover your mouse on top of any one of a story’s contributors and click the X to filter out their influence from future summaries. You can always undo these actions in the Filters area of your Settings. Your filtering actions are completely private and nobody will ever know when you’ve eliminated them from your summary.


Like button

Using the Like button is a strong positive signal which helps your summary recipe understand what you enjoy reading. There is also another direct benefit to the Like button; when clicked, you “Like” the link on Facebook as well. Give it a try. You can find the Like button in your web summary, when you hover your mouse on a story headline; and on the share bar beside the share button, once you’ve clicked through to read a story.


Summary

Frequency – adjust how often your summaries are generated and how many stories each contains. Increasing your summary’s frequency or number of stories forces Summify to pull more content from your network. This can lead to a broader range of sources appearing in your summary, but only if you follow a significant number of sources on Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader; otherwise your summaries may feel thin. Our recommendation is to keep your summary schedule on the lighter side, to ensure quality. The default schedule is five stories, once per day.

Privacy – we recommend leaving your summary public, as it is by default. Public summaries are better for everyone, enabling others to explore your summaries, and allowing you to discover the summaries of people you know and others you don’t. Here are a few samples:

Kevin Rose – founder of Digg.com
Jay Baer – author of the Convince & Convert blog and co-author of The Now Revolution
Liz Gannes – covers the social web for AllthingsD.com
Jodi Ettenberg – world traveler, former lawyer, legalnomads.com
Emily Leary – communications consultant and blogger, co-founder of #CommsChat
Zee Kane – editor-in-chief of The Next Web

We will continue working hard to send you top notch summaries, but despite our hard work there’s no way we can know you as good as you know yourself. Try out some of the tips we’ve provided you with and fine-tune your summaries to make them that much better.

Everyone uses Summify a little bit differently and we’re sure that many of you have discovered your own nifty ways of enhancing your summaries. Do you have a tip or creative idea on how other Summifyers can get the most out of their summaries? Please share them in the comments section or feel free to pass them on to us at team@summify.com.

#Summify Welcomes New Intern

Stefan Filip Summify Intern

Team Summify welcomes Stefan Filip, another crazy hacker and our new intern! As you can tell from the photo He’s excited to be here, and I’m envisioning he struck a similar pose for the paparazzi when he hopped of the airplane at YVR. After only a few short days, he’s enjoying Vancouver and says the trains, streets, signal lights and diners remind him a lot of New York.

Joining us until December, Stefan is on the home stretch of completing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Bucharest in Romania. He’s an international medalist in programming contests and recently interned at Google’s New York office during the Summer of 2010. After working in one of the most powerful technology companies of our time, Stefan wanted to find out what it’s like to work with a small team trying to make it big. During Cristian’s visit back to Romania last winter, Stefan heard that Summify was looking for interns and jumped at the opportunity to join the team. He hopes to learn more about the developmental challenges and lifestyle of a start-up company, so that one day he’ll be prepared to launch his own. It’s safe to say he’s in the right place and we look forward to throwing a few challenges his way. Offline, Stefan enjoys running, reading, dancing and games, be they on a computer, board, or sports field.

Be sure to check back in to see how Stefan’s doing. If you have any questions about his life as an intern at Summify tweet us @Summify or drop us a line at team(at)summify.com. Check out Stefan on Summify and Twitter to get to know him a little better:

Stefan on Summify
Stefan on Twitter
Stefan(at)summify.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers