Archive for January, 2010

A small bug fix

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Members with direct write permissions have probable noticed and been rather annoyed about that it hasn’t been possible to completely remove a driver’s website. It’s been possible to remove the current URL, but the little house icon has still been present – although pointing at nothing. Today I took care of it so if you now delete the website, the house icon gets removed as well.

Otherwise this day has been spent adding results. Both current results for the NZ based championships but also a couple of oldies; most notably the 2003 season of the British Formula Ford championship.

Spamming “Most Buzz”

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

I thought I’d take a few moments to explain how the “Most buzz” list and the “popularity” ranking works. It’s really simple, it counts the number of unique pageviews a driver’s profile page gets. This is nothing scientific at all, but it does give some sort of yard stick as to which driver is the most talked about, and therefor mostly researched driver at Driver Database. This works unless people with nothing better to do start spamming their profile pages to get better ranking in these lists.

So, what are the measures taken to limit this?

Here’s how it basically works:

Once per day (when most buzz gets updated) a script runs and triggers when it finds what it believes to be “unnatural” hits based on the surfing pattern of the visiting IP address. It then counts the unnatural hits and the natural hits for each profile page. If a profile page has only 10% (for example) of its hits coming from natural visits, the following day only 10% of the total hits will be counted. The next day this number might be 20% and then 20% of the hits will be counted the day after.

It’s simple, really, if you try to inflate the view count, you will have to work a little bit harder each day as the script adapts to the new percentages. And when you’re down at 0.1% you do the maths on how many times you need to change your dynamic IP to get a pageview…

Saving time

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

I rewrote the script I’ve been using for adding racing calendars for the results reporting (those results that can be viewed under the “Races” header in the driver profiles). It turned out to be quite the time saver and will save a couple of precious minutes when it’s time to add all those NASCAR championships and their 36 or so races. Perhaps more than time it saves me from going mental from boredom when adding races…

This little script is not safe for general use yet, but a modified version of this will probably be available for a select few users later on.

It’s been a few days

Friday, January 8th, 2010

It’s been a few days since the last post in this update blog. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any updates though.

The work with the Premier Profiles is making progress. At the moment I’m working on getting the tools ready on the “Submit info” page. Once those are working like they should – and easy to work with – I’ll have a go at the Payment options. First off I’m going to offer payment with PayPal as it’s in my opinion is the easiest and most well spread way of online payment available for small businesses. That it works with credit card payments without the need for a PayPal account in many countries is of course a plus as well. So, the priority is in getting to know the PayPal API so it’s easy to upgrade a regular driver profile into a shiny new Premier Profile. I’ll have a look at different payment options later on as I know PayPal isn’t the preferred choice for everyone.

I’ve now only a few driver blogs left to migrate to the new system, so most bloggers can now use their new blogs. Matt Cherrington blogged yesterday about his 2010 plans and I helped out Rory Butcher with adding his header image to his blog.

I stumbled across a few more character encoding issues and fixed them. Hopefully there’s not too many left now…

I also like to congratulate Raed Raffii and the Meezer Group team for their great results in the latest round of the Chevrolet Supercars Middle East championship. The Driver Database stickers are helping, of course! ;)

SPEED World Challenge 2004

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Wasn’t really in the mood for coding so instead I decided to add the complete results from the SPEED World Challenge GT championship in 2004 instead. 60 drivers and 10 races. Now we have complete results from 2004 and to date for this championship and I’m slowly moving back in time. :)

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship 2004

The stats so far:
SPEED World Challenge GT 2004-2009

Helmets, helmets and more helmets

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Instead of eating breakfast I decided to get rid of the helmet queue instead. 42 helmets were uploaded of the 70 or so I had in queue. Those that weren’t uploaded wasn’t for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The photo wasn’t actually a photo but a line drawing.
  • The photo wasn’t of the driver wearing the helmet.
  • The photo wasn’t a JPEG file.
  • The photo was too small to be viewable.
  • The helmet wasn’t really a helmet – it was a car.
  • The helmet wasn’t really a helmet – it was a face.
  • The helmet wasn’t really a helmet – it was a group of people in racing suits.

I’ve got some more helmet photos that have been sent to me through emails, I’ll get to those eventually.

Submissions queue

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

I went through a couple of entries (62 of them) in the submissions queue and the New Drivers and the Driver Edits queues are now a thing of the past. Next up is the career edits where there’s 80 entries waiting impatiently. While I was at it I wrote a little script that now allows all Level 2 members (which currently are me, Ross K, Bertil Å, Dirk K, Urs S, Erick R, Erik H, Jari H, Otto H, and Federico G) – not just me – to approve or decline Fan Messages, New Drivers and Driver Edits. Hopefully these queues will move a little quicker thanks to those members. I will add permissions for the other submissions (career, photos etc) later on, it just needs a little more work before I let anyone else play with it.

I also added a few helmet photos. Still plenty of those waiting to be added though.

02:50. I need sleep.

NZ and another driver blog migrated

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

As it’s the off season there’s not too many results that have to be reported every day I decided to extend the NZ coverage a bit by adding the New Zealand MINI Challenge to the list of series to do coverage for (NZV8′s, Posche GT3, Formula Ford and Toyota Racing Series are the other ones). It’s one of those descisions that I know will come back and haunt me this spring when 2,000 other championships start and tries to grab my attention. Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for the sport) they seem to have a pretty weak field this year with less than ten cars, so it shouldn’t be that much more work to keep up with.

While adding the MINI Challenge I also stumbled across another effect of the changing of character sets on the website. Since I’m Swedish I tend to use a lot of Swedish words as variable names in the code, and since PHP really doesn’t mind foreign characters in variable names I’ve sometimes used a couple of å’s, ä’s and ö’s, eventhough it’s probably bad practice and frowned upon. The problem with the change of character set is that when one of these variables are passed through a web form (for example adding a driver) the variable called $exämple suddenly becomes $ex�mple and the script that processes the form then has no idea what’s going on and $exämple ends up being completely blank. It’s simple enough to fix by just renaming the variable, but perhaps there are more of these places in the code. Time will tell. ;)

I also migrated another driver blog from my own system to the new WordPress MU setup. This time it was our Mexican friend Rodrigo Marbán who now has a “new” blog. It’s been a while since his last update though. Come back Rodrigo, we miss you! :)

2010, an important year

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Today it’s 2010. It’s got a nice sci-fi ring to it, hasn’t it? :)

2010 is going to be a very important year for Driver Database as it will really decide the direction the website will be going. I’m going to work on a lot of new features that hopefully will see the light of day during January. The goal for 2010 is for me to be able to work more on the website, and for me to be able do that I need to generate some revenue. As it is now Driver Database is a full time job that has to be done on my spare time. This was okay when I had a lot of spare time but I don’t anymore.

The things with the biggest priority right now is to get the “Premier Profiles” ready for launch. Drivers (or their managers) will then be able to extend their prescense on Driver Database a bit with biographies, presentations of their sponsors, Youtube clips, driver’s latest tweets, links to Facebook fan-pages, Q&A’s, external blog feeds, published press releases and perhaps most importantly high priority when it comes to updates of data and photos. These extended profiles will be available for a very reasonable yearly charge.

More to come on that as it progresses.

2010 has started with even more snow outside the Driver Database office window. And no, that’s not my truck. ;)