Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Scream if you wanna go faster // Making Sidepodcast as speedy as the sport it follows

Published by Mr. C

It's been a while since we talked technical, and since 2009 is rapidly coming to a close, I figured now would be a good time to blog about website updates - where we are, and what we're currently working on.

I'm well aware that things would get done a whole lot quicker if we stopped discussing what we plan to do and just got on and did it. I'm also acutely aware that these kind of self serving posts can be intensely boring to read, so allow me to present to you a colourful graph.

Average homepage response time for sidepodcast.com
Average homepage response time for sidepodcast.comCredit: Sidepodcast.com

Exciting, isn't it? Unlike your average company sales graph, in this case, smaller is most definitely better and faster. As the caption on the chart states, the data is displaying the average time it takes for this site's homepage to respond in milliseconds, over time. Back in September, site performance was bad and pages took an age to load, but since then we released two major performance upgrades, both of which improved the situation dramatically.

We now have something of a sensible platform to build upon. It may not be perfect - the whole look of this place is somewhat bland at the moment, and we still have reliability issues to resolve during intense commenting sessions - internally though, we've drawn a line under the project marked 'performance' and while there will always be minor tweaks available, the big gains have been achieved.

Starring Christine... on the internet

In amongst the upgrades a few features have sneaked in under the door. Lets take a look at those too.

Star ratings have been added to individual posts, and we'll be using those to gauge not only how well a post was received, but also how good or bad a podcast was. Additionally we may use the information to figure out how well a particular series is doing, or how a guest post has gone down.

In short, ratings are an important feature of Sidepodcast. While we appreciate all feedback, ratings are an especially useful way of giving us a quick indication, especially if you're the shy type who'd rather not leave a comment.

Show no mercy

One of this year's ideas that helped launch the Playground was Show Selector and that has finally been integrated into the main site. A visit to the Shows page will give you the opportunity to create a custom subscription feed containing only the shows that you're interested in.

We're assuming that for the most part the main podcast feed will still contain all of the edited shows we put out but if you'd like to be more selective when it comes to what you listen to or watch, then Show Selector is the place to go.

Stream of Consciousness

We're trialling a new method of streaming video content starting this week. If you head on over to the most recent live show replay the video should begin almost the second you hit play and then allow you to jump to any point in the recording without needing to download the whole show before hand. If all goes well with the trial, we'll roll this feature out to other videos on the site in due course.

That pretty much covers where we're at. Aside from fixing minor issues, we don't have any immediate plans to make further changes in the short term. We're still thinking about revamping live blogging / live commenting using the infrastructure provided by Google Wave, but thus far the technology is a little too unstable for its own good. Fingers crossed something will be working by the time the F1 circus reaches Bahrain.

An update to the look and feel of the site is still pending, but we might hold back on that until the beginning of the season. In the meantime another challenge waiting in the wings will be to make similar performance improvements to our other sites F1 Minute and Media. Future. Change. We'll blog about changes on those sites as they occur.

Thank you to everybody who's put up with any usability annoyances that have come up prior to and since September, and please don't be afraid to yell if something isn't right.

Here's to a faster 2010.