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History of VideoSift Part II (Blog Post)

I'm writing a series of blog posts about the history of VideoSift. This is Part II, but you can go back and read Prelude to a Sift and then Part I.

Launched from its slightly murky beginnings, the new VideoSift community was thriving in the first few months of 2006. Traffic was growing and more importantly, all kinds of people were pitching their online tents at Videosift - making it their web home.
... more inside ...

Getting off my ass (Blog Post)

Well, for the first time in 5 years I've decided to do something that actually matters, and will be getting off my ass to walk 5 km for the Heart and Stroke foundation.

 The challenge will suck, because In the past few years I doubt i've walked any more then 2 km straight at any given point in time, but at least this is for a good reason.

 "Well, why would he be posting something so trivial on videosift?" you may ask. Well, the reason is simple, Donations! If I can muster up any donations from this site, however small, I'll provide a picture of myself at the start and finish of the entire walk in my videosift * banned the youtube star t-shirt.

 I'm unsure how to embed things here as the embed button isn't working, so a link to the donations page will be at the bottom of this post.

 The walk is on May 5.



Announcing the New VideoSift Embed Widget

We've just created a nifty VideoSift widget that allows you to embed videos on your external website or blog. It includes a vote button as well as a short comment listing along with the video. It's enabled now for most all pages when you click the embed link for a video. Here's an example:

Options include:
  • Specify the desired video width
  • Optionally include a listing of a desired number of comments
  • Start minimized as a thumbnail
We've developed it for and tested it successfully on all modern browsers, but if you have any issues with it, don't hesitate to let us know!

Update: You can now use the VideoSift embed widget in your comments on VideoSift.

On the Recent Move ... (Blog Post)

So, things didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked. A few things coincided that led to a perfect storm of frustration here on the Sift. Here's the full story.

We were unhappy with our current hosting provider- we have 4 boxes with them that have recently been struggling with load- mostly database issues. The amount of ram in the DB server was half of what we were supposedly paying for – support was sluggish and we were getting pissed. Our good buddies at Neatorama just switched to a new bunch of servers that seemed like a heck of a deal. The move was on.

We needed to time the move to these new, much more powerful servers so that we weren't being double invoiced from two hosting companies. Our monthly server bill is a 4 figure amount that we just can't afford to double-pay.

So we paid for the first month on the new servers and they started building them- they had delays in getting the hardware- which was pushing right up on our invoice date of the 13th for the old servers- they finished building 2 days before the invoice date and Lucky had to pull an all-weekend job to transfer everything over to the new environment.

Still, everything would have been fine if it wasn't for our VideoSift domain hosted with Yahoo Small Business Hosting. When I first registered VideoSift on a lark back in 2006- they were offering $3 domains - and I thought - yes, this is for me. (unemployed at the time) They are a really, really bad service. Their interface appears to date back to the 1990s era web- and is very inflexible. I considered moving the domain onto a more modern registrar- but I was scared to touch it. I had read horror stories of domains being down for weeks on transfers from Yahoo- and had the experience of them just dropping our domain once for 72 hours on a whim. It pretty much works on Yahoo - and I didn't want to touch it.

In hindsight- this was the wrong attitude. The domain name server in the Yahoo control panel had our old server IP addresses in it. We needed to update this to the IP range for our new servers. We figured that this would propagate through in a few hours and people would seamlessly be directed to the new boxes. Unfortunately that was not the case. Yahoo hosting has a TTL "Time to Live" setting on DNS changes of 1 week - and there appears to be no way to modify this value. Even now, 5 days after the move- around 20% of our traffic is being directed to the old server - which has been shut down.

So, there you have it. Amateur hour on the Sift. I've learned my lesson and will move the VideoSift domain to a more reliable host. I'm sorry again for all the disruption. On the bright side- the new servers are great! We have a lot more free memory which we're planning to use to make the site even faster than it already is.

4.1 is here!

It's been a bit since 4.0 has been introduced and we are very happy to bring you the newest version of your favorite website, VideoSift 4.1! Without further ado, let's take a look at what's new:


Quoting has never been more fun. Since comments and discussions are an important part of this site, we've reworked the way quotes are being displayed. While long back-and-forth exchanges benefit the most from this feature, even single quotations look more appealing and include a smaller version of the quoted person's avatar.


Dynamic comment loading

Loading times can be quite long for videos and talks that enjoy a healthy dose of discussion. That's why we've implemented a system that loads an initial batch of the comments and adds more to the page on request, rather than loading them all on page load. It should speed up those page loads. You still have the option to load all the comments by either clicking the corresponding link on the given page, or by disabling this new feature all together in your preferences.


Related video display

You've just watched a video and want more of the same? You don't want to scroll down past the comments to find the related videos? No problem. Once your video has finished, you'll be greeted by a presentation of related videos in its place. This feature is only available for YouTube embeds.


Preview comment posting

This feature has been requested a couple of times and we're proud to announce that it has made its way onto the sift! It is now possible to post comment from the comment popup, making it no longer necessary to leave a listing page and open another page to post a comment. Simply click the "submit new comments" link within the popup to show the comment edit box.

More comment goodness

The comment box toolbar has been extended with a "pin" button, which pins the comment box to the bottom of the screen, making it possible to read through comments while still having the edit box on screen.
The invocations in the listing above the comment box are now clickable and will insert the given invocation into to comment box on click.
The comment icon under a video's thumbnail will change depending on the number of comments it has. It'll be semi-transparent when there are no comments at all, while it'll feature an exclamation mark once a video receives 10 or more comments.

Revamped user preferences and country flags

The user preference section has been restyled to be more in touch with v4. In addition, a "country" setting has been introduced to the profile prefs. The country you choose will be represented by a small flag on your profile page.

A whole lot of small tweaks and fixes

There are alot more small changes, most of which you will discover eventually, such as

  • The ability to read a video's extended info while the embed is expanded in gallery mode.

  • The sift lounge has been opened for silver star members

  • A new bookmark icon.

  • A whole lot more social sharing options for videos.

  • Faster initialization of the navigation and user menu.

  • A revamped channels page.

As usual, please let us know in case you're experiencing any problems.

Why buy a hybrid? Just paint your roof white!

Dr. Steven Chu, the Nobel prize-winning physicist appointed by President Obama as Energy Secretary, wants to paint the world white. Chu said at the opening of the St James's Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium that by lightening paved surfaces and roofs to the color of cement, it would be possible to cut carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world's cars off the roads for 11 years. Pale surfaces reflect up to 80 percent of the sunlight that falls on them, compared with about 20 percent for dark ones, which is why roofs and walls in hot countries are often whitewashed.

An increase in pale surfaces would help to contain climate change both by reflecting more solar radiation into space and by reducing the amount of energy needed to keep buildings cool by air-conditioning. Since 2005 California has required all flat roofs on commercial buildings to be white and Georgia and Florida give incentives to owners who install white or light-colored roofs. Put another way, boosting how much urban rooftops reflect would be a one-time carbon-offset equivalent to preventing 44 billion tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. 'For the first time, we're equating the value of reflective roof surfaces and CO2 reduction,' says Dr. Hashem Akbari. 'This does not make the problem of global warming go away. But we can buy ourselves some time.'

Fuck you, Tom Cruise. (Blog Post)

And your "really cool" sunglasses that you wear indoors. At a fucking museum.

I'm in D.C. for the weekend and I went to the National Holocaust museum. As I was taking my time and reading the signs and watching the videos, a bunch of museum personnel came up and told us that we had to clear the area. We did, not knowing what the hell was going on. As we were off to the side, I asked if there was a VIP coming through and he said that there was. So we're all off to the side and then enters Sir Douche. With his really cool hairdo wearing sunglasses in the dimly lit exhibit. So then King Bag leaves the area and us lesser citizens are allowed to continue our tour. As I get in the middle of watching the next video, we're herded out into the area that we were previously kicked out of, because Mr. Asshat wants to look through where we were. He then moves on again, and everyone is ready to get out of the area. But no. The one and only exit is blocked and there are easily 50+ people there waiting to get out. Then the pompous asshole walks by, shoots a smug little fucking smile and waves with an air of nonchalance, to which I loudly responded "Don't you wave at me!" Everyone around looked a little shocked that I would yell at a precious celebrity, but as soon as the fucker walked off they resumed talking trash about him and airing their grievances to all that would listen to how bullshit the whole ordeal was. I walked up to the guy blocking us, and asked if he was museum personnel, and he told me that he was, but 1) I've never seen museum personnel wear an ear piece a la Secret Service, 2)He was wearing black when everyone else was wearing red, and he had no badge or name tag. I think the fucker lied to me and he was actually Cruises much needed body guard. A woman made a very good point. She said "We just spent the last three hours learning how bad it is to treat people like they are first or second class citizens, and here they are doing it to us."

Fuckdouche was no where near us, and yet they still wouldn't let us out, so myself and a Vietnam vet berated the man to let the crowd out. He finally backed off and let us out. Then at the very end they had a comment book that I was writing in and no sooner had I finished writing in it, another guy came up and told us to clear out. I never got a chance to go into the museum shop.
I wish I had wanted to, because I would have told the fucker that Tom Cruise can wait, I'm going into the store.

Fuck you, Tom Cruise.

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