In February, I set up a testing server for the next version of TodaysMeet. Thank all of you who helped me test and discover issues.
In preparation for the switch to the new version, I will be shutting down the preview site in one week, that is Sunday, May 19th, 2013. Note that this only affects the preview, not TodaysMeet itself.
If you have been using preview.todaysmeet.com and want to save the contents of any rooms, please do so before May 19th, as all preview data will be permanently removed.
Thank you, again, for your help testing and reporting issues, and I’m excited to make the new version into the current version shortly.
Update (20 May 2013): The preview site has been closed and all data has been permanently removed.
If you’ve ever wondered if TodaysMeet was suffering from an outage, you can now check, with real-time uptime status and reports at uptime.todaysmeet.com.
I’m making this data public and easily accessible because it is part of my commitment to providing a reliable service. Thanks to Pingdom for providing a great uptime-monitoring service with reports.
Note: this preview and testing program is over. Thank you for your help and feedback! There may be new preview features in the future.
I have an exciting announcement, a project I’ve been working on for months, and it’s very nearly ready, but I need your help!
I’m looking for some people who are willing to use and test a pre-released version of the site. There may be bugs, things might not look or work quite right. I need your help to find and tell me about these issues so I can get them fixed.
Here’s all you have to do: use preview.todaysmeet.com instead of todaysmeet.com and if something doesn’t work right or look right, let me know. (There are links on the site to give feedback.)
There are a few small changes, but it should be pretty much the same. Hopefully everything is a little bit faster and smoother.
This is a preview of a huge under-the-hood change to TodaysMeet which will:
- help me respond to your help requests faster,
- make it easier to add new features, and
- make the site faster, especially during big events.
Overall this means a better TodaysMeet!
I’m happy to talk more about the technology changes, and I’ll write a blog post about it soon.
I receive a steady stream of requests to close rooms early, so I wanted to clarify the situations in which I will or will not close a room. This has been an informal, but consistent, policy, so I wanted to write it down.
I will close a room early if it contains
- Copyrighted material not appropriately licensed,
- Evidence of cyberbullying.
These are not the only examples, and I will use my own discretion in extreme or unique cases.
If you find a room that meets any of these criteria, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Twitter and other email address might work, but I make no promises there.) Please include the name of the room and, if you are a teacher using the room for class, please try to use an official school email address. If the room is not in English, please also include some of the objectionable language or material.
If you email me at email@example.com, I will do my very best to respond and remove the room within one US business day, assuming I’m not traveling*.
I will not (generally) close rooms if
- The name was “wrong”,
- The class or event is over and the room is “done”,
- The expiration date was “wrong”,
- Another room using the name already exists.
There are three reasons for this policy.
- Time. I simply don’t have time to respond to all such requests.
- Fairness. Other users of the room may expect the room to continue to be available.
- Laisse faire. In all decisions, my preference is to remain as hands-off as possible. I hope users trust that the content of the site is not subject to my whims.
And as I said above, in other unique or extreme cases, it’s a question of judgement and discretion.
I hope this helps answer a very frequently asked question.
* I mention traveling because I am leaving the country in a few hours. Once I land, in about 2 days, I will have internet access again and be able to help, but while I’m on the plane I assume I’ll be cut off. The travel takes place on the 23rd-25th of January, and the 1st-2nd of February.
I want to answer a frequently asked question: what happened to the hashtag option when creating a new room?
There were a number of technical and legal changes that lead to me removing the hashtag feature several months ago, and that mean it probably won’t come back.
The technical changes should have just been a hiccup. I would have needed to change the way certain things worked, but that’s all. The legal changes, however, mean that I can’t display content from Twitter.
At the very least, I am not allowed by their Display Requirements to include content in a way that creates a good experience on TodaysMeet. At the worst, the way their API Terms are written, I may not be allowed to include content in a service like TodaysMeet at all.
These rules are Twitter’s to make and enforce, and the changes they’ve made recently have made it seem extremely unlikely that they will ever reverse direction and allow more liberal use of the content again.
There is now a dedicated email address for site issues and help with abuse or bullying: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also use this address in cases of inappropriate language, bullying, name-calling, etc, in your class’ TodaysMeet room. You should save a copy of the transcript first, and let me know if you’re ready for the room to be closed early.
I’m still paying attention on Twitter, but this is more direct and a better way to reach me. (And to avoid getting lost in the jungle of my personal inbox.)
There have been a handful of reports over the past few months of rooms set to expire in a year closing early. Unfortunately, once a room is closed, there is no way to retrieve the data; it’s gone forever. To avoid users unexpectedly losing data, I’ve temporarily disabled year-long rooms.
Unfortunately this is a very difficult issue to diagnose, owing to the long times involved. Users don’t always check rooms very frequently, so early-closing reports range from a few weeks after opening the room to a few months. So far, my efforts to find a root cause have been fruitless.
I do hope to address this issue very soon and re-enable year-long rooms, but I won’t do it before I’m confident that users will not lose data.
This is a guest post by Bob Henson, a teacher in the Social Studies Department of Villa Madonna Academy.
On October 3rd 2012, a Wednesday night with school the next morning, 62 high school students gathered together to watch the first presidential debates. 62 seniors, juniors, freshman and sophomores (out of a student body of only about 180) were willing to stay up until 11pm on a school night to talk about politics and campaigns. Many of these students had iPads issued by the school; many had iPods, cell phones, or their own personal laptops. They were all connected silently to each other (and their teachers) via TodaysMeet chat room.
These five dozen students were all working on an eight-week long project on American presidential campaigns. They were members of classes on government and civics, economics, and American history spanning 7th, 8th, and 11th grade. As Social Studies teachers, my department chair and I were looking for ways to watch the presidential debates in a useful, scholastic atmosphere. We wanted students to be involved in the election process, and find ways of using the candidates’ ideas in their own lives. The debates then, for us, were a way to get our students excited and focused on national politics.
TodaysMeet allowed us to do so in a 21st-century, student-focused way. The fact that the chat room requires minimal setup and training meant that we were free to use our time in better ways than tech support. Students intuitively understood the program, and the simple format proved easy to teach when necessary. We were thus up and running in less than 10 minutes.
During the debates themselves, TodaysMeet allowed us to instantly communicate with dozens of students silently. This communication offered ways to ask questions, start (or finish) debates among students, and fostered an academic atmosphere of political citizenship. It let us hold a conversation among 60 students at school and others who couldn’t attend, and all without interrupting or disrupting the presidential debate itself.
The electronic chat room also allowed us to reach students who are often reluctant to contribute during class discussions. Some have disabilities or issues that make classroom interaction difficult, and many are simply shy. Their voices were heard in our discussion because TodaysMeet provided a safe, electronic atmosphere for them to express themselves.
By the end of the project, we aim to create interested and engaged twenty-first century citizens. We wanted them to appreciate the fine art of argument making, and the importance of being involved in public policy discussions. TodaysMeet is a wonderful tool to advance these goals. We received a multitude of positive responses from faculty, administration, and most importantly the student body. The success was so marked that we hosted the other two presidential debates, and the vice-presidential debate as well. TodaysMeet allowed us to engage students electronically while teaching them the value and importance of twenty-first century citizenship.
Last night’s maintenance was a success, but was limited in scope.
Over the next two evenings, Saturday and Sunday, 20-21 October, from around 7pm Eastern Time, there may be small service interruptions for additional capacity building and monitoring work. This work should not require significant downtime.
Update: (20 Oct 2012 – 3:30pm EDT)
After a rough hour or so where cache performance was spotty, it’s now warmed up and running smoothly. This should improve response times during periods of high traffic to any particular room.
Following up on the recent issues, there will be a planned maintenance window from approximately 11pm 19 Oct 2012 to 1am 20 Oct 2012. During this time TodaysMeet will be unavailable.
Please watch this post and status.todaysmeet.com for updates.
Update 1: Taking the site offline in the next couple of minutes. The window is approximately two hours, until 1am Eastern Daylight Time.
Update 2: The site is back online! Thanks for your patience.
During the downtime I was able to fix a few small usability issues. Form fields in rooms should now play better with focus.