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.
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.)
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.
There will be a brief scheduled maintenance late tonight, Eastern Time, to pick up code changes affecting error handling. After the maintenance, there should be no noticeable changes to the site. The site will, hopefully, continue operating as normal, though you may need to reload any open rooms.
A few weeks ago, I pushed two changes to TodaysMeet: a transcript view and short URLs for rooms.
The transcript view is very much like the projector view (formerly called “read-only”) except for two important points.
- The transcript view is chronological, so it’s easier to read in order, and
- the transcript view does not update automatically.
To get to the transcript, look for the word “transcript” at the bottom of the Listen panel.
Every TodaysMeet room now has an automatic short URL associated with it, suitable for tweeting. These short URLs start with “today.io” and can be found at the bottom right of the Listen panel.
If you’ve been using either of these new features, what do you think? What could be improved? If you haven’t, go try them out!
The second most-requested feature of TodaysMeet is better mobile phone integration, specifically sending a text message to a room. Unfortunately, I’ll probably never be able to do this for two reasons.
First, SMS short codes are prohibitively expensive. TodaysMeet, as you may have noticed, has no advertising, and no other source of revenue*. That might change eventually—I won’t add advertising—but I have no real plans to do so right now.
Second, I’m very unhappy with the possible options for interacting with a room via text message:
- One-way, where you can text in but not hear what’s going on. This doesn’t encourage conversation, thus missing the point of TodaysMeet entirely.
- Two-way, where I send every message in a room back to the phone. Imagine getting dozens, if not hundreds (the average room has nearly 500 messages right now) of text messages on your phone in an hour or two. It’s extremely difficult to keep up with them, and could end up costing a lot for some users. In short, it’s not a good experience.
I do plan to make the site more mobile-friendly, but text-messaging is just not going to provide the kind of experience I want for TodaysMeet.
* TodaysMeet is fairly cheap for me to run right now—not free, but cheap. But it is just me, and it’s not a paying gig. If it seems like updates and fixes come slowly at times, this is why. If I were to attempt to create revenue from TodaysMeet, it would be from value-added features. I would not use advertising and I would not take away the free functionality that exists now.
Three changes went live tonight.
TodaysMeet finally met Twitter
There’s a new option when you create a room. You can optionally add a hash tag, and TodaysMeet will go search Twitter and pull in tweets tagged with it. This happens in very-near realtime, so it should feel pretty seamless.
I’m very interested to hear your feedback on this feature. Love it? Hate it? Confusing? Broken? Leave a comment!
Today’s Meet => TodaysMeet
I dropped the apostrophe. It looked weird. I’ll be trying to make sure that I’m consistent everywhere. If you’re going to write about TodaysMeet, I’d appreciate it if you could use this new spelling.
This server has been ready for a couple of months, but I got
lazy.Yeah, busy. TodaysMeet had always been hosted on a server I typically use for experiments and new sites. Now it’s on its own. This should really improve uptime.
Again, if you notice any issues, please let me know.
I hope you enjoy the Twitter integration. I’ll continue to tinker with the site over the weekend. You can always check status.todaysmeet.com for faster updates.
As a presenter, you should read the whole thing, but here are some of the highlights:
Benefits to the Audience
- Helps the audience stay focused.
- The audience gets more content.
- The audience can participate.
Benefits for the Speaker
- The typing means you’re provoking interest.
- You’ll get immediate feedback.
- Your colleagues can answer questions for you.
Laura goes on to give great advice on how to manage and monitor the backchannel. Really a great read for anyone presenting these days.
And of course, if you use Today’s Meet to help manage and monitor it, that’s good, too.
I had the great privilege today to sit in on a presentation and Q&A on Google Apps for Education. Shortly before it started, I set up a Today’s Meet room so we could have the back channel going and so a few people who couldn’t make it could still listen in.
It got me thinking about some of the ways Today’s Meet can be used. Of course, these are just my ideas. I hope you have different ones! read more…