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New Years Resolutions


It's 2009. Celebrate! If one of your resolutions is to be a better blogger, I hope that Brompt can help. Then again, if one of your resolutions is to spend less time in your email, maybe our reminders won't be so effective... but it's the thought that counts.

At Brompt HQ, we've got a few Development Resolutions:

  • Individualized charts and statistics: we're not the NSA, but if you've been with us for a while, we have collected some interesting metadata on your blogging habits. We're going to try to make that info available to you in some useful (and visual) manner.
  • Blog Widgets: if Brompt is helping you blog better, we'd like to give you the option to advertise your aspirational blogging goals---and how well you're meeting them.

I sincerely hope it doesn't take the full year to roll these out, so be looking for them soon... I really don't want to code together a development reminder system!

Blog: now with comments

Comments please!

I spent the afternoon today turning on and configuring comments for the Brompt Blog. Now anyone can leave feedback on the blog!

Configuring comments on the Brompt Blog does leave a little to be desired. The Drupal framework that Brompt is built on is very powerful, but as I've mentioned before, it sometimes leaves things to be desired. The benefit is that it took me only about an hour today to integrate comments, a captcha system to catch spam (it even helps digitise books), and make the whole thing not look too ugly, in just an hour today. That makes it all worth the few poorly worded (and hardcoded!) dialogue boxes for the comments. But you probably won't even notice them---we're perfectionists here at Brompt.

So please, leave a comment!

It's tough being the Brompt server

As some of you may have been noticing Brompt has had a smidge of server trouble over the last few days. This has unfortunately been affecting new sign-ups and we're sorry about that... but we're now up and running and better than ever.

Long story short: we've gone through a growth spurt in the past month with a lot of new traffic and sign-ups. Every time someone signs up we do a delicate dance of fetching and validating your RSS feed to ensure we aren't promising you a reminder we can't deliver. Somehow, somewhere, something went wrong, and our server started throwing errors like the CEO of a billion dollar software company throws chairs.

We worked with our hosting provider to diagnose and fix the errors... except they couldn't, and reviewing the server logs and seeing a lot of other ugly bunnies under the hood, we decided to make a switch.

So now we're chugging along on new server hardware with nary a peep of problems. Brompt is now smarter, faster, stronger than before, and that means better too.

All revved up with nothing to say?

Brompt scratched one of my itches: reminding me to post to my blog regularly; unfortunately, there always seems to be other itches as well.... or maybe I just have fleas.

Saying something is one thing, saying something meaningful or interesting is another. Brompt won't blog for you (Markov Text Generator" for that), so you may need to turn to other sources for inspiration.

When I'm in need of writing inspiration (as opposed to Brompt's writing alarm clock) I happen to like reading:

Of course, you still have the take the time to read, but now we're getting into major reductionism...

Brompt gets Cybersquat Love

I was a amused to find that Brompt is listed as #60 under Blog Setup Tools on the misspelled ("Wordpres" is missing the second "s"). Even Cyber Squatters know a good service when they see it.

I set those links above to rel=nofollow because, despite them promoting, I think that cyber squatting is a pernicious practice and prevents people from getting to the pages they want.

Brompt is good for Newsletters

Just ran across a tip for using on the E-Marketing Masterclass Blog on a post called Adding a “How To” into your e-newsletter.

Problem: you need to create content for next month’s e-newsletter, but somehow time just seems to have slipped by. It’s now too late to do anything, so you have no option but to cancel the forthcoming issue. Bad for readers, bad for sales.

Solution: Set up a free nagging service online and remind yourself when you need to make a start on each issue, ahead of time. Set it up once only. will send you your own reminder e-mails at ’semi-unpredictable intervals’. You can add in your colleagues if you like, so the whole team gets nagged at once. will do the same for you if your e-newsletter runs off your latest blog post (like this e-Masterclass does here at TMB from my e-Masterclass blog). It sees if you have not posted for a while and nags you. Excellent!

So chalk up another great use for Brompt: reminding people to write their e-newsletter.

Deletion Peace of Mind

Thanks to the helpful advice of Cheryl, I added some additional text to the Brompt Signup page. Now beneath the submit form it says:

After submitting, you'll receive a confirmation email with a unique URL from which you can edit or delete your reminder at anytime.

I don't want people to think that the service can't be turned off or modified. How obnoxious would that be? Very.

100 Reminders Make History

As of my writing this Brompt has just hit 100 reminders sent during its lifetime. To be honest, the majority of them are for my poor blogging: I'm getting lots of nags. But regardless:

100 reminders. Woot.

I tried looking up what color to use for a 100 year anniversary and got nothing. So we'll just color this one awesome.

Damn Lies and Statistics

I spent the afternoon today putting together a simple Statistics Page for Brompt. I'm actually pretty happy with it---not to mention I'm able to keep the mind-alteringly green theme going strong.

statistics chart example

The chart on the stats page uses the Google Charts API, via a Drupal module called Charts (simply enough). I actually had to hack on it a bit since the module was strongly genericized (with a lean feature set) and I wanted to make a very clean looking, Google-Analytics-style chart, which meant adding in a lot of little code for things like axis labels, grids and color-fills. Stuff like this:

// Add Grid
if (!empty($data['#grid'])) {
$chart[] = 'chg='. $data['#grid'];

Fun huh? In the end I probably could have just written a completely generic array parser that would format generic keys and values into the proper API URL for Google Charts to gnaw on. Something for another day, I guess.

Digging it

I put Brompt on Digg this afternoon. So far it's off to an inauspicious start. Oh well... This way we can be a Cinderella Story. And who doesn't like Cinderella? (other than her stepmother and step-sisters, of course) logo