Thursday, October 28, 2010

Great Minds Think Alike

Mark Steyvers spoke at UCSD today.  I was fortunate enough to have lunch with him and pick his brain about rank ordering using aggregated orderings from individuals.  (My goal is to make that my next project, once Lepidoptera is stable.)  Mark argued against conceptualizing the problem using voting paradigms because of Arrow's Theorem and other problems.  A very interesting read is his paper The Wisdom of Crowds in the Recollection of Order Information (PDF).  Check out the MADLab's online sorting experiment.

I'll be tweaking a couple things with the math behind the scenes on Lepidoptera.  The changes are very minor, but just a couple changes I'd like to see based on my use of the site.  One issue was that the strengths of old ratings were decaying too quickly.  I've found a good setting for it now.

Yes, I did break down and find a nice san-serif font and color gradient background.  I will grudgingly admit the site looks nicer.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lepidoptera Alpha

My little pet project is ready for use.  All of the functionality necessary for Lepidoptera to be a useful to-do list organizer is complete.  Anyone who wants to experiment is free to use the site.  You may leave feedback here on the blog or send it privately by using the contact form on the site.

The three features I would like to have on the site, but have not yet added are:
  1. Tags.  All items will be taggable.  Lists and comparisons can be filtered by tag.  This would allow you to mix Work and Home items in the same list, but separate them when you want.
  2. Force comparisons.  As of now, the site determines which items should be compared.  It does this in an (artificially) intelligent way, aiming to maximize the information gained with each comparison.  However, the user may want to force certain items into comparisons, and I think this would be a useful feature.
  3. Design.  It looks fine to me, but I know others would prefer something more pleasing to the eye.  There's no reason to spend time picking out the coolest san-serif font and adding color gradient backgrounds just for the heck of it, though.  If I get around to it or get some design help, I'm sure I can clean it up.
These may be implemented in the near future, depending on other projects.  For now, the site is simply available for your productivity pleasure.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

That'll do for now, Lepidoptera.

The site has become a very useful tool. I use the site itself to track to do items for development. I'm knocking them down just a bit faster than I'm adding new ones, so that is a good sign.

The biggest improvement today was the smart item selection. The goal for the next development session is to hit an alpha level, where the site would be complete enough for users other than me to understand it and use it without too many frustrations.

I've broken down and actually added a stylesheet. Engineer-chic can only take you so far. Sometimes you need to tell the browser, "No, you idiot, put THAT element over THERE!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LDM becomes Lepidoptera

Large Dead Moth has been reborn as Lepidoptera. It should be in working order pretty soon.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Incremental Progress

I added the registration page today, but that breaks the index page as it assumes a user with at least two current items. I need to review the workflow of the site and get it in order. Still, a little bit more of the code is done now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Next Steps

As you can see, I took a first stab at arranging the site. As you can also see, I am no designer. I just wanted to get things in a general arrangement similar to what I hope the final design will look like.
The next big step is to 1) Add an account creation form. 2) Separate lists by accounts. 3) Login/logout/forgot password
Other next steps:
  • Get green check mark graphic
  • Get red exclamation graphic
  • Change add items to one big textarea
  • Fix progress bars. There should be a constant +extra slot (up to hundreds? thousands?), then 10 filled/unfilled slots. Make a subroutine.
  • Review the comparison # requirement calculations.
  • Put clear label on each number: MINIMUM IDEAL
  • Write the About page. Link to it.
  • Put the title and pic in a header for all pages.
  • Put the links in a footer for all pages.
  • Create a contact form. Link to it.
  • Don't hide the View List link. Just warn them if they did not make enough comparisons.
  • What the heck was the Stats page supposed to be?
  • Add javascript option on list view page to remove font-size trick.
  • AJAX this mfer.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Minimum Comparisons and Initial List View Work Done

The app now demands a certain number of minimum comparisons before showing a link to the ranked list. The formula is somewhat arbitrary: Log base 2 (# active items) + 2 * # new items - recent comparisons - recent items marked Done. This will probably change, especially if I put some smarts into choosing the items to compare. As of now two items are simply chosen randomly.

Also, when the minimum comparison number is satisfied, a link will now appear to view the list in rank order in a new window. The next task is to get this to be the right order, at the moment it is just random.