July invites released! Weather Radar channels are now available!

Two big items today; I’ve released several hundred invites and the weather radar channel type is now available for public use.

All beta registrations entered before the end of July have been released. You should already have received an email from FrameAlbum with instructions on how to activate your account.  If you registered before the end of July and you have not yet received your invitation email please contact me.

Weather Radar iconWeather Radar images are now available!

FrameAlbum users in the United States can now add a weather radar feed to their frames.  The feed images are taken directly from the US National Weather Service and are updated every 15 minutes.  The image quality isn’t quite what you see on your local TV weather-reader’s background but it is free. 😉

To add this new feed log into the FrameAlbum website and ‘Add a New Channel’ and choose channel type ‘Weather Radar’.  You will be prompted for your US ZIP code. Once the channel is saved, you can add it to your frame.  Within 15 minutes the local radar image will be added to your frame’s feed.

This was the most requested ‘information’ style feed requested — please let me know how it works for you.

Thanks for trying FrameAlbum!

Lots going on behind the curtain today

Today I am going to move the website to a new server as well as push updated versions of several of the back-room components into production.

Those of you already on the service (Thanks!) should notice nothing more than faster response from the website and less ‘wonkiness’ in the feeds.

The biggest visible change is the addition of ‘activation keys’. Activation keys make it much simpler to add a frame to FrameAlbum service.  These keys will be displayed on frames that connect to the FrameAlbum service but are not yet ‘owned’ by a registered user.  This replaces the image that included the ‘productID’ and ‘frameID’ values.  While these are very useful to me they are not so useful to the average user.

I’ve noticed that many folks that have registered for the service have not added any channels to their frames.  I accept that the website doesn’t exactly do a great job explaining how you go about getting pictures onto your frame.  I’m an engineer, not a user interface designer (as if that wasn’t painfully obvious to anyone who has tried to use the website 😉 ) – it makes perfect sense to me!  But, obviously, not to everyone.

Beginning today if your frame connects to the service but doesn’t have any channels programmed you will receive a message to visit the site and add channels. This is a very small step towards helping folks use the service.  I have a long way to go but at least you won’t have a blank frame and no idea why it is blank.

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone but assuming all goes well today, I’ll be releasing the next batch of beta invites.  😉

Thanks for your support!

Feeds have been moved to the new server

All feed generation and delivery has been moved to the new server.  You do not need to make any adjustments to your frames, they will automatically switch to the new server over the next few hours.

The web site is still running on the old server so will continue to experience slow response until I finish moving that as well.

This should resolve several issues with sporadically missing photos, invalid RSS feeds and general wonkiness.  Please let me know if your frame is still unhappy.

I’ve fallen and I can only sorta get up!

FrameAlbum is a victim of it’s own popularity.  The tiny server I have running the service isn’t up to the task now that there are several hundred people on the service.  This is the reason that some of your frames are reporting ‘invalid RSS feed’ or ‘cannot contact service’ or similar messages.

My bad, sorry about that.

The server I’m using is based on Amazon’s EC2 service.  This matters not to most of you but will be interesting to the .5% of you that are are geeks like me.  The ‘tiny’ instance type is a small fraction of a ‘real machine’ and when someone else on the same physical machine as my instance runs something heavy it takes away from me.  Well, it seems that someone is almost always running something heavy on the same machine as the FrameAlbum service.  As a result, the service is a bit wobbly.   I’ve tried stopping/starting the server a few times to get on a different physical machine but the problem persists.

I’m moving the service to another machine that is not shared.  This will cause the service to be a bit bumpy for the remainder of the day but will result in a much more stable and responsive service.

Thanks for your support and patience!