New Website: Web-O-Random

I made a new Ajax toy. Web-O-Random is a random website finder with some Ajaxy goodness:

  • Sites load into a carousel (slider) component. Thanks to Bill Scott and Yahoo! for providing the original component and Sebastien Gruhier for the prototype port which is used here.
  • Pages load into an IFrame (as with WebWait).
  • User can re-randomize, which leads to a JSON payload of new random sites.

If you hunt for it, you’ll find there’s a way to search too, but I had to de-emphasise it as mysql full-text search takes 1-2 minutes to crunch through 4M (indexed) rows (each representing a website). If I have time, I may set up a reverse index table to cache results.

Initial reactions:

  • “…?” This is the typical reaction. It may be interpreted as a polite version of Cartman’s “Dude, this is pretty **** right here?” as in “Who would ever use this?”. Sometimes people forget that not everything has to be as popular as Google…apps like Weborandom and Webwait can be coded in a few days and hosting costs are pretty trivial nowadays. As development time trends downwards to zero, it’s the long tail of web apps! See What Happens When t Approaches Zero?
  • “So I get a new site by clicking Randomize?” (You’re meant to use the carousel first. I added some initial animation to the carousel, which looks cool and shows people there’s more than meets the eye. I also made the carousel default to start in the middle instead of on the left.)
  • “Are those your ads?” (He thought the carousel was adsense. I refactored by showing a boldfaced website title instead of a blue link).
  • “How do I click the arrow key? I can’t see the cursor.” (Confusing to have keyboard bindings in the absence of a textarea/input control. Changed the instruction text.)

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