News & updates
- 19 Mar, 2010
New widget features
We've just implemented some additional functionality for the widgets that we hope you guys will enjoy:
- You can now customise the widget appearance - you can either choose the photograph used, or select a solid background colour.
- Widgets can be generated for the different chart time periods - overall, 3 month, 6 month, etc.
- We now do widgets for album charts as well - a patchwork mosaic of album covers. They take a little bit longer to generate, but look impressive.
All of this has made the widget system a bit more complicated, so please bear with us if we have a few teething problems over the next few weeks.
We also took the opportunity to tweak the following things, while we were under the hood:
- After lots of questions about the raw data we use, we've updated the FAQs, added some tooltips and added a new magnifying glass icon to the charts that allow you to see the raw data used in our algorithms and explains where the data comes from in more detail.
- We've added some more adverts. Sorry.
- 02 Mar, 2010
A few updates in the pipeline
After a few busy months doing fee-earning work and other life-changing stuff, I'm gearing up to do some work on the Normalisr over the next couple of weeks. You guys have been great at letting me know what enhancements you want, so the things I'm hoping to tackle are:
- Improve the widget - extend it to cover all the Normalisr chart options, allow a choice of backgrounds, unicode font support, text wrapping, etc. There's plenty that needs doing, and I'm looking forward to extending this functionality.
- Improve and update help/FAQ - this needs a lot of work now the audience has grown, especially when people have problems finding or importing particular artists. We don't keep ANY artist/album data ourselves - it all comes from last.fm or Musicbrainz, so the help needs to inform people better how to cope when the data lets them down.
- Check the algorithm - a few particular artists look to be affected by wobbly maths (Thurston Moore, Transatlantic, Fantamos, etc.). I'll check them out.
- See if we can use more than the top 50 last.fm chart entries for the calculation. I'm not very hopeful on this one, as I think only 50 come from last.fm via RSS - any more may need API authentication and I'm not keen on adding that complication to the user experience. I'll look into it.
- Investigate and improve monetization options.
- 21 Dec, 2009
Preliminary Survey Results
Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in our survey. Over the last 6/7 weeks, we have received over one thousand responses.
It will take us a while to properly analyse the results, but the preliminary analysis is encouraging - 43% of respondents thought the time-based charts gave a better indication of their musical tastes.
Better chart Responses Percentage last.fm 246 23% equal 357 34% time-based 449 43% 1,052 100%
Once again, many thanks to everyone who responded. And a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year to all our users.
- 19 Nov, 2009
Infinite loop bug (hopefully) fixedI have finally tracked down the bug that was affecting the display some users' charts. The bug usually manifests itself by trapping users on the processing queue page for long periods of time, not letting them see their charts. It looks like the problem was with a handful of Artists who have Release records on Musicbrainz, but none of them contain any track duration data. With no track duration data, we can't run the Normalisr algorithm, so I'm afraid these artists won't appear in user charts. At least these problem artists shouldn't block chart access any more. Apologies to Sagehorn, Kornacker, Giku, Hrabedei, vkoivula, and any other users who experienced this bug.
- 06 Nov, 2009
Please complete our surveyThe more eagle-eyed users will have noticed a short survey has been added to the bottom of the chart page - we'd be very grateful if you could take a minute to answer the two short questions next time you visit the site. Its not a marketing exercise - the survey results will be analysed by the Music Technology Group at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (in Barcelona, Spain). Many thanks.
- 03 Oct, 2009
Welcome to the new-look Normalisr
Hooray! It's live! Your all-new "Normalisr" experience can now boast the following improvements:
- A new URL - this one - http://www.normalisr.com
- A slick new design, including gig photographs
- Thumbnail views of artist and album charts
- The ability to manually find artists and albums that come from last.fm without a proper Musicbrainz ID - we're hoping that this will improve the accuracy of your charts
- Proper Unicode support (fingers crossed!)
- A graphical widget of your artist chart to add to your blog or last.fm profile
We hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, feedback or issues to report, please use the feedback form. Tinkerty-tonk.
- 17 Jul, 2008
9.30am: Something seems to have changed with last.fm's data feeds - the "overall" charts are no longer showing the playcount so we cannot work out the normalised rankings. We have disabled the "overall" charts for the time being.
4.30pm: The overall charts are back now. Phew!
- 04 Jul, 2008
The normaliser recently celebrated its first birthday, and we're pretty pleased that not only has it lasted this long, but it still seems to be going strong. In that year, it has served up over a quarter of a million charts and now has over 215,000 albums in its cache.
It has been very interesting to compare usage with coverage - while most of our referrals come from last.fm itself, this article in Read Write Web, a link from Tom Coates and the launch of last.fm's directory of external applications all provided some welcome spikes in traffic.
So what's next for the normaliser? To be honest, we were half-expecting last.fm to start doing their charts this way, but that doesn't seem to be forthcoming, so I guess the normaliser has a valid role going forward. Despite being pretty consistent since just after launch, we do listen to what people are telling us and we are due to make a few tweaks over the next few months.
The database is getting pretty big, and I would like to move it over to one of those new-fangled cloud storage services. Amazon SimpleDB is an option, but the limited querying would probably mean we would have to lose a few features (for instance, the stats). Microsoft's SQL Server Data Services will probably be a better bet, but we'll have to see if Redmond has finally understood mashups and made the service responsive enough. The marketing still uses phrases like "enterprise-class technology" that send shivers down my spine.
So, on balance, a good first year and we're looking forward to more of the same. Many thanks to all of you that have used the normaliser and especially those that have got in touch with us.
PS - The Favourite Artist News Yahoo Pipe isn't doing too badly either - over 75,000 runs since the end of November 2007.
- 25 Jan, 2008
We've just added a page that sets out the usage statistics for the application. In the first six months, we served over 133,000 charts! Blimey. Many thanks to you all.
- 02 Jul, 2007
We've updated the algorithm to use a median value, rather than the arithmetic mean, when calculating track lengths. Hopefully, this will give a more realistic approximation of listening time, and stop those cases where an artist's figures are skewed by one extra-long or extra-short track on an album.