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We've got a new tool that'll be released later today - the Stash Manager. It's been something people have been wanting for years (literally! There are posts from 2004 asking for stash tracking), and it's something I've always wanted to do, but with the software I built our feedback off of, I was finally able to give you - I've had planned for a few months, and like feedback, it stalled as I had to wait for a patch to be released. What is the Stash Manager? At this point in time, it's a private tool that will allow you to keep track of what BPAL you've tried, how well you liked it, whether or not you've bought it/kept it/sold or swapped it, and your personal notes about it. It's got a few custom views, with more coming. Eventually, you'll be able to share your wishlist from the stash manager (no more having to constantly update your wishlist post - it's automatically updated from what you've entered in!). Let's talk about the pages it's got! Your Stash Manager: On this page, you can enter in perfumes and view what you've entered in - the perfume name, whether or not you've tried it, whether or not you've bought it, whether or not you're swapping it away, your rating of it (or a note that you haven't rated it), your notes, and a button to update the scent. With your notes is also a link to your review (or a link to add a review, as applicable). It's a very good idea to rate things (as you'll see later!). Your ratings are private - not shared with the Lab or the public in any way. Your Wishlist: This page displays what BPAL you're wanting. Eventually, I will be adding something to the User Control Panel to allow you to choose to make your wishlist visible by other people. (If you choose to make yours public, there will be two additional filters for people who viewing your wishlist: "show perfumes I have" and "show perfumes I'm swapping" - convenient for people who like to go and add frimps of things the other person likes.) Your Inventory: This page displays your current BPAL inventory, ratings, notes. You can edit or add perfume from this view as well. Your Current Swap, Sale, and Purchase Activity: This page shows what you're getting rid of, what you intend to get rid of, and what you're getting. Your notes are viewable here, so you can note where you're getting it from or where it's going to (and what you're getting in exchange), any pertinent dates, etc. This is just one way to help you manager your swaps outside of PMs. Eventually, I plan on having a "show all things I want to swap or have listed" pop up that will let you copy and paste everything, to easily be added to your swaps page. Your Untried Stash: Want to know what you've got and haven't tried yet, and your cat's knocked into your carefully separated box a few times too many? This is the place to go! It'll show everything you've listed as owning, but haven't tried. Your Unlisted Stash: Analogous to Your Untried Stash, this shows everything you haven't added yet. Your Loves & Dislikes: This is a page that's in the works. I'm in the middle of writing a tagging system for the scent database, for notes. Once that has been completed, this page will tag clouds of notes that show up frequently on scents you dislike (rated 0-1) or on scents you liked (rated 4-5). There won't be any analysis of combinations of notes. It'll be an easy way to track this. (I know we all have a general sense of what we like, but when there's hundreds and thousands of perfumes, things can sneak by you!) Your Recommendations: One of the biggest reasons Netflix took off - or at least, amongst my friends! - is that it'll recommend you things based off of your previous ratings and what other people rate. This is a huge project, but I think in the end, it'll be a super useful tool for new forumites and old alike. This probably won't be out until May or June. The Swap Matchmaker: Tired of going through swap page after swap page (and then their wishlist!) to find someone that's looking for things that you're trying to get rid of and, at the same time, is trying to get rid of something you want? Never fear - this is the page for you! Like the Wishlist, you will have to opt into the Matchmaker to be able to get results beyond "you have matches!". Because members have to opt into it, and it won't give you any results if you're banned from swaps, we do consider this to be part of the swaps section - so feel free to message anyone who pops up! It's still a work in progress (I have to get the configuration part written yet), but once it's up, I'm sure many will find it super useful. Right now, it just shows you how many matches you WOULD have if it was live. (I have two!) How to enter in perfumes There are two ways to enter in perfumes: import all of your previous reviews (from a button on the Stash Manager), or individually add them. If you import them, they import that you've tried them, but don't have them, want them, etc, so you'll have to individually edit that information into the database (along with any rating or notes you've got). You can keep importing your reviews as time goes on. Have questions or comments about the Stash Manager? Found a bug? This topic is the place to go to let us know!
I don't really talk about the software development process here, because I figure that outside of a few technically inclined people, nobody really cares. I also don't really talk about the things I'm working on for the forum very much because it takes quite some time for me to go from "idea!" to something I can release for you to use, and I've already had a few instances of people trying to profit off of my ideas for things to do with the forum (such as when someone went and manually queried my scent family database and tried to sell the contents on eBay for about $20). But, today, I've decided to share with you some of the things I'm working on! Feedback Oh, feedback. You are the bane of my existence! But I am (slowly) taming the beast. As you all have noticed, even with the sixty thousand-some old feedback reviews from the old system, it's lightning fast & nobody has login or skin issues anymore! Of course, the flip side of this is that nobody has their individual pages anymore. Feedback Updates I was lucky enough to be selected as a beta tester for the next version of the software platform I use for the development of our apps. I don't have it running live here (just retailtherapy, a site I've been playing with developing but haven't actually released), but I've been able to play around with development. I'm happy to announce that when this version goes live, I will *definitely* be able to finish the personalized pages for the feedback. I consider this to be a "priority development" issue, and as such, I have decided to update it in two phases. The first phase will have the consolidated page with feedback & swaplift reports. This will eliminate the current problem of getting others' feedback mixed in with yours (for instance, feedback for the user "luna" may show up with the feedback for user "LunaKitty" right now). The second phase will have some statistics as "header" to the page, and it will probably clean up the display. The Future of Feedback Are these features that would interest you? Comment and let me know! Something for the front page to show who has recently given and/or gotten feedback - probably limited to just who has recently given you feedback. A profile tab (like "About Me") that summarizes your feedback statistics The ability to "draft" feedback, so you can start it earlier in the process of swapping The forum no longer deletes PMs (it uses a "soft deletion" that keeps the PMs in the database). I could enable something that would allow you to attach a PM to feedback (as a link, not the actual text) & give a link to recover the PM if you have left the conversation. The BPAL Perfume Database, Price Caps, Reviews, and the Scent of the Day FB App This database is more encompassing than just listing the price caps. It's also the back end for the BPAL site catalog database and our facebook app. If that wasn't enough, it's *also* going to be added to the review forums, to replace the BBCode descriptions/images. Basically, the top of the page of the review topics is now going to have the description, pricing information (Lab cost & our price caps, when available), image(s), release & discontinuation dates, and a link to purchase from the Lab. I've got the actual code written now, and am working on the integration part. The Scent of the Day Facebook App I believe the time has come to retire the existing SotD application. The way Facebook worked and was used when I created it is worlds different from what it is now. Facebook killed the way feeds used to work. They have also, for all purposes, gotten rid of boxes and of the profile side bars that many of us have used to display it. But never fear: I am working on something that will allow you to "push" your forum SotD changes to Facebook or Twitter if you've got them set up. I will be starting this with Facebook first, so I can cleanly retire the app, and then adding Twitter as an option. When it is done, it'll be very simple -- it'll just attach a link to the forum's review page. This will be an "opt-in" thing, not a default. Future Work I have been flirting with the idea of incorporating some sort of tagging with scent families, but I can't think of a way that will do it smoothly. I thought using a poll in the topic would work, and then I could do a nightly synchronization and display the results as a tag cloud & pick the top one as a "user based The review topics will become automatically generated by the database (making it easier for us to maintain -- right now Shollin does all of that, and we'll be distributing the work between Shollin & our swap mods, Silvertree, maewitch, and Noumenon), and I don't know how to automatically add a poll (and with about 3000 topics, it would need to be done automatically). I may talk with some of the code mod developers about this, because I think having a general sense of the scent family would help find other scents you might like. I am also flirting with the idea of using a tag cloud for the notes. This might be fairly easy to do, but will depend on how the tag cloud goes on retailtherapy. Finally, once the SotD app has been revived, I am considering allowing people to opt into pushing their forum reviews to facebook.
We recently updated the forum software. As these things tend to go, there were a few unexpected bumps. When we updated, BBCode, the Gallery, Feedback, and Unresolved Swaps were not functional. They now are, hooray! Now to tell y'all about the updates! Forums had actually a really boring update - it just fixed bugs and was setting things up for the big update that's scheduled to come out in Q1 2011. I know, all that fuss and nothing changed as far as what we see! There will be a new skin, but that's independent of this update. Blogs update is actually pretty big. Many of the changes were back end related, but here are some of the things you might notice! New "Like" system on Blogs and Blog Entries. Notification support for new blog entries, and new comments, so you can watch a member's blog or an entry. Uses a new comments system. New "Manage Blogs" area. Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet buttons on blog entries. Cleaned up design. Single column layout on individual blogs. Gallery has returned to us! Feedback / Unresolved Swaps / Price Caps / Cookbook all had backend updates that will let me start working on some cool things, but you won't see it for a few months yet!