Introducing WishRadar – Hello World!
If you are a long time reader of this blog (and I like to flatter myself that there are long time readers. Or readers, frankly.) then you might have noticed a certain pattern in my writing. In case you didn't, here is the pattern. In 2005, lots of posts. In 2006, fewer posts. (Pretty simple pattern, really. You might have picked up on that.) In fact, there were about 3-4 months there in the spring when I didn't post at all.
Now, you may have chalked this up to a generally falling off of my interest in the blog, as happens to even the best writers. Or you might have assumed that there wasn't as much happening the in the wiki world to justify my writing about it. Or you might have deduced that is far more wiki-focused blogging than when i first started writing in 2004. But, I assure you, none of those reasons happens to be the case.
In fact, my blogging output dropped so significantly because I was working on something. Something that has absolutely nothing to do with wikis (sorry). Something that I am genuinely thrilled to finally be ready to talk about.
I listen to a lot of music. It's fair to say that my CD collection is just shy of massive. Some might say pathologically large. (It definitely seems that way every time I have to move.) And I have a list of music that I want that's nearly as long. Likewise with movies and books. Keeping up with that list in my head was something of a hassle, but even more than that, there is no way that I want to pay full price for all the CDs, DVDs and books as I want to buy.
So that's why I built WishRadar. It lets you create, search and manage a huge wishlist using the Amazon database. And WishRadar watches those items constantly (both new and used) and notifies you as soon as they reach a price you set. This is key, because the instant someone posts a used CD at a good price, it tends to get nabbed quickly. Time is of the essence, and checking manually just wasn't cutting it.
WishRadar lets can track new items with a simple bookmarklet, just like del.icio.us. Or, even cooler, when you're out in the real world you can use your phone to check prices and add new items to your list.
I also wanted to make it easy to share a wishlist, so your list is browseable by default and you get a nice URL that you can send around to your friends (who really should be buying you presents more often). WishRadar also publishes an RSS feed of your list so your friends and fans can watch it, or you can re-publish in other contexts, like your blog.
To make it easy to get started, we made it easy to import your existing Amazon wishlist. So if you've already invested a lot of time in your Amazon list, don't worry; we'll find it.
My friends and I have been working on WishRadar in our free time for about the last sixth months. It's been a tremendously fun process: for one thing, I learned Rails to do it. And we received invaluable help from lots of people, to whom we owe sincere thanks. And I'll have much more to blog about that, and about the process of building a web app, later.