Thursday, November 30, 2006

Too much of a good thing...

is not a good thing. Don't get me wrong, good things can be good, but there must be some balance. Google Notes has been a bit unbalanced recently.

My brother Richard (who works part time for the local hosting company that allows Google Notes to exist) has brought Google Notes back online after about a week of downtime. Here's what he had to say about it:

"Everything is back online now. Technically, after replacing the server that Google Notes wound up killing, we had to find something better than mod-fastcgi for keeping the app online in between http requests. mod-fcgid works great for reqular loads and shared sites, not so much when there are 100 requests per minute. We deployed on mod-scgi instead, and it seems to be working fine so far."

Roughly translated: we had too many users and too little server.

I would personally like to apologize for the disruption in service--it was frustrating for many of you and myself alike. With that in mind, I've added a donation button for Google Notes. For starters I've just set up a Paypal thing, but if someone wants to use a different service, just let me know and I'll try to set it up as well.

There will be two main places the money will go: helping to cover the cost of hosting the service (and replacing servers we kill), and future development for Google Notes.

Two new features that I hope to have in place soon:

A combination refresh/full screen button. This will (finally) allow refreshes for those who want to sync up their notepads on Google Desktop--I've received several requests in this respect. Also, for those who use it on Google Homepage, it will expand the window to take up the entire screen. This is perfect for those of us who pack in a lot of information into their notepad.

The second feature is a "backup to email" button, which sends a copy of your notes to the email address you provided. During this last week of downtime, one of the Google Notes users suggested this and it seems (by far) the best way of handling user-accessible backups. I had considered "file->save" and cookie-based approaches, but this one is elegant and can even be automated for monthly/weekly/daily backups.

So there you have it...that's the plan. Feel free to donate as little or as much as you want (suggested amount: $2/month or $10/year). We'll still try to keep it online and keep improving it regardless of the donation amounts, but at the hosting company Google Notes has the unfortunate reputation of being the lowest income generator and highest traffic generator. Business-wise, it's hard to justify.

Also, I have considered (as an alternative) adding a small row of context-sensitive Adsense below the notes. Aside from taking up valuable real-estate, this detracts from the simplicity and cleanliness of Google Notes so I'm personally not in favor of it. If anyone has any comments regarding this (for/against), I'd like to hear them.


Blogger Sherri said...

The donation thing sounds fair enough, I'll do the $10 a year at least twice a year (PayPal). But PLEASE no ads!! I don't think there is any such thing as a non-intrusive ad.

Thank you for all the work you do on Google Notes. I really like using this gadget. It's the only one the I keep, I add a bunch but I always discard them, except for Google Notes.

12/05/2006 9:24 PM  Edit
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The saving-every-second functionality really doesn't seem to be working anymore. A save button (to the server, not locally or to email) would be nice to make sure something added is properly saved.

12/06/2006 1:28 AM  Edit
Blogger DRB said...

Backup to e-mail option would be most excellant...ability to schedule this option would be awesome.

$10 a month? Absolutely! I'd pay more than that...maybe up to $24 a year but not more.

I sense that you subscribe to the KISS principle of design and I must say that is the number one reason I love this app so much.

12/11/2006 2:00 PM  Edit
Blogger infinityis said...

I'd like to thank anonymous for pointing out the "saving-every-second" functionality issue...I looked into it and it turns out that's true. Part of the fix Richard put in place to keep from overloading the servers was to change that to a "save-every-ten-seconds" functionality. I can see why he did that but I think it can be done more elegantly...I'll try to set it up so that it saves every 10 seconds, BUT if you leave the page before then its final act will be to save the notes. That way if you type quickly and leave, you don't lose your new notes.

DRB, although $10 a month would be quite nice, I think perhaps you meant $10 a year. :) Also, I'm thinking it probably makes more sense to suggest a monthly amount of $1 instead $2.

Perhaps what I could do is set up premium accounts. The service would remain free as-is, but for "power users" the option exists to get email backups for a nominal fee. This seems like it could cover the costs of running the server without relying on donations and without hindering the service for causal users who want Google Notes free of charge.

12/11/2006 2:46 PM  Edit

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