Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spam, Time, What Next...

Hi everyone.  Long time, no talk.  I won't beat around the bush, here's what's on my mind:  

  1. My job is taking up much of my time, and in this economic environment, I want to focus on that as much as I possibly can.
  2. Spam is just...ridiculous.  I cannot keep up with it.  Every simple trick I try to implement is circumvented in a matter of days and I just don't have the time to implement anything more in-depth, or to clean up the mess that the spammers make all the time.
  3. I haven't had time or ambition to develop anything new for the site in ages, and I'm starting to think that it may have just run its course.
When I started Onxiam, it was to fulfill a need that my mom had -- the need to keep up to date with me on various websites.  That need is not so big anymore, and in the days since I launched Onxiam, there have been many others who have done similar things with more time to focus on it.  Because of this, I'm thinking that it may be time for me to retire Onxiam.

For now, I've tried once again to clean up the spam, and as a first measure, I've disabled the "add a site" feature.  I'm going to kick it around for a while before I decide whether or not to fully retire the site...but for now I'll leave it as-is, with the exception of not being able to add more sites.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fighting the Ugly Spam Monster

Greetings everyone.

I know that I've been absent for a while, but truth be told, I have been working on a better version of the site. Work just goes much more slowly these days than it did in the past. I simply have my hands in too many cookie jars at the moment.

However, work is progressing and I'm trying to be more diligent about getting this release finished, because I think that it is quite an improvement over the current site.

Now onto the topic at hand: SPAM

I hate it. You hate it. We all agree.

I've tried to leave Onxiam very "open" -- most notably in allowing people to add sites to the collective pool. However, spammers have been adding far, far too many bogus sites to Onxiam. It's gotten to the point that I simply cannot keep up. One quick look through the site and you'll see what I mean. Who knew that there was such a thriving online community for "SONY Laptop battery 088XX-2135".

I mean really, all of you Laptop Battery people...I just don't know what to say to you. You've just gone way, way too far. I've been struggling with the morality of "policing" Onxiam and deleting sites and deleting accounts. I don't want to spend my time censoring things, but I'm simply left with no other option at this point.

Onxiam was conceived out of a need -- a need to group my online names in one place that would be easy for my friends and family to find. Other people found it useful too, and that's great! But it was always meant to be a list of online communities, not spam keywords.

With that in mind, I am working on taking action to purge all of the sites and user accounts that have been deemed as spam.

This will greatly clear up the noise in the Onxiam database, and will allow me to actually focus some effort on developing features when I get free time instead of spending all of my free time fighting spammers.

Unfortunately, this also means that when I release the new version of the site, the "add a site" feature will be replaced with "request a site". This will allow me to catch spam upfront, before it floods the database and wreaks havoc all over Onxiam.

I'm sorry everyone has had to deal with all of the laptop battery garbage. It will be gone soon.

All the best,

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mention on the BBC site

I think that a lot of the recent traffic here at Onxiam has to do with an article over on the BBC website. In the article titled The Tech Lab: Bradley Horrowitz, he mentions Onxiam about halfway down under the section titled Digital Lives.

What Bradley is talking about is exactly why I first created Onxiam. And as I've mentioned before on this blog, no Onxiam is not a "secure" solution to this problem, but in the meantime until there is some kind of unique digital identifier, I (and my Mom) needed some way to keep all of these online names straight. And as it turned out, so do many other people.

I just wanted to thank Bradley (elatable) publicly for mentioning Onxiam in the story! I've been getting a lot of traffic ever since, so thank you very much for the shoutout!


Hello to all the new people!

It's been a long time since I last wrote to you. Here's why:

I launched onxiam about a year ago just before my girlfriend moved across the country to be in Chicago with me. In the time since then, we've run a marathon, adopted a puppy that was a hurricane Katrina refugee, and worked on getting settled in together. I've also gained all kinds of responsibilities in my day job, and spent a lot of time working on ideas and concepts there in an effort to do the best that I possibly can for my firm.

As onxiam grew, it started to get harder and harder to maintain with my ever-more-busy schedule. I continued working on new features but eventually found myself running out of time in my days, so something had to give. For a while it was onxiam. I decided that I would just let it run on its own for a while, and it's been chugging along ok since then.

Recently I've been working on some new features and an enhanced version of the it version 2.0. It's not done, but I've continued to work on it as time has allowed. Now recently I've been noticing an influx of people again, so I've been trying to find more time to work on these enhancements.

To those of you who have written, I've tried to write back when possible, and I will continue to do so as my time allows. Thank you for the suggestions and the encouraging words. And to all of the new people who have joined onxiam, hello and welcome.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


My friend mattstratton just emailed me a link to

What can I say? I like the idea (obviously), but the interface leaves a bit to be desired. One of the challenging things that I faced when developing onXiam was that I wanted to keep it simple. This is not always easy to do, but I felt that it was imperative that I make every effort to make this as easy to use as possible.

As I move forward and implement more and more features, the ease of use may get a bit more difficult, but I'll always do my best to keep it clean and simple. As for findmeon, well I have to say that I'm partial to onXiam myself. :)

Back in Business...Almost

Hello everyone!

The Chicago Marathon is finished and I'm happy to say that I came through relatively unscathed this year (a few injuries sustained during training, but nothing too horrible) and helped a couple friends complete their first 26.2 mile endeavor. A good time was had by all, and now that it is done, I will have some free time to work on onXiam!

But then...wouldn't you know it? I fire up my development PC the other day and BAM! Bad hard drive. So now I have to get that sorted out before I can get moving on the site again. Frustration!!!

But things will be back up and running soon, and then I'll be able to start rolling out some new features and enhancements to the site. I can't wait to dive into things! It's been too long, friends!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Silence Is Deafening

What the heck? I's been way too long since I've posted. What can I say? I've just been crazy busy as of late, and I just haven't had time to dedicate to my project. And that my friends is driving me crazy!

What has had me so busy lately? Primarily it has been two things:

1. Marathon Training - On October 22, I'll be running my third consecutive Chicago Marathon. This time my girlfriend and I are both running in honor of Charlotte Rose. For the record, training for a marathon is extremely time consuming! I mean, I'm getting up at 6am, going to work all day, coming home and then I have to run 9 miles after work. By the time I get home from the run, it's dark out and I'm starving. I make dinner, spend an hour with my girlfriend and then it's 10:30 at night and I'm exhausted! This leaves precious little time to code...and when you have such little time, why not take on another challenge...

2. Puppy!!! - Meet M.C. Levee, a hurricane Katrina dog that came to Chicago from Mississippi (hence the M.C. part of her name). My girlfriend and I had been wanting to adopt a dog sometime, and behold one moring I wake up and turn on the TV and there's a news story about PAWS Chicago bringing in animal Katrina survivors from Mississippi that are in need of new homes. The next day we had adopted her and we were scrambling to get our house puppy-ready. We are truly in love with our pup! But as you can guess, she is time consuming also.

In a few short weeks, the marathon will be finished, and our puppy will be adjusted to living with us, so then I should have more time to jump back into developing for onXiam. I have been working a bit here and there, and there is some pretty cool stuff in the pipeline, so please stick with me.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails with kind words and comments. I really appreciate it. I'm glad that you are all enjoying onXiam. I can't wait to make it even better.


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Make Yourself Known With A Bio

I just finished implementing another new feature -- bios.

Now when you look at your public page, in addition to your identities you will see a tabstrip above your identity list. Clicking on the Biography tab will take you to the newly created bio page.

What Can I Put In My Bio?
You can use this bio area to tell whatever you'd like about yourself. All I ask is that you keep it clean -- that is, please remember that this is a public page so don't get too raunchy and make me have to play policeman so that my site doesn't get shut down. Sorry that I had to say that, but it's better to be safe...

As for what you can technically do in this area, the answer is pretty much anything. You can type regular text (even UTF-8 unicode for our chinese members!), you can bold, underline, link to webpages, link to and display images...the HTML editor that I found and implemented is pretty robust. It does make use of Javascript, so trust me that life will be much easier if you have Javascript enabled for this page.

A Response To Requests
I fielded a few questions in the past about being able to have more than one website listed in your profile. If you look now, I've actually removed the "website" field (the profile page used to have name, location, website...) and I've moved that text into everyone's bio area as a starting point. Now that this bio text area is available, you can tell everyone about all the other websites that you own by putting that information in here.

How Do I Get Started?
In order to edit your bio, you have to be logged in. When you log in, you are still taken to your identity maintenance page, and you'll notice that I have changed things around a little bit again. Now in the right-hand sidebar you will see some links to take you to various pages. From here you can click on Profile and you'll be taken to a familiar looking profile page. It made logical sense to include the bio editing capability on this page, so that is exactly what I have done.

To edit your bio, just click inside the editor area and start typing.

Remember, your bio and all other profile information is completely optional! However, if you provide information there, it will be displayed. There is no "private" profile setting. So if you want to share this info with others, then go ahead and fill it out. But if you do not want to share any personal information or bio information, then just leave these areas blank.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Feature Update

Yesterday I added a couple new features to onXiam. They are two "gadgets" that appear in the right-hand sidebar, one on your public user page and the other on the site directory page.

Similar People
On your public user page, you should notice a gadget called "Similar People" in the right-hand sidebar. Take a look at my page for an example.

I'm starting to have enough data into the system that I can attempt the creation of interesting queries to see what the data can reveal. This is the first one that I've made. The way it works is this:

I check to see on which sites you have an identity -- excluding any you have set to private.
I compare this to everyone else's site lists to see if there are any "perfect matches" and then display to you the top ten "most similar" people to you along with a count of how many sites you share.

My hope is that this may get you to explore these other people's profiles and find that while you may share 10 of the same sites, perhaps they are active on a site that you had not heard of, and as a result of this you may find something really interesting that you want to join.

Most Popular
This one is exactly what it sounds like. I've simply written a query to count which sites have the most identities associated with them, and I'm displaying the top ten results here along with the person count.

I think that in the future, I'm going to be able to make some more interesting connections between the data, so consider this just the first pass. Is there anything in particular that you would like to see? Use your imagination and think about how this data could be tied together and presented in interesting ways. If you come up with anything, please leave me a comment!

Until next time...