Thursday, August 09, 2007

Widgets in musth

For about three hours this afternoon some of our blog widgets went crazy, inserting very large covers where small ones were supposed to be. I was fixing a long-standing problem, in which some books never showed up in the widget.* In the course of fixing that problem I created another. Some users were amused, some dumbfounded and some pissed off. All good reations, I think.

Anyway, a few users emailed us, and Christopher stepped in to fix the problem. The widgets are okay now.

To the bloggers affected, my sincere apologies. I should have checked the code more before it went live. The change I made didn't affect widgets of the type I have on the blog or one of the users with the problem I was fixing, so I missed it. It was a dumb mistake, and I wish I had caught it in ten minutes, not three hours.

By way of making it up, if you had one of these blogs and felt inconvenienced, please write me a note with your blog URL and your address, and I'll ship you off a CueCat barode scanner. Please take me up on this. It's the least we an do.

*Basically, LibraryThing had imperfect knowledge of what covers Amazon had available, so we weren't showing everything we could.


Blogger Catherine said...

Thanks a bunch for fixing the problems..I was starting to get a litttle tired of seeing the same book covers showing up on my blog everytime. Finally some fresh covers ;)

Anyway just wanna say you guys are doing a really great job. I got to know about this site thru an article in the tech section of my local newspaper in Malaysia and signed up the very next day.. =)

Kudos and Keep it UP!

8/10/2007 5:11 AM  
Blogger JBD said...

I wish I'd noticed that this was happening, you could definitely have counted me among the amused :-) I guess I rarely look at my own blog page (is that weird?).

8/10/2007 7:23 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How much do I adore that you use a word like 'musth'? Now I'm imagining them making tiny little trumpeting noises and trampling down the blog fences in search of the female widgets....

8/10/2007 8:12 AM  
Blogger Matthew da Silva said...

No need to apologise. Great to see unusual covers in my blog.

8/10/2007 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim, don't feel too bad, my anti-spam software rolled out an automatic update a couple days ago that crashed Outlook for all of their users.

By the way, you might want to get your "c" key checked out :)


8/10/2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here I thought I had made a mistake because I was just putting in the code at my new blog when it happened ...
Could it be that some covers are still displayed too large?
The site looked like this a few minutes ago:

8/10/2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Some of my covers are showing up as medium instead of small, as well. But at least they're not gigantic anymore!

8/10/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger lisa :) said...

I thought it was kind of amusing as well. I got some pretty extreme close-up views of my book covers! Actually when I noticed it, I redid my blog widget with the "fixed width" option and that either fixed the problem or coincidentally occurred at the same time as the code was fixed.

Thanks for setting up blog widgets in the first place. It's one of the features that led me to LT and it's great that you guys provided all the code!
(lisa, LT:elbakerone)

8/10/2007 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The display of medium size covers was actually a second lingering issue that I corrected this morning. Sorry for not catching that with the first fix. While related, they were two different problems in the code.

Hopefully all is well in blogwidgetland again.

8/10/2007 3:35 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Musth you use these obscure words?

8/10/2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/10/2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger Gentle Reader said...

Thanks for fixing the problem--I thought it was just my blog going crazy!

8/10/2007 5:33 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

I was startled and bemused, but didn't feel terribly inconvenienced. In fact, I'm impressed by how quickly you got the problem fixed. And it's definitely worth the brief and minor glitch to have the other bug fixed... I was wondering why so few of my books were showing up.

8/10/2007 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


On the other hand, I'm deeply amused by your post title. It evokes the image of books rampaging across the landscape and trampling rivals, ready to mate and produce leaflets or somesuch.

I'm still awaiting a LiveJournal widget, but I imagine that's more a problem due to their restrictions of how content posts, and beyond your control.

8/11/2007 1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shadowtricker: see this earlier blog post for LiveJournal widgets.

8/11/2007 11:08 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I noticed that and thought it was weird- maybe someone was messing with my library ;) Glad to see that was not the case- and I'm not losing my mind either!

8/11/2007 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not a blogger, at least not on-line anyways. I am impressed with impressed and heartened by your response to this momentary glitch in the larger fabric of space, time, bits & bytes made into words.

Keep on coding!

8/12/2007 6:44 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

>How much do I adore that you use a word like 'musth'? Now I'm imagining them making tiny little trumpeting noises and trampling down the blog fences in search of the female widgets....

>Musth you use these obscure words?

Indeed, I musth. Speaking of which, the word always makes me thing of the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song. Same word, although different usage, and someone told me (possibly wrongly) that Khan was be singing in classical Persian, not Urdu.

Tried for twenty minutes to find a good video of Khan doing the song. But I think this one, of a girl doing a hoola-hoop routine more web-worthy:

8/12/2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

>>Musth you use these obscure words?

>Indeed, I musth.

Then I musthn't forget to keep open in another tab whilst I browse these blogs.

8/12/2007 1:49 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

No don't do that. Information is social. Wait for someone to talk about it ;)

8/12/2007 11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope this translation does not constitute a copyright violation:

A peek in other people's book collection

Thousands of readers are active on network sites for bibliophiles.

By our editor Elske Schouten

Rotterdam, Aug. 9 Lovers of all kinds books exchange tips and experiences with readers on the Internet. „I have become a bit addicted to it.”

Teenagers, music lovers, students, businessmen, gays, vips, job seekers or singles: they all have their own network sites. Since about a year book worms may also connect on line with each other.
Several social network sites for bibliophiles have been set up. The largest is, a site where you can manage your whole book catalogue, and can get in contact with other readers. Other examples are and, which is partly owned by on line bookshop Amazon.
The founder of LibraryThing is Tim Spalding, an American web designer who studied classical languages. On the phone, he says that he started the site to catalogue his own book collection which contains many rare editions. Now the site has 250,000 members. „When I started, people said: shouldn’t you rather do something like that with music? But books are still very important.”
On LibraryThing your books show who you are. Some members have input their whole book case into the web site. The site uses the data of libraries and bookshops, so that most of the titles can be input easily by searching for the author’s name or words from the title. Since about a week, this can also be done for Dutch books. The site has now also included the data of the Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) and bookshops such as and into the data base.
Shelfari and Anobii do something similar, but are smaller. Shelfari seems to be more targeted on making friends and attracts younger people. According to Spalding LibraryThing is the only site which has alliances with libraries; others would only be using the data of bookshops. Spalding: „Libraries know most about books. Everyone over 25, however, has titles which are too old to be found on Amazon.” Proudly he says that the Library of the Rijksmuseum contacted him last week, asking him to include their data.
Some members of LibraryThing only use the catalogue function. Juliette Jeukens (50) from Oss, for example, says that she had already put her 1,000 titles in a computer file. „I could no longer do without it. I had already twice ordered the same book.” Now she chooses for LibraryThing because at LibraryThing members also write reviews, post pictures of book covers, provide information about the writer and much more.
By means of their catalogues users may contact other readers. There is an innumerable number of discussion groups, for example of people who read the same book at the same time. It is also possible to find members whose collection, partly, overlaps with your own. Or which users have exactly the same book. Just like at other social network sites, you can send other members a message, or invite someone as ‘a friend’. But, Spalding says, LibraryThing is more concerned with collecting books than with making friends. „People come in contact by means of their book collections. It is not like on other network sites: hey, I like your photograph, I want you as a friend.”
Just like Amazon LibraryThing gives book tips. Thus is possible to see what are the favourite books of people who have read The Da Vinci Code, or who are interested in books concerning the same subjects. The site also gives suggestions concerning books which would fit well in your own collection. A bit tongue in cheek are the “onsuggesties”: tips concerning books which you should particularly avoid. Thus a lover of Nabokov’s Lolita had better avoid The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die.
Henk Lensen (68), is the Dutchman with the largest collection on LibraryThing (4,922 books). As a lover of poetry he regularly checks out other members’ interesting collections and receives updates when they add something new. „The other day I discovered that someone had an English-language version of an anthology of Hungarian poetry. Then that gets added to my wish list.”
As can be seen from the many public discussion groups on LibraryThing, the site is very varied, both in age and interests. There are groups concerning comics, groups for people over 60, who discuss the books which they read fifty years ago, or even a group for ‘BBC radio 3-listeners’. „We draw people who are a bit weird”, says the founder, Spalding. „But there are many of such people.” Some discussions are strikingly personal. For example concerning the feeling of being a‘social misfit’. Or a discussion about the pages in the new Harry Potter on which members had to cry.
Henk Lensen has observed that some users almost get addicted to the site. „I feel a bit like that myself. Every day, you will have a look at it.” That has the disadvantage that there remains less time to read” he says.

How does LibraryThing make money?
Up to 200 books LibraryThing is free, for larger collections the site charges 10 dollars (7.25 euro) per year, or 25 dollars (18.10 euro) for a lifetime membership. Furthermore members can order books through the site from Amazon or other on line bookshops, earning LibraryThing a small commission.
In the long run Tim Spalding, the founder of the site, hopes to earn most from the sales of the system which does book suggestions. As he explains, on line bookshops would like to make suggestions on their sites. They can use the system of Amazon for free, but then they must sell books through Amazon. Spalding: „No book seller in their right mind would do so, except those with suicidal inclinations.”
According to him, the LibraryThing suggestions are also better. „You can give better tips based on one's complete collection, rather than then by what someone buys at Amazon.” Spalding says that his company--which was established in May 2006 – is profitable since December. However, he fears that that may change now, as he has just hired five programmers.

Message edited by its author, Aug 11, 2007, 6:03am.

8/13/2007 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still experiencing glitches. Today, it is using both medium and small images on a sporadic basis. Does it have anything to do with the source of the image, e.g., Amazon v, user contributed?

Any suggestions for fixes?

8/13/2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Some of my covers are showing up cut in half lengthwise, usually the book cover on the far left.

8/13/2007 5:01 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Anon. Wow. Thanks! Now I need to go through with a red felt marker and correct the facts.

Greg. Can you be more specific? Are you talking about the catalog or the widgets? Can you email me the URL? Also tell me your browser, OS.


8/13/2007 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops. Cause I wasn't thinking, I probably should have chosen another name for my comment at 2:33 PM on August 13 to avoid confusion with LT's "tim."

Thus, I'm posting this comment as I'm still encountering the problem today.

8/14/2007 10:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It doesn't particularly inconvenience me, since I don't plan on updating regularly anymore, but my blog seems to still have abnormally large covers.

8/14/2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Tobias Buckell said...

Hi guys, sorry to hear about the issues. I notice that the direct link no longer works on (we use you guys to show of our latest books).

I thought the large covers were actually pretty nifty, will there be a way to get that as an option sometime when showing off our libraries via the widgets?

8/21/2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Good catch—fixed.


8/21/2007 2:35 PM  

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