Saturday, 7 June 2008

The IHT Developer's Blog Q&A Session

As Michael Cosentino at is gracious enough to admit, not many people read his blog about the IHT's website (and he likes to keep it that way which is rather odd; why have it the first place?)

As he recently opened it up to Q&A, I have taken the liberty of not even giving him a link, but a straightforward cut and paste job into this blog to save you the time.

However you can go there for his occassional (shall we say, Michael ) updates:

His email is: mcosentino at

Wouldn't it be great if the publisher, SDJ had a blog? Stephen, I can write it for you, make it up even. In fact, that's not a bad idea, a spoof blog from IHT publisher SDJ. Might have to think about that. (Don't worry Stephen, I don't have the time.)

The reason I like Michael is that he has already put a link to this blog on his blog and because he is passionate about and dedicated to the IHT, with a fraction of the resources he deserves. I think he and his team do an outstanding job.

(I am hoping he might put a link to my other blog, on his blog, but I think not. We can only hope.)

Anyway, here are his answers to the IHT Developer's Blog Q&A:

June 5: Posted by Michael Cosentino in General
1 Comment

A few weeks ago we opened up the request lines to suggestions, and while the response was by no means overwhelming (I mean, who reads this blog anyway?), there were a few questions and concerns that I’d like to respond to:

Nikos writes:
Would it be possible for you to identify the source (IHT, New York Times…) of the stories and editorials you publish as you once did? It would make it a lot easier of those of us seeking original IHT content.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this is a feature we used to have. However, as The International Herald Tribune is officially “the global edition of The New York Times” (as you can see in our revised logo up top), it was decided that in order to achieve tighter editorial integration this differentiation was no longer necessary. At the moment there are no plans to reimplement the source line in this way.

Dave writes:
I wonder if there is a way to personalise RSS feeds? Something akin to Google news, where I would be notified of any article containing one or more key words. i subscribe to several of your feeds, but would relish the idea also being able to have an RSS feed that will pick out any article in any section that refers say to Ukraine, be it in culture, europe, business, etc.

This is a fantastic idea, and as an RSS junkie I can say that this one’s been on our dev team’s wish list for quite some time. After analyzing the concept in depth, we’ve discovered that the main roadblock is our content management system, specifically the way it handles keyword metadata. Since our articles come from a variety of sources (IHT, AP, Reuters, etc) the quality of keyword data being stored in the system varies greatly. Inconsistent data formating is a developer’s nightmare, and for that reason we can’t move forward until there’s a reliable, unified system. If implemented now, this feature’s reliability would be questionable at best.
The other option is to allow users to construct their own keyword-based feeds. While this is certainly possibly it requires a significant amount of server horsepower to handle thousands of simultaneous queries (replete with misspelled queries, etc.). It is beyond our servers’ capabilities at this time. Perhaps we’ll discover an elegant solution for this, but for now it will remain near the top of our wish list. Come to think of it, it would be nice if you could RSS-subscribe to a search result in Google Reader.

Juurd writes:
I love the audionews/readspeaker feature, listening to the IHT while driving my car is very practical. Unfortunately, since about a week or two the articles, or rather the podcasts of them, stopped streaming into my iTunes - while other podcasts, from The New York Times for example, still keep coming. I don’t know whether the problem is with my computer or my settings, or with the iht.audionews.

We apologize for recent outages regarding our feeds and AudioNews. Major server upgrades occurred over the past few weeks and unfortunately the communication between our server and AudioNews’ became unstable, resulting in few updates. Everything is back on track now, we hope, but in the coming days we’ll be looking for more of the inevitable quirks that arise with these kinds of upgrades.

SO, there we have it: the three answers to the three emails he received from the three people clever enough to track down his well-hidden blog.


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