Yesterday was the last day of LockerPulse. The sale is complete and the domain now redirects to SportSpyder. Rather than analyzing what didn’t work with LP, I thought it would be more apt to celebrate some of the really cool innovative things that we did. There’s no sense in dwelling on the past, especially when it worked out so well.
Fantasy Player Tracking
My #1 favorite feature. We could take a string of text – a player’s name in this case – and compare it against fantasy sports articles to surface just the articles that mention your players. I’ve heard from many people that this helped them win games in their fantasy leagues. I thought that doing this was so unique that I rewrote the entire thing to process locally on an Android phone and released the (very short lived) Android app.
11,647,681 Stories Indexed
RSS aggregation is not easy. Had we known how not easy it would be, we probably wouldn’t have pursued LP in the first place. Our server crashed constantly. Lots of things broke. In the end though, we were able to check 4,602 news sources and index every one of their stories within 15 minutes. Over the past year we had almost no downtime. I learned a plethora about caching, server configuration, MySQL optimization, and the like, which has carried over to Detailed Image and enabled us to scale smoother than we would have otherwise.
Source & Team Management Internally
Managing those 4,602 news sources along with 275 teams across an array of sports was not easy. Our database has every team’s colors. It has their venues, including GPS coordinates. Every source is marked as a summary or a full feed. Those things were done manually by us. To maintain news sources, I wrote scripts that deactivated invalid feeds, tested them regularly, and reactivated them when they were fixed. I created an Admin system for our employees to use to review sources that haven’t posted in a while. Sites constantly change their publishing platforms, move their feeds around, and break their feeds with invalid code. It is a game just to keep up.
Source Management for the User
We also gave our users an incredible amount of customizability with their sources. If they chose to, they could subscribe and unsubscribe from individual news sources so that their news feed contained precisely what they wanted. A power user feature for sure, but one that I myself wanted and that our best users used very frequently.
Searching those 11,647,681 articles in an efficient manner is not very easy. I wrote a contextual search engine that later became the backbone of the search engine used on Detailed Image to search our Auto Detailing Guide and Ask-a-Pro Detailer Blog. The search engine is able to take into account keyword density, keyword order (whether terms were used in the same order as they were searched), whether the keywords were used in a headline or the body, and other factors such as time published and number of comments left. Search is not easy, but because of LP we’re now able to do a pretty good job of it.
Custom Ad Platform
Using the eBay and Amazon API’s we were able to show ads related to the team or player mentioned in an article. For instance, a Mets article might show a Mets hat.
Using geo-location and knowing the location of venues, we were able to do cool things like show you StubHub ads for games coming to your area involving one of your favorite teams. This is incredibly cool if you follow a team from far away that only visits your region a few times per year (for instance, if you were a LA Dodgers fan and lived in NY you would see ads when the played the Mets or Yankees).
The classes that tap into these API’s are now what powers the sports collectible search on SportsLizard.
The original LockerPulse predated smartphone predominance, so our vision was that it would be used as a tool on nice big 1080p monitors. One of our first features was to add the ability to pick your wallpaper or upload a custom wallpaper. It looked beautiful and personalized the service even more. You’d be surprised at how many people used this feature and how much positive feedback we received about it.
Chrome Web Store Launch Partner
We had the pleasure of being a part of Google’s launch of the Chrome Web Store and subsequently a March Madness promotion. Not exactly a “feature” but something really cool that we got to be on the ground floor of because of LP. That, and I got a CR-48 out of it.
It might not have become everything we dreamed it to be, but it’s hard to call it a failure. We created a service that we ourselves wanted and then made it available to the world. We enjoyed making it, enjoyed using it, and learned a lot. Our business has forever been altered for the better because of LockerPulse.