Friday, October 31, 2008

Planet Earth Says Vote For Barack Obama

Make your own Attack Ad

I was interested in the origins of this site so I sent off an email with some questions. Mike Demers emailed me back. Here's the interview:

Me: Nice job on that attack ad generator...

Mike: Thanks Steve.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I'm on the west coast, plus all of this interest in the Attack Ad Generator caught me off guard.

Me: Can you give me some information on who coded it?

Mike: I actually threw it together a few weeks ago. I wanted to dig deeper into a few new-ish technologies so I was researching them over the weekend. I happened to be sitting on the couch with my laptop watching CNN at the time and it was just one of those "you got your chocolate in my peanut butter..." moments.

The javascript is all jQuery, the back-end is built in Ruby on a young framework called Merb. It does use Flash but only to play the audio. Everything else is Javascript and HTML. The audio is actually me reading a list of words into Garage Band and applying some sort of "Barry White" filter. The Javascript player knows the timecode for each word and literally just jumps back and forth in the MP3 to (crudely) approximate a narration track.

Me: When did it go live? How much traffic has it seen?

Mike: I published it out on my server a couple of weeks ago and just told a few friends. I really had no intention of promoting it since I'm pretty busy with my day job at a start-up here in Seattle.

I thought that was the end of it for the time being but, of course, the Internet is a strange place and as near as I can tell, an "alternative rock" radio station in Colorado somehow stumbled across it and posted on their site as the "pick of the day" earlier this week. It then picked up more traffic each day after that until today when I started getting emails like this and IMs from friends telling me that it was suddenly on Mashable and Ajaxian.

As for traffic, it started the week getting 6 visitors a day, most of which were probably bots. then 6 became 60, and then 600 and today... I guess it depends how long my server can hold on :) It looks like it just shot past 10,000. Weird stuff.

Me: Tell me more about the ad serving at the end of the ad. I haven't seen that before...

Mike: Heh, unfortunately that actually looks a lot more sophisticated that it actually is. As I mentioned, I was really doing this to learn a few new technologies and the ads are an example of that. I wanted to figure out how to build an "iTunes Store" type carousel with jQuery so I grabbed some images and links from Amazon's Politics section and stuffed them in there. There's no server communication or ad rotation or anything like that. It's just the same handful that loop over and over.

Thanks for the interest. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

Oh hey, I see from your blog that you're a Bostonian... GO SOX! My wife and I moved out here to Seattle from Boston 4 years ago (lured by Amazon)... I still haven't gotten used to the fact that I can't get a decent bagel or slice of pizza out here, nevermind the lack of Dunkins. Argh, now I'm getting homesick.

Happy Halloween,
Mike Demers

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