Thursday, 14 October 2010

Radio Interview

I was invited into the local BBC Radio station yesterday, for a half hour interview on what motivated me to get involved with campaigning. Apparently they were looking for 'inspirational' people and I ticked all the right boxes! That's got to be one of the best compliments I have had in my life :)

Of course if meant taking half a day off work, and all the nerves that go with it, but I figured it would be a good experience that would help build my confidence, plus I really did think I had a story that should be told.

I actually really enjoyed it. Justin Leigh did the interview (stepping in for the usual presenter - Justin is the one you usually see on Spotlight tv). He was incredibly nice, and made me feel at ease straight away - obviously a very skilled presenter.

If you ever get the chance to go into a radio station for an interview, I recommend you jump at it!

Here's my interview, starts just after 53 minutes, lasts for about 25 minutes. I talk about a life changing moment following a stint with the swine flu and a major anxiety attack, which forced me to change the way I look at life and get involved more with society.

(Sorry the link has been taken offline now by the BBC - but if you want to listen let me know and I'll email you a personal recording of the interview).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

MedWorm Business Model - Tough Descisions

Prompted by @markhawker via Twitter I had another look at the MedWorm 'enterprise design pattern'. Clearly it is essential that I find a way of ensuring that MedWorm's processing capability is used to maximum efficiency, to ensure that MedWorm can pay for itself as it grows. So I had another think about where most of the processing power is getting used up on MedWorm, and came to the tough conclusion that I will have to bring in a subscription model.

MedWorm will remain completely free to use, except for one bit of functionality, that of customized RSS feeds. At the moment there are (many) hundreds of RSS feeds for you to pull out of MedWorm that are precompiled every day, based on optimised queries for individual topics and data types. You can find them simply by browsing MedWorm - every page you go to has its own RSS feed - and these will remain free.

However it is also possible to create RSS feeds 'on the fly' from any query that you run on MedWorm. The problem is that the majority of queries that people run do not make good RSS feeds. For example, a search on the term 'breast cancer', without using the quotes, and without selecting the Exact Phrase search option on MedWorm, will return all records where either the word 'breast' or the word 'cancer' exist. When viewed by order of relevance when running the query this does not matter, but pulling out an RSS feed for that query is pointless, since not every record that you will see in your feed will be relevant to breast cancer.

This may seem obvious, but the fact is, no matter how many times I tell people, most will still continue to pull out useless RSS feeds. Following which will likely put those feeds into a feed aggregator, or worse still automatically generate webpages from those feeds, which will mean they re-run those useless queries on MedWorm every day (or if they don't cache their data at worse every few minutes), and probably pay no attention to the feeds, and fill up the Net with more useless junk - at the same time eating up MedWorm's valuable processing power.

Worse still, there are a lot of sites looking to create the maximum amount of meaningless junk that they can in order to run GoogleAds alongside, which at times pull out hundreds of these useless feeds from MedWorm, of which some of them at times use very 'unsavoury' search terms to create their feeds. I block these servers whenever I notice them, but it is a waste of my time to try to keep on top of these.

So in about one month's time I have decided to limit this 'RSS on the fly' functionality to premium members only, who will have to pay a monthly subscription. Not sure how much yet - suggestions welcome - I'm thinking about $5 a month - after which I will monitor to see which users are really hammering the server and possibly bring in a higher subscription level for unlimited use for those developers that are pulling out hundreds of feeds each day.

In doing so I'll be able to give you all a better service, faster, with more frequently updating data. I'll also hopefully avoid MedWorm going bust, so that we can all continue to enjoy the service for years to come.

If anyone is hard up, or from a developing country, and can't afford to pay, but has a real need for the customized feeds, they will just need to drop me an email and I'll give them free access anyway if their needs are justified.

Bringing in the subscription model will also encourage people to browse for feeds instead, which will likely be of much better quality for you to use anyway.

I hope you all find this acceptable. Feedback welcome! It is important that I get this right as I am primarily building a service that will be beneficial to all of society, and fair, not trying to get rich (although if I do one day get rich in the process that would be nice!).

Friday, 8 October 2010

MedWorm GoogleReader Video Demo

This is the first video demo I have made of MedWorm. It shows you how to export a bunch of feeds from MedWorm into GoogleReader, grouped by medical specialty, or by topic such as a medical condition (in this case diabetes).

I should probably start with a 'What is MedWorm' video, but I was too excited to show you the OPML export which I have been working on recently, so the introductory MedWorm video will just have to come later, or you can just watch my demo at the Health 2.0 conference in Paris here.

I produced it using Camtasia Studio. Let me know what you think.