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chrss blog

This is the chrss (chess by rss) blog.

Feed and Stats

Another few small changes:

  • Finished games show in a non-bold font-face in the games drop-down (so you can tell them apart from ongoing games)
  • The items in your RSS feed are now visible from the home page of the site when you are logged in (helps to avoid missing comments)
  • Each user now has a personal "stats" page that shows them how many games they've won/draw/lost and against who

The feed on the front page is useful, because it is sorted in date order. Newer moves and comments are at the top.

The stats page is a concession towards everyone's competitive urges. I've toyed with the idea of a site-wide leader board, but that'd encourage a lot more (over-)competitiveness and thus cheating. Sticking with the "friendly game of chess" approach I'm keen to avoid such problems. However it's always fun to be a little competitive with your friends, so being able to track your games seemed like a reasonable compromise.

As you can see from my stats page I'm only winning about a third of my games. So now you know I'm not joking when I say on my profile page that I'm "not that good at chess"!

12 comments - updated: Jan. 26, 2009, 11:18 a.m.

Finished games

I've just made a small change to your games list. It used to be that once a game finished it would disappear straight away from the "active" list and go to the "finished" list. Sometimes though you haven't had a chance to review the game and possibly leave a friendly comment. So now instead of this, finished games will stay on the active list for two days after the game has finished, which should be ample time.

Only a small change, but hopefully the start of a few more. I'd planned to do a fair bit on chrss over the holidays, but got sidetracked by the 5K App.

6 comments - updated: Jan. 19, 2009, 9:45 p.m.

Nokia 6300 Fix

Just a quick post to say that the mobile version of chrss now works properly with the Nokia 6300 built-in browser. This happens to be the phone I have and it's very much a phone (not a web-browsing device), so the mobile version is mostly for when I'm not at a computer and want to check my games and maybe make a move. I'd been using Opera Mini to access the mobile version before, but hadn't quite figured out why the native browser wasn't working.

For those who might want to know of one of the quirks of this browser (and it will be more or less the same for similar Nokia Series 40 phones) it appears that if you issue a (302) redirect after a post request then the browser re-posts the data to the redirect URL. So in chrss when logging in it was doing this:

  • POST login info (user and pwd) to /mob/login
  • 302 Redirect sent to go to /mob/ after info confirmed
  • POST login info (user and pwd) to /mob/

Whereas a regular browser would do this:

  • POST login info (user and pwd) to /mob/login
  • 302 Redirect sent to go to /mob/ after info confirmed
  • GET /mob/

As this meant there were some unexpected parameters Turbogears was throwing an exception. As a workaround I've changed my mobile login code to remove the user and pwd params before they cause any trouble.

In the end a simple fix, but as always testing things out an a real phone make things take a good while longer than I'd like.

0 comments - updated: Nov. 22, 2008, 12:54 p.m.

A few notes

I've just added a new feature - you can now leave yourself notes about your games. The notes are private, so you'll be the only person who can see them. That's obviously quite handy if you're writing down your tactics and don't want your opponent to read them too!

To add notes to a game simply click the orange and white "notes" button (below the board next to RSS, PGN, FEN and diagram) and a text area will slide out. You can then type your notes into this area and hit "save notes". When you want to see your notes again just hit the "notes" button. The notes are hidden by default, cutting down on clutter and keeping them away from prying eyes.

It's a pretty simple feature, but hopefully handy, particularly if you have several games on the go.

0 comments - updated: Nov. 16, 2008, 3:50 p.m.

OS X Widget v1.1

I've got around to improving the look of the dashboard widget for OS X. Previously it was a bit flat:

Old Dashboard Widget

After a bit of work in photoshop it now looks a bit more at home on OS X and generally a bit more "3D":

New Dashboard Widget

As well as this purely cosmetic work, I have also changed the widget's behaviour when you enter the name of an unknown user. The old widget would simply show an error icon. The new widget will show a message saying the user is unknown and provide a link to the signup page. So for those who haven't yet created an account for chrss the widget should be a lot more helpful in getting you going.

Oh and there was also a small bug fix - the link to on the back of the widget should now work.

You can download the new widget (version 1.1) here.

7 comments - updated: Oct. 5, 2008, 7:17 p.m.

Update: a bit of ajax

For those of you who have several games on the go and get tired off switching between games I've added a little shortcut.

When you've got games to move in, you can hover over the number shown to get an ajax-style drop-down list of all games it's your turn in. So if you've got a few moves to make you can move between games without having to always go back to your main games page.

Hopefully this will work in a fairly unobtrusive manner - it shouldn't affect anything else and if you've got javascript turned off it'll still work as before.

This also represents the start of a simple API for Chrss. The javascript for this makes a background call to a URL that looks like:

Which returns some JSON representing the list of all active games for that user. The exact details of the JSON I'll leave for now, as it may change before the API is ready. However it will largely be the same, so feel free to have a poke around.

It should make a good basis for widgets in the future. With more information available (beyond just a number) the widgets can hopefully be a bit more interactive too.

also in this update

I've also got the "remember me" feature working when you login/signup via OpenID.

2 comments - updated: July 29, 2008, 8:30 p.m.

Chrss now supports OpenID

For those of you who have OpenIDs you'll be glad to know that chrss now supports OpenID.

At the moment you will be prompted for a user name and email address, if your OpenID is not matched with an existing account. At the moment the email address is compulsory, but in the future it'll become optional. Obviously you'd want to specify your email address if you plan on getting move notification that way anyway.

If you've already got an account you can add an OpenID to it once you're logged in, via your profile/games page.

To login/register via OpenID visit:

You can also get to that link via the existing login page. In the future I'll probably make OpenID support a bit more prominent - I just want to let the code bed in first. I also have to get the "remember me" functionality working with OpenID too.

So that's one more "Web 2.0" feature for this chess site done...

0 comments - updated: July 8, 2008, 3 p.m.

"Three walls of the electrical equipment room ... blew several feet from their original position"

Sorry for the downtime on chrss over the past day and a bit. Basically the data centre where chrss runs from had a few issues:

Basically they had an explosion, which knocked out the power supply and took down the servers with it. No one was hurt. The explosion also did not damage any servers, so everything seems to be running ok again now.

0 comments - updated: June 2, 2008, 11:50 a.m.

Remember Me

As requested by Oshuma there's now a "remember me" option when you login to chrss. This just means that your login will be remembered for a month - even if you close your browser down. Of course not everyone wants this, so that's why it's an option. However if you get annoyed with having to login to things all the time then this should help.

The code I used to add this is pretty general and in fact builds on a couple of identity recipes from the Turbogears wiki, so i'll release it to the wider community once it's had a chance to bed in. It does involve a little bit of monkey patching of the identity framework, but it's not too extravagant.

0 comments - updated: May 12, 2008, 9:23 p.m.

500 Errors

Sorry if anyone has been seeing "Server Error 500" messages a lot lately. It appears for some reason the library I am using to connect to the database has manifested a bug that makes it fail after chrss has been running for a day or so. It's rather annoying because as far as I know I've not changed anything!

I'm probably going to use the workaround of restarting chrss periodically, until I can figure out a more elegant way around this problem. At the moment though it looks like I might have to change libraries, but that's going to require quite a lot of effort.


3 comments - updated: April 14, 2008, 10:03 a.m.

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