Google Plus What?

I don't like when sites litter their pages with social media links just begging to be clicked, but I also didn't want to hamstring the site by not offering a way to share it with other Minecraft fans.  I decided I would only go with one service and I chose Google Plus One because it was new, I use Google services heavily, but mainly because it offered the smallest and sleekest button.

So what did Plus One add?  A small image in the upper left corner with a paltry number alongside it.  This site (contrary to some blog posts) has not sent the internet into a tizzy, the number of "Plus Ones" is still a fraction of a percent of unique hits.  I can't blame anyone for not clicking it, though.  It doesn't do anything, it doesn't make it easy to share a site with friends, it doesn't make it easy to find your own way back to the site, it doesn't even connect with Google Plus as far as I know.  Currently I have had 50 wonderful users plus one mineConics, and I thank you, but I've had 32 Facebook users go out of their way to like the site in spite of my failure to put a Like button on the site.  That's when I realized that I'm almost as bad as Google at "social".

So I've put Facebook Like and Share buttons on the Site.  I've put a Tweet button on the site.  I've left the Plus One button on the site...but only in honor of the people who had the courtesy to click it, because it seems as though Google dropped the ball on social once again.


Completely Recoded in Backbone.js, Looks Completely the Same

Well, not quite, there are some nice new features.

First of all, I wanted to learn Backbone.js and work it in to the mineConics code.  I started small but it wasn't long before I realized that I should just recode the entire app in Backbone.  The new code base is about 1/3 smaller than the old jQuery-based app.  I still use jQuery in the app, it works really well with Backbone.  One of the things that I'm excited about is that Backbone will allow me to implement new features much more quickly.

As for things not looking completely the same, I worked some new features in to the site.  I reduced the scale of the cartesian plane so that the default view is "larger".  Some users had stated that their first impression of the page was "this is too small to draw the shape I want", so hopefully the new look will give them more confidence in the app.

I added a mouse coordinate tracker to help users find their locations.  This is something that I should have had from the beginning, very easy to implement.

Also, I added Local Storage support.  It will save whatever design you were working on and reload it when you come back to the site.  Soon I'll roll out the ability to save multiple designs, then I'll add a feature allowing you to share designs.  Oh, and 'save' doesn't currently do anything, I just didn't want 'clear' to be lonely.

As always, please tell me if you notice any bugs, have a feature you'd like to request, or have any comments in general!


Sorry, Firefox Users

I just realized that the site was completely screwed for Firefox users.  I'm not sure if it's the fault of Firefox 5 or Google's PlusOne, but they weren't agreeing with one another.  It was a simple fix, I just had to set the size explicitly.  Sorry for the downtime.



mineConics was mentioned on the Buckaroopopcorn Minecraft blog!  He has a fun writing style, covers a lot of Minecraft mods, and has a cool Minecraft save that you can download and explore.


By Request: Rectangles

Fedakius, thanks for posting your request!  I figured I could implement rectangles pretty quickly, so here you go.  It screwed up my presentation a bit, my 'add shape' buttons aren't all on one line any more, but I planned on redoing them anyway.

Next I plan on working Backbone.js into the code.  It won't offer any new features on the surface, but it will allow me to implement new features more quickly.  Then it's on to saving and sharing plans.



I've been pretty busy lately, but there are good things in the works for mineConics.  Currently, the work I'm doing won't add much if any functionality, but it will allow future updates to come out more quickly.

So, as for upgrades:

  • saving designs
  • sharing designs
  • spheres
  • Minecraft 'blocks'
  • auto-expansion when you extend your shape towards the edge of the graph
Any other ideas?  Any requests?


Diamonds, not Pineapples

Adsense has been pretty cool so far, I think.  I hope it hasn't caused anybody any problems because it's made me a few dollars.  I'll only need several hundred more sites like this one and I can quit my day job.  I found out some some Windows users that aren't even running adblock don't see Adsense ads because some application (antivirus?) has written to their hosts file to block those requests.  That doesn't bother me but I'm sure Google can't be happy about it.

I set up Analytics a few weeks ago, that has been really interesting.  I wish I had set it up before posting this site to Reddit, but the information has been cool all the same.  I was surprised to see that 65% of my traffic came from StumbleUpon and 15% was direct.  I had never used StumbleUpon before but it's pretty cool to see so much traffic driven from that service so quickly.  Lately direct traffic has been increasing and is at about 25% whereas StumbleUpon has dropped to about 55%.  Analytics also clued me in to the existence of a Minecraft podcast, The Shaft Podcast.  They mentioned mineConics and said that it was "diamonds, not pineapples".  It's a fun podcast, though, especially good for my daily commute or for listening to while playing Minecraft.

Today I added Google +1, it's their new version of 'like' or 'upvote' or whatever. It's small and relatively unobtrusive, unlike a lot of crap you see where sites beg that you mention them on Reddit, Facebook, or Twitter.  We'll see if it doesn't go the way of the dodo like Knol, Wave, Buzz, etc.



I added Google Ads, hopefully they don't bother any users.  It was very easy to set up, the only real work was editing the stylesheet.  It would be nice if people didn't use adblock, but it would also be nice if ads weren't obnoxious.  At least Google Ads don't blare audio or invite you to "punch the monkey".



I wrote mineConics in Javascript using jQuery to handle some of the interface elements.  The graph is drawn on a Canvas element and I used the mousewheel jQuery plugin so that users could zoom in and out with the graph.

At first I was using a very basic algorithm to calculate circles.  I tested every single cell on the graph against the list of circles.  If sqrt((x*x)+(y*y)) was less than or equal to the radius of the circle and greater than (radius - 1), fill in that cell.  This worked but it was slow and didn't allow for the click and drag panning that I had in mind.  I looked around for a more efficient algorithm and found Bresenham's Circle Algorithm.  I don't think Bresenham wrote the circle algorithm, but he wrote the line-drawing algorithm that inspired it.  This sped everything up and allowed me to make the app much more interactive.

I'm using Google App Engine to host the site.  I might take advantage of their backend storage to save designs or I might save them locally using HTML5.  I haven't gotten around to that yet, but I'll keep you posted.


mineConics is setting the intarwebs aflame

Like many people nerds, I have been playing Minecraft.  It's sort of like a cross between LOST and Legos.  In the game, I began to build a tower and used this as a guide so that I could make a classic, cylindrical, tower.  I needed bigger circles, though, so I started coding up some simple scripts to draw circles for me.  First just a Python script spitting out zeros, next some Javascript drawing squares on a Canvas.  I kept adding features and eventually I felt that I had something someone else might want to use.  It's proven to be a great learning experience and I'm hoping people can make some use of it.