April 14th, 2012 - By Humuhumu

Tiki matchbooks

My tiki matchbooks... waiting patiently for the day to come that they can be in Ooga-Mooga.

Ooga-Mooga launched nearly seven years ago (whoa!). Thanks to you guys adding all of your beautiful collections (and oh so many pictures, almost 70,000 of them!), it has grown into an outstanding resource for tikiphiles.

There’s so much to love about it… it’s fantastic for learning more about tiki mugs and other collectibles, seeing what others are finding for their collections, trading and connecting with other tikiphiles, all that great stuff. It’s so lovely to get lost exploring everyone’s collections on Ooga-Mooga, and you guys make it fun.

But not everything about Ooga-Mooga is loveable, and frankly, you guys deserve something better…

It’s hard to find things

Finding things in Ooga-Mooga works pretty well—if you happen to know the name of what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to identify something, you’re pretty much out of luck. And if what you’re trying to identify is a brown tiki mug… oooof.

Search is fussy and complicated

I tried to make it a bit better by adding lots of complicated metadata for each object in Ooga-Mooga. The downside of that is a bunch of levers and knobs in a gnarly search form. Blech.

Template creation is a bit of a pain

In order to drive that complicated search form, all that data needs to be collected in the object templates, and that’s not easy. I created a bunch, our darling Tiki-Kate created many more, and now Trader Tom has been doing a fantastic job of adding new templates… but it shouldn’t be so hard to keep up with all the new things you guys are adding to your collections.

It’s hard to find collectors

Have you ever tried to find someone’s collection in Ooga-Mooga using the All Collections page? Someone named “Tiki something”? OW.

It’s got plenty of stuff that isn’t particularly tiki

I’m as guilty of this as anyone (see: frog mug, oyster bar mug). With everyone’s varying ideas of what tiki *is*, it’s only natural that the objects in Ooga-Mooga are going to be all over the map. It would be better if the site knew what you wanted to see, and didn’t show you the stuff that isn’t as relevant to your interests.

It’s hard to see the latest activity

In order to see the latest new objects and comments in Ooga-Mooga, you have to poke around a few different places, and much of it is in the form of plain text links. Dullsville.

There are tons of really cool tiki things that can’t go into Ooga-Mooga

Oh man, do I want to see your matchbooks. And your postcards. And your vinyl. And your Coco Joe’s. And your menus.

The code base is old and hard to maintain

I built Ooga-Mooga seven years ago, and since then I’ve learned new languages, new techniques, new habits. I’m better at this now than I was then. Seven years is a lifetime in programming, and it’s time to re-architect the application, rebuild it better, stronger, more maintainable. It’ll make it much easier to add new features, and improve existing ones.

No one can remember the name

Ugga Mugga? Ooby-Doobie? Mooga-Booga? Sigh. Ooga-Mooga deserves a name that sticks with people.

So, Ooga-Mooga is getting some big love

Here’s what I’m doing about all this: I’ve taken several months off work (and will be taking more time) to rebuild Ooga-Mooga from the ground up. I’m working hard to make it nicer, better, bigger, awesomer. Addressing every one of the issues outlined above, along with lots of other improvements. With a name that’s not “Ooga-Mooga”—one I like a whole lot better!

It’s been a big undertaking, but it’s also been a lot of fun—and I’ve already completed much of the work. I believe that Ooga-Mooga can be something outstanding, and that taking the time will be worth it.

I usually don’t like to talk about the projects I’m working on until I have them ready to use. But these are big changes, and I want to keep you guys in the loop. I’m really excited about the new Ooga-Mooga, and I can’t wait to use it myself. Stay tuned… soon I’ll be ready to show you what’s coming.
p.s. Oh man, even this blog is embarrassingly musty & dusty… check out that “Ooga-Mooga on MySpace” link in the sidebar. Sorry so ugly!

September 7th, 2008 - By Humuhumu

Hey, it happens. We add price sightings without noticing that someone else already added it, or we accidentally add it to the wrong mug, or we get trigger-happy and add one too many zeros…

Well, I can’t make the mistakes stop happening — it’s just part of the human experience. But now, you can just flag price sightings that are incorrect so we can put things right again as quickly as possible.

Just click on the flag icon at the right side of a suspect price sighting, it looks like this:

You’ll then get a form where you simply tell us what went horribly, horribly wrong, and then we’ll fix it.

Mahalo nui loa to all of you who take the time to enter the prices you’re seeing out there in the wild!

August 30th, 2008 - By Humuhumu

The Challenge
Pictures are a huge part of Ooga-Mooga, but in different parts of Ooga-Mooga they play different roles. When looking at someone’s collection, the pictures are an expression of that person’s love for tiki mugs. But when the pictures come up when doing a search for mugs, they place a different and very important role: identification. The two desires are sometimes at odds.

How do I tell Ooga-Mooga which pictures are the “best” for swift visual identification when scanning search results, while still letting the pictures that are the “best” at explaining someone’s collection thrive?

And furthermore, how do I apply whatever the solution is to the over 25,000 pictures in Ooga-Mooga?

An Aside
More than 25,000 pictures! Whoa nelly! I’m knocked out by that. Your photographs have turned Ooga-Mooga into an incredible reference — nearly every mug in Ooga-Mooga has a photo to go with it, and nothing helps to identify what a mug is all about like its picture. Thank you for taking the time to photograph your collections and share them with the world, it’s amazing.

The Solution
I’ve completely overhauled how Ooga-Mooga handles photos. Before, photos were simply tagged as “representative” or “not representative.” This was confusing, and subjective. The most representative photos for search results are not always the more representative photos to tell a collector’s story. I won’t get into the particulars of how I’m handling it now, because it’ll bore you, but here’s the upshot:

  1. Images in search results are clearer
    The pictures that best illustrate what a mug looks like are the ones that will turn up in search results. Hopefully there’ll be less squinting at small pictures, and less of having to click on each mug to look through more photos to tell which mug is which.
  2. Search results are faster
    These representative photos are pulled from the database in a much faster way, so the search results page loads much more quickly than it used to.
  3. Your collection photos show up
    In rare cases, sometimes a person’s photo of an item was only of an unusual angle that was deemed “not representative” for search results purposes. This meant that the photo wouldn’t show up on their Collection page, either. No more! Now, your Collection page will show those photos. You’re more free to show your own personality in your collection photos.

Special Bonus
While I was at it, I also came up with a solution to a long-standing issue in Ooga-Mooga.

Ooga-Mooga is designed to strongly encourage you to share photos of your own collection because, well, that’s the point. We want to see your mugs. This is what has allowed Ooga-Mooga to grow into such an incredible documentation of tiki mugs. I don’t want that to change, but I also wanted to make it a little, well, friendlier while you were waiting to find that moment to take pictures of your collection.

To that end, on your Collection page, instead of seeing the big ol’ “?” mug picture on items that you haven’t uploaded pictures for yet, you’ll get a dimmed-out random picture from the mug’s template, with a text overlay explaining that you don’t have a picture yet. Hopefully this will still encourage folks to add their own pictures, but will make the collection a little more meaningful at a glance until then.

I hope you like these changes! I still have to go around Ooga-Mooga and make a few tweaks here & there as I switch over to the new system, but already I think it’s making Ooga-Mooga more fun to use.

July 6th, 2008 - By Humuhumu

Aloha! I’ve been working on some things behind the scenes that are sort of major housekeeping issues:

  1. Ooga-Mooga password reset is now automagic!
    In the past, if you forgot your Ooga-Mooga password (which is only natural, everyone does it now & again), you had to send me an email to ask to have it reset. No more! Now, Ooga-Mooga will automagically reset your password for you, and will email you the new temporary password, along with a link for you to reset it finally to something that only you know. Now if you’ve forgotten your password, it can be fixed in a jiffy!
  2. Ooga-Mooga subscription renewal!
    Ooga-Mooga subscriptions are handled via PayPal. PayPal has its good points and its less-good points. Chief among the less-good points is that PayPal handles credit card changes (even just a simple updating of your expiration date) with all the grace and elegance of a bull in a china shop. PayPal’s default behavior, in fact, is to cancel all your subscriptions when you do a simple credit card update. Your subscriptions are still active for the time you have paid for, but once the next payment comes due, your account is killed. Yikes!

    This has been a major, major pain in the keister. PayPal doesn’t tell me what has happened — from my end, it just looks like you decided you didn’t want your Ooga-Mooga account anymore. *sniffle*

    It’s still a bit of a pain in the keister, but much less so: I’ve changed Ooga-Mooga so that if your subscription has been terminated, instead of giving you an unfriendly “This account is inactive” message when you log in, instead it gives you a page that lets you renew your subscription. Yay! If this has happened to you, just log in, and you’ll be able to sign up again. All your mugs & information are still there, you won’t need to re-add anything.

  3. My email is fixed!
    Exacerbating these two issues has been a very serious third one: my humuhumu@ooga-mooga.com email account had become so overrun with spam that it was unusable. Digging through the spam to get to the real messages from you guys was impossible, and my spam filtering was no good. I’ve completely changed how my email is handled, and now I’ve got great spam filtering that can tell the difference between you fine people and the purveyors of fine pill products.

These aren’t the sexiest updates, but boy howdy, they’re a big deal if you’ve been impacted by them, so it’s a huge relief to have them fixed. If you have any questions, please shoot me an email!

May 28th, 2007 - By Humuhumu

I’ve just rolled out a brand new look for the individual mug pages (that’s an instance of a particular mug in someone’s collection) and the mug template pages (that’s the page that stores the common information for all instances of a particular mug). As an example, here is the mug template page for Hawaii Kai Hula Girl With Tiki Mask Mug, and here is an individual mug page for the Hawaii Kai Hula Girl With Tiki Mask Mug that belongs to ScarabaTiki.

In the past, these two pages were nearly identical, and they still have a lot in common. There have been two downsides to that. The first was that it wasn’t always obvious which of the two you were looking at — a mug in someone’s collection, or a mug template. That means it was also not obvious what information on the page was coming from the mug’s owner vs. the Ooga-Mooga mug template. The second downside is that there was a lot of information shoehorned into one page, making it a challenge to add any new features or information — some of the links and info made more sense being on just one or the other kind of page, which would also give more room for future new features.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s different, to help your eyes get adjusted… we’ll start with the Mug Template page:

Item name is moved up top
It used to just say “Mug Template” up top, now the mug’s (or other item’s) name takes pride of place, as it should be.

Examples of the item in Ooga-Mooga
On the upper-right side, there are now up to three random examples of that item represented in collections in Ooga-Mooga, with a link to view more (if there are more). This is a great way to see at a glance the natural variations in a mug.

Action buttons!
There were three actions given to you as text links before: Add Mug to your Collection, Add Mug to your Wishlist, and Add Mug to your Private Favorites. They were kind of buried in the page, and their texty nature made them blend right in. Now, they’re given to you as big ol’ buttons, easy to spot!

Some info has switched columns
Some of the information on the page has moved from the right column to the left column, and vice versa. There were two benefits to this: one is that the page just lays out better this way, but more significantly, the information you are most likely to be looking for is now in the right column, where your eyes are likely to drift. One of the benefits of living with a UI designer… Hanford pointed out that the eye generally will go down a left column before then going down the right column, but because there’s that big mug picture at the top of the left column, it drives your eye right down the right column first, so that’s the place to put the good stuff. It’ll feel a little flip-floppy at first.

Improved Recent Sightings in the Wild section
There are additional notes that can optionally be entered for Price Sightings — stuff like noting what # a mug was, if an eBay auction ended with Buy It Now, the condition of the mug you saw, the specific antique mall where you saw it, etc. The only way to see it was to float your cursor over the price sighting — a tooltip would pop up with the info. Well, that’s just silly. I did it originally to save space, but I have a better way now — by default, the page now only shows the three most recent price sightings, and it’s easy to expand the table to see all of the sightings if you want. Now that I’ve got the room, sighting notes are displayed, too.

This Item for sale or for trade in Ooga-Mooga
Okay, why hasn’t this always been here? This is the first example of how I’m able to use the new page layout to roll out a cool new feature. But seriously, this should have always been there. Each mug template page now has a list of all the mugs of that type that are currently being offered for sale or for trade in Ooga-Mooga. The best way to get connected with the mug of your dreams is still to add it to your Wishlist — that way, Ooga-Mooga will notify you (by email, if you want) when one comes up for sale or for trade, but you can also just browse at a glance this way.

Alright, now let’s take a look at an individual mug page:

Profile with picture
On an individual item page, the mug’s owner’s mug is right there — the owner’s profile, with picture, is an instant visual cue that you are looking at a mug in someone’s collection. All the information that the mug’s owner entered is right there in that box, and hopefully it’s a little more obvious where that information came from.

Streamlined info
I removed some of the information from a particular mug’s page, because it makes more sense to have it on just the mug template page. One of those sometimes less is more things. To see examples of this mug in other people’s collections, just go to the mug template page for that mug, by clicking on the mug’s name at the top of the page. Also, the mugs for sale or for trade are only on the mug template page.

Lots of little tweaks & improvements
I’ve also made about a hundred teeny little changes that just make the page look better and easier to read. You probably won’t notice them individually, but hopefully the overall feel of the page is a little nicer, a little cleaner. Now that the pages are cleaned up a bit, I feel more comfortable working on some other new improvements and featues I have in mind.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of changes. I ordinarily like to make small changes, because too much change at once brings out a very natural and normal “Change bad!” response in all of us. But the nature of these changes meant I really had to revamp the whole page at once. If you have any questions about how it all works, as always, please feel free to contact me at humuhumu@ooga-mooga.com, or on Yahoo IM or AIM, where my screen name is oogamoogamug.

May 23rd, 2007 - By Humuhumu

Come see the rest of my collection on Ooga-Mooga Come see the rest of my collection on Ooga-Mooga
The image on the left is the “before” Ooga-Mooga badge, the image on the right is the “after”. Not a huge difference, but it’s the sort of thing that makes me batty when it’s not quite right. It’s a GIF instead of a JPEG now (I shoulda had it that way all along).

In order to get the new, shinier badge, go to Fun Stuff and re-copy and place the code. If you’re comfortable with html, it’s even easier — go whereever you placed your Ooga-Mooga badge, and change the “.jpg” to “.gif”. The old links to the .jpg versions will still work, if don’t feel like making the change.

May 22nd, 2007 - By Humuhumu

This post was originally made on Tiki Central

I just rolled out the biggest change to Ooga-Mooga so far, but it’s largely behind the scenes.

As I mentioned earlier, requiring new Ooga-Mooga users to sign up for Tiki Central was sometimes confusing, so I’ve been working on detangling the two sites. I have now finished separating Ooga-Mooga from Tiki Central, and a Tiki Central account is no longer required to sign up on Ooga-Mooga.

This, of course, means bupkis to anyone here [on Tiki Central]. This change is more for people who don’t even know about Tiki Central yet. But I wanted to keep you in the loop, in case anything is wonky. I’ve made some very substantial changes to Ooga-Mooga (mostly under the hood) — please let me know if anything isn’t working right for you.

I’ve already told you about the new Messaging and Profile systems that replace the ones we were piggy-backing on Tiki Central. There are a couple more changes that are relatively minor (from where you’re sitting, anyway!). We still wanted to keep some of the neat functionality that came from your Ooga-Mooga and Tiki Central accounts being linked — notably, the link to your Ooga-Mooga collection from your posts on TC, and a link to your Tiki Central profile from your Ooga-Mooga profile. Now that a TC account isn’t required, you can initiate this linking yourself from the Account Settings page on Ooga-Mooga. Anyone who has signed up for Ooga-Mooga prior to today is already linked up, but any new Ooga-Mooga users will have the option of doing that in Account Settings.

Please let me know if anything seems amiss!

May 20th, 2007 - By Humuhumu

This post was originally made on Tiki Central.

Another big change today… Ooga-Mooga has its own message system!

Previously, Ooga-Mooga was piggy-backing on Tiki Central’s Personal Message system. Starting today, Ooga-Mooga has its own, separate message system. You can find the link to the Messages section on the right-hand “My Collection” side of Ooga-Mooga. Ooga-Mooga can send you an email alert when you have a new message (you can turn that off in Account Settings — the default setting is on).

Why the change? While Tiki Central & Ooga-Mooga’s symbiotic relationship has been all kinds of awesome, it’s super-confusing for new Ooga-Mooga users. More and more, these new Ooga-Mooga users are also totally new to Tiki Central. Figuring out one rather massive new site is hard enough, but asking new Ooga-Mooga-ers to figure out two massive sites at once is just too much. It’s a very happy mire to get caught in, to be sure, but it’s a mire nonetheless. So, I’m working to detangle Ooga-Mooga and Tiki Central a bit.

There’s a couple little perks with the new system: if you’re sending a message about a mug that’s for sale or for trade, then a thumbnail of the mug comes along with that new message, so you can see at a glance in your inbox which messages are about which mugs. Also, along with the email alerts of new messages, Ooga-Mooga can send you email alerts when one of the mugs on your Wish List has matched with a mug that has just come up for sale or for trade on Ooga-Mooga.

It’s fresh off the presses, so please feel free to pinch & poke it and tell me what you think. I’ll probably be adding a few small little tweaks over the next day or so.

May 18th, 2007 - By Humuhumu

This post was originally made on Tiki Central

More improvements to Ooga-Mooga:

Per Request: Latest Additions to Collections!
This was the most-requested new feature in the Ooga-Mooga survey, by far: the ability to see what the new additions are to someone’s collection. Now, you can see at a glance what new mugs and new pictures have been added to an Ooga-Mooga collection in the past week.

How do you see this fantastic new feature? Glad you asked! Check out…

Ooga-Mooga’s Revamped Home Page!
Ooga-Mooga’s home page used to show you a list of the five users who most recently added a new mug to their collection, and the five users who most recently added a new picture to their collection. Nice & all, but not nearly as useful as it could have been:

  • The two lists differed a bit, but only a bit, so it was kind of redundant
  • There’s enough traffic on Ooga-Mooga these days that only showing five users made it hard to keep up with the new additions
  • Worst of all — these links only took you to that person’s collection, it didn’t actually show you what was new; sifting through someone’s entire collection to try to spot the new mugs & pictures was practically impossible

Ahhhh… that’s much better!

The new Additions to Collections shows:

  • The entire list of users who have made new additions to their collections in the past week, instead of just the five most recent users
  • The link on their name still takes you to their entire collection
  • The link on “new mugs” takes you to a page showing you all their new mugs
  • The link on “new pictures” takes you to a page showing you all their new pictures

I also want to add these Latest Additions links on your Collection pages, but I’m going to think a bit longer about how to best incorporate it into the page — that page could also use a bit of an overhaul.

But that’s not all! While I was at it, I also improved the latest comments:

It now shows the ten most recent comments (instead of five), and instead of just giving you a link to the user who got the comment, it shows you who made the comment, and gives you a link right to the mug that got commented on. Keen!

Now that there’s a little bit more info there on the front page, there’s room to show more than just one picture from the Collection of the Day, so now it shows three pictures. Snazzy!

I’m so totally in love with this new setup, and I think you will be, too. If you’ve got any questions or comments, lemme have ‘em!

May 8th, 2007 - By Humuhumu

This post was originally made on Tiki Central

A couple of small tweaks to Ooga-Mooga I want to let you know about:

Faster Search
Actually, Search works pretty much exactly the same as it did before… but now, the default is to search only in the name and a.k.a.s of the mug templates, rather than the entire description. That makes the search much, much, much faster. If you want to do a more thorough search, you still can — just select “Name, AKAs and full description” when you do your search. Selecting specific things to narrow down your search can speed it up even more — for instance, if you know that the mug you’re looking for is green, select “Green” in the list of colors, or if you know it’s a Tiki Farm mug, select “Tiki Farm” in the list of Manufacturers.

Tips for Photographing Your Collection
I’ve created a page with tips & instructions for getting great pictures of your collection! You can see it here.

And now some thank yous…

Thank you to everyone who filled out the user survey! It was an amazing help — I got so much really useful feedback from it, and it’s really repositioned my ideas about what people want to see on Ooga-Mooga, which is awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’ll see some great changes on Ooga-Mooga as a direct result of your surveys.

And I must once again thank Tiki-Kate for her help in creating mug templates — Ooga-Mooga now has templates for nearly 2,500 mugs!