Monthly update for March 2020
This is the 30th full month that I worked on Listen Notes full-time. Due to current COVID-19 situation, I have been working from home this month. Hope everyone stay safe & healthy!
1. Revamped the whole backend infrastructure! Upgraded servers to more beefy EC2 instances. This is an overdue task. I’m glad that I got a chance to get it done. This is the htop screenshot I took for the old master db, right before I shut it down:
And the CPU usage on the master db before & after the upgrade:
2. Upgraded to Django 3, from 2.1. I had to fix a few bugs here and there for such major version upgrade. Fortunately, no drama!
3. Improved search a bit, e.g., be able to search a few more special characters - like C++! It’s still far from perfect. Search engine is an incredibly difficult project to build. Otherwise, Google doesn’t need to hire thousands (probably 10s of 1000s) of full-time employees & 10,000+ contractors just for the search engine :) It’s easy to copy a website’s UI/UX, but the hard part is to build out robust & scalable backend infrastructure that is invisible to end users & less tech-savvy investors.
4. Created a page to show case some public playlists from Listen Notes users: listennotes.com/podcast-playlists Hopefully this could help other listeners discover interesting niche podcasts. I also had to build corresponding internal tools to support the operation (and automation) of curating these public playlists.
I assume many of you are also working from home nowadays. How about creating some podcast playlists to share with family & friends?
5. A lot of minor improvements on Listen Later playlists, e.g., handled some edge cases and styled playlist rss.
6. For API, added "top_level_only" parameter to GET /genres.
7. Added a sidebar widget to feature some podcast hosting services:
To be clear, these are not paid ads. I don’t get money from those hosting services.
8. Added more automated tools to fight spammers & malicious bots. As Listen Notes gets more and more popular, the website becomes an obvious target for some bad guys. I guess it’s a good problem to have?
9. Built a few internal tools to help the operation of Listen Alerts, primarily to handle some billing edge cases.
New newsletter tool
As you can see, this email newsletter is sent from Substack. It seems that many cool kids are switching away from Mailchimp to Substack nowadays :) To me, Mailchimp is too heavyweight.
Since I work from home a lot recently, I just canceled my WeWork private office room. It’s quite flexible with WeWork, just like using AWS. I don’t need to sign year-long lease and I can easily cancel or downgrade my plan. I do hope WeWork doesn’t go bankrupt, because I hope I can get a room there in the future - but as I’m writing now, it seems that we’ll be in this COVID-19 situation for at least a few more months…
1 million podcasts
It’s official now! There are more than 1 million podcasts in Listen Notes database! And guess what, there are a lot of COVID-19 podcasts! Search COVID-19 or Coronavirus on Listen Notes.
Thanks for reading! Drop me a line and tell me what you think about Listen Notes -- just reply this email or email@example.com :)