Introducing Convoy!

3 min read

We’re very excited to introduce a new service specifically for self-hosted Known users - Convoy!

Syndicating to different social networks is a key part of the Known experience for many people, but if you’re running Known on your own host, it can be a pain to set up and manage the various developer accounts and APIs associated with each social network and connected service. Convoy removes that process entirely.

Seamless connections

If you’re running your own Known site, you can still create developer accounts and manage API integrations with the various social services that you want connected to your site. However, if that isn’t your cup of tea, a Convoy subscription gets you one-click access and authentication with all of the social connections offered at withknown.com. You still own your data, and we manage all of the technical details.

Convoy features

Convoy currently offers connections to Facebook profiles, Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare, SoundCloud, LinkedIn profiles, and LinkedIn company pages. We’ll be adding connections to Google+ pages, Wordpress blogs, and Tumblr sites soon. Convoy uses the existing Known servers to access these services, so you never have to create and manage a developer account with any social network.

As Convoy grows, we plan to expand the features to include search and notification capabilities for your site. Many shared hosts can’t handle robust features like intelligent site search and real-time notifications. There’s no reason your site should be limited by the technical offerings of your hosting company, and with Convoy it doesn’t have to fall short. Look for new features like these over the upcoming months.

Getting started

Social connections

If you have an existing self-hosted website, you’ll need to update your site to the latest Known package, and then enable “Convoy for Known” under Plugins. Then under Settings you’ll see an option for “Connect Services.”

If you are creating a new Known site on Reclaim or another third-party host, Convoy will already be enabled under Plugins. Under Settings you’ll see an option for “Connect Services.”

From the Connect Services page in your site, choose the “get started” button to learn more about Convoy and subscribe to the service. You can subscribe to Convoy for $5 a month or $50 a year. (If you’d like to purchase multiple subscriptions for your school or organization, contact us about bulk discounts.)

Authenticate with social accounts

Connected services

After you’ve subscribed to Convoy, the Connect Services page of your site will display a list of social networks with options to connect an account. Choose any network, click “Connect account,” and then complete the authentication process for that social network. You can connect unlimited accounts for any social network, but note that for some sites, you might need to sign into each account before you can connect it to your Known site.

That’s it! You can add or remove accounts through the Connect Services page of your site at any time. We keep the connections up-to-date so that you never have to worry about managing APIs and developer settings for that social network again.

Ready to get started with Convoy? Subscribe today.

Aleph has put on fancy party dancing shoes in honor of our amazing cofounder's @erinjo's birthday!

4 open source tools #NABshow attendees can use to be their own broadcaster

4 min read

It's that time again: the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas is in full swing. Broadcast professionals from all over the world gather in one place to discuss new technologies and strategies in a rapidly changing landscape.

I've been to NAB for a couple of years running - coming from the web world, it's always interesting to see what the broadcast industry considers to be the latest and greatest. Broadcasting is going through a lot of changes at the hands of the Internet, and some companies are adjusting better than others.

The days when broadcasters needed expensive licenses and millions of dollars of equipment are long gone. With more and more people hooking up to broadband Internet, both at home and on their mobile devices, it's cheaper than ever before to reach a wide audience with broadcast content.

Of course, Known allows anyone to easily publish content on their own site, including embedded media streams, and it works great for hosting podcasts.

Meanwhile, our Matter stablemate Stringr is at the show, helping anyone get up-to-date news footage using the power of the crowd. Our friends at latakoo help enterprises like NBC News send video fast, to anyone in the world, in the right format.

Those key pieces can help you get up and running quickly. But in addition to those, what open source software can anyone in the world use, right now, to be their own broadcaster?

Here are my picks:

 

Airtime

Airtime lets you broadcast streaming radio on the web, both directly and using playlists. It's designed to be impressively easy to use, taking a lot of the guesswork out of live streaming.

Unlike many live streaming solutions, Airtime is actually designed to be used in a station context, so it also has user-based permissions for various station roles, and it allows you to dynamically put incoming audio on air. For example, you could use Airtime to run a phone-in show. It also includes listener statistics and widgets you can place on your own website.

A hosted version is available, so you don't need to get into the technical details if you don't want to, but the code is available on GitHub.

 

Kickflip

Okay, I'm biased: Kickflip is another awesome Matter company. But with fully open source SDKs for both iOS and Android which allow you to add live video to any mobile application, they're a very easy way to create new kinds of video media experiences that make use of the devices we're all carrying in our pockets.

Their code is available on GitHub, and their broadcast infrastructure is easy to get started with.

 

Open Broadcaster Software

With its ability to broadcast directly from your desktop and deep multimedia compatibility, OBS has found a home with the gamer community. Gamers use it to broadcast directly to sites like Twitch, but that's not all it's useful for.

OBS can take video input from a camera, as well as from a web browser - allowing you to use your web as your mixing desk. You could bring video footage into a browser window, overlay content using HTML5, and then broadcast it to the world. Mix incoming social media streams, chat windows, live incoming video footage and more; the possibilities are endless.

You don't need to live stream: you can also encode to an h.264 MP4 file, for distribution or later broadcast.

And yes, their code is all available on GitHub.

 

Icecast

One of the longer-running open source broadcast platforms, Icecast allows you to stream audio using the SHOUTcast protocol, which has been used by Internet radio stations for over a decade. The protocol itself isn't open source, but the platform is, and the result is that it's compatible with a host of file formats.

Open source development is centered around their bugtracker, although they do also mirror to GitHub.

 

What else would you add to the list?

How we built a simple site to tell if it's safe to leave the office

4 min read

AT&T ParkKnown is based at 421 Bryant St in South Beach, San Francisco - right around the corner from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Normally, it's a beautiful place to be; we're a short walk away from the waterfront, and we'll often take some time in the afternoon to stroll over to the marina. It's well connected by both BART and MUNI, and heading elsewhere for a meeting is a piece of cake.

That is, unless it's game time, when the streets are filled with enthusiastic, orange jersey wearing fans and every transport method becomes a sardine-tin-like nightmare. More than a few times, we've left the office after a hard day's work only to fall into a nightmarish commute home.

No more! We now have Is It Safe to Leave South Beach?, a simple, mobile-friendly site that lets us know if it's a good time to head out for our commute. And the best part is, it took us about half an hour to write. Here's how we did it.

1. Get the game times

MLB produce iCal feeds for baseball games in all the major cities. Here's the page for the Giants. We could just subscribe to this in our calendar applications, but I don't want my list of meetings to be polluted by baseball game times. I want to be able to proactively check to see if it's safe to leave the office, not be notified whenever there's a game on.

Nonetheless, the "home game" calendar feed is a useful database of when those games are, so let's keep that.

2. Parse the game times

There's no point in reinventing the wheel. There are lots of calendar parsers on GitHub, but I used this one by Martin Thoma, which incorporates some modifications by John Grogg. It's very simple, which is exactly what we need: a lightweight way to turn a feed into structured data that we can filter internally.

Once we've converted our calendar file to structured data, we can loop through it in order to find any games that are either starting or ending at a time close to now.

While the game is set to start and end at particular times in the calendar file, I've noticed that these may have some variance in real life, and the streets are full for a while both before and afterwards. To be safe, I've set a window:

  1. If the game starts later than an hour ago, and earlier than an hour from now, then we consider the game to be starting
  2. If the game ends later than an hour ago, and earlier than an hour from now, then we consider the game to be ending

With a two hour window for both the start and end times of the game, we can be pretty sure we won't be caught in a traffic storm when we leave the office.

Importantly, we do this processing in a library function which sets the following variables:

  • $safe - either the word "YES" or "NO".
  • $subtitle - some explanatory text, for example "A game is starting".
  • $description - either some more details about the game, or some details about the next game if one isn't happening right now. This is directly taken from the calendar file, but only the first paragraph of the description is displayed.

3. Display the game times

We display these variables in a simple HTML page. $safe gets displayed in an h1 tag; $subtitle is in an h2; $description is in a paragraph tag underneath.

Using CSS media queries, we make sure that the text is big enough to be prominent on the user's screen, but not so big that it appears off-center or that words are unnaturally wrapped.

Because we created our content in a library function and saved it in a set of variables, we can create different versions for free. I created a JSON version, which means anyone in South Beach can create their own interface or application that uses this information if they want to. PHP's JSON encoding function makes this easy:

  • create a data structure containing our variables
  • pass a Content-type: text/json header to the browser
  • pass the data structure through json_encode and echo the result to the browser

4. Never board a MUNI train crammed full of baseball fans again

And that's it! The whole hack took me about 30 minutes, including registering the domain name and setting up some hosting space. It's pretty simple, but now I have an at-a-glance way to know if it's safe to go home.

Photo by Manny Hernandez.

Self-hosted Known 0.7.7 has left the building - and introduces a bold new service.

1 min read

The latest version of the open source Known software has left the building.

Among various fixes and improvements, the release contains support for Convoy - our new service that makes connecting to social media services a snap.

There's no need to create API applications individually: Convoy makes connecting to social media servies from your self-hosted Known site into a one-click operation. As we add new services (like Google+, Tumblr and WordPress), you'll automatically be able to post to them from your Known site.

Convoy isn't just about syndication. We know that many people want to run Known from their own server, but don't want to have to deal with APIs, notification servers, websockets, search infrastructure and other complicated technical administration tasks. We've got big plans.

Convoy requires Known 0.7.7 or above. You can download the Known 0.7.7 package from our open source page.

If you prefer, you can get a free Known site on our fully-managed service.

Self-hosted Known 0.7.6 has left the building

1 min read

The latest version of the open source Known software has left the building. Here are some of the new things in version 0.7.6:

  • Better bookmark page title handling
  • Improved session handling
  • Thumbnails are higher quality
  • Further improvement to Open Graph tag handling
  • Improvement to PubSubHubbub HTTP headers
  • A number of fixes across plugins
  • Experimental release of WordPress importer

You can download the Known 0.7.6 package from our open source page.

If you prefer, you can get a free Known site on our fully-managed service.

Data privacy and the business of the internet

2 min read

The business model of the internet as it functions today isn’t compatible with privacy.

That’s the message Andy Yen conveys in his TEDGlobal talk. Filmed this past October, Andy, a CERN scientist, shares the motivation behind starting ProtonMail.

“Today, the average person has an astounding amount of personal information online, and we add to this online information every single time we post on Facebook, each time we search on Google, and each time we send an email.

Now, many of use probably think, well, one email, there’s nothing in there, right? But if you consider a year’s worth of emails, or maybe even a lifetime of email, collectively, this tells a lot. It tell where we have been, who we have met, and in many ways, even what we’re thinking about. And the more scary part about this is our data now lasts forever, so your data can and will outlive you.”

We've lost control of our data

Andy says that we’ve largely lost control over our own data, and there’s a new, younger generation being raised to share everything online. They may grow up with a completely different concept of privacy.

Encryption could help make email a more private means of communication, but PGP as an encryption method is too complicated and inaccessible for the average person to understand and use. ProtonMail is trying to solve this problem for consumer email.

They also want to change the norm from an internet focused on maximizing ad revenue to an internet with data protection and privacy at its core.

Andy says, “…we need to support a different business model for the Internet, one that does not rely entirely on advertisements for revenue and for growth. We actually need to build a new Internet where our privacy and our ability to control our data is first and foremost.”

You can watch the full TED talk here.

Upgrade your site. Own your domain. Known Pro is here. https://withknown.com/pro/

The best way to reach your audience from a single platform: Introducing Known Pro! https://withknown.com/pro/

Introducing Known Pro: the best way to reach your audience from a single platform

3 min read

Today, we're excited to introduce the world to Known Pro. With unlimited social media connections, including Facebook Pages and LinkedIn Companies, no other platform makes it as easy to publish on your own site and share with your audiences across the web.

More and more people are learning to be media companies to promote their businesses or build a reputation online. We're all creating profiles on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only is it painful to visit every site to post content multiple times a day, but keeping track of all your replies and interactions takes even more time. We created Known Pro to give you a single website for all your content, and an easy way to share it across the web.

Last fall, we sold access to Known Pro through a special pre-sale that allowed us to gather feedback and validate our idea. Thanks to those customers, we're now able to make it available to everyone, starting right now.

Get started with Known Pro


Known Pro lets you connect to an infinite number of social media profiles. Connect all the Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages and profiles you need - as well as Flickr, Foursquare and SoundCloud. Google+ Pages, Tumblr and WordPress are coming soon.

Our responsive, mobile-first interface means you can post on the go wherever you are. We post updates about Known from the road, on our commute, while out in the city - all to multiple social media profiles, with the touch of a button. You can too.

Use your own CSS and JavaScript. Want to include Google Analytics on your content, or add your own advertising? You can do that - and all from a domain name of your choice.

Connect Slack and other software to your site using webhooks, so you can let your team know when you've published something new, or build new workflows for your content.

Easily gather your interactions in one place using brid.gy. Today, you can include all the Twitter and Facebook replies to your content on your own site, giving you an at-a-glance look at all your community interactions.

All this, and we're the only web service that will give you a full database export of all your content, including interactions, and let you move it to your own server.

We're very proud of Known Pro, and we're looking forward to introducing you to many new features over the next few months. Get started publishing on your own site and syndicating everywhere.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who participated in the Known Pro pre-sale. We couldn't have made this product without your feedback, responses and enthusiasm. We're excited about this new chapter - and we can't wait to show you where we're going next.