Earlier this month one of our clients, SoonSpoon, launched a reservation site that caters towards diners looking to score last minute reservations at some of the most intimate and creative restaurants in Boston. The growing list of partner restaurants such as L’Espalier, Menton and Journeyman are able to use the SoonSpoon website to list last minute reservations that surface as a result of cancellations. Soonspoon then disseminates the open reservations to users through an constantly updated listing on their website, text, twitter and email. As soon as the listed reservation is booked by a spontaneous diner the restaurants receive a text informing them that SoonSpoon has them covered and their table filled.

A few months ago SoonSpoon co-founders Travis Lowry and Conor Clary approached us for help finalizing the last pieces of back-end functionality required to get their platform production ready. We added a mobile-friendly dashboard for restaurants to easily list new reservations as well an integration with Twilio’s REST API for sending SMS messages. It was great to see this thing lift off successfully and we wish these guys the best of luck – with close to 500 diners , 14 partner restaurants and plans to expand to other cities it looks like they’re off to a great start!

If you want to read more about these guys their website is www.soonspoon.com and twitter handle is @soonspoonhq.  Here’s some recent press from Boston EaterBoston Business Journal and Boston Magazine.

Posted In: Launch

Recently, one of our clients noticed that when they added additional text to the body field of a node with a bunch of existing content the changes would appear to save on the back-end edit screen but the body content of the page disappears on the front end without a trace and with no errors. At first, we thought it was a character or word count restriction that was placed on the body field or that a text-format filter/html combination was throwing things off. After checking a bunch of settings on the admin screen and testing different combinations of words, characters and text-format filters we came up empty handed.

Turns out it was an obscure setting within sites/default/settings.php. If you open this file and search for ‘pcre.backtrack_limit’ you’ll find a surprisingly accurate description of the problem at hand:

* If you encounter a situation where users post a large amount of text, and
* the result is stripped out upon viewing but can still be edited, Drupal’s
* output filter may not have sufficient memory to process it. If you
* experience this issue, you may wish to uncomment the following two lines
* and increase the limits of these variables. For more information, see
* http://php.net/manual/en/pcre.configuration.php.

# ini_set(‘pcre.backtrack_limit’, 200000);
# ini_set(‘pcre.recursion_limit’, 200000);

So once you comment these out and increase the limits you’ll find that the body content reappears on the front end.
Since everyone’s server setup is different, you’ll have to experiment with what values work best for you. Here’s a link to the php.net manual for this configuration setting: http://php.net/manual/en/pcre.configuration.php.

Hope this saves you some time and frustration!

Posted In: Drupal, Tips n' Tricks

Boston is one of the most active places in the US for technology innovation and home to hundreds of exciting young companies with incredible new ideas. In support of the Boston tech startup scene, I have been publishing a series of short blog posts spotlighting some of our most interesting neighbors.

Due to our continued fascination with big data and support for companies playing in the space it seemed only logical to write about Recorded Future for this edition.  These guys are also headquartered in Cambridge, with offices in Göteborg, Sweden and Arlington, VA.

They constantly collect real-time data from web sources such as news, blogs, and public social media and use their technology to analyze trends and identify past, present, and future events. These events are then linked to the people, places, and organizations that matter to their clients, who include Fortune 500 companies and leading government agencies.

Recorded Future’s team of computer scientists, statisticians, linguists, and technical business people offer up an array of software products and services centered around web intelligence. They also provide the Recorded Future API, a web service that allows developers to get in on the action by accessing Recorded Future’s index for large scale analysis of online media flow.

If you’re interested, there’s lots more about their products and services on their website.

Stay tuned for the next startup spotlight.

Posted In: General

It’s that time of year again. Lines forming outside the most popular retailers filled with turkey-gorged shoppers eagerly awaiting this years biggest Black Friday deals. In efforts to curb their boredom, these shoppers take to Twitter to pass the time in line and share their shopping experiences. Since we’re not big shoppers ourselves, and certainly not fans of waiting in lines, we took a different approach to participating in Black Friday.

We decided to flex our big data muscles and hook into Twitter’s streaming API sample which represents a random sampling of twitter’s 400 million tweets per day and recorded all tweets mentioning Black Friday.  In order to handle the streaming data from Twitter, we set up a Storm cluster which processed close to 1 million Black Friday related tweets,  and then saved the data in a MySQL database we spun up on AWS.

For those of you not familiar, Storm is an open source distributed real-time computation system which can be used to reliably process unbounded streams of data.  If you’re interested in the technical details, stay tuned because we’ll be putting out a separate blog post that will walk you through what we did. Also, if you’d like a copy of the mySQL table with the tweet data, you can download it here.

We put together the below infographic based on the data we collected over the 24 hour period beginning Thurs 8pm EST to Friday 8pm EST. We hope you enjoy.



Posted In: General

This is the first of a series of short blog posts highlighting interesting local Boston tech startups – up to bat is Tomorrowish, whose company tagline is “The First Social Media DVR”.

Website:  http://tomorrowish.com
Twitter:  @tomorrowish
Headquarters:  Cambridge, MA


Initially founded 2011 under the name “TweePlayer”, the company was re-branded to “Tomorrowish” in 2012 and is currently headquartered in Cambridge, MA. The privately held company is now looking to raise $1.5 million in funding with a focus on the US Market.

Tomorrowish’s tools and services are targeted towards creators and viewers of digital media.  For creators, their platform lets them capture, curate, and stream social media commentary about their broadcast. That conversation is archived and synchronized in time with the media. When their content is viewed at a later date, their audience can engage in both the current conversation as well as what others have said about certain moments during of the show. Tomorrowish supplies creators with APIs and white-labeled customizable widgets and services to stream the content.

Viewers have access to content available from the Hulu content library as well as other from other media players such as Youtube and Vimeo. They can access content on http://www.tomorrowish.tv/ or through a similar feed setup on their content provider’s website.

The “brains” behind their service offerings lies within what they refer to as the Tomorrowish Machine Curation (TMC), an algorithmic system which filters through the thousands of social media comments about a show and chooses the most interesting ones to display.  It also uses standard metrics such as popularity and language, along with customized black-listing and white-listing rules to further filter content.  Additional manual filtering can also be applied if the content provider wants to make sure a certain phrase, person, or keyword is included (or not).

Here’s a link to a youtube video and accompanying slideshare posted by Mick Darling, CEO at Tomorrowish from a presentation given at Turner Broadcasting’s Media Camp Demo-day on Sept 12th 2013.



You can read more about how it works at http://tomorrowish.com/.

Stay tuned for the next Boston tech start-up spotlight!

Posted In: General