“Suddenly, at about 3 p.m. Eastern time, the Dow industrials fell out of bed”

Computers that calculate the DJIA at Dow Jones are fingered as the culprit in yesterday’s late-day freefall of 200 points. The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones, covers it in gory detail in a cover story in today’s paper.

Behind the scenes, the team that compiles the DJIA had noticed at about 2 p.m. that heavy trading volume was overwhelming the system, creating a data backlog that was affecting all of the Dow Jones indexes.

The Dow’s component stocks were falling, but — improbably — the Dow average wasn’t falling as much. Just before 3 p.m., the team switched over to a backup computer system. Almost immediately, the Dow caught up, tumbling 200 points, for an eye-popping plunge on the day of more than 500 points.

You could probably hear the “hiss” coming out of the world economy as all those Sell orders got matched up and executed. How would you like to be the dude at his console that threw that switch?

4.07 billion shares traded hands yesterday. The heaviest trading day ever for the New York Stock Exchange

reinvigorate.net – shiny new stats app reborn

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I’m a bit of a stats nerd so I was quite pleased to see that a longtime favorite hosted stats package came back to life after going dark over a year ago. Reinvigorate.net has been reborn from the ashes and is now hosted by the fine folks over at mediatemple which should be able to handle any traffic people throw at it.

One of the unique aspects of the early version of reinvigorate that I’m happy to see is still part of the service is the tracking of visitors in real-time.

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Click on the image above for a larger view. You can see that reinvigorate has two large boxes that keep track of Active Visitors & Active Pages. There’s also a clean and simple dashboard telling you how many users you’ve had so far today (you can set your site’s timezone in the preferences), the average number of pages viewed on your site as well as information about referrals. I like this approach because it’s very easy to take in the health of your readership at a glance.

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Yahoo! Pipes : A Giant Erector Set for the Web

logo_1.gifI’m not a programmer but I love to tinker. Much to the chagrin of my parents, I liked nothing better than taking things apart and seeing how they worked. The thing that made the early web so much fun was the View > Page Source command in the browser which allowed me to take apart any website and figure out how it was put together.

APIs and XML pushed that all into the background for weekend duffers like me. All the parameters that went into building an interactive page were hidden from me. Many sites would expose bits of what was going on in the URL field and I could still play around by swapping out variables that I could see in plain text but the ability to parse out the results and display them in format that I wanted was beyond my basic skills and I could only work on one page at a time, unable to string the output of one page to the input of another.

Today’s release of Yahoo! Pipes is just the product I need to begin to muck around again. Choose any RSS feed as a data source and break down the URL into it’s basic components. Drag in any of the various modules to substitute parameters, filter, join, sort, or otherwise transform the results and harness the output as an RSS feed which you can easily subscribe or embed into your site.

Pipes has embraced the View Source culture. Every published Pipe on the system can be cloned, stripped apart and repurposed for your own use. You can nest pipes inside one another or string them together so that early pipes become the building blocks for more complex routines.

Want to read a mashed up feed of the top autoblogs filtered to specific luxury European autos? No problem.

Looking for the latest flickr photos and weather conditions at Whistler? You got it.

My own itch was trying to figure out if I should buy something off of my local Craigslist, bid for it on eBay, or just buy it outright. Instead of daily searches on a series of sites, I now have one place to go.

Big ol’ caveat. This is not a finished product! Edward, Daniel, Jonathan, Pasha, and Kevin have created a beautiful platform but this is just the first step in an exciting direction which is already generating lots of debate. Pipes levels the playing field and invites the masses into the sandbox. Let’s all play nice together and bend those tubes around and make something wonderful.

Resources:

Feeling Lonely?

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I’ve been ambushed by Oddcast’s speaking avatars before. You know how it is, late at night, you’re browsing around the J. Crew website or something <click, click, clic. . .> and all of the sudden at top volume some chirpy, just-woke-up-and-am-here-to-greet-the-day voice comes blaring over your computer speakers, “Hi! How can I help you today!”

Working from home on today I was looking for a little idle conversation to fill the empty space. No worries, the folks at Oddcast are here to save the day. Great fun here typing in random phrases and having them spoken back to you in various accents. You get about twenty tries until they lock you out. Clear your cookies and you’re back in business.

My favorite? “Blistering blue barnacles and a thundering typhoon” in an Italian accent.

Feature request: thick Eastern European accents and a “sassy” mode checkbox.

Oddcast text-to-speech demo page.

Thank you Aunt Karen for the distraction!

Visual Interface to Musical Genres, Musicovery

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Musicovery dubs themselves an “interactive webRadio.” It’s basically a visual representation of musical genres that you can click around and explore. They provide a palette of moods to get you started, Dark to Positive, Calm to Energetic. Start clicking around and let the music wash over you. No registration required, they make their money from a subscription to their “hi-fi” version as well as affiliate links to purchase tracks on Amazon or iTunes.

Reminds me of a service that John Battelle wrote about three years ago. MusicPlasma shows an Apache error message when you click though. Either it’s dead, ignored, or lonely. Anyone home?

UPDATE : Frederic Vavrille from Musicovery writes in the comments that the site Battelle was pointing to now lives at liveplasma.com. It appears that both Musicovery and Liveplasma are related. While Musicovery lets you click and listen while you explore, Liveplasma does not let you listen to music but adds Movies Titles, Directors, and Actors as vectors to explore.