Monday, September 26, 2011

In regards to troubled connections

We've been getting a lot of voiced frustration in the blog comments about not being able to connect to synchtube.

The unfortunate reality is that only a small subset of individuals cannot connect, and it is really difficult to figure out why. There are so many factors to consider -- possible slow internet connections, browser compatibility, bad wi-fi signal, firewalls (both home and office), possible drops in wi-fi signal... and so on

Let me tell you that we are looking into it, but it is terribly difficult to debug and fix the issue for everyone. People tell me things like "it is Firefox 6" yet on all instances of my Firefox 6 in different configurations, it seems to run fine, and let me tell you I must have tried at least 50 browser and connection combinations. That is only one example of the combinations that I run. For those attacking the new client -- it has nothing to do with the client as the connections are all issued by the server, which has not changed.

I've tried to recreate as many combinations as possible, but it still seems I am missing a few. The only thing I can say is that hopefully this issue resolves itself as time goes on, browsers start to be compatible with our tech other, and the libraries we are using upgrade themselves.

I do indeed apologize for those who cannot connect to synchtube. If you can give me details about your connection, browsers, and OS, I can drill into it further and attempt to figure it out, but without those details I'm pretty helpless to try to resolve it. Here is a sample list you can send me:

1. Browser & Version
2. Connection (home/office)
3. Antivirus?
4. Firewall?
5. OS?

You can e-mail the info to I try to look at all configurations sent. Once again please note that you aren't being ignored, it's just that we have started to run short ideas on how to fix the remaining connectivity issues.

Thanks all.


EDIT: 12/11/2011 One thing for sure at this point is that AVG, Avast, and Bitdefender ALL block synchtube. So don't use these if you plan to use synchtube well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Testing Room Specific Karma

A push occurred today that enables you to vote on the video playing, and acquire karma.

Eventually there will be two types of karma, "room specific" and "sitewide".

Room specific is just your karma you've collected in that specific room.

Sitewide is just a total amount of karma you've collected from all the rooms (to be implemented later)

We aren't sure what else to do with karma yet, but it will be nice to have if that day ever comes. If you can think of anything let us know. Regardless of karma, it is nice to have the indicators if the video is liked or not.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

18+ rooms and foul language

Hi all.

EDIT 9/10:  A simple warning should suffice like any other website. Thanks for the feedback.

We've been getting a lot of complaints about the foul content and language that is occurring in some of the bigger rooms.

Due to these complaints and other legal issues, soon we will be labeling these rooms as 18+ rooms. If your room gets flagged as 18+, users will need to confirm their age to enter the rooms, and the room will not be listed on the front page.

Other than that the rooms won't be changed in any way. They'll just have that pre-viewing warning on them like any other site that has 18+ content.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

@ tab completion hack

EDIT: 9/13/11 Tab completion hack now works anywhere in your sentence, as well as with the /kick and /ban commands. eg. /kick @mrchess

Synchtube now has tab completion for chat names when you prefix with an @ symbol.

For example, if I wanted to write a message to "mrchess",  instead of typing the full name I could type:

@m then hit [TAB] and it will automatically write @mrchess

Hitting TAB repeatedly will cycle through all the names that began with your initial value, meaning if there was a second person named Mary in my room, by repeatedly pressing tab it will cycle through "mrchess" and "Mary" values.

Give it a shot in the chat!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can't connect in Chrome? Try ws=1!

EDIT: 08/31/11 ?ws=1 is no longer needed as we now default to websocket for Chrome users! 

In an attempt to debug Chrome and what is causing people to not connect please try the following:

Try to enter your room, example:

If it doesn't work, add ?ws=1 to the URL, so try this URL instead.

Adding ?ws=1 forces the browser to use a different communication mechanism called "websockets", which is faster but only works in Chrome.

Please let me know if you Chrome users have any luck with this hack. If it works, try joining all rooms with ?ws=1 for a speedier experience!



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Updates

  • Added support for
  • Added back Import from YouTube
  • Added ability to Favorite rooms (so you can now remember!)
  • Frontpage now displays more rooms and shows the video type
  • Properly display users after they remove their cam
  • Restored twitter button

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Updates

  • Upgraded image server to support all file types (gif, jpg, png)
  • Avatars were wiped in the upgrade
  • Added customization (custom leader icon, custom banner)
  • Added webcam support (BETA, warning, may cause your browser to freeze)
This should be the last of the big changes. We are now on a good server, and great image server.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Update

  • Added back "Fix Video" -- reloads the video player in case of an error
  • Added back "Synch Settings" -- lets you tweak how sensitive the synch is
  • Added back little indicator to show where you are on the playlist
  • Added back layout options, [Classic, Large, Regular], see bottom of room
  • Added a cookie so it will remember your last layout choice
  • Poll disabled on vote again
  • Changed skip button image

Thursday, August 18, 2011

State of Synchtube

Just wanted to answer some common question about the state of synchtube the past few days and the new deployment.

1. Why didn't you test it first?

We tried to test it as best we can, but we simply don't have enough resources.

2. Why don't you have the resources?

Synchtube is a small company of two people. Believe it or not we don't make money off this, and we aren't a funded company. Realistically we might have to resolve the money problem as but right now we think building is the most important thing to be doing now.

3. No money? Why are you building it?

For the love of the game if you will. We think synchtube has the potential to really connect people, and we at least need to try.

4. Can you just go back to the old one?

We can't. The old one caused too many problems, but the most important being that the old code cannot scale. The old code prevented your friends from being able to join (the firewall error), and locked us into YouTube only. Now with the new code, we can support any media type, and everyone should be able to connect.

We need this new one. We all do.

5. What can we expect in the next few days?

The server will be going up and down as we stabilize the loose ends. We are also addressing some performance issues with lag in the client, so the client should improve as well.

6. Can I help?

If you'd like to help us progress faster, keep visiting and e-mail any bugs you find or leave a bug comment in the comments section below. These reports help a lot.


We put a lot of thought into the new server and code, so this should be the last major change for a long time. Trust me, we are as frustrated as you are with this deployment but you simply cannot plan for some of these things on our limited budget.

In the event you just want to know when it's all over, when the day comes that this new synchtube is officially stable (within a few days), I will send an e-mail out and announce it on our Twitter, and Facebook page so feel free to subscribe to either of those.

Thanks for bearing with us. We are working 24/7 to get this up and running smoothly as soon as possible. We are almost there.

TLDR; as someone once said, it gets worse before it gets better

Justin aka mrchess

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Updates

I'll start keeping track of all the big things changed each day!

Here is the list for today.

  • Fixed leader synch issue when changing leaders
  • Fixed soundcloud and imgur
  • Fixed name overflow in chat list
  • Fixed moderators
  • Live testing a fix for "blocked by firewall" message

And a list for yesterday since we didn't write one for yesterday.

  • Added back a "classic option" that restores you to the old layout
  • Added user avatars for a more interesting bubble chat view
  • Added back thumbs in chat when you paste links

Monday, August 15, 2011

Regarding the New Push

I'll make an "official" announcement later, but I wanted to quickly address what seems to be the biggest issues:
  1. Chat thumbs are not gone, it broke. Literally fixing it now.... should be out in a few hours (UPDATE: FIXED)
  2. Playlist importing from YouTube will be back within a day or two
  3. We are working on a way to allow you to go back to the "vanilla" synchtube layout (UPDATE: FIXED. click "classic view". we will be improving the classic view over time as well but you can at least switch now)
  4. Working on resolving better icons (anyone a professional icon designer?) (UPDATE: Thank you DigitalWF for a playlist icon set!)
Thanks everyone for the quick feedback. It really makes a difference when we hear what works and what doesn't. Two steps backward, one step forward, right? Wait, that doesn't sound right...


Friday, August 5, 2011

August 2011 Survey

In preparation for the second release, I want to take a quick survey to try to figure out what frustrates everyone the most. If you have a moment please fill this synchtube happiness survey out, and if you're a mod tell your room too!

Have a good weekend,


What media do you want to share?

The next iteration of synchtube will be coming soon, which should be snappier and more reliable.

In addition to the performance gain, I am also looking for new types of media to implement into this release.

Anyone have suggestions for medias to synch besides YouTube? So far we've added Vimeo (fixed it proper) and DailyMotion. What else should we add?

EDIT: Also note we are not limited to videos. SlideShare, imgur, stuff like that can work too.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cannot connect to synchtube! Explained.

This is a brief post explaining this dreaded message.

Synchtube currently uses 3 ports -- 8884, 8885, and 8886.

If you receive the message "Cannot connect to synchtube" it is because you cannot access these ports.

It could be for a variety of reasons:

1. You are behind a firewall, or your router is blocking the ports.
2. If you are trying to access from work or school, your network IT may have blocked the port.
3. ???
4. Profit

No, but seriously. As far as I know those are the only two reasons. If you can figure out a way to unblock the ports, you should be good.

We are working on a solution to proxy the ports, but it isn't as easy as it seems. We actually tried to push a solution a few times already but... it didn't work.

But yes, we are actively continuing to track this problem and are looking for possible solutions! If you still see this problem despite unblocking the ports, please leave a note here and paste your browser specs too (Firefox 3.6, 4, 5, Chrome, etc.)



EDIT: If anyone is a sysadmin and has any other ideas of why people wouldn't be able to connect, please feel free to help suggest a fix!

Heads up, possible playlist wipe coming up...

Synchtube has come a long way over the past half year, with traffic growing nearly 200% since January. There's been a lot of ups, downs, memory upgrades and server re-writes as we re-designed and architectural things over and over to accommodate the traffic. Thanks everyone for stickin' with us!

However these changes just aren't enough, and the unfortunately reality is that we still have code in live production from 1.5 years ago when synchtube was just a hobby project. This old spaghetti code is actually the foundation for the client, which is BAD as it stops us from being able to quickly build and fix issues that people report.

For the nerd curious, we had been persisting data on the server and client differently, grandfathering in old data through wrappers in every upgrade, performing conversions to keep everything in the same state, but we never actually took time out to root problem areas. Or more honestly, I never took the time to fix it *grin*. Hey -- I was working full time, ok?

Well, it has finally come back to haunt us, and the synchtube data just isn't sustainable anymore -- our wrappers just cause confusion and as the site grows. The good news is that we (my buddy and I) are facing the problem, have agreed on standards and a workflow, and we have been re-writing things to fit these standards over the past week. We expect these changes to go into live production within 2 weeks.

But you know how they say no pain no gain... our new flow and standards, despite being good for the future, make all the old playlists defunct. This is one of those one step backwards two step forwards moments.

Anyway, I say "possible playlist wipe" because depending on how difficult it will be to write a conversion script I might write one, but as of now it doesn't seem very likely.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Addressing the recent caps

Recently we put on a 500 character description cap, as well as a 20 moderator cap.

This was done due to increasing bandwith costs as rooms were having 80+ moderators. Images add up quickly in bandwith costs. I am working on a solution to try and lower the costs, but until then these caps will have to stay in place.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Update

Pushed a couple fun things out.

  • Search: Discover rooms geared toward your interests using the search bar
  • Tags: Room owners can now tag their rooms to be discovered in search!
  • Visits: We now track visitors, and unique visitors. You can see them in the upper-right corner of your room

Also, we fixed the problem where playlists would get wiped every time we pushed. You should see that in effect soon.

Have a good weekend,


EDIT: The fix to not wipe playlists won't be out till Monday

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quick Update

Gotta be quick with the blog. Lot's of work to do.

Yesterday we tried some new architecture... didn't work so well so we reverted.

We also pushed a few changes:
  • Settings now in its own dialog
  • You can now write your description in a rich-text editor.
  • Force Unique: You can now force playlist videos to be only unique
  • Force Duration: You can now force videos to only be a specific duration
  • Colored Mods: Mods are now dark red. Color customization coming soon.
  • Delete Videos: You can now delete your own videos you add to the playlist
  • Delete Wall: You can now delete your own wall posts
I'll be trying to update the blog more often now that I have more time.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Today's Update

What's New:

  • Wall - A place where you can just leave random comments! (cliche, but they can be fun)
  • Leaderboard - Calculates the scores of the entire playlist

And of course bugs, stability and internal fixes, and some UI updates.

FYI or those you who are not interested in these new options, there will be an update coming up where we allow room owners to have more control over the room (only registered members can participate, rules like that), and also a section where you can turn these modules ON or OFF. The tabs also defaults to original synchtube (with Search first) so you can just ignore the new features as well if you are not interested in them.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Synchtube TV is back!

Thanks to our architecture change we are excited to announce that Synchtube TV, which initially debuted almost 10 months ago, is now back!

What is TV?

TV is a mode that FULLY automates a room allowing it to function without a leader!

How does it work?

The leader clicks the "Enable TV" button. This will lock the playlist and cause the room to continually repeat the playlist until a moderator or room owner disables TV mode.

When in TV mode, the room will play the playlist repeatedly and the media will be continued to be synchronized.

Why is this useful?
  • TV mode is useful for leaders who need to leave when there are no moderators around to "take over". You can put the room in TV mode and leave with the peace of mind that the room will be safe until someone can take over.

  • TV mode is also useful for individual room owners who want to run rooms without being around. You can set up a station for your personal blog/website, set TV on, and just leave!

  • TV mode is just useful in general to relieve you of leader stress -- you don't have to worry about losing or having a leader.
Future of TV?

One direction we are headed in is allowing rooms to become individual TV stations, letting rooms have set times to play videos, just like a real TV station. More on this later...

We will also be starting to implement analytics features so you can track the popularity of your room.

TV is still highly experimental so all feedback or suggestions is great appreciated. Please leave any feedback in the comments section -- we read it all.

I know I'm in the blog all the time, but I would also like to give a shout to the co-founder of synchtube, lucidrains, who devised the new architecture and algorithms that improves synching and makes TV possible.

Thanks all.

Here is an excerpt of the original TV debut 10 months ago. Pardon the corniness. :)

synchtube TV (beta)
Create your own TV station that streams YouTube videos in real-time. synchtube TV allows you to set up a playlist as if you were broadcasting it as a TV station to the world. People can join
your TV station, watch simultaniously, and chat!
Promote your blog/YouTube Channel/website
  • Imagine creating a lounge area with streaming YouTube media be it music or videos where users of similiar interest can come and hang out. Wait, stop imagining! You can do it now with synchtube TV! We hope synchtube TV can be used to supplement your website of choice to further develop your online communities
Create a radio station
  • Not into video? Why not create a radio station to broadcast your favorite music. Live personal playlists are so much nicer than anything Pandora can offer.
Not your average synchtube room
  • synchtube TV requires NO LEADER. Like real television, content will continue to play regardless if people are viewing or not. Your content will also loop indefinitely -- once it hits the end of your program, it will go back to the beginning of the program.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today's Update

  • Fixed loading of old playlists
  • Fixed importing playlists
  • Fixed various bugs including a dangerous XSS bug (thanks Binaryheap)
  • Added thumbs up down (currently does not save... yet)
  • Added username next to video when you add a video (currently does not save... yet)
  • Removed individual update bars

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New? Any thoughts?

We've got a couple things cooking for new features and stability, but we were also wondering what everyone else wanted.

So I just ask the question:

What can we build for your rooms to make them a better experience?


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ads... oh no?

Hey guys.

If you haven't noticed, ads are now on synchtube.

Before anyone flips out I just wanted to say that right now synchtube is a giant hole in our pockets and we need to at least try to break even. That being said, while we did put ads up, we tried to put them up in the most non-invasive way because we all know how annyoing ads can be.

In addition they are closeable, so you can always just click them away!

We also added some "Sponsor" ads on our frontpage. I know a lot of people were interested in giving us donations. We priced the frontpage ones pretty cheap ($20 for 30 days) so please check those out if you are still interested :).



Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's New This Week?

It has been a tough but educational past week as we migrated our server code to handle the new load. Long story short, things are finally starting to stabilize as we iron out bugs, so thanks for sticking it out.


  • Added a Voting option!
  • You can now enable a 'Skip' button (see [Settings] in your rooms)
  • You can use this button to vote and skip videos!

  • Added tooltips to buttons
  • Many bug fixes

  • Easier way for large rooms to manage playlists
  • Ideas for creative ways to reduce trolling

  • Yaridovich & Filly rooms for the many bug reports
  • animu room for testing vote when it was beta last week
  • Thanks to all for reporting "Error 16". We are looking into it.

On a side note I wanted to thank you for writing feedback and e-mails. We read them all, but may not reply to all of them. Keep in mind we are a two person team that handles everything from coding new features, to design, to maintenance, and so on. :)


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Growth Help

Hi all.

As synchtube continues to grow, we start to tread into unknown web space.

Synchtube is one of the first of its kind to implement such an instant technology stack that lets you watch videos in real-time down to the second.

That being said, I know as much as you do about the future of our technology -- we are in brand new web space. I hear rumors of synchtube crashing sometimes, but unfortunately I am not there to see it. I visit often, and use the service, but sometimes these problems only show themselves when hundreds of people connect at once.

It would be of great help, when synchtube crashes (god forbid) and you think you notice a pattern with it crashing PLEASE post it here so I can fix it.

Thanks again!


Monday, March 14, 2011

New YouTube Player & Fixed Loose Ends

Just upgraded the YouTube player to the latest version similar to what you see at! :D

Also fixed some things like ban, and some reconnection issues. There are a few other loose ends that shouldn't be very noticeable but will be fixed tonight when the server resets.

Chat should be speedy as ever, and syncing even more accurate thanks to some new algorithms.

I wanted to take a second to thank you all for reporting issues, especially the My Little Pony room. Your bug reports in the feedback have definitely revealed many issues that I might have missed otherwise.

We are now one giant step closer to permanent stability and speed.

Cheers guys!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Server Upgrade

Update 3/11/2011: Should be stable now. Please report any issues. We are now on an latest generation server!

Server upgrade today which should result in significant performance gain.

Known issues:
  • You cannot take leader

We will be looking into this bug tomorrow. Getting late now, almost 3am! Sorry.


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Just added moderators. Now a room can have multiple people own it, meaning multiple people can have the power to take leader. This should resolve some issues in larger rooms where the leader would go AFK. In addition, Moderators are protected from Kick/Bans.

To add a moderator log into your account and go to the "My Room" section, and type in the username of the new moderator.

Also fixed a few exploits!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Adjustable synch settings, server improvements, and such

Just uploaded a new change. Included some server improvements to help with speed, more specifically playlist speed, and now viewers (non-leaders) can adjust the synch mechanism with a new button called "Synch Settings". Hope this helps resolves issues for those with slower internet!

This past 3 weeks doubled once again in traffic and have more than 3000 users. Thanks all for supporting us. We think it may be time to refactor and start adding new features. If there has been anything on your mind please drop a line here and we can check it out.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speed, speed, SPEED!

Sorry for the long delay out. I'm sure you're not interested in personal details, so let me just say we are back in business for the new year.

We just migrated synchtube to a new back-end to make things faster. For the tech inclined we abandoned Haml for a faster front end layer, adopted head.js, upgraded to the latest versions of sinatra, and weeded through some old server code. Some minor interface tweaks were also done to handle the larger room sizes we have been seeing.

I'm also happy to see our daily traffic doubled during our time out. Thank you all for your support. Hopefully we can continue to improve your synchronized sharing experience as we try to scale up.

Cheers and Happy Holidays to all. Please report any issues in the comments below! :),