Monday, December 14, 2009

New dashboard and speed improvements

We've made some updates! The most noticeable, for members, is the new dashboard showing useful information on where you are now and your next destination. This includes a preview of rideshare results, places to stay, friends nearby and the buzz from nearby couchsurfing groups.

Rideshare results are all around better, and will continue to improve on top of this. We're now searching more sources and gathering more information to better filter through rides to find the ones most useful for you.

The site has a cleaner look and things have sped up considerably. We've optimized our javascript and CSS so the files are more efficient, a lot smaller and will be run quicker once loaded. We've also upgraded other software on the server so things like our database run smoother, faster.

You'll notice some other small but cool changes, like seeing your friends pictures on the map in relation to where they are. We'll keep you posted as to other cool stuff you may like and more improvements we are continuing to make. As always, trip on!

    Saturday, October 3, 2009

    Hopping Along

    We've been quiet lately, as far as letting everyone knowing what we're up to, it's about time to clue everyone in.

    I'm Kenny, the fingers behind the bulk of the code on Trip Hopping. In August I traveled though Mexico, mostly by thumb, in the few weeks I was there I didn't write a single line of code for Trip Hopping. I flew to Phoenix and stayed with Larry, also from Trip Hopping, and started getting cracking on code and operations again.

    I've since gone up to California where I've been somewhat stationary for longer than I usually do (I've been living out of my backpack over 2 years spending an average of 3 or 4 days in one spot). Despite being along up here, as far as people working on Trip Hopping, I've brewed a beer in the spirit of Trip Hopping brews; a brew is what we call our concentrated efforts of improving our project, usually with volunteers. It's a porter, a week or so away from being drinkable.

    Anyhow, I'm in California coding. Specifically, I've put a lot of hours into improving, and extending, our rideshare search algorithm, for one. I've been making it able to search more rideshare sites, and sort the information better. For example, we now search's local city groups for posting that we sense are people offering rides, and show these in our results, it's friggin' awesome. It's also now scalable, meaning we can easily start searching many of the premier rideshare sources, beyond just rides posted on our site.

    Larry is the couchsurfing ambassador of Phoenix and Arizona, on the Trip Hopping team. He's taking care of our verification process. At the moment our hang up is finding a better provider for the patches and bumper stickers we want to send to every verified member, soon we'll be sending these out.

    Besides this, a lot of general tweaks have been going out to increase speed, but also a design change that should make things more clear and easy to find. Keep on tripping all, enjoy!

    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    End of the Brew, here's what's new

    The first Trip Hopping Brew in Arizona was a success! We had fun meeting volunteers showing their interest in Trip Hopping and watching the number of rides and member sign ups continue to grow. We've added features, sped things up and improved our organization in general, we've also laid out some more ideas for going forward.

    Here's what's new:

    Search rides more efficiently, prepare for the weather

    Visually, you'll notice highlighted lines on the map that follow the roads for people's ride posts, green for offers, orange for requests. This is an improvement from before when we showed straight as-the-crow-flies lines. You'll notice that the map in general has a cleaner look with things organized better, there's an updated Google search bar at the bottom too that let's you search anything from sushi to bike shops.

    More rides are shown now, a search from St Louis to Denver will turn up more rides that may be relevant. This includes ride that may be passing through, like rides from New York to Utah, as someone may be willing to stop along the way and pick you up.

    Weather is now on the map! You'll see little icons of the sun or storm clouds all along your route when you do a travel search. Clicking these icons gives you a more extensive look at the upcoming weather forecast. This is particularly useful for hitchhikers like myself, it may be sunny here in Phoenix, but it can be good to know that you'll be getting rained on come Utah.

    After posting a ride, you'll be given an easy copy/paste option to embed your ride into other sites like Craigslist and Couchsurfing to improve your chances of connecting with someone.

    Focus on the people

    There's a new tab you may have seen already, "People". This is a look into the newest members, latest blogs and photos and even the most recent rides posted to Trip Hopping. It's got a simple lay out, you can also switch to "Friends" to see the same information, but just from your friends.

    More pictures! We're not a photo site, nor do we want to be. At first we only allowed one photo upload per person to keep things simple. As more people joined we realized one was not enough, but at the same time, we didn't want to open the floodgates and have people uploading 60 odd pictures. We decided to let you upload a few more pictures, but we're making it fun by adding specific types of photos. One is of you clearly, a profile picture that people can identify you from. Then a picture of you with a cool background, a Hopping picture (you must be airborne, falling, jumping) and a picture of you traveling, so hitchhiking or in your car or whatever you can think of. This is already turning up some very cool results, upload your cool pictures! Of course, if you have 60 odd photos you want to show off, you can check out Google Picasa which lets you upload a ton of photos, when you upload photos you'll see how you can link to all of your photos there.

    Profiles in general are looking a bit cleaner and more consistent. When you look at your own profile, you'll see some code you can embed on other sites to show off your Trip Hopping profile, look right below your "About Me" section. Put this on your blog, website, couchsurfing profile, anywhere you want people to notice your presence on Trip Hopping.

    We're also working on a Community Forum where our members can talk with each other. Mark Ovaska flew all the way from New York to volunteer with us and got this started for us. It's still in testing so we're not linking to it directly on the site yet, but if you want to check it out and help us find any flaws with it, go to and the conversation started!

    Hopping faster than ever!

    We've made some significant speed improvements! Walter Heck, our database admin, has been squeezing in what little spare time he has to optimize our databases to make accessing data from them lightning quick. I've also been working with him to improve the queries to the database to be more efficient across the site. Mark came in and chopped 1000 lines of code off our CSS, and we've also improved our javascript to run more efficiently. Things are hopping along nicely.

    Supporting Trip Hopping

    We've decided to just about do away with advertisements on the site, and have stripped them off. Sometimes ads are useful and relevant, and sometimes it makes sense to show support for companies we know and trust. We don't want to say ads are gone for good, but we will say they won't come back unless it's truly awesome stuff. This means that donations and verifications from you will be what's keeping us hopping. It costs money to maintain our servers, cover business expenses and afford to spend our time improving the site. If you love the site and like where it's going, get verified or donate!

    We've also made a volunteer page at If you're interested in offering your time and talents to make Trip Hopping better, check it out! We're looking for all kind of folks, from techies to fundraisers to communications to PR people and more.


    We had a great time playing with the site, we even got a day off going tubing on the salt river which was awesome! We hope you enjoy all the updates we've mentioned, there's plenty more things we couldn't quite squeeze in here that you'll notice too. Thanks to all our volunteers that came and helped with techie stuff, artwork, data entry, design, donations and helping to get the word out, you guys make this work.

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Follow the roads and find people

    The Brew here in Arizona is starting to take off, I've personally been going around the clock non-stop pecking away at keys and making the site better. We've pushed an update releasing some new features as well as some bug fixes.

    Follow the roads. Now when you do a search for rides, say Phoenix to Denver, you'll see icons on the map showing people requesting and offering rides. Only now, the lines between follow the road based on the best route, this is instead of the straight bee-lines we used to display. It's cool to see the slew of lines twist around!

    People! We've added a "People" tab where you can see some of the latest members and the newest blogs and photos they've posted as well as the latest rides posted to Trip Hopping. You'll notice that you can filter that to see just your friends' action.

    We've made some speed updates too, so you should notice things are a bit snappier. We'll be doing a lot more to increase performance over the next couple weeks while the Brew is going on, as well as sneaking a few more features in. If you're still interested in coming to the Brew in Arizona or helping from afar, check out the Arizona Brew page.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    What's Brewing at Trip Hopping

    Things at Trip Hopping are starting to take off, excitement's the word. With more people flooding the site every day, it's becoming that much more important that we keep up and continue making the site as good as it can be.

    We can't do it alone, so we've organized a "Brew" to get people together who want to volunteer their time and talent to Trip Hopping. The first one will be in Arizona in the town of Avondale in the Phoenix metro area, May 29th to June 12th.

    We're looking for techies, fundraisers, marketing/pr types and anyone else who loves the site and is willing to help. There's tasks like research and data entry that just about anyone can help with, so we're looking for all kinds of decent folks.

    While it'll be two weeks of your good hard work, we'll be having some fun too. Of course we'll provide you with a place to stay and food for the time you're here, but we have a trip or two in mind as well.

    And what's a Brew without... brew? We'll be home brewing some beer in celebration, call it a metaphor, when the right things come together at the right time it makes magic. I'll spare the "hoppy" jokes... for now.

    If you're interested in getting involved, you can fill out a super short form to apply at Even if you can't make it out this time, apply anyhow, there's plenty of opportunities for volunteering remotely and at future Brews. Thanks everyone!

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    New Server is Hopping

    Yesterday we upgraded to a new server to better handle everything, it went well! Thanks for dealing with the short amount of downtime it caused.

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    New Server in the Works, Expect Some Downtime

    We're excited about how many of you are enjoying the site, we've getting an explosion of new members and people posting rides, thanks! We'll be upgrading to a new server in the next few days to handle all the traffic, this is a good thing.

    While we transfer over there will be a short amount of time where the site will be down, so don't panic, we'll be right back! Along with the new powerful server we'll be releasing a few more bug fixes and really cool features, should be good times.

    Thanks for hopping along with us!

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Now on Twitter

    Trip Hopping is on Twitter, check it out! We're using it to post quick updates about new features, old features you could be using, and just generally what we're up to. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Back Online!

    A little over a month ago, we tripped and went down, for a while. We missed a payment for our server and had to wait to come up with the money. When we did, we found out that our hosting company, 1and1, deleted all of our data. Ours meaning all of ours, yours, everything. 1and1 is not to be trusted, and asking around we've heard similar horror stories.

    Of course we're mostly to blame for having missed the payment, but luckily we had a great deal of the data backed up, but not all of it. We've got everything back online on a different server, I (Kenny) hitchhiked into Phoenix and have been working with Larry the past couple weeks getting everything cranking.

    We're working on making the site better every week and will continue to add cool features to simplify and enhance every one's travel experiences. Still very much in the start up phase, we're looking for ways to bring in enough money to cover our costs so a missed payment will never happen again. One thing we've done is set up a way for people who love Trip Hopping to make donations to the site, as well as verifications. Verifications allows members pay a small fee, and in doing so we can validate your identity. This allows other members to see you have done so and therefore add a level of instant credibility and trust, which will result in more connections, more rides, more good times.

    Enjoy your trips, I know I will, I'm hitchhiking to Vegas in the morning, glad to be back online!

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    New Year, New Features, Better Performance

    The last few weeks have been busy on the Trip Hopping front, and on New Years Eve we pushed out a whole bunch of changes and new features to get the site working a lot smoother. Bugs have been squashed, we're hopping along nicely.

    Profiles got a complete redesign to make better use of space and flow better. Some people's maps are looking very cool, and it's easy to update your map. When you first login you'll see a text box that says "Where are you now, where to next?", whenever you update your location or tell us about a destination you have in mind, a marker will be added to your map as well. You may also be happy to know when your friends update their current location you have the option to recieve a text message to let you know! Just click "Friends" on your dashboard and you'll see how.

    There's a lot more going on, we'll let you discover some cool stuff on your own, as well as highlight some of our favorite features in the blog regularly. Don't forget to click "Talkback" in the top right corner whenever you see something act funny or if you have a cool idea to share, keep on Hopping!