Now in the Playground: Scrobbling Timelines

Monday, 15 February 2010
by klaas
filed under Announcements
Comments: 54

Being a sysadmin at Last.fm can be a rather tough and at times unrewarding job. It involves maintaining hundreds of servers that get hammered by millions of users every single day, and to complicate things even further they’re spread across three different datacentres. Since Laurie is currently our longest-serving sysadmin, he’s already shed substantial amounts of blood, sweat and tears keeping Last.fm running smoothly. So of course I made him wet his pants the other day by firing up a Hadoop job while he was sitting next to the nodes in the datacentre. Having started to feel a bit of remorse, I thought it’d be only right to finally give him back some love.

Luckily, making Laurie happy isn’t that hard — all it really takes is showing him some graphs. It’s not an accident that Google returns him as top result for the “if it moves, graph it” saying. He even showcased his obsession with graphs over the Xmas holidays, using his Cacti skills to graph parking availability at large UK shopping centres.

Graphs are clearly Laurie’s raison d‘être, so it didn’t take me long to figure out that a great way of thanking him would be to write some code that does something we’ve been working towards for some time at Last.fm: generating personalized, real-time scrobbling history graphs. And while I was at it, I turned the code into a Playground demo that we’ve made available not only to subscribers, but to anyone who has ever scrobbled a track.

Here’s the first graph Laurie saw when checking out the Scrobbling Timeline demo:

Apparently, he recently reached his 20,000th scrobble milestone by listening to a Geek Rock track. By clicking on the cumulative check box, he was able to transform this graph into the following one:

Looks like he’s been scrobbling pretty steadily, with a minor drop in spring/summer for the last 3 years. (At this point he said “wow, that’s cool!”, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.)

I didn’t really keep track of what else Laurie did with the demo, but presumably he discovered that he could restrict the graphs to a specific artist and that it was also possible to compare his scrobbling timelines with those of his friends. In any case, he seemed to like it. Hopefully you’ll like it too, and please let us know why if you don’t!