New feature: time dilation

When 5by5 Time Machine was mentioned on The Frequency and The 512 Podcast, both Dan and Myke didn't seem that enthusiastic about the week-long wait times between episodes, as most 5by5 shows have been released on a weekly basis and 5by5 Time Machine simply offsets the times in the feed by a fixed interval.

To remedy that, I'm pleased to announce that 5by5 Time Machine now supports a rate parameter. For example, assuming you wanted a rate of 7 (getting weekly shows daily), you would append ?rate=7 to the end of the URL, like so:

http://feeds.5by5timemachine.com/buildanalyze/678/feed.xml?rate=7

If you also are opting out of the After Dark episodes, append &rate=7 instead of ?rate=7:

http://feeds.5by5timemachine.com/buildanalyze/678/feed.xml?afterdark=no&rate=7

As an aside, the rate parameter is something that I'd planned on adding to 5by5 Time Machine even before the service was launched. However, it proved to be a bit tricky to get the semantics right. Specifically, I wanted to make the behavior of the feed predictable so that users didn't have to mess around with the rate and the offset to get the feed they wanted. To that end, I'd like to take a moment to share how the calculations are made:

The rate parameter determines how much time there should be between a given episode in the feed and the first episode. For example, if the first episode of a show was published January 1, and the second episode on January 10, and the rate is 2, the feed will reposition the second episode to January 5. If the rate is 0.5, the second episode is repositioned to January 20, etc.

Once the rate calculation is done, the number of days to offset the feed is then added. Since the rate affects the resulting date for every episode except the first, it's recommended that you use the first episode to determine what offset you want, then choose the rate.

There is also one final consideration: If you have a rate greater than 1, it's possible to catch up to the live feed at some point. Once this happens, the rate calculation as described above will start adjusting the time backwards from the actual publish date instead of forwards. To prevent this from happening, 5by5 Time Machine will use the actual episode publish date instead of the calculated date in these cases. This means that you can use 5by5 Time Machine to catch up listening to a show, and then continue listening to new episodes as they come out without having to change your feed subscription.

Posted on January 14, 2013 .