After months of tinkering, troubleshooting, and sloth, I have finally upgraded the site. And while it may not look fancy and sparkly, this was a very major overhaul, and I’m glad to have it somewhat finished.
But first let me give you some highlights on what’s new, improved, different, and missing…
Faster — First off, the site should be much faster. This is mostly due to database changes, but also in some part due to a change of venue. Before this, the site was always hosted on my own server, which of course is now horribly out of date, coughing and wheezing, begging for death. The server ran out of my basement for the first four years when I lived in town, but for the past year has been running out of Josh’s house since I’m still waiting on that rural broadband initiative to come my way. But between the paid hosting and improved backend, hopefully you’ll notice faster load times.
Avatars — Changing your avatars is simpler. Directions are on the FAQ page, but essentially if you edit your profile the spot for uploading and applying your own avatar is more obvious. As always though, please keep your avatars at a reasonable image size, like 110px square. If you don’t know how to crop and resize an image get an 8 year old to help you.
Images in comments — Comments have always been able to handle images, but you are now being entrusted with the ability to add pictures to your comments yourself instead of having to get me to do it for you. Again, please use common sense and don’t go adding murals to your comments. If you have a large picture and don’t know how to resize it or don’t have time, just paste a link to it in your comment like you used to do and I’ll take care of it.
Comment cross-referencing — In my opinion, the biggest piece of new functionality is the comment cross-reference feature. At the top of each comment, beside the user’s name, is a link to view that user’s other comments. If you click on that link you’ll see a list of comments made by that user, sorted by thread. You can then choose to view the other comments in context if you wish. This feature is also available from the new Users page, which lists users who have contributed to the site and links to their content.
Edit comments — You can now edit your own comments. You have a specific window of time to do so, and this is due to the fact that someone else may quickly reference your comment and I’m sure they’d like their words to remain relevant. But you should have plenty of time to fix little things like spelling mistakes and to add links you forgot, etc.
Subscriptions — The new version of the site allows you to subscribe to threads and to the site itself. You can receive an e-mail whenever there’s a new thread posted to the site, and you can also subscribe to a particular thread so that you receive notification when new comments are made in that conversation. You cannot subscribe to everything, meaning you can’t get notifications for all posts and all comments, and I don’t think you’d want that anyway. But you now have the ability to opt in to new posts (from the front page) and to certain threads that you want to follow (from the bottom of individual posts).
Social media stream — The Stream page is gravy, and likely of no real interest to anybody unless you just want to giggle at what I’ve been up to. When it’s working correctly, it logs my activity on things like Facebook, Xbox Live, Netflix, Last.fm, etc. This page is only viewable to logged-in users, and not available to the world. It’s nice for me to have compiled and in front of me, but again, probably not too interesting for you unless you’re stalking me, but I decided not to make it private because some of you still might like to see it.
Missing or Deprecated Functionality:
Picture galleries — The photo galleries are offline again. I’ll be working on those very soon, but they were low priority for the launch. They’ll be back soon though.
Polls — The polls are gone, and at least for now, even the polls archive is gone. I don’t know if these will ever be back, but it’s at the very bottom of my to-do list. And no, you don’t get a vote on that one.
One more thing to note, and that’s about your recent comment links. Chances are this is not working correctly here at the launch of the new site, meaning the site may be indicating that there are more unread comments for you than there really are. This is just the nature of the transition, and if you go through the comments once you’ll find that it will work from then on. So sorry about that, but seeing some comments again is probably better than not seeing some at all.
I have no doubt that there are mistakes and problems lurking somewhere, as will always be the case, so I’ve also started a bug tracking page. If you find something that isn’t working right, even if it’s something simple like a spelling error or something’s not displaying properly in your browser, please leave a comment on that page so I can keep track and hopefully fix the issue. Maybe it’s nothing, but maybe it’s something, and I appreciate your help. Any other comments or opinions on this version of the site can go here in this thread though.
Thanks everybody for your patience and your feedback, and I hope you enjoy the new site.