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Minor site revisions and new features - UPDATED Site News
I apologize for all the changes this weekend, but I wasn't happy with the new look from Friday. So after a couple more days of editing and rework, I think I've reach a "happy medium" with the look and functionality of the site. It's not perfect, and there are still a lot of HTML errors and coloring issues, but it's now more functional and less garish than it was previously. This look (barring a public outcry) will remain in place until the major redesign that will accompany the Geeklog engine upgrade.

The nicest "new feature" I added is the "Email this hint..." link on every story. If you see something you'd like to tell someone about, just hit that link, enter the person's name and email address, and hit "Submit". They will receive a note with the title of the article and the URL for the full story, along with a blurb explaining that this is not spam and that their email address has not been captured in any way.

As much as I'd love to make macosxhints fit an 800x600 screen, it just won't happen with Geeklog 1.1. This will hopefully be addressed by the planned two-column layout for the upgraded site. The new layout has a much narrower header, however, which helps somewhat.

Keep your eye on the "Pick of the Week" box, as it will be updated regularly (new pick each Monday morning), unlike the Favorite Applications box. If you'd like to see what else has been changed, and learn a bit about the new navigation and search features, read the rest of the article...

Here's the current "What's New" report reflecting all the changes:
  • Header area redesigned - The logo has been significantly reduced in both height and width, and the tagline has been (at least temporarily) removed. On the right is a new feature meant to address the "static" nature of the "Favorite Applications" box. Each week, I'll place an application or utility that I find interesting in the spotlight. I've renamed "Favorite Applications" to "Hall of Fame Applications." The only programs which make the cut for this box are those that have proven personally indispensible over a sustained period of time. It's not easy to make the Hall of Fame, and there are currently only four listed applications.

  • Revised navigation structure - All navigation and control elements are now contained in the two yellow boxes. The first row contains the information that was (briefly) in the top right box this weekend, and used to be in the large green stripe. The middle two rows contain the topic selection area; click any topic to show hints only in that topic. The last row handles quick searches, access to the advanced search page, and switches the view to Headline Hint mode.

  • Revised advanced search - Although the Advanced Search page has always been available, not many people knew about it. It's now much more obvious, and I've made a couple modifications to make loading and searching much faster. For most searches, restrict the "Type" to "Stories" instead of "All", and your search will be even quicker.

  • The color scheme has changed - The "hints" box is now lighter, and the garish green headers are gone. Hopefully the new scheme is somewhat more appealing; if it's not, I'm sure I'll hear about it!

  • Link color changed - In an effort to make links easier to see in the body of hints, they are now color differentiated from the rest of the article.

  • Code color changed - To make code snippets easier to read against the background, they are now burgundy instead of green.

  • CSS code updates - Font sizing should now be much more realistic on Mozilla, OmniWeb, IE, and iCab. This is the only CSS change I have made, so any comments about changes in alignment or window sizing can't be explained by CSS (or any other!) changes that I made. If you're having alignment or box sizing issues, please send me a quick note with info on which browser and with a screenshot if possible.
These are all just "easy" changes meant to make the site a bit more usable until the Geeklog engine upgrade occurs. I realize there are still hard-coded colors and HTML validation problems. The new Geeklog engine will help with both of those issues, but it's simply not worth hand-correcting the outdated code. When the Geeklog engine upgrade occurs, there will also be a much more notable layout change (two columns, new design), along with (I hope) much better HTML coding and CSS implementation.

As a quick aside for those new to web templating systems, if you're wondering why the HTML isn't a simple thing to fix, Geeklog (and all other web page template systems) operate with a large collction of independent code snippets and functions. Each of these adds various bits of the page to create the finished product. For example, the home page here is built by something like 10 separate code pieces (What's New, Topic Bar, Polls, etc), and probably double that number of function calls. So finding the source of that extra "" tag isn't a simple matter of reading a page of static HTML or feeding it through a syntax checker. Instead, you have to parse through the code step by step to try to determine which code piece or function call added the extra tag. If (like me), you're not a programmer by trade, this can take a very long time! Hence, the HTML errors remain but the Geeklog upgrade should take care of them...

-rob.
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  • Currently 1.57 / 5
  You rated: 2 / 5 (7 votes cast)
 
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Minor site revisions and new features - UPDATED | 20 comments | Create New Account
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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Dang!
Authored by: fireproof on Feb 22, '02 11:13:18PM

Hey, this is great!

Sorry, I realize you were looking for criticisms in the comments area, but...



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Dang!
Authored by: LightYear on Feb 26, '02 05:00:44AM

The revision has made just about all my criticisms in the survey defunct. Top work on colour coordination and text size. And maybe seeing it at home in Omniweb instead of at work on an ugly PC and IE gives the whole experience an extra bonus.

Keep up the great work!



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Doubleing of colouring
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 23, '02 02:17:42AM

I am a big fan of CSS, but this site uses it in addition to using the standard HTML colouring. For example, you define the background of table cells, and things like that in HTML, rather than (or maybe in addition to) CSS. This means that to a non-CSS browser, the page is mostly unreadable... and provides no benefit for those browsers that support CSS.

Other CSS handling improvements that I can see is if you linked to a separate CSS file, rather than embedding it in every web page. This would reduce the size of each web page, and is supported by evey CSS supporting browser.

Blibbler.



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GL update should help
Authored by: robg on Feb 23, '02 02:08:04PM

I believe that the new GL version will help with the multiple-coloration due to the implementation of themes. I'll know more on that in the next few weeks.

As for why the sheet is included instead of LINKed, I believe the problem is that the CSS is dynamically generated. HTTP_USER_AGENT is used to determine browser type and variations on font sizes are then set based on the result. This is done via some embedded PHP in the CSS file. Unfortunately, the PHP won't function if called via a LINK or @IMPORT tag (I tried both methods); it only runs when it's INCLUDEd. This may also be changed in 1.3.2.

-rob.



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GL update should help
Authored by: babbage on Feb 23, '02 05:03:31PM
Can't you just include the relevant <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="$RELEVANT_CSS_URL"> line, rather than the corresponding CSS source? This should fit into your current scheme, meet the original poster's concerns, and reduce the strain on storage, computation, and bandwidth (thus making the site cheaper to operate!).

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Cool!
Authored by: shreddiez on Feb 23, '02 06:17:15PM

Site looks a zillion times better in Mozilla now, cheers!



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This site
Authored by: datm on Feb 23, '02 08:07:57PM

used to render better under the old sheets. I like having 4 windows open at once , one in each corner and this makes the windows sorta small on a 21" inch monitor at 1280X1024. Anyway some sites hand the window fine. This new sheets don't.



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Let me clarify
Authored by: datm on Feb 23, '02 08:26:28PM

Page doesn't shrink to smaller window.
Things on the right side of the window are not aligned.
Um other than the page not easy to read in a sorta small window that is it. By this I mean that the tables do not shrink to accommodate a smaller window, there fore the text doesn't complete wrap so I am completely scrolling left and right as I read. Oh I am using OmniWebs latest browser.



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iCab shows errors
Authored by: Joe Walters on Feb 23, '02 10:56:59PM

You mention that iCab is supported, yet iCab shows the following errors:
http://www.macosxhints.com/index.php
Altogether 52 errors found. Only 25 errors are listed below.
Error (66/1): The color name "000066" is not valid.
Error (66/1): The color name "000066" is not valid.
Error (66/1): The color name "000066" is not valid.
Warning (66/1): The attribute "LEFTMARGIN" is not allowed for the tag <BODY>.
Warning (66/1): The attribute "TOPMARGIN" is not allowed for the tag <BODY>.
Error (66/1): In the tag <BODY> the attribute "MARGINHEIGHT" is not allowed.
Error (66/1): In the tag <BODY> the attribute "MARGINWIDTH" is not allowed.
Warning (68/40): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (68/75): In the tag <IMG> the value of the attribute "SRC" must be enclosed in quotes.
Error (68/75): The attribute "OS" is not part of HTML.
Error (68/75): The attribute "X" is not part of HTML.
Error (68/75): The attribute "Hints" is not part of HTML.
Error (71/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Warning (71/1): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "TARGET" must be enclosed in quotes.
Error (74/1): The start tag for </TD> can't be found.
Error (75/1): The start tag for </TR> can't be found.
Error (77/1): The start tag for </TABLE> can't be found.
Warning (80/5): In the tag <TD> the value of the attribute "BGCOLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (80/35): In the tag <IMG> the value of the attribute "SRC" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (81/1): In the tag <TR> the value of the attribute "BGCOLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Error (83/65): The end tag </FORM> is missing.
Warning (87/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (87/68): The tag <FONT> should no longer be used since HTML 4.0.
Warning (87/68): In the tag <FONT> the value of the attribute "COLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (88/48): The tag <FONT> should no longer be used since HTML 4.0.
Warning (89/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (90/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (91/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (92/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (93/8): In the tag <A> the value of the attribute "HREF" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (93/46): The tag <FONT> should no longer be used since HTML 4.0.
Warning (93/46): In the tag <FONT> the value of the attribute "COLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (94/5): In the tag <TD> the value of the attribute "BGCOLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (94/35): In the tag <IMG> the value of the attribute "SRC" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (95/19): In the tag <IMG> the value of the attribute "SRC" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (101/1): In the tag <TABLE> the value of the attribute "WIDTH" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (101/1): In the tag <TABLE> the value of the attribute "BGCOLOR" must be enclosed in quotes.
Warning (103/5): In the tag <TD> the attribute "WIDTH" should only contain absolute pixel values.
Error (217/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (217/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (217/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (222/24): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (222/24): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (223/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (223/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (224/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (224/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (225/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (225/1): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.
Error (237/75): The character '&' must be written as '&amp;'.



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iCab shows the builtin errors
Authored by: EphraimWoody on Feb 24, '02 08:58:05PM

iCab shows a host of errors - "supported" must mean that he is now previewing pages on iCab as well as the others. That is good - for iCab users, but not as good as it could be. The important thing about iCab errors is they tell you when you are not following the standards. If sites not only look right in iCab, but also give no errors, then they will be much more likely to render nicely on ANY untested browser. I no longer bother checking my work on other browsers - I just make sure iCab smiles, and I know it will work on IE, Moz, Chim, Opera, Links, and the others.



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Sideways Scrolling
Authored by: CokeBear on Feb 24, '02 09:53:43AM

In OmniWeb, on my 1024x768 iBook, I have to scroll to the right to see the poll.



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Tested that...
Authored by: robg on Feb 24, '02 10:29:11AM

I ran all my testing at 1024x768 on four browsers (IE, Mozilla, iCab, OminWeb). At default settings in OmniWeb, it displayed within the 1024x768 window just fine.

What "mode" do you use OmniWeb in? Is it identifying itself as OmniWeb, or as some other browser? The CSS is looking for "Omni" in the HTTP_USER_AGENT field to set the proper size, so if you've changed that setting, you may get odd results.

-rob.



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Sideways Scrolling
Authored by: Alex281 on Feb 24, '02 06:32:36PM

In Omniweb with my screen set to 1024x768 and omniweb set to identifying as omniweb i still need to scroll right to see the poll and even some of the hint text if my browser doesn't occupy the entire screen. I personally preferred this box in its old position. Sorry if this sounds too negative, this site is amazing and I appreciate all your hard work!



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Box missplaced on IE X
Authored by: kerim on Feb 24, '02 11:17:46AM

The box which has the date, says "hello (user)!", contains the search box, etc. is placed very strangely. It is at the top right, and adds a strange vertical box which makes the site header look very ugly and out of place by causing it to float in a large blue field to the left ... Isn't this box supposed to be below the "topics" section? I would actually rather have it on the left ...



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Screen resolution?
Authored by: robg on Feb 24, '02 11:59:58AM

What resolution do you run at? It looks OK here at 1024x768...

-rob.



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ugh
Authored by: bhines on Feb 25, '02 01:58:38AM

Still way too much vertical header at the top IMO.

Being a regular user i never use all those Applications.. Classic.. etc buttons. If i need to find something I just search.

-B



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It will get better, but...
Authored by: robg on Feb 25, '02 02:15:02AM

... in the poll, the Topic Bar was the third-highest-ranked feature. Couldn't just out and out kill it. It's on the list of things to improve with the upgrade to Geeklog 1.3. There's only so much time I'm willing to invest in hacking on Geeklog 1.1, though, and 20+ hours this weekend was more than enough. Every hour I spend working on version 1.1 is basically a waste of time - the modifications won't survive the upgrade to 1.3, and will have to be recreated from scratch in most cases.

So for now, this is it. Like it or not, the Topic Bar will be there in its current rendition for another month or so.

-rob.



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Down to one row!
Authored by: robg on Feb 26, '02 08:43:16AM

I managed to get the topics line down to one row with some renaming and layout changes ... and it's still the same width as it was, meaning it almost fits on an 800x600 screen ;-).

-rob.



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Posting engine check
Authored by: thinkyhead on Feb 26, '02 07:55:47PM

Let's see how the web posting engine is doing, while we're at it. Submitting plain old text we get...

1 Backslash: \
2 Backslashes: \
3 Backslashes: \\

Apostrophe: '
Back-tick: `
Ampersand: &
Percent: %
Tilde: ~
At-symbol: @
Caret: ^
Curly-braces: { }
Less-than: <
Greater-than: >



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Argh, still eats backslashes
Authored by: thinkyhead on Feb 26, '02 08:06:05PM

It's very simple to fix this issue in PHP.

First, turn off magic_quotes_gpc in the php.ini file.

Next, always use "addslashes()" on any values that will be used in an SQL statement....

$sqldata = addslashes($somedata);
$sth = mysql_query("UPDATE blunder SET SomeData='$sqldata' WHERE Locked='N'");

Finally, if content needs to appear in a form use htmlentities() on the data before merging it with the HTML for display.

<input type="text" name="thing" value="<?= htmlentities($thing) ?>">



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