Just a quick reminder that the beta site is available for public review this week. Throughout the week, look for changes as I get ready for this weekend's cutover. Today's change is a work-in-progress theme (3D Lights2) that registered users can set in their Display Preferences. As always, comments welcome -- but keep in mind the site is a work in progress, and please post your comments to the existing articles on the beta site.
That's right, there's now a public beta of the new macosxhints.com. It's using some older database data, so you may not be able to sign in if you registered here after last October or so (but try the sign-up system; your account from the old site will be migrated in the real conversion, so anything you do on the beta will just be thrown away).
I'd love feedback on the layout and features -- there's a featured story on the beta site explaining some of the new features. At the moment, there's just one theme, but there will be several available at launch time -- which is still on schedule for next weekend, the 15th and 16th. If you find anything that seems broken or wrong, comment on the featured article on the beta site, or just drop me an email...
Let the comments (good (hopefully!) and bad) begin...
These are the official FAQ's for the site, and I make them the "Featured Article" every few months for a couple of days to help new users get acquainted with the site. [Last updated: 1/31/2003]
Newly added questions: (based on email inquiries and general feedback)
Are you ever going to get the site upgrade done?
The answer to this question is "Yes!" After much hard work the last couple of months, the upgrade is nearly ready to go. However, it will take most of a weekend, and as such, I need to schedule it a bit in advance given upcoming commitments. So please note that we'll be offline most of the weekend of February 15th and 16th for the site conversion. macosxhints.com will go offline early on the 15th, and will come back online when everything is ready to go. All existing usernames and passwords will continue to work, of course, and there are a few nice new features (as well as some changes in content organization) that you'll notice immediately.
Previously posted questions: [date of last changed noted in brackets]
Why are some of the hints way too easy? [Oct 11 2002]
Why are some of the hints way too hard? [Oct 11 2002]
If I subscribe, will you pester me with emails and such? [Oct 11 2002]
Can you make the site narrow enough to fit on my iBook's 800x600 screen? [Jan 31 2003]
I submitted a Press Release for publication, and it never showed up (or it showed up much later). What happened to it? [Oct 11 2002]
Why do the forum site and the main site require me to register separately? [Oct 11 2002]
I submitted a hint with my signature attached. When the hint was published, the signature was gone. What happened to it? [Oct 11 2002]
Why are some of the tips so stupid, or sometimes just totally wrong? Don't you test stuff first? [Oct 11 2002]
How come there are times when "No new hints" appear in a 24 hour period?" [Oct 11 2002]
How many hours a week do you work on the site? [Oct 11 2002]
When are you going to update the OS X Solutions Guidebook? [Jan 31 '03]
Is the "Pick of the Week" an advertisement? [Oct 11 2002]
Are there sections of the site reserved for "subscribers only"? [Oct 11 2002]
Will some sections of the site eventually become reserved for "subscribers only"? [Oct 11 2002]
What is the purpose of the MacOSXHints website? [Oct 11 2002]
What software do I need to make these hints work? [Oct 11 2002]
I submitted a Help Request, and it never appeared. Where did it go? [Oct 11 2002]
I submitted a hint, and it was never published. Where did it go? [Oct 11 2002]
Can I submit tips and comments without registering? [Oct 11 2002]
Why haven't you responded to my email? [Oct 11 2002]
Why can't I get the registration/login to work? [Oct 11 2002]
Will the site work without cookies? [Oct 11 2002]
Can't you change the site to fully function without cookies? [Oct 11 2002]
What will you do with my information if I register? [Oct 11 2002]
How many people work for MacOSXHints? [Oct 11 2002]
Is this your full-time job? [Oct 11 2002]
Why aren't there any banner ads? [Oct 11 2002]
How can I help support MacOSXHints? [Oct 11 2002]
How long will MacOSXHints be online? [Oct 11 2002]
If you have additional questions that are not addressed in the above list, please email me directly and I'll add the most popular questions to the next FAQ ... and now, the answers!
Our intermittent server problems continue (see this thread on the forum site for more info), including this morning when we were offline from 4:00am - 8:00am Eastern time. The crash seems to be related to something that happens around the time of the cron scripts, so tonight we're running those scripts at 10:00pm Eastern (7:00pm Pacific). So if we're offline later tonight, at least now you'll know why ... we figure it will be easier to see what's going wrong if we're actually awake to watch it!
Sorry for the troubles, but we're working to resolve them as quickly as we can (it's a subtle problem; we welcome your thoughts in the forum thread if you have knowledge to share...).
I realize this is "old news," but progress on the new site has been very good since the completion of the book project. I currently have the site up and running on my machine, using the latest Geeklog release (after scrapping the work I had done once, as it was too hard to support). I'll spend some time this weekend on finishing up some of the ancillary details and completing work on the other themes (yes, themes -- four or five to choose from) ... but we should be going live sometime in the next week or two at the absolute latest.
As a bit of a preview, one of the nice new features is a greatly improved search engine, courtesy of the team at Macfixit (who added the functionality to Geeklog). Here's a little sample of what you'll soon be able to do ... click here for a larger preview.
The new search engine allows searching on phrases, all words, or any words (finally!), as well as offering highlighting of the search terms in both the results window (shown here) and when displaying the source article.
It's been a much tougher project than I had expected, but we're finally nearing the finish line -- thanks for hanging in there while this kept getting pushed to the back of the priority list.
Late Sunday night, we moved the macosxhints site (along with the forum site) to a new server. Hopefully you'll all see an increase in responsiveness (not that the old server was a slouch!), but there might be some broken links and such today as the DNS changes propogate through the system. If you get a failed link when you try one, you can just replace the "www.macosxhints.com" portion of the URL with the server's IP address - 220.127.116.11.
Hopefully the DNS changes will make their way through the system within 24 hours, and we'll be completely back to normal in a day or less...
NOTE: There may be a hardware issue with the new box; it disappeared twice last night ... they are investigating today to try to find the source of the problems.
I'm headed to Macworld tomorrow morning, and will have intermittent net access while in the San Francisco area. Hopefully I'll be able to post a few tidbits now and then over the next few days, but if things seem slow, at least you know why.
On Tuesday, I'll be giving a brief talk at 4:00pm in the O'Reilly booth (#849) about my personal migration from an OS 9 "power user" to a full-time resident of the land of OS X (including a bit of background on how the site came about), followed by a Q&A session ... so if you're at the show, please feel free to stop by and introduce yourself! You can see the full slate of events set for the O'Reilly booth on their Macworld SF events page.
Regularly scheduled updates will return on Thursday the 9th...
Happy holidays to all the macosxhints readers throughout the world. As we head into the week of Christmas, I thought I'd share a (bandwidth wasting but fun) movie I created using iStopMotion, this week's Pick of the Week (click the image or the link to play the movie; embedding in Geeklog didn't work very well!):
I know, I know ... stick to my day job ... or was that my early morning job? Whatever; iStopMotion is lots of fun to play with, even for those of us with limited artistic talent!
I have posted quite a few new hints today (Sunday), as I do not intend to update the site often (if at all) this coming week. Instead of posting hints, there are a few large projects that I'd like to finish up (editing the book, working on the site migration, finishing my Macworld presentation), in addition to spending time with my family and friends at this most important time of the year.
The hints can wait a week or so, and, to be completely honest, after about 1,200 hours of work on the site (and book and email and forums) this year, I'm just a bit burned out on the 4:30am wake up calls for site updates. No, this doesn't mean I'm shutting the site down, nor am I passing the task on to someone else. I still love the site and the community, and intend to keep doing this for as long as that's a true statement! I just need a bit of a break, and I need to strike a bit better balance for next year -- not writing a book will certainly help, as will the newest Geeklog upgrade, if/when I manage to finish it. And if you're cursing me for not updating this week, please keep in mind that I try my best here with limited time available (given the full-time day job), and that you'll get these types of things with a single operator site such as macosxhints. Sorry, but it comes with the territory.
There may be an occasional update or two this week (I'll keep an eye on the queue each day for particularly relevant stories), but for the most part, consider the site to be on hiatus this week. Regular updates will return on Monday, December 30th.
Thanks for understanding, and I hope each of you has a safe, fun, and fulfilling holiday season ... it's been a great year for OS X and the Mac, and I can't wait to see what 2003 brings.
Back in October, I ran a brief announcement stating that the search engine had been improved. However, I still get quite a few people asking (via email) exactly how it's supposed to work, so I thought I'd write up an "Intro to searching for hints" to maybe answer some of the questions before they're asked.
Once I get the Geeklog upgrade completed, the good news is that I've found someone (thanks Danny!) who is willing to help greatly improve the search engine in the newest Geeklog release. But if you'd like to make the most of the current search engine until that (long delayed) site upgrade occurs, read the rest of the article for some hints on how I use the engine (and I spend a lot of time searching here!).
Today (Thursday) is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and the purpose of the holiday (beyond gathering with friends and family and eating too much) is to give thanks. So I'd like to take a minute to thank all of you, the members of the macosxhints.com community, for making this site such a blast to work on for the last couple of years (it turned two years old on November 4th, but I was too busy to actually note the anniversary on the site!). I am amazed at not only the number, but the quality, of the hints that have been published this year. For that, I must thank the members of the community who have contributed the awesome collection of useful hints and comments -- over 1,500 hints this year alone. Without your contributions, the volume and quality of the hints and discussion would both be much, much lower!
In addition to those who have actively participated on the site, I'd also like to thank those who have provided financial support by subscribing. macosxhints.com has grown far beyond any thoughts I had for it when I launched it (we now average somewhere around three gigabytes of daily data transfer!), and along with that growth has come a fairly sizable increase in expenses (both out of pocket and time invested to manage the site). Those of you who have contributed have not only helped keep the site online, but have kept it advertising-free for everyone, and for that I am extremely thankful. Without your kind support, who knows if we would have made it this far...
There are good things coming in the near future -- the long awaited site upgrade is getting closer each day (but I get only a brief amount of time to work on it, hence the slowness in reaching completion), and I'm thinking of some category reorganization for next year that might make certain things easier to find. But regardless of where we go from here, thanks to each and every one of you for helping make macosxhints.com an incredible knowledge bank for OS X users everywhere.
I'll be spending the next few days with friends and family, and as such, there won't be any new hints posted until Monday morning. Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday (and/or weekend for the rest of the world), and I'll be back at work early Monday morning as usual!
Thanks again to everyone from your humble Editor...