Inspired by Macintouch's recent Sherlock search plug-in, I decided to try to write one for macosxhints.com. Having never looked at Sherlock plug-ins before, it took a bit of trial and error before I got something working, but eventually, I wound up with something that mostly works. If you'd like to try it out, just:
Take the resulting macosxhints.src file and drag it into the Internet folder withing the Internet Search Sites folder, which is inside your user's Library folder.
Launch Sherlock and select the Internet channel and then unselect all plug-ins other than the one for macosxhints.
Due to limitations in the current search engine, you can only search for phrases; "foo bar" runs a search for the phrase "foo bar", not occurences of either "foo" or "bar". So limit your searches to one or two words ("Classic" instead of "OS 9 Classic compatibility").
The results list will list all hints (not comments) which contain your search phrase; double-click any result to load the actual web page.
You may see an occasionally odd result, but it mostly seems functional. If you'd like to see the source for the plug-in, just read the rest of the article. And if you have ideas for improvements, please feel free to modify the script and email it back to me -- I'll put enhanced versions online.
I have plans to make one for the forum site as well, but the search engine there is a bit more troublesome (it goes through an intermediate step which I can't quite decode yet).
Thanks to some hard work on the part of my ISP, both macosxhints.com and forums.macosxhints.com have now been migrated to the new server. We did not notice any glitches during our testing, but please do let me know if you notice anything which isn't working.
In limited late-night testing, there's no doubt that both sites are loading substantially faster than they were before. We'll see how the "morning rush" goes, but it's looking good at this point.
As server moves go, this one was quite easy, thanks to the prep work done by the ISP. Total downtime for both sites was maybe 15 minutes. So thanks, Amigo-3 Interactive, for a job well done!
It did, however, take longer to complete all the prep work than I had expected, so new updates will go online Friday morning.
Update: Most everything is back in place now, but I'm out of time for this morning ... updates tonight for certain! Sorry for the slight hiccup in hint delivery, but I hope you all agree that the speed of the new machine is worth the minor irritations!
The last week or so, you may have noticed that things have gotten a bit slow around here, relative to page loading. The load on macosxhints.com continues to grow (daily data transfer is in excess of 1.5gb on average!), and it's putting some stress on the current server and database. There are some things in the works, though, that should help improve the situation in the near future:
We're moving to a faster machine. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, we'll be relocated from our current box to a notably faster one with lower loads.
A long-awaited Geeklog upgrade. The 1.35 version of Geeklog is now at release candidate stage, so it should be out shortly. I have been waiting on this for quite a while, and should finally be able to upgrade from Geeklog 1.1.
Some database structure changes. We think we can bump the speed a bit by chaning a couple of tables, but we'll probably hold off on this until after the Geeklog upgrade, to see if that addresses the problems by itself.
We're hiring more pigeons -- just like google, we've determined that pigeons are the real key to site speed.
OK, so that last one probably won't happen. But I am trying to find ways to improve the speed, as it bothers me just as much as it does all of you!
lowendmac.com has posted the results of their Spring 2002 Best of the Mac Web survey. macosxhints.com was included on this survey as a result of its 2nd-place showing on the Rest of the Mac Web survey last fall. This was our first time on the main survey of 50 Mac-related web sites.
How'd we do? macosxhints.com was ranked 15th based strictly on number of votes received, which was higher than I had expected but not all that important to me. On the more meaningful "quality of the site" criteria, however, macosxhints ranked 8th overall, with a score of 4.220 out of 5.000 (the superb resexcellence.com site squeaked into 7th place, ahead of us by .002 points!). Visit lowendmac.com to view the full survey results.
These results mesh with my objectives for macosxhints.com -- I don't care if we're the most popular, but I do care that people find the hints posted here informative and useful. With a score of 4.220, it appears that most people think we're doing a pretty good job in that category. Thanks to everyone that took the time to complete the survey; I'm once again humbled by your ranking of the site!
Last fall, I published a short blurb about the "Rest of the Mac Web survey" being conducted by lowendmac.com.
Based on macosxhints' ranking in those survey results, we have now been included in the main "Best of the Mac Web" survey, which opens today at lowendmac.com and runs through the 19th of March.
Although I don't necessarily care about surveys, I do care about spreading information about OS X. Surveys such as this are a good opportunity to let people know about macosxhints (and all the other great Mac web resources!). So if you have a couple minutes, stop by lowendmac.com and let them know how you feel about the sites on this year's survey.
For the first time since I launched the site 18 months ago, an impending trip of mine should have little to no impact on updates to macosxhints for the next week or so.
James R. ('plattapuss' here on macosxhints) will be taking over editing and site management duties starting March 4th through March 12th. James works for Amigo-3, the ISP that hosts macosxhints.com. In addition, he's a Mac OS X user (since the days of the Public Beta) and he knows and uses Geeklog, the engine that drives the site. I am confident I'm leaving the site in good hands during my absence! If you have any questions for James next week, just drop him an email. But please try to be nice :-) ... he's acting as Editor on a completely voluntary basis, and I greatly appreciate his assistance.
To help you distinguish James' "Editor's Notes" from mine, he'll be posting his asides with the prefix "sudo". It's a bit of an inside joke; pronounce "sudo Editor" and hopefully it will become obvious.
I'll be back to the editor's chair sometime on Wednesday the 13th of March. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
[PS: Watch for this month's (April) issue of MacWorld Magazine. There's some minor cover story about some little app called "Photoshop for OS X" or somesuch ... but the really important article to look for is called "Optimize Classic" by yours truly ... not sure how it didn't wind up on the cover, though! :-)]
For those readers who were around while the site transitioned to the new ISP, you may have bookmarked "forums.osxhints.com" and/or "www.osxhints.com". Those worked fine for a while, but now that "forums.macosxhints.com' and "www.macosxhints.com" are back alive and fully spread throughout the net, we have removed the previously existing osxhints sites.
So please, update your bookmarks for the once-again official macosxhints URLs:
http://www.macosxhints.com - The main hints site
http://forums.macosxhints.com - The forum site
On a vaguely related side note, we now have a "What's New in the Forums" section on the homepage to make it easier to catch topics that may be of interest to you. I added this mainly as an exercise in PHP and mySQL programming, but was happy enough with the resuls to include it on the page. Once I update the macosxhints' site engine to the newest Geeklog, I hope to physically tie the two user databases together, thereby requiring only one signup for both sites.
I promise this is the last major scheme change you'll see under the current Geeklog engine, but I was just not happy with the last revision.
I had some help with the design (and review) of this newest look from a couple of our graphic designers, and it passed their scrutiny (unlike the previous two versions!). It's still not perfect, but it's much nicer than any of the other efforts, in my opinion.
I need to update Headline Hints for the new look, which I'll get to in the next day or so. Until then, the link is disabled. Other minor changes have taken place in the comments, where a lighter background makes things easier to read, although it looks a bit odd in "nested" mode!
In the "Support macosxhints" box, all the big ugly graphics are now gone, and I've signed on with Kagi for subscriptions and OS X Guidebook payments. This was an often-requested option (especially by those overseas), as Amazon and PayPal are much harder to use outside the USA.
Thanks for the patience while the site went through basically three looks in a couple of weeks ... but that's all done for a while now. The next time you'll see changes will coincide with the upgrade to the new Geeklog engine, which will probably happen in mid to late March.
If you find anything broken or that displays incorrectly, please let me know about it. And if you had any doubts that macosxhints.com is run by one guy who really doesn't know what he's doing, these last few weeks should have allayed those concerns :-).
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...
First, thanks to everyone that completed the reader survey. With over 700 responses, including a huge number of detailed comments, I think I've got a very good feel for where we need to go in the future! If you'd still like to have your opinion heard, today's your last chance -- I'll be taking the survey off line at the end of the day today.
Based on some of the feedback already received, I'll be making some subtle (and not so subtle!) changes in the very near future, before we upgrade to the new Geeklog engine. These could happen by the end of the week, and they'll be very obvious when done ;-).
The second bit of site news is to just let everyone know that I'm a bit behind on hint research publication. Between the survey and some work for the forum site, the queue here has built up pretty quickly, and I haven't had as much time to explore OS X as usual. I made a pretty good dent in the queue today with 10 new hints, but I'm still about three days behind. I expect we'll be caught up by the end of the week. So if you submitted something and have been wondering where it went, that's the answer.
Again, thanks for the great feedback on the survey! Changes are coming, both near-term and longer-term...