OK - it's not exactly a secret (at least to the long-time members) that I love changing things from time to time, usually to make the site even better. (I say "usually" because I have
been known to screw it up on occasion.)
This weekend I upgraded the message boards to the newest version of Simple Machines Forum (SMF), largely because I had been using it on another site that I visit regularly (Awareness Portal®
) and I really liked the improvements that the SMF developers had made, some of which I will go into below.FIRST THINGS FIRST - GET A BETTER BROWSER
I am seriously pushing people to switch web browsers. I know the vast majority of you are using Internet Explorer, primarily because it came pre-installed on your computer and you're used to it.
The problem is that IE stinks, and you could be using a much better browser - Mozilla Firefox
. It's faster, more user-friendly, more flexible (there are hundreds of extension and themes you can install), does a better job of rendering web pages (especially at implementing stylesheet standards) and - most importantly - IT'S SAFER TO USE THAN IE!
And best of all - it's completely free
! So what more do you want? Click on the Firefox
ad displayed at the top and/or bottom of nearly every page on this site to get your copy of Firefox
now. (And using Firefox will make those ads go away!) FEATURES THAT ARE MISSING IN ACTION
Before I go any further, let me point out a few things that are currently missing
on the site:
- The Chat Room
- The Games Arcade
- The Members Map
All of these will be getting restored to the site just as soon as I can find (or write) a working patch to make them play nice with the newer message board system.CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS
This version of SMF has a buttload of improvements in it. A lot of them are in the Admin backend, and in streamlined code that helps the pages load quicker, but here a some of the more obvious ones:
- Message posting got the most improvements, probably. For example, when you wanted to Preview your message before, you'd have to wait for the page to reload. Now, when you preview your message, it appears dynamically above the editing area without the page reloading. (Sweet!)
There are also a few more buttons on the posting page. You can now add streaming video and audio links in Windows Media, Realplayer or Quicktime to your posts. (The files have to be hosted somewhere on the Internet - like on MySpace.com; you just put the URL in between the appropriate tags.) There is also an "Edit" button, that make a footnote to say why you changed your post. Let's you indicate why you made a change to your post.[/edit]
- There are changes in your Profile area, too. There's an improved Buddies List feature, and improvements in the Ignore feature as well. (You can list members whose posts you don't want to see, including in the Personal Messages area, and you can even choose to ignore individual message boards.)
You can also choose to receive the body of the posts in the email notifications that you get from the site, which I really like.
- Karma has been improved upon, so I've turned that feature on. Karma let's you "applaud" or "smite" a member, in response to a post (just click on the appropriate link in the member's area to the left of the message.) You'll have to enter a reason why you're changing a person's Karma, for good or bad, and you have to wait at least 15 minutes before you can rate the same person again. You can see who changed your Karma, and who's Karma you have changed, through links on the summary page of your Profile.
There is an excellent Help
section, too, and I encourage everyone to look through it, even if you feel very comfortable with the site already. There's a good chance you'll discover somethnig new there!
I hope everyone will enjoy the changes, and that you like the sleek, new look. And if you do
happen to find a glitch somewhere, please post a topic about it on the Bug Reports board, and include as much detail as you can (what you were doing, or trying to do, what happened, what error messages did you get, etc.)
More modifications will