News archive?

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Postby wrightc on Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:42 am

DO IT! :D
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Postby stjen on Tue Feb 24, 2004 11:35 am

No, Not the Blink Tag! Anything but that!

How about, create a shadow copy of the new info from the news item as a post to an announcement topic here in the forum? Rombobj
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Postby Limax on Tue Feb 24, 2004 12:59 pm

If the <blink> tag appears, I will be forced to read the comic with my eyes closed!!! :P

(Personally, I have trained myself to look and see if the date on GPF news has changed or not... I then know whether or not to scroll back up and see what's new in Faultieworld.)
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Postby mouse on Tue Feb 24, 2004 1:46 pm

would it only blink the day new news was posted? because otherwise, it becomes part of the background again - and people just scroll down faster to get it off the screen.
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Postby Rombobj on Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:43 pm

jtdarlington wrote:Well, I could always the dreaded... BLINK tag...

Don't you dare! I'd probably have to waste an entire hour on finding out how to disable blinking text in Mozilla!

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Postby showler on Wed Feb 25, 2004 7:20 pm

Is it possible to make the news notice appear for a day or so and then disappear until the next update? The news link down below would still be there if anyone needs it, but a new news posting would attract attention when it reappears to announce an update.
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Postby jtdarlington on Wed Apr 07, 2004 4:59 am

Time to resurrect this thread, I suppose.... I actually came up with an idea last night that might help answer the question of notifying folks when the news has been updated. However, I know it has the potential of making some of the privacy rights conscious folks nervous, so I'll pitch it here first before going any pursuing it.

One thing I could do is set a cookie in each person's browser when they visit the News Archive containing the date of their last visit. When they visit the main page (or High-Def index), the cookie is checked against the date of the last news update. If the cookie date is after the news update date, a normal news link (or icon, say a small LED graphic "turned off") appears. If the news update date is newer, then the news link is changed (or the LED is "turned on" or even "blink"). The reader then has an easy to read visible cue that the news has been updated. When they follow the news link, their cookie is updated with the current date and the main page link will reflect that they've read the news post.

Of course, I know some people out there are extremely paranoid about cookies. But as outlined by the GPF Privacy Policy, the use of the news cookie would be entirely voluntary. It would NOT be set without the reader's consent; in fact, it will only be initially set if the user explicitly goes to a "turning on" page first and explicitly clicks a button. Likewise, there will be a button to explicitly delete the cookie if the reader no longer desires to use it. I can set it up that if the browser has not been branded there will be no apparant change in the normal news link, and the indicator (whatever it might be) will only be visible if the cookie has been enabled.

Other potential drawbacks would include that it will only work if JavaScript and cookies are enabled (not going to change the main index into a CGI script just to check a cookie), and it won't work quite the same for people who visit the site multiple times from multiple browsers (say, once from home and once from work, or in two different browsers on the same machine).

So... what do you think? If you guys think it's a neat idea, I can get to work bashing out the scripts to try it. If you think it will cause more headaches than it's worth, I probably won't bother. But I definitely want your thoughts. If you have any suggestions about what would be the best form of indicator (change the color of the news link, the blinking LED image, etc.), I'd be glad to hear those as well.
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Postby mrbkap on Wed Apr 07, 2004 5:18 am

I've just been thinking about the news visibility thing (and jumping into this thread at the same time) and I almost think that (for me) a little link next to the 'forum' link (perhaps with a different color/background?) would be more noticeable than the large red notice at the top of the page :) . This is because I'm forced to look for the forum link, as it is small, and requires me to really click on it, whereas with the comic, I can just scroll down without really paying attention.

As for the cookie idea, I'm not entirely sure what purpose it would serve. I tend to remember the last time I read the news (not exactly, of course, but well enough to compare dates) so it wouldn't help me very much, and it might possibly become a nusance if the attention-grabber distracted me enough (I have been known to use multiple computers before).

This, of course, is IMHO, and I don't think I'm one of those 'normal' people that I keep hearing about, so this viewpoint could be entirely unique to me.
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Postby jtdarlington on Wed Apr 07, 2004 5:45 am

Part of the problem of putting the news link next to the forum link is that it really only makes it more visible to people who frequent the forum link. Myself, I actually don't use the forum link on the main page; I use a bookmark. (More specifically, I use Mozilla's multiple bookmark feature, which opens the forum and several mailing lists all once.) Of course, I think it's safe to assume I'm not your typical GPF reader either ;) but I think the point is still valid. Moving the link to one location because it's more convenient or visible for one subset of readers doesn't necessarily help all the readers. Placing it near the comic, though puts the news link in the general vicinity of the primary focus of the entire page, the reason everyone comes to the site in the first place: the comic.

The cookie idea serves to solve the problem that a lot of people have, in that they don't notice when the news blurb has been updated. By drawing the attention to the link by making it somehow visibly change when the news has updated since the last time they read it, it makes it more obvious. Of course, there has the be a balance between making it obvious and making it obnoxious, but that's one of the reasons for asking for suggestions. :) I think a little "LED" graphic that lights up for blinks when the news as updated might be a good balance. The trick would be choosing a size somewhere between too small to be noticed and too large so it's annoying.
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Postby mouse on Wed Apr 07, 2004 2:38 pm

_i_ think it would be neat (of course, i'm one of those people who never notices the news has been updated until someone says something about it in the forum). i should think only activating it at the reader's choice should solve the privacy issues - and as to the multiple computer issues - well, you don't _have_ to check the news just 'cause it's lighted up - and as long as the signal isn't horribly annoying (the epilepsy-enducing 'WINNER' ad banners spring to mind), it shouldn't be that bad.

the main thing, i would say, is whether you will end up tearing out your hair getting it to work (i would vote against that).
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Postby showler on Wed Apr 07, 2004 2:53 pm

I'm not that worried either way. I usually notice news updates within a few days, and you tend not to have too many time-constricted news posts, anyway. Dan Shive is in the midst of redesigning his site in an attempt to force people to read the news so they'll stop e-mailing him stupid questions.
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Postby jtdarlington on Wed Apr 07, 2004 4:42 pm

mouse wrote:the main thing, i would say, is whether you will end up tearing out your hair getting it to work (i would vote against that).


Considering that I'd probably be able to swipe 80-95% of the code from stuff I've already written (mostly the old "Gandalf's Quest" games), I doubt this would be much trouble.

As for seizure inducing blinking in an icon, I wouldn't worry about that much. I was thinking of something along the lines of blinking once per second, or on for a second, off for a second. I'm also thinking something along the lines of 20 x 20 pixels or a hair bigger, so I doubt that would be much problem.
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Postby Shadowydreamer on Wed Apr 07, 2004 5:41 pm

Considering that I'd probably be able to swipe 80-95% of the code from stuff I've already written (mostly the old "Gandalf's Quest" games), I doubt this would be much trouble.


Famous last words, I'm sure.. ^_^

My thoughts are thus;

- If people don't like cookies, their browser comes with a function to have them turned of. Different browsers have different options, but there are several that you can yay or nay cookies individually as they come in. If they are that worried about little bytes of cookie goodness, they can download one of those said browsers.

- I, for one, would very much appreciate being able to see the new news. I often miss it. >_<

- Another option is you put news on the main page somewhere and just stick the archives on the link..

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Postby jtdarlington on Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:56 pm

Shadowydreamer wrote:- If people don't like cookies, their browser comes with a function to have them turned of. Different browsers have different options, but there are several that you can yay or nay cookies individually as they come in. If they are that worried about little bytes of cookie goodness, they can download one of those said browsers.


Quite true. Of course, ideally in my proposed design, people without the cookie (whether they haven't initialized it or have cookies turned off altogether) will not see any difference at all and the page will look the same as it always has. Unless some browser out there throws up a warning if JavaScript tries to read a cookie that isn't there, but I doubt any browsers do this. The only way the user should see anything different is if they specifically enable the cookie, and of course they'll only be able to do that if they have cookies turned on. (Some "better" browsers *cough*Mozilla*cough* let you manage your cookies, so you can explicitly keep, say, the GPF News cookie but reject others.)

Shadowydreamer wrote:- Another option is you put news on the main page somewhere and just stick the archives on the link..


:P Personally, I dispise have the news on the main page (ergo, why it isn't there on GPF). In my opinion, it makes the page too cluttered and bloated. I prefer the main page to be smaller, providing links to relavent extra information if the reader decides for themselves that they want to access it. (Of course, the GPF index page would be a lot less bloated if it didn't have so much garbage added by Keenspot itself....)
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Postby Rombobj on Sat Apr 10, 2004 4:03 am

Let's see if this server keeps working long enough today that I can post what I wanted to post yesterday. (sigh)

I think this is a great idea. If the cookie isn't set until one asks for it there's nothing to worry about. And if I understand you right this cookie won't even be read by the server, only by Javascript code in the browser (though maybe browsers will send the cookie regardless of whether the server wants it). Just make sure the notification isn't on all the time for those who aren't interested in the news
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Postby jtdarlington on Sat Apr 10, 2004 5:27 am

[quote="Rombobj
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Postby showler on Sat Apr 10, 2004 5:41 am

Just use the cookie to set the <blink> tag on the News alert text.

That's what the blink tag is for isn't it? :roll:
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Postby Bo Lindbergh on Sat Apr 10, 2004 8:25 am

I don't suppose you could talk that blue-haired guy into having Autokeen run a page-specific program as part of the update process? Then you could include text saying "News updated today!" or "News updated yesterday." or "News updated N days ago." with an accompanying appropriately coloured icon.
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Postby richardf8 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:42 am

In all honesty, I hate cookies. It's not a privacy thing either, it's just that they're such a spit-and-bailing wire way of storing information, and too dependent on the client. Clients may also blow away cookies for reasons ranging from their browser is slow to "I diodn't think I needed that directory." This is one of the reasons it took me so long to get premium. I just couldn't see myself paying for something as fragile as a cookie, and would have preferred server side authentication.

Keenspot will parse PHP, as long as it is kept light and small and not asked to do anything as exotic as sending an e-mail, and can be used to implement something like what Bo describes on the server side.
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Postby stjen on Mon Apr 19, 2004 9:10 am

Cookies are a necessary part of many real security schemes on the web. They're a key part of SSL authentication (you know, when you use HTTPS: -- Secure Sockets Layer). You authenticate to the server, which, if it likes you, will hand you back a Session cookie. It stays active in memory only (never goes to disk) with some sort of unique identifier that will get passed back to the server with every request you make (new page, url, jpg, html, etc.), and the server can match it back to you. And, it's all encrypted anyway.

If you didn't allow that cookie to exist, for many banking or financial applications, you'd probably have to reauthenticate for every individual request, every page displayed, every individual item (text, .jpg, link, etc.) on that page. I don't think you really want to type your userid and password a few hundred times just to display a page. Otherwise, your http: request itself would have to include your userid and password, in the clear (unencrypted), and everyone who happens to be monitoring your data connection could see it.

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Postby Rombobj on Mon Apr 19, 2004 3:50 pm

richardf8 wrote:In all honesty, I hate cookies.

Looks like Shady would have a hard time bribing you then. ;-)
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Postby Shadowydreamer on Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:43 pm

[quote="Rombobj
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Postby richardf8 on Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:09 pm

stjen wrote:Cookies are a necessary part of many real security schemes on the web. They're a key part of SSL authentication (you know, when you use HTTPS: -- Secure Sockets Layer). You authenticate to the server, which, if it likes you, will hand you back a Session cookie. It stays active in memory only (never goes to disk) with some sort of unique identifier that will get passed back to the server with every request you make (new page, url, jpg, html, etc.), and the server can match it back to you. And, it's all encrypted anyway.


Ah, but because that cookie is not persistent, if I should have to blow away my hard drive between sessions, I lose nothing. With Premium, I have to obtain a new cookie (and there is a limit to the number of times you can). If Premium used a transient cookie to encrypt a password, I wouldn't care. As for the news thingy, well the consequences aren't severe - your last visit is forgotten is all. No biggie, but as a programmer, I don't like relying on clients to store information, because anything can happen to that client.

Oh, and Jeff -- at this point I'm just engaging in a theoretical debate with stjen, please don't construe this as pressure to choose any given technology over another. Your site, your technical decisions. ;)
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Postby showler on Tue Apr 20, 2004 3:18 am

richardf8 wrote:With Premium, I have to obtain a new cookie (and there is a limit to the number of times you can).


No, there isn't. I'm up to several hundred times restoring my cookie, what with crashes, reinstalls, updated browsers, sisters "helpfully" deleting my cookies, etc. Never been a problem, don't expect there ever will be.
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Postby jtdarlington on Tue Apr 20, 2004 4:37 am

I wasn't going to say it out in the open, but showler's right; the limit has been removed from the PREMIUM cookie branding, mostly because the limit caused more problems than it solved. So you don't really need to worry about that anymore.

On the News cookie, it's really the only practical way to introduce this kind of functionality at the moment. The main Keen servers do not have PHP set up (a few Spotters have extra accounts on the KeenPrime machine for PHP use). I could turn the main and High-Def indexes into CGI scripts, but that defeats the benefits of having those as static pages and introduces some unnecessary server overhead for something that's considered an "extra." While using cookies and JavaScript certainly isn't the most secure solution, for something as simple and benign as this, it really makes things easier to offload the processing to the client.

Cookies are like any technology: It can be used for good and for bad. It was intended as a way to turn the stateless HTTP protocol into a stateful one without changing existing applications, making it easier to build shopping cart systems, let users customize websites, and play nifty games (like my old Gandalf's Quest games). Just because some individuals and groups have found ways to use them for questionable purposes (such as ad companies tracking your browsing habits) doesn't mean the entire technology is bad. And many browsers now give you the ability to accept certain cookies and deny others, so you can avoid the malicious ones while still taking advantage of the more helpful ones.
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