LiquidFractal news and developments, plus tips on how to use site features.
Entries in this blog:
So all of you will have noticed the changes I've made to the site as I prepare to push it forward into "live"ness. The most obvious of these changes is the new default site theme, LF_Magnum, which will quite possibly replace the existing themes.
LF_Magnum has a lot of eye-catching features and makes very good use of the real estate on a given page to provide easy access to social media buttons. Some of you have mentioned that you really like the idea of a sticky header (the top menu that stays at the top as you scroll down a page), so I kept that in mind when selecting a new default theme. Of course, there is also the marquee, which will contain breaking news about site developments and links to other information.
I hope you all like it as much as I do - tweaking this theme has been a very nice creative exercise for me.
As always, please post in the Suggestions forum or get in touch with me if you have comments, opinions, or suggestions of any kind.
- ^ If you're wondering about the name, "Magnum" is the original name given it by its developer. I've just kept it because I can't think of anything else right now!
Since this site will be "officially" going live in the next while, I wanted to draw your attention to some coding-related issues which affect how the two newer themes (Dashboard, Chameleon) display.
In short, you will see the odd part of a webpage which seems to have no background, where the text at times can be very difficult to read against the static background graphics. This apparently has to do with the way certain blocks of code were formatted in Invision's CSS, and I am waiting on this issue to be resolved (it affects many other people out there as well!).
So if you want to see everything without these formatting issues, I suggest you use the default LF_Blue theme - there's no background eyecandy, but everything will display fine. Of course, registered Members are still free to use the new themes...everything works fine - it's just the odd display block that's affected.
Invision promise to address it as soon as they can; you'll know as soon as I do!
Note: as I've said before, while they will display on mobile screens the newer themes are too involved to display correctly on mobile devices - they're more for the desktop/laptop/tablet experience. I recommend using the default LF_Blue theme, which is much easier on your mobile bandwidth anyway.
Introducing Sticky Notes - an eye-catching way of making Members aware of new developments on the site, whether it's scheduling notifications for Tutor Clients, downtime for the site, or contests for you to win stuff! I felt this might be a better alternative to the Announcements window at times, which should really stand out a bit more so that people notice it as soon as they splash down on the main page. Sticky Notes are much more noticeable!
Sticky Notes will appear pinned to a side or corner of your screen. Once you've read a Sticky Note, just click its X to remove it from your view.
It's been online for a little while now (as some of you have noticed), but I thought I'd introduce the new Member Map, accessible from the Resources tab in the main menu. Basically, it allows you to show people where you are and provides a geographic distribution of members. Let's make it as global as possible!
A couple of brief points:
- Participation in the Map is entirely optional. Putting your location on the Map can help you connect with other people near you (or who are in places you might want to go someday), but you're under no obligation to do so.
- Do not provide your full address unless you want it to be made public! You can either give Maps your current location or enter your detailed address information. Enter your home address if you want, but it will be visible to anyone (bot or human) who browses the site. So if you live in Melbourne, simply entering "Melbourne" or a related option from the dynamic menu is fine and will preserve your privacy.
I thought I'd head this issue off at the pass before anyone else noticed it.
The short version: Internet Explorer and Edge are not recommended for use with the new themes (Chameleon and Dashboard).
The slightly longer version: Chameleon and Dashboard use the latest CSS and browser technology to provide the best visual experience possible. In its time-honoured tradition of adhering to its own insular version of the Internet, Microsoft insists on doing things differently with their browsers, with the result that not all functions work with IE or Edge. In fact, while Edge is supported by the theme developer, IE is not officially supported for these reasons. If you do want to use the site with these browsers, I'd suggest switching to the default skin (4.2 Blue), which is much less resource-intensive. There are scrolling issues with the graphics-rich backgrounds with both Microsoft browsers (particularly IE, which will give you a bumpy ride with both themes but is a particular trainwreck with Dashboard).
In short, everything works fine with Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Vivaldi. Heck, even Avast! SafeZone browser plays nice with the code (if anyone even uses it ). Firefox is at the bottom of this list since you'll see some minor scrolling issues; all others mentioned perform flawlessly.
At long last, the software upgrade has arrived! A couple of you may already have noticed some of the significant changes to the site, but let me shortlist some of the really cool changes:
- Spaces - unlike Domains (which are more research intensive), Spaces are more open-ended and social subgroups on the site. As promised, we now have the official Zombie Apocalypse Space for all your post-respiratory needs . I've also created a VIP space, which is for the veterans and those who support the site in various ways. If there is a Space you might like to see (or create and manage) on the site, post in Suggestions or send me a PM.
- New Forum Views - guests and those who aren't logged in will see the traditional forums listing, but all Members now get two different ways to organise Forum content - Grid view, which organises Forums as information cards, and (my favourite) Fluid view, which dynamically lists topics based on the Forums you choose from the menu to the right.
- Reactions - you can now React to a post, which gives you more options than simply Like. If there are Reactions you want to see on the site or have icons to suggest, please let me know.
- Attachment Drag-and-Drop - now, instead of uploading an attachment to a post and then adding it, you can drag and drop it from your desktop straight into your post.
- Media Gallery improvements - it's now easier to enter information and apply it to all uploading images at once, and easier to add content in general.
The list goes on, and I'm sure you'll see other improvements and tweaks in the coming weeks.
As a result of the upgrade, certain themes have had to be put on hold (or, in the case of SkyBlue, retired for now - sorry @Tegan Holmes!). This is because of the fundamentally different template structure, and I don't have time right now to rework the old theme to suit the upgrade. However, you'll probably find the sexy new default theme and the updated Chameleon theme will do the trick.
I'd like to introduce a new theme, available from the Themes menu at the bottom of the site main page: LF_Dashboard!
It has a side menu - a bit different from what we've seen so far, but I hope you all like it! Please feel free to test drive it and let me know what you think in the Suggestions forum.
Just taking this opportunity to introduce a new LiquidFractal site theme: LF_Chameleon! Please let me know what you think of it here, or in the Suggestions forum.
This theme does require a little more in terms of graphics hardware, given that it's quite image-rich and involved static backgrounds - you might notice a bit of lag if you're using a smaller laptop (like an HP Stream or other low-end portable machine), or a machine that doesn't have dedicated graphics memory. But for most desktop computers it should be just fine.
Some options are currently available only to Tutor Clients and VIP members: for example, there is a Background Picker that allows you to select your site background image from a series of 6 images. Click the paintbrush by your name at the top to select your background image.
I really hope you like Chameleon - it's high time we had a change from the default theme! If you're wondering where the previous SkyBlue default theme went, I had to disable it as it doesn't play nicely with the new collaboration software I'll be talking about soon.
Just a note to let all Tutor Clients know that they no longer have Forums where they previously were. Instead, all Tutor Clients have their assets and accounts moved to private Domains in the new Domains section of the website.
All of you should now have correct access; if you can't get into your areas, please PM me. Thanks!
I hope everyone is well. Just to let you know, there will be several exciting developments in the site software in the coming months. There will be a major software upgrade which will make the site experience a lot slicker, and which will add several new features to the main site to make gallery media easier to browse,
Also, an update specifically for Tutoring Clients: I'm installing comprehensive new collaborative software which will see your material shifted into private, customisable Spaces in which I can offer you more personalised assistance and feedback. As we speak, I am backing up our current site in preparation for installing this software, so you may not find some of your site resources where they should be. As a result, things on the site may change and you might encounter some errors while I complete the structural upgrade.
Please be patient and don't freak out: things will fall into place very soon, and I will be on hand to field any questions and concerns you might have (I'm hoping that since this is the slow season re: essay help that the disturbance won't be too significant, barring online customers). I'd also like to remind you to please back up your material before uploading to the site just in case.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know via PM. If you have any suggestions, post them in the Suggestions forum.
My apologies for the site's downtime - I was switching over the database language from mySQL to MariaDB, and a minor software upgrade caused a bit of a crash. Nothing too dire, as you can see.
In other news, I am going to add a significant new feature to the site in the next couple of days...hope you like it!
My apologies to anyone who might be looking to register on the site, but email addresses with mail.com will not be allowed on the site, as their servers are set up to automatically reject SMTP emails, which is what this server uses. So Members or Tutor Clients with mail.com email addresses wouldn't be able to receive any notifications or updates via email.
Sorry for the inconvenience, but it's easy enough to get an email account with Outlook or Gmail.
I know that with the hot weather coming those of you in the Melbourne area will have nothing more important to do than converse on the site (!), but this is just to let you know that I'll be upgrading PHP on the site in the near future, so there may be some brief downtime and/or delayed page responses.
I have recently switched LiquidFractal over from a normal http connection to a secured https connection.
There are several reasons for this. Recent web trends are shifting toward all websites securing themselves as much as possible. I've read that Google is taking this route, and that future updates of Google will warn users whenever they are accessing an insecure website (e.g., a website which uses a normal http connection). While it doesn't affect the site's operations one way or another, warnings might look suspect or make users distrust the site on principle.
What does this mean for you as Members? Nothing, really. In your browsers, you'll notice that the web address is now https://www.liquidfractal.org..., and a green lock icon will give you security certificate details. All it means is that the site is what it says it is, and that your data isn't being secretly channeled off elsewhere.
When I first implemented this security, I had problems with some site images rendering. If you any problems viewing or using the site please let me know.
Just a quick message to let you know that there might be some very temporary downtime on the site. Apparently, the last owner of the site's current IP address was something of a spammer, so the site's IP address is listed on some anti-spam databases. I've applied to have the IP delisted since it's now in good hands, but given that some of these people aren't exactly interested in talking to humans(!), I'm moving the site over to a clean IP.
What does all this mean? It means that you may not be able to see the site for a short time while the change propagates across the Intertubes. Apologies for the inconvenience, but I don't want anybody thinking LiquidFractal is a spam site of any kind.
Embarrassingly late reply to Tegan's request for some information on the writing buttons .
I think most of them are self-explanatory, but AB2 is for inserting footnotes, and the notepad icon inserts a page break (although I haven't really experimented with it).
The magnifying glass is a Post Preview function (which I admittedly forgot was there until now!), which will show you how your post will look in desktop, tablet and mobile views. The Tx button removes all formatting from your (selected) content, which is useful when you copy/paste from a word processor or webpage.
The eye is for Spoiler content; so
if you want to give away a plot, secret, or answer to a question but don't want it to be immediately visible, put it in a Spoiler so the reader can reveal it when they want.
Hope this (finally) helps! And remember - there's a Sandbox forum where you can mess around with any and all functions.
- ^ PS when in the editor, hold CTRL and right-click for formatting options with pasted text.
Just letting you know about a useful site feature - "@ mentions."
if you want to include anyone in a forums or blog post, simply type the at (@) sign. You will see a revolving circle icon, and a list of current members will be generated. Select the Member you want to include and their name will be included (boldfaced) in the post, e.g., @Gord Barentsen. Depending on what their notification settings are, the Member will be notified that you mentioned them in your post. Putting your mouse over the name will also allow you to see their profile. It's a great way of keeping people in the loop and reminding them that you're engaging their ideas.
The CMS software we're using has a great feature for advanced post quoting for when you want to reply to several different passages in a Forums post without quoting the entire message and without manually copy/pasting each passage into a Quote box.
Simply hold down your mouse button and swipe to select the passage in the post you're replying to. When you take your finger off the mouse button, a small Quote This link will appear above the passage. Click that link and the passage you selected will automatically appear as a quote in your reply below! You can repeat this as often as you need to. Simple!
One of you asked me about how to embed content (e.g., from Facebook or Youtube), so I thought I'd post about it here.
The software will automatically embed linked content from the following sites:
- College Humor
When you're posting, just paste your link in. Please be patient - it may take a few seconds depending on your connection, but the screen will change and display your embedded content and give you the choice of changing it back to a simple link.
I haven't tested embedding with all of these sites, but if anyone has any questions please post them in the Help! forum.
Well, at long last, after server migrations, software updates and various species of ghost in the machine, LiquidFractal.org is assuming the (amorphous, indeterminate) shape it was meant to have!
Thanks to clients and friends who have patiently waited for the site to get into working order. You people are awesome!
More as it happens...