Beta testers wanted for new forum software



#17

Hi everyone. I've just installed a new beta version of the forum software:

Start here:

http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/new/forum.cgi

(This has links to the other beta forums.)

The first things you'll notice are

  1. There are now formatting buttons on the new message posting forms,

  2. On Search / Personalize Display page there are options to display an entire thread on one page.

  3. Ability to optionally create an account and login (see "login / register" in the upper right corner of each forum),

  4. Each forum now displays (new) that is tailored to you personally and the basic personalization settings are now "sticky" ie if you set it to display the last day's worth, that's how it will stay even if you go away and return later. (Note that these features require your browser to be set to accept cookies and the formatting buttons require javascript be enabled. The cookies are used ONLY by the forum software. I can't use them to track you in the museum let alone the rest of the Internet.)

  5. Posting to the classified ads, warns you about scammers.

These forums are using a snapshot of the forum messages from some time ago. When the beta ends, these messages will be lost, so have fun in the beta forums but please keep the important HP-related messages here in the "real" forums. Likewise, any account names you create in the beta forums are only temporary.

Details

Accounts


It is now possible to create an account and to log in to the forum. Having an account gives you several advantages: It prevents other people from using your (exact) name and logging in allows you to enter your name and password just once. Once you are logged in, you can create, edit and delete your posts without reentering a name, password, and email address each time. You can also create an account to reserve your name yet continue to post as before without logging in. In this case, you will need to supply your account password on each post. You can also mix and match - for example, log in on your home computer but post without logging in on a public computer.

Accounts are currently optional and I think you'll find that they make the forum more convenient. However, another reason for creating accounts is that we now occasionally get spammed. A few moderators have been successful in keeping most of you from seeing these spams, but if the spammers get more aggressive, the new software provides several new options such as requiring an account to post or sending anything posted without an account to the moderators for approval before it appears on the forum. If you use an account, you'll never notice if these features are needed ever needed.

Email Options / Private email


If you create an account, you have several email options. You can provide no forum email or obscure it in any way you like (such as meNO@SPAMdomain.com) or you can enter a valid email address but keep it private. If you use the latter option, someone who wishes to contact you will do so by clicking on your name and filling in a form. The text will be emailed to you, but your address will never be visible. In most forums, only forum users who are logged in can send you emails in this way. The exception is the classified ads where people who aren't logged in can send emails to people with private email (but still can't see the email address.) This is done under the assumption that anyone posting an ad does not want to place any limitations on responses. WARN ABOUT SPAM!!!!!! NOT RESPONSIBLE

When you create an account, your are asked for two email addresses (which may be the same.). Your "Forum email address" is the address you wish other forum members to use (and possibly see). This could be your normal email address, a hotmail account, an obscured address or it could be left blank if you wish no email contact. Your "Activation Email Address" is the address that will be used to activate the account. It will never be displayed to other users. This address must be a valid non-blank non-obscured address and can't be a disposable "freemail" address such as hotmail, yahoo etc. These freemail addresses make it much too easy to a spammers to create accounts to be used only for activation of spam-and-run accounts. (The software checks for known freemail domains. If you manage to use an obscure freemail domain, it may work but your account might be deleted later if you draw attention to yourself by spamming or trolling.)

Accounts and older Posts


When a new account is created, the forum treats any existing posts made without an account but with the same name as being possibly owned by this account. For anyone clicking on a name field, the forum will honor the email options of the current account of that name. This means that you can hide the email addresses in your previous posts by creating an account with the same name and setting the private email option. (Old Biographies require one additional step - see " Taking Ownership of your Biography" below.)

In order to edit or delete a post created before your account was created, your account password will need to match the password that was given when the message was saved. (In the case of the Classified ads, it is the forum email address on old ads that must match. This is because the Classified Ads posted without accounts don't have passwords.) This prevents random people from creating accounts that match existing messages and then editing or deleting those messages. Any NEW messages that you create are linked to your account such that you can freely change your account password and still be able to edit them. If you have an account with a new password but need to edit an old message, the easiest thing to do is to logout from your account, edit your old message the old way, and then log back in.

Classified ads posted with an account are protected by casual deletion by people typing in the email address. If you use an account, only you and moderators can delete your ads.

Taking Ownership of your Biography.


Unlike the other forums, messages in the Biographies forum are stored under a person's Family Name, Given Name and there's no 100% safe programmatic way to link this format to the way you usually list your name. Therefore simply creating an account named Given Name Family Name, will not immediately cause your biography's email address to become private. To do this, your account must have the same password as your Biography and you must edit your biography. When you exit the edit screen by saving, the Biography will be assigned to your account and options like "Private email" will apply.


Contact Page


When you click on a poster's name, you are now taken to a contact page, which may provide an email address, or a contact form if the user has selected private email. This page will also tell you if the person you are contacting is a registered user.
(new) in all forums - now personalized
The main forum used to print (new) on the last 20 posts. ALL forums now print (new) based on posts made since your last visit. (If you have cookies enabled.)

Basic personalization preferences are maintained ("sticky")
Under "Search / Personalize Display", "List messages", "Display Messages" and "Posted within the last" are now "sticky" if you have cookies enabled. They are set on a per-forum basis and will be remembered even if you stay away for months. (astute readers will note that setting "Posted within the last" to "Two days" makes the daily view redundant and the daily view URL may be phased out over time. "Display Messages Grouped into threads" is new on the "Search / Personalize Display". Setting this causes an entire thread to be displayed with one click. Indentation and information in each message header will guide you on the thread structure. (There is also an option to display the entire thread flush left which is meant for very small displays as on PDAs.)

Formatting buttons


The Post Message forms now include a row of buttons for adding links, images etc. These buttons require javascript to work but if you don't run Javascript, you can click on the "more" link to see a page which describes the formatting codes which you can just type in. You can thank Paul Brogger for this idea.

Cookies and Privacy


The forum software now sends cookies under these conditions:

Logging in to the forum: Login in is optional but you must have cookies turned on in order to do so. You can an create an account and not log in if you really dislike cookies. This keeps people from using your name and deleting your ads but requires you to enter your password on each post/edit/delete.

Each display of the Index and Posting messages: These are simply set to save your list style and time preferences as well as to save the last message seen in order to update the (new) display. If you block these features then you won't see (new) and you're list style preferences won't stay "stuck" for very long.

If you really dislike cookies, then don't log in and blocking the preferences cookies will cause mostly the loss of minor conveniences. However, please note that these cookies are used ONLY in the HP forums. They are not shared with other sites or used to track you across the Internet or even in other parts of the HP museum. (They aren't even logged anywhere.) Also note that the information contained in the cookies is the information that you normally enter to post messages and set forum options. The just automate providing the information that you have been giving the forum software by hand all along. The museum does NOT send any third party cookies that would allow some third party to track you around the Internet.

Some Browsers such as Internet Explorer allow you to set cookie options on a site-by-site basis. For example, in IE you can go to Tools/Internet Options/Privacy and then click the Edit... button in the Websites panel. Then enter hpmuseum.org (and/or hpmuseum.com if you use that URL) and click Allow. This will allow the new forum features without affecting your cookie policies for other sites. (Likewise, you can go to Security and decide on which sites to allow Javascript. IE calls it "Active Scripting".) Javascript is required only to make the format buttons work.


#18

.

#19

Very cool..

#20

I am sad that your new software is no longer compatable with my WebTV system. It now appears that we Webbies will no longer be able to participate here when the new software is switched over.

I tried logging in using my old user name/password - it did not work. It gave the "Invalid" error flag. Next tried setting up a new account using the same user name/password as the old forum and then logging in - still did not work. I did NOT receive the activation e-mail.

I am not sure what is gained from the new software that makes it worthwhile to emplement, even if it locks out existing forum members. But, if it happens, I'll just have to live with it I guess. That is the price of progress. I will miss it though. I check here EVERY night for the latest info.

Don


#21

Hi Don,

The current forum software has no user names so there is really no "old user name/password" with which to log in to the new system. However, creating a new account should have worked. Can you tell me what name you used when you created a new account? I can't see any sign of any attempt to create an account "Don Leonard" or similar but perhaps you used a different name. Did the system tell you that it sent you an activation email?

Dave


#22

I used both Don Leonard and Donald1800 which I've used in previous posts. After completing the new account page and selecting the mandatory 'Continue' button, I was taken to the login page. I didn't get the activation e-mail under either user name, so I was not surprised that my login attempt resulted in the 'Invalid' error message. I did, however, get the hpmuseum cookie.

I will try it again now and re-post only if it finally goes through.

Don

#23

O.K - Excellent account completion this time! I am now an official member here. Thanx for the followup.

Don


#24

Thanks for the update. If anyone else sees something like this, please let me know!

#25

Thank you Dave for caring.

As I said before, I will not register a login/password on this forum. It's nice that it is not mandatory.

After visiting the test forum, here are three remarks :
1 - it looks really nice, a little bit verbose though
2 - nice to see all the thread at once, however messages that are viewable that way don't have their links marked as 'visited' in the main page. So you don't know which messages are really unread.
3 - indenting looks good, but eats space. It is also hard to read on lesser hardware like PDAs etc. I guess pages are heavier too (like in 'bytes count').

I hope you see these remarks as ways to make something even better.
Thanks for a great forum, with good people.


#26

Hi GE

1: Could you be more specific about "verbose"? (Is this also covered in #3 or something different?)

2: Yes, the "visited" links is a browser function that I don't think I can affect at all. However, if you go away (for more than 30 minutes) and then come back, the (new) indicator should appear on any posts that have been added. You might want to experiment with listing messages using the "Compressed" view in "Search / Personalize Display" both for byte count and for making the visited links act more like you expect.

3: The indenting can be turned off if you like. Go to "Search / Personalize Display", and under "Display messages", you have a choice of " Individually" (the old way), "Grouped into threads, indented", or "Grouped into threads, flush left".

Thank you!

Dave

#27

Quote:
2 - nice to see all the thread at once, however messages that are viewable that way don't
have their links marked as 'visited' in the main page. So you don't know which messages are really unread.

I also like to have each message's link marked as "visited" so that unread messages stand out better. That's one of the features other web formums lack that makes this one so much better. I also prefer the "look" of the current style better than the multi-message display. However, the "old" view can be selected as a user preference, and the new formatting buttons still display in that mode. So that gives me the best of both the old and new formats.

When comparing USENET newsgroups and web forums I always tell people that I think newsgroups are better, with one exception: The MoHP Forum, which has the best user interface of any web-based message system I've seen anywhere. Thanks, Dave, for taking something already great and making it even better! I wish certain other parties could understand that adding new features doesn't require throwing away the best parts of the old design...

#28

When you send an email message to a registered user who kept his/her forum-email-address private, the recipient will see display name of the sender with quote marks between words. For example, the header will be more or less like:

From: "Andrés" C. "Rodríguez"
Date: 15 January 2005 10:12
To: /* here goes the recipient address, which the sender had not seen */
Subject: Re: Your HP 41C program

I appreciate that the accented characters in the display name are not lost or miscoded, which is a fine detail!

Congratulations again!!

PS: Please see that the "Interests/ Hobbies" field may be not long enough. I would like that, after collecting some statistics, hobbies and interests could be selected via checkboxes; you may even let us find other registered users with similar interests, etc. Also "Languages" may be an useful field for some new or casual user, who may come asking for help in a particular language (It is clear, however, that posting must remain in English; no doubt about it)


#29

Thanks Andrés! The quoting bug should be fixed now. (That only happened on names with accented characters so I'm glad you tested that.)

I'll think about the enhancements next week but I wanted to get the bug fixed right away.


#30

I suggest that the minimum of three letter is supported as the name

--

VPN


#31

No problem with this;-)

RDT


#32

VPN & RDT;

What about me?

db


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