Rafee, the time shown is the time here in San Diego, where we record the show.
Bob, I'll look into the blockquotes. I believe I have already solved it on the blog post side, as here:
That shows a change nobody has commented on yet, by the way -- that now the forum comments are appearing under the original blog post to which they're attached. (Still working on getting the comment count right over there, though.)
Well, I have to retract my comment about the new font contrast being fine. In the regular text of a thread, it is. But go to any thread where someone uses a block quote, and you'll see those are still tough to read.
Grant Barrett said
Bob, I'll look into the blockquotes.
I wasn't complaining about blockquote; I just said the spPostContent typeface looked blocky. But I went out and found a blockquote, just to see what the heck Heimhenge was talking about, and although it doesn't give me any trouble I agree that blockquotes look a little lighter than the regular text. I can't be sure whether that's because they actually are, or they just look that way against the slightly darker background.
Bob Bridges said
….your “content” font—I couldn’t find its name, but it looks like a sort of proportional flavor of Courier—is too blocky for my taste.
Grant Barrett said
Really?! It shouldn't. Can you post a screen grab of what you're seeing? And tell me the OS, browser, and version?
Windows XP. I just upgraded Firefox yesterday and this morning; it's now it's Mozilla Firefox 14.0.1. I have the screen shots you asked for, but how do I get them to you? Feel free to email me as a sidebar if that's the most convenient way.
Grant Barrett said
The serif font we're using is Merriweather, a Google font, at font-weight 300, which is "book" size: http://www.google.com/webfonts#UsePlace:use/Collection:Merriweather….If Merriweather doesn't work in your browser, it should fall back to your browser's default serif.
I checked that link, but of course the font there looks the same as it does in your style spPostContent.
Unlike Bob, I don't mind the extra "white space." Better that than filling it with clutter and increasing the page load time. That "white space" is created by Grant's choice of sidebar width…
Yeah, I don't think there's much that can be done about the sidebar. But there's a lot of vertical white space as well. Minor complaint, though.
Bob Bridges said
I much prefer a typeface for which my PC has true italics, not just a version of italic that’s manufactured by slanting the roman typeface to the right (thus spoiling the kerning). Sometimes I have to look around for one of those, but most PCs have Times and Century Schoolbook installed these days, and where Century Schoolbook is missing the Georgia works well. I don’t mind that the draft font is sans serif, but whatever you’re using has the same difficulty.
To be clearer: Actually I don't know how the spPostContent typeface looks in italic yet. (Let's take a look now.) But the san-serif draft font—I think it's Tahoma 11- or 12-pt—doesn't have a true italic version so Windows (I suppose it's Windows) manufactures it on the fly by slanting the roman typeface, which looks terrible. (Yeah, yeah, I know, it's just a draft font. So I'm picky—so sue me.) Arial doesn't have that problem; it has true italic. Verdana looks a lot like Tahoma and its italic is much better. Franklin Gothic is another possibility; I don't think it's as attractive, but it has a lot of white space so maybe you'll like it, heh, heh. All three are pretty commonly available on Windows machines; Arial is nearly universal. I have screen shots of these, too, to demonstrate what I'm talking about.
Grant Barrett said
The anti-bot measure is not common but it comes with Simple Press, the forum software we use. It's pretty clever, right?
Yes, I agree.
I already looked, but I didn't see one. Oh, wait, below—ok, I see it.
I was going to include a ReadMe so there'd be no doubt about which files indicate what, but apparently only JPEGs and GIFs are allowed so I'll explain here:
Teacher spPostContent.bmp: A partial screenshot showing how your Merriweather 300 font shows on my browser.
Teacher draft.bmp: The same for the draft area; this uses the font that I'm guessing is Tahoma, and I show some italics that are distorted.
I was going to include Teacher samples.rtf, demonstrating a number of fonts in roman and italic, showing how some fonts distort their italics in various ways and others don't. But it turns out .rtfs aren't accepted, either, so there's a partial screen shot of it in Teacher samples.bmp.
That's what's called an animated GIF. Just a series of still images stitched together. You can probably find a free app that will do the GIF creation, and let you specify how long each image is displayed, and whether or not it loops. Also, you'll need to come up with the still images somehow. I do all mine in Corel PhotoPaint and Corel Draw.
EDIT: Just realized you said "used to" and noticed my avatar is also gone.
Grant: Are we gonna need to re-upload our avatars, or can you do that on your end?
ANOTHER EDIT: Oops … just checked and see that the avatars are now limited to 40 pixels width. So I re-uploaded mine. Personally, I think 40 pixels is a bit small. Grant, any chance we could go back to the old larger format? I think those were 100 pixels width?
Oh, but the avatars are a pain in my tuchus. The bigger ones add an unnecessary download overhead on an already not superfast site (though if you're not logged in it should be much, much faster, as you'd be pulling from a cache that logged in users don't use because the expectation is that logged in users are doing lots of stuff and caching would be a hindrance).
RobertB, you should be able to upload an avatar on your user page. Just click on your name in this thread or find the "profile" link at the very top of the forum to get there. Here it is, anyway:
Question for Grant: Is the new website (which I'm finally starting to get used to) detecting my monitor resolution and selecting the CSS for best display? I ask, because the font size still seems a bit large. What I see on my 24" monitor (1920x1200) looks like 14 pt to me. I can't imagine what it looks like on a lower res display, but I'm guessing the font would look even larger (unless you're detecting and adjusting for it).
BTW, I hear what you're saying about avatars and page load time. Unfortunately, my avatar looks cruddy at 40x40, so I might just redo it. But again, thanks for what was obviously a LOT of work on the redesign.
Five minutes to load a single page is far outside of what I'm seeing here.
A Pingdom test of the front page just took 3.46 seconds to load the front page from Amsterdam, which is almost a two-second improvement since the site first launched.
Now, using a different testing system, WebPageTest.org, the loading times are much, much worse when loading from China, 38.591s on the first view, and 47.319s on the second view. These are the worst loading times I could create -- I intentionally tried to get the slowest times I could. If you are behind an Internet connect that uses filtering proxies put in place by a government, school, or employer, you will see much slower times. More typical load times far from our data center are those I got for Moscow, 12.106 on first load, 4.451s on second.
After that is the SoundCloud player, which loads under the "Listen" item at the top of every page. Right now, if it detects the Flash plugin, it loads the Flash player, which is kind of hefty. If it doesn't find it, it loads the HTML5 player, which is lighter. I could reverse those. But the install base of Flash is something like 94%, while the number of HTML5-compatible browsers is detected at around 70%. And the Flash player looks nicer. :)
Another thing to keep in mind is that the site is slower if you're logged in. This is because the caching -- which works very well -- is only enabled for unlogged users. The assumption by the caching system (and most caching systems) is that logged in users are doing stuff and need pages to refresh instantly so that their comments and other actions become visible immediately. If I enabled caching for logged-in users, then it would take five minutes for you to see your new comments and similar things. I may yet try it if all you forum regulars are willing to risk a bit of weirdness and help decide if it's worth it or not.
I may also use a CDN. A Content Delivery Network is designed to host files on superfast systems and networks, in order to make a site more bulletproof, but also improve load times. We'd start with a free CDN and see if that helped. It doesn't always, though, because one's hosting provider might already have similar systems in place behind the scenes and one might not know it. This may be the first, next speed improvement I test because if it works, it should be a dramatic improvement for everyone.
Finally, last night I made immense changes to thousands of records in our database to fix a character-encoding issue. This means that nearly every page's cache would need to be rebuilt the first time the page loads, and that Google and the other search indexers would have to recrawl every page because they would get a "page-modified" header. That will put some more strain on the site, so the site will be slower than normal until recaching is done.
Keep those reports coming! I do want to hear about your experiences here and I will try to accommodate all requests.
Cheers, your friendly tech guy/radio host/dogsbody.
I can already see faster page loads compared to right after the website overhaul. FWIW, after clearing my cache in Firefox 12.0 running on W2K, the main page loads in less than 20 seconds. I have 1.5 Mbps DSL, but the internet speed test says I'm getting only 1.32 Mbps this morning. And I do have Flash installed. I don't at all mind further experimentation with the site.
Even though I'm what is sometimes laughingly called a computer professional, my personal PCs have been few and far between. I bought my first in 1996. I replaced it in 2004 only when a certain job-hunting web site informed me that it would no longer work with my current Netscape version, and the Netscape site that it couldn't go to the next version on my current PC. So I broke down and bought a laptop, my first.
That laptop is still my only home PC. It has half a gig of RAM, because back in 2004 that amount seemed like ludicrous overkill. I think its hard drive has 40 gig on it; might be 80. I've decided it's time to replace it with something better and faster—something with as much RAM as I can cram into it, for sure, but I still probably will settle for a small HD, maybe 100GB if they make them that small—if I can only get around to it.
I say all this to explain why my PC is constantly stopping, sometimes for long periods, to think about web pages. But except for the frequent occasions when it's hung up running scripts, I've never had to wait more than 15 or 20 seconds to load a page here, that I recall.
Grant, I know it's too late about the font, but I just noticed this: I could wish you guys had not picked a font that uses descenders for numerals. I just posted a thread in which I wanted to write a large number as "4e78", which works ok in some typefaces including your draft font, but in Merriweather (or at least in Merriweather as my browser displays it) the descenders make it less easy to see what's going on so I ended up writing "4x1078" instead.
Of course, if you tell me that Merriweather doesn't use descenders for numerals, it just proves that I need to download the Merriweather font manually.