One of the sites I regularly visit has had a rather interesting set of discussions going on over the last couple of weeks.  To be fair, it’s been ongoing for a few months, but it’s really picked up steam in the last few.  That site is (TSL).  It’s an unofficial sports-centric site for Virginia Tech fans.  I won’t go into the history of the site, but suffice it to say, it’s been around since 1997 (interestingly enough, going live on my birthday – March 12, 1996).

Will Stewart is the founder, and over the years, it’s been my default go-to for any major sports-related news about VT.  The main feature of the site (I think) has been the message boards, allowing a community of dispersed fans to come together and share our thoughts on the state of the program.  The subscriber’s-only material featuring in-depth thoughts, reviews, break-downs, etc is excellent, and to me, worth the price of admission.

On January 11, 2012, Will debuted a major re-design of the site.  To say that the re-design was met with hostility would be an understatement of epic proportions.  Many of the “old dogs” absolutely hated the new forums.  Enough disliked it that Will’s page-views dropped by 30%, and he received many emails from disgruntled folks that said they were leaving because they no longer liked the site – they refused to “upgrade” to the newer forums.  Subsequently, his ad revenues have dropped.

The “old” site used what’s known as “threaded” (or what I call “nested”) forums.  This was a hand-coded solution from way back in the day, before forum software such as PHPbb and vBulletin were available.  To bring the site forward, he upgraded to vBulletin – a solid choice given the number of users and the additional professional support provided by vB.  The problem lies in the fact that nearly every major bulletin package out there now uses “linear” format.  Linear is as it’s name suggests, a linear flow of discussions.

The major difference between the two is that threaded formats tend to be more like emails – subject & message, and can be displayed as a “stair-step” view.  This lends itself to quick “one-liners” where the subject is the message and then that’s it.  Linear encourages more in-depth discussions, and if you want to “reply” to someone else’s post, you usually hit “reply with quote” to start a “sub-discussion”.  The newest posts are always at the end of the individual topic.

So after ten years, it’s easy to see why the shift from threaded to linear would be met with such derision.  Will managed to get a plugin on VB to display a “threaded view” (Threaded Overlay, actually) to appease those sticks in the mud, but it doesn’t seem to be helping with his site traffic and such.  Now, Will & his staff are trying to gain feedback on what to do.  They’re toying with the notion of just sucking it up and moving ahead as is, bringing back the old stuff in a limited format, or scrapping everything and bringing back the old format entirely.  The vast majority (or at least the most vocal) seem to prefer the old format.Continue reading

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, it seems.

While it’s true that I’ve not been updating any of my blogging, I’ve still been around elsewhere.  For those of you who’ve known me long enough, it should be clear as day that I’m a pretty private person.  Hanging everything out there for the whole world to see hasn’t always been my thing.  Will that ever change?  Maybe.  But I’m 34 now, so probably not.

One of my friends (who I’ll reference again later) told me I needed to start blogging more.  She’s probably right.  What’s the point in paying for a website without using it?  To be fair, I do run this server for multiple other things, but the front-end hasn’t really been my priority.  That’ll have to change soon, I imagine.

Life has been busy over the last few months.  Beware, this is a “mega-update”….

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I crave information.  So much, that sometimes it makes my head spin.  And I love expediency.  Over the last couple of years, as I’ve scoured the web for design ideas and instructions, I add plenty of new sites to my RSS reader.  A lot of times, the headlines are enough of an indication that I want to read something or not.  (I assume the same still holds true when reading a newspaper – you don’t read “cover to cover”, but articles that interest you.)  Ocassionally, I’ll find a commentary on some aspect of web design that merits some attention.

It’s interesting, because this article – Custom Web Design or Website Template, somewhat illustrates a concept I was trying to explain earlier this week to a “client”.  He was asking me why I was able to crank out a basic design/prototype for his club’s website so quickly, yet struggling with his own company page.  I’ve developed an “extension” of the article, I suppose, that explains my feelings on when to use a ready-made template/theme package vs. building from the ground up.Continue reading

Since I last worked on the halftonreviews design, I really haven’t done much web work (or anything of note that went through to completion).  I’ve started and stopped some different designs, but never really had a focus for anything major.  I did some minor tweaking to a theme for our local alumni association, but nothing I’d consider earth-breaking or shattering.  Probably a total of 45 minutes.

My friend Daniel has developed some modeling software called CurveExpert.  He’s had it for a few years, and this was his site to sell it originally –  It’s all manually done html, low on graphics, and *gasp* ugly.  He didn’t even have a proper domain!  He asked me when he started working on the update to the software what he should do in terms of webhosting, as well as site design.  I suggested that he move to WordPress, PHPBb (for user forums), and get a VPS similar to me (he’s fairly decently versed in Linux.  So he dove right in.  He used the default WordPress theme initially, but went shopping for a theme for the “final release” of his software.

So, about a week ago, he wanted to get the forums to match up with the main site.  I told him that I’d take care of it for him.  I just finished up last night.  Check out the finished product at and

It was a good exercise, because I’m going to wind up doing something similar with my gaming community’s site.  We changed providers and the old webmaster has stepped aside.  He builds sites using Rails (a newer method of coding), and I can’t seem to get it to run on our new host.  Not to mention we had a very disjointed feel between all sections of our site.  So, I’m going to start integrating things together, and needed the experience of editing a forum template.  Hopefully this will go somewhat easier than the last one!

Just a quick note – Matt & Dan have gone active with the new design over at  Head on over there and check it out.  =)

It’s required a bit of extra work on Matt’s part to get it working (editing a lot of post info).  But it’s there.  =)

The site is heavily enabled with javascript (to hide some elements and make others “pop”).  I was going to actually add a few other things, one cool one would have been a script that would automatically add in a google map based on any location info within the page.  The problem though, would come when the page itself had multiple cities on it (like the list of all posts).  Bit of a pain given their setup, but would have been workable.