Winter Spring Cleaning

Well, it isn’t spring yet by a long shot. Still, it’s best to tidy up when the mood strikes one. We now have rotating random Summitlake HOME banners :-), and we tightened up new user registration a little bit :-(.

1) HOME Page banners now rotate every 10 minutes. To start, we created 22 banner images to select from randomly. A new image is displayed every 10 minutes, 24/7, and it is the same for all users. No need to refresh your page to see what the next image will be; it’s driven by the system clock, not browser refreshes. This change is in effect for the HOME directory only.

I’m a “visual person”, so I key to some extent on a familiar banner image to note what Department I’m in. Perhaps you do this too. If you’re in Writing, it’s easy to get used to always seeing the sepia-tone image of the old 1950’s Underwood typewriter. In you’re in Outdoors, you get used to seeing the mountain-and-sky theme (that’s Dragon Peak, in King’s Canyon). To avoid where am I disorientation issues, there are no plans to randomize the banner themes of other departments at this time.

And we still do like the original “Summitlake” clouds banner. That traces all the way back to the 1990’s site theme. This is still one of the current 22 selections, and we use it in some of the other departments. Now we can have a change once in a while without wearing out the old theme. Last but not least, we hope you enjoy the new photo banners.

If the browser reload of the new style sheet and banner image slow down page loads too much, we may increase cycle time to 30 minutes, or to an hour or more. Please write us if you start to see load times that seem excessive.

You don’t need to register to write us. This leads directly to our second announcement.

2) New User Registrations will now take 15 seconds to complete, instead of 5. To be perfectly honest, we’re still not sure why 95% of the subscribers who sign up as registered users do so. You don’t need to be a “subscriber” to subscribe to our RSS feeds. Sure, we’re enforcing the ‘Users must be registered and logged in to comment’ rule, but that 95% still never submit a comment — so why bother? We do weed out registered users who have never had any visible activity within the first month of registration. (And my apologies to 2 users who did comment, but whose registrations I apparently still did accidentally delete.)

We still get a lot of obvious spam comments in our spam queue: commercial URL’s are submitted along with the absolutely minimal required information. Comment text is 100% generic; it indicates no awareness of the post being commented upon (“Nice site I planning to drop by again, have U seen our meds”).

Lastly, we rarely get an administrative notify that this kind of comment has been submitted. So the “back door” comment was almost certainly submitted by a “spambot”. That makes it a security risk, not just an annoyance. Does this have anything to do with folks who register a username and email, and that’s all, and who never submit comments through the front door?  You can connect the dots any way you like. New user registration now requires more field entries, and a CAPTCHA type registration validation should eliminate drive-by bot registrations.

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