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Changes to Website Coming Soon...

I mentioned briefly in our last episode that I'd be making changes to the Sens Underground website. This will be happening soon. I just thought I'd give you guys a heads-up so you know what to expect and why the changes are coming.

As some of you may already know, the current Sens Underground website was developed by me, from scratch, with help from StooLi in the graphics department. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea for me to develop the site, giving me complete control over some of the features we wanted to provide. The site is pretty basic at the moment but the intention was to continue to build on it, and we would eventually end-up with the full-featured site we had in mind.

The problem with this is that I was never able to find the time needed to enhance the site like we wanted. It's not that it's complicated, but when you design and code the components from scratch, it's just too time consuming and well... I'm a busy guy.

And... the other thing I didn't account for were all the headaches that come with hosting your own server. The Sens Underground site has been under Dictionary and/or Brute Force attack for the past year and a half now. Not only that, but spammers have succeeded in getting e-mails that originate from Sens Underground (specifically, our static IP) blacklisted from certain e-mail servers. They never managed to use our mail server as a relay server to send out their spam but they did scrape our SU e-mail addresses from our site and have been sending out spam (posing as Sens Underground) for quite a while now causing people on Yahoo and Rogers to complain enough that we can no longer send e-mails to Yahoo/Rogers accounts. There may be others too that we still don't know about.

Over the past 2 years, there have been some hosting sites out there that have come a long way in providing the tools necessary to create sites (like ours) and provide the same type of features and then some. So I finally decided that Sens Underground will now be ported over to a different host location. The site will be redeveloped and we will no longer be managing our own Internet server. Plus, the new host site provides services for features I wanted to provide in the first place and the beauty is that I can just tap-in to those services rather than develop them from scratch.

Let me explain what this will mean for you, our listeners:

  1. We will take this opportunity to change the look of the site and change our logo entirely. We weren't too happy with the current graphics we settled on... it's not that StooLi didn't do a good job, it's just that we tried to do too much too fast and ended-up settling with what we have right now. Expect our new logo to ROCK!!!! If you're a graphics designer and want to take a stab at designing our new logo, go right ahead and e-mail us what you got. StooLi will only start designing in about 2 weeks once his workload goes down a little.
  2. There will be a new feed... both the name and location will change. Your current subscription will automatically be redirected to the new feed. This applies to the 2 podcast feeds and the blog feed we provide. We will now just have 2 feeds... one for the blog/podcast and one for the blog comments.
  3. We will no longer provide an Enhanced version of the podcast (that's the audio files with the .m4a extension). All these years we've been providing 2 versions of our episodes and really, the only thing the enhanced version provides is chapter selections and chapter images. It's not really worth maintaining 2 feeds and doubling-up the amount of space required to host our audio files for those two features alone. Plus, the enhanced versions only really work on iTunes and iPods... the mp3 versions work just as well.
  4. Our forums will look entirely different. Some features you may like, some you may not. More on this later...
  5. You'll now be able to search the entire Sens Underground site (Blog/Podcast articles and comments, forum posts and replies, and other pages on the site).
  6. We will have an FAQ page. This may not make the cut but it may come in handy for the newbees and for those who want to learn about the new features provided by the new site.
  7. We'll still have a Downloads page and a Links page but these 2 pages will look better and will now be updated on a regular basis.
  8. We will have a photo gallery that our listeners will be able to contribute to. This page may not make it on the initial release but it will eventually be a feature we will provide. We've received many pictures of stuff over the years from our listeners... now you'll be able to post them on our site so they can be shared with the rest of the Underground community.
  9. We will now be able to appoint moderators for our forums (for whoever wants to volunteer). Rather than Russell and I do all the moderating, we can select a few of you to help us out in that department.
  10. Last but not least, and this is the feature I'm most excited about is... we will now provide the ability for our listeners to blog on our site. We did attempt this in Season 2 but things didn't workout that well. The site we had at the time didn't allow for people to manage and post their own blogs, they had to e-mail them to me and I would do the posting for them. The new site will allow us to provide certain users the ability to post their own blogs... with full-blown blogging features. You'll be able to upload you're own pictures to include in your blogs as well.

I'm very excited about the last feature I mentioned. As you've probably noticed, we haven't been big on the blogging over the past couple of years. It's something we've always wanted to do but we're just too busy to do it on a regular basis. I'm very proud of the Underground community so why not allow YOU to contribute to the Underground by giving you your own voice on our site.

I'm hoping the new site will go over well... I know some people don't like change too much. I can tell you right now, some of you will probably hate the new forums. There will be no "New Post" indicator beside each thread. There will be no automatic quoting feature either. There are no post counts AND... all posts from the old site will be lost. Having said all that, apparently the forum services from the new host site we're porting to, are working on new and improved forums that we will easily be able to upgrade to when ready.

You will all need to re-create your accounts on the new site. Members will be able to e-mail other members from the site without exposing your personal e-mail addresses. You'll also be able to subscribe (if you're a member of the site) to the blog and forums and by doing so, you will be notified every time a blog is posted, a comment is added, or a message is posted in the forums. Of course, it'll be up to you to decide if you want your inbox flooded by the Underground... could come in handy for game threads though.

Anyway, I think I've ended-up giving you more information than I had originally planned on giving but so be it.

I've been working on the new site for a couple of weeks now. It's almost fully functional, the main thing remaining is the look and feel. I'll be relying on StooLi to come up with some kick-ass graphics for the site.

Expect the new site to be released at the end of April or early May. I may be e-mailing a few of our regulars to help us test out the new site before we publish it for real.

That's it.

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