News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, February 8, 2001
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com

A New VT Hokie News Page

TechSideline.com's popular "VT Hokie News" page has gone through a big change. It will look the same to you, but underneath the skin, it's now a handy-dandy database driven page that's so cool, it's almost as cool as landing the #1 recruit in the country.

Those of you who check out VT Hokie News know that its creator and maintainer, message board poster "HokiefromWV," works like a dog almost every day to bring you articles from around the web about Virginia Tech sports, Big East sports, and college sports in general. He and his page are an incredible resource that is very popular with TSL visitors.

Up to now, HokiefromWV has been doing all of the link creation manually, building and archiving his pages slowly and laboriously. Not only does finding the links take forever, but building the pages and archiving old links is a big drain on his efforts, as well.

A few weeks back, I started brainstorming with Hokie Matt, the creator of the TSL recruiting database, about what he and his company, Wired Triangle, LLC, could to do make HokiefromWV's life easier. After some planning and prototyping, Matt coded up a neat database-driven application that enables HokiefromWV to find links on the web, enter them into a database, and have the database serve the articles up.

HokiefromWV still has to spend time entering the articles in the database, but he no longer has to build the actual VT Hokie News page manually, and he doesn't have to archive articles, either. So a good portion of his work has been eliminated.

Not to mention that using a database to create the VT Hokie News page ensures that the page is consistently and cleanly formatted. HokiefromWV no longer has to worry about making text bold in one place, italicizing this or that, or getting the spacing right between articles. The database application does all that for him.

Accessing archives is quick and easy, too. The new VT Hokie News page has a handy little set of boxes at the bottom that you can use to access old archives. A word of warning, though: since the database is brand new, there aren't any archives yet!  But over time, a nice, easily accessible archive of articles will be built up.

So how does this affect you, the TSL reader? If you don't understand all that, that's fine. You don't need to. All you need to know is that the VT Hokie News page has moved. For its new location, click here:

VT Hokie News by HokiefromWV

I will get to work on updating all the links to VT Hokie News throughout the web site to reflect the new location.


TechSideline.com Now Serving Pop-up Ads

Many of you have noticed that as of yesterday, TSL is now serving pop-up ads.

Argh, not pop-up ads!

Yes, pop-up ads. The trend in Internet advertising these days is to get away from banner ads and move towards pop-up ads. Revenue from banner ads continues to drop, but conversely, it is rising for pop-up ads. Like any other business, we have to pay the bills (and our bills are whoppers), so we're going in that direction.

Here's the deal with our pop-up ads: so far, we have placed them on the home page and the Football Recruiting page.  We will eventually work them into one or two other pages, but that's it. They are designed to pop-up only once per session, so I think this means that you'll only see an ad once each time that you log on to TSL.

And the ads are also designed to pop up behind your browser, not in front of it, so they're less obtrusive than most pop-up ads. AOL users may still see the ads pop up in front, but most other users should see them behind the browser.

And you won't necessarily see an ad every time you log on. We have a certain inventory each day or week, and once that inventory is served up, no new ads appear until the next time period.

Now, as you can imagine, there will probably be some technical difficulties as we get things ironed out. I have already gotten a few reports of people seeing ten or twenty ads popping up all in a row.  Here are some pieces of advice to limit problems:

  1. If your browser is not version 4.0 or later, please upgrade. It can be a hassle, yes, but browser versions 3.0 and earlier create all sorts of problems for web-based programming, not just here but on other sites, as well. Our message boards in particular struggle with old browsers. If you don't know how to check what version your browser is, ask a friend, or ask the people on the message board for advice. You can usually check the version number by selecting "Help -- About" from your browser's menu.

  2. Whenever you access the home page or the Football Recruiting page, which is where the ads are served, please let the entire page load before you move on to the message board or another location. A couple of people have complained about the pop-up ads going haywire on the message board, and I have a sneaky suspicion that their problems may have been caused by them entering the home page and "bouncing" to the message board before the home page was fully loaded, thus possibly confusing the ad. After all, the ads aren't served up on the message board, so they can't be going nuts there. I think that letting the home page and Football Recruiting pages load completely before you move on will help. The good news is, TSL's pages all load pretty quickly, so you won't be sitting around long.

If you follow those two pieces of advice, and you're still having trouble, please email me at will@techsideline.com with the following information:

  • Your operating system (Win 95, Win 98, Mac, etc.)
  • Your browser type (Netscape or Internet Explorer) and version number (4.0, 5.0, etc.)
  • Where you were when you accessed the site. Home or work? Dial-up or cable modem, or something else? If you were at work, does your company have a firewall?
  • Exactly what you were doing and what the problem was. Saying things like, "Will, these pop-up ads are causing crashes" does not help us solve the problem at all. What were you doing? How many browser windows did you have open at the time? And what crashed -- your browser or your entire computer? Please be as precise as you can in your description.

Hang with us, and we'll get any problems ironed out. We apologize for any inconveniences, but if we want to keep this web site afloat financially, this is one of the things we have to do.

Thanks, folks -- happy surfing!

          

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