How do we look? Regular readers will instantly notice we've had a bit of a facelift all of a sudden. Nothing too dramatic, mainly just CSS stylings and the overall colour scheme. There's also a few other technical changes that have already happened, as well as a few others planned for implementation soon.
On the CSS side of things, you'll notice a quite different and much more contrasting theme on the site. Whereas the old look was inspired by Solarised Light, the new look is heavily influenced by the excellent Arc theme that is fairly popular amongst Linux desktops at the moment. I think the site as a whole has a bit more fresher and perhaps even a more professional clean look about it, although hopefully not too professional, as we are about fun here as well! There may be small little tweaks and improvements along the way. In any case, feedback is always welcome.
For those interested, the front page article layout is now implemented with Flexbox instead of the old, somewhat hacky (but still awesome) display: inline-block and margin-right: -3px technique. You likely won't be able to tell any difference, visually, which I would say is a good thing, but made the overall CSS more modern under the hood.
We also have a new native Search functionality, which replaces the awful Google search widget we had in the top right corner of the sidebar previously. The Google widget was just a way to quickly provide a search function when TLR was first built, as implementing a search natively in the Kirby CMS, at that time, wasn't so trivial. As of the recent Kirby 2.4, however, native search functions are supported and easy to implement, so we now have one. That's one less Google tracker on the page.
Speaking of trackers...
Which brings us to the next point: ads. Like many people, I don't like them, and I've begun to feel quite guilty therefore having them on TLR.
Now, it's not so much that I think that all advertising is evil or anything like that. Ads have their place and sometimes are the only stream of revenue for some people/businesses. Rather, it's how ads are often implemented online and the whole targeted advertising thing we all so often see nowadays through tracking. We use Google Adsense here on TLR and while it doesn't earn much (plus, I imagine most of our audience use ad-blockers anyway), it does just manage to pay for the site hosting on a yearly basis.
But, ultimately, I'd love to have a totally clean website where there's no dynamic, targeted ads loading at all. Just clean content and if there's going to be banners at all, just static (and relevant) links to either internal content or other interesting sites or sponsors. But no trackers. So it's fair to say I've been a bit conflicted on the issue, so for the time being the ads will stay at least probably until the next payout. If you're not familiar, Adsense has a threshold that your balance has to reach before they payout, which isn't much, but we're not quite there yet, but not far off. When that happens, it's likely the Adsense code will be removed from TLR and won't return.
Perhaps we'll also set up a Paypal donation button or something similar in replacement for anyone that wants to help out. In addition, maybe even implement a small subscription system, although there's less incentive for people to go for that if the ads don't exist in the first place. But regardless, I wouldn't call it "premium" subscription as the term doesn't sit right with me for some reason. None of our content would be only available for a "premium", it will all, always, be available freely to everyone. So that's that.
User logins and SSL
One thing for sure, if we wanted to have anything that involved subscriptions and the like, we would need user logins here on TLR. Thanks to Kirby 2.x, this functionality actually is available, on a flat file CMS no less.
However, there is one hurdle for me to overcome: SSL.
We actually have an SSL certificate and it should work. When I first got it enabled, going to the https:// version of TLR worked just fine. However, lately, doing so will panic all the modern browsers with a warning saying that the hashing algorithm is depreciated and old (sad face). This, unfortunately, is an issue with our host and one we'll have to get resolved. So for the moment, we don't have proper SSL available and that's why we're still using regular insecure http:// only.
Once that is fixed, we can have proper user logins and at least have more options available to us.
Feels like we've been here before, huh? Yes, we've spoken of comments systems before and replacing Disqus. I would say watch this space, there is a Kirby plugin available now that implements a native comments system which I will be interested to try. If we do, Disqus comments won't disappear on old articles - rather, all legacy articles will retain the Disqus system and newer ones would implement the new native system, if it works out.
Even more variety
Regular readers of The Linux Rain know we do a variety of content here. Tutorials, editorials, reviews (including Linux game reviews), some news and various other little bits and bobs. Frequent contributor, Bob Mesibov, also provides a heap of CLI and data processing goodness in the form of tutorials and informative write-ups.
So, we basically do a bit of everything, although emphasis is clearly on certain things that us specific writers happen to be most interested in at the time.
But, you may have noticed a new category of article recently enter the fray: satire.
This is a bit of a new one for me, but one I've had some interest in doing for a while. Personally, I love a good bit of satire, and humour in general. And that's the way I intend satire that I'll write, for it to be ultimately humourous and lighthearted, though we all know satire can be biting in its own way as well. But the intention is good-natured, even if the premise may sometimes seem so absurd or play on a perceived weakness or shortcoming seen in the FOSS world (but again, such is the nature of satire).
But the question will be this: does it really fit in amongst everything else on TLR or should I set up a separate site for satire and general humour? Linux-related, of course.
I'm still mulling on this myself, so I'll happily welcome feedback on this one!
That's it for now, folks.