Brad Fitzpatrick (bradfitz) wrote in news,
Brad Fitzpatrick
bradfitz

Update

Fun stuff in LiveJournal land lately. I'm rushed, as always, so I'll just zip through this:

New code
Just put a bunch of new code live that the LJ crew's been working on. Of note:
  • Rich Text Editor -- the beginnings of the rich text (WYSIWYG) editor is now available. If your browser supports it, the update.bml page now lets you switch to "rich text" mode. Should work in newer IEs and Mozillas. Mac support is limited to Mozilla, due to Safari/IE not implementing support for it. There are still a few bugs (JavaScript is the most painful programming environment), but we'll be working on it. It's sufficiently usable as is, though.
  • Post from userinfo.bml -- From a community's userinfo page, you can click the pencil icon in the toolbar to post to that community, which saves some steps. Also, this finally adds support for that option in the community settings page where you can allow non-members to post.
  • New mood theme browser -- the mood theme browser is now prettier and easier to use.
  • Lots of memcache/database work -- nothing particularly interesting. But if you're a geek, you might enjoy this post in lj_backend about our upcoming database config changes.

New style(s)
Jesse and Kevin have been working on new styles. The first, available to all users, is named "Digital Multiplex", and is a port of the OSWD (Open Soure Web Design) style of the same name. You can see it in action here: jproulx. It's S2-only, so select it from /customize/ after choosing S2 as your style system. A new one will be coming shortly. Contact jproulx about any bugs you find in the new style.

Upcoming commercials
A couple months ago we were approached by a production company that was looking to expand their portfolio into tech/web companies and wanted to make some LiveJournal commercials, since they were LiveJournal users themselves. My initial reaction was, "Naah.... too expensive probably, and we don't advertise." But they just wanted to make them for fun and were offering to make them at cost. So, we all talked about it and decided it'd be neat. They turned out really well. (we'll be posting MPG and WMV files soon) Anyway, we needed a place to show them and got a good deal with Regal Cinemas to play them from Dec 12th - Dec 25th, which is during the Lord of the Rings movies. So... if you're in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, or Denver, look for LiveJournal commercials during those dates. I'll post a complete list of theaters tomorrow probably. We did this more for the cool factor than getting new users (new users keep coming anyway!), but if the reaction is good, maybe we'll be running more.

Invite codes
We've always wanted to remove invite codes but it's a big, scary change, so we've been slow about it. Since we initially added them, though, we've added: screened comments, moderated communities, anti-spam-bot protection, community invites, and a few other anti-abuse measures. The final one we've been working on (if you follow lj_dev) is human tests: making users recognize a blurry word or distorted audio file before they can create a new account. This ensures accounts are made by humans and not spambots (which can't read blurry stuff or understand muddled audio). Anyway, we're rushing to finish that, and then the plan is to remove invite codes tomorrow or Friday morning. (the commercials gave us good motivation to finish by then)

But... we know people are divided on this issue, some wanting LiveJournal all open, and some wanting to keep it exclusive. Also, some people value their invite code collection, and would be offended if we devalued it by making them obsolete.

So, we have a plan. Users will be able to join LiveJournal without an invite code and have a "trial account" for 30 days. Trial accounts are identical to free accounts, except that after 30 days they won't be able to make new posts or comments unless they're either invited to stay by an existing user (with an invite code) or pay for a paid account. Paid accounts expire to free accounts (not trial accounts), so we're not forcing anybody to keep paying if they don't want the paid bonus stuff. Hopefully this is a fair compromise.
Update:</b> See our new plan, posted the next day.

Reliability
The fact that we're working on new code that's pretty much cosmetic stuff, running commercials (scary), and removing invite codes (even scarier), should make it clear that we're getting pretty confident in our backend now. The site's been generally zippy for the past couple weeks now. We've been watching everything closely and identified and fixed a few problems, but we're finally after months starting to relax. Read lj_backend for all the fun details.
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