Monday, October 18, 2010

Calendars! Get your calendars!

And they're back! The 2011 letterboxing calendars are ready! Well, almost ready.... Two important things I still need to get out of the way. The first is to announce which photos I selected for the calendars and congratulate the winners. The second... well, they're almost ready for shipping. Hopefully within the next week or two. *fingers crossed*

There are two calendars this year. The first is the official letterboxing calendar--photos by letterboxers, for letterboxes, often while letterboxing. It has important letterboxing dates such as Plant-a-Letterbox Day, Hike Naked Day, and AQ's birthday. (Just kidding about the Hike Naked Day--had you going, though, didn't I?) You can see all of the photos used, who submitted them, and where they were taken, and the quotes I put with them on Atlas Quest. Check out the letterboxing calendar now!

Second up, for those of you following Another Long Walk, you know I spent five months this year thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. What you may not realize is that I took a whopping 5,000 or so photos along the hike. Most of the, honestly, suck. But when you take that many photos, you can't help but get at least a few gems out of the bunch, and I picked some of my favorites to create the Pacific Crest Trail edition. All of these photos are my own, and it does not include the letterboxing 'holidays' since I plan to give a whole bunch of them to friends and family for Christmas. (Hope I didn't spoil anyone's Christmas present who might be reading this....) There might be a few thru-hikers I know who are interested in these calendars as well.

I've opened up the AQ Marketplace for orders, but PLEASE keep in mind that calendars are not actually ready to be mailed yet--I expect they'll be ready to ship within the next week or so, but definitely by the end of October.

If I selected one of your photos for the calendar, you'll have a free calendar coming your way. Do not include that calendar if you wish to order additional ones. AQ isn't smart enough to know you won a calendar and will charge you for anything you select through the marketplace. I'll handle your orders separately. =)

Also--more good news!--this year, the calendars are cheaper than I've ever sold them. I managed to score a pretty sweet deal with a coupon code that took 20% off my cost on the calendars on top of the bulk discount I usually get, and I'm passing those savings on down. This year, calendars are just $12, and premium members get another 10% off that price. But when the calendars run out, that's the last of the really good prices I got. I will make additional calendars available if necessary, but they will cost more.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blog Subscriptions

I subscribe to over a dozen blogs. How 'bout you? =)
If you're reading this, you're reading my blog. Duh! Most people read my blog because all new members are auto-subscribed to it. There are actually hundreds of letterboxers with blogs, however, and most of them you will not be auto-subscribed to. Those that you are subscribed to show up in the Letterboxing News widget, making it very easy to keep up with your favorite blogs.

One little annoying thing is actually trying to subscribe to a blog that interests you. You have to look up the blog from Atlas Quest then add it to your subscriptions. Wouldn't it be nice if you read someone's blog and think, "Hey, I'd like to subscribe to this!" and have a button readily available that you could click and POOF! You're subscribed. On Atlas Quest, at least.

Now, you can. But since the code to do this must be on your blog, you have to add it yourself. Go to the Manage Blogs page, and click on one of your blogs to open it. On the right side of the page is a large box with the code necessary to add a subscription link to Atlas Quest. It also shows an example of what the subscription button would look like. Add that code to your blog, and anyone visiting your blog can click it to add your blog to their list of subscriptions on Atlas Quest.

Here's an example button for the blog Wassa created of my West Coast Trail adventures:
Toggle AQ Subscription

I'm actually in a strange position where I have absolutely no desire to add the button to my own blogs. Since all new members are automatically subscribed to my blogs anyhow, there's not really any pressing need to have a subscription button. Perhaps the unsubscribe button would be more useful, but why would anyone possibly want to unsubscribe to this amazing piece of literature? ;o)

But seriously.... The button will allow people to subscribe (or unsubscribe, if the case may be) from your blog instead of requiring people to look up your blog on AQ and subscribe--a task that probably limits a lot of people from subscribing to your blog. Hopefully, this option will help change that.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bookmark This!

I don't know about the rest of you, and it absolutely astounds me that nobody has ever brought it up, but if you bookmark a post, have you ever noticed that the bookmark link never goes away on the post? In fact, even better than removing the link completely would be to turn it into an "unbookmark" link. This has annoyed me for years, but since nobody ever mentioned it or seemed to care, I figured I was better off working on other stuff that people really did care about. =)

But finally, I sat down and fixed that little annoyance. If you've bookmarked a post, the link will then show up as "unbookmark" (for lack of a better term) which allows you to take the bookmark off right there from the post.

I also must confess, I never really liked the page with all of the bookmarks either. And thinking on it, it seemed completely unnecessary. Why can't we just "search" the message boards for posts we've bookmarked? It would work just like any other search. People can choose if they want to view the simple, summary, or expanded views of their bookmarked posts, or flip between the views as necessary. So I implemented that and replaced the "My Bookmarks" page with a "search for my bookmarked posts" page.

Then I updated the Search Message Boards page with the additional search option.

In other tweaks, you have been able to search the boards for replies to your own posts for years, but that option was never reflected in the search page. It is now.

And finally, Dizzy suggested an option to allow people to search just the posts that started a thread. I don't imagine that most people would ever use this option, but it's actually a pretty simple request to implement and seems harmless enough. I bookmarked it to come back to later--someday--and today I went ahead and implemented that since I was mucking around with the message board code already. You'll now see that as a search option. Even more cool, when I pulled up the message from my list of bookmarks, I could click on the "Unbookmark" link. Now that the feature has been implemented, I don't need that post bookmarked anymore. =)

On a related note, I bookmarked a whole heck of a lot of posts during my hike. Anything I thought was interesting or deserved more thought. I've got a whole lot of bookmarks still to deal with.... someday.... =) Perhaps I'll get to a little more of them now that I found bookmarks a bit easier and faster to navigate!


Monday, October 04, 2010

Helping with Help!

Knowing I couldn't possibly keep up with all of the going-ons in letterboxing, I created a help page that's actually a wiki--allowing any members on Atlas Quest to add to and edit the help pages. This is great for a couple of reasons. First, I don't know everything. (It's true!) When it comes to the intricacies of postals or LTCs, I'm not an expert. Second, things change--sometimes, I don't even realize it--and therefore the documentation needs to be updated. Third, I'm my spelling is atrocious and there are often typos in anything I right that spell chekers don't necessarily katch. I'd just as soon let you guys fix it right then and there than have to e-mail me to fix a simple typa. ;o)

So a wiki seemed like just the solution. If I overlooked something, you can add it yourself. If I got something wrong, you can fix it yourself. If something changed, you can fix it yourself.

Normally, I'd try to check the list of Recent Additions and Changes at least once per month to see how things were going, answer unanswered questions, and check that people aren't adding junk to the help pages, but this also meant that cases of vandalism (which has happened on occasion) could sit unnoticed for days or weeks at a time, and people with questions may not get answers as promptly as they wanted. And while I was off hiking the PCT, I didn't check this list at all!

Surely, there must be a better way....

...and now there is! =) If you go to your Notifications & E-mail Preferences, you can now be notified whenever someone adds to or edits the help pages. Each night, just after midnight, AQ will check for additions and edits to the help pages and send you an AQ mail of the changes.

Want to help out on Atlas Quest? Sign up for this notification option! Answer new questions that people add, check that nobody is vandalizing the help pages, fix typos, add missing information, or whatever else needs to be done. Do you see the same questions being asked over and over again on the message boards? Add it to the help pages!

There's also a Wiki Help board, to discuss questions about the help pages or the information in it. Mark it as a favorite if you'd like to be informed about things that are happening in the help! =)