New Look

You may have noticed that things look a little different here. We have a new and improved, or at least new, look. To take care of a few little bugs, I upgraded to the newest release of the Geeklog software that drives this site. I was too lazy to make all the changes necessary to make my old theme continue to work with the new release, so I switched to the default “Professional” theme supplied with the software. I might make a few minor adjustments in the near future, but unless there’s a major backlash from faithful readers (see the poll), this is probably our new look.

In addition to looking different, and closing some loopholes, there new features that I might play with. Some of them may be interesting only to geeks. One feature that I’ve already activated that may be of interest to some visitors is the remote authentication system. This allows visitors who have an account on either LiveJournal or Blogger to login here with that ID to leave comments, instead of being required to register as a user here. This is a nice compromise between the previous policy of requiring registration here to post comments, and the friendlier but more spam-prone policy of allowing anonymous comments.

In the interests of full disclosure and informed consent, I want to emphasize a caveat provided by the Geeklog authors:

Firstly, a caveat to users, the Remote Authentication feature in Geeklog requires you to expose your password for the remote service when logging in. An unscrupulous systems administrator could modify the code to capture your password. Do not use this feature on sites you do not trust!

Any time a site, like this one, asks for your id/password for another site, you need to ask yourself how much you trust the site and its owner. In this case, your Blogger/LiveJournal password will just be forwarded to that site for verification, and then forgotten. But you only have my word on that. If I was an evil person, I could capture your password and do naughty things with your account. That’s a minor risk, and I’m not asking for your PayPal password. But, in these times of phishing and identity theft, I just wanted to be up front about the fact this system could be used that way and let you make the decision.

I have turned back on a feature I turned off earlier, the ability to email an article to a friend. I turned that off because spammers had figured out how pump spam through my site with scripts that used that feature to mail articles from here with their spam added as a comment at the front. I turned it back on because I discovered it could be restricted to use only by logged-in users, which I think will stop the spammers.

I’m not completely happy with the way that restriction works. The email option doesn’t even appear unless the user is already logged in. I wish it would always present the option, and then require login if the user clicks it. Most people don’t login unless they try to do something that requires them to, so if they don’t know the option isn’t visible to anonymous users, they’ll never know it’s available. So it probably won’t be used much, but it is available again for user who knows it’s there.

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