Welcome to TCR v7.0

By my rough count - and I suppose Christian would be a better authority on it - this is the 7th major incarnation of the site. If I recall, there was its inception, then its days on all-baseball.com, then the buyout by mvp.com which is about the time I joined, then the move to a whole new mvp.com website, then the move to our own site so we could use profanities, I'm then going to count the last year when the old site design failed and I've been running the default theme for far too long and now this.

(Fancy hand gestures, lights go out, puff of smoke...lights go back on)

Voila!!!!

I can't apologize enough for how long this took, I pretty much had it ready in April and did something terribly stupid and had to start from scratch. Life and work tend to get in the way too much for me to devote the time I once did, but luckily a kind reader helped me this time around and we were able to get it going after Thursday's crash. I still have some tweaks to make and I'll share those in a bit. I've checked the site on Firefox, Safari and Chrome and seems to be all working. I don't have Internet Explorer and you shouldn't either, but if you do, let me know if you have any problems and then I'll suggest to you to try a better browser.

Enough of the boring stuff...here's a quick rundown of the new stuff and other supremely important things.

As with all new site designs, I fully expect you guys to hate it since you're use to the old ways, but it should be much easier for me to maintain, run a little faster and have far more robust commenting features. For the color scheme, I just wanted something that would work better with the logo we had designed a few years back and I didn't mind getting away from the dominant blue themes that most Cubs sites are bathed in. Not that it's wrong to do that, I just like to be different and the less Cub-looking it looks like, maybe I'll avoid any Imperial entanglements down the road...so to speak.

As for the layout, let's start from the top and work our way down. The header is pretty basic, standard logo that you can click on to always get back to the homepage, a search box on the right although I don't think the site has been fully indexed yet since the upgrade, plus I need to change that to a Google search box and then social icons for our facebook and twitter pages, direct link to email me and then a link to our RSS feed.

Next up is the menu bar...place your mouse over them and a drop-down menu will appear for those that have related content. In some cases, the menu items go straight to a page like "In-Game Chat" and "Home". I'll get back to this in a moment as there's some cool stuff under "AZ Phil's Corner" that I want to go over in a little more detail.

Then there's the content, left sidebar will be for information (mostly Cubs related) and the right sidebar will be for ads and other publicity. I'll be adding to both sides throughout the offseason to fill out the space a bit. I think the Twitter box in the upper left is the most useful information, it's pretty much where all news comes out these days, so check their first. Now it only goes 20 deep, so I understand repeating the news in the comments and it does encourage discussion. On the other hand, don't act like you broke Watergate either, good chance it's already been mentioned.

Let's get to the new commenting system which is what I'm sure most of you are curious about. The first thing you'll see at the bottom of the articles on the front page is something like, "3 Comments and 2 Reactions". That's the drupal comment notification, slightly different than what we're all use to...the reactions just means people that have liked or disliked the post or a comment which you can do with the thumbs up or down icons or the up or down carat. On older posts, you'll still see the number of comments from our old system next to the Drupal comment notification.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I've switched from the Drupal standard commenting system to Disqus. I just think it's a more robust system that's professionally maintained and it's much easier for me to moderate through their interface. There some neat little features that I'm about to go over that I think people will like and it's a system that you'll see a lot of very popular websites using...so I'm confident it works. That being said, we haven't used it here, so there will be a bit of a learning curve.

If you haven't done it already, you'll need to register with Disqus. They have a variety of options including facebook, twitter, Google+ or just your email address. Remember, this is a much larger database of users, so you may not be able to keep the username you've been using at TCR when you initially sign up, but there is good news on that front which I'll get to in a minute.

Next, you'll need to log in and there's a few options with that.

  1. Menu Bar: "Comment Log-In" will take you to the Disqus site and once you're logged in come back to our site and you should be able to comment. I only added it here as a fail-safe and also because on my iphone I was having some problems logging in directly from the comments.

      2.  Below the Story: Once you access the comments, you should see those icons on the right, click on the "Disqus" and a dropdown menu should show up with a login link.

3. From the Comment Box: Enter your comment first and then on the bottom right you'll see "Post As"...click on it and there should be some log in options. If you're already logged in that should read something like "Post as Rob G." already, but you know, with your username.

Alright, now you're logged in and you're ready to comment. You'll be using that comment box pictured above and it's the same thing we've been doing for years, although no more comment subjects (Yeah). I have no idea at this point what html tags it accepts, so feel free to try italics or blockquotes if you want, but I'm not sure if they work. I do know that links will automatically be linked to the site, so no "A href" tag is needed, just paste the link in and folks should be able to click on it. One thing you will see is that "+Image" link on the bottom left. You can now add images to your posts if you wish, but the rule seems to be that it has to be on your computer. So if it's something off the web, you'll have to download it to your computer first and then a little upload box will appear when you click on it. Also, any comments with images in them I need to approve before they show up and there's no guarantee when I'll get that to that. Feel free to drop a note saying you left one and would like it approved.

Beyond that, it's standard threaded comments. Right now the comments are numbered, but it's not working the way I like, so I may get rid of that.

You should see something like this around.

Click the thumbs to like or dislike a post (do not click the thumbs down on any of my posts though...my ego is fragile). If you do hit the thumbs up, it gives you an option to share the story on facebook or twitter and we'd certainly appreciate the effort. You can do something similar on people's comments although I'm not sure if it's the thumbs or the carats (^) or something else (appears it's a "Like" button) as no one else has been using it yet and I can't like or dislike my own comments that I've been testing with.

Once you're logged in, the login buttons should look something like this, although you may not have the little gear icon, I think that's for moderators.

The "0" should change to a number indicating how many new comments or reactions since you last looked. If you click on it, I believe you'll see the latest comments anywhere on the site. Now it use to read on the front page something like 28 comments, 2 New comments. It doesn't look like Disqus does that anymore on the front page, but it does appear that if you stay on a page that icon will automatically update without reloading. I'm not quite sure yet if that's better or worse way of doing things, just different.

The icon with the 2 people gives you an overview of the entire comment community such as new members, total comments and most liked comments ($20 says Arizona Phil wins that one). And once you're logged in, clicking on Disqus will have a few more options including one for edit profile that should bring up a box that looks like this:

Click on any of the tabs on the left and you have some options. The two I wanted to highlight are "Avatar" and "Profile". Now I turned off the avatars for the time being on the site, so you should just see their names on a comment. BUT, I've noticed on my iphone that avatars are showing up in the comments. Which is a good time to mention that Disqus should automatically theme for mobile devices. That's a good thing, because no more tiny text on heavily replied threads and overall for the most part it's much easier to read and navigate the comments on my iphone. The bad, I seem to have no options to turn off the avatars on my iphone.

As for the "Profile", I believe if you fill that in, at least the "Full Name", it will use that to display on the comments. Meaning, you have your Disqus username to register with the site that you can see in the "Account" tab. That'll manage your Disqus profile across all the sites you visit (remember you use this same Disqus account for any website that uses Disqus). But the name under "Profile" is the name that should display on your comments and if there's nothing there, it'll default to what's under "Account". At least that's how I believe it works.

Last bit of Disqus thing to mention is the RSS feed for Comments. Now I know some really liked the sitewide comment RSS that we use to have, but it doesn't seem Disqus does that. Very unfortunate, and I'll see if I can find a solution, but in the meantime you can subscribe to the comments of each post or even subscribe by email as well as change in which order you wish to view the comments.

Alright, so as far as I know that pretty much sums up the commenting business, although I'm sure some issues and clarifications will pop up over time.

The rest of the site hasn't changed much, but I did want to mention the change to all of Arizona Phil's goodness.

So if you hover your mouse over "AZ Phil's Corner" you'll see a few links there. The "Cubs 40-Man Roster" has all the awesome service time and options info that you're use to, but I moved all the roster rules that use to be below the table into their own separate pages. So if you start on the "MLB Roster Rules Presented by Arizona Phil" page, you'll see a table of contents that has all the awesome waiver and roster info and plenty of other goodness in a far more manageable and readable format. Plus, all the individual pages are accessible now from the menu as you see. if you see a little right pointing arrow, you know there are sub-pages and don't forget the page with the arrow also has content. Anyway, I think it's a much handier way to get to that info and I hope it allows readers to better utilize that info.

That's it for now, back to our regularly scheduled programming starting on Tuesday. I do want to mention that I know the byline is way too small on the front page and the site tag is in a weird location. I do hope to fix that. Also, the "Return to Homepage" at the bottom of the comments has disappeared, I hope to get that back soon as well.

Let me know if you have any problems with the site and I look forward to years and years of Cubs banter with you all.

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