The other day I mentioned to Abraham how much I disliked our blogs section and how little I liked Drupal, the system we have been using for a while now. He wrote me today and said that he had been at work on the blogs and wondered if I liked what he had come up with. My answer? "Please change over to this system today, Abraham. No need to wait."
Kathlyn and I are going to adopt him. Or give him money.
The nicest part of this system is that it is custom developed and Abraham has tied it in with our forums accounts and usernames. No more need for two accounts: one, for the forums; the other, to post in the blogs -- now, it's all one account.
Another nice feature is that the posting mechanism rules are identical in both the forums and the blogs. The vast majority of users who use our site have forums accounts and post in the forums. This new mechanism will make it far easier for them to participate in the blogs. For those who are used to Drupal and only come here for the blogs, it will take some readjusting but we are making the move so that we simplify the blogs for our majority of users.
Another great feature of this new move is that we have far more control of the database (for searching, etc.) and also to allow blogs to be integrated into other areas of the COW (such as user profile pages, etc.).
Abraham will be focusing on this area of the COW over the near future and we hope that you find the changes useful and will take advantage of them.
Thanks Abraham for listening and acting. I see the time coming soon where I'll even like the blogs. (To be honest, I have liked to see what people are posting but I really hated the Drupal system.)
Well, it's been an incredible ride so far this year: the COW has grown remarkably, with many wonderful new additions to the site, both in the infrstructure of the site itself and the people who now make this site a part of their online home — sadly, there have also been some horrible tragedies on the personal front that have brought solemnity along with the great joy that we find in building the COW.
According to Google Analytics, we will soon exceed 900,000 totally unique users a month — a staggering number when we remember that when we started building media professionals communities online back in June of 1995, we were thrilled when we went over our first 100 members. If you would like to see how the COW now compares to other magazines and web communities, you can see the comparisons online.
We have added a new MOBILE interface to the COW. The new www.creativecow.mobi interface allows people that use an iPhone, a Palm Treo, a Blackberry and other 3G-capable cell phones and PDAs to surf the COW. And one of the great new features of this interface is that if you use an iPhone, it knows that you can't see our Flash-based content and so it won't display any of it to you. But for those phones and PDAs that do use Flash, you will find it available.
Franklin McMahon has returned to head the Creative COW Podcast. Franklin is a great host and his sense of humor and his ability behind the microphone are exemplary. If you have missed the podcast, check it out — there are a number of new episodes online now and also available at the Apple iTunes Store.
New enhancements have been added to both the SERVICES OFFERED directory and the EVENTS calendar. These enhancements allow our members to look up Services Offered based on your region and locale using Google Map technology, giving the Services Offered directory a usefullness that goes well beyond the previous incarnation of our directory. In our Events section, we have added a calendar interface that makes that area of the COW far more useful. Check them out, there is a new level of usefullness in each of these areas.
We have added a number of truly bad (in a good sense)servers to the COW backbone over the last few months. In fact, we have doubled the amount of bandwidth throughput that we have available to serve to our audience. Our previous capacity was comparable to 128 T-1 lines running concurrently. Now, we have the capacity of 256 T-1s running concurrently. Into this huge amount of bandwidth, we have raised the number of servers to around a dozen. Most of them are dual and quad Opterons. A number of them exceed the power we have seen in some of the most hearty video servers. We have also added a hardware load-balancing router that has enabled the COW to keep up with the huge influx of growth over the last year. We had to, as in August of 2007 we were just over 250,000 totally unique users a month according to Google Analytics. A year later, in August of 2008, we were well past 800,000 unique users a month and will soon pass 900,000. So, while some people complain about all the ads in the COW, we would like to thank our sponsors as there is no way we could do this if they were not there. So, thank you sponsors! You keep the lights on and the dairy going.
As some of you might already be aware, we lost a son and grandson on Labor Day in an automobile accident. It was quite a sad day for our family and friends. But we were very proud of Ronnie and will miss him and Caleb greatly — though we trust that life goes on. So Ronnie, I tip the ole COW baseball hat to you and Caleb and know we will meet again. Those with less hope and little trust are welcome to their beliefs, these are mine.
So that has been my Summer report.
With the best to you all,
PS: Thank you to the many friends who wrote Kathlyn and me expressing their kind thoughts to us in the last couple of weeks. Your kind words have been truly appreciated and we are grateful to be your friends in the journey.