denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2011-02-10 01:10 am

Weekly update: 10 February 2011

People, I have to tell you this news, because it is the best news that has happened to me all year: I think (*knock wood*) that we finally have stable, reliable internet in our new location. This means that these updates may actually go back to being on time.

On a somewhat related note, and I do hate to do this, but: Does anyone reading this work for Speakeasy, now Megapath, and can provide me with contact information for corporate management? They were responsible for our six-week-long internet nightmare, in which the service worked (intermittently, even) for a total of six days before completely cutting out for the next six weeks despite multiple attempts to resolve the problem, and they have since failed to cancel the service at our old location, triple-billed us despite us having turned off auto-bill-pay, refused to issue a refund of that overbilling and of the credit on our account, billed us again despite having cancelled the service, and now charged us a termination fee for cancelling a service they were unable to provide. I have exhausted the possibilities of resolution with frontline customer service and am now attempting to get in contact with someone who has the authority to resolve this. I've already emailed their "executive customer service" mailbox and their board of directors, but if anyone has an inside contact, please PM me; thanks!

Turning to happier matters, behind the cut you will find:

* Development
* Code Push
* Adopt a FAQ Category!
* Volunteering
* Open Account Creation Week
* Changes to HTML/CSS Allowed in Comments
* The Ada Initiative


This week we bid a fond welcome to new developer [personal profile] mmmpork, who has had a first patch committed to the codebase. (It's not listed in the code tour, because it was committed after the code tour was done, but still!) Congratulations, and welcome!

The January 22-February 5 code tour comes to us this week courtesy of [personal profile] truelove. This fortnight's development efforts were once again mostly concentrated on backend improvements that will make the code easier to maintain in the future (we've been paying off an awful lot of our technical debt these past few months), but we also have:

* Improved the process of making a suggestion to improve Dreamwidth.

* Improved our outgoing Atom feeds (the feed we provide of your journal) to make sure they contain all the information the RSS feeds contain, in order to play nice with other services out there. We also changed our outgoing feeds so that they include a link back to the original (on-Dreamwidth) post at both the top and bottom of each entry, instead of just the top.

* Added helpful text when you run into one of the system limitations on how many entries you can display on your reading page. For performance reasons, we limit the reading page to 1000 entries or entries posted in the last 14 days (whichever comes first). After that, entries won't display. Now, if you hit one of those limits, there'll be a message on your reading page explaining why no more entries are showing.

* Added communities to the results of the Find Similar Interests option on the Interests page.

* Fixed up our way of processing incoming feeds (from other sites) so that when you create a new feed, entries won't be shown in reverse chronological order, which happens sometimes. This of course turned into an epic project that ate up way too much of [personal profile] kareila's time.

And, the big one: this week sees the culmination of months of [personal profile] exor674's hard work in doing the backend stuff necessary to make it possible for your icons page to be displayed in your journal style if you want to, not in the site skin. (This will only be available to styles created using core2, our improved version of the S2 layout system. Styles imported using core1 don't have the necessary information to do this.) Over the next few months we'll do the necessary frontend work to make sure each layout has the necessary styling. We'll keep you posted.

As always, none of these improvements will be live until our next...

Code Push

We are planning a code push this weekend or early next week, to update the code on the Dreamwidth site itself to the most current development version. We'll announce the date and time in [site community profile] dw_maintenance once we set it and again when we're about to begin, and we'll announce it on our offsite Twitter status page when we begin the process.

This code push will cover improvements listed in the following code tours:

January 3 - January 21
January 22 - February 5

It will also include some of the patches that will be included in next week's code tour.

Adopt a FAQ Category

This week's volunteer opportunity spotlight comes to you from [site community profile] dw_docs: the Adopt a FAQ Category project. This involves volunteering to "scrub" a particular FAQ category for needed revisions: updates to document things that we've added or improved, rephrasings to make things more clear, addition of extra material that isn't properly documented anywhere yet, and identifying (not necessarily writing, but we sure wouldn't say no!) any gaps of FAQs in the category that still need to be written.

You don't need to be a DW guru or a technical wizard, just willing to look back over old code tours in [site community profile] dw_dev to find changes that affect that category. You also don't need to write the new FAQs yourself, just make a list of things that should belong in the category! (Although if you did want to write them, really, we won't stop you!)

If you're interested, check out the Manual of Style and then leave a comment on the [site community profile] dw_docs signup entry with the category you'd like to claim.


And speaking of DW work, if you've been thinking about getting involved in Dreamwidth but haven't been sure how, check out [site community profile] dw_volunteers. It's where project team leads can talk about their projects (and try to get people interested in them), new volunteers can describe their skills and interests and get suggestions on where they might be interested in volunteering, and everybody can socialize, hang out, and get to know each other. I promise we don't bite!

Open Account Creation Week

Invite codes: whether you love 'em or hate 'em, just about nobody is indifferent to them. We have invite codes as a method of controlling our growth to make sure it stays within sustainable levels, as well as curbing abuse and spam. They've been doing a great job at both purposes, especially since we have the ability to create "promo codes" for people to use one single code to create multiple accounts, which really eliminates a lot of the hassle of setting up a new community, RP game, or in-class use of Dreamwidth.

We do plan on keeping invite codes long-term, since the last time we raised the possibility of getting rid of them permanently, the majority of people thought that they were a good and useful tool. (They're certainly working to keep us from having a rampant spam problem; the only spam we get is anonymous comments and a very few OpenID spammers from other sites.) Our current growth is looking pretty sustainable, though, and we know there are a lot of people out there who'd like to create DW accounts but don't want to bother looking for a code. (If you're one of them, check out [site community profile] dw_codesharing!)

So, we're going to try a little experiment. For the week of February 21 - February 28, creating an account on Dreamwidth will not require an invite code. You'll be able to register an account without needing a code -- just by visiting the account creation page.

We'll keep an eye on the results of the experiment for two factors: whether the growth is sustainable at the level we experience, and whether spam and abuse incidents rise after the open creation period. If we don't see any ill effects, we'll designate one week per quarter (and perhaps even one week per month) as an open account creation period, where no code will be required. (And if it doesn't go well, we'll let you know that it didn't, and we won't repeat the experiment.)

This will, we hope, combine the best of both worlds: allow us to keep control of the growth to prevent it from getting beyond our ability to support it and keep the spam and abuse curbed, while still allowing people who can't find an invite elsewhere a chance to experience DW.

And, as a reminder, our offer of account creation for those who are looking to move from Inksome, which will be shutting down in April, still stands. The promo code was temporarily out of accounts, but I've fixed it, and it will work again. People who are moving from Inksome can use the code INKSOME when creating an account to receive one month of complimentary paid time with their account creation, to give you time and space to move your things in. (Then visit the content importer to move in!) This code will last until Inksome's final shutdown; if it runs out of account creations again, just let me know and I'll refill it again.

Changes to HTML/CSS Allowed in Comments

And speaking of spam, we have had an uptick of spam comments made by OpenID accounts from other sites, exploiting some of the HTML and CSS we allow in our comments to "break" the page for everyone viewing it, to render the page unreadable by using complex markup tricks to fool our HTML and CSS cleaner into not closing a tag properly, or to hide their content to everyone but search engine spiders in order to artificially inflate their search engine results.

In order to prevent these attacks, with our upcoming code push, we will make the following changes in comments:

* Strip all uses of <blink> and <marquee> tags, used to render pages unreadable by tricking the HTML/CSS cleaner into not closing tags

* Strip all uses of absolute font size declarations via CSS ('font-size: 5000pt', 'font-size: 5000em', 'font-size: 5000px'), used to break the page for everyone viewing it by overlapping existing text and making it unreadable

* Strip the use of 'display: none' CSS elements, used to hide links or text used to increase search engine results

Over the past year, we already blocked the use of absolute positioning of elements, such as setting a 2000px by 2000px image to cover the entire screen. Nobody seems to have noticed this except the people who were using it to spam or abuse, and we're hoping nobody will miss these changes, either.

The only thing we anticipate people running into is the stripping of absolute font size declarations. We're really sorry that a few complete jerks have made it necessary for us to prevent people from doing the completely legitimate <span style="font-size: 14pt"> or <span style="font-size: 1.5em"> in order to make headings or to organize your comment. There are two ways you can work around this:

-- Use one of the built-in HTML header tags, such as <h1>This is my header</h1> or <h2>This is my subheader</h2>. The tags from <h1> through <h6> are visually differentiated from surrounding text in all the site skins (<h7> is identical to unstyled text in most of them). This is the best option if you're using font size changes to structure a comment, since it allows screenreader users to quickly navigate from header to header.

-- Use relative sizing with CSS, such as <span style="font-size: larger">This is larger text</span> or <span style="font-size: smaller">This is smaller text</span>. This is the best option if your styling is cosmetic only and conveys no information about the structure of your text, since most screenreaders will ignore it.

To be absolutely clear, this stripping only applies to comments. The markup you can use in entries is unchanged.

The Ada Initiative

Over the past few weeks I've been helping to advise Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner on their new project, The Ada Initiative, a not-for-profit (seeking nonprofit status) organization devoted to improving the representation and participation of women in open technology and culture (including open source, open data, open government, and lots of other open stuff). Mary and Val have a lot of great ideas and a really awesome vision (they asked for the advice of a fabulous group of women in open source, and I was honored to be asked, but we haven't had to do much advising yet -- Val and Mary know their stuff!)

If you're interested in helping to increase womens' participation in, and the working environments of, various open technology and open culture projects, check out the Ada Initiative. They're still in the very early days of the project, and a lot of the details are still up in the air, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish.


That's it from us for another week! As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page; if you've got an idea to make the site better, you can make a suggestion.

We'll see you next week, and hopefully every week thereafter from here on out.
sharpest_asp: Head shot of Black Canary of DC Comics (General: Dreamwidth)

[personal profile] sharpest_asp 2011-02-10 08:11 am (UTC)(link)
Had a friend get hit with that 2000px by 2000px image once, and am grateful to know it can't happen again.

All in all, best of luck on the financial side, and I look forward to seeing how the experiment goes. You reminded me that I really ought to get off my bum and code up my invite codes into posts for the sharing comm....

[personal profile] psybelle 2011-02-10 08:13 am (UTC)(link)
I wish I did have contact info for you for somebody at Speakeasy, but I don't (just dumped them as my ISP after nearly 10 years for similar unresponsiveness).

An actual paper letter sent to the corporate office in Seattle got me a call-back and offer to make reparations (10 days after I was up and running with the new ISP) where emails to multiple addresses got no response at all and phonecalls to customer service were unsatisfying....

(tag: speakeasy - the whole sordid tale of woe)
unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)

[personal profile] unixronin 2011-02-10 12:01 pm (UTC)(link)
It's sad that Speakeasy has fallen so far. Many of us who formerly used Speakeasy predicted that their acquisition by Best Buy would be the death of them, and so it appears...

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florahart: (writing)

[personal profile] florahart 2011-02-10 08:24 am (UTC)(link)
Question re: font sizes, which I can't believe is annoying to me but ugh because I have frequently found larger and smaller not to do what I want them to do:

Only absolute sizes are disabled? Relative ones that are percentages, or that are size="1"? Those still work?

Just checking.
digitalsidhe: (binary shades)

[personal profile] digitalsidhe 2011-02-10 03:56 pm (UTC)(link)
I was also coming here to know if things like <span style="font-size: 150%;"> will still work or not.

I think the size="1" that you mention was only permissible in the context of <font size="1">, which is ancient-style HTML 3.2. It never even occurred to me to try to use that stuff in a DW comment.

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[personal profile] zaluzianskya 2011-02-10 08:25 am (UTC)(link)
LJ did some HTML cleanup recently too, but I don't really understand -- what is it about <marquee> and <blink> that makes them necessary to strip out? I know they're a bit annoying, but how do they help spambots?
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)

[personal profile] sophie 2011-02-10 08:51 am (UTC)(link)
Judging by what's being said in the news post, it sounds like there was some use of them that would prevent the HTML cleaner from realising there was a tag open, so instead of the marquee or blink tag ending at the end of the comment, it would continue on to the end of the page, including all further comments.

That's what I'm reading from it, anyway.

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ilthit: (Default)

[personal profile] ilthit 2011-02-10 08:26 am (UTC)(link)
Knowing what I know about customer service, having worked on the other side, I'd recommend making a complaints case with the company. Complaints teams have a lot more flexibility in what they can offer - the frontline customer support people usually can only tell you about the procedures or escalate cases. If that doesn't work, call your local consumer protection agency.

The corporate management doesn't do the actual re-billing. They're often too busy to respond to mails like these anyway and their secretaries reroute them back to the frontline support team asking them to fix it, which they can't do, and the frontline team also probably can't escalate a case to complaints without the customer specifically requesting to make a complaint, but at this point they'll probably try, and the mail will be refused because it wasn't a direct customer contact. It's easier just to call complaints.
geekgirl: (Computer Geek)

[personal profile] geekgirl 2011-02-11 02:01 pm (UTC)(link)
This. Having been on the other side of the phone, CS reps usually have their hands tied by policy. It's not that most of them don't want to help, more that they're effectively made useless by corporate policy makers.
kigan: one of the most beautiful men on the planet being flamboyant and beautiful (needles)

[personal profile] kigan 2011-02-10 08:28 am (UTC)(link)
You mean I can't make blinking marquee'd sparkletext comments of awesomeness anymore? ;o; They're just not the same sitting still. Ah well, guess I had to join this decade eventually.

Now that's taken care of... You are all so awesome. *mass hug*
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)

[personal profile] melannen 2011-02-10 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)

Maybe I just hang out in the wrong communities, but I will miss the ability to use GIANT SPARKLY SCROLLY BLINKTEXT when called for. :P We are losing part of our fannish heritage!
Edited 2011-02-10 15:11 (UTC)

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chagrined: DC comics: Bruce is very chagrined (noooooooo!!!)

[personal profile] chagrined 2011-02-10 08:41 am (UTC)(link)
Is it only OpenID accounts who are posting this spam? Is it possible to just strip these elements from OpenID or anonymous commenters, so that registered users who use them can continue doing so?
lienne: A fountain pen nib, lying on paper. (Default)

[personal profile] lienne 2011-02-10 11:53 am (UTC)(link)
What ey said. (Hi, Krim!)

Alternatively, would it be possible to fine-tune the font size stripping so it puts an upper limit on declared font sizes but doesn't completely eradicate them? That seems like it would allow the people who use big text as a major part of their communication style to keep doing that, without letting spammers stamp their names all over the page. But I'm not an expert in markup tidying, so I don't know if it would be a feasible solution.

(double-posting for a slight wording fix)

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mokie: Earthrise seen from the moon (Default)

[personal profile] mokie 2011-02-10 09:05 am (UTC)(link)
Look up your state's attorney general--they're in charge of protecting consumers, and you can often file a complaint easily via the website.

It's quick and easy, and is often all it takes to light a fire under a company's butt to get them sorting out their mistake.
qem_chibati: Coloured picture of Killua from hunter x hunter, with the symbol of Qem in the corner. (A cat made from Q, E, M) (Default)

[personal profile] qem_chibati 2011-02-10 11:00 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I would go to whatever the equivalent of your consumer watch dog or telecommunications ombudsman would be in your state and get advice from them. I know with some of the mobile phone issues here (crazy hidden fees, sudden lack of service) they were pretty much the only thing that could help getting the issue resolved.

(The NSW Australia ombudsman gives some advise about making a complaint here, which might be helpful if you do decide to write a letter.

Personally it sounds like you've tried to do all you can within the company and you might need some external help.

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samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)

[personal profile] samjohnsson 2011-02-10 09:07 am (UTC)(link)
A thought on the open membership thing - depending on how it lines up with any fandom's Big Bang kickoff or closure, you may get an abnormal amount of traffic, whether it be high or low.

Also, regarding Speakeasy, have you considered sending a paper letter to their office, as [personal profile] psybelle suggested? I'd also carbon-copy it to at least the Washington Better Business Bureau.

[personal profile] puzzlement 2011-02-10 09:51 am (UTC)(link)
I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish.

... so am I! Thanks for the writeup.
grey_bard: (Default)

[personal profile] grey_bard 2011-02-10 10:54 am (UTC)(link)
Sounds like Speakeasy is due a post on The Consumerist:

This is just the kind of tale of wretched corporate woe that they love, and the readership is large enough that the chance of finding someone with a contact is pretty good.
dantesspirit: (Default)

[personal profile] dantesspirit 2011-02-10 03:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I second this. All else fails, they can tell you how to do a EECB.

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lanterne_rouee: dreamy red background with text: dreamer (dreamer)

[personal profile] lanterne_rouee 2011-02-10 11:26 am (UTC)(link)
ugh. corporations. just UGH. *peace vibes* hope you get your money back soon, and i'm glad you have the internet again! woo! \o/

thanks for keeping dw awesome. :)

i'm also curious to see how the open account creation week goes.
lirren: (Default)

[personal profile] lirren 2011-02-10 12:16 pm (UTC)(link)
You might try filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. When I had a similar problem with a fitness club, I ended up making a complaint with the FTC, and within a month the entire thing was completely resolved to my satisfaction.
lindentreeisle: Don- got tech? (Default)

[personal profile] lindentreeisle 2011-02-10 01:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Or the Better Business Bureau, Earthlink was pulling a lot of Shenanigans with me when I tried to switch to DSL with them, and it was astonishing how fast I got my refund once I filed that complaint.
green_grrl: (SGA_asskicking)

[personal profile] green_grrl 2011-02-10 04:29 pm (UTC)(link)
BBB was my first thought, too!

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[personal profile] stlscape 2011-02-10 01:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I frequently use to find head honcho information on companies. I searched for Megapath (link below), but didn't know which entry was the one you needed.
sine_nomine: (Default)

[personal profile] sine_nomine 2011-02-10 01:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Everyone's already said all I would have re your Speakeasy problem... my first thought was contact the State Attorney General.

That said, re the invite code thing: I know one should never say never but I seem to recall that, when DW started, you all said you'd never get rid of invite codes. Trying to understand why the shift in thinking now.

dantesspirit: (Default)

[personal profile] dantesspirit 2011-02-10 03:51 pm (UTC)(link)
They don't plan to do away with the Invite codes, but want to experiment and see if implementing a one week free for all period is feasible or not. If so, then they'll look into do it once a quarter, or 4 weeks a year.
delight: (Default)

[personal profile] delight 2011-02-10 04:30 pm (UTC)(link)
This open account creation week is an amazing idea for another reason I don't know if you guys have thought of (and if you have, I'm impressed but not surprised because I basically expect the DW staff to be impressive when it comes to people's health reasons): when you use a code from [site community profile] dw_codesharing, it tells the person whose code it was what your journal name is.

I have a couple of friends who were afraid to use codesharing for that reason; both had serious mental health issues and didn't want their account name broadcasted to a stranger, even a stranger in a closed community who was giving away the code and got no other information about them besides the username. For these people it ended up not being a problem because I got more codes, but I'm sure there are more than two people in the world like that – actually, I'm like that, and would never have been able to take a code from someone I didn't know well – who this will make a major difference for.

So in that arena, thank you. ♥
arethinn: glowing green spiral (Default)

[personal profile] arethinn 2011-02-10 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Perhaps this could be an enhancement: allow the person creating the account to decide whether the owner of the code is notified with the new account name or not.

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ext_576529: (Default)

[identity profile] 2011-02-10 04:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Jeeze. Speakeasy used to be pretty darn good a few years ago, but I had a feeling things would go bad when they got bought out by Best Buy. I didn't even know about whatever the MegaPath thing is about either. I guess MegaPath owns Covad now too? So now it's one giant ball of company that used to be several different things that worked together but had to be coordinated and competitive. Even mergers that make sense don't always work out.
kaeleersheart: (Saturn; friends)

[personal profile] kaeleersheart 2011-02-10 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Congrats on the internet! I think that is so nice of you to open the account on Dreamwidth so it will not require an invite code. I really like this idea and hope it works.
marahmarie: (M In M Forever) (Default)

[personal profile] marahmarie 2011-02-10 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
"They were responsible for our six-week-long internet nightmare, in which the service worked (intermittently, even) for a total of six days before completely cutting out for the next six weeks despite multiple attempts to resolve the problem, and they have since failed to cancel the service at our old location, triple-billed us despite us having turned off auto-bill-pay, refused to issue a refund of that overbilling and of the credit on our account, billed us again despite having cancelled the service, and now charged us a termination fee for cancelling a service they were unable to provide..."

My God, Denise, are you sure that wasn't AOL who did all that to you? I think I've barely heard of Speakeasy (my mind is going "Is that an ISP of some sort? OK...") but if they don't sound like AOL all over again then no one does, so you have my extreme sympathy for what you are going through.

I have to leave for work in a few so I don't have enough time right now, but when I get home tonight (or else tomorrow night, when I might have more time), I will signal-boost this issue from my own DW and ask others to do the same. Good luck. :)
sophie: A cartoon-like representation of a girl standing on a hill, with brown hair, blue eyes, a flowery top, and blue skirt. ☀ (Default)

[personal profile] sophie 2011-02-11 06:38 am (UTC)(link)
I think she's pretty sure it wasn't AOL, yes. In fact I rather suspect she's 100% sure...

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arethinn: glowing green spiral (Default)

OT: feed formats

[personal profile] arethinn 2011-02-10 07:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Improved our outgoing Atom feeds (the feed we provide of your journal) to make sure they contain all the information the RSS feeds contain, in order to play nice with other services out there.

Can someone explain to me what is the practical/real difference between Atom, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0, and what might lead me to choose one over another when a site offers multiple formats? (aside from possibly having a reader that could only handle one format - I use Google Reader, so I don't think that's ever an issue.)
kareila: (Default)

Re: OT: feed formats

[personal profile] kareila 2011-02-10 09:58 pm (UTC)(link)
My understanding is that Atom has more clearly defined standards for encoding metadata. It is generally considered to be the better choice, everything else being equal. RSS feeds are traditionally provided for backward compatibility with readers that haven't been updated to parse Atom feeds, although in this day and age I doubt that's a common issue any more.

It's kind of like, um, RSS is <font> tags and Atom is CSS, sort of, if that's a useful analogy.
trinity_clare: (Default)

[personal profile] trinity_clare 2011-02-10 08:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Aww, I will miss the blinky sparkly marquee comments. D:
doire: (Default)

[personal profile] doire 2011-02-11 04:53 pm (UTC)(link)
I shall have to resort to GIFs.
technoshaman: (rising)

[personal profile] technoshaman 2011-02-10 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Good on'ya, Denise, for helping out the Ada Initiative! I know a number of folk who would be interested in that... *goes to post*
aviekokyre: EBA themed Pokemon team walking along (Gotta cheer 'em all!)

[personal profile] aviekokyre 2011-02-11 12:53 am (UTC)(link)
That internet provider sounds like a nightmare. I hope it get works out and worked out fast.

And it looks like it's time for me to find a starting point for learning CSS.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)

[personal profile] silverflight8 2011-02-11 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
Added helpful text when you run into one of the system limitations on how many entries you can display on your reading page.


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