Finding And Discussing LXer News Your Way

Posted by dcparris on Jul 18, 2006 7:21 AM EDT
Lxer; By DC Parris
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LXer Feature: 18-Jul-2006

LXer's Editor-in-Chief, Don Parris, continues his guided tour of LXer, focusing on searching, discussing the news, and customizing LXer.

Continuing the Tour

You're back! I'm so glad you've returned to continue the tour! As you may recall, from the first leg of our tour, I showed you the top links, the sidebar, and how to navigate the newswire. Today we'll show you the search feature and discussion forums. We'll also show you how you can customize LXer a bit.

Grep (Search) the News

I mentioned the search box previously. It's that small box with a blank in it, about halfway down the sidebar. If we search on the term "Free Software Foundation", and hit the [Enter] key on our keyboards, we turn up about 157 results. Granted, LXer's search is not as sophisticated as grep, but people frequently come to look for news.

But you don't even have to visit LXer to search the site. If you scroll to the bottom of the page (any page with search results on it), you'll see a line that says, "Add the LXer Search to your Firefox browser!". From now on, you can just make sure that LXer is selected as your search engine in the Firefox search bar, and search til your heart's content.

Discussing the News

Now then, what fun would it be if, after finding some news, we had no one to share it with? Or, more accurately, what if we had no one with whom to discuss our views about the news? And women think they've cornered the market on gossip! Ha! Here at LXer, we have a built-in gossip, er, um, discussion feature that let's everyone share their views about the news.

If you look at the newswire (front page), you should see in each box something to the effect of 1 thread and 1 post. There may be 0 threads or discussions (which means 0 posts as well). Or there may be 20 posts spread across 4 threads. Clicking on the discussion link from the first article in this tour, we see this 'threadlist'. We can now choose which thread to follow.

Clicking on the thread link leads you to the actual thread, where you can see what's posted. At the top of every thread is a set of links: "Watch Thread - Post Reply - Skip to New". By clicking the Watch Thread link, you will see a notice at the top of the newswire when you login to LXer. That notice will disappear after you have checked the thread. You really don't have to use the Post Reply link, as there is a reply box at the bottom of each thread. Finally, the Skip to New link will take you to the first new post in the thread.

You can quote a previous post by copying and pasting the text into your reply, and enclosing that in [quote] and [/quote] tags. Some people don't care for the way the blockquote is rendered, but until we can get Dave to modify it, we'll have to live with it. I think most people simply use e-mail-style quoting:

"> May I quote you on that?"

Customizing LXer

Finally, I would like to direct your attention to your own page. That's right, ladies and gentlemen (and hackers, too)! We give you your very own page. Of course, you're probably the only person who cares about your page, but hey... Your member page is actually fairly useful. For instance, you can access private e-mail, view your user groups, change your timezone and layout preferences, view watched threads, and change your password or e-mail address. O.k., well, you can also logout, but that wouldn't be very much fun now, would it?

So let's try customizing our layout a little. Basically, you can change the color theme, and that requires knowing your Hex color values. If you're not an HTML/CSS guru, you can check out the color table at W3 Schools. If you click the View Others link, you can see how other LXer members have customized their views. For now, though, click the Change your layout preferences link.

Skip down to the Pretty Box field. The third (last) HTML table has a line like:
  td valign="top" align="left" bgcolor="#ffffff"
Change the bgcolor so that bgcolor="#B0C4DE". Click Save this change, then Click here to return to the Front Page. The next page you load after clicking the Save this change link should cause your new settings to take effect. So you save the settings, then load the settings.

I managed to change the story boxes to black, which gave LXer the console look. Unfortunately, I couldn't change the font colors, so only links were visible. And we have heard from one or two visually impaired folks who need to adjust the fonts to a larger size. So remind me to lobby Dave to let us manage our font colors and sizes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour! Come on and be a part of the LXer community. Join a few discussions, submit a few stories, share your opinions with us and the world.

» Read more about: Story Type: Tutorial; Groups: LXer

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