New newsletter layout online (sort of)

Dennis Faas's picture

I have been *extremely* busy as of late and am having a hard time keeping up with my regular schedule (and subsequently, the regular newsletter schedule).

Just before the holiday break, I mentioned that the newsletter layout would be changing. Well -- no surprise -- it looks like I jumped the gun again.

As I was adding the finishing touches to the new article format, I decided that it would be extremely beneficial to include links to related articles [previously posted in our newsletter], immediately following the feature article.

So, for an example: if I wrote a new article on XP Service Pack 2, an "article cross reference" program could search through our archive of previously written articles, and then extract all pertinent material related to XP Service Pack 2. The links to those articles would then be appended to the end of the current article, essentially providing the user with ongoing, related discussions.

It sounded like a great idea -- and then I got thinking some more. In terms of the future, I thought, users may need to use this "article cross reference" program in real-time -- meaning that hordes of information would need to be sifted in a jiffy. The plan is: at some point in the near future (ok, maybe a not-so distant future) I will be inviting other authors to submit articles to our Reader base.

And with over 600 articles under my belt, plus an onslaught of articles submitted by other authors, plus the fact that there are approximately 10,000 unique visitors to our site every time the newsletter is sent out: that can add up to a lot of information to sift through -- and potentially, a lot of processing power required.

So how is all of this going to be implemented?

Answer: through the use of an index file.

Another program that I wrote extracts keywords from all previously written articles. Once the keywords are acquired, they are added into an index database, which also contains the corresponding article title and date. The "article cross reference" program will then search through the index database and try to find a best matching articles, according to the prominence of a keyword and a number of other criteria.

Simple, straight-forward, and efficient.

After much thought and effort, I'm please to say that -- aside from a few tweaks that need to be implemented -- I've just about finished working on this project.

And that brings me to my next point.

With all of the new changes taking place, I've also moved ahead with a new home page for my XP Service Pack 2 Installation Guide. The new page I've whipped together incorporates the new newsletter format. So if you want a sneak-peak at the changes to come, please take a look at the Service Pack 2 home page [link to follow].

... but before you surf on over, I have a favor to ask. In order to add a personal touch to the page, I need to sprinkle a few testimonials from users who have downloaded and read my XP Service Pack 2 guide. I've already receive a number of "thank-you's" already -- for which I am grateful, however, the majority of the comments are similar, and therefore, will be unusable for the new home page.

You can view the new newsletter layout (in its preliminary stage) and the XP Service Pack 2 page, using the link below.The link to email me your comments will be on the far left (top) of the page for the next few days. Thanks!

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