I’ve had to figure out 100 different puzzles to get the Blog and Forum going. An example is figuring out how PHP determines the time in different timezones.
It bothered me to see that both WordPress and bbPress display times only in terms of either Greenwich Mean Time or in the local time where the Server is located. In my case, my server in in North American Eastern Time, but I am located in Central Time. All the times displayed appeared to me to be one hour off my local time.
What many Forums do is to allow a person to enter their timezone in their profile. That would work, but the way I’ve set things up, there is currently no profile information in my Blog/Forum to set up after you’ve registered. It would require another step, and a simple one at that, but it’s something that just doesn’t feel necessary to me if it can be done automatically.
An automatic example, and something I did include, is to use the visitor’s IP address, which is passed to the server and available to PHP, to look up the country and a little country flag. The database for this is available free from ip2nation and there is a nice plugin for WordPress available to make it easy to do this.
So if there were an ip-to-timezone database to do the same, it would be easy. But unfortunately that beast is only available commercially and it doesn’t come cheap. We’re talking $649 for their least expensive database that includes timezone.
The other option is not to use the timezone at all. What bbPress did was quite interesting. Instead of listing the Date and Time as most forums do, they list how old the post is, e.g. 3 months old or 6 days old or 25 seconds old. In some ways that is very nice and will always work no matter what timezone the visitor is in. However, seeing “1 year old” doesn’t differentiate a post that might be anywhere from 1 year to 1 year and 364 years ago. Also relating those long ago periods into a timeframe context (i.e. when was that?) is not easy for most people, myself included.
WordPress and bbPress don’t use the same style. WordPress lists dates. bbPress lists time-ago. That’s not a difference I wanted in my integrated site.
So this is an example of one of the interesting puzzles that have been taking my time. This one was about 8 hours of work over 4 days. But it was fun and I learned a lot about all sorts of web technologies.
Hopefully the web-puzzles are just about over, and I’ll be back to Behold again. I know I’ve been saying this for the last six months, and Behold has been delayed as a result, but bear with me just a bit longer. My old Behold site is 8 years old and needed this rejuvination. The new site (beholdgenealogy.com) that I am finishing will have new technology that should be good hopefully for another 8 years. I’ll soon be able to concentrate on Behold with less interruptions than I would have otherwise. Thanks for your patience.