GTPlanet Update Log: New Features and Site Changes

Discussion in 'Site Support' started by Jordan, Jan 8, 2014.

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  1. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    GTPlanet is now using a new image proxy system to serve all images posted on the forums. This means that any image image you share or "hotlink" in a post (without uploading it as an attachment to that post) will be automatically and transparently copied to and served back to you from GTPlanet's servers. A copy of each image will be stored for 7 days, after which the servers will fetch a new copy of the image from the original host.

    Although this will have no significant impact on how most of you use the site every day, there are a few things you should know about it, how it works, and why it was implemented:
    • Improved Security & Privacy - Serving all content from GTPlanet means that spammers and other shady characters cannot track our visitors and cannot use "cookie stuffing" techniques. This also prevents someone from embedding extremely large images which can crash your browser or needlessly consume your bandwidth - a very important factor, especially if you are on a mobile network (images cannot exceed 10MB).
    • Faster Image Loading - Because all images are being served directly from GTPlanet's infrastructure, they may be loaded faster than they would from their original source. And, if you've already viewed the image before, it will be served directly from your browser's cache so you won't have to download it again.
    • No More "Malware" Warnings - Sometimes, when users post images on GTPlanet from websites which may have been hacked or compromised, other visitor's browsers would display a scary, bright red splash screen proclaiming that GTPlanet contained embedded content from "known malware distributors", or something along those lines. Although this never actually represented a security threat (because embedded image files are mostly harmless), it was a regular occurrence and a frequent topic here in the Site Support forum - not to mention an irritating clean-up job for myself and our moderators. These warnings will no longer be an issue.
    • No More "Bandwidth Exceeded" Placeholder Images - Some image hosting services place a cap on how much bandwidth an image can consume (or how many times it could be viewed), and when that is exceeded, everyone sees some type of error message instead of the picture. Because GTPlanet's server makes only one request every seven days to the origin and the image is served from our infrastructure the rest of the time, we won't be contributing to its bandwidth usage and the image can stay online for everyone to see on GTPlanet.
    Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks that may impact how some of you use some types of images here:
    • Dynamic Image Countdowns/Timers - "countdown" images which are dynamically generated will not function as expected here, because GTPlanet's server only retrieves the image once every seven days.
    • Custom Dynamic Images - If you are hosting an image on your own server and then changing that image for it to be displayed in your thread, note that the image will not refresh until it expires from GTPlanet's cache in at least 7 days. You can change the file name to display the new changes, or, if you're using Dropbox, you can send me a private message for information on another alternative method.
    • Large Animated GIFs or Photos - Any image over 10MB will not be cached by GTPlanet and will instead show an error image, like the one you see below. This is a very large image, anyway, and could crash mobile devices, older computers, and several of these images could quickly consume someone's limited bandwidth. Instead, please link directly to these types of images instead of embedding them.
    Broken image links will display the following picture:
    [​IMG]
     
    Tom, msgt-sd, Saidur_Ali and 24 others like this.
  2. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Google, Facebook, and Twitter accounts can now be used to sign in to GTPlanet.

    Existing GTPlanet Users


    You can associate your Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts with your GTPlanet account on the External Accounts page. Doing so can streamline the sign-in process using the new buttons on the sign-in page:

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 3.48.12 PM.png

    New GTPlanet Users

    Using one of these services greatly streamlines the registration process for new users. Their accounts will be no different than any other account here on GTPlanet, but it eliminates many steps from the account registration and confirmation process.

    If you have friends or family who may have hesitated to join our community because of the need to "create another account", please let them know about this new functionality.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
    m8h3r, Saidur_Ali, Harsk100 and 16 others like this.
  3. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    You can now embed pictures and videos from Instagram and Vine directly into your posts on GTPlanet.

    Just copy the shareable URL from either service and paste it into your post and the site will take care of the rest; it works just like YouTube videos:

    Instagram:
    Code:
    http://instagram.com/p/iQWtSSwMGu/


    Vine:
    Code:
    https://vine.co/v/bYwPIluIipH


    Embedded YouTube videos have also been modified; on a PC, you'll find the video player is now larger. On mobile devices, embedded video players will maintain their aspect ratio, making them more compact and significantly reducing wasted vertical space on the page.

     
  4. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    I have completed the transition to a new email service provider for GTPlanet.

    This should have no impact on users and you should not to see anything different than before. However, please keep an eye out for notification emails from GTPlanet and please let me know if you experience anything unexpected or unusual (missing notification messages, too many messages, etc.).
     
    Saidur_Ali, Gerarghini, NP and 7 others like this.
  5. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    A software update has just been applied to GTPlanet. Here's some highlights of what's new:
    • Selective Quote: My personal favorite among all the new features, you can now select the specific text you wish to quote from a post. With your cursor, highlight the text, and a box will appear with options to immediately quote the text or add it to your multi-quote queue. Mobile users can use this feature as well, though support cannot be guaranteed across all mobile platforms and browsers.
    • Online Status Indicators: If a user is online, a small "Online Now" indicator will be displayed below their username in threads and conversation messages. Enhanced online status privacy controls are also now available, providing you with more control over what other users can see that you're doing on the site.
    • Polling Improvements: Several changes and small improvements are now available when you create a poll:
      • The creator can now control exactly how many responses a user can select in multiple-choice polls.
      • You can now give voters the option to change their votes after voting.
      • You can now restrict poll results to be hidden from view until a user votes in the poll.
      • Additional options can be added to polls after they have been created, and you now have full control over editing polls before they have received any votes.
    • See All Profile Posts: A "New Profile Posts" tab is now available from the Recent Posts page. It also includes messages that users post to other's profiles.
    • Ignored User Improvements: The most recent profile posts displayed on the sidebar of the homepage will now hide any posts from users on your ignore list.
    • Thread Reply Bans: Our moderators now have the ability to ban individual users from replying to specific threads. If this affects you, you will see a note at the bottom of the page which states that you do not have permissions to reply to the thread, and you may receive an alert informing you of the situation.
    • User Tag Auto-Completion Improvements: With nearly a quarter of a million registered members, username auto-completion can be somewhat useless when @ tagging or composing a private message. To make this easier and more efficient, usernames will only appear in the auto-completion menu if that user was active on the site within the past 180 days.
    • Mass Unsubscribe from Watched Threads: You can now disable email notifications from all watched threads or stop watching all of the threads you are currently subscribed to. Use the "Manage Watched Threads" button available here.
    There are also numerous behind-the-scenes improvements designed to help fight spam and give more tools to our moderation staff. If you see something which looks out of place or if you have any questions about the new features, please post here in the Site Support forum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  6. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 6.56.33 PM.png

    GTPlanet is now available exclusively via TLS/SSL; this means all requests to the site must now be made using the 'https://' protocol. All old http:// links will be redirected. Although this change will have little impact to the way most of you use the site, it is a major change which has several important benefits you should know about:

    Improved Security

    SSL is the same technology used by online banks and ecommerce stores. Most major websites and online services today - including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram - are also available exclusively via SSL.

    This means that all of your communication with GTPlanet is automatically encrypted and cannot be read by third parties who may be sniffing your web traffic. Most importantly, you can now safely access GTPlanet via public WiFi networks, such as those found at coffee shops, hotels, and airports, without fear of exposing your password or session hijacking.

    Faster Loading Speeds

    SSL enables GTPlanet to support the latest version of the SPDY/3.1 protocol. SPDY (pronounced "speedy") is a new communications protocol developed by Google to replace HTTP. As its name implies, SPDY can bring significant speed improvements by optimizing the flow of data between the server and your web browser, reducing the number of packets exchanged by up to 40%.

    Users close to GTPlanet's New York City-based server can expect to see a 15-20% reduction in page loading times, while more distant users in Australia and Asia may see pages loading up to 35-40% faster. Mobile users on slow cellular networks should also see significant improvements.

    Most modern browsers on both PCs and mobile devices already support the SPDY protocol, and they will use it automatically when connecting to the site. You can find out if your browser supports SPDY by reviewing this chart. If your browser does not support SPDY, it will fall back to HTTPS when accessing GTPlanet.

    For those of you interested in a more technical explanation of how SPDY works, here's a nice overview. The most significant speed improvements should be visible in threads which feature a large number of images or smilies.

    Thanks for your patience...

    Converting a site as diverse and complex as GTPlanet is a very involved process, and I'm still ironing out many bugs. The site may occasionally become unresponsive over the next few days as issues are fixed. Different elements of the page may also be temporarily broken or disabled.

    Please report anything you believe may be broken in the Site Support forum, or if you find any pages which display a warning that they include "unsecure elements" or content. Also, I'd be interested to hear you can see a tangible difference in loading speed; please send me a note if you do.
     
  7. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    All images posted to the forum which are larger than 800 pixels in width will now be automatically resized by the server. This applies to images uploaded directly to posts as attachments and images embedded or hotlinked from other websites.

    Unlike the "click to enlarge" image resizing feature which has been in place for some time, this new functionality resizes the actual image before it is served to you, so its file size and bandwidth usage will be greatly reduced.

    This will have a profound impact on image-heavy gallery threads, many of which contain over 100MB of embedded images per page and can be very slow to load. Early tests show these pages could see more than a 90% reduction in size, which will greatly improve browsing speeds for all users while improving usability for mobile devices and visitors with slow or limited Internet connections.

    To share a high-resolution image from this point forward, please link to its URL directly.

    Note: For images uploaded as attachments, only files uploaded after today (March 6, 2015) will be resized; older images will not be affected. Embedded images hotlinked from other sites (Flickr, Photobucket, Imgur, etc.) will all be resized retroactively, regardless of when they were posted.

    NOTICE: Embedded image resizing has been temporarily disabled due to technical issues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  8. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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  9. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    A minor software update has been applied to the forums to increase security and stability.

    Most notably, "brute force" login attempts to forum accounts will be logged and the visitor temporarily blocked if a they fail to enter the correct password for an account more than four times within five minutes.

    Additionally, the site will be offline for approximately one hour tonight (Thursday, April 30th) beginning around 10:00pm Eastern Daylight Time for major server hardware upgrades.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
  10. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    A major hardware upgrade for the site has just been completed, which moves GTPlanet to new, dedicated infrastructure in a premier tier 4 data center in Piscataway, New Jersey.

    datacenter.jpg

    The upgrade was necessary to handle the site's increasing storage requirements, and to accommodate additional growth expected from a new user gallery system which will be launched within the next few weeks.

    There may be a few things broken around the site over the next few days; as always, please report them by creating a new thread here in the Site Support forum, and thanks for your patience.
     
  11. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    I'm very excited to introduce GTPlanet's new Media Gallery platform, which makes it easier than ever to share, collect, and browse photos and videos on the site. The feature launches today in public beta, so the community can get things started and we can hopefully squash any remaining bugs. It will be formally announced with a "grand opening" on the homepage later.

    Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 6.16.49 PM.png

    You can access the media gallery here. It provides a full suite of photo sharing features:
    • Create, Manage, Share, and Collaborate on Albums
      • You have full control over how many and what kinds of albums you create, and you can organize and move photos between them as you like.
      • Keep albums private, share them with specific friends, or open to them to the public. You can also allow other users to contribute to your albums, be it just the friends you specify or anyone else.
      • Like, comment, and subscribe to albums to get notified when they're updated.
    • Videos and Photos
      • Albums can contain both photos and videos, side-by-side. Videos must be hosted on one of the supported video services (YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, etc.), but their thumbnails, titles, and descriptions will automatically be inserted into GTP's gallery.
      • Once uploaded, you can perform basic edits to your photos, including cropping and rotating the image.
      • Full-size images are stored on the server (up to 5000x5000 pixels) and can be downloaded at their original resolution.
      • Clicking a photo opens a quick-view, full-screen lightbox which can be used to navigate all the photos in an album (Quick Tip: Use the left and right arrows on your keyboard to go between images!)
      • Tag photos with descriptive words or phrases, or to quickly create groups of related photos between albums. Search tags and see the most popular tags in the sidebar of the Media Gallery's home page. You can also tag other members in your pictures, and they'll receive a notification.
      • Quickly set a picture as your avatar, set custom thumbnails, view original EXIF photo data, and access copy links that make it easy to share or embed photos.
      • Add likes and comments to photos, with full support for user tagging and basic message formatting options. Subscribe to updates on photos to be notified of new activity.
      • See how popular your images are: all image views are tracked and counted, and you can sort albums and user photos by the number of likes and comments.
    • Filter Photos by Games
      • The gallery has been customized with video games in mind, so when uploading new media or Photomode shots, you can specify from which games the images are from.
      • Quickly see all of the images from a specific game using the "Filter by Game" section in the media gallery sidebar.
    • Fully Integrated with GTPlanet's Forums
      • The gallery system is fully integrated with GTPlanet's forum platform. You'll receive alerts for all types of activity on media you share, depending on your account settings.
      • Media titles, descriptions, and comments can be found and searched using the site search engine.
      • All activity and new uploads will be logged in user's news feeds, so you can see what your friends are doing.
      • Quickly find all of the media and albums a user has posted using the new "Albums" and "Media" tabs visible on user profiles.
      • Use the new camera icon (found in the row of buttons in the advanced post editor) to quickly insert images you have uploaded to the media gallery back into your forum posts. Others can then click the images to be taken back to its full media details page.
    • Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth for Premium Users
      • GTPlanet Premium subscribers can enjoy unlimited photo uploads at no additional cost. You can upload as many pictures as you like and they won't be knocked offline for exceeding a bandwidth limit (excluding any instances of abuse, of course). Regular users can upload 10GB of content for free, with no bandwidth limits. *Note: Users with less than 10 posts must have their images approved by the moderation staff before they will be visible to the public.
    The media gallery will be further integrated and linked to within the site over the next few days. For now, you can access the media gallery's home page at gtplanet.net/forum/media. We have a lot of talented virtual (and real) photographers around here, and I'm really looking forward to see what you guys start uploading.

    As always, please report any problems you experience here in the Site Support forum.

    Enjoy the new features. :gtpflag:
     
    Johnny1996, Zelalem, NP and 58 others like this.
  12. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    You can now embed content from Twitter directly into posts on GTPlanet. As with the other embedded media formats, simply copy and paste the URL into your message:

    For example:
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/GTPlanetNews/status/632980264407429120


    It works with videos, too:
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/633343188523024384
     
  13. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    You can now "like" individual comments made to profile posts. Additionally, all comments made to profile posts (from this point forward) will be included in search results.
     
  14. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    For those who desire an extra layer of security for their GTPlanet accounts, two-factor authentication is now available.

    To configure it, visit the Two-Step Verification set-up page and follow the instructions. For the strongest security, I recommend using two-step verification in conjunction with the Authy or Google Authenticator apps.

    It works by prompting you for a second security code (generated from the apps or sent to your email address) each time you sign in. However, you can "trust" individual devices for 30 days, so you'll only need to enter the security code once per month. Because of the high number of large-scale hacks and data-breaches these days, two-step authentication will prevent someone from gaining access to your account even if they obtained your password.
     
  15. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    You can now embed audio players from the following sources directly into your posts. As with the other auto-embeds, simply paste the URL of the content into your post and the player will appear once your message has been posted.
    Spreadsheets from Google Docs can also now be embedded. However, embedded spreadsheets are poorly implemented (by Google) for mobile devices, so please use them sparingly.

    To learn more about media embedding, click here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
    Litchi, Inferno251, KiroKai and 33 others like this.
  16. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Starting today, all comments for GTPlanet News articles will be hosted within the GTPlanet Forums.

    Some articles will have dedicated threads created for them by a special forum account, @GTPNewsWire. You can see an example of what these new articles and threads look like here and here, with our first article taking advantage of this new feature. If appropriate, other articles will have their comments hosted within existing forum threads created by other users as determined by our editors.

    Multiple articles can be associated with the same forum thread, an article's assigned thread can be changed as needed, and the article's comment count will reflect the number of replies to its forum thread. As a user, this new system allows you to take full advantage of all the functionality provided by our forums when discussing the latest news, such as tags, alerts, email notifications, embedded content, etc.

    Comments on older articles will remain visible. To date, over 195,000 article comments have been posted.
     
    NP, J24681357, GTRacer22 and 29 others like this.
  17. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Today sees the launch of an extensive redesign for GTPlanet, colloquially referred to as "GTP15".

    The new layout brings with it a strong new design language and font, with the most dramatic changes coming to our home page and editorial content. With our expanded editorial coverage, we need a site that better showcases all the hard work of our writing team, and I have built this new layout from the ground up with that specific goal in mind. I'm very happy with how it turned out and I'm excited to (finally!) share it with everyone. (Once again, if you have writing experience and would like to join the writing team, let me know!)

    As always, please report any bugs that you may find here in the Site Support forum. Please note that our new layout is built with new, modern web technologies. As such, older browsers — including all versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer — will no longer be supported.

    Finally, I am happy to announce that @SlipZtrEm has been promoted here in the forums, joining myself and @Famine on the administration team. With @SlipZtrEm serving as our Editor-in-Chief and @Famine serving as our new Automotive Editor, I am very excited for GTPlanet's next chapter.

    :gtpflag:
     
  18. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    A new feature has been added for those of you who may be experiencing problems with the fixed-position header used in GTPlanet's new layout.

    To disable this, select the "Disable 'Sticky' Header" option in your Account Preferences.
     
    FrzGT, Smurfybug, Inferno251 and 17 others like this.
  19. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    As many of you may know, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on May 25, 2018.

    Although GTPlanet is based on the United States and is not technically under jurisdiction of the law, we have a large number of visitors from Europe, and privacy for all our users is important to us. Fortunately, our existing systems and policies are already compliant with GDPR standards, and we have added a new "personal data export" feature to further support the new regulations.

    More information about this feature is available in our newly updated Privacy Policy, which contains more information about the data we collect and how it is used.
     
    Robin, MadMax, Jimlaad43 and 13 others like this.
  20. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Thanks for your patience during our downtime this evening; I was busy moving GTPlanet to all-new server infrastructure.

    The datacenter technicians were kind enough to send over a photo of our new hardware, which I wanted to share. Here's the actual box which hosts the site:

    server.jpg

    :gtpflag:

    The new server is significantly more powerful than our old server, featuring all-solid-state hard drives, 64GB of RAM, and more processing power. In addition to this new server, I have made additional investments to upgrade other parts of our technical infrastructure to make the site faster and more secure.

    Of course, there will be some growing pains. As always, please report any problems here in the Site Support forum.
     
  21. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    Flickr, the popular image hosting service, is about to implement major changes to their platform which could impact GTPlanet and our community in significant ways. On February 5, 2019 (the date has been postponed to March 2019) Flickr will begin deleting photos by users with free accounts whom have uploaded more than 1,000 images:

    For more information, see the official announcement by Flickr.

    How does this affect GTPlanet?

    Millions of images have been posted on GTPlanet and hundreds of thousands of those images are hosted on Flickr (fun fact: GTPlanet is actually three years older than Flickr!), many of which are in our Gran Turismo and Forza Photomode forums. It is impossible to know how many of our users will be affected by these changes, but due to the sheer volume of Flickr images here, a significant number of images in our Photomode forums may go missing on February 5th.

    What can GTPlanet do about this?

    My options are limited, but I have made some important policy changes to how image hosting on GTPlanet works.

    As of December 1, 2018, all images posted or viewed in the forums via external URL (like Flickr) are saved to our server and will be hosted by GTPlanet indefinitely. By permanently storing all images posted to GTPlanet, they will be significantly more reliable, unaffected by the rise-and-fall of external image hosting services like Photobucket and Flickr.

    Although these changes will make GTPlanet faster and more reliable over the long term, hosting these images indefinitely means the cost of running the site will rise quickly. GTPlanet is currently growing by 2-4GB per day, and I expect this rate will only climb in the future. If you find the site useful and want to contribute to the community, please consider purchasing a Premium subscription for just $1.00 per month. All Premium subscription fees directly fund our site infrastructure costs and every subscriber helps.

    What about images posted before December 1, 2018?

    All external images posted or viewed after December 1, 2018 will be saved indefinitely. If you have simply loaded a page with an image on it since that date, that image will be saved.

    I have Photomode galleries on GTPlanet with lots of Flickr images, what should I do?

    First, check to see if your Flickr account will be impacted. Only free accounts with more than 1,000 images will have their oldest files deleted.

    To be sure the images you have posted on GTPlanet are not affected, simply view your old Photomode gallery threads here in the forums. By loading the images, you will ensure they are permanently cached on our servers, regardless of what happens to them on Flickr.

    Images uploaded directly to GTPlanet as attachments or to our Media Gallery are already permanently stored and are not affected by these changes.

    As always, if you have any questions, please share them here in our Site Support forum.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  22. Jordan

    Jordan Administrator

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    You can now upload SVG files directly to posts as attachments on GTPlanet. Note that you cannot embed SVGs into posts as you would with bitmaps (JPEGs, PNGs, GIFs, etc.), but they can be downloaded with a click.

    This should make it much easier for livery designers to share and collaborate on SVG files in our GT Sport forum.
     
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