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Under the Fold:

Third Time's a Charm


Dig the new digs?

I could almost begin by quoting a very similar article I wrote last year.  In fact, I will:

"Good morning, world!  Wow, it's been over a year since I've posted an announcement."  Yes, that's true, actually.  I've gotta work on that.

"Not that the site's been dead for a year--no, Mac and Monkey have kept us in good supply of reviews, and I've been tinkering under the hood for several months."  Deja vu! Now though, we've got a stronger staff than ever: Macabre Stalker, Reel Monkey, Nate, Matt, Ryan, Al, Ham, MotPic, Hajile, Hargrove, Evan, Reel Hero, let me shout it from the mountain top... You're all awesome!!!  We've got some newer arrivals, too: Mark, Slash, Bachalon, Pavel, and Sean, it's good to have you aboard.

That's nearly 20 staff members!  I'm just continually amazed at how much we've grown in the past year.  Said growth is also reflected in our traffic: We're pulling in a consistent 1200-1400 unique visitors per day, putting us on pace to triple our total from last year.  We may be within reach of 500,000 visits in 2005.  Our Alexa rank is about 500,000 and getting smaller (which is a good thing) and our Google PageRank is getting bigger (also a good thing).  And the forums are starting to pick up.  Just imagine what I'll be writing about a year from now...  We're almost "there", and getting there quickly!

And yes, I've been tinkering under the hood again.

As enthusiastic as I was about Version 2--and really, it's served us well--my shortcomings as a programmer quickly became obvious.  The code was messy, an attempt to add or "fix" one thing led to another page or two breaking, and it just wasn't easy to work with.  I never got around to all the cool, new features I promised, either.  Plus, V2 didn't really look cool.

Problems solved.  Here's a list of what's new with V3:

  • The visual style, codenamed "Newbucket".  Fancy, huh?  We drew inspiration for the layout from another website we all respect, but I feel we made it our own and finally fleshed out the "popcorn bucket" motif in a very cool way.  Oh, and the forums match, too.
  • There's much more to the search and display pages.  Just browse our reviews or scope out our Revenge of the Sith page to get an idea.  Fancy graphs, more statistics--putting the Smart in "Smart Popcorn"--and now, easy access to buy DVDs, posters, and other merchandise.  (You buy them anyway, so why not support your favorite site and click through us?)
  • Some pages now offer Macromedia Flash-enhanced content.  To Flash or not to Flash?  You decide.  Just click on "Enable Flash" and "Disable Flash" as you see fit.
  • Backend stuff.  Database abstraction, templating, session handling--these subtasks are now handled automatically.  I'll spare the technical details, but here's a fun story:  We unveiled V3 Monday morning at 2 AM.  Mac immediately found about 6-8 bugs and I was able to correct them all within an hour.  With bugfixes and tweaks out of the way, I'll be able to focus on new features.

Yes, new features...  It's time to start looking ahead again!  I oughtta know not to make promises premature, but I can't help it...  I'm too excited.  In fact, feel free to bug me on the forums to get these done.  I want to get them done, and I appreciate any encouragement--even the somewhat nagging sort.  Here goes:

  • Podcast/Internet Radio Show.  That's right...  We're expanding beyond the webpage to your MP3 player.  Details are still sketchy, but we've already recorded a pilot episode and set up a MySpace Music account as a temporary hub.  We'll be rolling out more news about this very soon, so keep an eye out.
  • Global Community LogoGlobal Community.  (This one's a doozy!)  Regardless of the features we add, at the core of our site is the two-scale, 10,000-point Review System.  That's the main draw and our most unique quality.  Well, we're going to start sharing the system--to a limited degree--with other independent websites.  We'll encourage them to adopt our two-scale system, and request that they link to our site.  In return, we'll list their reviews on a GC page mirroring our current movie pages, and provide them with special versions of our nifty graphs.  The Global Community will double as a sort of link exchange system and a means of propagating our site ideology.
  • Talkbacks, U-Review, Critic Scorecard, Polls, and more.  Yes, some of these have been in the works for a while.  The talkbacks (arguably the most involved feature to implement) are about half-finished.  U-Reviews and Scorecards will be easy to make work, and polls as well.  We'll probably even host an occasional contest.  However, visitors will need to become registered users to participate in these features.

Which brings me to my last point.  As you may have noticed, I've been plugging the forums a lot, and with good reason.  SMART-POPCORN.com is becoming more than just a website--it's becoming a community.  We want you to be a part of it, and we'll continue to do all that we can to make it more fun & interesting for all of you.  Step One is getting to know each other, and the forums are the best place to do that.  So come on in and join us, won't you?

"Punch and pie."  (That was Reel Monkey's idea.)

Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy V3!

- Thom

Let's all go to the forums!

P.S.  We hate spam, and we value your privacy as much as we value our own.  Certain optional information (such as AIM/Yahoo!/MSN screen names) will be publicly visible within the forums, but we won't share your e-mail or other personal information with anyone. 

Author: Thom Stricklin 951 Words Published: 30 August 2005
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