Welcome to the New Bureau!

The site hasn’t been hacked or taken over by SyFy or anything; it just got a long-overdue makeover and more-or-less complete upgrade. We’d actually hoped to celebrate April Fool’s with a different, and much more ugly, version of the site, but things just didn’t work out quite that way.

Instead of running on hand-cobbled software I put together nearly nine years ago, we’ve moved everything over to WordPress, one of the best packages out there for that sort of thing. While basically everything made the trip into the new database safely, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • User-names are Case-SenSiTiVe now. We apologize for the inconvenience.
  • A (very) few old stories and old comments look a bit weird. Sorry ’bout that.
  • The old submission queue has taken a temporary holiday. I’m picking a new one up over the weekend. In the short-term, if you have a story suggestion (or any other comment, really) email Dave.
  • Same thing, if you discover anything else horribly broken or missing. (There are a few things we already know about, but send us comments anyway.)
  • If you want a custom user icon/avatar, sign up for the Gravatar service. There, you can create a “global avatar” that works not only here, but on many other Web sites as well.

We hope you enjoy your stay at the “new” Bureau.

31 replies on “Welcome to the New Bureau!”

  1. Ahh, I have to admit I did think it was an April Fool’s Day joke. I think the logo needs to be re-thought, something more like the original would look better in my opinion. What’s with the green gradient in the background? :P

    The right panel is great though and I do like WordPress. My suggestions:

    1. A feed of the latest comments on the right. RSS might do that but I can’t use an RSS reader at work ;). I know it’s on the dashboard but something right on the front page would be preferable.

    2. A DB of the reviews to browse through sorted by title.

    3. An easy link to the DVD and Comic release lists without hunting for the article.

    42. A preview and spell check option.

    5. An edit option with a limited timer.

    That’s all I got. I’ve been coming here for almost 7 years I believe, change isn’t always easy :)

    Great job guys!

    • The background (a very heavily modified picture of the Aurora Borealis, actually) was supposed to evoke a sense of spaciness (outer-space, not whitespace). Also it beat the pants off the background that came with the theme we used as a base.

      We’ll look into the rest. (There are a few comment-preview plugins, at least, but they all require a bit of hacking-on to make them look “right” and fit in. Maybe after I return from vacation.)

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • Comments feed++. Preferably per-story as well as site-wide.

      For spell checking, I’d suggest using a browser which has built-in spell checking. Firefox, Safari, and Opera all do textarea spell checking. In other words, pretty much anything other than IE :)

  2. The RSS feed address hasn’t changed, or else I’d never know about this! :)

  3. OK. I still had to capitalize the first letter of my login to get on, but it shows as lower case in my profile. Color me confused.

    • We’re a bit confused here, honestly. WordPress differentiates between “login name” and “display name,” and in fact ‘your name’ goes in about three different places in the database. Why, I may never know.

  4. I definitely enjoy the use of word press. I think the logo is a step in the wrong direction, it makes the site feel a bit amateurish.

    So here is my review of the site:

    High points:
    Bureau42 is updated fairly regularly. The reviewers have a good sense of the genre and regularly make comparisons to other material. Bureau42 finally transitions into the next decade! There is a great community and you don’t see the typical dissenter troll the comments.

    Low points:
    Not much to say here. The new logo needs a bit of work but that can be taken care of in time.

    Originality: 3/6. There are plenty of sites that review science-fiction material. Bureau42 brings a lot of extras including release dates and time lines.

    Effects: 5/6. Moving to WordPress has done wonders for the site. It is now easier to search and I finally recovered my password! The theme is nice but a little dark.

    Story: 6/6. The content on the site is plentiful and usually well humored. The posts by the community tend to be insightful and well reasoned.

    Acting: 6/6. The reviewers are always in good form and post reviews with regularity. There is the occasional late review but that is far and few these days.

    Production: 6/6. I hardly ever see a typo in the reviews. Kudos to the editing done on the site!

    Emotional response: 6/6. I vacationed in Mexico for 2 weeks this Christmas vacation. I definitely had withdrawal!

    Overall: 6/6.

    In total Bureau42.com receives a 38/42. This score is deceptively low due to the originality factor. A great site that I regularly invite my friends to view.

    Thanks for all your hard work. I enjoy all the reviews you guys do. I’m not much of a comic fan but I have little doubt your quality fails in that realm either.

  5. The only thing I have to suggest is perhaps a dividing line/bounding box on posts, with something clearly delineating the post’s header. As it is, everything kinda blends together. The current design’s not unreadable, it just takes a little getting used to.

    I like everything else.

  6. I too am glad to see an update, though I agree that the logo could use some work.

    Gravatar is a bit of a hassle for those of us who make an individual email address for every website/forum we’re on a lot (:

    Will discussions be threaded now? And will we be able to get notifications when people respond to our comments?

  7. I like it.

    I do miss the old Saturn logo though… perhaps I can do something about that.

  8. I sort of like the aurora in the background, but I agree the old logo needs to come back :-)

    I love wordpress (and I use it myself) so I think it’s a step in the right direction.

    I recall thinking there was something I didn’t like about the old comments, but at the moment I can’t think of what it was. The new comment format is good, but may take some getting used to.

    I think “preview” would be a welcome addition, too, especially given the newness of the whole setup.

    Nothing spoilery, I just wanted to try the spoiler tag behavior

  9. This is a huge improvement. As a Drupal developer myself, I’d always wondered why the site hadn’t moved to Drupal / WordPress / etc. Of course, it was a great reminder to me as to the “old” days of the web :). Just be sure to keep on top of security updates!

    The green shadow on the logo does make it hard to read, but obviously that can be dealt with eventually.

    FYI you “popular” is misspelled in the input format help.

    Where’s the comment preview button? That’s really needed for spoiler checking, though I thought WP had preview by default.

    • Sadly, WP does not have a preview button, and while there are a couple plug-ins for that sort of thing, they all require fairly extensive modifications to the theme to fit in and look right, the sort of thing I’m not comfortable doing on vacation.

      The logo (and to a lesser extent the swirly background) were all kinda put together at the last minute, admittedly. I’m just delighted to have gotten things as close to working as I did, given that we kinda cooked this idea up maybe two weeks ahead of time.

  10. I really dig the new look, the only issues I have are 1) the logo needs work (as mentioned already), 2) The responses need better delineation (also, as mentioned) and 3) The site needs to be FLUID! :) It sucks to have the content constrained to a tiny little strip in the middle of my monitor, and it isn’t even that big by todays standard, only a 22in. Any chance you guys might liberate your site from its jail?

    • It sucks to have the content constrained to a tiny little strip in the middle of my monitor, and it isn’t even that big by todays standard, only a 22in.

      It’s fine on my 12″ Powerbook… maybe your screen is too big? :D

    • 1) Is there any way to quote from the post you are replying to?
      2) I also see the site only on part of my screen. I have a wide monitor (16:10 ratio) and the the new site layout only uses the center 50% of it. I am using XP with FireFox v3.0.8


  11. Nice new design. The “Recent comments” box should stay right where it is near the top in the sidebar, maybe just under the user controls; hopefully that’ll encourage continuing discussion. (On the old site a discussion would die once it scrolled off the bottom of the screen. Not the page, the screen.)

    A couple minor thoughts about the logo: First, let me add my voice to the call for the return of the Saturn-like logo. :) Put it next to what you’ve got, that works fine. (Though the “bureau42” looks a little pixellated.) I recommend dropping the “.com”, though; I think it looks better without it, personally.

    Does the system have to force the text size? It’s so tiny… Also, in the main body of the articles it would be really nice to have more space between paragraphs; it’s really hard to see the paragraph breaks right now.

    Oh, minor glitch: if there’s quoted text at the top of a comment, the quote bar is hidden behind the user icon, and there’s nothing else to distinguish it. Very minor, but worth pointing out. :)

    Anyway, all that aside I really like the new design. Looks sharp, and much more functional — and the old site was pretty nice! I like the fancy-looking gradients, the overall look of the place is good-looking and distinctive, and the posts even have tags! :)

    Good move!

  12. I never understood this *need* to always update websites. If it works, then keep it like it us until you stop running the site.

  13. (And one reason I dislike it, is that it has become less readable, as is usually the case with web “upgrades”)

    • Just to give a bit of a peek behind the curtain (sort of – I couldn’t look that far behind the curtain myself) – the old site was a bit of a kludge, as far as the back-end is concerned. WordPress works a lot better and is overall more user-friendly both for the administrators and for, we hope, the readers of the site.

      (For starters, now we, the editors, can schedule posts to go up in advance – which means we can write our weekend reviews on Thursday, and schedule them to go up on Saturday, for example).

  14. The site upgrade is great, now how about updating the RSS feed? It’s nice to finally have text snippets, but where they cut off seems kind of arbitrary. It would be great to have dynamic comment counts– then right from my feed reader I can tell that I should back and read new comments on articles I’m interested in.

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