The Vanishing Act

    Delphi Forums has gotten an upgrade for our profiles.
    This week, Delphi Forums member profiles were upgraded to the newest version Mzinga has available. Most changes are cosmetic, but there are a couple of new features.

    The biggest change is one that DF members had asked for when this style of profile was introduced last year. Now, instead of your My Inbox showing you the total number of messages in your inbox, it reflects the total number of unread messages.

    You might not notice the change at first, especially if you have old messages stored. In fact, it was puzzling to see the count go down, apparently randomly. Some members thought their stored PM's were being deleted. Without knowing how or why, it was mysterious indeed, but the secret has now been revealed! Ok, it wasn't really a secret, it just sounds more dramatic that way. :)

    Each time you read a PM message by clicking on the + symbol on the left side, your tab count will be reduced. Old messages received prior to the upgrade will continue to show in your count until you click on the + symbol to "read" them. The count change isn't instantaneous though, it takes a minute or two to catch up. That's the reason the change wasn't obvious at first, and had many people confused.

                ^^              ^^              ^^              ^^
    Great change, Mzinga! Trying to mentally keep track of how many messages were in My Inbox the last time you looked was annoying and inconvenient. Personally, I got around it by deleting everything I'd already read, but quoting back every message I replied to so there would still be a record in my Sent folder. Now I have the option of leaving messages in My Inbox if I want, and I'll now be notified of something useful - how many new, unread messages I have. 

    This is definitely a member-requested, user-friendly improvement to the DF profile product!

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      Tommy Can You Hear Me?

        Do you ever wonder if anyone's paying any attention?

        Do you post a lot of links on your forums or blog? Do you direct traffic to your forum via Twitter, Facebook, or some other SN service?

        If you don't get any feedback in the form of direct comments, or if your Guest visits soar but not your registered visitors, how will you know if your efforts to draw people into your Delphi Forum are successful? Or that your friends and contacts bothered to follow your links at all?

        You'll never know, if you don't have a way to track referrals. There are several link shortening services out there that will give you referral statistics. Some are free, some you have to pay for "pro" versions. All of them require that you register for their site in order to provide you with those statistics.

        But there may be an easier solution: Google has made its link shortening service public, easy to use, and it features statistics that might prove useful to you. Chances are, you already have a Google account. As long as you're logged into your Google account, any links you shorten using will be recorded.

        The statistics will give you referrers, countries, browsers, and platforms. You can display a graph of your click throughs for the last two hours, day, week, month, or all time.

        If you want to make link-shortening even easier, you can install one of the Google Chrome Extensions ( or on your Chrome browser that will give you one click service. For Firefox, try this one: The link in the address bar is converted to a URL, copied to your clipboard, and recorded on your shortening history page.

        Here is an example of the statistics you'll see: (Depending on when you're viewing this post, you may have to click on the "month" or "all time" options to see the results.)

        Keep in mind that the Google statistics are public, and with the shortened Google URL, anyone can see the hits you're getting from your link. If you prefer to keep your statistics private, you'll want to choose a different URL shortening service.

        Other URL shortening services include:

        Note: URL shortening services can and do go out of business. ( Because the shortened extensions use TLD's (top level domains) controlled by other countries, some are more vulnerable than others. See this story for an example. Google's .gl is owned by Greenland, and is probably pretty safe from political interference.
        Oh... and I know that my title is only the tiniest bit related to this post, but it got you to click on the link, didn't it? As thanks, here's your reward.

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        As Real As It Gets

          If you're anything like me, you'll understand what I'm talking about. If you've been on Delphi for a long time, you've lived it. And quite honestly, if you're not an internet junkie, you not only won't understand this, but you won't even be reading it, so go away, I'm not talking to you.

          When someone in person asks you what your hobbies are, do you tell them you like hanging out on Delphi, and making friends with people you'll likely never meet? Do you tell them how to find you, and what your nickname is on Delphi? Do you give them directions of how to find your chat room, and let them know that they're welcome to visit you anytime? Or do you keep it a secret, or at least keep it all to yourself?

          Whether you share your Delphi experience with others, or whether you keep it all to yourself, there's both a world of difference between online and offline experiences, and they are at the same time, exactly the same. There is both an intimacy to online communication, and an impersonalization to it. But the goal remains the same in both online and offline communications, and that goal is making friends. I'm talking real friends here, not "Facebook Friends."

          Just don't ever let anyone tell you that this isn't real life, or that the people you meet online aren't your real friends.

          I joined Delphi on December 28, 1998. I had gotten a computer with a modem for Christmas that year, and was exploring. I heard about a chat room I wanted to visit that appeared to be based on a book I'd read by Spider Robinson many years earlier, Callahan's Saloon.

          I found the chat room, and I found what became my core group of friends on Delphi, many of whom I still hang out with, nearly 12 years later. My very first friend was a Canadian man who wrote absolutely startling poetry. In a move that was totally unlike me, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit, I wrote to him via his profile, and basically asked him if he would like to be my friend. I admired his intellect, and he must have admired my audacity. His name was David Brewer, and he agreed that he thought we would get along. :)

          We were as alike as we were different. We were the same age. I was married, he was single. I had a happy and conventional childhood, he, less so. I had three brothers, he had a single sister. I was an agnostic, he was a Christian. I worked in business, he worked in the arts. He wrote complex poetry, I just closed my eyes and tapped out odd little stories. I was an obnoxious American, he was a gentle Canadian. ;P

          It didn't matter. David & I became friends, and we, and several others we posted and chatted with daily, shared as much of our lives and years with each other as most best friends do. Maybe more. After all, other than your immediate family and the people you work with, how many people do you connect with every single day?

          David met his wife, Lizkat (ELIZABETHKAT), at Callahan's, that same month we all joined Delphi. We physically met them for the first time in St. Louis, but at that point, we'd all known each other for months. David came down from the North, Lizkat came up from the South, the rest of us came from all over, including Australia. We held an engagement party for them in Boston a year later, we missed them in Seattle, then visited them in Toronto a year or two after that.

          Life progressed for all of us: my son grew up, and their son was born. We lost and gained jobs, parents, children, our collective innocence, and our individual fortunes. Throughout it all, we kept track of each other, lost track of each other, checked in, and checked out. But we all knew where to come when we needed to touch base again.

          This life, even if it is one lived in the relative silence of tapping keys and occassional computer notification tones, feels very real to me.

          My friend, David Brewer (DGBREWER), died on Friday, October 15th, at the age of 54. We shared joys, sorrows, adventures, vacations, poetry, flights of fancy, fears, stories, fantasies, darkness, love, and hope.

          The tears are still falling, and this grief is as real as it gets.

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          • Show profile for Liz (vixengrins)
            Report ViolationLiz (vixengrins)|February 1, 2011 3:32 pm
            This is one of the most beautiful things I've read. I didn't know David, have never visited Callahan's, and yet my eyes are stinging with tears.
          • Show profile for Cstar1
            Report ViolationCstar1|January 12, 2011 8:05 pm
            Thank you, JayJ.
          • Show profile for JayJ (XJayJX)
            Report ViolationJayJ (XJayJX)|January 1, 2011 12:45 pm

            The saddest part of real life is the loss of someone we care about.
            I, too, found a certain kind of connection in Callahan's and I too, knew David Brewer's personality, though not as close as you.

            My heart goes out to his Family and to you too, Cstar, because I feel your loss.

            Your tribute here is a beautiful one and I'm glad that I found it.

            Thank you,

            Island Oasis