Tag: greasemonkey

Take Control of Your Vox Recent Activity

Ever since Papi Chulo (formerly Pants Party) first pointed it out to me, I've been both happy and frustrated with the Vox Recent Activity page.  On one hand, it does provide an "easy" way to keep track of follow-up comments and favorites on posts you or someone in your neighborhood.  On the other hand, it can bulky with 30+ posts on the page, each with its own set of comments.  Scrolling down to older posts can put a serious case of carpal tunnel on your mouse-wheel finger, and if you have a couple of really popular threads going, you might not even know that one of the older posts has had a follow-up.  (I've also heard some people can't even load the page in their browsers, but I'm not sure this will fix that issue.)

I decided to jump on the Greasemonkey bandwagon and write a GM script to help out with this issue.  I came up with a solution that, while quick-and-dirty, does a good job of streamlining the Vox Recent Activity page: the script creates links in each post to show/hide the comments, with the default setting of all comments being hidden on initial page load.  That means your page that used to look like this:

now looks like this:

All you have to do to view the comments for an individual post is click on the [+/-] link, and they'll toggle from hidden to shown.  Click it again and they go back to being hidden!  Pretty cool, huh?

Now your recent activity page is a lot slimmer, easier to navigate, and you can click on just the posts that you want to follow up on to see the most recent activity.

Want to install this script for your own use?  First install Greasemonkey, and then get the script here.
(Instructions to install Greasemonkey can be found here.)

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions on how to improve this script, please leave a comment here or send me an email.

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Quick Tips to Avoid Nuking Your Post Content Accidentally

Have you ever started typing a post and did something silly that suddenly made you lose what you had written?  Maybe you hit the backspace key and your browser thought you wanted to go back a page, instead of back one letter.  Maybe you accidentally hit reload on the page, or accidentally closed your tab or window.  Or maybe your computer did something stupid, and crashed your browser.

Regardless of what caused it, you probably weren't too happy to lose what you had written.  Here are 5 quick tips for ways to avoid nuking your content accidentally, or how to recover what you have written after disaster strikes:

1. Don't Compose in a Web Browser
    Although painfully obvious, it has to be said – if you're drafting your post in something besides a web browser, you'll probably avoid 99% of all the problems you face with accidentally deleting your draft post content.  Most text editors nowadays have built-in auto-save features, so you can even set up your file to back up as often as you feel is necessary.  As an added benefit, you'll have a soft-copy of your post saved on your computer in the unlikely event that the publishing system hiccups and your post that you just submitted disappears into the aether.

2. Save as a draft intermittently (Vox-specific)
    If you don't want to go through the "hassle" of using a separate program to compose your posts, take advantage of your blogging system's features  – for example, in Vox you can save your post as a draft, and then go back and edit to add additional content.  If you lose something you type, you can always revert back to the version you had previously saved as your draft (hopefully without losing too much content in the process!)

3. Use the "Recover" features (Vox-specific)

    You may have noticed that as you begin typing your entry in the Vox compose screen, a small link pops up next to the spell-check button.  This Recover link usually allows you to get back what you had written, in the event you accidentally closed the window or your web browser happened to crash while you were composing a post.  When you return to the Compose window, you should see the "Recover" link directly above the post body. Click that link and it will recover your previous post for you.  Your mileage may vary with this solution, but it's usually better than nothing!

4. Use a Greasemonkey script to prevent unwanted page-changes

    The "Protect Textarea" greasemonkey script (found here and featured here on lifehacker) monitors the textareas on a web page and alerts you if you try navigating away from the page before submitting the changes in the textarea.  Although it will not work for you all the time, and may be more hassle than it is worth for some people, you'll be pretty happy the first time you accidentally click a link that was going to take you away from your post or blog comment and this popup intervenes.

5. Open compose screen in a new window/tab

    A very simple way to combat the infamous "backspace blunder" is to make sure there is no page to go back to while you are composing a post.  If you choose to compose a post in a new tab or window, the backspace key will never move you away from your compose screen, because there's no page in your browser's history to return to!  On modern browsers, a middle-click of your mouse button on a link will open the link in a new tab or window (depending on your browser's default settings).  Alternately, right click on a link and select "Open in a new tab" to do this the old-fashioned way.  Combine this with tip #2 above for extra security.


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Tired of Recent Updates? Use My Greasemonkey Script!

So I know I'm not alone in wanting everyone to turn off that "recent updates" feature that appears on your homepage.  Until Vox admin gets around to letting everyone decide whether the reader wants to view these updates, rather than whether the publisher wants to share it, it seems we're stuck noticing every time someone changes their template, adds a new neighbor, or picks their nose (okay, that last one is made up, but now you probably understand how intrusive/unnecessary this "feature" seems to me).

Anyway, having recently read Andy's comment about using Greasemonkey to hide spoilers, I thought it would be pretty easy to use Greasemonkey to similarly hide this section of the homepage.  Using the platypus plugin to cut/widen sections of the table holding the recent updates section, I've created a very stupid, simple Greasemonkey script that anyone using Firefox+Greasemonkey can install and automatically get rid of this section of their vox home page.

Basically, all the script does is cut the "recent updates" section from the page and stretch the "recent comments" section to cover the gap, as shown below:


The Greasemonkey script you need to install can be found here.  If you have the latest Greasemonkey add-on installed for Firefox, it should pop up the install box and ask you whether you want to install.  You can view the script if you want to make sure it's safe, yadda, yadda.  As long as Greasemonkey is turned on, your homepage should load and [almost] immediately be reformatted to hide the "recent updates" section.

Please note that this variant of the script to perform this modification was created by me using the openly available Platypus addon for Firefox.  Platypus is not required to use this script.  While it appears to work just fine, I claim no responsibility for any problems you have while installing, modifying, or deleting this script.  If you do have problems, it's easy to uninstall via Greasemonkey's configuration page.  Instructions on how to install/use Firefox and Greasemonkey can be found on their respective installation links above.  This script is subject to the same Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial -Share Alike 3.0 License that governs the rest of the content on my site.

Note: I do understand that some people like to see this info, or want to see parts of this info.  I don't have enough Greasemonkey knowledge to be able to let you configure the section to only hide those kinds of updates you don't want to see.  If anyone wants to take a shot at this, I'd be more than happy to help however I can, be it beta testing, code reviews, etc.  I just don't think I can do it on my own given the time and energy I have to commit to things right now.

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