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How Do I Configure The Activity Stream to See Only the New Content That I Want to See?

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Admin_01    0

One of the comments that we as administrators hear from some CL members is that they want to see only the new content that has been posted since the last time that the member viewed the content. Further, some members prefer NOT to see the News Boquete archive postings that are part of CL. They are looking for an easy way to exclude News Boquete archives from being highlighted in the Activity Stream's "Unread Content".

And so a really important question is: how does a member control the display by the Activity Stream so that only the desired new (unseen) content since their last viewing is displayed?

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Admin_01    0

What Are Activity Streams? How Does An Activity Stream Help Me?

The functionality mentioned in this question -- activity streams -- is perhaps the single most important concept for members of CL to embrace. It is not intuitively obvious if the functionality exists, or if it does then how to invoke it, or what it does for the member.

One of the comments that we as administrators hear from some CL members is that they want to see only the new content that has been posted. One variation of that goal is that they want to see only the content that they have not previously seen since their last visit to CL. Those two variants sound like the same, but they actually are different.

Why is this activity stream functionality so important? One reason the activity stream is important is that CL uses a community bulletin board style information content structure (meaning information is categorized and stored in a segregated forum based on content), as opposed to a blog style (meaning one common "bin" in which everything is stored). There is a presumption by some who are unfamiliar with a community bulletin board structure that CL is not as user friendly as a blog style website because a member must then check each forum looking for the new content. There really are many forums here on CL, and so that is a logical conclusion, but incorrect. The end result is that these members decide that CL is not user friendly and they tend to move away from CL. That is unfortunate because with just one single click on the landing page, there can be a display (typically in descending chronological order) of all content that has not yet been seen by that member. This activity stream tool gives the members the best of both worlds, with the only downside being the need to click on one link.

The "tool" that makes this unseen content display happen is called an "activity stream." There are several predefined (stock) activity stream displays, and one of them is specified (by the member, if so desired) as the default activity stream. But the productive aspect of activity streams is that registered members may create their own "custom activity stream" (or streams, plural).

The complete list of activity streams and the default activity stream are not hidden, but at the same time they are not intuitively obvious as to location. The complete list of activity streams is found by clicking on the "Activity" channel in the upper left of the landing page. Click on that tab and you will find five predefined activity stream options. On the other hand, the default activity stream is found in the upper right of the landing page, and its wording will depend on what has been defined as the default activity stream. The default activity stream is immediately to the left of a link that reads "Mark site read", which itself is just below where your login Display Name is found in the upper right of the landing page.

An activity stream is a tool for selecting what [unseen] information will be displayed. This tool can be configured to display only the new content since you were last logged into CL, or perhaps only content from selected forums that is new, or content that is created by some particular person, etc. It is a very robust tool that requires a bit of configuration, but once configured it will dramatically improve your productivity by showing you only what you are interested in reading, rather than having to look through the dozens of forums, blogs, and calendar events, etc.

More About 'Custom' Activity Streams

CL gives registered members the ability to create a "custom activity stream" (or streams, plural) that is in addition to the predefined activity stream options, of which "Unread content" is a subset. These custom activity streams mean that members can now:

  • create (using a name that the user chooses to describe it),
  • edit (if being done on a desktop or laptop machine, but not on portables, mobiles, or tablets),
  • rename, and
  • delete a "custom" activity stream(s).
  • Also, any activity stream (even a custom activity stream) can be set as the default. You will read more about what a default means later on in this posting.

Who Can Create and Use A Custom Activity Stream?

Custom activity streams are available only to registered members when they are logged into CL. Guests (unregistered users) of CL are not permitted to use custom activity streams. This limitation is principally because custom activity streams require a dedicated profile for storing configuration parameters, and guests do not have a profile; only registered members have a profile.

Tell Me More About A Custom Activity Stream - Give Me An Example

What is the advantage to a CL member of using a custom activity stream? It means that you can tailor what is being displayed in the activity stream. There are seven different configuration parameters, which are accessed by clicking on the pull-down menus while looking at an activity stream. Given that there are seven parameters coupled with many options for each parameter, that means there are many different ways to get much closer to and possibly directly at what a member wishes to have displayed when initiating an activity stream display.

For the sake of discussion, let's assume that you wish NOT to see the News Boquete archive postings that are routinely placed on CL. The "Content Types" parameter allows you to specify which forums are to be displayed. Unfortunately there is not an option to display all forums except forum 'xyz.' But by selecting all forums except for the News Boquete forum you can eliminate News Boquete postings from displaying in your activity stream. Then save that custom activity stream, using a name such as "New Content (Less News Boquete)", and there you have it. Note that it is important that you configure each of the parameters. DO NOT ASSUME that by selecting all forums except the NB forum that you can ignore all of the remaining parameters. That would prove unwise.

What Are The Specific Steps To Create a Custom Activity Stream?

Here are the specific steps to follow to create a custom activity stream that eliminates the News Boquete forum from displaying:

  1. be sure that you are logged into CL
  2.  select the "Activity" channel (top left of the landing page)
  3. select "My Activity Streams"
  4. at the bottom of the list select "Create New Stream"
  5. give this new stream that you are going to create a fairly descriptive name, e.g., "New Content (Less NB)" -- without the quote signs of course but with the parenthesis; you may want a different custom activity stream such as "New Content (Less NB and TMM)" if you are so motivated
  6. now go through each category of options for configuring the parameters
  7. for "Show Me" select the first option of "Content item, comments, and review", but then you may want only the "Content items only" option; your choice
  8. for "Content Types", select Topics, and then click on the gear symbol and the down-pointing arrow to the right
  9. then go through all of the forums, clicking each one to add it to the list of those forums to be displayed, but omit the News Boquete forum (this is where you spend several minutes); you likely will have to scroll down on your screen several times as the list gets longer
  10. if you wish to include blogs and/or calendar events in your custom activity stream, then be sure to click on those items as well (otherwise you will see only the selected discussion forums in your custom activity stream)
  11. under "Read Status" select "Content I haven't read"; note that you will be ignoring the NB stuff, but you want to eliminate items in forums that will be allowed display, but only for content that you have not yet read
  12. under "Ownership" select "Everything"
  13. under "Following" select "Everything"
  14. under "Time Period", stop and think what you want to select here; it likely will be either (you decide here) the "Any time" ***OR*** "Since my last visit"
  15. then click "Save Changes"

Testing, Tweaking and Saving A Custom Activity Stream

Once you have created a custom activity stream, then try it out for a couple of days. You select that custom activity stream by going to steps 1, 2, and 3 listed above, and then clicking on the name of the custom activity stream that you created. If you like it, then you may want to set it as your default activity stream (see next section). If you wish to tweak it a bit, then call it up, and at the bottom of the description (which could be very lengthy) you can change a few things and save it back using the same name, OR save it using a new name.

Setting A Custom Activity Stream As Your Default Activity Stream

To set a custom activity stream as your default activity stream means that when you are on the landing page, you will see one (and only one) "default" activity stream option listed below your login information in the upper right of the window of the landing page. The default will be immediately to the left of the "Mark site read" icon. What is set as your default activity stream is what shows in that area. There can be one and only one default activity stream, and there will always be one, even if you have not set one. You set the default activity stream by clicking on the third of three little round icons immediately to the right of the name of the custom activity stream. The first round icon lets you rename that activity stream; the second little round icon lets you remove (delete) that activity stream; the third little round icon sets that activity stream as your default. Non-custom activity streams cannot be renamed or deleted.

A Few More Details About Custom Activity Streams

Note that there is no limit to the number of custom activity streams that you can create. The key is to go slowly at first, thinking through what it is that one wishes to see, and then NAME that custom activity stream appropriately. The nice thing is that if you get close but need to tweak it a bit, then you can do that, and save the edited custom activity stream back using the same name or a different name. And if all effort is for naught, then no damage is done because you can just delete that custom activity stream. The standard (stock) activity streams that come with the software cannot be renamed or deleted or modified (edited).

The Impact of Using Different Devices to Access CL versus Custom Activity Streams (More Good News)

Another nice thing is that if you access CL on multiple devices (e.g., a desktop and a tablet or iPhone), then your custom activity streams "follow" you because they are uploaded and saved as part of your profile. One limitation, at least so far as I can see right now, is that you can do everything discussed above EXCEPT the editing of a custom activity stream. It appears that only a desktop device is capable of editing an existing custom activity stream. That may have something to do with the lack of a mouse/pointer device with touch screen display panels.

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Bonnie    408

I have done this and finally gotten rid of cross posts, i.e., posts here that I also regularly receive by email such as News Boquete, BCP, etc. It takes a few minutes and you have to follow the directions carefully, but it's worth it for those like me who hate reading stuff twice on the same day. It also can be used to eliminate topics that hold no interest for you.

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JudyS    178
21 minutes ago, Bonnie said:

I have done this and finally gotten rid of cross posts, i.e., posts here that I also regularly receive by email such as News Boquete, BCP, etc. It takes a few minutes and you have to follow the directions carefully, but it's worth it for those like me who hate reading stuff twice on the same day. It also can be used to eliminate topics that hold no interest for you.

I gave up on that.  I can never remember how to do it.  So I just ignore the News Boquete posts.  One annoyance about using Unread Content is once you read something and back arrow back to the rest of the Unreads, that one disappears from Unread.  If you want to go back because you want to read it again, it's gone.  Then you have to go to Activity streams to find it again.  I know everybody wants to dis ning, but it is much more user friendly in its format.

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Bonnie    408
34 minutes ago, JudyS said:

I gave up on that.  I can never remember how to do it.  So I just ignore the News Boquete posts.  One annoyance about using Unread Content is once you read something and back arrow back to the rest of the Unreads, that one disappears from Unread.  If you want to go back because you want to read it again, it's gone.  Then you have to go to Activity streams to find it again.  I know everybody wants to dis ning, but it is much more user friendly in its format.

This is different from the initial procedure, Judy. Follow the instructions and you'll never see another News Boquete post again, and you won't have to click on anything if you make it your default page. Even if it isn't your default page, it takes only one click at the top of the page--not scrolling all the way down to News Boquete listing every type you open CL.

Ning is more user friendly on the surface, but searching it is a real headache. CL allows you to go straight to the appropriate forum containing your issue to see if it's been addressed or, failing that, the search function itself is far superior.

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Bonnie    408
1 hour ago, Bonnie said:

I have done this and finally gotten rid of cross posts, i.e., posts here that I also regularly receive by email such as News Boquete, BCP, etc. It takes a few minutes and you have to follow the directions carefully, but it's worth it for those like me who hate reading stuff twice on the same day. It also can be used to eliminate topics that hold no interest for you.

I want to clarify that it takes a few minutes to set up. After that it takes no time. There's nothing you have to do each time you open the site.

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Pat    36
11 hours ago, JudyS said:

I gave up on that.  I can never remember how to do it.  So I just ignore the News Boquete posts.  One annoyance about using Unread Content is once you read something and back arrow back to the rest of the Unreads, that one disappears from Unread.  If you want to go back because you want to read it again, it's gone.  Then you have to go to Activity streams to find it again.  I know everybody wants to dis ning, but it is much more user friendly in its format.

Bye  bye, Judy.  Enjoy your Ning.

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JudyS    178
41 minutes ago, Pat said:

Bye  bye, Judy.  Enjoy your Ning.

And there he goes again.  I will enjoy any site I want. I can even enjoy both ning and CL.  I don't need your permission. 

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Admin_01    0
12 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

http://www.chiriqui.life/discover/ is my Bookmark and the only link I need.

I just browse posts until I come to the point where I left off on my last visit. Never miss a thing unless I choose to skip by it.

 

For the curious among our users, Keith's URL of www.chiriqui.life/discover/ is an alias that means the same thing as using the "All Activity" display as part of the activity stream. The All Activity stream displays all activity (take the words literally), regardless of having been viewed or not, and in all channels. All Activity also displays incidental information, e.g., positive reputations being awarded, new registrations, etc.

This alias URL is yet another example of the robustness of the CL software. Different things work for different folk.

Having options leans toward more complexity, which tends to push people away, and so we try to avoid confusing people with too many options. Obviously Keith is experienced and inquisitive and technically savvy (besides being a nice person).

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Admin_01    0

A bit more information about this topic for those who may want to know more of the history behind this new functionality. And a closing with kudos to a friend.

CL went live in early October 2015. One of the long term goals of the owners/administrators of CL has been to provide a public archive of the News Boquete (NB) email distribution service that is funded and administered by Penny Barrett in her alternate persona as the "News Lady". For those who may not know, I (Bud) am the technical person behind the News Boquete service. I have been associated with NB for more than a decade, and fondly recall working closely with Hershel Stolebarger in those early days here in Boquete. Experience tells us (Penny and me) that there are a non-trivial number of requests for access to information that has been distributed by News Boquete. Further, some people wish to comment on the information distributed via News Boquete. Until the archiving of the News Boquete emails was begun via CL in mid-October 2015, access to that information and the ability to comment on that information simply was not possible.

Like many things in life, having the NB archives on CL lead to opposing views. Some two to three dozen CL members objected to having to read NB twice. They weren't being ugly or confrontational, but simply let CL management know that the archives were, insofar as they were concerned, a negative, not a positive. Thus began a search for either a work around or a true solution. A few work arounds were crafted, but they were somewhat of a kludge.

And so many months ago I began searching for a real solution. What has been posted here is the result of that effort. A lot of man-hours has gone into this "solution". It seems rather elegant, especially given the underlying complexity of the software that drives CL. But it does seem to be a viable solution, with a downside of pushing people away because of the need to configure it, i.e., perceived complexity.

Configuration is a one-time thing, unless someone wishes to tweak their solution. The neat thing is that each member gets to decide for themselves how they deal with custom activity stream, or to use a kludge, or simply to live with the situation. And assistance in configuring a custom activity stream is available simply by asking (support@chiriqui.life).

One thing is for certain, however, and that is the NB archives will remain a part of CL. That is a joint decision by Penny and me, and based on positive feedback by a large portion of our community, as well as first hand experience. If you wish to share your views, please come forth.

In closing, I wish to publicly thank Bonnie for her assistance and support in working through this new functionality. She has been a steadfast supporter of CL, even though at times disappointed in how long it takes me to get things done. Bonnie was one of the CL members wanting to remove the NB postings from their daily drudgery. But Bonnie was one of the very few willing to give of her time and energy to help work toward a solution. Thank you, Bonnie.

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Pat    36
1 hour ago, Admin_01 said:

A bit more information about this topic for those who may want to know more of the history behind this new functionality. And a closing with kudos to a friend.

CL went live in early October 2015. One of the long term goals of the owners/administrators of CL has been to provide a public archive of the News Boquete (NB) email distribution service that is funded and administered by Penny Barrett in her alternate persona as the "News Lady". For those who may not know, I (Bud) am the technical person behind the News Boquete service. I have been associated with NB for more than a decade, and fondly recall working closely with Hershel Stolebarger in those early days here in Boquete. Experience tells us (Penny and me) that there are a non-trivial number of requests for access to information that has been distributed by News Boquete. Further, some people wish to comment on the information distributed via News Boquete. Until the archiving of the News Boquete emails was begun via CL in mid-October 2015, access to that information and the ability to comment on that information simply was not possible.

Like many things in life, having the NB archives on CL lead to opposing views. Some two to three dozen CL members objected to having to read NB twice. They weren't being ugly or confrontational, but simply let CL management know that the archives were, insofar as they were concerned, a negative, not a positive. Thus began a search for either a work around or a true solution. A few work arounds were crafted, but they were somewhat of a kludge.

And so many months ago I began searching for a real solution. What has been posted here is the result of that effort. A lot of man-hours has gone into this "solution". It seems rather elegant, especially given the underlying complexity of the software that drives CL. But it does seem to be a viable solution, with a downside of pushing people away because of the need to configure it, i.e., perceived complexity.

Configuration is a one-time thing, unless someone wishes to tweak their solution. The neat thing is that each member gets to decide for themselves how they deal with custom activity stream, or to use a kludge, or simply to live with the situation. And assistance in configuring a custom activity stream is available simply by asking (support@chiriqui.life).

One thing is for certain, however, and that is the NB archives will remain a part of CL. That is a joint decision by Penny and me, and based on positive feedback for a large portion of our community, as well as first hand experience. If you wish to share your views, please come forth.

In closing, I wish to publicly thank Bonnie for her assistance and support in working through this new functionality. She has been a steadfast supporter of CL, even though at times disappointed in how long it takes me to get things done. Bonnie was one of the CL members wanting to remove the NB postings from their daily drudgery. But Bonnie was one of the very few willing to give of her time and energy to help work toward a solution. Thank you, Bonnie.

 

Gracias, Bud.    Buen trabajo.

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WryAwry    81

I, for one, appreciate the seemingly limitless display customization possibilities here on C.L. After some monkeying-around with the settings, I have configured C.L. so that it only displays every second letter of each posting. Here's an example of a response I received from Keith:

"Y u  r  a  t r b l  kn u kl hd."

As may be seen, the software needs tweaking, but it is proving to be a valiant departure from the norm.

It's a pleasingly puzzling puzzle,

wryawry

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Bonnie    408

Bud, it is I who should be thanking you. As I recall, there were only a few of us who were discomposed by cross posts. Most moderators of forums would have considered our voices to have been too negligible a number to warrant any special attention--particularly as much attention as this relatively minor matter required. I appreciate that you and Marcelyn are working so hard to try to please all members.

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