It was a pretty productive week from the tech standpoint around here, so there's plenty to share.
In no particular order, here's what we were able to get done to address reader requests, all undertaken by Build In Motion, our Aspinwall-based app developer:
• Adjustable font sizes on app: This was a big one for a lot of people, and I'm one of those. If you tap your Settings gear, choose which size you'd like to read articles and comments. There's Normal, Larger and Largest. Simple as that. Our stuff will be easier to read than ever for those of you, like me, who could use a little help.
• Videos can go fullscreen: We've cut off the landscape option when reading on the app, for all kinds of tech reasons, as well as to conform with almost all other similar apps. But readers asked to make sure they could see videos like Morning Java as large as possible. If you want to do that, tap the little fullscreen icon at the bottom right corner of the video, then turn your phone sideways.
• GIFs are rolling again: Some readers, myself included, were seeing some of their GIFs -- those are the moving images we use to show plays -- freeze up for no reason. We switched to a brand that had worked for us in the past, and they're operating at 100 percent.
• Space reduced in Live Feed: By far the most common concern expressed about the new Live Feed, including what's used in the live game files, was that there was too much space between entries, making them feel a little clunky. That's been cut down, and it's a good bit tighter now while still keeping them distinct.
• Speed up the Live Feed: It's as fast as it can get now. In fact, if you leave the Live Feed open on your app, it auto-updates right in front of you. No need to push anything.
• Faster loads on the app: There's a lot more of this planned for the coming months, but for now we've removed a handful of elements from the front by reducing the size of some images and by condensing some colleges and minor-league teams into a couple rows.
• Added minor-league hockey: You'll now have easier access than ever to Taylor Haase's coverage of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Wheeling Nailers, as they've got their own team icons on the app, their own full team pages on the site and, yes, spaces on the Live Feed, too.
Hey, this is how it's supposed to work. We hear from you, and we do what you want. So thanks to everyone for the legitimately constructive, helpful feedback.
That said, we're far from done. The ongoing project to address logins/alerts -- one that's supposed to also cure most of the Android crashes -- was slowed a little by the Live Feed, but it's made progress. The new goal from our developers is to have that done before the Steelers' season opener.
LIVELY LIVE FEED
If you haven't tried it yet, our Live Feed can be found on both our Apple and Android apps -- those respective links are right here -- by tapping the lightning bolt at the bottom right corner. That takes you to the feed, where you'll find all the latest from our staff, whether that's brief news, a photo, a video, something silly, as well as a link to our latest content. Just choose your feed, then tap the blue Refresh button at the top right to your heart's content.
If you're looking for the feed on a desktop, laptop or mobile browser, it's now got its own space up in the blue menu bar under the heading LIVE. Or you can bookmark it right here.
STEELERS SALE FARING WELL
From now until Aug. 15, the day the Steelers break camp in Latrobe, we're offering a half-off sale on annual subscriptions -- just $19.99 compared to the usual $39.99 -- for both new readers and as gift subscriptions. That's two ways for us to target new readers. Either they buy one themselves, or someone can give them one. We're confident enough in our coverage to believe we'll keep them for years to come at the regular price.
We've sold 110 of these in the first 20 days, which is about the pace we'd expected to this point. What's most encouraging is that these things always pick up as the deadline approaches. Dale set a goal of 150, but I'm thinking 200 is realistic.
If you like what you read from our football coverage team, help us spread the word! -- DK
[caption id="attachment_676945" align="aligncenter" width="540"] Bob Maddamma, Jarrod Prugar. - ROB ULLMAN / DKPS[/caption]
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Since we all are busy digging up info and then reporting it, sometimes we need a little help. Actually, with Bob Maddamma, it's more than just a little bit of help. Quite frankly, this place wouldn't be the same without him.
Who is Bob?
He's the guy behind the scenes, based in Rochester, N.Y., who has taken his membership role here to a completely different level. He does a lot of editing on this site. And when I say a lot, I mean, he reads every story, post, cartoon, etc., that we do, along with Jerry Wolper.
As somebody who did desk work for the first 25 years of my career, I can tell you it's a thankless job. But it's completely necessary, even for the best of writers. We all make a mistake from time to time, whether it be a wrong keystroke or getting a date wrong. When you're writing the kind of volume we produce here, there are going to be some boo boos.
Of course, we welcome you all to email Typos@DKPittsburghSports.com if you see something. But Bob is typically our last -- and often times first -- line of defense. And we thank him profusely for that.
Also, for those of you who haven't yet checked out Jarrod Prugar's Penn State coverage, what are you waiting for? Jarrod has been with us the past couple of months as a contributor and will be all over the Penn State beat this fall as the Nittany Lions. He's also been a welcome addition helping out with some stories on his hometown Altoona Curve. -- Dale Lolley
ADVERTISE WITH US!
We're proud of our partnerships with PNC Bank, Allegheny Health Network, Point Park University, Schneider Downs, Hertz, GetGo, Henne Jewelers, Moon Golf Club, Miller Lite, Bassi Vreeland & Associates, Curtis Pharmacy and Express Employment Professionals. If you or your business might be interested in becoming part of that family, here's my latest Media Kit with all our vital information. Email me with any questions. -- Dali Kovacevic
GIVING BACK TO MILITARY
Our Veterans Gift Subscriptions pool is at plus-4, so we're in good shape. (Thank you!) If you'd like to contribute, that can happen right here. Overall, we've connected 135 military veterans with free subscriptions since restructuring the program in May. Anyone who's served in our Armed Forces can request a subscription by filling out this form.
BACK TO BUSINESS
• Subscriptions are at 37,814. That's minus-41 over the past week.
• We had 425,333 page views over the past week. Our most-hit article was Cody Tucker's debut feature on the Penguins' enforcers at 6,528. Our most visited team pages were, in order: Pirates (32 percent), Steelers (30.5), Penguins (22.9), Pitt (5.1), Penn State (2.9), Riverhounds (0.99), West Virginia (0.59), Duquesne (0.34), Robert Morris (0.14).
• We're at 29,191 (+16) page likes on Facebook, we're at 28,487 (+1) followers on Twitter, we're at 8,925 (+54) followers on Instagram, and we're at 675 (+2) subscribers on YouTube. These figures are just for our official company account on each platform, not for us as individuals.
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