News feed indexing improvements, iPadOS compatibility and more

November 24th, 2019

We’ve been busy all year making dozens of improvements to Protopage, many of which are compatibility, security and performance related. This ensures Protopage always works with the latest browser updates, and that our servers are always running smoothly.

In particular, we’re continually working on our news feed indexing platform to make sure that we can reliably auto-detect and collect headlines from the widest possible variety of web sites. We’re now caching at least 50 headlines from each news feed. Note that if you have added a particular news feed for the first time, at first there may be only a few headlines available, but up to 50 past headlines will be archived from then on.

You can increase the number of headlines that display in a news widget by clicking the edit button on that widget. Displaying more headlines is useful if you want to catch up on the news and see many days of headlines all at once.

We also upgraded our Twitter indexing earlier this year, to be compatible with Twitter’s new 280-character tweet limit.

For iPad users: Apple released the iPadOS update in the last few months. The new Safari browser on iPad contained some that updates caused some glitches, which we’ve now completed making accommodations for.

New custom search buttons

June 20th, 2018

It’s always been possible to configure the list of search buttons available on your Protopage’s search bar.

We’ve now made it easier for you to add your own search buttons, which only return Google search results from a particular web site. For example, in the screenshot above you can see custom search buttons that return results from Bloomberg.com, NYTimes.com and from the UK’s National Health Service site.

To use this feature, click the ≡ icon on the right hand side of your search bar to reveal the settings screen. Then look at the bottom of the search settings screen to see the new “Add a Google search box that only returns results from a particular web site” feature.

New YouTube, Market Indices and Sports Scores widgets

June 20th, 2018

We’ve been listening to your suggestions, and have released three new widgets:

1. A YouTube widget, which makes it easy for you to embed a YouTube video into your Protopage

2. A market indices widget. We use a third party provider for our stock price widgets, because licensing the data feeds ourselves would be prohibitively expensive. The regular stocks widget is provided by a company called TradingView, which provides live stock data but not live market index data. Therefore we’ve launched a new widget from Investing.com which does provide live market indices.

3. We are often asked about providing live sports scores. Sports scores are astonishingly expensive to license, which is why we can’t provide them directly. Instead, we’ve provided a new sports scores widget which makes it easy (via the widget’s “edit” button) to configure the list of sports score sites you want quick access to.

All three widgets are available via the “Add widgets” menu.

Disaster recovery procedures and encrypted off-site backups

June 20th, 2018

A few people have recently asked about our backup procedures, to ensure that the contents of their Protopages are safe.

We have a dual layer backup mechanism in place. Firstly, we have continuous live backups of the Protopage databases through a process called ‘replication’. This means that if the main Protopage servers were to suddenly catastrophically fail, we can fall back to the live backup servers.

Secondly, we perform daily backups of the Protopage databases to a secure offsite backup storage provider. This means that even if the entire datacenter were to melt down and all Protopage servers failed, your Protopages are still safe. Offsite backups are encrypted using high strength AES-256 encryption, in order to keep the backups private.

News Feed Indexing Engine Upgrade

February 18th, 2018

Today we made a major software update to our feed indexing engine. The objective of the update is to ensure Protopage continues to offer the widest possible support for all of the different variations of news feeds available on the internet.

We’re closely monitoring our indexing statistics to check that everything goes smoothly. Please let us know if you notice any specific issues with any news feeds on your Protopage.

Stopwatch and Countdown timer

September 9th, 2016

We’ve just released two new widgets that are useful for time management – a stopwatch and a countdown timer. You can add them to your page using the “Add widgets” menu at the top of your screen. Enjoy!

Widget Transparency, Retina Wallpapers and Twitter Enhancements

June 16th, 2016

By popular demand, we now support configurable widget ‘transparency’. This can be configured via the Colors/Settings button at the top of your Protopage.

We’ve also updated our list of wallpapers with nearly 100 new options, now in retina quality. (Mac Chrome users only – please note that the current version of Chrome has a bug that prevents scrolling through the options. This has been fixed by Google, but it will be a few weeks before they release a new version of Chrome with the fix).

For users of our Twitter widgets – we’ve updated the widget to allow easier access to the permalink of each Tweet. Protopage’s Twitter widgets are a great way to monitor multiple feeds and Twitter search terms. They give you the ‘full feed’, which means that instead of only seeing each user’s popular tweets (as the official Twitter app often does), you’ll see every single tweet from each user so you’ll never miss anything important.

Widget auto height resize

October 17th, 2015

News and twitter widgets will now automatically resize so that all of their contents are visible (without internal scrollbars being required).

This is a particularly useful feature if you have the “News headlines appearance after being read” setting set to “Hidden”.

Autoresizing will not happen for any tabs that are in “free” positioning mode.

There is also a setting accessible in the Colors/Settings menu to disable all widget auto resizing (it is called “Prevent news widgets from height auto-sizing”).

‘Mark all read’ toolbar button

October 16th, 2015

We’ve added a new toolbar button to make it easy to mark all news feed widgets on your page as “read”. This will make it easy to see what is new when you return to your page later.

There is also a keyboard shortcut to do this. If you want to mark all widgets on your page as read, you can hold the left mouse button down in the empty space between any two widgets, and tap the “X” key. Every widget on the current tab in your Protopage will be marked as read. Tap the ‘S’ key while holding the mouse button down to mark all feeds on your page as ‘unread’.

If you’d prefer to mark only certain widgets as read, you can do this by holding the left mouse button down inside any news widget and tapping the “X” key on your keyboard (tap ‘S’ instead to mark it as ‘unread’).

Retina display support extended

September 20th, 2015

We’ve been making a series of user interface enhancements to fully support “Retina Displays”, such as those found on the new Apple Macs, and for those of you using 4k or 5k PC monitors.

Please let us know if any of these tweaks adversely affect the readability of your own Protopage, so that we can make any necessary fixes promptly.

Update: We’ve just added a new option to the Colors/Settings menu in Protopage. It’s called “Squeeze lines of text closer together”, and if you tick that checkbox you can now fit more headlines and bookmarks into your widgets.

The issues you may encounter are:

1. The new font we use is very slightly larger than the old font. Therefore, you may prefer to go to the Colors/Settings menu in Protopage to reduce the font size. Alternatively, on modern web browsers you can press Ctrl+ or Ctrl- (Cmd+ or Cmd- on Mac) to change your font size. We’ve also got a new feature in the Protopage Colors/Settings menu called “Squeeze lines of text closer together”.

2. If you use free widget positioning, the new font means your widgets may be slightly taller. Therefore all you need to do is nudge some of the widgets downward on your page so they are not too close together.

3. If you are using the Internet Explorer web browser, you may be using 5-10 year old web browser technology that struggles to display fonts as well as newer versions. Please upgrade to the latest Internet Explorer version for better performance and font display (search for “Upgrade to Internet Explorer 11” on Google). Alternatively, if you would consider switching to a different web browser, the best option that we would highly recommend is that you switch from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome (download from www.google.com/chrome).

We know that some of you are using corporate computers and are not allowed or able to upgrade to a modern web browser, and so we are still doing our best to ensure Protopage is as compatible as possible.

If you are using Microsoft Windows, it can make a dramatic improvement in font clarity if you enable “Microsoft ClearType”. For more information, depending on what version of Windows you are using, Google for e.g. “Windows 7 enable cleartype”.