In our continuing effort to keep up with the times and respond to visitor requests, Japan Brats
has added a few new features and made some technical enhancements to our Main Page
. With the addition of new features comes a little rearranging and minor tweaking of our existing features. Briefly, here's what we've done:First and foremost is our all new Photo of the Day box, which you will find in the righthand column. It features a randomly selected photo from Japan and Okinawa that has been posted to our Japan Brats photo collection on Flickr, the wildly popular photo hosting service. Using the Flickr feed, the Photo of the Day changes each time you visit our main page. Click on the photo and you will be able to view the original image and be able to access our ever-expanding Flickr photo collection. We've initially posted a collection of photos of past and present scenes of Atsugi Naval Air Facility (formerly Naval Air Station), located in Kanagawa Prefecture, but we'll be adding photos of other bases and locations soon. (Japan Brats Yahoo Group members may access a special collection of rare vintage photos that are not publicly accessible. Membership is free, however, so we encourage you to join.)Located inside the Photo of the Day box and just below the photo is a link to our Japan Brats Photo Albums -- a huge index of links to photos of U.S. bases, past and present, located throughout Japan and Okinawa. Although Photo Albums is also included in our Main Menu, many of you may have seemingly overlooked it so we simply wanted to make it more prominent. Trust me, the list of photo links is comprehensive. We will soon add additionally links our index, so we encourage you to check back from time to time.We've consolidated our 3 separate message feeds into one in the I Did Japan box. It helps to avoid undue confusion among many of our visitors. The single feed now showcases the most recent messages posted on our I Did Japan guest book (which is publicly accessible), messages posted by Japan Brats Yahoo Group members, and individual email messages received at email@example.com. So whether you are a Japan Brats Yahoo member or not, all of our most recent messages may now be viewed in one convenient location. To view the I Did Japan guestbook or Yahoo Group messages separately, simply click the links located in the top of the frame.Just below the I Did Japan box is an exciting new feature -- the Brats Shout Box, which combines the best features of instant messaging, a chatroom and a message board. You can chat with other Japan Brats in real time. Similar to chatrooms, you can chat with everyone who logs onto the Shout Box. Passwords or memberships are not required. Simply choose a nickname, log-in and start chatting! The Shout Box will open in a new browser window so you can stay "parked" on our Main Page.
Unlike message boards, however, individual messages posted here are limited to a maximum of 160 characters, but they are posted instantly for anyone to read and to reply to. For everyone's sake, it includes a bad words filter. You may even a smilie to your posts. In practice, the Shout Box is similar to our Japan Chat (located in the Fun Stuff box). The key difference is that the Shout Box is intended for Japan Brats visitors while Japan Chat accommodates all international visitors and is the leading English-language chatroom devoted to all things Japanese.Brats Blogs is an all new feature that highlights blogs written by or about military brats in general and those with ties to Japan or Okinawa. It's a service provided by our newest partner, Technorati, the world's leading real-time search engine for keeping track of what's going on in the blogosphere -- the world of weblogs.Just a word or two about our RSS feeds. You may have noticed a new icon -- -- located in many of the boxes on the Main Page. For the convenience of those visitors who routinely use a RSS (real simple syndication) newsreader or aggregator, this is the new universal symbol for RSS syndicated feeds. It's a service we've long provided but recently modified with the new icon. Click the icon to add the specified RSS feed to your newsreader.Finally, we're proud to debut our new video collection as featured in our Brats Videos box, located midway down the lefthand column. I can't tell you how excited we are about this! For more information or to place an order, see the Brats Video box or visit our new Japan Brats PX page.
In addition to all of the above, we've made some technical strides to speed up loading the Main Page. We tried including an auto-updating feature on some of our news items, but it simply bogged down loading speed so we deep-sixed that idea. Besides, it wasn't essential. If you want to see more current information in our news and feature boxes, simply refresh your browser. We also modified some of the coding for the page to help with cross-browser compatibility, such as IE 4.0+ and Netscape 6.0 (not apparent to all but a few computer geeks and hacks out there).
If you have ideas or suggestions of your own on how to improve Japan Brats, please use the convenient Email Japan Brats
link located on each page (look at the Main Menu at left). As always, we look forward to feedback from all Japan Brats!COMING SOON: Japan Brats Podcasts