dotTech is back

So, as I am sure all dotTechies have noticed, I have not posted on dotTech for the past two months. Why? Simply because I was too busy with life (life outside dotTech), and couldn’t deal with dotTech. I know I should have given a heads up instead of just disappearing, but I never really planned on just disappearing. It was more of a gradual “oh I will post something soon” and before I knew it “soon” become two months. For that I do apologize. Now, however, I am back and looking to make a few changes to dotTech.

First of all, I am sure everyone noticed dotTech has a new look. There are three main reasons behind the new look:

  • After the two month break, I wanted to start “fresh”.
  • The previous theme I had for dotTech was poorly coded, and recently I have had a craving for a minimalist look.
  • dotTech has started its third year online — what better way to celebrate than change looks?

That said, I would like some feedback on this new look. Hate it? Love it? Want something changed? Found bugs? Please post in the comments below!

Second order of business is changing how dotTech functions. While I was on my “break”, I realized that the existence of dotTech depends very heavily on me. Yes, I know I am the founder/owner/care-taker/etc. so being the core pillar holding up dotTech is expected. But I would like dotTech to be more community centric, with multiple authors and active participation from dotTechies. So, in this regard I will be posting information soon about hiring authors for dotTech (this time authors – all regular authors – will be paid, although the pay will be very,very little since revenue is very, very little) and am devising a plan to enhance community participation.

Thirdly, because of the lack of activity in the past two months, the traffic ranks for dotTech has fallen. This really hurts dotTech’s capabilities to get freebies like we have in the past. So I humbly request all dotTechies to try to make regular visits to dotTech so we can pull our ranks back up, enabling more excellent freebies to come our way.

Fourthly, I have removed the sidebar from the forums to make more width for the forum. Please provide feedback on this change.

Lastly, the status of Giveaway of the Day reviews is up in the air. Truly, I have found myself no longer enjoying GOTD reviews, so I am not too sure if I will continue on them. However, I will be looking to hire a regular GOTD reviewer, so if you are interested in the job let me know.

Let’s build this website together back to its former glory!

Feel free to flame me in the comments below – I deserve it.

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  • Dwight

    Hello Ashraf,

    It is nice to see you back again!

    The new page layout is nice, clean and un cluttered.

    May be you may throw in some dash of red/blue/green/yellow like the one from google to make it very universal and discreet.


  • PA

    Welcome Back Ashraf. Your reviews were really missed as you are very good with them. Your new look is fine to me. I look forward to your come back. I’d offer help if I were an expert, but alas I’m not. Best wishes from Canada.

  • Tortuga

    Hi Ash :)

    I do agree the background is very white …
    That wouldn’t be a problem, but the right side column is also totally white, making it hard to distinguish one section from the other.

    Also, would it be possible to number the comments in a more clear way? Maybe bold black, preferably outside the box. Sometimes we want to come back to a particular comment later. But as of now the numbers are pale grey on white, its a bit difficult to even see them, plus sometimes the text itself overlays the numbers.

    Just a thought.

  • Tim

    Absolutely thrilled to have you back Ashraf. I’ve missed you terribly and had resorted to reading old articles to get my daily ‘fix’.

    Regarding the new theme, I’ve never really been a fan of the minimalist trend, but this is not bad. I do agree that a dash of colour wouldn’t go astray, perhaps in the headings.

    Keep up the excellent work my friend. The internet would be a wasteland without you.

  • Hashan Gayasri

    Welcome bak Ashraf ..
    Awsome theme… White and blak.. My favourite in my sites :)

  • Ashraf

    @Dru: Thanks =D. I will look into a darker background, but the general feedback I have received so far is that this grayish white is fairly good.

    That said, though, I may make the previous theme available for users to change to and/or change this theme out for a more colorful one if the backlash is strong enough =P However, I would prefer to keep this theme (I really like it) and it is easier to maintain one theme than multiple ones.

  • Dru

    @Ashraf: Great job! The nav buttons work. I tried both page links and the guillemets (angle quotes). I know when I figure out something how satisfying it is… enjoy this victory ;-)

    The page is a bit easier on my eyes… probably because it’s now morning with the am sun struggling to burst through my blinds over my shoulder. If it’s agreeable with you, I think I might still prefer a softer hued darker bakground… not unlike before?

    Have a great day!

  • LOL

    Welcome Back! I do not like the new look :)

  • Ashraf

    @David Roper: LOL! Hold users’ eye comfort hostage.

  • David Roper

    Idea! What about Ashraf selling a “pitpass” or “canvas pass” for $20 which would give the patron the right to see behind the scenes activities or even turn on a personal background color which it seems everyone wants.

    That way we could “feel” good about donating to the dotTech cause without deciding how much. The pitpass would last 6 months or a year, whatever…

    When the pitpass expires, the background color reverts to stark white again, reminding user to ‘pony up” cash again.

    Just saying…

  • Ashraf

    @tim: The e-mails notifications are a problem right now because of my shared hosting — I am only allowed to send out a specific amount of e-mails an hour which is significantly less than what I need to send out. Currently I am waiting for my dedicated server to be provisioned (in fact sending out e-mails is the only reason I am switching to a dedicated server because otherwise this shared hosting perform just fine right now), after which everything should be getting e-mails as normal. Sorry about that.

  • tim

    Was wondering what happened to you the other day—I noticed your post on today’s GOTD and followed the links to here—apparently I’m not getting your emails anymore either. If I somehow fell off your list, then sign me back up please.

  • Ashraf

    @Dru: Please check now — after much brainstorming I actually just fixed it :-).

  • Ashraf

    @Dru: Thanks :D

    @Dru: No, you are not the only one — they are broken. That actually is the biggest bug which I am working on getting fixed.

  • Dru

    Does the page navigation at the bottom of the home page work for everyone else? No matter which page I click on, even tho the URL changes, the resulting page is the same, the same as the home/main page. Tried it in IE8 and FF 3.6.12, same for both.

  • Dru

    Hello Ashraf, I was reading the comments and agreeing that the page is too bright, when I see that you’ve already dimmed it some. I’ll of course defer to popular opinion, I’m just thankful this site is here! I stumbled across it from GOTD sometime in the last 6 months. FWIW, I would prefer something a bit less bright and maybe in a tan hue.

    I do miss the “popular” links that appeared on the right. I try to stay informed of the best security/anti-malware solutions, and data backup solutions, and your articles have been so helpful!

    Also, in both IE8 and FF 3.6.12 I don’t get drop-downs. Just a line of words. The links work, that’s how I found out they are supposed to be drop-downs (the landing pages told me so). It’s probably me since there isn’t much mention of drop-downs not working, but if anyone has ideas…

    Thank you. It’s great for me to have you back, I’m glad for you that you took some time off. Congratulations on 3 years! It’s quite remarkable, really, what we all have here. Thank you.

  • Ashraf

    BTW listening to some of the feedback given above, I made the background of dotTech to be a more grayish white than pure white. What do you guys think?

  • Ashraf

    @Samuel: I looked at it in IE9 and yes the search box is the only issue. However, it seems to be an IE9 thing only… I visited dotTech on IE7 earlier today and everything was perfect.

    @Rob (Down Under): You are having the same serach box issue in FF? What is your monitor resolution, if you don’t mind me asking.

  • @amozai: Well said, mate – huzzah! White, black, or what say, all are welcome here! It is more like we are part of the United [Ashraf] Kingdom. This is probably the most civilized, respectful, and straightforward site I know. It is a great pleasure to see it back!

  • @Rob (Down Under): That’s weird. Well I DO have a wide screen monitor and it’s off, hmmm….

  • @Samuel:
    I am using FF, and it is slightly weird.
    I put it down to some designer somewhere assuming that we all have widescreen monitors. (And we don’t)

  • On a side note, the new site doesn’t display correctly in IE9, though I admit the only thing I can prove is that the search button is bellow the text box for it. There may be other problem’s but I can’t tell since I’m not sure what the sites suppose to look like!

  • Talk about irony. I also got side track with “real life” and couldn’t work on dotTech stuff, let alone check on the site. I come back today and I was about ready to email you about something being wrong with the site’s look! Well welcome back budy! I guess it’s time to get the writing machine back online…IE9 seems ripe I think!

  • Welcome Back.  Glad to see jail hasn’t ruined you.As for GIVEAWAY who cares??

  • Welcome back.  I depend on your reviews of GOTD; in fact your reviews are the ones I trust without question.
    I like the new look.

  • Welcome back Ashraf,
    nice look for dottech.
    Pls dont stop  GOTD review, I was looking here for the review before going to GOTD website. It’s truly detailed review. If no time for full detailed review, try to post quick thots.
    All the best for dottech.

  • I’m so glad you are back. As crazy as the world is, you scared the hell out of me, for one. Looking fwd to your new posts. Be well, God willing.

  • Ah! The prodigal son returns at last. Good to have you back home. You have been much missed.
    Regarding your site revamp: I have four main priorities with site authoring.
    1) The pages need to load fast. 
    2) The pages shouldn’t be cluttered. 
    3) The pages should be optimised to work in all major resolutions from 800 x 600 up and should be ‘stretchy/elastic’ for those who have to view at low resolutions and large font sizes.
    4)  The design should be geared to Usability, Functionality, Accessibility and Attractiveness.
    Having said all that, I’m afraid that these days I don’t view a site as the designer intended it to be viewed. Because of sight/vision issues I customise most of my browsers so that the pages have a coloured background and if possible a non-serifed text, such as Arial. Firefox is usually a black page with light blue text which serves my eyes well. Green Browser I gave a grey-green ‘easy on the eyes’ background, and so on.
    My eyes can’t tolerate white backgrounds, but for this occasion I pulled up Iron (which is the one browser that has resisted my attempts at customisation)  so that I could view your website changes. 
    Simplicity is good, starkness not so. For me it was much too stark. There is too much white with too little colour to break up the glare of all that whiteness.
    Other than that the layout looks good, though there is one problem and that’s the lack of a proper heading at the top of the pages.
    I’m not sure if it’s the Iron browser I’m viewing it in, or if that’s the way you designed it, but the top of the page is much too busy with text links, text adverts etc. Ideally it should be a place where your site announces to the world Who it is and What its purpose is.
    I think it needs ‘weight’ at the top of the page, not necessarily a banner, but something standout that tells me instantly I’m at Dottech, and why I’m there. This is really important for visitors who may be dashing around from site to site, short of time as many of us are these days. Your site needs to impress and imprint itself on visitor’s eyeballs and in their minds whether they are just passing by, or staying for a while.
    As I recall, images or graphic links right at the top of a page lower search engine page ranking, so why not something in large heavy text (perhaps coloured), like “DOTTECH – Your Site for Software, Reviews & Discussion”, or something similar. At the moment I can see one lonely spot of colour and that’s the logo  (a clever one), but I’d like to see the word Dottech loud and clear and eye-catching at the top also. Loud enough, without being too strident, to arrest the eye and remain in people’s minds after their visit.
    Regarding delegation to others, I endorse what others have said: Be vigilant as to the quality of any work, writing, reviews that others put up on the site. Don’t let the standard get eroded when you’re not around. I think you’d do best to gradually, incrementally step back while others come forward and a gentle, almost imperceptible transition time is best in my view. 
    It would be great if you could still write full GOTD reviews every so often, especially when there’s a standout program offered.  They’ve always been beautifully presented and welcomed and appreciated by many at GOTD.  And I think ultimately a 50% involvement at dottech by your good self would be sufficient to keep the punters happy, especially if other strong talent of the standard of Locutus for example were also regularly contributing.
    I would gladly offer myself as a contributor but have insufficient expertise to be of any value.  But I will stop by more often in the future to help restore rankings.
    You’ve built up a great site and we, who’ve gained so much from it, need to help maintain it in whatever ways we can, so that you can have some chance to fulfil other areas of your life.
    Hope this has been of some help  :)

  • Your new website design is a bit too minimalistice for me and makes be feel a bit depressed.. some color would be nice.
    I was one of those who initially read your reviews in Gaotd with suspicion but have since been won over by your in-depth reviews, dotTech Exclusive giveaways, but most of all, by your friendly, cute, funny personality and witty responses to comments. I think your personality is what MAKES this website and it is important that you continue to show up on this website. You could write something short and informative on any tech-related topic and we, your readers will take it from there, contributing something from our own experiences. It is always interesting to read what others have experienced with a particular gadget, software, etc.
    One more thing, it would be all too natural to feel run-down by the negative comments everytime you post a review in Gaotd. Forgive the detractors for they know not the good you are providing to so many who likes what you do.

  • John

    Welcome back Ashraf!.   I missed your reviews.

  • Thank for you are back. Great to see your write-ups.

  • p.rameshnair

    Glad you are back Ashraff.

    Theme is nice, though needs some color.

  • Sometimes i like to go for a walk all by myself, no family, no friends, no plans, no direction, no excuses, nothing to explain just me spending time with the real me, and what is known as my inner child.

    Sometimes my walk lasts 20 – 30 minutes, sometimes a few hours, just once 7 days, (my family knows me and they understand, it’s how my wife met me “just on walkabout” years ago and nowadays I do take my mobile just in case there is a real emergency)

    Of course we all missed you, but more importantly we are glad you took the time out to be with yourself to re-energise your soul, and if you hadn’t come back; well “C’est la vie”….

    ….and we would have all sat around the dotTech campfire swapping stories along the lines of, “oh that Ashraf, do you remember when he did such and such….? and when…?”

    And we would have all looked wistfully at the virtual internet nighttime sky and wondered which one of those bright, twinkling stars is our Ashraf?……….and what is he doing now?

    …..and gradually one by one, as the nights drew in and new days and new lives beckoned we would have all drifted back to our own individual lives, our hearts gladdened and our lives enriched by once having been touched by the marvellous spirit of a bright spark called Ashraf.

    And life would have gone on regardless…and irregardless of whether you continued along that one path you began long ago or whether you turned around and set off in a new direction or a combination of both and many others all at once….!

    What is most important is that you have rediscovered yourself and that you are enjoying what you are doing, and if that includes us then all is well and good and if not, then all is well and good too!

    So Ashraf, I hope you enjoyed your walk and welcome home to your online family.

  • Hi Ashraf,
    I like the new site, but not the colors.
    Black and White are to extreme in contrast. Please use a darker white. Personally I prefer a dark grey background with light grey text. This is so smooth on the eyes and looks very exclusive. Have a look at Speccy from, this SysInfo just looks sexy and uses the dark theme.

  • But licks the lot of you commenters!Don’t start a website then whinge about having to run it ashraf.Maybe you should start a fan club going by these posts

  • Hi, Ashraf
    Welcome back.
    Well, about the rank. Here we are..
    BTW. Theme is fine, but add color please..

  • Welcome back Ashraf, really glad to see you back. I don’t care about the look of the site much, what matters much for is fact that you are back and dotTech is back online.

  • Thanks for bringing the site to life again. I like the new outlook.

  • Jyo

    Oh and GAOTD I agree has been quite stale lately, but it’d be nice to see reviews on once in a while gems, like software capable of revolutionizing the world of computers…..

  • Welcome back, if you ever have to leave again let me know.   I’m working on cloning and I almost have the technique perfective.  Once I figure out why my clones disappear after only ten seconds of life, then I’ll be able to clone you and you can take a break. :)
    Sochya eh dif.

  • Welcome back Ashraf, glad to see this site is alive and well again!
    I like the theme…very crisp, clean, and clear.

  • Nice surprise to see new postings for dottech in my RSS feed this morning. Really like the new look for ease in reading, and agree in your decision to delegate some writing duties as long as you oversee quality. Looking forward to you getting someone to post again on GOTD. Those reviews often helped me make a decision to try or not.

  • Jabtano

    Welcome back. I like the new look. but it does need some color too it. the world isn’t black and white. I agree with some others that having GOWOTD revue would bang the hit counter up rather fast.

  • Hello Ashraf,
    1. new looks are OK. I think maybe put some color on the menu bar, which hardly can be seen
    2. GAOTD is VERY poor lately so, actually, there’s not much to review indeed. But, that may be because I think I have most I need…

  • You HAVE been missed!!
    Welcome back.

  • I join all others in expressing the joy to read you again.

  • Disappearing without notice was very mean….
    Hope you know how much important your reviews are….
    I have not installed a single GOTD product in last 2 month.
    but welcome back !!!
    will keep following.

  • Ashraf

    @Jyo: “I thought for a second your web-host had screwed you again and took away all the colors!” Now that is just rubbing salt into the wound. :-P

    Seriously though, I am still sore about that. It pissed me off so much. I am just hoping PayPal will have my back in getting my money back from those punks.

  • Jyo

    Wow, I can’t believe The Boss is finally back! It truly wasn’t the same without you, but you have your reasons and I respect that. I wish to contribute a few articles to dotTech during Winter time, voluntarily of course. Like many have already mentioned, I do hope these paid authors keep up with the standard of dotTech, but I’m sure you will make the right decisions.
    As for the new look, I’ll take the side of having a little more color. I actually preferred the very first theme you had, the black and white one, which was also very simplistic imo. Something along the lines of that would be nice, but I agree a minimalist theme is good. I thought for a second your web-host had screwed you again and took away all the colors!
    All in all, we humbly welcome you back!

  • Yay, glad to see something happening around here.  I like the new look… but it’s just a tad too minimalistic.  A bit of color would be nice…  I actually reloaded the page a couple times just to make sure it was the site not my browser.  :P

  • Welcome back!
    I agree that the theme needs some color.

  • Someguy

    Ashraf, I personally think this looks to much like a 1990s type of website now, you should keep this but have an option to switch back to what it was like.

  • Ashraf

    @Everyone: Thanks for the welcome back, kind wishes, and the feedback! I am listening to all the feedback and have made some minor changes as you can see. However, it seems to be a fairly even split as to people liking this new look vs people who don’t. This sort of split seems to be normal but I will still look to implement a few changes to appease both parties. The problem with minimalist looks is that they truly are minimal — I have made most of the custom changes to this theme to get it fit to appear on dotTech, and I don’t mind doing some more.

  • I like the look. Add a little background color and it’ll be dialed in.

  • Hello Ashraf,
    I agree with the other commenters that found the all white look of the new site design rather hard on the eyes. It think there is too much white space overall. I think it would benefit from some more color highlights to make it easier on the eyes, to increase the contrast between submissions, and to make things stand out a bit better. I think the title area would be better too if it had some color to make it stand out from the body of the page. I think reducing it to half the height of the current title bar design would be better too.

  • Welcome back.
    In my humble opinion the new look is perfect

  • gfs

    Hi Ashraf
    I was sort of worried that the site’s lack of updates to my RSS client was on on a more permanent basis!  Relief!
    Thanks for getting everything up to speed again.
    I like the new, simple  design too.

  • paf

    Hi Ashraf, glad to see you are back. We have missed you, my friend. Welcome back. Cheers.

  • Your site is on my morning coffee bookmark list.  I’m glad you are back and am looking forward to future posts.
    Minimal look is best in my opinion.

  • welcome back!

  • Glad to see you back Ashraf !

    I’ve been coming on the site almost everyday since September 16th, 2010.

    When the site was down for a day or two I thought it was really the end of dotTech.

    I felt really sorry because this site is one of my favorites.

    You said : “But I would like dotTech to be more community centric, with multiple authors and active participation from dotTechies.”.

    I think it’s a good idea, but if you are aware of it, “4free on the Internet” tried the same thing and the site is now closed : so be careful with the way you will try to apply this politic.

    The idea of a new graphic design for the site is correct and I generally like the minimalistic designs. But you will have some more work to do to achieve something which will be very attractive.

    There is another site which I visit from time to time and which proceeded with such a graphic redesign recently :

    I dont tell you to do the same, but I just wanted to mention that if it’s new design is still perfectible, it is better than what it was because of it’s minimalistic design.

  • Welcome back, old chap! Cheers!

  • Hi Ashraf!
    Welcome back, thought maybe I’d dropped off your mailing list again, as happened a couple of years ago. Thinking about it the site looks a lot better than it did during the old Politically Incorrect days.  Ha! That’s been awhile.

  • Welcome back Ashraf! I like the minimalist look, somehow it seems easier on the eyes. I’m using Firefox 3.6.12 with Adblock plus, Noscript and Keyscrambler. No issues here.

  • Hi Ashraf,

    I first came here via GOTD about a year ago. Simplicity is good. In fact the simplicity of your reviews at GOTD is what drew me here. Your recent absence has taught me that great internet sites like yours aren’t a right or a given for self absorbed internet paddlers such as myself. Which is why I want to say how pleased and thankfull I am that you have taken a renewed interest in your site.

    The new look is good but on my monitor the white is really bright. So perhaps a shade or two duller might be an improvement? And the font seems a bit small. Not complaining though. Just offering some feedback.

    Anyway, glad you’re back….er involved again. Peace.

  • Someguy

    Hey Ashraf, I visited website every day. I was wondering where you where. I thought school got you. Well would be better with a Heads up but nice to see you back.

  • Ashraf,
    Nice to see that you are back, in good health and good spirits.  Please reconsider your decision about GOTD reviews.
    I would also like to thank Locutus for keeping the forums going.
    Welcome back.

  • @Conn09: Don’t encourage him! :D
    It’s been a bland two months… glad you’re back Ashraf!

  • I like the look, but I’d like a few more “vertical dividers” between the main content and the sidebars (like the recent posts, categories, etc).  This can help me visually separate the two sections.

  • Dear Ashraf
    Nice to see you back
    And the new look is fantastic
    Dr Nitin

  • Yes, as they all said, welcome back!  But, I’m not too keen on the new theme, as when I just visited the site a few minutes ago, I thought the stylesheet was broken, and I’ll certainly make that mistake again in the future :D

  • Welcome back.
    I think it’s a smart decision to have other people in place so that if you need another break, the site won’t come to a screeching halt again.
    I find all the on again – off again stuff very frustrating. Were it not for the trust that has developed over time in your reviews and advise, I would have quit checking this site for new articles a long time ago.
    But before anybody flames me, I want to stress that I too believe that you deserve a life in the real world! The day that any website takes priority over family is the day that you, or anyone should throw their computer in the garbage! So planning to have some coverage when you’re busy with other things is good thinking.
    As for the people you’re going to hire to write articles, I do find myself somewhat concerned. Those people will have to be able to carry on the extremely high quality articles that dotTech is known for. Weeding out the “wanna-be” writers and hiring only quality “real” writers will be a challenge that will make or break dotTech. You have my best wishes in your search.
    Lastly, the new look of the site. The minimalistic look is nice. I find that for me, all that white actually hurts my eyes tho. Maybe as others have said, a little color here and there would break it up a bit. Or a light gray background instead of white. I don’t really expect you to change the background color tho because I realize that some people need that white background to be able to read the page due to issues with their sight.
    Anyway, welcome back Ashraf. May only good things come your way!

  • Welcome back, sorry about gaotd, hope you will find good solution

  • Tom

    Glad to have you back and that you are MIA, it is very understandable these days with everyone wanting more for less that other things get in the way of our favorite things.

  • Welcome back, buddy.

    The site is great, there is really nothing on my mind that I would like to see changed.
    I, as well as others, didn’t give up, and we all know that family matters come first. Let alone, we might end up having things to do that keep us busy, so it’s understandable.

  • Gvape

    Welcome back Ashraf! Also, I love the new theme!

  • No flame,just welcome back….:)

  • We missed you. Welcome.

  • Hi Ashraf :)
    I’m glad to hear that you are okay.
    I rrr rrreally like the new simple looks for dotTech.It is allmost like an old newspaper.
    Best Regards

  • Welcome Back Ashraf.  I’m really glad to see you back again.  I’ve really been needing my Ashraf fix.

    I haven’t finished reading the whole article yet, got to the part about commenting on your new look and came straight here.

    You probably won’t like this but, I don’t like the new look, it is way to busy and my eyes are jumping all over the place trying to find something to focus on.  There are too many distractions.

    I actually preferred your original Black and White site, it was clean, and easy to follow.   Something similar to that would work better.

    KIS is the best method to follow.  Keep It Simple.
    While this is supposed to be minimalistic, I find that it really isn’t.

    Here’s a link to a YouTube video which might help.

    The other videos there will probably help also.  I also have some articles which could be of use if you want them, just let me know if you are interested.

  • It wonderful for you to be back with us.  Any format you choose will be fine.  Just don’t choose white text on white background or black on black, etc.

  • Welcome back, Ashraf, we missed you.

  • Good to see you back. If I had the expertise to help I would. None the less, I have learned a lot from your site, but I understand your desire to improve the site and at the same time to not let it consume you. I would suggest you somehow screen those who are willing to help so that the quality of your site will not deteriorate. Perhaps those who comment in the forum section will give you an idea of who is capable/qualified.

  • tnp

    Glad to see you back. Am a regular visitor to this site in spite of your short break. Am ready to assist you to make this site better and useful.

  • Jeffinprov

    Happy Days!  Welcome back, Ashraf.  I am deeply relieved that all seems well with you, and that rather than dissolving into the sort of burn-out and overload that has befallen another favorite blogger, you had the wisdom to attend to your own affairs.
    The new look is quite elegant.  It is also exceptionally easy to read, which is appreciated as one who tends to stare blurrily at the screen while waiting for morning coffee.
    All in all, hooray, hooray, and I hope that in dotTech’s 3rd year, your hope for a more vibrant and participatory community will be fully realized.

  • karen

    I do like the new layout of the forums.  Making it wider makes it much easier to read.  A couple of issues I noticed:
    1) the icons in the forum that indicate a subscribed, favorite, etc post don’t line up correctly (the edit icon for admins especially) and appear to have an extra line at the top or bottom of the icon.
    2) you might want to think about putting a link on the dotTech icon in the header.  I clicked on it thinking it would take me back to the main page and nothing happened.

  • karen

    Overall, I like the sparse layout, but would like a little bit of color.
    One but I did notice is that there doesn’t seem to be a favicon anymore.
    We did all wonder where you were, but figured that you had a life too.  I know all about the “I’ll get to it later” becoming a day, then a week, then a month, etc.  It happens to all of us.
    As for the GOTD reviews, my recommendation is that you do them again at least for a while.  It will serve to drive up traffic to dotTech–after all, GOTD is how a bunch of people learned about dotTech in the first place.

  • Wellcome back :)

    Good Luck Every One

  • Great to see you back. I checked this site alot to see if you were back.

  • The new look is ok, but the drop down menus don’t seem to work (at the top).

  • Good to see you back! And it was very easy to understand that you needed a break. I was very impressed over your thorough GOTD reviews, in fact I was wondering how you were able to manage it combined with having a life.
    Your new layout is quite OK – I don’t think it is important. It’s the contents that count.

  • Welcome back! It has been a LONG 2 months :(
    The redesign of your site is much better. Loads very fast and no heavy bloat. Oh and by the way…PLEASE come back to GOTD, some of the reviews are….well lets just say..ill-informed and not well written.
    Welcome back Ashraf, you were missed.

  • Conn09

    Great to have you back! We ashumed you were busy so don’t feel guilty over it :)
    As for the new theme, i actually quite like this minimalist approach. It looks nice, clean and simple. One change i would suggest is similar to Phoenix’s, a lot of people end up posting nonsense in the forums simply to get their rank up and i don’t think we should have that kind of competition personally.
    Other than that, i’d be happy to be an author without pay tbh. I wouldn’t mind writing an article for dottech every now and then. I’d actually feel privileged to do so.

  • Good to see you back. I checked up daily hoping you would return.

  • its good to see you back.I trust your reviews…

  • jumbi

    Welcome back :-)
    You know better than anyone, what is best for yourself and your dottech child. I wish you good luck to whatever you choose, especially for your “real” life.
    If I had to write an advice, that would be to try to keep a “meter” like the ancient Greeks said, meaning, to try not to exaggerate in any kind of activity, including the time you spent to dottech or elsewhere.
    (usually men do not manage to keep that, including myself, so a reminder should be given every now and then).
    Your decision to hire a reviewer should be positive towards this direction. I do not know how successful that person may be with the reviews, but I prefer that you appear from time to time with short comments or experiences, than missing totally…
    Again, GOOD LUCK and may God be with you :-)
    p.s. I like very much the new forum width.

  • Welcome back!
    Like so many good things in life, you do not appreciate them until they gone gone.
    Glad you are back so I can say thank you for all that you have done and thank you in advance for all that you will do.
    Next should come a donation. Please, all those who are yet to donate, do it now. Now that we appreciate what we have been missing.

  • Welcome back Ashraf, you were missed, believe me. I hope that all is well with you and yours and that it stays that way.

    I like the ” New ” look, mainly because at my age. I like for things to be simple and right on target.

    Again, ” Welcome back, Ashraf.”

  • Snugman

    I have been a regular visitor for a long time but seldom if ever post. Your return has prompted me to say a few words.
    1. The site looks good.  A change is as good as etc….
    2. The art of delegation is central to success, regardless of individual brilliance (and the load that implies).  You have access to a core of great admins who have kept the interest up while you were away.  Use them.
    3. Happy to revisit.  I have kept a watch over the last few weeks for activity.  The forums have had some interest but the regular site postings are much more interesting.
    4. Go ahead, it makes for better readability.
    5. The GOTD offerings have been pretty thin lately especially from a quality point of view.  The idea of continuing to review the site is good, but my view would be to only post on offerings that are breakthrough/new approach/interesting to the majority.  How many video converters do you need after all!!
    As to flaming, you deserve a life, and a career.  If you get the delegation right, the site will continue to be as interesting and informative as it always has been.

  • phoenix_rising

    Welcome back! Personally, I care less about the look than the content. That said, I do like the minimalist approach. I have but one suggestion – a possible ditching of the top posters count on the forums. It just seems to encourage people to write about nothing in order to get their numbers up. I’d rather see people post because they actually have something to say, rather than babbling on about nothing ad nauseam. That’s my only wish.

  • Dear Ashraf
    There are 2 websites I view “religiously” every day.
    1 of them is GOTD (freebies occasionally useful but often of dubious utility) the other is dottech.
    I have found your freebies and reviews to be consistently useful and of high quality and was dismayed by your absence over the last few months. If I were you, I would be reluctant to let dottech go as it is something special and all of your own.
    Internet capable hardware is expensive and cannot function at all without software. Having already spent a ton of money on the hardware, I don’t see why I should have to spend any more hard-earned cash  – and that’s where you come in!
    Good quality freebies are vitally important for those millions, like myself, on a software budget of zero.
    Who knows, one day, when some license expires, I may even be prepared to fork out a few pennies for some god-like piece of software I cannot live without.

  • Grr

    Welcome Back!!
    Hope to c the same old dottech back firing..

  • Rob

    “Who is this masked man ?”
    I believe in KISS, so no complaints.
    Can you convince MS as well ?
    Welcome back,
    Rob (Down Under)
    PS It is a bit brutal, if one types a comment, and submits it, without having entered an email address. (It discards all the typing).
    And I would like the checkbox pre-ticked (unless it was a ‘first time’ cookie problem ?)

  • welcome back dear brother
    i like the theme

  • Rob

    It is nice to have you back.
    The theme is nice, but a little color would add to it.