It's been a bit quiet here for some time, since I've been working on some larger changes in the aprs.fi back-end system (and learning how to fly, crash and repair an RC airplane). I'm planning to install the changes on the production servers early on Tuesday or Wednesday morning (7th or 8th of July 2009, around 4:00 UTC). The outage shouldn't be a long one, if all goes well.
One of the visible changes is a new authentication and authorization layer, which is based on a conventional email address + password model with a team-based authorization system. It'll enable some new features and services later (once I get around to implementing those) - in the first phase it just lets you sign up for submitting AIS data without manual work on my part.
There's no need to worry, as a normal user viewing data on aprs.fi, you won't need to sign up for an account. Logging in is completely optional, and I won't encourage or beg everyone and their cat to sign up. In fact, the "login with your nickname to see the map" model will go away - you'll end up directly on the map page when you arrive on the site, and the "most usual" site entrance path will be easier and quicker than before.
I will be adding an "introductory" entrance page for first-time visitors later, so that there's a chance to let them know what this site is all about. But it'll only be shown once for each visitor.