OK, here's the first update. I did some rewritting of the code that will hopefully speed up the pages a little. It's the first of many I'm hoping. There are a few more minor tweaks I believe I can do on it, but a the good chunk that I can do myself is done.
I'm hoping that this will help the pages forum and even server wide load quicker as it shouldn't be taxing the server CPU as much. I will wait to hear from you guys if it seems faster though as it's hard for me to tell as I seem to most of the time be going at a pretty good speed.
The way the frontpage news categories work is that they show 25 of the latest news topics in that category. It will however only show news entries that are less than a week old (may be modified). So for some of the sections that don't get 25 news posts in a week, they will appear shorter. This will help on not displaying news posts that users have already seen.
Secondly, the news topic views should be more accurate as the news links link directly to the news post. So hopefully there will be a rise in the hot threads for the week and the number of views will be even higher.
Finally, I've left the top name of the news category boxes (IE: PC Game News, Tech Files, etc.) linking to the old way display type where it shows the content of many news posts all on one page. I will leave that option there for now for people that really like it, but don't get too used to it as it could disappear if server problems still continue.
Currently the main bug I'm concerned about is that when somebody replies to a news topic it jumps to the top in those news categories. I will be working on fixing this problem. Other bugs that I'm aware of are that when you click the links it takes you to the latest post. This means that if nobody has replied it takes you straight to the news post, but if somebody has replied, it takes you to their post. I am working on getting this fixed so that even when somebody replies it takes you to the news post. Lastly, I'm not sure how the categories will react on a weekend when no news is posted. I will be testing it over this upcoming weekend to see if the boxes stay full of the news posted on Friday, as that is what I'm hoping for. It may need some more tweaking so that instead of the last 7 days, it's the last 5 days. This way it will hide more news posts that are old, but on weekends and even on weekends that are next to a holiday, the news categories will still stay full for somebody visiting the site.
For those that have been having slowness problems, I would love to hear from you if it feels like anything has increased in speed. It could just even out and become just as slow, but instead of only having 250 users online viewing stuff and it going slow it will be 300+ and be going as slow before the tweak with 250.
Let me know, how it runs. For those that have been experiencing slowness, it's best to test it many times as the server sometimes spikes and loads fast and at other times loads slow just depending on when people are loading pages and when people are stopped reading that page.
If nothing else, it's the first big step in the right direction.