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Journal: Hello world

Journal by Sheetrock

I suppose I'm writing to procrastinate finishing my current software project, specifically the transitory period from the last chunk of new code being added and the first chunk of testing. Testing your own software of any reasonable size has always struck me as comparable to washing a pan full of silverware or assembling an office chair, a soulless task that one is nevertheless forced to undertake in order to sit down comfortably and eat like a human. This project defies unit testing without completely denying it, dangling the possibility of efficient and consistent error-checking in my face with the sure knowledge implementing such a system would in this circumstance be far more trouble than it's worth. AJAX may be pretty but it's also the third greatest atrocity the world has ever seen.

Lately I've been on a reading binge. Rather, I've fit it in amongst my other binges/benders. I'm pushing through a number of different sci-fi and fantasy series that I read long ago, just buying whole trilogies+ at a block where I can so that I can maybe find out where things wind up. More often "wind down" is the more appropriate term, given the propensity of authors in this genre to write a series till they can't. It's been interesting to reread some books for style and with a new perspective.

If I may make one request of now and future authors, tucked safely away in this journal entry where no one will ever see it: if you must proselytize, can you try a light touch rather than a cram down the throat?

I've just made it through all of the Ender books, Ender's Game -> Ender in Exile. I'd finished the first four quite a while ago, then as part of the aforementioned binge decided to go the next five. I don't know what happened to the author in the intervening timeframe, but he LOVES the word "babies". So much so that not only does the plot revolve at one point around finding stolen babies (fertilized embryos, specifically, but as we all know and agree life begins at conception), but the topic of "making babies" comes up frequently and in verbally jarring fashion:

"We really don't want to have to start all over, making babies."

"I want you to help them make babies that don't have any of the father's gifts or problems."

"Lie down with one of our young men, or one of our old ones if you want, and make babies."

"...and what would happen to her plans for making []'s babies then?"

These are all in the same book! Don't get me wrong, I'm not against reading different perspectives, but in the age of the cheap thesaurus this just felt inelegantly done. If you had told me halfway through Lord of the Rings that it was an allegorical protest of industrialized farming, I never would have believed you.

At any rate, it's good to be back reading fiction. I've been hoping for a while now that the e-ink readers would come down to Earth so I could roll through Project Gutenberg, but until then used paperbacks will do.

User Journal

Journal: Updates to Journal System 13

Journal by CmdrTaco

We've made some significant updates to the submission/journal system. Visiting Submissions and Journals yields a new form that allows stuff like tags to the data types. There are a number of annoying bugs, but for the most part the dust is starting to settle. More notes will be coming, but this journal entry is really just me putting the final test on the new Journal form.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: What the hell? 1

Journal by Sheetrock

OK, I've been out of the loop for a year or three, so what's the criteria to get this box?

[ ] Disable Advertising
As our way of thanking you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable advertising.

I have to admit that it really made me laugh when I saw it, though I suppose not pouring shit into the comment area could be taken as a positive contribution in a relative sense.

The site feels a little strange with this new interface, but I do like that they didn't incorporate the "dumb it down" portion of Web 2.0 even if 500 different functions can get a bit unwieldy. Given how poorly the art of conversation is faring on the Internet these forum sites could do with a bit of a test before you're permitted to add your two cents; captchas are all well and good, a literacy test would be better, and requiring people to write every comment in assembly language would be just plain silly -- or the next billion dollar Web business. I still don't get this whole Internet thing.

Java

Journal: Tech Interviewing someone higher up than you? 9

Journal by FortKnox
First of all, I don't want this published to the frontpage...
Having said that, I have a quick question. I'm a Java guy that manages a few younger java guys. I have been asked to tech a .net guy that (according to his resume) has managed over 30 developers. How do I tech a guy like that? Do I just stick with OO/patterns questions? I know how to tech a java guy, but one that has more experience than me is a daunting task...
User Journal

Journal: Twitter 3

Journal by FortKnox
fyi - can't multiply cause of work, so I've become a twitter man... that's where I do my updating... if you twitter, my id is my last name...
User Journal

Journal: Minor and Major updates 8

Journal by CmdrTaco
Pudge made a cool change in discussions- if you link to a comment deep inside a thread and click 'More' the sytem is much more intelligent about crawling down and retrieving children, and then parents and grandparents and so forth up the ancestry. So odds are you'll get more related comments sooner.

We now abbreviate journals in the firehose... so they are more like slashdot stories with a Read More link to the full text.

The big user facing change this week was structural: historically we had 2 different "skeletons" on Slashdot, but with this refresh we unified to a single one. This change simplifies maintenance for us quite a bit (maintaining the idle section and the firehose views of the same data was a royal pain).

You also will see some changes to the firehose.pl layout. We're playing with the tab layout a bit, moving some menus around and better integrating the core functions into the site chrome. It's a bit buggy atm, so feel free to email me if you see something wonky. We're extinguishing a few minor brush fires but there's no forest fires that we're aware of.

User Journal

Journal: The Wind

Journal by CmdrTaco
Zach knows the wind now. I saw him look at the window and see the leaves rustle. He then started making blowing noises. We blow the mobile over his crib whenever we change his diaper, so he knows the blowing noises move objects. But he's translated that to leaves hundreds of feet away through a window. Now I'm not saying he's a genius, but he's pretty awesome.
User Journal

Journal: A possible return... 14

Journal by FortKnox
New job (back to consulting) and current client blocks 'social networks', so I may have to make my return here until the situation changes.

What really sucks is hurricane ike destroyed Cincinnati, and I've been without power at home since Sunday, so even if I wanted to blog on multiply, I can't...

Stay tuned, I suppose...
User Journal

Journal: Beta Metamod Updates 28

Journal by CmdrTaco
This won't significantly affect most of you, but we have been working on some meta mod changes. The most user visible change is that the UI we used to use was thrown out, and instead we are using one based on the firehose. Subscribers will see it when they go to the old metamod link although users can see it by going to this version of those hose

The first real change is that we've changed the meanings of the UI around. The old system is 'Fair' and 'Unfair' and the new system is '+' and '-'. The meanings are subtly different. You are no longer rating individual 'Insightful' or 'Troll' or whatever... you are now stating basically "Is this comment good or bad for you". Personally, since I find very few Score:5 funny comments to be actually really funny (and not just cliche memes) I '-' most of them. You are encouraged to be harsh if you don't actually think something is insightful or funny, call it such. The system encourages more of what you + and less of what you -.

You are also welcome now to do more than 10 m2 per day... however we internally have diminishing returns after 10, so you can do more, but they start to matter less and less.

There will undoubtedly be bugs so feel free to email me or vroom at slashdot if you find them. Probably next week or so we'll move this out to everyone, so your assistance is appreciated.

The Internet

Journal: D2 Remembers What You've Read 5

Journal by CmdrTaco
Well, for subscribers only this week at least. We have a half dozen minor bugs left in the TODO list, but if you are a paying subscriber you can test it out. It works best if you are using the keybindings to navigate. Pressing 'f' takes you to the next unread comment respecting thread order... so you can press that over and over again.

We also added a thing to 'collapse comments after reading' which I think I might turn of as a default setting soon. This is only usable for subscribers atm as well. But basically, as you navigate through a discussion, it collapses the comments you've read after you move on. This makes it really easy to navigate large discussions without having to scroll over 150 comments you've already read.

we're aware of a number of annoying bugs, but hopefully most of them will be squashed by Pudge for this weeks code refresh. If things are stable, we hope to roll this out for everyone rsn.

also my baby cut his first tooth yesterday. My furniture will never be ungnawed upon again.

User Journal

Journal: Flat Mode Discussions 13

Journal by CmdrTaco
So as we've been migrating the system from the tired old D1 to the exciting and awesome new D2 a number of complaints have come up. I'm going to talk about a couple of them here because I'm really looking for feedback on THESE issues. Please only talk about these points or I will mod you offtopic or troll or something.

The issue is about the use of Flat/Threaded/Nested modes. D2 cleanly replaces both threaded and nested modes- you effectively get nested mode by bringing the 2 sliders together. And threaded mode is vastly more flexible because you can choose the level at which comments are abbreviated or displayed in full text. So users of those modes should be set (obviously there are other reasons not to use D2, I'm just talking about the layouts here tho)

What's left is flat mode, which has a number of sort options. Now flat mode is used by roughly 4% of our active population. When i think about flat mode, I think about 2 reasons you would have to use it:

  1. I hate indenting and whitespace. I want a big vertical column now this isn't my bag, but I can understand it and even consider supporting it in D2. I think you sacrifice legibility, but this is a personal preference. It also would be easy to support in D2. Hell, you could probably do it in a greasemonkey script no problem.
  2. It's easier to remember your place in flat mode This to me is the only reason to use flat mode- you can reload your page an hour later, find the last comment you read, and pick up where you left off.

Now I Would think that the only reason to use flat mode is #2... except that only a couple hundred Slashdot readers have the 'ignore threads' sort order enabled. So either they don't understand what they are doing, or #1 above is the real reason that they use flat mode.

So in a nutshell, the question I am asking in this journal is 'Why do you use flatmode?' Is it cosmetic? To more easily keep your place in a discussion? Something I'm just missing? We have plans to implement a read/unread state retention for discussions, so maybe would you migrate to a threaded view if that function exists? Or is it purely aesthetic... an irrational hatred of scrollbars and whitespace? :)

The reason this matters is that simply formatting the page flatly is easy. Probably a simple greasemonkey hack or maybe a few lines of CSS. But re-implementing the alternate sort is gonna take some work. And I'm ok with that... except that the logs say that nobody actually USES that sort... they ONLY are using flat mode for the cosmetic reasons.

Speak out! Stay on-topic or you WILL be moderated down.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you are working for someone else.

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