Monthly Archives: February 2006

slashdot don't know no sql

Anyone who’s visited slashdot for more than three minutes already realizes that you can expect about as much quality as you would get from a box of kitty litter.

Still, for a site that is pro-geek, and run by geeks, you think they’d take more pride in their work. Especially considering how amazingly popular it is. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and doesn’t seem like it ever will be, because there are bugs in their scripts that have been there for years.

I actually don’t visit slashdot.org any more, not since I found alterslash.org instead. AlterSlash sums up the articles nicely and gives me the comments with the highest thread responses, along with the funniest (the *real* reason to read slashdot) and most “insightful” comments.

Even though I’m happy with the alter-site, every now and then I hop back to Slashdot just to see if they’ve fixed a few bugs yet. It’s like going to Wal-Mart though — nothing ever gets better, and you keep wondering why you are coming back.

The bug I want to harp on tonight affects the “comments” summary totals. Now, since I read slashdot mainly for the comments (someday I’ll start a site called +5 Funny), I figure I can skim the frontpage and quickly gather how many there are in a story. Each article entry is followed by a “Read More” link, then “X of Y comments”, with X and Y being more links. The difference between the three URLs is that the first one links just to the ID of the story in the querystring. The second link adds “threshold=4″ to the list of variables (in this case, 4 being my minimum threshold to display comments rated than that or higher), and the third adds threshold=-1, to display all the comments.

Now, the great thing here is this — the numbers are always wrong.

As an example, here’s one from http://linux.slashdot.org/ Right now the top story is “Linux beats Windows to Intel iMac”. With my threshold, it says ( Read More… | 32 of 418 comments ). So, I click on 32, which takes me to this page: http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/16/2025243&threshold=4

Lo and behold, the first line above the comments says this — Threshold: 4: 24 comments. Whoops. I guess they’re too busy posting dupes to fix bugs.

What’s it even better is if you click on the Threshold select menu, it says 24 comments for everything underneath that level as well. If I change it to another level, then it shows the comments for that threshold, but the bug still exists for any amount underneath them.

Gotta love slashdot. It’s known for many things, but certainly not it’s attention to detail.

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another game, another lost weekend

I spent most of last weekend playing one of my favorite computer games: Knights of the Old Republic II. Turning to the dark side is a hobby of mine. It’s great fun. In fact, that’s the third or fourth time I’ve started from scratch since buying it to play it. Anyway, I was looking at GameSpot for some tips and tricks, and I noticed they had a ‘recommendations’ section. I checked it out, and among the games listed, I found one I’d never heard of before: Elder Scrolls III.

So, I checked it out. The basic description really intrigued me. The review described it as an open-ended gameplay with no forced quest, meaning you just run around as your character doing whatever you want. My short description is this: it feels like Dark Age of Camelot without the lag and morons. I’m not one much for MMORPGs, myself. I think the whole subscription model is stupid. It wouldn’t work for me because my preferences shift so easily, I’d play the game for two months at a time then give up, then come back maybe a year later. That would just wreak havoc on their billing system, I’m sure. Besides, I’ve had my fill of them, and they’re called MUDs, and I flunked too many college courses to get hooked on something like that again. Instead, I just spend my weekends with the offline counterpart.

So, the game is pretty fun. I jumped right in there and managed to figure it out pretty quickly. The gameplay is rather slow, and the UI is frustrating. For instance, you can hit a keyboard key to pull up your inventory menus and what not, but you have to use the mouse to close out (click ‘Cancel’). Kind of annoying. The other major flaw I don’t like is it’s a real pain to keep track of who you talked to and what quest they want you to go on. They do give you a journal to look at, but the default (and only) viewing option is in chronological order. It worsens as your pages quickly fill up, and you have to keep notes of your own to keep track of where you’re supposed to go.

The concept is absolutely ideal, though. I love games like this, and always have, starting with the original AD&D gold-box games — adventures that let you choose your own adventure to one degree or another. The interface on this game though needs a little polishing. It’s just overally annoying enough to make me not want to play, but I’ll forget about it enough to want to come back and try my hand at it again. At the very least, it’s great to see games evolving to a great level like this. I hope the next one to come along improves upon the interface and annoyances, and employs the same great concepts.

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dear ebay ….

1995 called. They want their web design back.

Har. Har. Har.

I love ebay. I really do. Well, I love *finding* and *buying* cool stuff on ebay. But navigating their website is about as fun as losing your car keys. I mean, who designed that horrid thing? Being a web designer myself, I’m naturally very critical about the look and feel of other websites, but if it’s something I use on a regular basis, I tend to overlook the flaws and just pay attention to the functionality. Ebay, however, is one of those sites that goes beyond basic annoyances and just simply hides everything you’re looking for in the dumbest places.

The thing that happens to me all the time is that I cannot find what I’m looking for. At all. For instance, the other day I was watching an auction, and after it ended I went to My Ebay to see if I won it or not. First of all, it had ended about two hours earlier and it was one that I really was hoping to get, and I still hadn’t gotten an e-mail (it definately wasn’t my e-mail server’s fault either, they are very responsive). Two hours after the auction ended, and I had no clue if I won it or not! I was kind of panicked. Mostly because I bid around $150 or so for a rare and hard to find soundtrack and I was excited to know if I got it or not.

Anyway, I logged into My Ebay, and the closed auction wasn’t listed anywhere on the front page. I made the mistake of *not* bookmarking the actual item’s page, thinking that I’d always have quick access to it on the personal ebay page. Well, I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere. It wasn’t in my “Don’t forget to pay…” section, and I couldn’t find any kind of “previous auctions” section either. So, how did I find out about the auction? I had to wait for the e-mail to come that said that I did win (go me). Stupid ebay.

While I’m on the subject, what is up with their sign-in system? It bugs the crap out of me that you have to sign in about 8,432 times. Well, not that much, but anytime you access any other part of the site you have to log in again! I already logged in, you jerks! Go to My Ebay, you login. Go to change your address, you login. Go to bid, you login again. Sakes alive.

Well, that’s enough of my ranting. The thing that got me posting was I saw this link on Digg today about someone’s proposed redesign of the frontpage here. Great idea. Someone tell ebay to get a clue and follow that guy’s lead.

And if they can manage it, tell me which auctions I was bidding on. Mmmkthx.

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