Firefox 29: Redesign
But then why is the bookmarks bar below the URL bar. My bookmarks are more like the menu. They don't change based on which tab is open. Shouldn't the bookmarks go above the tabs?
Google Sync Clobbers Chrome Browsers
Firefox bookmarks sync is much better than Chrome bookmarks sync. Firefox stored your bookmarks locally and updated them periodically from the cloud. Chrome appears to have to download everything when I start the browser. I get a blank bookmarks bar for a few seconds when the internet is slow and I open Chrome. This is one place where Firefox got the design right and Chrome has it wrong.
Ask Slashdot: How Often Do You Push To Production?
Push to production as soon as the (many) automated tests that you have pass. This means you should have comprehensive unit tests and tests that run in the browser, probably written in Selenium. You'll also want to script your release so that you can do it with the push of a button. Once the tests pass, and the mechanics of a release are trivial, there is little reason to hold up a release.
I worked for a top 500 website (East coast) for 7 years that did weekly releases. Since I left, they decided that wasn't fast enough and now release multiple times per week. I'm now self-employed on my own website and release within an hour of finishing development of a feature.
I started my development career writing firmware for laser printers. When you are shipping code on a physical product, the cost of bugs can be quite high. Especially when it leads to returns or recalls because customers are not satisfied. Our release cycles there were 6 months+. Quite appropriately, IMO.
On the web, the cost of bugs is much lower. In most cases it is the only cost of another release. Sometimes it could cost more because of downtime, but good automated test coverage mitigates that risk pretty well (especially if there is load testing involved). The worst case would be data-corruption, but I've never actually seen that in practice from a release, that has only been related to hardware failure or accidents in my experience.
Online Loneliness At Google+
Facebook has a real name policy as well. It hasn't hindered their growth. The problem is that Google+ has a real name policy, but doesn't require mutual friendship. This leads to a duplicate one way friendship problem.
Here is the use case: you want to add a friend who isn't on the network but you have their email address.
Facebook: You add the user by email. It goes to "friendship requested" status.
Google: You add the user by email. That email address is added to your circles
Then later, the user signs up for the social network, but not using the email address you supplied then friends you.
Facebook: You are friends!
Google: You are friends, plus you have a zombie email address friend in your circles. FAIL!
That and Google+ is full of bugs. For example you open a Google+ account at your own email address. Then you sign up for gmail. This changes the email address of your Google account to your new gmail address with NO WAY TO CHANGE IT BACK. The people in your circles are associated with your old email address. Google has DELETED all the friends from your circles. You then have to re-add all of them.
Using a Toy Train To Calibrate a Reactor
The IT department here used on of those "perpetual motion" drinking birds to test the video conference system. A week before the big meeting, they set up the link between our Boston office and our London office, put a drinking bird in front of the camera, and made sure that the connection remained stable enough that it wasn't going to drop during the three hours that we really needed it.
How Do I Talk To 4th Graders About IT?
I always get jealous of IT folks when I see that they get to work with racks of equipment. It seems to me like it is building with Lego blocks for a living.
In addition to software installation and security, our IT folks plan out the hardware with the power and cooling requirements. I would have been fascinated by this stuff as a kid (and I still am).
Tagging Slashdot Stories?
I like tagging when it is appropriate. But tagging slashdot stories is not going to work well. For tags to work they must have some benefit to the individual and some use to the group. The two places they work the best are del.icio.us and flickr. In both cases you organize your data by your tags. Your data is bookmarks and photos respectively. As a side result, you can get statistics about the most popular things with different tags. People don't tag things for the good of the community, they tag things to organize data in some way that is relevent to them.
Take a tagging system that is a failure: amazon.com product tags. Amazon introduced tagging in hopes of getting some new ways of slicing their product database. It turns out that are using the tags mostly for who on their gift list might want the thing. So you end up with lots of tags like "Bob", "Sue", and "Caroline". These tags have almost no use to the larger community. Amazon makes it worse by displaying the top tags for a product even when there are only one or two folks that have tagged something that way.
So why is it bad for Slashdot? Slashdot's implementation doesn't do anything at all for the end user
. The tagging system seems to be designed only around the group aspects. Features that would be needed to make this work:
- Ability to see your articles as your have tagged them.
- See what tags you have specified for a specific article
Without those, people just have no incentive at all to tag anything.
If Slashdot actually changed the page because of how you tag stories the results might be better. For example if somebody tags something "dupe", or "boring" it would be removed from that person's front page. On the other side, if it was tagged "cool" it would remain on the front page for longer.
As it is, I'll probably be tagging stories as to how I feel about them to start with and see if anybody notices. If nothing happens, I'll probably stop tagging altogether.
"Mysterious Future" no so mysterious
Subsribers see stories before everybody else. These stories are marked in red to indicate that they aren't published yet. However, the Slashdot interface doesn't tell you how long until they will be published. The stories are just marked as "To be published in the Mysterious Future!"
As a subsriber you also get a customized RSS feed. This feed has all the same stories you see on the home page including the stories soon to be published. Interestingly, the actually publish time for the story is included in the RSS feed. You can tell exactly when the story will go live on Slashdot. My RSS reader really unmasks the "Mysterious Future"
Slashdot CSS needs div around signatures
The ancient "--" before the signature to make it bloody obvious where the signature starts should now be replaced by a div around the signature. The old behavior could be emulated by sticking the "--" before the signature using css.
The new CSS layout rocks. It looks much cleaner, although a little flatter. Now that they Slashdot has it, it can be used to do all sorts of nifty new stuff.
I put my threshhold back to three, where I had had it until about a year ago. I hope this is a permanent change. It would be really nice if there were far fewer comments actually moderated up to a five. Lately it seemed that whenever I got mod points, it was hard to find good stuff to mod up. Similarly, whenever I would post a good comment, there seemed like there was always a few who would waste a mod point bumping it down from a five to a four (then somebody would come along and bump it back up).
I'll see how I do with a threshhold of three for now. I also want to read cmdrtaco's journal and see what he has to say about it.
More Frequent Moderation
I'm curious what is causing this. There are a few possibilities that I see:
- Slashdot is giving out far more moderator points.
- Fewer people are willing to moderate now.
- Moderators are chosen differently.
As for more mod points given out, I'm sure thate there are more than ever, but I don't think it would account for the sudden spike. Similarly, I can't imagine that a lot of people are suddenly choosing not to moderate. My guess is that subscribers and people that have good moderation history are being asked to moderate more frequently. Taco said in is journal, that subscribers moderate more fairly. He hasn't said anything about making a code change to use subscribers more frequently, but it wouldn't suprise me.
I really like the new(ish) feedback mechanisms for when somebody moderates your comment or medamoderates your moderation. I'm suprised to find that my moderations are almost never questioned in meta-moderation.
I'm hoping that cmdrtaco will write about this a bit in his journal soon. (hint, hint)
The subscriber plum that I've used the most has been the ability to see stories up to twenty minutes before they are seen by everybody else. When this happens, the story header's backgound is red rather than the normal slashdot green and the story says that it will be posted in the Mysterious Future.
As CmdrTaco Expains in his journal, when a story is visible only to subscribers, no comments can be posted to it yet. This would allow the editors to still yank the story. This is interesting to me because subscribers could theoretically report problems with stories such as dups, broken links, and typos and they could be corrected or the story could be pulled. CmdrTaco has taken quite a bit of heat in discussions for making people pay to be proofreaders, but I don't see it this way. I'm happy to help out as a subscriber.
Although it seems that I refresh slashdot constantly, I don't actually see most of the stories before they get posted. I have not yet caught a single duplicate story (although at least a couple have been posted). I have tried to report problems with stories on three occasions. This has met with mixed success. On two occasions the the story was actually posted before editors could get around to correcting it.
For reporting errors, CmdrTaco announced a new email address: daddypants . The address goes to somebody on duty who can correct stories. I've used this address on two of the three occasions. It seems to work fairly well, and I have gotten personal responses from the admins about the problems I have found.
The first problem I found was that a link went to a story that had moved to the archives. I found the new link and emailed it off. The story was posted before the link was corrected, but it was simply corrected without an update.
The second problem I found was an unclosed link. The problem was corrected before the story was posted.
The third problem I found was an article linking to bugzilla.mozilla.org. Bugzilla can't handle a slashdotting and they check the referrer for slashdot.org and deny links. Timothy went ahead and posted the story anyway. It turns out that he had been using https://slashdot.org/ which wasn't blocked. Of course once the story was posted, nobody could get to the article and bugzilla soon went down under the load anyway. I found a mirror for the article and sent it to daddypants. It didn't get there in time, but Timothy put an update on the story. As a result I also filed a bug in bugzilla to block slashdot better. I can't link to it from here for obvious reasons but the bug number is 198305. From now on slashdot editors should see the failure when they link to bugzilla.