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Brenda
12-13-2007, 11:05 AM
Post comments about the redesign here, or start your own thread in this forum.

thprop
12-13-2007, 01:43 PM
Can you add a feature for the viewer to select a background color. Easy to do in HTML. I prefer the green to the stark white - easier on the eyes.

RightyDug
12-13-2007, 02:19 PM
Help me! Help me! I can't get my fix. Mickey is diavloggin' & my player won't run! I get html errors at the site. & after I download the latest flash player I get this message "Get the Flash Player to see this player. " where Rob & Mickey should be.

Please! bring back the green or add a paypal button. Just do something to allow me to hear what's going on. I'm begging you.

RightyDug

mjdd1981
12-13-2007, 02:39 PM
first time poster!
On my RSS feed it no longer lists the names of the diavloggers (it lists the cute little titles, e.g. "Goodbye to All That Green," but I'm more interested in who the participants are). Am I doing something wrong, or is there any hope of fixing this?
I GUESS I can keep doing the really onerous work of navigating to the site itself instead of just checking the feed...

Love the BHTV!

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 03:13 PM
Is there a way to make new (i.e., unread by me) messages within a given thread more noticeable? As far as I can see, there is no difference in the message icon or associated text to help it stand out from the rest of the messages. This could be a real pain when the thread gets enough messages.

Wolfgangus
12-13-2007, 03:18 PM
I am getting auto-logged out after about 30 minutes.
I can't change my password, it keeps telling me the two things I entered are not the same, even if I cut-and-paste my new password into both boxes.
The link to the old phorums in your other message is broken, I see no way on the site of looking at them.
Not that I need it anymore, but the links on the site and in the emails to the password reset screen are broken too.
I don't like that we can't see "NEW" on the new messages in the heirarchical tree view of forum comments.
I don't like that the heirarchical view is so short; it is like one inch or something. It should be half the screen.
I don't like being referred to as a "Junior Member". It is insulting.

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 03:39 PM
Wolf:

I am getting auto-logged out after about 30 minutes.

Did you see my reply in the other thread about checking the "remember me" box?

The link to the old phorums in your other message is broken, I see no way on the site of looking at them.

You can visit the old forums directly: http://bloggingheads.tv/phorum/list.php?1

It appears that no new messages may be posted at the moment, though.

Not that I need it anymore, but the links on the site and in the emails to the password reset screen are broken too.

Try editing in the location bar if you get a "page not found" page: substitute brainwaveweb.com for bloggingheads.tv

I don't like that we can't see "NEW" on the new messages in the heirarchical tree view of forum comments.

Heartily agreed. This is by far the worst aspect that I have noticed so far.

I don't like that the heirarchical view is so short; it is like one inch or something. It should be half the screen.

Agreed.

I don't like being referred to as a "Junior Member". It is insulting.

Agreed. Maybe your (our) status will change after some amount of posts. Or maybe it's just the case that anyone who isn't an admin is a junior member.

kj
12-13-2007, 03:41 PM
Change! Awwwwwwww! Awwwwwww! And ditto on the junior member crap. I haven't poured my heart and soul into Bloggingheads.tv for the past 2 decades to be referred to as a Junior member. I want something with Grand in front of it, like Grand Master or Grand Pa or maybe just plain Grand. That's classy.

thprop
12-13-2007, 03:51 PM
I don't like being referred to as a "Junior Member". It is insulting.

Your member status changes with the number of posts you make. I am sure that BN, BJ, GC and you will move up to the next level within a few days. The number of posts and the name of the levels are up to the administrator - i.e. Brenda. I noticed she already took a shot at you. Be nice or she might invent a whole new category - infant? - just for you.

thprop
12-13-2007, 04:24 PM
Is there a way to make new (i.e., unread by me) messages within a given thread more noticeable? As far as I can see, there is no difference in the message icon or associated text to help it stand out from the rest of the messages. This could be a real pain when the thread gets enough messages.

Brendan - If you click the "New Posts" link at the top of the page, it will show you threads that have had new posts since you last logged in. I don't think it will highlight individual posts you have not read - you will have to check the time.

I would not use the subscribe feature. It is hard to refine and you may get flooded with emails announcing new posts. You should be able to let you know when one of your posts has drawn a response.

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 04:30 PM
thprop:

Thanks for the help. I have noticed the New Posts link, and it's better than nothing, I'll grant. I also noticed that the page listing the threads will show an icon that points to the "first new post." But neither of these is nearly as straightforward as being able to scan a list of messages for ones that are flagged as new.

There are lots of features to like about the new forum software. It's too bad about this one shortcoming.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 05:21 PM
Change! Awwwwwwww! Awwwwwww! And ditto on the junior member crap. I haven't poured my heart and soul into Bloggingheads.tv for the past 2 decades to be referred to as a Junior member. I want something with Grand in front of it, like Grand Master or Grand Pa or maybe just plain Grand. That's classy.

The "junior member" terminology is default vBulletin membership ranking based on the number of posts you've created.

If any of the BHTV staff have time on their hands, they could grant membership based on the number of posts a user created in the Phorum environment.

They can also relabel the titles.

I feel sorry for Bob and his staff: All people do after a new site is launched is bitch and moan. It's going to take some getting used to, but it's a big improvement.

Many kudos to Bob and his staff for their hard work!

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 05:26 PM
Bug on this page: http://brainwaveweb.com/search/?to_date=2007-12-03&from_days_ago=90&search=Search

The onmouseout event on the four buttons at the top (about | store | search | forum) is not working correctly; the images change color onmouseover, but don't change back onmouseout.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 05:35 PM
I think the emails that are being sent out are going to cause problems for a lot of users.

They say stuff like this:

To reset your password, please visit the following page:
/forum/login.php?a=pwd&u=335&i=89910545

And...

To change your password, please visit this page: /forum/profile.php?do=editpassword


Those links won't work, and there are many users who will have no idea how to append them to the site's domain name to make them work.

Why not send out complete URLs?

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 05:41 PM
thprop:

Thanks for the help. I have noticed the New Posts link, and it's better than nothing, I'll grant. I also noticed that the page listing the threads will show an icon that points to the "first new post." But neither of these is nearly as straightforward as being able to scan a list of messages for ones that are flagged as new.

There are lots of features to like about the new forum software. It's too bad about this one shortcoming.
The threads with new posts will rise to the top of the list within each subforum. And threads with new posts should also be bold. So it should not be a problem once you adjust to it.

vBulletin is far and away the leading forum software in existence, and it got that way because it works so well. Give it some time and I think you'll come to prefer it vastly over that horrendous Phorum software we were suffering through previously.

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 05:53 PM
Twin:

I agree that I'll likely adjust. But I think my gripe about no flagging of the messages within a particular thread is a legitimate one.

I didn't hate the Phorum software so much, except for the times when it got sluggish. I do agree that the vBulletin package seems more slick and feature-rich.

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 06:16 PM
Now nobody is a Junior Member, apparently.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 06:17 PM
Folks,
Note the two little buttons circled in red below. These can be used to instantly jump to the first new post in any given thread, and to jump to the end of any given thread.

New threads, and threads containing new posts, will jump to the top of the list in their sub-forum.

http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/2628/forumlinksea6.png


There is also an item "Today's Posts" located under the Quick Links option on the menu bar, which takes you to this page:

http://www.brainwaveweb.com/forum/search.php?searchid=1004

Brenda
12-13-2007, 06:36 PM
Thanks to Fernando De La Rue for helping to fix the new-post icons.

Milton
12-13-2007, 07:21 PM
Twinswords- Thanks for that tip about the navbar on the search page; should be fixed now...

bjkeefe
12-13-2007, 07:57 PM
This is a minor problem, and low priority while other issues are being addressed, but I think it's worth keeping in mind: The date on the video page for a given diavlog does not include a year. Since BH.tv is already in year 2 of its GMJ, it's probably worth removing the potential for ambiguity.

(GMJ = Global Media Juggernaut. But you knew that.)

bobblehead
12-13-2007, 08:47 PM
Hi,
First time poster here and I just wanted to say that I like the re-design and layout of the new site. It has a little too much white for my liking but I can come to live with it. One suggestion though - the section heading "top topics" rolls off the mouth a little funny. Maybe it should be "Recent Topics/Popular Topics"??

--bobblehead

thprop
12-13-2007, 08:53 PM
Actually, the third calendar year. The first diavlog was November 1, 2005. (http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/1) Hard to believe, but for a few months back then, Bob and Mickey diavlogged on an almost daily basis. So yes, we need to include the year on the diavlog.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 09:51 PM
Here's another little bug:

On the Search page, when a list of past diavlogs is displayed, there is a little gray box labeled "show topics."

This is labeled "show topics" even though the topics are already showing.

If you click it, list of topics disappears -- the opposite of what the label promises.

If you click it again, the topics reappear, and the label changes to say "Hide Topics."

It appears that the intention was for the label to default to say "hide topics," OR the list of topics is supposed to be hidden by default. Either one of these would fix the problem.


Update: This isn't happening in Firefox. In Firefox, the list of topics is hidden by default, so the "show topics" label makes sense. In IE 7, the list of topics is displayed by default.

Wolfgangus
12-13-2007, 11:13 PM
Well, this might be it for me; this interface has become too much frikkin' trouble to use.

1) The thread view window is too damn small.
2) It resets every time you click on a message, so you have to scroll it down again to see the tree you are in.
3) On the old Phorum, you could click in and see where the new messages were, IN THE TREE VIEW, so you had some sense of which conversations were being answered, or which new messages you wanted to read. Without the "NEW" tag there is no sense of place in the comments section, and I am not going to peer through this tiny little tree view window with the microscopic type and scroll up and down when I can't even tell if I have read the stuff before or not.

Whatever else you think of this great new design, it is not commenter friendly, and for me, that makes it not worth watching at all. I'll check back in a few weeks. It is quite a disappointment, Bob. I know you won't miss me, but you didn't put yourself in my shoes very well; the only reason I watch the video is to comment and interact; if I was watching for passive content I can get ten times the content on public television.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 11:45 PM
Well, this might be it for me; this interface has become too much frikkin' trouble to use.

1) The thread view window is too damn small.
2) It resets every time you click on a message, so you have to scroll it down again to see the tree you are in.
3) On the old Phorum, you could click in and see where the new messages were, IN THE TREE VIEW, so you had some sense of which conversations were being answered, or which new messages you wanted to read. Without the "NEW" tag there is no sense of place in the comments section, and I am not going to peer through this tiny little tree view window with the microscopic type and scroll up and down when I can't even tell if I have read the stuff before or not.

Whatever else you think of this great new design, it is not commenter friendly, and for me, that makes it not worth watching at all. I'll check back in a few weeks. It is quite a disappointment, Bob. I know you won't miss me, but you didn't put yourself in my shoes very well; the only reason I watch the video is to comment and interact; if I was watching for passive content I can get ten times the content on public television.

I understand your agony, but I honestly believe you will come to like it (the new forum software) if you give it a while to grow on you.

First of all, I would strongly recommend AGAINST using the threaded view. You might be inclined to use the threaded view since the previous forum software was threaded, but it just doesn't work as well with vBulletin. vBulletin was intended for linear threads.

So how do you keep track of who is answering whom? People need to use the "quote" button when responding so that the text they are responding to is embedded in their response.

Once you learn the various bells and whistles, you'll have no trouble finding the newest posts and responses. The software has several features to enable this. One of the "problems" with well-designed and feature-rich software is that it takes time to learn. Many users don't want to take that time, leading to....:

The Paradox of the Active User

The "paradox of the active user" is a concept introduced by John M. Carroll (http://ist.psu.edu/ist/directory/faculty/?EmployeeID=234) and Mary Beth Rosson (http://faculty.ist.psu.edu/rosson/) (then at IBM, now at Penn State) to explain a common observation in several user studies done at the IBM User Interface Institute in the early 1980s (later confirmed by many other studies, including my own): Users never read manuals but start using the software immediately. They are motivated to get started and to get their immediate task done: they don't care about the system as such and don't want to spend time up front on getting established, set up, or going through learning packages. The "paradox of the active user" is a paradox because users would save time in the long term by taking some initial time to optimize the system and learn more about it. But that's not how people behave in the real world, so we cannot allow engineers to build products for an idealized rational user when real humans are irrational: we must design for the way users actually behave.

TwinSwords
12-13-2007, 11:53 PM
It is quite a disappointment, Bob. I know you won't miss me, but you didn't put yourself in my shoes very well; the only reason I watch the video is to comment and interact; if I was watching for passive content I can get ten times the content on public television.
In Bob's defense, he didn't design the forum; this is pretty much an out-oof-the-box installation of the vBulletin product.

http://www.vbulletin.com/Please don't abandon the site. You will be missed if you leave.

vBulletin has been around for years and has been aggressively updated and expanded in response to the needs and desires of millions of users. It's one of the most exhaustively tested pieces of software in existence. It can be a bit challening to adjust to, but every feature and detail represents hours of debate, discussion, and careful consideration of what works best for users.

kevinjudd
12-14-2007, 12:13 AM
Great redesign. Between the Flash and the redesign, the site has a wonderful appearance. Keep up the good work.

bjkeefe
12-14-2007, 08:23 AM
Brenda:

Thanks to you for seeking out help, and to Fernando for providing it. I like the new color coding.

Ideally, the new messages would be flagged with text (say, the word "new"). That way, one can use the browser's find function to get to the new posts directly, rather than having to do an eyeball grep. But the color coding is a big step in the right direction.

Thanks again.

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 09:38 AM
Then they GOT IT WRONG. As a consultant for 30 years at every level of technology management, I say this forum sucks. It is full of screen clutter that passes LESS information than the simpler Phorum model, in the interest of adding other crap commentors don't need.

The icon driven bold and such would be a welcome addition, if it were an ADDITION instead of a REPLACEMENT for another feature: We get this fancy Word-style typing interface at the expense of losing the "NEW" tag that gave us our one and only sense of place and context in conversations. We can provide emphasis in other ways, including CAPS or ***stars***. Plus we already had italics and bold and quotes.

So vBulletin was designed for linear posting? Great! That makes it precisely the ***wrong choice*** for BHTV, doesn't it? Because our comments are not linear, they are group discussions, and vBulletin destroys the group.

To me this seems like the logical extension of Bob's misunderstanding of his own product. The new front page looks great, but at what expense? We lose full screen mode, so now we get to watch a tiny 2x4 inch conversation. That sucks. We switch to flash, but at what expense? We can no longer choose 1.1 or 1.2 or 1.3 speed, we are forced into either 1x or chipmunk speed. The entire purpose of the front page is to select and watch a video comfortably; which is a 30 second exercise. The front page could have been fixed in five minutes by changing the vomit-green background color, period.

And now the comment section is completely disintegrated, the type is too small for me to read without eyestrain (Yes, I know my age, thank you), the thread window is too small to be useful, and the whole damn thing is too jumpy. The extra lookup features would be welcome if they were additions, but they are not, they are tradeoffs, and what we are losing (simplicity, legibility, and context) is too high a price to pay for superior typesetting.

Bob seems to think BHTV is supposed to be TV, and from my POV he couldn't be more wrong. I comment on other boards but BHTV got 95% of my time, because there was a community here and group discussions and one-on-one conversations that could be followed easily. No more. The videos are incidental, and by extension the entire front page is incidental; the whole point of the videos is to provide topics for discussion. Bob seems to think the videos are entertainment in their own right; and they are not; if I wanted to gain information there are far faster ways to do that than spend 75 minutes listening to two people with gross misunderstandings of their topics pontificate on their takes. (Zimmer interviews excluded).

The video sets the tone and topic for the conversation to come; the value of BHTV for the viewer is the ability to disagree, expand, provide additional evidence and ask questions, and get answers from other viewers.

As far as I can tell, Bob takes every opportunity to enshrine the video part and every opportunity to destroy the community part. The tree view of conversations is the MOST IMPORTANT part of BHTV, the list of forums is the MOST IMPORTANT part of BHTV, the floating to the top of the forums with new comments is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of BHTV. Forum management and encouraging and preserving this sense of community is the most important part of BHTV.

And apparently, if this is indeed a drop-in of vBulletin, Bob spent 90% of his time and money on the front page, which is the least important part of his site, and 10% of his time and money on the most important part. The new front page looks great, but where is the added functionality? There is less than none; we have lost features (like a full screen mode and multiple speeds). Everything else is just a rearrangement of features we had on the old front page.

In my opinion, the redesign is a flashy failure. Deployed full of broken links, deployed with a complete loss of the existing community, deployed with the most important facility, the comment board, practically dysfunctional.

I've been programming computers since 1973 (and still am, including a consultation on a big dotNet system just last year), don't TELL me you can't get the old forums and message counts into this new format. They are stored SOMEWHERE for god's sake, you are just too lazy to get it done. And WTF is going on with the broken links? You couldn't get one damn programmer to sit down on a pilot system as a regular user, and see if he could log in and change his password? Apparently you were in such a hurry to deploy you couldn't be bothered with a live test.

The redesign just emphasizes Bob's flawed understanding of what makes BHTV a website worth visiting. He has opted for flash over content. And Bob, if by "content" you think I mean videos, you are wrong: The valuable content on your site is 75% forum and 25% blogging heads. And every change you make knocks another block out from under the forum members. Oh, excuse me, "Junior" members (yes, I know the moniker was deleted, but it just goes to show how little regard Bob has for us; he can't be bothered to get the message counts into the new system or even bothered to notice the category exists and is insulting. Forget the thousand messages I've posted and the time in grade that represents, I would be insulted if I had just one! How is ANY ranking system gooing to make commentors feel? "Oh, I'm just a junior, BJ and BN are seniors, they outrank me.")

Well, there you go, Bob. As I have seen in twenty some-odd technology companies over the past 25 years or so, you managed to focus all your effort on precisely the wrong thing when it comes to your most critical service. Congratulations; you walk in the footsteps of stumbling giants.

garbagecowboy
12-14-2007, 09:59 AM
I agee. I hate the new forum, and the redesign.

Hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it hate it.

Glad to see you've got the ads up finally; turning this baby into a cash-cow is probably worth alienating everyone who has followed this site for months or more than a year now.

Can I use this new AWSEOME WYSIYG editor to use profane emoticons to express my disgust?

http://smilies.vidahost.com/contrib/blackeye/AR15firing.gifhttp://smilies.vidahost.com/contrib/dvv/boom.gif
http://smilies.vidahost.com/contrib/corky/corkysm59.gif
http://smilies.vidahost.com/contrib/sarge/Guillotine_anim.gif

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 10:02 AM
And by the "NEW" tag I mean what is new for me. You will all notice that Phorum kept track of which posts you had read, and kept this information on the server, not in cookies, because if you logged in from a different computer it was always up to date. It isn't that frikkin' hard to do.

The current forum system has opted out of user-specific information to use timestamps instead. This will save it about 10MB of disk space, which we can calculate is worth about ten cents. Not to mention the 3 cents worth of processing time it might take to look up your record for a few hundred posts in any given forum; that is going to cost a disk read. Hooray for cost savings. Of course it is all consumed by rendering this useless Word style typesetting interface; but what the hell. Let us not examine our justfications with too critical an eye. Showmanship over content, that's how BHTV rolls.

garbagecowboy
12-14-2007, 10:14 AM
I agree. The loss of clear threading and displaying which posts are new to you is horrible. Could not have been worse planned out. This is absolutely absurd.

I post on a Minnesota Twins forum that uses a very similar forum to this: http://www.battleyourtailoff.com. That is fine and good... but most topics have about 15 posts. For long, multi-threaded discussions, the only way to maintain any semblance of multi-threading is using the "quote" tag and even that is still not very good... the threads tend to predominate onto the thrust of conversation that a few prominent posters take. Just like you and I can hijack this thread, Wolf, so too can any other thread by hijacked by say, a troll or just by any particular discussion.

The loss of the "new" tag stored on the server accomplishes something very similar to this; managing what you've seen and what you haven't seen becomes a full time job. Walking away from this forum and then coming back and responding to the things that have been said to you 3 days later now becomes much more difficult.

Crap. Utter crap.

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 10:17 AM
Excellent, you have more patience than I.

HEY, if it doesn't get fixed, thanks for the intelligent conversations, and good luck in your career. I strongly encourage you to go on to graduate school ASAP. The Master's work is approximately the same but IMO much better than the undergrad, but the PhD will be completely different from undergrad. If you don't do it soon you will get too accustomed to having money to live the life of the poor grad student (for grad students we cover 100% of tuition and fees and pay $18K on top of that, I think). Original research is a total blast and the PhD will change your life. Seriously. The goal doesn't have to be teaching, there are a million things you can do with the PhD. Join Accenture or some other contract firm, they will (inadvertently) teach you how to write proposals and answer RFP and become an independent PI. Bid on government contracts. Make $400 an hour. Trust me, the world is shallow and the PhD will definitely impress the idiots in charge of it.

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 10:28 AM
BUT, if you combine the grad salary with grad-level student loans, you can get the pay up over $30K. You will rack up $50-75K in debt, but that will be a pittance in comparison to the salary differential. I don't know what it would be for biologists, but in computer science I have two contractor friends earning over $200K per year for the last several years.

garbagecowboy
12-14-2007, 10:47 AM
Thanks, Wolf.

I plan on getting that PhD. The working as a lab tech was more about spending some time in the "real world" and getting to live in New York with my finance friends for a couple years before chasing my career dreams to God-knows-where... UCSF, Stanford, Boulder, Harvard, MIT, who knows where I'm gunna end up.

My sister is at Harvard as a 2nd year neuroscience grad student and she likes it just fine... but I wasn't quite ready to leave my comfortable mid-Atlantic milieu and strike out where I don't know anybody just yet.

And as far as money goes... I am fortunate enough that I will be able to make most of my career decisions at least until I get my PhD without having to worry about racking up debt. My goal, in fact, is to be a PI as a professor with a cushy job in some nice college town. I wouldn't mind moving back to Princeton, actually, I think it would suck less as a 35 year old associate professor than it did as a 21 year old undergrad.

Anyways I'll be sticking around. I'm sure I'll get used to the new forum.

bjkeefe
12-14-2007, 11:04 AM
GC, Wolf:

I don't agree with a lot of your complaints about the forum. If I'm logged in, it appears to me that new-to-me comments are properly flagged -- the message icons are bright green, and the higher level indicators, like the icons for the threads, show whether there are new-to-me messages. Also, the "New Posts" link seems to work.

I grant I've only tried to access this forum from one computer so far, but I have to believe the info is being stored server-side, not client-side.

I do agree there was a lot to be said for the simplicity of the old Phorum software. One thing I miss in particular is the ability to search for the string "new" to find new messages. On the other hand, the Phorum software seemed to lack a bit in the robustness department -- it was often sluggish, resulting in double posts and delays during the preview/edit/preview cycle. We'll have to see how well vBulletin scales when the comment load piles up.

Wolf -- regarding the font size, try CTRL-+ (control key and plus sign key together) to increase the font.

Hope we don't lose either of you because of these minor technical annoyances. Give it a week. I bet you'll like it better. I like it better after one day.

RolandT
12-14-2007, 11:04 AM
There's a problem with the rss feed. The links are formatted
http://brainwaveweb.com/index.php/site/[name_of_the_show]/
when they should be
http://brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/[some random number]

garbagecowboy
12-14-2007, 11:13 AM
No I'm not going to stop posting, I'm sure I can live with it, I just don't like it.

It seems like a serious case of fixing what was not broken, though, and I really don't understand the purpose.

And brainwaveweb.com... what's up with that, yo?

bjkeefe
12-14-2007, 11:17 AM
GC:

I'm guessing robustness was a problem with the Phorum software. It seemed to me that scaling was a problem for it. I noticed that it got progressively more sluggish over time. I also know that there were some feature requests from some of the other regular posters that Phorum couldn't offer.

As for brainwaveweb, I think that was a testbed site of sorts, where the new site could be hosted and launched from. Seems to me that pretty much everything is back under the original domain now.

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 11:53 AM
it appears to me that new-to-me comments are properly flagged -- the message icons are bright green, and the higher level indicators, like the icons for the threads, show whether there are new-to-me messages.

I don't get any of that, either in Firefox or IE7. I agree with GC, why fix what isn't broken? If Phorum was getting sluggish, redirect the old forums to another DB on another $500 server. Geez. We call this caching technology, it's this newfangled idea that came along circa 1960. I forget who thought of it -- Perhaps Seymour Cray when he was at CDC; the inventor of virtual memory. Anywho, just put the last 20 forums on one computer and, as part of adding a new diavlog, retire the oldest forum to a cheap blade with a cheap disk and any sluggishness is no more. People won't even notice; I'd be willing to bet the commenting drops off exponentially in time, so even applying four year old tech to the archival is more power than it needs.

More than anything, I am pissed off that Bob Wright thinks so little of our contribution to this site; we are the element that makes it a community and worth visiting and he seems to have drunk the Mickey Kaus Kook-Aid and believes we are expendable small fry. I predict failure. The most important aspect of any business is understanding your customers, and for this redesign, Bob gets a D. We aren't even flying coach, we are in the excess baggage hold. Thanks Bob! Oh, wait, let me use one of these fancy icons. Maybe it will help me find my own post in the future, instead of having to search for 10 minutes.

Edit: Oh well, I guess the fancy icon won't help me: They can't even put the icon on the tree view. Putz programmers. This comment section sucks.

HA! I just noticed they can't even show us the entire title of posts; my original title was
"Re: The Bloggingheads Redesign Disaster", and they truncate it, despite five inches of blank space in the tree to the right! Holy cow, can we find programmers more careless?

Joel_Cairo
12-14-2007, 12:06 PM
man, that logging-in, password-changing, url-cut-&-pasting took some doing, but here I am folks.

I'm just now getting to poke around, but I've frequented other messageboards that use vBul, so I'm cool with it. Seems some commentors just fear change.

http://www.virginmedia.com/microsites/movies/slideshow/stupid-characters/img_1.jpg

bjkeefe
12-14-2007, 12:40 PM
Wolf:

I'm glad you're registering your complaints. They should help motivate the admins to do the best job possible.

However, I don't agree with you that Bob did not consider us in deciding to change forum software. As far as I can tell, most people seem okay with it, and will probably either like it better or not care after using it a few times. Some people clearly like it better from the get-go. There's no pleasing everybody, of course, but I hope you will come around in time.

I'm sorry to hear that you don't see the "new-to-me" icons the way that I do. Concentrating on Firefox, do you have any addons? If so, You might try launching Ffox in safe mode and/or disabling the addons one by one. It could be there is some interference in this area. I use Flashblock, and that prevented the two-second dingalink listed next to my uname from playing properly. Setting Flashblock to automatically allow Flash from this site, rather than my usual practice of clicking on a video to let it play, made the problem go away.

Another thought: are you using a different skin or chrome, or whatever it's called? I don't have any experience in this area, since the out-of-the-box appearance of Firefox suits me just fine, but I have noted plenty of complaining on the Mozilla forums about some variant screwing up colors and other aspects of appearance.

If you're using a plain vanilla Firefox, I guess I'm out of guesses. Good luck in troubleshooting, in any case.

Wolfgangus
12-14-2007, 03:46 PM
I don't fear change, I hate pointless change and change-for-change's sake, and I hate busy-ass screens and aimless clutter, and I think if nothing is broken then taking a step backwards in functionality is just stupid, and I hate stupid. Every time Bob makes an "upgrade" we lose something that was convenient and easy and it gets replaced by something LESS functional and MORE hassle. The latest? We can't watch the diavlogs in full screen mode, and won't be able to for a month. Hooray, we are in such a rush to put up this new format that we decide to put it up full of bugs, untested, and screw the users. YES, I can cut and paste URL fragments with the best of them; but not everybody that uses the site is a programmer.

It makes me wonder what Bob's motivation is and who is the complainer that has his ear. I certainly never saw any posts that rose above the relatively mild "I hate the green" level on the old site. So as far as I can tell it isn't *users* driving the changes, which implies Bob is consumed by some internal mission which I surmise amounts to a guess by inexpert analysts about what is necessary to drive eyeballs to the site.

Inexpert, because the only change necessary was to scrap the off-putting *green* and make some minor layout changes to allow ads, which is STILL poorly done. For God's sake Bob, Google up some credible source on the psychology of colors and teach yourself something and stop wasting money. Every dime spent on this complexification of the site would have been better spent on some creative marketing of the simpler site.

And to clarify my earlier post on the Kaus Kook-Aid; the reason Kaus is wrong about the forum is because he is thinking of the Slate model, where commenters are numerous and idiotic. This works for Slate because Slate pays for expert content; what drives users to Slate is people like Saletan that are expert thinkers crafting professionally written, high-impact magazine quality articles. That is NOT the model for BHTV. BHTV delivers conversational, low-density information. We aren't here for the off-the-cuff knee-jerk insights of Mickey Kaus or John Horgan. All those guys need to read, think, edit, research and discuss with an editor and rewrite a few times in order to produce something the quality of Slate (just like all the paid Slate writers are doing), and the same is true of all the pro-bloggers. Likewise, these extemporaneous BHTV conversations are never going to compete head-to-head with a written (or at least edited) show.

The Slate model is not the BHTV model. The proper BHTV model is more like a discussion group; with the diavloggers setting the topic and tone, and the class taking that cue and diving in after. That is what the marketing and site should reflect; the video (and front page) is 25% and the participation is 75%. Instead, Bob seems on the misguided path of thinking he is producing a video-Slate, with the "Community" aspect off the screen, in the lower right hand corner, as the last possible thing to consider and absolutely zero emphasis. Comments should be front and center. Hire an editor to pick the most provocative lines and highlight them on the front page with links. Or, if you want a new feature, add a way for users to rank the comments and show the greatest hits. That entire set of dingalinks on the right Bob is so proud of should be replaced by comment-promoting-links; the entire purpose of the front-page should be getting people inspired to participate and *respond*, not pushing the passive viewing. Speaking of which, scrap the center YouTube links as well; whose dumb idea was that? (I know, let's put up some provocative links that will invite people to leave our site immediately). If you want that it should be off-screen in the LRH column; the YouTube space should be occupied by provocative comments or diavlog excerpts from BHTV. Here's an idea, if you have no excerpts, have each diavlogger or an editor create their favorite dingalink and put that up.

The video is the *catalyst* for the discussion, and the end product is *the community*. THAT is what you are selling. First get people wanting to respond or understand the provocative posts. Get them wanting to vote on crap: Best post, best dingalink, dumbest post, whatever. Give them ways to participate, because that is what you are selling and what makes you different. They will automatically be drawn to the videos to acquire their contextual orientation.

And for goodness sake, Bob, get some column and banner ads going; even if they are just ad-exchange with your bloggers, so you can build up some click-through stats. You should have done that NOW, you need to acclimate regular users to the ads ASAP. I've spent a good twenty minutes on this screen, which contains 30% white space, with nary an ad. And that, sir, is a marketing felony.

TwinSwords
12-14-2007, 09:19 PM
And by the "NEW" tag I mean what is new for me. You will all notice that Phorum kept track of which posts you had read, and kept this information on the server, not in cookies, because if you logged in from a different computer it was always up to date. It isn't that frikkin' hard to do.

The current forum system has opted out of user-specific information to use timestamps instead. This will save it about 10MB of disk space, which we can calculate is worth about ten cents. Not to mention the 3 cents worth of processing time it might take to look up your record for a few hundred posts in any given forum; that is going to cost a disk read. Hooray for cost savings. Of course it is all consumed by rendering this useless Word style typesetting interface; but what the hell. Let us not examine our justfications with too critical an eye. Showmanship over content, that's how BHTV rolls.

This forum software ALSO tracks what is new to you.

Have you spent so much time whining that you still have not figured out how to identify new posts?

It's really simple.

Happy Hominid
12-14-2007, 11:39 PM
The green was a little tough to take, but the content always made up for it. This looks a lot nicer.

I was honored to have one of my dingalinks used among the first batch of "Taken Out of Context". Thanks! If I can plug it, it was a really somber and emotional exchange, which was a nice counterpoint to the extremely funny dingalinks by others. Garbage Cowboy was pretty funny with his "Right to Dingalink" and Joel Cairo's "The Compassionate Conservative" will be one of those eternal Bloggingheads moments!

I won't make any techical suggestions at this point. I've made them before and if they weren't taken into account then they either weren't good enough or else impractical on some level. I do hope that the controls on the viewer will be updated (and I believe that is part of the plan, so I won't go into details).

On to "content".... I hope to see science covered twice a week. I would also love to see a regular diavlog based on the concept Roger Bingham of The Science Network came up with last year - Beyond Belief. Imagine a series of diavlogs - Atheist with atheist, atheist with theist and theist with theist, all talking about the relevance of religion in a scientific world.

Uh... congratulations Bob and all of you who Bob mentioned. I've been sold on BHtv since I first saw it earlier this year and I can't help but share the enthusiasm for it. I'll continue to give props to BHtv on my little blog (for whatever that that may be worth), both in sidebar link and occasionally recommending a particularly good diavlog. Hopefully other bloggers who enjoy Bob's effort will do the same. Certainly if enough do it, then it can have some measurable impact.

It's another day in paradise...

Happy Hominid
12-14-2007, 11:43 PM
Dude, people who fear change have no business being on the net! We have to live with changes and, fortunately, more often they are for the good. I'm pretty sure this one is such. Anyway, it is what it is and at least Bob wants our opinions on it. Other sites give no such concern to visitors.

It's another day in paradise...

bjkeefe
12-15-2007, 07:05 AM
Happy:

Beyond Belief is great stuff, isn't it? Have you watched the new talks, from "Enlightenment 2.0?" They haven't broken out the video into individual speakers yet, but you can watch the complete sessions now, if you want.

See: http://thesciencenetwork.org/BeyondBelief2/

Wolfgangus
12-15-2007, 10:26 AM
Hm, Brenda, the little folder symbols have changed color so the ones I haven't read are green, and the others are grey. That definitely was not the case two days ago; when they were all uniformly grey whether I had read them or not.

I suppose that qualifies as a "NEW" tag. Thanks.

Wolfgangus
12-15-2007, 10:29 AM
I am a frikkin' agent of change, dude.

Like virtually all people accused of fearing change, I do not fear change at all: I fear loss. In this case, loss of the features that made this site enjoyable and usable. However, it seems Brenda has figured out at least a part of it, if she can just make the treeview window about twice the height it is now, I will be mollified.

Happy Hominid
12-15-2007, 06:41 PM
Brendan - I watched the first session last night (the one with Dennett). Coincidentally, I'm listening to session 2 from the first day right now!

Yeah, last year was some of the most fascinating video I've seen on the web. But, I'm a strange cat, so who knows?

What do you think of my suggestion to do something along those general lines here at BHtv?

Happy Hominid
12-15-2007, 06:45 PM
I wasn't accusing you. I was agreeing with Joel Cairo.

M. Simon
12-15-2007, 07:15 PM
You need to get rid of the exaggerated stereo. It doesn't sound right.

Bleed a little right into the left and vice versa.

About 10 to 20 db down should do it.

ctcboater
12-15-2007, 07:35 PM
Can we have visited sections of the video in a different color so when I leave the site and come back, it's easier to discern my history?

garbagecowboy
12-15-2007, 07:54 PM
And call me a whiner if you wish, but there are a few serious flaws with the redesign that nobody has touched on.

First of all, the youtube links on the main page are an absolutely preposterous waste of space. What possible function do they serve? They are the most ancillary thing on the main page and yet they take up the most prime real estate. I would argue that even Slate, where the professional content that does not have a "homegrown" feel, has more of an emphasis on "The Fray" than the new redesign puts on "The Bloggingheads Community". I would also not be surprised to find that new viewers who come in via NYT or whatever join the forum at much lower rates than people who came into the pre-redesign BH.tv with the way that the main link to the forum is buried at the bottom right and there is only the other small link in the toolbar at the top. I don't know if this is by design, but to me this is a bug, not a feature.

Also, with regards to the vBulletin software, it seems like it allows about 6 or 7 nested replies in the the thread view before completely removing the links to the new replies and displaying the totally unhelpful "more replies below current depth." I do not use some crazy big display or a crazy high monitor resolution, and for me this is being cut off with still about half of the page left to display further nested replies. Also the fact that the thread view is put in a box that's only 2/3 of the screen wide seems needless, as well. Perhaps this is all supposed to reduce visual clutter, but it all seems to make it harder to find new posts. Again, something that is a bug, not a feature as it appears to have been intended.

Hope some changes are coming down the pike to the new redesign...

Wolfgangus
12-16-2007, 01:49 AM
The thread view box should be about twice as high as it is now; on my standard laptop screen that would leave about two inches at the bottom of the screen for a single comment box, in fully-thread mode (not hybrid).

Also, the green boxes show what you have not read, but for some reason as you read certain posts they will all be reset! I am not certain but it seems like if you read a top level post that has replies to it, and for some reason the screen gets refreshed, it assumes you have read all the lower level posts or something. Anyway, it is still irritating.

And GC's comment about the unhelpful "more posts..." thing is my complaint too. Turn off that stupid feature, show all the comments there are. And I agree too, why does the tree object think it doesn't have the full width of the box it resides in? What is being saved, here? Probably just a careless bug by a careless programmer, I imagine.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 07:18 AM
Happy:

What do you think of my suggestion to do something along those general lines here at BHtv?

I strongly support your idea of having two science diavlogs per week. I'm pretty sure I've voiced that hope several times, as a matter of fact. I'd like to keep George and John, with their occasional guests, and add, say Carl Zimmer, interviewing working scientists. Or, alternate Carl with a pair of working scientists and/or another interviewer. James Gleick comes to mind as one candidate for an alternate interviewer.

I'm a little less sure about your suggestion for diavlogs a la Roger Bingham's program; i.e., "talking about the relevance of religion in a scientific world." Sometimes these sorts of conversations can be interesting, and even useful, but usually, they strike me as a repetition of overly familiar talking points. I admit I would like to see Hitchens or Dawkins devastating a fundie on a weekly, even daily, basis, but this really falls into the category of my own personal guilty pleasures.

So, rather than having this sort of diavlog be a regular feature, I'd be more in favor of seeing them on occasion, whenever Bob can find truly worthy participants.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 07:25 AM
GC:

I agree with both of your complaints.

I, too, do not see what the YouTube links add. If there is a good reason for keeping them, I'd suggest moving them off to another page, and placing a single link to that page on the BH.tv home page. That whole list as an object on the home page doesn't add anything, and it mystifies me as to why it appears at all.

I also find the "more replies below current depth" unhelpful. Seems to me, too, that the tree could be allowed to expand several more branches, at least.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 07:28 AM
Wolf:

I've also noticed that phenomenon of all green boxes changing color upon visiting one new post, but I haven't reported it because it doesn't seem to happen all the time. One thing you might try until this gets straightened out, if this hasn't already occurred to you, is to open the messages you want to read in a new tab or a new window.

I don't agree with your complaint about the size of the thread box. I'd rather have the real estate available to display the message without having to scroll.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 02:00 PM
(a whole bunch of whining) ... I'd be willing to bet the commenting drops off exponentially in time, so even applying four year old tech to the archival is more power than it needs.
Of all the things you've said, this one, perhaps more than any other, shows how little you really understand what you are talking about.

Your suggestion that BHTV will attract fewer people by upgrading to the most popular and successful forum software in the industry shows that you are unable to separate your own personal preferences from your ability to discern objective truth.

You know, I don't like McDonalds. But I would be foolish to suggest, on the basis of my own preference, that McDonald's business will "drop of exponentially in time."



More than anything, I am pissed off that Bob Wright thinks so little of our contribution to this site; we are the element that makes it a community and worth visiting and he seems to have drunk the Mickey Kaus Kook-Aid and believes we are expendable small fry.
Oh my god, how embarrassing. I'm actually embarrassed for you. You honestly take the upgrade as a personal rejection.

Quite simply: You have issues.



I predict failure.
Yes, of course you do.

I predict you'll whine more. A lot more. Apparently the upgrade hasn't stopped you from whining non-stop.




The most important aspect of any business is understanding your customers, and for this redesign, Bob gets a D.
If you really have all the software experience you pretend or claim to have, then you understand that customer satisfaction is distributed on a curve, and that there are ALWAYS users at the disappointed end of the spectrum.

That's you. I wish it wasn't so, but your problems are your own; they are not Bob's fault.



Maybe it will help me find my own post in the future, instead of having to search for 10 minutes.
This is the most embarrassing part of this whole conversation.

I'm simply stunned that you still have not figured out how to find the new comments! If you would spend less time sobbing like a wounded infant and more time taking responsibility for yourself, you would have figured it out last Friday.




Edit: Oh well, I guess the fancy icon won't help me: They can't even put the icon on the tree view. Putz programmers. This comment section sucks.
You certainly do post a lot for someone who hates it!



HA! I just noticed they can't even show us the entire title of posts; my original title was
"Re: The Bloggingheads Redesign Disaster", and they truncate it, despite five inches of blank space in the tree to the right! Holy cow, can we find programmers more careless?
You're just a dick.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 02:25 PM
And call me a whiner if you wish, but there are a few serious flaws with the redesign that nobody has touched on.
To start with, we should note the difference between "flaws" and "your personal opinion." To my way of thinking, "flaws" are problems that everyone can objectively agree on, like a button missing from a shirt, or a dead battery. The things you're complaining about, on the other hand, are features some people like, but you don't.





First of all, the youtube links on the main page are an absolutely preposterous waste of space. What possible function do they serve? They are the most ancillary thing on the main page and yet they take up the most prime real estate.
I disagree. Those links are a wise move. They allow Bob to leverage content he didn't create to increase the value of his own site.

If a web owner can provide his users with links to content that his users find valuable and interesting, they will reward the web owner with repeat visits. This has proven over and over to be a formula for success. Think of the Drudge Report; Drudge doesn't write all those articles. He's just a portal. But he has become a billionaire many times over and owns one of the most popular sites on the Internet because he has convinced millions of users that they can find valuable and interesting information by visiting his site. Yahoo is another site that succeeded wildly using this formula. The extremely popular Crooks & Liars is a contemporary example that uses video the way Drudge and Yahoo use text links.

Video, in 2007, is the coin of the realm. Bob can add significantly to the value of his own site by providing users with a portal to interesting video content on YouTube and elsewhere. It's actually great marketing, great design, and great business. It's a smart move.

Think about it: Bob will reap the rewards for content he doesn't own, didn't create, and isn't even hosting!

Compared to video, user comments are going to draw far few users and far less repeat traffic. For valuable real estate, Bob would be foolish to use it for comments when he could be using it for links to video that will be 10,000 times more popular.



Also, with regards to the vBulletin software, it seems like it allows about 6 or 7 nested replies in the the thread view before completely removing the links to the new replies and displaying the totally unhelpful "more replies below current depth."
I'm quite sure you won't listen to me, but you really should use the linear view. That's how vBulletin was originally designed and how it is meant to be used. You are just making it more difficult for yourself (and for other people) by using the threaded option. The threaded option was tacked onto vBulletin to mollify a certain segment of the population.

The reason I say you are making it more difficult for other people is because those of you using the threaded view are not using the 'quote' feature, so people using the linear view can't tell who your comment is directed to.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 02:38 PM
Twin:

... people using the threaded view can't tell who your comment is directed to.

You mean the linear view, don't you?

I like the threaded view, myself, so if it's a tacked-on feature, I'd say: this time, tacky is good.

The thing about linear views with people using the quote feature is that the comments themselves are a lot harder to read. I like when people copy, paste, and mark as a quote just the bit they want to respond to directly.

Also, the threaded view lets you see, at a glance, which sub-threads have provoked extended conversations.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 02:54 PM
Twin:
You mean the linear view, don't you?
Yes -- thank you. I've edited my post.



I like the threaded view, myself, so if it's a tacked-on feature, I'd say: this time, tacky is good.
Well, I understand. You want this forum to feel like the old one. I suspect most of the users of this forum will use the linear view, so most people won't know who responses are directed at unless it is explicitly indicated (like you did by addressing your last post to "Twin."



The thing about linear views with people using the quote feature is that the comments themselves are a lot harder to read.
I don't understand. Why is it harder to read?



I like when people copy, paste, and mark as a quote just the bit they want to respond to directly.
Why should anyone copy and paste anything? Or "mark as a quote" anything? The forum software does that for you automatically when you click the "Quote" button on the post you are responding to.

Why don't you just do that? It's easier. It's faster. It's better. It sounds like you are trying to use vBulletin the way you used to use Phorum.

Am I missing something, or is there really some reason to go to all that effort you describe?



quote just the bit they want to respond to directly.
Good suggeston. But it doesn't require the threaded view. It's just a common sense good practice. But unrelated to the view you are using.



Also, the threaded view lets you see, at a glance, which sub-threads have provoked extended conversations.
So what? You can tell that in linear view, too.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 03:06 PM
Twin:

Why should anyone copy and paste anything? Or "mark as a quote" anything? The forum software does that for you automatically when you click the "Quote" button on the post you are responding to.

Doesn't the "Quote" button grab the whole comment? Unless I'm missing something, that's the way it appears to me. And that's the way I think of most boards where they have such a feature: endless reams of quoted material with a line of new commentary.

Am I missing something, or is there really some reason to go to all that effort you describe?

It's never a lot of work when you have Emacs at your disposal, but I am willing to hear about a new way. For example: How do you get the one line at a time quoting with the built-in backlink? That's pretty slick.

So what? You can tell that [which sub-threads have provoked extended conversations] in linear view, too.

I don't see how. Isn't the linear view time-ordered? I don't see any obvious cues which replies go with which comments the way the tree view provides.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 03:24 PM
Doesn't the "Quote" button grab the whole comment? Unless I'm missing something, that's the way it appears to me. And that's the way I think of most boards where they have such a feature: endless reams of quoted material with a line of new commentary.
Yes, when you click "quote" it grabs the whole comment. Then you highlight the parts you don't want to respond to and delete it.

Let me ask you: what if you want to respond to two or three or four things that someone said? Can you describe the steps you take doing it with your cut and paste approach?




It's never a lot of work when you have Emacs at your disposal, but I am willing to hear about a new way. For example: How do you get the one line at a time quoting with the built-in backlink? That's pretty slick.
The backlink is built-in functionality if you use the Quote feature.

The "one line at a time" is just because I manually edited out the rest of the comment, leaving only the bit I'm responding to.



I don't see how. Isn't the linear view time-ordered?
Yes, the linear view is time-ordered -- which is why it is so much easier to navigate than the threaded view: the newest posts are always at the end of the thread. Instead of having to visually scan 30 or 40 subthread endings, you just go to the end of the linear thread. I hate to see y'all making things so difficult for yourselves.



I don't see any obvious cues which replies go with which comments the way the tree view provides.
People have to use the quote feature or otherwise indicate what they are responding to.

Happy Hominid
12-16-2007, 04:30 PM
Brendan said: "but usually, they strike me as a repetition of overly familiar talking points."

Oh? And the Iowa/New Hampshire diavlogs isn't?

Anyway, yeah, I'm all for keeping John and George in their usual slot, and I like Zimmer talking to working scientists. I'd also like to see Bob jumping in on a regular basis. If you've ever seen his old interviews with guys like Dennett, Pinker and E.O. Wilson - that's good stuff! I'm wondering why Bob doesn't use his contacts with these guys to bring them on BH.

bjkeefe
12-16-2007, 05:17 PM
Happy:

Oh? And the Iowa/New Hampshire diavlogs isn't?

That's like me saying "Reagan was a bad president" and you responding, "Oh, and Bush isn't?" Talk about your low bars!

I agree with you that Bob is quite good at talking to scientists. I still watch some of the meaningoflife.tv segments. I wish he would do more of those, and/or, as you said, get some of those people onto BH.tv.

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 10:06 PM
I'd be willing to bet the commenting drops off exponentially in time, so even applying four year old tech to the archival is more power than it needs.Of all the things you've said, this one, perhaps more than any other, shows how little you really understand what you are talking about.

Your suggestion that BHTV will attract fewer people by upgrading to the most popular and successful forum software in the industry shows that you are unable to separate your own personal preferences from your ability to discern objective truth.

You know, I don't like McDonalds. But I would be foolish to suggest, on the basis of my own preference, that McDonald's business will "drop of exponentially in time."

Actually, this shows that you didn't understand what he meant. I'm pretty sure what he was saying was that as a thread/diavlog gets older that there are exponentially less responses posted to it over time. This seems like a pretty valid assumption.

..........Therefore, you could just have used the old software on an old box for the old diavlogs, since the commenting for those diavlogs has presumably already decayed exponentially, and the combined server power needed to deal with all the activity on diavlogs older than, say, a month would presumably be very little. It would not have required the robust new software.

Like the personal attacks, too. Muy picante!

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 10:19 PM
Wolf:

I've also noticed that phenomenon of all green boxes changing color upon visiting one new post, but I haven't reported it because it doesn't seem to happen all the time. One thing you might try until this gets straightened out, if this hasn't already occurred to you, is to open the messages you want to read in a new tab or a new window.

I don't agree with your complaint about the size of the thread box. I'd rather have the real estate available to display the message without having to scroll.

I would wager that maybe it is because you are using the hybrid mode? When you use the hybrid mode, you see the threading, and then if you click, say, th e top post of a sub-thread that has 10 responses, it shows you all 10 of the sub-responses, and marks them all as read, even if you only clicked on the top most page.

If you switch to the "threaded" view under view modes this will not happen, since only the post you click on will be displayed (just like in Phorum... heh heh).

If you are already using the "threaded" view and you are still having this problem then I have no clue; it could just be a bug.

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 10:27 PM
The reason I say you are making it more difficult for other people is because those of you using the threaded view are not using the 'quote' feature, so people using the linear view can't tell who your comment is directed to.

Won't rehash it because I just spent an hour replying to your posts, but I contend that the linear view is simply insufficient for the job of hosting a conversation on a diavlog that leads to multiple, unrelated sub-discussions that often feature many, many nested replies over a period of multiple days. The linear mode will never, ever, be good at that, unless you think people having 8 quote tags nested inside one another is superior to using the threaded mode--or unless you just think people should stop commenting the way they used to (and not just me, virtually all the regular users of the site-- basically anyone who ever got to the phorum pages and didn't just use the post reply link on the video pages of the old design).

If not, then threading of some sort (force threading view, education, a new forum for each diavlog where people can start a whole new thread that is displayed in a linear mode, something) will be required. This is a flaw, not just my opinion, unless the intention was to completely, without any rhyme or reason, change the way the forum worked. In which case it is my opinion that the way the new forum works, with half the users using the linear mode and half using threaded... sucks.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 10:34 PM
Actually, this shows that you didn't understand what he meant.
You're right. I misunderstood what he was saying. Thank you for the clarification.



Like the personal attacks, too. Muy picante!
LOL, ya like that? I learned it from you.

And your pal, Wolfgangus. Have you said anything about his personal attacks?

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 10:59 PM
LOL, ya like that? I learned it from you.

See one, do one, teach one in action for you.

But come on, I think you're selling yourself short if you think you had to learn those moves from me.

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 01:27 AM
Other than your initial idiotic misunderstanding of my "exponential" comment; is there any content to this post?

What exactly is embarrassing about me understanding the psychology of a site and talking about it? I don't take the redesign personally, I am a member of a group and take the scant attention paid to that group in the redesign collectively. It isn't that Bob wasn't thinking about me, I take it as an affront that Bob was not thinking about my group. And if you think that is out of line, then what IS in line? As a user, I am not allowed to complain about anything that affects users? Aye, Comrade.

As for your claims about users receiving new software differently, how is that relevant? I am talking about bugs and lost functionality, and of course some users may not encounter the bugs, and some (like you) never took advantage of the functionality being lost, so of course you have a more positive experience than I do. That does not invalidate my experience; your outlook on the software is not the definitive standard, and the fact that a simpleton likes it doesn't mean we will all become simpletons that like it.

As for my being a dick: Of course I am. I have had to manage little dicks like you, and the only way to combat the thousand little idiocies, shortcuts and dreck introduced into systems by little dicks is by being a bigger dick and insisting on quality, testing, and actual thinking instead of knee jerk reactions.

And as for vBulletin; it remains less functional than Phorum, not because I was used to Phorum, but because Phorum was the superior model for interaction on this site. Perhaps vBulletin is feature-rich enough that it can accomodate the interaction model of BHTV, but thus far, it has proven to be an inferior substitute.

bjkeefe
12-17-2007, 07:23 AM
GC:

I am using the threaded view, despite the wrath that incurs from Twin.

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 11:14 AM
My wife posted a poll on another forum asking folks which Display Mode they use.

So far, the tally is:

88% use the linear view
3% use the hybrid view
9% use the threaded view

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 11:21 AM
And of course in your mind anything that applies to one forum necessarily applies to them all.

bjkeefe
12-17-2007, 12:02 PM
Twin:

I am moved to ask: Couldn't these results be equally well-interpreted as: linear thinkers are more zealous, or are in need of self-reinforcement for their choices, or both; while threaded thinkers are so far above average that they are tracking conversations rather than mindlessly checking boxes in unscientific polls?

I'll resist the temptation to ask if the forum in question attracted a large number of mentally challenged people, say, Fox News viewers.

The threaded view is superior. The fact that Wolf and GC agree with me just reinforces my certainty.

;^)

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 12:16 PM
Twin:

I am moved to ask: Couldn't these results be equally well-interpreted as: linear thinkers are more zealous, or are in need of self-reinforcement for their choices, or both; while threaded thinkers are so far above average that they are tracking conversations rather than mindlessly checking boxes in unscientific polls?

I'll resist the temptation to ask if the forum in question attracted a large number of mentally challenged people, say, Fox News viewers.

The threaded view is superior. The fact that Wolf and GC agree with me just reinforces my certainty.

;^)

Brendan,
The point of the poll wasn't to discern which format is better. It was to determine which format people are using.

I think it's a safe bet that 90% of the users of this forum will also use the linear view.

garbagecowboy
12-17-2007, 12:25 PM
This is not surprising, but you have to realize that the way that commenting has worked on bloggingheads works differently than most bulletin boards.

For instance, I keep mentioning that I post on a Twins message board (http://www.battleyourtailoff.com) that is linear. There isn't even a threaded view option.

However, on that board and a bunch of other bboards I have read over the years there are a number of significant differences that do not apply at bh.tv:

--> Threads are user generated and tend to be on one specific topic
--> A typical thread usually has fewer replies
--> The threads typically stay more focused or they get hijacked: either everybody keeps posting in regard to one topic back and forth, or someone makes a digression and the thread becomes about something else completely. (At the Twins board there was a thread that originally started as a thread about the Chicago White Sox 2006 offseason, which eventually turned into a 100 reply discussion between two people about some comic strip, which the moderators then made sticky because they're dicks like that).
--> People don't put as much effort into developing arguments and tend to write shorter, quicker posts

On BH.tv, at least in the past, the threads are generated by the admins, 1 per diavlog. A popular thread will have 200 or even 300 replies. Just to guess I'd bet that on average there were about 60 replies to a thread. Furthermore people in those threads are not writing general replies to the diavlog. They are replying to specific topics or even specific sentences. To allow these subconversations to proliferate simply requires threading; the amount of nested quoting and dingalinking necessary to make such a conversation even relatively comprehensible in linear mode is simply too great; people will not do it, and discussions like that just won't include people using the linear mode.

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 11:03 PM
Join Accenture or some other contract firm
Do you work for Accenture, by any chance? I have a decade's experience working with Accenture consultants, and I must say, your personality fits the company perfectly. The rest of my Fortune 50 company often laughs and wonders if Accenture employees are trained to be ... that way.




the world is shallow and the PhD will definitely impress the idiots in charge of it.
This is an amazingly useful insight into your charcter and outlook on life. For someone so successful, how come you're so bitter and unhappy? I find it rather sad, if you don't mind me saying so. Your absolute sense of superiority, rank arrogance, and utter contempt for other people certainly explains why you have behaved so reprehensibly in this forum since the redesign. I guess, at first, I didn't realize you were acting out of a much deeper set of issues than the redesign. There is much more going on with you. It's sad that you suffer as you do, and it manifests itself with you lashing out at other people in cruel ways.

It's amazing that someone who considers himself so advanced, so educated and superior and far above every one else ends up, at the end of the day, acting just like a child.

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 11:31 PM
The linear mode will never, ever, be good at that,
This is your belief. But I would point out that you are a new user of vBulletin who was thrust into it against his will. You have no experience with vBulletin, so you are probably not the most qualified to evaluate the suitability of the product.

It is true, as I said elsewhere, that product design drives product usage, and the default installation of vBulletin will never be used exactly the way Phorum was used. But that does not mean it will be worse.





unless you think people having 8 quote tags nested inside one another
I've used vBulletin extensively for years and trust me, that never happens. It's totally unnecessary to embed several nested quote tags. Honestly, you're just getting carried away; why would it ever be necessary to do that? I've read tens of thousands of threads and have never seen that done even once.





unless you just think people should stop commenting the way they used to
People are going to be fine. They will continue to comment quite happily, even without Brendan telling them how to use the site. Usage is based on product design. Usage of the new product may differ from the past product. But it will be better, not worse.

Your own poll shows that 70% like the new forum is better (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=1547).





a new forum for each diavlog where people can start a whole new thread that is displayed in a linear mode
That's what I think would work the best, for two reasons:

(1) It would restore to a significant extent the ability to have multiple sub-threads clearly defined for each diavlog, which is important and useful functionality.

(2) Users like creating threads. It's fun. Conversation is fun. The whole process is fun. It's why we're all here. And having a whole forum for each diavlog where we could create our own threads would be ... fun. People would like it. They would be happy. Life would be good.





This is a flaw, not just my opinion, unless the intention was to completely, without any rhyme or reason, change the way the forum worked.
This is where I think you let your rhetoric get ahead of you, and you devolve into insults. The new forum was not implemented "without any rhyme or reason." You may be having trouble with the transition, but you don't have to insult the people who are providing this site. I think that's bad behavior.



.

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 11:54 PM
Your absolute sense of superiority, rank arrogance, and utter contempt for other people certainly explains why you have behaved so reprehensibly in this forum since the redesign.

It is an interesting psychological defense mechanism you have, to assume that contempt for you must be contempt for all people. And one of the nice things about anonymity is being able to speak the truth without repercussion, and rail against the inferior idiots without consequence. And no, it is not transference; I am fortunate enough to live, socialize and work with a higher than average concentration of brilliant minds. Contrary to your kindergarten analysis, I am quite happy, and quite happy to discuss topics on an intellectual level without invective. I think you will find upon review that the invective against you began after your invective against me. So let's see if I can use your shop worn tactic of lying and pretending pity with an air of superiority: So sorry you grew up without an original thought in your head, Twin. It isn't your fault to be born dimwitted, it is just an accident of fate. Perhaps some sort of dimwit-counseling or dimwit-support group could help you adjust.

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 11:55 PM
Other than your initial idiotic misunderstanding of my "exponential" comment
To be honest, I've just barely skimmed most of your posts. My misunderstanding was idiotic, to be sure, but the result of the fact that I really don't like reading your red hot rage too closely. It's like staring into the sun; so I skimmed your post through squinting eyes and misunderstood what you were saying.

I would suggest to you that you print yourself off a certificate of pride in this matter and hang it up on your wall. You deserve it.




What exactly is embarrassing about me understanding the psychology of a site and talking about it?
Oh Jesus, don't flatter yourself. I don't mind you talking constructively about problems and concerns and trying to improve the site. I think those are good things, and I think BHTV is the kind of place that is probably run by people who are receptive to it -- unlike a lot of other sites.

My problem with you is your overwhelming offensive behavior. If I had a kid act the way you do in public, I'd put on his coat and take him home. You should be ashamed of the way you have behaved since the launch of the new site.





I don't take the redesign personally, I am a member of a group and take the scant attention paid to that group in the redesign collectively. It isn't that Bob wasn't thinking about me, I take it as an affront that Bob was not thinking about my group.
Why don't you stick to speaking for yourself. You're not a group of people. You are one guy.

You've gotten virtually no support from anyone for your complaints. 70% of poll respondents like the site BETTER since the redesign. The globe agrees that vBulletin is a thousand times better than Phorum. If you really cared what the group thinks, you'd show some respect for them and let them use the site how they want.

Just like a consultant, you come striding in knowing nothing about the environment, telling everyone else (who knows it) they are doing it wrong. You don't even have the good sense to be embarrassed. I'll tell you what: I've been plenty embarrased for you, so you're probably covered.





And if you think that is out of line, then what IS in line? As a user, I am not allowed to complain about anything that affects users? Aye, Comrade.
I think you should be encouraged to participate in an adult manner in a respectful fashion. I think user feedback is good. I think your feedback should weigh precisely the same as every other user's. I don't think you should count as a "group," but as an individual, though I will grant that it is a clever strategy to pretend you are actually LOTS of people -- in fact, you seem to suggest you are all past users of the BHTV forum.

This must be what you meant when you said you can easily fool people because they are so stupid.

Not this time, buddy.




As for your claims about users receiving new software differently, how is that relevant?
Good lord, and you consult for a living. God help us all. Don't tell me: you advised Enron?





I am talking about bugs
Yeah, the bugs, tiny as they were, were regretable. If this was a site transacting commerce, it would have mattered. But releasing BHTV with a couple of bugs is well within the normal range and should probably not cause you to suffer a heart attack. Don't talk to me about Six Sigma. I know.





some (like you) never took advantage of the functionality being lost,
What the hell are you talking about? I've used threaded forums, including the BHTV Phorum, extensively for over a decade.





That does not invalidate my experience;
Your experience is totally valid, and you should be encouraged to share your thoughts, wishes, opinions, etc., with the BHTV tech staff.

But you should not treat people so badly. You've behaved terribly, and said very insulting things. That wasn't right. You should be ashamed. But I think that circuit is missing in your brain.





a simpleton likes it doesn't mean we will all become simpletons that like it.
People who use vBulletin are not simpletons or any less intelligent than you are. There are lots of very intelligent people carrying on very intelligent conversations with software that is much better than Phorum.





As for my being a dick: Of course I am. I have had to manage little dicks like you, and the only way to combat the thousand little idiocies, shortcuts and dreck introduced into systems by little dicks is by being a bigger dick
Your outlook on life is absolutely terrifying. I'm glad I don't live in your universe. It sounds awful. I can only imagine what you must be like in a restaurant.

How many waitresses have you reduced to tears because the lemon wedge was too thin? Or thick? Or on the wrong side of the glass from where you drink? What kind of idiot waitress would give you a glass with the lemon wedge facing you, forcing you to inefficiently have to twist the glass before you could drink from it?

I'm sure you will let her know just how god damned intolerably stupid she is.


.

TwinSwords
12-18-2007, 12:01 AM
And of course in your mind anything that applies to one forum necessarily applies to them all.
No, sorry, you misunderstood.

Rather, I think it is important to understand how people are using the software. In the human factors and user testing studies I've done, we watch user behavior to form judgements and draw conclusions.

TwinSwords
12-18-2007, 12:12 AM
However, on that board and a bunch of other bboards I have read over the years there are a number of significant differences that do not apply at bh.tv:

--> Threads are user generated and tend to be on one specific topic
This is true. This is why Look's suggestion was a good one.



--> A typical thread usually has fewer replies
I will tell you that this is absolutely not true. I've seen many threads in vBulletin which have gone to several hundred posts -- some over a thousand.




--> The threads typically stay more focused or they get hijacked: either everybody keeps posting in regard to one topic back and forth, or someone makes a digression and the thread becomes about something else completely.
I would agree. I have seen multiple different conversations going on within a linear thread, but that is the exception, not the rule.

You are absolutely correct that in this regard, vBulletin will be different (but not necessarily worse), unless:

They force people to use a threaded view, or
They take Look's suggestion and create a forum per diavlog and allow multiple threads.




--> People don't put as much effort into developing arguments and tend to write shorter, quicker posts
I don't agree. I've seen many, many deeply developed arguments over a period of years. People are people, and they like to talk about these things.

Let's stipulate that BHTV attracts a much, much higher IQ/education-level audience than any other forum, so no forum can match the level of discussion here; but that's due to audience, not software.




On BH.tv, at least in the past, the threads are generated by the admins, 1 per diavlog. A popular thread will have 200 or even 300 replies. Just to guess I'd bet that on average there were about 60 replies to a thread. Furthermore people in those threads are not writing general replies to the diavlog. They are replying to specific topics or even specific sentences. To allow these subconversations to proliferate simply requires threading;
I disagree; we've done very, very well with our conversation since we moved to vBulletin. I don't find myself unable to develop arguments or make my case. I can type whatever I want, and anyone can read it.




the amount of nested quoting
Absolutely not. This is what you fear, but trust me, it has no basis. Please give me a little credibility for having DONE IT a million times over years on other fora.




and dingalinking necessary to make such a conversation even relatively comprehensible in linear mode is simply too great; people will not do it, and discussions like that just won't include people using the linear mode.
People do it every single day in thousands of forums. We're doing it now.

By the way: It sounds like maybe you have used vBulletin before? I originally thought you were new to it. Was I mistaken?

Wolfgangus
12-18-2007, 12:56 AM
How many waitresses have you reduced to tears

Zero, ever. My mother was a waitress, my father a bartender. I was a dishwasher working full time to pay my way through high school. I have far more respect for service personnel, from janitors to cooks, than I do for CEOs, VPs, or whiny-ass programmers that think they are working hard for their $100K or whatever.

And in fact, as I have been told time and again completing project management contracts, when the people working for me had nothing to lose by telling the truth, they were happier working under me than under any previous manager. Less bullshit and more coding, that is my motto.

The reason for that is simple: I bring dependability to projects. The programmers spend almost zero time on maintenance, almost zero time chasing bugs, and almost zero time in wasted effort. The cowboys and prima donnas are cut from the herd, and what is left is an actually functioning team, and for many with a decade of programming under their belt, the first real team they have ever worked on; the first team where they could count on the product of their fellow programmers and engineers. That is because I put the "science" in computer science and create repeatable, positive experiences for both the team and the management, while keeping them insulated from each other. That said, there is protocol to follow and I won't tolerate sloppy work and cut corners so people can get done fast; there is a way to do it and it is my way. There is no fluff or wasted paperwork or busywork, but there is work to do. My best evidence that my way works is two-fold: Until I retired I was in high demand at a high rate, and at least three people that became project managers after working for me use my methods nearly exactly, and for many years. One that worked for me twenty years ago remembered it almost exactly when he became a project manager about six years later, and has been using it ever since. It works. Unless you happen to be a programmer that wants to create an air of mystique about what you do, to cover up the fact that half of what you do is seat of the pants guesswork until something works, or half of what you do is surfing the net for jokes or playing solitaire, or what you really want is to keep your solutions secret to bolster your job security. Then it won't work for you, because a central component is transparency and clear explanation of why we do what we do at every level, from the justifications for features down to the individual lines of code. Code is not an art form, it is a science, and when we treat it as such we make certain and steady progress, without constantly re-inventing the wheel and without constantly fighting bugs and unintended interactions, and programmers spend 80% of their time in uninterrupted coding; exactly as they should.

So yeah, you'd probably hate to live in that universe. It seems to me you have too big an ego to work in a functional team; you'd rather compete with, interrupt and undermine your coworkers than accomplish something together. So you won't be working for any of my (entirely voluntary) disciples; but I am tickled by the thought that you might be working for their competition.

Happy Hominid
12-18-2007, 02:24 AM
Bush isn't?

Tom Wittmann
12-22-2007, 12:34 PM
I usually am using an internet connection that is too slow to stream Bloggingheads video, so I download the video file (right-click save to target). It may take a couple hours but I got my Blogginheads.

Before the downloads went fine. The Explorer download window would show the entire file size and progress. It no longer shows the entire file size (only progress), and the download usually arbitrarily terminates before it is complete. Explorer seems to think the whole file has downloaded but it hasn't!!

Another recent retrograde development is that even when I manage to download an entire file (or most of one) many have to be watched sequentially. You cannot advance in the video, it simply dies and you have to re-start it. This is true, for example, of the Dec. 20 Corn / Pinkerton wmv file. This is, needless to say, too much like TV. Want to go back to catch something you missed? Tough, watch it all again. Want to watch the second half? Wait through the first half. This never used to happen.

These aren't complaints about style. This is a loss of basic functionality for those who do not have fast connections.

Finally, there have always been some downloads that didn't play for one reason or another. Sometimes they just played fast without sound, etc. Before you had Real and wmv, 100kbps & 300kbps. One would always work even if the others didn't. Now that only one file is available you may have to be a bit more rigorous about quality control.

Later note: Rosa Brooks - Charlotte Hays download failed about 1/3 of the way through. File plays only from the beginning, no going in five minutes. Explorer download window says "Estimated time left Not known (Opened so far X.XXMB). Total file size not shown. Before it showed the total file size and estimated download time.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 12:42 PM
Tom:

As a former slow connection user, I feel your pain.

One suggestion: try Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/) as a method for downloading. Even if you prefer IE for your regular browser, you might want to try Firefox at least for this purpose: its download manager seems more robust, somehow. That has been my experience, anyway.

Also note: at least one recent diavlog was truncated for everyone, including those watching it as a stream: the one between Ezra and Julian. Just saying, in case that was the file you were thinking of.

Hope this helps.

Tom Wittmann
12-22-2007, 01:24 PM
Thanks, Brendan.
I can try Firefox if needed, but I hope Bloggingheads steps up on this. They were doing it right, and now they are doing something wrong. I hope their tech guy is good.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 01:55 PM
Tom:

You're welcome. I should have mentioned this last time, but you should probably send an email to support@bloggingheads.tv, in addition to posting a tech complaint in the forums. They seem to be pretty quick to respond to email, at least during the week, and I know they want to hear about bugs.

Tom Wittmann
12-23-2007, 10:28 AM
Thanks again, I just followed your advice

mjdd1981
12-23-2007, 04:05 PM
Y'all are fricking awesome! Thanks!

Anyuser
12-24-2007, 01:56 PM
Is that what they're called? When you move the cursor over something and a menu flys out? Whatever they're called, I recommend there be a way to turn that feature off. Alternatively, if your techies could tell us which script enables it, perhaps individual users could block it through Firefox.

Merry Christmas!

bjkeefe
12-26-2007, 10:25 AM
Since the promise has been made on the BH.tv home page that this thread will be read, and soon, so that remaining issues about the redesign can be addressed over the holidays, I herein repeat a bug report I noted via email a week or two ago. (This bug was acknowledged and agreed with; I am posting this here as a reminder in case it slipped through the cracks.) Here it is.

Following the link on the individual video pages labeled "post a comment" has the effect of attaching the comment to the previously most recent comment. This is bad, at least for those who like to use the threaded view. Once a significant number of comments have been posted, the chances are good that the new comment will be stuck in the middle of a sub-thread which is focused on an issue tangential to the diavlog as a whole. Thus, the new comment usually presents as a non sequitur.

Generally speaking, it seems to me that someone who clicks the "post a comment" link on the video page wants to say something about the diavlog as a whole. It is almost always not the case that the latest comment adds to, or is intended to add to, one of the sub-threads. If one looks through the threads for the diavlogs created, one can find plenty of evidence to support this; at least, one observes lots of irritatingly inserted new comments mixed among the sub-threads.

Therefore, this link should be changed so that the result of clicking on it attaches the new comment as a reply to the opening (blank) comment -- the one that is evidently posted when creating the new thread for that particular diavlog. This is how the old forum software worked, which means that it would be a fix from the perspective of long-time commenters. It also seems more intuitive behavior from the point of view of new commenters.

bjkeefe
12-26-2007, 10:26 AM
Any word on the progress of porting the old comments to the new platform?

Happy Hominid
12-26-2007, 07:49 PM
Along with the "comment count" which would accurately indicate Brendan at one million one hundred and eighty six!

bjkeefe
12-26-2007, 10:18 PM
Okay, I grant that's a reason to drop the import project.

Wolfgangus
12-27-2007, 08:49 AM
I agree with BJ on this one; the randomly inserted comments are irritating, and obviously intended as general comments. Please make them that way.

Wolfgangus
12-27-2007, 08:59 AM
That is not the only outstanding issue, the issue remains of identifying new commentary. YES, we can go to the "New Posts" link, and YES, the little green shields show up for comments we haven't read.

But as soon as you reply to any one of them, all the little indicators go gray. For example, when I came to this thread, the six posts at the bottom of the tree were unread. As soon as I responded in support of Brendan's first message, the tree is reloaded as if I had read all the unread messages. It makes no difference which thread mode I am in; I am using pure threaded (not the hybrid) and this happens anyway.

The color-coding does not go away if I just click on posts and read them, only if I respond. Nevertheless, this causes a problem because it ruins the interactivity of the site, at least for me. I am forced to either read all unread comments without responding, take notes on which posts I wish to respond to, or start duping the page or opening comments into new pages so so I can respond to someone on the new page and retain the color coding on the old page. This is a major irritation. The code to turn off the color coding should only count a post as read if it has actually displayed the post on my screen!

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 09:31 AM
Wolf:

Thanks for mentioning this. After thinking for a while that the green switched off "sometimes," I had finally realized that to be the case myself and meant to note it, too. You're exactly right -- replying to a (new) message turns off the color-coding of the rest of the messages.

Workaround, which you probably know: right-click the "reply" button and open the link in a new tab or window.

Obviously, though, this premature color-flip should be fixed.

Wolfgangus
12-27-2007, 12:41 PM
That workaround is what I do, but it is rather irritating to have a plethora of windows hanging about, and the situation worsens if the thread happens to be active, so my response reveals even more unread comments that I have to keep track of.

This is not that unusual for me; a lot of my BHTV reading and comments are written while I am running experiments that take 20 to 30 minutes to complete; so my response may be interrupted by an experiment ending; at which point I must log some results, analyze them and figure out what should be started next. So I may put 10 minutes into a response, go away for 30 to 45 minutes (longer if the experiment produced something interesting I want to discuss with a collaborator), and then come back and continue the response.

In any case, although the new system has some nice features I am not using them, and IMO the most valuable features of the old system are now lost; I have to do three times as much work to maintain position in an active conversation as before.

bjkeefe
12-27-2007, 01:21 PM
Wolf:

Mostly, I agree with you. I'd still say that I liked the Phorum forums better than I do the vBulletin forums, except for the performance issues that Phorum seemed to have. The interface was cleaner, especially the use of text to note new posts and updated threads. There's nothing like being able to use the browser's search function, rather than having to scan by eye. I do find the "New Posts" link to be helpful when the odds are that only one new comment has been added, but you're right -- when there are several new comments, the loss of cues after replying to one of them is annoying.

I'm now at the point where I am fairly used to vBulletin, and if the site admins can stomp the last few bugs, I'll probably stop caring about the change. Also, if vBulletin continues to perform as well as it does now after the comments database grows, I think that I'll call it a win in the end -- Phorum's frequent sluggishness and occasional complete lack of response was something I could never get used to in the way I can a new user interface.

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 02:24 PM
Wolf:

What kind of experiments are you running? You mentioned that you hadn't been involved in wet-lab stuff for a while, so what are you doing, some sort of comp sci stuff on your computer?

Wolfgangus
12-27-2007, 05:13 PM
Yeah, it is computer science stuff. Specifically two types of things I work on; you will see that a lot of biological statistics uses the normal distribution because it is easy to work with, but that is crazy since almost all biological statistics follow gamma distributions. But gamma distributions are a bit more difficult to work with, and in particular it is difficult to ferret out combined gammas; where responses consist of two or three gamma distributions summed together and we want to find the most parsimonious representation that fits the actual response. So I am developing some statistical methods for tackling this problem, in particular I work with a totally obsessed neuroscientist (TON, I got an email from him on his work computer on Christmas day for chrissake, asking me to resend results from some experiment) convinced that gamma distributions are the holy grail of biological statistics and everything else is hand-wavy bullshit. He does do wet-lab stuff (slicing up mouse brains). About a year ago his boss gave a presentation I attended, and I was asking questions about their statistical methods, which put me in touch with TON in dire need of a mathematical HPC (high performance computing) guy (me). On a related front I have done some work on genetic algorithms that also help separate summed spectra of several components, and besides that I do some HPC algorithmic work that requires fairly long-running simulations (to simulate new hardware) or testing, and I am about to get involved in some non-parametric statistical analysis of some five-arm mouse experiment data (TON with a mouse geneticist), although the "we are about to get started" phase has been going on for four months now. (I'm not complaining, I'm just saying, I'm ready when you are...).

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 01:36 AM
That's cool that you're working with genetic algorithms. My dad runs a quantitative hedge fund (ahh... suddenly the reason why I'm a libertarian is made clear to anyone who reads this post) and he uses genetic algorithms to do pattern matching to find patterns in price movements of currencies after his fund makes trades in related securities, allowing them to ride the wave of the predictable currency price fluctuation. He told me a lot about how he was coding it and how it worked and it sounded like very cool stuff.

Also neat that you're working with a guy who works with wet-lab stuff. At Princeton my mentor was a very quant-heavy neuro guy and he had a grad student who had followed him from India (by way of Germany-- and the PI was a Pakistani American from Idaho, of all places) whose job it was to take waveforms from single unit recordings in live monkey brains and do statistics on it. The transformations and maths he was using were so complicated I couldn't even tell you the name of it. I am just reminded of it by the fact that you're talking about Gamma distributions and they were analyzing gamma waves. Not the same thing.... at all, but interesting nonetheless.

I am really enjoying the cancer research, as it seems much more tangible and less philosophical, and it seems like it will actually help people, which actually does give me a surprising amount of satisfaction (and a much easier to use and better line to use on young women when I'm out at a bar-- that doesn't hurt either). Maybe someday I will go back to neuro, but I'm thinking I might just stick with this cancer research thing for a while and get a PhD in molecular biology or pathology or something and stay in medicine (as a wet-lab guy).

Wolfgangus
12-28-2007, 08:42 AM
My dad runs a quantitative hedge fund [...] and he uses genetic algorithms [...] He told me a lot about how he was coding it and how it worked and it sounded like very cool stuff.

That's great. I know quite a bit about company valuation, I should get into the same thing. It is a funny thing, in AI research very little is done on genetic algorithms, yet I suspect GA are the most prevalent working AI systems anywhere. It is quite common for presenters to gloss over a parameter or something they found using "a machine learning technique", and everytime I push them for the specifics it turns out to be a GA. In the "bible" of AI there are dozens of distinct techniques shown in loving detail, but GA are given about two pages and dismissed.

One of the professors here that specializes in AI (hidden Markov models especially) thinks that is because it is so difficult to prove anything about GA, it is all empirical heuristics. So everything is "Well, we tried this on this problem and it seems to work pretty well," but it is hard to get a CS paper out of that. You can prove something about a perceptron or neural network because it is essentially deterministic mathematics in higher dimensions. But when it comes to what you can use to solve a real-world problem, a well-tuned GA is almost the only game in town.

TON's neuro-research is somewhat disease based, he is trying to improve some diagnostic technique. A lot of our stuff is trying to automatically recognize what looks like little bumps in the protein distributions, statistically insignficant fluctuations but we know they are caused by the disease in question which is throwing some regulatory function out of whack.

But anyway some of the separation techniques we are developing are related to information flow, and TON really wants to apply some of these techniques to automatically figuring out gene-interaction maps, which are essentially information flow diagrams between transmitters and receivers. We haven't gotten too far into that, he talks about it, but his main grant is about making progress in this diagnostic arena.

it seems like it will actually help people, which actually does give me a surprising amount of satisfaction

That was surprising for me too. I have worked on internal code for medical devices before and diagnostic machines (MRI), and it is surprising how motivating the idea of life and death can be. Fail and people die. I feel an echo of that same pressure working with TON. I've never wanted to be an M.D., but it can't help but occur to me, as I write the code and translate my inventions into practical code, that if I crack this nut then it will literally help save lives. It makes me feel guilty when I am not working on it. Maybe that is why TON is TO.

What sort of annualized returns does your dad get? Is he one of these 50% private HF guys?

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 10:05 AM
What sort of annualized returns does your dad get? Is he one of these 50% private HF guys?

Funny you should ask that. He was... from like 2003-2005. 2006 and 2007, uhh, not so much.

As to the point about getting satisfaction from the fact that your work could save lives: I had never really thought about it as "if I fail more people will die." I guess I'm just an enternal optimist. Also I am just a lab tech, although my PI is giving me some extra responsibilities that most lab techs don't get like designing our experiments and writing up the results, since I am a young guy who is committed to getting a PhD and having to do all that stuff, as opposed to most of the other people in similar jobs in the lab or the person whom I replaced, who had settled into the position for good with just a bachelor's and had no intention of going on to post-grad.

At any rate, maybe it's because of my junior position, or maybe it's because people who get metastatic melanoma are already in such a dire situation (and I don't actually have to meet them) but I always think of it in the fact that if I do my job well we will do better as a society in treating people with metastatic melanoma. I don't think "if I don't work hard people will die." I mean, sure, people are going to die anyways. But I think it's probably the difference in what we were doing; I'm doing basic science that years from now will have contributed to our understanding of the disease and may have helped develop some new treatment. You were coding a device that if it had not work would have led to a much more tangible disaster. Basic science (and the fact that I'm not a doctor so I hardly ever even see the patient's names, let alone have to meet them and their families and watch as the disease quickly kills them) makes their death much less tangible. But the life and death nature of the work is definitely there, in the background, because I can tell that it was a much more philosophical type of inspiration doing cognitive neuroscience.

As for your project and GA's, I really never got to algorithms in comp sci and I only took a couple advanced COS classes in school, both in applied fields (genomics analysis and digital signal analysis for audio music). But that sounds like an interesting part of the field to be working in. Also what disease are you working on that has this tell-tale protein mis-patterning? I'm just interested because one of the big problems I saw in a lot of neuroscience that was clinically oriented (as opposed to the lab that I worked in that did pure cognitive stuff) was that the animal models were sort of crazy, or at least, could not possibly capture the diseases they were supposed to model. For instance, there was an animal model of autism that involved giving mice massive overdoses of lead; I forget exactly what the rationale was. It made the mice proceed normally in their development and then regress in whatever signal of sociability they use in mice: therefore it was a mouse model of autism. I'd imagine that similar problems bedevil a whole host of brain diseases... because unless it's something like one of the genetic diseases where a specific protein is mutated, brain diseases, specifically mental illnesses are very difficult if not impossible to meaningfully simulate in mice and rats. I wonder if that has any bearing on your disease, and possibly suggests why TON wants to draw up a bunch of genetic flow charts as oppose to working on what his grant said... for instance in my old lab our grants used to say we worked on autism, but that was only tangentially true. That was what we said to get the gov't to give us money, which short-sightedly only funds basic science when they can "prove" a connection, however tangential, to curing some disease or fixing some problem ultimately, but it had very little to do with the research.

Wolfgangus
12-28-2007, 11:57 AM
GA's [...] sounds like an interesting part of the field to be working in.

I love it, but like I said, it is kind of underground. It solves problems but seems little studied in its own right; it is one of those things that people stumble across, it turns out to be easy, but they end up using it to get results and publish the results without giving the GA much credit; other than as an ambiguous "machine learning technique" or something like that.

The problem with GA's is they tend to be very specific to the problem at hand. So unlike a neural net (or even the simpler perceptron), which has a basic configuration that can be studied in its own right, the GA doesn't really have a common mathematical structure you can pin down. I don't know how much you know about them; so the following might be too introductory, but the basic idea is to solve your problem by making potential solutions compete against each other, then "mate" them (choose two of the best solutions so far, and create a child that has characteristics of each) with some mutations (random drift in the characteristics), and then test the entire population again to find which best solve the problem.

So, for example, say I have a sample that contains three to five different molecules, and I can test it in various ways, and the job is to figure out which molecules are in it. If I choose the right ones, and can simulate (in silico) the results of the tests, I can just guess at a few thousand possible combinations, and see how well their simulated test results match the actual test results. Then discard the ones that match miserably, and replace them with the offspring of the ones that did better, along with some mutations in those children (the mutations would be replacing some molecule in the guess with a random molecule, or deleting a molecule from a guess, or adding a new molecule to a guess, etc). And in this way I can develop a population of guesses that match the actual test output almost perfectly. And it turns out, when we do this in real life, the fittest solutions match the real sample exactly, when we have purposely constructed the real sample to have known molecules in it. So that gives us some confidence that the technique is accurate on the samples where we don't know the contents.

But the scientific problem with the GA is that every single thing about the GA is idiosyncratic to the specific problem; nothing generalizes except the overall concept. The structure of the guess, the nature of the mutations, the simulated tests, the fitness function that determines how "close" a guess is, the algorithm for mating two guesses to create an offspring, even the rates of mutation and size of the population are all specific to this problem; and the same is true of all GA problems. If I sit down to write a GA for picking stocks, it will follow the same outline but be completely different than a GA to separate spectra or a GA to discover a low latency dynamic network for mobile devices or a GA to recognize a new computer virus or a GA to reduce noise in a radio signal. I think this is why GA's are little studied in their own right, I have been working with them for ten years and I don't know how to generalize them either. I have a 45 minute practicum presentation on them but nothing in it is proven, everything is just examples of approaches that have worked on various problems (like those mentioned above) and why I think they worked. But until some Euler or Newton comes along, I think GA will remain one of those things mathematicians despise, something that works and we don't really know why at a deep level. On the surface it is obviously just a special kind of random search and we can analyze that statistically, but at a deeper level we don't know why so many problems should be amenable to the approach, or how to tell whether a problem will fall to a GA approach or not. That is primarily because the problems we try to solve with GA are problems we don't really know how to solve in any other way (in a reasonable amount of time); GA's solve problems in hours that would take weeks or even years to exhaustively search. In one application, the military scatters sensors over an area and the sensors (without GPS) must both self-organize themselves into a network and figure out where they are geographically by signal strength with their neighbors. A GA produces a usable probable solution in about 10 seconds, where the mathematically "exact" least-squares approach takes several minutes, and is overly sensitive to errors in the signal strength readings. In general, I think GA's seem to do well with messy real-world problems and poorly with finding solutions to mathematically exact problems. The GA needs that real-world smoothness or innacuracy to work with; if the answer is mathematically unique and if "pretty close" won't really cut it, the GA is not the right choice.

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 01:02 PM
Interesting stuff. I do know the general form of how GA's work, but you made quite a few points that were new to me and interesting.

And I can see why mathematicians don't like them; as you describe the process of making one is more heuristic than algorithmic, you have to tailor it to every problem.

But it is a very cool idea and it's interesting that it's so good at solving problems that are not amenable to solving exactly because they have too many variables.

It's also interesting I never took more than the introductory level COS classes in college but I thought about taking the algorithms class and I looked closely at old syllabi, assignments, etc. and there was nothing about genetic algorithms. It probably is taught in an upper level class as opposed to an intermediate level class, but conceptually it seems easier to explain than a lot of stuff that was discussed in the intermediate level algorithms class.

It seems like the kind of thing that you'd need to practice to get good at, as well. I'm sure that reading about how to construct a GA does not prepare you as well to do it as reading about how to write most kinds of computer code do. Probably a lot of trial and error is involved in getting the coding right.

Wolfgangus
12-28-2007, 02:07 PM
Actually in our graduate level AI class, GA are not taught at all. The book we use (and the bible in general) is "Artificial Intelligence (A Modern Approach)" by Russell and Norvig (I have it sitting here), which devotes about three hand-wavy pages to the topic of GA out of 1080 pages (including brain-dead sentences like "Genetic Algorithms work best when schemas correspond to meaningful components of a solution"), and concludes with:

In practice, genetic algorithms have had a widespread impact on optimization problems, such as circuit layout and job-shop scheduling. At present, it is not clear whether the appeal of genetic algorithms arises from their performance or from their aesthetically pleasing origins in the theory of evolution. Much work remains to be done to identify the conditions under which genetic algorithms perform well.

Which ticks me off to no end. The engineers and manufacturing guys are not implementing GA for aesthetic reasons, they implement them for the same reason as biological researchers do, they want some friggin' answers and implement GA because they just don't know how else to get them. Especially for researchers, if it were possible to find the answer mathematically they would; not only would a math-backed solution be more publishable (more believable and more respectable), but the mathematical relationship might inform further research, into figuring out where an exponent comes from or why an equation takes a certain form or why certain terms are in and others cancel out. No scientific mind wants a "best guess" solution unless there is no other solution; and that is the gap that GA fill.

Experience with GA certainly help in implementation; you learn the importance of death and limited reproductive lifespans; for example. But one of the fine giggle factors in GAs is their ability to work around what seem like crippling bugs in the implementation. It is the only truly resilient or bug-forgiving algorithm I am aware of; everything else is so brittle by comparison. You need to think a little differently with a GA, in terms of exerting pressures that will guide the evolution, instead of exact algorithms. That is the thing with GA, we don't know which direction the solution lies in, so all we can do is try to guess at what are the probable characteristics of the solution. In a way, like with my current project, developing the GA is a matter of evolution on my part. I try some things that I think will work, see what happens, get new ideas about what is going wrong, and add some more things I think will work. I may go through dozens of versions of a GA before finally arriving at something that does a good job of solving some particular kind of problem.

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 07:23 PM
I guess bloggingheads is running out of days of the week for new theme days, but maybe they could address this topic on Computer Science Sunday, or something.

bjkeefe
12-28-2007, 08:09 PM
GC:

... Computer Science Sunday ...

What a great idea! Where's the petition for me to sign?

TwinSwords
12-30-2007, 03:11 PM
GC:



What a great idea! Where's the petition for me to sign?

Oh, geez! You guys with all your crazy, non-political ideas! ;)

Actually, now that I think about it, computer science sunday would be very interesting. As long as we don't ever have to put up with sports, I'll be happy.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 03:48 PM
Twin:

Actually, now that I think about it, computer science sunday would be very interesting. As long as we don't ever have to put up with sports, I'll be happy.

Agreed. As much as I like sports, and talking about sports, I can't stand to watch other people do it.

garbagecowboy
12-30-2007, 05:39 PM
I think a sports diavlog could be very interesting. Not the ESPN/sports radio crap you usually get about who's playing that week and who will win etc. etc. but something more like the business of sports; a diavlog between say an MLB front office guy like Mark Shapiro and a thoughtful sportwriter would be very, very cool.

bjkeefe
12-30-2007, 05:50 PM
GC:

Yeah, that could be all right. Or maybe a one-time discussion about the steroids issue. Say, Roger Khan and George Mitchell. (Bob's clout must know no ends, now that he's plugged into the NYT.)

osmium
02-06-2008, 02:45 PM
just one voice crying in the darkness, perhaps:

i don't like a lot of "roll over" stuff on a website. e.g. the "main" diavlog changes depending on where my mouse happens to go, or the topic lists pop up over to the left.

i realize it makes me kind of autistic, but this stresses me out, because shit is constantly popping up and changing, i guess because i let my mouse wander around the page while i'm reading it. i know i should put my hands in my lap or something, but even after a month or so with the re-design, it still annoys me.

but obviously i could be the only one.

thanky,
-osmium

bjkeefe
02-06-2008, 05:55 PM
osmium:

You. Are. Not. Alone.

Wolfgangus
02-06-2008, 06:31 PM
I still hate the redesign. Including roll-over crap, but primarily the comments section now totally sucks. I read less, and comment less, because now I have to do a ton of work to maintain my place and list of unread comments; and to avoid the work I avoid commenting at all, and that kind of makes reading the other comments pointless.

For some people my lack of participation will be a blessing, I am sure. Congratulations, Bob, you ruined a perfectly good site. Like most businesses, you took the traditional route of completely misinterpreting the value of your product to your customers. But you did it with breathtaking speed, and that is an accomplishment with bragging rights.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 02:54 AM
i realize it makes me kind of autistic, but this stresses me out, because shit is constantly popping up and changing, i guess because i let my mouse wander around the page while i'm reading it.

Not at all -- it makes you normal. Most people hate that. The worst example is the Slate homepage. But at least on the Slate homepage, the annoying flyout menu disappears when you move your mouse away from it. On the bloggingheads homepage, once one of those flyout menus appears, the only way to make it go away is by clicking the little X. It's quite annoying, I agree, and I think about 85% of people share our opinion.

(I don't mind the dynamic element in the center where the diavlog changes; it's sometimes slightly annoying, but it's not nearly as likely to cause problems as the flyouts on the left side.... )

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 08:30 AM
Wolf:

You're right about the flaws in the Comments section, but really, I'm surprised that a smart guy like you hasn't figured out how to deal with them. For example, when I want to reply to a comment, while there are still other comments that I haven't read, and I'm afraid to lose the color flag, I just reply in a new tab. If you're using Firefox, click your middle mouse button (or mouse wheel) on the "Reply" or "Quote" link, and a new tab opens. Have your say there, post the reply, and then come back to the first window. As long as you don't reload the page in the first window, the color flags persist.

Another option: Post your reply in the same window, and after publishing your comment, use your browser's back button. A few clicks will return you to the presentation of the page as you first visited it; i.e., all new comments will still be flagged.

Is this irritating to have to employ workarounds, especially when you know how to design and build software that isn't so brain-dead, and when the previous forums worked more to your liking? Of course it is.

Is it a big deal? It doesn't seem so to me. I think you're being unreasonably stubborn. The workarounds are inelegant, but simple.

For some people my lack of participation will be a blessing, I am sure.

I do not consider myself thereby blessed. I am sure I am not alone in this regard.

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 08:34 AM
Twin:

The worst example is the Slate homepage.

Agreed. In fact, I find it so annoying that it cuts down on my visits and length of stay.

There are so many things wrong with the navigation on that site. I hate that there aren't clear home pages for specific writers, for example, and their URLs are unnecessarily obfuscated, for another. Given that the site was launched by Microsoft and is now owned by the WaPo, however, I suppose persistent bad design isn't a surprise.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 12:29 PM
Agreed. In fact, I find it so annoying that it cuts down on my visits and length of stay.
Same here. In fact, when they started that ultra-annoying full-page ad recently, I vowed never to return. That lasted about an hour. :D Still, it bugs me.



There are so many things wrong with the navigation on that site. I hate that there aren't clear home pages for specific writers, for example, and their URLs are unnecessarily obfuscated, for another.
Amen to both of those points.



Given that the site was launched by Microsoft and is now owned by the WaPo, however, I suppose persistent bad design isn't a surprise.
LOL! Slate was one of the first sites to use an all ASP, entirely database-driven solution for web site design (logical as they are core technologies/products offered by Microsoft). And that's why we see the ugly URLs with digits instead of English terms. But they should have realized that (paraphrasing Jakob Neilsen), "URL is UI," that is, the URL is a kind of user interface. In other words, people try to manipulate and interact with URLs directly to navigate a site. Slate/MS totally undermined this possibility with their numbered URLs, which refer to database records but can't be interpreted by humans to mean anything.

They could have easily gotten around this (and still could) if they simply substituted a human-friendly URL (stored in the database!) for display on the address line, while masking the database record number in the background.

Alas, programmers are not interface designers, and care little about usability.

To bring this full circle, annoying flyout menus are most popular with programmers, because they're "neat, they allow programmers to show off, and they theoretically solve certain problems (such as how to fit more content into a fixed space).

I don't think it's an inherently bad idea, but the implementation needs a lot of work: E.g., (1) the flyout definitely has to reliably vanish instantly when my mouse moves away from it, and (2) it should not "fly out" when my mouse just happens to be moving across the dynamic space; I should either have to bring my mouse to a stop (indicating a desire for more information), or click a button to open the flyout.

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 12:42 PM
I still regret the Big Nasty Debate we had when the new site launched, and I'm sorry it became so vitriolic.

At that time, I took the position that all of this difficulty could be avoided simply by using the linear view. In a limited sense, that is true, but at a cost. I have since come to agree that the threaded view is preferable for the kinds of conversations that people have (or want to have) at BHTV. Unfortunately, the threaded view has it's own set of challenges, as discussed here and elsewhere. Nothing insurmountable, but minor annoyances nevertheless.



when I want to reply to a comment, while there are still other comments that I haven't read, and I'm afraid to lose the color flag, I just reply in a new tab.
This is what I always plan to do, but frequently I impulsively hit the "Reply" button to the first interesting comment I read, and as soon as I do I lose all of the green flags. I'm probably conditioned to not think to open in a new tab because for years I have used other forums with the linear view. I need to get into the habit of consistently opening the reply in a new tab to avoid this problem.



Another option: Post your reply in the same window, and after publishing your comment, use your browser's back button. A few clicks will return you to the presentation of the page as you first visited it; i.e., all new comments will still be flagged.
Ah! This is a great idea. You're right: if you use the back button, the green flags should still be green, as long as you don't refresh the page after clicking the back button.

Still, a good interface should not require these tricks and difficult to learn new habits, but unfortunately the vBulletin product has some limitations with the threaded view that we are going to have to live with. Maybe we should all go over to the vBulletin forum and report these problems...

bjkeefe
02-07-2008, 01:03 PM
Same here. In fact, when they started that ultra-annoying full-page ad recently, I vowed never to return. That lasted about an hour. :D Still, it bugs me.

Absolutely! I'd blanked that one out in the interest of preserving sanity, I guess.

But they should have realized that (paraphrasing Jakob Neilsen), "URL is UI," ... They could have easily gotten around this (and still could) if they simply substituted a human-friendly URL (stored in the database!) for display on the address line ...

Again, I completely agree. It's supremely irritating that they have yet to realize this.

Alas, programmers are not interface designers, and care little about usability.

Well, the Slate people certainly talk about site design enough. Presumably, someone's making money to think about these things.

I don't think it's an inherently bad idea, but the implementation needs a lot of work: E.g., (1) the flyout definitely has to reliably vanish instantly when my mouse moves away from it, and (2) it should not "fly out" when my mouse just happens to be moving across the dynamic space; I should either have to bring my mouse to a stop (indicating a desire for more information), or click a button to open the flyout.

Once again, completely agreed. Plus, I always think sites that have such behavior should be required to have a big button nearby that's labeled "Stop That."

TwinSwords
02-07-2008, 01:57 PM
Plus, I always think sites that have such behavior should be required to have a big button nearby that's labeled "Stop That."

Good suggestion! In fact, I think MSNBC.com (a long time ago) had the option to disable their flyout menu. Finally they got rid of it entirely.

But your suggestion is a good one: Any time you give users control over their experience, they are happy.

Wolfgangus
02-08-2008, 05:30 PM
I think you're being unreasonably stubborn.

I've been programming for 35 years, and for about 10 in the middle there, working on medical devices, military weapons, CIA listening devices and army battlefield communications, people's lives depended on me getting it right. As far as I know, I didn't get anybody killed. When working on encrypted communications for financial transactions, I managed to not lose any of them. "Unreasonably Stubborn" is pretty much my job description as a project manager (although I prefer the term "exacting") and a lifetime of being unreasonably stubborn about software quality is difficult to cast aside just because it would be convenient. I am not being a Luddite, but in this particular application simpler was better.

I am aware of all the workarounds you mention; and that is the "work" I was talking about having to do. It is irritating, and even more irritating is the fact that this irritation is not acknowledged in any way, and is apparently not going to be addressed. I conclude from this that Bob Wright does not give a shit, does not regard the comment section or the comfort of his viewers as valuable, and for me that diminishes the value of contributing.

It is not eliminated yet (as this post exemplifies), but between the tiny view screen and the dysfunctional comment section, I am less enthusiastic than I once was. Oh well, nothing lasts forever, and it was fun while it lasted.