Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Secret decoder ring agents

I'd like to share some of the feedback users of the Tocque have expressed.

Tester 1

About Tocque, I can see it on the test Belmont Club thing. I'm able to mark someone as "troll", and I can see "my clips", "feedback", et cetera. (For whatever reason, Tocque hasn't sent me a confirmation reply concerning my account, but that may be one of the bugs. I don't know.) This is very similar to the old newsgroup idea of the "kill file", which is a vast improvement over sending real death threats over the internet (which sometimes happened in the old days).

I may doodle with the application when I have more time, but my cursory test shows that it seems to work.

Tester 2

Sorry Richard, but Tocque is neither working on FIrefox 3.5.7 (where the browser and other info remains blank no matter how many times I reload and reset. While on IE8, if fills in the info as above, but when I bring up new lamps for old, it tells me the page load is "Done, but with errors on page."

Ok, IE8 is working. My mistake.

But Firefox 3.5.7 doesn't give me the link "Enable the Tocque for the Belmont Club" at all.

see my re2 where I realized my error.

What I'd done was try firefox first and it never gave me the enable option, just the disable option.

Then when I tried it next at IE, it may have given me the option but I didn't see it.

So when I went back and did another reload, that time I saw the IE version didn't say "diable" but gave me the expected result that allowed me to log in.

BTW, it's very slowing. Much overhead involved?

Still can't get FF to accept the key‏. Want am I failing to do? I told FF options to allow tocque.org pop-ups. I'm not sure what else might be needed

Tester 3

There are problems. But first you should know the technical background:

1. My computer is a Linux box, running the Fedora 8 operating system
2. The browser I'm using is Firefox 3.56

The first problem I encountered was at the login box. The first law of software testing is to emulate an idiot and proceed from there. I have an advantage here because I'm the real thing--I don't need to emulate one. Without creating an account, I attempted to log in using my email address as the login and "test" as the password. Nothing happened. So I then tried to create a new account--nothing happened. Although the scissors and trolls were visible using the scissors did not place what I clipped into the box, and whenever I tried to mark someone as a troll I
was informed that I needed to be logged in.

I hit the refresh button on the browser, and when the page was reloaded I found that I could log in. But things still didn't work like they should have. There were no actual fatal Javascript errors, but there were plenty of warnings about undefined properties as well as anonymous functions that did not return any value.

If you wish, I can try this again and will keep more meticulous notes about what I do and the errors that result. I should have done that to begin with but I sort of got lost in the maze.

If you want I will try it again and send you more organized notes about the errors I encounter, including the errors from the Firefox error console and screen shots if you want them. I don't mind doing it if the information might be helpful, but I don't really want to bother you with data you don't really want to have. Just let me know one way or the other. ...

Actually its working rather well now--the problem was getting it to work at the beginning. I messed around with it until I got it to work, but your typical user might not be able or willing to do this. If you can, destroy my account and let me start from square one with the set up. That's where the problems were, and for the casual user they would have been severe. Looking back on the error log there were Javascript errors/warnings which I think hold the key to the problems. The dojo framework you are using has some issues with firefox, and I really doubt the OS has much of anything to do with it.

Tester 4

I think I'm not taking "Toque" for the moment, when I enabled it, I couldn't post anymore on your site, I tried several times, and I got each time a spot "internet is closing down the program"

Tester 5

Pretty darn cool. Kind of deflating though to find I only rank #..., but on the other hand I often think no one reads my stuff at all, so maybe #... isn't so bad.

Tester 6

I use IE8. Before I disabled the thing, the manager kept me from posting. Each time, there was a popup window asking me to tell Microsoft what was going wrong, but I didn't get my comment through. Finally, after I disabled the Tocque comment manager, I was able to post my comment (referring to ...) smoothly.

Well, I thought you'd want to know.

Tester 7

To report back -- it took me two tries to get Tocque to work, but then it seemed to go quite smoothly.

I am a bit of a "trailing edge of technology" kind of person, so please don't be offended by this observation. The functionality is fascinating, but I am not sure that I would use it much. In particular, it may be a source of confusion in the future if each lurker/poster on a thread is seeing a different set of posts. Someone whose opinions I value may respond (incomprehensibly, to me) to someone else who was on my "troll" list. I find it easier to simply skip past posts that seem silly.

I don't find any problem with a straight sequential list of responses to one of your posts. Nor do I find any problem with copying & pasting the few contributions that I want to save elsewhere.

For my sins, I serve as the moderator of a technical discussion forum organized by .... We never get threads as long as any of your posts typically engenders, so the following facility in the Microsoft software we use has never really had a workout. In principle, users should be able to reorganize the list of responses to follow responses to earlier responses. (I think www.theoildrum.com has an analogous feature, if you would like to see an example). That might be useful for those cases where a thread breaks into several parallel discussions.

But basically, I am quite satisfied with the current software -- easy to read, easy to post responses. To summarize a lesson we have learned in my engineering society about on-line discussions, "content trumps software, every time".

Tester 8

I now feel like a certified member of the VRWC. This must be the web version of the secret decoder ring.

Tester 9

"Tocque" is a great service for those who comment to your blog that like to engage in a multi-comment repartee. That is generally not me. I usually only comment when I feel I can add to the discussion or when I feel someone has posted a comment that is just plain offensively wrong or unfairly demeaning to an idea or individual. I also enjoy reading every comment, even from those I haven't read before, because the comments on your blog are so unusually enlightening. So the need to "manage the comments" is rarely there for me.

Tester 10

I love the idea. There’s a ton of stuff you could do with this, and being able to track intelligent commenters and nix the idiots is, all by itself, worth the price of admission. Here’s a suggestion: I’d like the ability to provide private feedback to a commenter, and also public rating of both about a commenter and about a particular post (“I like this comment!” or “Five stars” or “I found this useful” or “I have known rocks smarter than this guy”). In fact, your post of a while back about the best comment – which turned into a popularity contest for the best commenter – would have been a gimme if that functionality had been available all along. I really wanted to wax a troll, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of the usual suspect trolls on this particular blog, like “vivio” or “Now and Then” or “biblio44”, or that moron who sank a blog post all by himself a couple months ago. There’s never a fat target around when you want one. I really wanted to shout, “Torpedo los, herr Kaleun!”, as I sank one or two. Sigh. Perhaps you should have set up this test with a post that was a little more inflammatory, some cutting attack on one of liberalism’s more sacrosanct shibboleths – FDR, say - rather than a thoughtful but largely emotionally neutral treatise on intelligence gathering.

The Tocque execution, though, seems to need some work. I know from firsthand experience that it's hard to make GUIs idiot-proof, because we idiots are so ingenious. But I was confused right off the bat by the "sign in". I tried my email, using the password "test", and nothing happened. I tried “creating“ an account, with the same email and a different password, and again nothing happened. (No feedback about whether it was successful or not.) So I tried "sign in" again, with my "new" password, and this time it told me that my email address was unrecognized. I never did find the “Watch” button. The scissors button didn’t seem to work – the scissors began a little clipping animation, but the comment didn’t appear in the “My Clips” box. Three apparently random posts appeared in my “Top” box. I don’t know how they got there, or how to eliminate them. I clicked the “Filter” box and a handy little check mark appeared, but this didn’t trigger any apparent new functionality. In sum, I’m sorry, but I’m a bit lost. It may be that I’m just not getting it – I try not to discount my own ignorance or lack of perception as a possible explanation for my failures. Do I need a User’s Manual, or Tocque For Dummies?

Just for the record, I’m using IE8.