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Todays Slashdot Updates 78

Todays changelog: I cleaned up the Preferences Page to organize it somewhat rationally. I also cleaned up a lot of sticky code in the comments section. In the process, I added a few useful new options: No Sigs, and some Order controls. Displaying comments by Score, or by reverse date are each quite useful. Nate added a few Slashboxes: Beta News, Be News, Hacker News Network, and someone else suggested Weather in Hell. I also fixed the busted ordering controls on the Custom page and started fiddling around with user definable time zones. I need a good resource on time zones and stuff so I can make daylight savings and crap work properly. Yuckus. Ah well. Should eat some dinner. Its been a few days since I had a real meal.
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Todays Slashdot Updates

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  • Yeah. I gots it so my slow-ass connection at work doesn't take a half-century to load.

    Just a question: with all the concentration on Linux, do you (or why don't you) have links to Linux sites (like the documentation project)?

  • by Parys ( 25530 )
    Rob for president!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • slashboxes are those customizable grey boxes on the right side :)
    bye, Frank!
  • I have noticed that I no longer need to hit "Reload" to see which of my messages have been deleted by the moderator ;^D

    Minor nit: After starting a new post, if I hit "Preview" then "Back" and then "Forward" I get a "Data not found" or some such error. Dealing with this change is not a problem though, (simple change of habit) and is probably an unavoidable side-effect of the html auto-update (however the heck that works).

    Overall, the level of craft and thoughtfulness in this site amazes me. Well done!

  • by Beef ( 19842 )
    Can you enhance the page for WebTV?


  • well, i finally got everything configured *just right* now, and it kicks ass.

    there's just one small detail though....
    the polling option "Rob sucks Jello, Hemos is object-oriented, I'm obfuscated!" suddenly disappeared when i reconfig'ed everything today. where did it go, Rob?
  • /. is enhanced for WebTV, but you have to be running WebTV 2.2.3ac7 (anonymous coward 7) or later.
  • I wish there was an option to disable the ad banner. I was using junkbuster, but it was disabling all cookies, so I couldn't log in. I'll just have to reconfigure junkbuster.
  • You are all that, Rob.

    Jason Dufair
    "Those who know don't have the words to tell
  • 1) Make the banner ad load from -
    that stupid thing is so slow to load!

    2) Ability to turn off left navigation left,
    bottom navigation list independently. Also the
    ability to do the no-graphic layout but keep
    the boxes on the right. And when you do the no
    graphic layout, remember you *can* still use
    background table cell colours - there's no need
    for it to be completely devoid of colour!

    3) When clicking on a story, be able to have it
    automatically pop up into a new window, or each
    story pop up into a separate window - check out
    the settings options at to see what that's like - quite nice! Though I'd like the option to pop them up into browsers in the background.

    4) 'Killfile' - ability to ignore comments by individual users. Super low priority, though.

    5) Ability to turn off search box, and the quote at the bottom of the page (individually).

    6) Have poll show up on the right only if you've not voted in it!

    7) Very important - some of us prefer to use the 'older stuff' page as our home slashdot page - it'd be great to have the new features available there, too! Or a version of the 'search page' that is just designed like that, but not designed for searching - ie: just the titles, poster, time, and # of replies.

    8) And how about configurable date formats?
  • I might be a bit out of the loop here, but who is Nate?
  • this guy claims to have been able to insert HTML code into his WebTV emails a full two months before WebTV announced that "premium service" option.

    ulTRAX's WebTV Hacking Archive & Resource Page
  • How about a "slashdot updates" grey box? For thems of us who are addicted, we can see what you're up to, and you don't have to post a full story about it.

    And what about a "Fund Slashdot" box? With links to varesearch (you get a cut, maybe?),,, and, where people can make a contribution to slashdot? Turn on by default, let people turn it off if not interested.

    Great job all. Keep it going.


  • I wish there was an option to disable the ad banner. I was using junkbuster, but it was disabling all cookies, so I couldn't log in. I'll just have to reconfigure junkbuster.

    So how is Rob supposed to keep Slashdot from being Slashdotted then? Hardware is expensive, and VA Research is the only company I know of that will pay to keep an employee who's job consists of updating a non-corporate website.

    Jim Cape []
  • I'd like to see a NNTP server for Slashdot. With a new 'newsgroup' for each article. Something would have to be done to eliminate spam on this. But it would be GREAT to be able to use Agent to read slashdot. We could see all the posts, etc. Have newsgroups automatically expire when not posted to for a week.
  • I think you need a right-side box for
    It rocks. Now if only they would add google to their set of sources...

    Even better would be the ability to have a "search box" that would have one input field and many buttons for each selected search engine.
  • > will pay to keep an employee who's job consists of updating a non-corporate website.

    This isn't Rob you're talking about, is it?
  • Hmmm. Well, now I had written to Rob with a suggestion for a new Slashbox with a button that would just automatically pick the "Rob sucks" selection on whatever the poll happened to be that day. I don't know, but perhaps this is his way of saying "don't count on it"... :-)

    But I agree... the new code is a huge improvement.

  • This is one of the few sites where I accually don't mind the banner at the top. I mean comeon, it doesn't even take that long to load. Hell, I wouldn't mind this site having 2 or 3 ads, its still worth it.
  • Actually, is fine. I know that for a fact because I often use Junkbuster and Netscape still pauses for several seconds on

    The problem is that the MozillaClassic layout engine renders tables rather inefficiently. Since adfu is the last thing to be loaded, it just appears that that site is slow. It's actually not the case. NGLayout fixes this problem. =)

  • I've been thinking of implementing this. If anyone would like to mail me to talk about this, feel free to do so. I have half a T1 of upstream bandwidth, so I can't run some immense newsserver, but I can probably work out some beta solution. If anyone could donate a newsserver on a fast link to this...

    Anyway. Email me for details.

  • You would just end up with idiots trying to get the "Bottom Post" on all the new stories. Moderation might just be a better idea, hopefully Rob implements some decent form of it in the next major /. update.

    My site contains 100% GPL'd source code :)

  • 8) And how about configurable date formats?

    I'm so used to 24-hr clock that I arrogantly think that everyone else should be using it. :) I'm an American who has never been in the military, so I guess I'm just odd. I decided a couple of years ago that it was less ambiguous and use it all the time (hrm, not intended...) now, much to the consternation of people who can't mentally subtract 12 from a number.


  • well after rootin around with /., my palm3 & avantgo (avg) a lot yesterday and last night (bit this morning) I came to the following conclusions,
    • /. lite doesn't cut it for avantgo
      set avg file size (on avg client) to 1.2Mb & isn't still enough space
    • guess I could set stories to less than 10
    • it takes ages to download,sync

    • problems: cant turn off all graphics (adz) therefore avg hotsync times out and leaves nasty broken images
    • turning off all the side bars helps but the LH sidebar remains (pain.i.a.)
    • had to point the avg to my prefs page in order for it to get the lite site..meaning the first page I got was my prefs page (hardly compelling reading)

    • wired's got a site at
    • check out the layout (graphics, text & hyperlinks)

    • specs (style guide) for avg optomiz. can be found at /
    • for /. to avg friendly a lot more optomisation has to be done
    until then I'll be viewing /. if a avg styleguide optomizer could be written..sigh
  • sure...(for avantgo users) but if U go to the wired site, you will see the ad is in text, not a chunky heavy weight graphic.

    it's all a matter of bandwidth. this requires a different mindset.
  • I also just realized - the date format I see is thus: Wednesday March 17, @07:48

    I'd rather see:

    1999-03-17 07:48pm

    Or whatever. Maybe a way to make your own date/time format - that'd rock.
  • If the indexed version of the comments had a bytecount next to each one, you could pick through the really long lists better, and manage to avoid the "me too"s.

  • Great work!
  • Will you be posting the code for this new and improved SlashDot, or is it already up on the site.

    Amen! I had just gotten around to downloading the slash 0.2 script to play with it, and I'd love to see the new and improved stuff.

    You do good work, Rob. Slashdot is quickly becoming one of my favorite sites to read, and now it's also becoming one of my favorite sites to play around with.

    Jay (=
  • Rob almost never deletes posts. What usually happens is that posts which can only serve to start a silly flamewar are given a score of -1 or lower. Since most people have a threshold of 0, this stops silly flame wars from starting.

    For example, right before the news about Bruce's objection to the Apple "open source" license got posted, Slashdot responded to all web pages with an "Internal Server Error" message, then briefly was not accepting HTTP connections at all. So, when slashdot was up again, an anonymous coward posted that the server is flaky.

    I took offense to this, since I do not like seeing Rob's hard work being not appreciated, and posted this message []. Now, since this whole thread had nothing to do with Bruce's approval of Apple's license, somone game my post a score of -1 and the post that started the silly thread [] a score of -3.

    Some may consider this censorship, but it is not. It is merely the powers that be trying to keep the discussion intelligent, and not diverge in to meaningless flame wars. I wish usenet had this level of moderation.

    - Sam

  • I am sure it is tied to the /. servers aswell.
    Use slashv2 even though I have never heard of it working for anyone...I was damn near close once after about two hours of hacking it.
  • Doh how is BSI supposed to make money then? Poor Rob eating KD every day :)
  • avantgo customisation for /. is an inappropriate use of technology. why not just get the headers emailed to you?

    plain text rules! (and sometimes html sucks, sometimes)
  • No timezones! Down with timezones! Use the
    Internet Beat! (I know it started as a cheezy
    marketing scam, but who cares! Time zones suck.)

    GMT is dead. They closed the Royal Observatory.
    The new zero is @000. Who cares where it is?

    (And yes, you can use decimal places, like @322.5
    if you want more accuracy, duh.)
  • Wasn't a problem to install the software for me. Tedious, but CPAN fixes that up. Currently just moved it to too.

    I've been hacking on it since and even made an e-mail -> submission gateway that I sent to Rob in case he was interested.
  • Zoneinfo has a large database of time zone definitions. "zoneinfo timezone" seems to produce good results in search engines.

    Just look in /usr/lib/zoneinfo on your favorite machine. "man tzfile" might have details. There's also an update recently available. (I refuse to mention a URL, as those who are more than merely curious will find it .. and most people are in one timezone with unchanged rules)
  • "The following comments are owned by whoever posted them." it says at the bottom of the page.
  • No, it's not Rob. VAResearch doesn't pay Rob (directly, they pay for advertising) to update websites.
  • by arielb ( 5604 )
    membership does have its privileges. Interesting idea: configurable themes for slashdot?
  • by cout ( 4249 )
    I clicked to move up a level and I got this grey version of one of the articles (as opposed to the good old Slashdot-green). Weird.

    On another note, it's way too easy to click on that 'X' and make something go away.
  • You might want to take a gander at the top of the page as well. Maybe Robs just covering his bases incase someone uhh... finds out how to post at the very bottom?
  • The new zero should be in the same Random location the old one is, cuz otherwise conversion is a bitch, and days don't change at the right time.

    For example, if we used millidays, but keeping the meridian right where it is instead of moving it to some marketing company's headquarters, then you could find out the time as simple as time(NULL) / 86.4, and we could define a new day standard of days since Jan 1 1970, which could be calculated as time(NULL) / 86400, and would simplify date/time arithmetic because then you wouldn't need to convert the day and time into the same format first. So then this post would have been posted at 10668.239IT (239th milliday of the 10668th day)


  • Although it may only take 15minutes to actually put the links up on the site, the real work is in what you *don't* see. Only select items make it to the front page of /.. The real work is identifying which links go up from the hundreds that are submitted each day. There is a lot I imagine below the surface.

    --Simon Edwards
  • Surely by "enhance" you mean "strip down, mutilate and otherwise dumbify", yes?
  • This is because the site is optimized for a Palm Pilot, where there is precious little screen real estate. A banner graphic on a 1200x1024 screen is just as noticable as a small text ad on a Palm Pilot screen.

    Perhaps a different version of the site specifically for things like WebTV and Palm Pilots would be nice to have.

    In theory, with strict HTML and the proper use of stylesheets (something that most browsers lack), you can just define different stylesheets for the different presentation layouts (palm pilots, webTV, normal browsers, printed/hard copy)...
  • Perhaps it would be easiest if a locality was chosen, and things like date/time formats (time zones, etc.) and the like could be determined from that.
  • I think this (was/is?) being looked into by the Slashdot folk. The thought at the time was to turn everything into a NNTP-style back-end, where you could get at the comments and articles without needing to go through the web site.
  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
    This can be done with CSS very easily. It's just a matter of doing the HTML so as to be CSS-friendly and allowing the client to select the style sheet of your choice.
  • by Matt Lee ( 2725 )
    try sticking css stuff in your slashbox. i've been able to really fuck up the appearance of slashdot that way, and i have collapsible bookmark menus in there now too, in addition to wacky javascripts.

    fun fun fun!
  • why not put one more banner ad on the page?
    Personally, I don't mind the banner ads, and one more won't hurt. If you want to see Rob eat steak instead of ramen noodles (and fix his heater), put this [] in your slashbox.
  • Why does 'Weather in Hell' come between B and C? ITWSBT.
  • how about an option where you get to fill in the blank with whoever you think sucks. the polls would actually resemble something of minor interest then, at least to me. as it is now, i just check to see how many people selected "rob sucks, hemos sucks, i suck jello", or whatever...
  • It would be nice if the buttons on the boxes had the explanation of what they were show up in the tooltip. It took me a while to realize the explanation was at the bottom of the browser window. By then, I had figured it out myself.

    Add a box for Redhat news much like their box for slashdot news. slashdot is really a better portal than redhat.
  • by BiGGO ( 15018 )
    What the fsck is this score thing?
    Is there a way to get a higher score than 1?
    What will score give me?
    If I post enough comments, what do I win? ;-)

    Is this just a way to ignore anonymous cowards?

  • There is a box for metacrawler now. Check it out.
  • While it does seem nuts, for some reason the keyword for that box is "brunching". So it's pretty clear that the boxes are sorted in keyword order, not label order. Weird tho.
  • 6) Have poll show up on the right only if you've not voted in it!

    What do you think about having it this way: Once you voted, instead of showing the poll, to show the statistics? Would be neat! I mean, if I'm among the first voters, maybe I'll never find out - how often do you check polls after voting?
  • I'm so tired of assholes with their stupid .sig files. Thank you for allowing them to be ignored...I'll never have to look at retardation like "Drink Pepsi!" again.
  • Everything you did is Good, I like that you bolded the default slashboxes for quick reference, and the lite page is great. Nits? Of course. Is is possible to have a lite page with slashboxes? Also, automagically filling in the URL with http:// kinda looks sucky when the user doesn't enter something for that preference. I delete the http:// everytime I update my preferences but it keeps coming back.
  • In lite mode, JenniCam could display at 320*240...
  • I think the customization features are great, but I too have a few suggestions.

    First, when turning display of icons off, this should include the icons to the right of the masthead (the whole point for turning them off, to me, is to avoid downloading all those graphics, if I'm going to have to download them for the masthead anyway, and they are therefore in my cache, I might as well display them).

    Also, I like the way some of the slashbox titles are links and think you should take advantage of this and, at the same time, increase the standarization of the layout by having some of the other slashbox titles be links. Some suggestions would be to have the poll slashbox title link to have the older stuff slashbox title link to have the user slashbox link to and etc.
    • true, and an optomised site could just grab the text description by grabbing the alt

    • param in the img tag, alt="bar"> for instance.

      thus not having to make any changes. use of style sheets is a good idea, must have a look for palm optomised ones.
  • Congrats, Rob, you've really made Slashdot a one-stop site for nerd news! My favorite feature is the one that lets you filter out postings you don't like, followed by the customized Slashdot homepage.
  • That's a great idea. But then after you've seen the stats for awhile, I think it'd be great to have a link on the box to 'Turn off until new poll'.

    I wonder if Rob is reading this stuff...
  • how bout an option to launch pages in a different window. i know you can do this by right clicking and chosing open in new window but the less mouse clicks the better. and i hate back buttons.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!