How broken is Samsung UK support?

This is how broken:

  • There are two “types” of requests, both of which link to the same page. This wastes customers’ time.
  • Can’t find my hardware by browsing or searching for the model. I tried three different ones – the long name from the order, the short name from the shop, and the name that shows up in the “about” screen on the device itself.
  • After continuing with the wrong model, I had to fill in my contact details even though I had already registered them.
  • When I tried to submit the form I got a “Tried to send data without session.” error. Resubmitting didn’t work.
  • Intermission: at this point I tried to use the built-in support request functionality on the device itself. After filling in the forms using arrow keys (and reminiscing about the NES days), I was simply told that all available support slots were taken. At this point I could no longer progress in the form. Fuck.
  • Re-opening the form in another tab did work. The experience so far did not exactly inspire confidence, but I still hope someone will reply.
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Why I still contribute to Stack Overflow

This is in response to Michael T. Richter’s excellent critique of Stack Overflow. While I share some of the concerns for the problems mentioned there, I don’t believe they are quite as detrimental to the quality of the site as he appears to.

From the article:

I’m not a Java programmer. I’ve only ever briefly programmed in Java professionally. I hated the experience and I hate the language. I certainly don’t consider myself a Java expert. Yet I managed to get the bulk of my points from Java. How is this possible?

It’s possible because I did what many of the people whose questions I answered (and got points for) should have done for themselves: I saw a simple Java question, hit Google, read briefly, then synthesized an original answer.

This is what I read:

I know Java well enough to have used it professionally. Considering the recent explosion of access to computers and the Internet, the vast numbers of students and hobbyists who only ever touch on Java very briefly to solve a highly specific problem, the low level of entry relative to most other languages, the tiny amount of people who end up specialising in Java rather than any other languages in existence, and the fact that the language hasn’t been around long enough for there to be large amounts of people with many decades of experience, that single point probably makes me more knowledgeable than 90% of Stack Overflow users in Java.

I freely admit that I do pay attention to the points. They are the best way I have to figure out if I am actually getting better at submitting useful questions and answers. People’s motivation for answering doesn’t matter one jot to me if they write interesting or useful on-topic content. How could it? Such content is completely off topic, and would be edited out like the plague.

There’s room for improvement (and I wouldn’t even say “obviously”, like for so many other sites), but SO/SE is still miles ahead of anything we’ve ever had. It’s the Google of Q&A sites: Terrible for super specific issues (which are likely to be closed since they are not interesting to anyone but the author), but awesome for the rest.

Much of the rest of the article seems to be simply a complete lack of faith in other human beings. For example:

  • “If you’re going for points (and that’s the entire raison d’ĂȘtre for gamification!), are you going to waste time like that for 60 points when you could fit in a dozen 460-point answers? Of course not! You’re going to go wherever the points are, And the points are the low-hanging fruit of trivial questions from popular languages.” I personally think the Stack Overflow answer rate is plenty proof that lots of that people are willing to help even when the answer is likely to get very few votes.
  • “There’s an old clichĂ© in English: give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. StackOverflow is filled to the brim with people giving fishes.” After using other web sites which were much more geared to fish donations (almost every linear forum, IRC channel and mailing list I ever used) I find it refreshing that adding links to more resources (even on other people’s posts), where people can learn how to fish, is extremely easy on Stack Overflow. I use this feature extensively, having far too many times googled a problem only to find a tip in a random forum reply with absolutely no rationale or link to more information. This is something which could possibly be pushed even more by the SO system, but it’s already very good.

And finally, the end paragraph: “How about learning?” Great! “You know, that thing that puts information in your head that you can apply later at need.”“Use Google.” About 30 times a day, and usually the best result is on Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange. “Use Wikipedia (if you must).” Except it’s pretty terrible to learn about practical software development or actual development issues. “Use RosettaCode for code examples.” Impressive collection, but I don’t think it’s very relevant for real-world development or easily searchable. And the MediaWiki editor is a pain compared to SO. “Engage with other users of the tools you use in the form of user groups, mailing lists, web forums, etc.” Vastly inferior technology to solve the exact same problem. No thanks. “Learn foundational principles instead of answers to immediate questions.” Stack Overflow is a Q&A site, not a substitute for work experience or college degrees.

Facebook won’t work with NoScript extension

Looks like they’re doing something retarded when detecting NoScript: Some links (for example, other people’s profiles) have an extra ?_fb_noscript=1 at the end, and the page includes a <meta http-equiv=refresh content="0; URL=/people/JohnDoe/12345678?_fb_noscript=1" />, which results in an endless loop of reloading the same page :/

TED.com bloat

If you’re a TED.com user, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed the slow page loads compared to … Well, just about any other site out there. I’ve sent some feedback (below), and I’m hoping you’ll help out as well by suggesting general and specific improvements.

Hello,

While your web site is some of the best content collections I’ve ever come across, the style sheets / scripts are so huge as to require the full attention of a Pentium IV 3 GHz CPU for several seconds for every page displayed. 122 KB of CSS and 259 KB of JavaScript is massive, even today.

As a first fix, I’d suggest to use some of the online tools to compress CSS and JavaScript. Also, with 8 years of web development behind me (3 professionally), I’m confident that you can reduce the amount an order of magnitude without losing the overall look and feel of the site.

Thank you for your time and magnificent content!

PS: I’ve asked for feedback, and I’ll post it here if I receive any.

Digg 3.0 problems

After using Digg for a few months, I’m hooked. So hooked, in fact, that the following problems have been ignored until Digg 3.0 made them almost insufferable. For the record, I exclusively read the “All Recently Popular” RSS feed via Bloglines in Firefox 1.5.0.4 on Windows XP SP2, on a dual 2.8 GHz PC with 512 MB RAM, with a 10 Mbps line.

Load speed

It often takes several seconds for a story to load. This is very annoying, since the browser locks up completely during that interval. Of course, all that JavaScript takes a while to process, but not everyone goes to Digg for the comments. It would be nice to be able to set up my Digg account (or have separate RSS feeds) to disable JavaScript.

Login

This is the only feature of Digg I absolutely loathe. Especially the fact that I seem to have to login once for each section. Opening 30+ stories at the same time, it’s hard to see which ones are not logged in. And if several tabs are logged out, all but the last story are “lost” – All of them will load the same page (the last one which was logged out) when I log in. Re-reading 150-200 links is not my idea of fun…

The “popular” limit

Digg has grown a lot, and the RSS feed of popular items fills up faster than a Coke bottle with mentos. Nowadays, it seems about 150-200 articles per day end up in this list, and the quality goes down as a smaller percentage of users Digg each “popular” article. The obvious solution is to make the “popular” limit higher or user controllable. Here are some options:

  • Percentage of user count
  • Percentage of active users, for some definition of “active”
  • Some other function of [active] users
  • User-controllable feed, using parameters to control any settings
  • Separate “Very popular” list

No direct link

For some stories, the comments are not interesting, and it would be preferable to go directly from the RSS feed to the page in question. It would therefore be nice if you could include the direct link in the feed (or a redirect), perhaps the same way Reddit does. Incidentally, this would fix the login and load speed problems as well…