Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dice.com did it right. I need more light.

I promise you this won't be technical.


More "functional" - or the Way things work instead of What You Do To Get them to work.

A while back, I posted a detailed series of articles about the website www.dice.com when they made some changes to their website.  Many of them were picked up by Dice and used, some were not.  My observations were a little flawed since I aggressively block advertisements on websites.  When I'm working to find a Project Management Job, I don't want some blinky or otherwise distracting piece of "graphics" slowing me down.  I've been online long enough to remember what the web was like before they started putting ads in web pages, and for the most part, that is my experience when I surf - I simply do not have time for that when I spend three hours a day looking for work.

Yes, three hours a day, every day, average, every SINGLE day of the year.  Add to that the actual time that I spend applying to jobs and it is well over a full time job of more than 40 hours a week.

I use Dice heavily, and it probably is the first one I hit every morning.

When you go to a page that you use frequently you have times where you have to change your information.  There are ways to protect that sign on, but the most widely known and used ones are called a "Captcha".  They're supposed to captcha the computers and let the humans do their thing.  It usually is text but it's in weird fonts or colors and it makes it hard for a computer to scan. 

It also makes life tough for people.  The ones on Google Sites are the worst.  I have a lot of trouble guessing if "this" blob is a "cl" or a "d" because they're so twisted around.  A quick jump to this link will show you what I'm talking about.  Just look at the picture and I'll wait for you to groan "Oh God Those Things".

Welcome back...

Dice had a system of around six different number strings in pictures so they couldn't be scanned and it was stable - which is to say repetitious.  "MrVies" was one of them.  I have a theory that he was a farmer down the road from the folks out in Iowa that produce this website but I can't really be sure.

I'm assuming they, Dice, knew this and realized something had to be done because it changed.

For the better.

You see instead of putting up an almost unintelligeable blue blob next to another, they went to something simple.

Well crafted questions in ... GASP!... Clear Text.   You know, like you're reading now!  The same size as any other text on your screen that you can make larger or smaller, copy and paste and so forth.

Oooo Text.

Repeat after me... "Oooo Text!"!

Ok so where's the rub?

It isn't with the website this time.  The problem is in what I heard described recently as the "Organic Biological Computing Interface".  Yes, you guessed it, it's that 224 pound slab of semi conscious meat that sits under the computer. 


Yours truly.

Yes, I'm a bit stubborn.  At 645 in the morning when I start, I'm also not completely awake.

Sure, I'm a morning person but even I have my limits.  The breakfast hasn't boosted my blood sugar levels to "awake" nor has the little weak computing chip that I call my brain warmed up enough with some prime home roasted coffee and its subsequent jolt of caffeine induced energy.

In other words, yeah I'm half asleep when I start.

It's also not quite sunrise yet and these homes in Florida are built to shade you from direct sunlight.  At that time of day, you frequently need to turn on the brass Orient Express lamp that you gave Mom back in the 1980s as a present and shed some light on the deal.

So as you are looking at a Clear! Text! question like "Enter the number twenty three thousand five hundred and thirty in digits" you are also running into a problem.  Where the heck is that number five on the darkened keyboard???

It also exposed a little problem, I got a little "ferhuddled" as they say in Lancaster County, PA.  I'd swap digits back and forth while I am going through my morning dyslexia and get it wrong.

Three or four times.

That is until I get off my duff and semi-close the lid to the laptop to shed enough light on the matter.

Score:  Dice.Com 1, Moose 0

Yep, I'm satisfied, and laughing at myself yet again.   I do a lot of that.

So if you're listening Dice.com here's a little Technical thought for you (You see I lied, but only a little bit, about that functional stuff!).

If the website was done correctly, you should have all these captchas stored in a database.  You should have an internal web page to add new questions as you think them up and delete out old ones that are stale, or just leave them in the database to cycle through.   All in all it's a good solution that you came up with.

And no, I don't really need access to that database. Although... hmmmm think of the power!  WOO HOO!

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