User talk:Ahasuerus/Archive/2013

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Collision Course cover artist credit

User:Welshgriffin has added a cover artist credit based on an email exchange with the artist and the artist's agent to your verified Collision Course. --MartyD 12:13, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Got it, thanks! Ahasuerus 20:44, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

The Brain-Stealers

Found a 'signature' on the cover of [this]. Added the artist and edited the notes. Cheers! --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:14, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Your 'other' page is now into its' 42nd printing! Movie rights have been sold ... for a trilogy!! ;-)) --~ Bill, Bluesman 21:14, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

I know :-( Unfortunately, although my super-efficient storage system (~850 books per bookcase) lets me store well over 20,000 volumes in a limited amount of space, it's not designed for quick retrieval. Thus every cross-verification takes a fair amount of time, which can be (arguably) better spent on development... Ahasuerus 02:36, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
I know the feeling. I really must post a photo of bedroom two with a caption that says "if you want me to recheck a pub, please tell me which of the boxes in which of the piles I can find it". Unfortunately I let my Dad label the boxes in his own weird way, and the people that helped me move didn't even keep them in that order. Even worse, the camera I need to take that photo is in one of the boxes.... :-( BLongley 18:12, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

Schizophrenic server

With the hand injury [stitches out today!!!] and little else to do I find myself on the db in 'different' hours than normal [as if we know what that is ....]. The performance of the server is utterly weird, from split-second response to as much as 4-5 minutes for a page to load. Not consistent, quite irrational [not so far-fetched as we KNOW the AI is watching] .... and extremely annoying. Any time past midnight [my time ... 2 am yours] is a crap-shoot. Any logic to this?? [the performance, not me ... that defies ....] --~ Bill, Bluesman 09:00, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

this note took 5 minutes to load ....--~ Bill, Bluesman 09:05, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, we share the underlying hardware with other applications, which we have no control over. When they do "their thing" overnight (backups or what have you) they slow us down as well, sometimes a little and other times a lot. In addition, there are bots from Google, Yahoo and so on which scan our database every so often and that can degrade performance as well. I need to review our logs to see when we get hit and see if I need to modify our bot rules to minimize the impact. Ahasuerus 16:22, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I think there are things a user can do which unintentionally overload our own part of the server - e.g. a search for "the" is legitimate but unwise. We probably need to add some debugging info to almost all scripts to pin down all the problems, but hey, we've got plenty of developers now haven't we? (So long as you count "one, two, many, lots...".) BLongley 17:57, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, it depends. A simple search like "select count(*) from titles where title_title like '%the%'" takes less than a second on my development server, but if you combine it with "AND canonical_author like '%a%'" (see Advanced Search for the way we currently build the query), it takes 17 seconds to complete. There is a way to log all SQL queries that take longer than N seconds to execute and I need to poke around to see whether (and where) this information is currently captured.
Also, some operations can be resource-consuming even when a user doesn't do anything unusual, e.g. Find Duplicates for Asimov's biblio has to compare roughly 2,500 titles with themselves. That is bad enough in itself, but then we just recently added an extra check for co-authors, so the logic has to execute an extra query for each iteration -- there is a FR to improve its performance. Ahasuerus 19:07, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

"Add New Data" Feature Request

On the search results page, could the "Add New Data" link box be added on the left? After I've searched on several variations to ensure a publication isn't present, it would be nice not to have to click to another page to access those links. Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 13:55, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

Done! Ahasuerus 16:56, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Wow! That was quick. Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 18:11, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
I am here to serve man! :) Ahasuerus 18:58, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Man? I wanted Coq au Vin actually. Still, it's amazing how productive you can be when you break all the development process rules. It looks like one more patch and I'll be free to submit my own chaos again though - mwa hah hah! BLongley 18:03, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Oh no, I didn't have to break any rules to add the functionality requested by JLaTondre. It just happened to be a simple self-contained change, which was easy to test and had no impact on anything else. Ahasuerus 19:11, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
I stand (well, sit) corrected. I thought we started with the requester opening an FR on Sourceforge rather than asking a developer directly, for instance. BLongley 21:25, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but there is nothing preventing me from creating a new FR (in this case FR 3600741) on behalf of the requester :) For some reason many folks seem reluctant to create FRs on SourceForge, so I often end up doing it for them. Ahasuerus 22:16, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
I've just told one of our newer editors where to find the process - she'd heard about FRs but couldn't find the Help page that covered it. I struggled myself in fact, but it seems my wiki-searching is improving slightly. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
But as our benevolent despot I guess you have your own set of rules. (This is not a complaint, long may you rule over us!) BLongley 21:25, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Can I be a benevolent bureaucrat instead? It sounds so much better than a benevolent dictator, much less a benevolent despot! Ahasuerus 22:16, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Sure - we can't stop you from calling yourself whatever you want. I do think you're benevolent, but frankly I don't see you as much of a bureaucrat. That implies all sorts of red tape and ISO certifications and regular auditing and suchlike, which I just don't see here (and frankly don't want to, you might suddenly stop all the useful stuff and concentrate on complying with the new European rules on gaining acceptance of the use of Cookies, for instance). I'm sure there's a happy medium to be found though. "Benevolent Guru of most things ISFDB-related"? BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
I am not much of a guru, I am afraid. My knowledge of Python leaves a great deal to be desired and as far as the MediaWiki stuff goes, well, let's just say that I know more about it than a blind kitten, but not by much. However, much of what I do here is rather bureaucratic in nature: performing daily backups, supervising monthly Fixer runs, following carefully documented processes for software installation, etc.
Anyway, it's my turn to go get some sleep; I will try to respond to the rest of your questions tomorrow. One parting thought, though. As you mentioned earlier, your change of medications has made you "hyper". It won't harm ISFDB, but you may want to be extra careful while driving and operating any kind of machinery. Many years ago I changed medications and, unbeknownst to me, the new one had an unfortunate side effect: vertigo. It turned out that driving while suffering from vertigo wasn't as much fun as one might think. Ahasuerus 06:39, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Don't worry on that account - I've self-imposed a driving ban on myself, and operate no machinery worse than a tin-opener! I see a doctor again in about 9 hours. maybe he'll cure me. BLongley 23:35, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps, that set of links would be just as helpful on the Advanced Search results page? Mhhutchins 20:50, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
90% of the ISFDB software is split (somewhat awkwardly) into 4 separate section: Biblio (display pages), Edit (editor pages), Mod (moderator pages) and Common (the core components of the software shared by all other areas). The Advanced Search results pages are in the Edit section -- for no good reason that I can think of -- which do not display the "Add New Data" submenu.
The question then is: Do we want to display the "Add New Data" submenu on all Edit (and Mod?) pages? Or just the Advanced Search pages? Ahasuerus 21:05, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
This is one of the big gaps in our development process, IMNSHO. Someone requests a feature or reports a bug, if a developer agrees then it gets done, and if you approve it goes in. There is no real discussion about whether it's a good idea or not. I've tried to add this step in the past - e.g. "Sourcing made simple" got a lot of feedback but it's so long ago I can't even remember where the discussion is! I think I've got about half a dozen improvements that I coded and tested and posted for discussion, but it's been so long I can't recall what they all were and would need to revisit them again to see if they still work. BLongley 21:36, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Most of our Bugs and FRs are fairly minor and many others are pretty straightforward. For example, we have a number of FRs to add standard fields (Notes/Wikipedia/Web page, etc) to certain record types like Series; I doubt anyone would object to that. Some other FRs are technical in nature or required to support Fixer (e.g. adding support for external identifiers like LCCNs and ASINs) and so on. Ahasuerus 21:05, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
We do have a lot of low-hanging fruit again, but as mentioned elsewhere (and I'm afraid I've already forgotten where elsewhere it is), these are ideal opportunities for new developers. They're of little interest to me now, I want to move up my coding skills a little. Or just retire and teach new developers and testers, or improve/write documentation - another new FR could be a "Top Documenter/Top Help-Page writer"! BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Now, when a proposed change has to do with the software's functional behavior and it's not clear whether the new way is better than the old way, it gets posted/discussed on the Community Portal, but that only happens once every few months. If the consensus is that it is a good idea -- or, more often than not, we say "Oh yes, we have talked about this before, but no one has created an FR for it" -- then an FR gets created. Ahasuerus 21:05, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Logged FRs and Bug Reports are good things, agreed. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Once an FR has been created, it gets prioritized, which is not very well documented at the moment. Ahasuerus 21:05, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
That's a huge understatement! Even after all my use of Sourceforge, I don't know whether the priority is 1=Highest or 9=Highest. Everything seems to be level 5. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
9 = very high priority, 1 - very low priority. Ahasuerus 23:11, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
As I mentioned late last year, my current priorities are as follows:
  • Clean up language support -- almost there, needs another round of changes
  • Clean up award editing and open it up to the public -- getting there
  • Fix any major outstanding bugs -- probably about a dozen remain after the last round of bug-icide late last year
  • Clean up the biblio display code, consolidate libraries, eliminate direct database access, convert everything to OO, etc -- it will take a while, but it really needs to be done before we can make further changes. There is so much junk in the code that it's amazing that it runs without causing serious problems. Ahasuerus 21:05, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, it's a miracle we still work at all, IMO. I slightly disagree with your priorities: I don't think language support is "almost there" - we should make all the help available in the most-favoured languages, or at least make the field-names available in a user's preferred language. (Which reminds me, I haven't noticed any response to us letting users select their default language - can you tell if people are actually using it? I really thought people like Hervé, Willem, Dirk etc would jump for joy when that went in.) BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Of the 61 people who have set up User Preferences, 2 are using a language other than English as their default. Ahasuerus 23:21, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
I was talking to GRRM earlier today when he announced that his books are now coming out in two more languages, and realised we may not support them yet. Maybe we do and have it under the wrong name: e.g. he said one was Persian/Farsi and I don't know if we have it under either name. (I also asked him if he'd got any books done into Klingon yet, so I may have opened another can of Gagh!) BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
"Persian" is currently supported. "Klingon" is not, but it would be trivial to add more languages to the list. Ahasuerus 23:13, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
In fact, I keep using english as my default language as, probably by a short margin (let's say 7000 to 6000, and add 1 each in spanish and german :-)), the majority of my books and magazines are in english. Also the new really "international" feel of the ISFDB is very pleasing and I'm always amazed by the array of SF books avaliable in diverse languages. Hauck 09:48, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the new look is very nice, although we still need to implement a few enhancements. Ahasuerus 23:21, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
But don't think that I don't appreciate all the work that went behind the scene. Hauck 09:48, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the thanks! There have been times where I've felt that we Developers/Testers/Implementers are being taken for granted. :-( We don't do this for the money (of which there is none coming our way - in fact, Ahasuerus is constantly LOSING money on our behalf), BLongley 11:28, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, although not as much as before. Al took over server fees late last year while I continue to pay for the backups. Which reminds me that we need to upload our backup files to the Internet Archive's Open Library project page. Ahasuerus 23:42, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
or the fame (I challenge you to name 10 ISFDB developers), we (IMNSHO) do this for the good of the project, or as good practice on improving our software development skills. (I've not coded for money for almost three years now, ISFDB is the only thing that keeps me even vaguely active in the 'career' that I've followed for over 30 years.) BLongley 11:28, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Award editing is nowhere near ready for beginner users yet. I know award TYPES are getting there but I understand you want to keep that bureaucrat-only for now. But award LEVELS are still a mess, unless you've been working on those in secret. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, we still need to improve a number of areas. Levels have to be reconsidered as discussed earlier -- the field is currently badly overloaded and much of the logic needed to deal with the overload is kept in the code in the form of if-then-else statements (in multiple places too.) Bad stuff all around. Ahasuerus 23:25, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
"Fix any major outstanding bugs" is an agreed priority though. But if it's such a high priority why did you take so long to fix the unmerge bug I introduced? BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
I tried testing it a few times, but I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the logic for some reason. It took a concerted brainstorming session to figure out what was going on, come up with test cases, etc. Ahasuerus 23:31, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
(That reminds me - "Unmerge Foreign Titles" was something I threw out for discussion last year, and was favourably received - now that the code that was based on has been fixed, can I submit that as a new high-priority FR? The work has been done, and it really does make life a lot easier for our non-English editors that have to do this in four or five steps rather than the one or two my solution would mean.) BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, just because a new feature has been coded doesn't (always) mean that it's ready to be released. A lot of testing is often required and sometimes I end up rewriting a significant part of the code as happened in June 2011 with language support and in January 2013 with award editing. As you mentioned the last time we talked about this, you are still learning the application and I am not exactly a guru either (see above.) Ahasuerus 23:31, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Finally, your fourth point is where I think you risk losing support. We've not got many experts in biblio displays - I know I daren't go there except for the simplest of fixes. I understand the desire to consolidate libraries, and might be able to help, but there's little or no obvious benefit to most users - unless we do get a performance improvement along with it. (Would we?) BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
No, not really. However, we need to do it in order to make the code more maintainable. It would be dangerous to continue piling up new features when the foundations are in trouble. You end up with a house of cards and eventually the whole business collapses. For starters, code duplication is no longer acceptable in newly developed code and I eliminate it during the review/testing process. Ahasuerus 23:49, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
"Eliminate direct database access" would indeed make us more portable but I don't really see much desire to do that - unless we go for the "create a version that works well on mobile phones/PDAs/Ipods/etc", which would be hugely desirable, IMO, but is a huge amount of work. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, ISFDB is already accessible on mobile devices -- I accessed it using a Blackberry a while back -- but eliminating direct database access needs to be done in order to enforce separation of concerns, a basic CS concept. Ahasuerus 23:49, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
"Convert everything to OO" is really where you lose me. After three decades of being paid for IT work, I understand that this has become one of the most popular and stable ideas I've ever seen. I just don't get it: whenever I've had to work on OO code I think "I could do that so much simply in one of the older 20 languages I've used". I've been forced to write two Java modules from scratch in my life and hated it - and wouldn't know where to begin with a new OO Python module. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it's an all too common story. IT is a fast changing field and every new paradigm shift has people saying "But.. but... I can do it so much faster the old way!" I saw it when modularization became big (locally scoped variables! imagine that!), when we moved from hierarchical databases to relational ones and then again with the shift to OO.
However, in the case of ISFDB the OO train left the station back in 2005 when Al started using classes and methods in the ISFDB 2.0 code. They are widely used in the /edit and /mod areas and you have already dealt with them, although perhaps without realizing exactly what you were being exposed to. So congratulations, you can now add OO development to your resume! :-)
That said, OO can be a rather painful paradigm shift, as I remember all too well, and nobody is getting any younger. You may want to start by reading the following snippet on Wikipedia, it contains a table summarizing the differences between OO and procedural programming. On the plus side, think of the boost to your marketable development skills! Ahasuerus 23:57, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
I really believe we should assemble as many coders/testers as we can first, then let them put their heads together and decide which way forward keeps the most human resources available. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, if we could find full time developers and testers, it would likely work out well in the long run, but I am not sure where to look.
Part time developers, on the other hand, are a mixed blessing on a project this size since gaps between "periods of involvement" make it hard for most people (unless they are VERY good) to become really familiar with the application and all its quirks. It wasn't until I retired and started spending most of my time on development that the rest of the pieces finally fell into place. And, of course, dealing with half less than 100% baked code consumes a lot of resources that could be better spent on development. Ahasuerus 00:18, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't care if the way forward means I'm made obsolete as a coder, I reckon I'd still be useful as a consultant of sorts. Especially as there seems to be few proposals to change the underlying database and SQL access to it - SQL is the thing I'm probably best at, I've been using it for over two decades and have few qualms about learning a new variety if necessary - I started with DB2, moved to Oracle, then Sybase, then back to hierarchical databases for a while, then onto a new version of DB2, and have worked on five more versions of Oracle, two more of DB2, and been forced into Microsoft SQL-Server and even MS-Access. MySQL was a doddle after all that, although I appreciate we're a bit out of date on our version and we should address that. (Or maybe move to something else, now that Oracle have bought MySQL. I don't mind taking a stab at Ingres or Postgres or whatever else is still truly open source. (If that's one of our principles? I'm not sure what they are nowadays, I don't think we're even clear on what version of Creative Commons license we work under, and the tools we thank on some wiki page I can't recall are well out of date.) BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't think changing from MySQL to another database is something that we have seriously considered. However, putting all SQL code into one library (see above) will make the application more portable in case we ever decide to migrate. Ahasuerus 00:22, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
So with that in mind, would you like to review the list of outstanding bugs on SourceForge and see which one(s) you'd like to tackle while I am finishing awards and language support? Ahasuerus 22:43, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll have a look when I get my "new" PC up to developer standard (this one is dying and is so old that I'm pretty sure it started out as a Windows 98 machine). But as I say, I think more developers would be a good starting point and I may end up teaching a new developer or two the processes (while I still understand them, that is) instead - would that be OK with you? BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)
P.S. The "Sourcing made simple" discussion can be found on this page. Ahasuerus 22:48, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! I'll review it and see if I can resurrect the ideas/code I put into it. If you're willing to pursue it, of course: I think Michael Hutchins really would like that ASAP though. BLongley 06:36, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Armchair Fiction

I think we had some of their first works submitted automatically, but more recently they're not being picked up and it's only when I get an email from Greg Luce that I'm prompted to do them manually. Is Fixer not finding them, or just not submitting them for some reason? They're actually rather hard work and having Fixer start it would save some time. I finally got round to working on an email from Greg from 20th November last year, and it's taken up half the afternoon to look at 15 titles. (Still got two I can't track down at all on Amazon.) As a mostly reprinting business there are a lot of merges to do, almost everything they publish is in a publication series, and we should really take their cover pictures which show both sides of the book rather than the Amazon ones. I know Fixer can't handle most of those extra bits, but making a start would be a great help. (Disclaimer - Greg sent me 4 books for free after my first set of edits for that publisher: but there's no promise that I'll ever receive any more, I'm doing them because they're quite interesting titles.) BLongley 18:31, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up, I have submitted and approved/massaged the rest of their recent pubs.
Unfortunately, we have a problem with many smaller publishers. The big boys send their pre-publication information to Amazon months ahead of time, so when Fixer goes out and grabs the data for the last 3 months and for the next 3 months, he finds everything announced by the Tors and the Orbits of this world. However, the (relatively) small fry like Armchair Fiction may not have their books listed on Amazon until they have been published or even later. The result is that they get put into Fixer's vast queue of "old stuff" and may not be submitted until much (much!) later. For example, here are the month buckets in Fixer's internal queue for 2012 and 2013:
Month  1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10    11    12
2012  603   642   854   818   895   643   649   748   1010  966   869   713
2013  213   71    455   529   499   359   385   276   121   69    25
As you can see, there is a bunch of stuff queued up for March 2013 and beyond, which makes sense because I haven't processed 90% of Fixer's catch for March yet. February is low because everything has been processed and the remaining 71 ISBNs are not ready for submission for one reason or another, e.g. the book may not have a cover scan, which indicates likely delayed publication. On the other hand, look at January 2013 and especially October-December 2012. At one point they had as few ISBNs as February 2013 does now, but look how much they have grown because of Amazon's back-filling various lacunae!
Now, the good news is that most of the filled gaps contain minor self-published books that are low priority for us. The bad news is that people like Greg Luce get lost in the shuffle :(
I am working on improving Fixer right now and I will be posting an announcement on the Moderator page shortly - stay tuned! :) Ahasuerus 07:56, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the help and such a detailed response! BLongley 08:38, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
Disclaimer 2: Greg is pleased with the recent help and has promised me another bunch of freebies - unspecified number or date of despatch. These would probably more deservingly go to you. (If you are finding time to actually READ books.) Obviously, I can't redirect them without your help - even after 6 years here, I don't know your real name and have only recently narrowed down your snail-mail address to half a continent! BLongley 01:58, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
It's nice of Greg to offer to send his books to us, but they will probably do more good if sent to another person. I have the original pulps, so I can always read the stories there. (Although I do need to get that part of my collection better organized.) Ahasuerus 03:29, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm not asking you to reveal your secret identity, but can you think of a deserving editor/moderator/developer that might be better-placed to receive such goods? (I'm trying to REDUCE the number of books I own. I'm failing, but not too badly - I tend to leave the house with about 10 bags of donations per week, and only return with about 8!) BLongley 01:58, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
I am afraid I can't think of an algorithm to determine who is more "deserving" in this context. In general I have found that attempts to distribute freebies to selected members of an all volunteer team can backfire, sometimes badly. Ahasuerus 03:29, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, we could always base it on one of our "TOP" categories - but which one? Michael Hutchins comes to mind as first option, but if we go by Award editing Darrah Chavey is a good candidate. Let me sleep on this. BLongley 03:58, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Sleeping is always good! Ahasuerus 04:19, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Just had about four hours and I agree, it's a good idea! I hope to hibernate for a bit while it's still sub-zero here. Next step - actually EAT enough to do so. BLongley 08:40, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
One thing to note in passing is that whoever ends up getting the books (if this comes to pass), it will be just between Greg Luce, you and the recipient. At this time there is no mechanism for donating books to ISFDB as a whole, much less divvying them up, so all transactions have to be between individuals without involving ISFDB as an entity. Material remuneration can very easily destroy an all-volunteer effort, so we have to be extra careful with these matters. Ahasuerus 04:19, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Question: Do you also find it ironic that at the same time as I'm discussing the proper disposal of a handful of books (I've received four from Greg, no idea how many he intends to send this time), another user is discussing the donation of literally HUNDREDS of books due to downsizing? BLongley 08:46, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Ironic? Hardly. It's the law of conservation of speculative fiction in action! Ahasuerus 06:28, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
I guess that law does apply to some of us. Not all though - see the number of Primary (Transient) verifications. Strangely, libraries are not always preservers, especially of paperbacks - I've been told that there's an average of 6 loans before they consider the book no longer fit for purpose. :-/ BLongley 07:30, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, most libraries have a limited amount of shelf space, so books that are not checked out by the public -- or even checked out infrequently -- have to be disposed of to make room for new books. Of course, there is also tear and wear. I have seen mass market paperbacks that had been checked out only 3-4 times and yet they were on the verge of falling apart. Also, some books become obsolete in a year or two, e.g. price guides. Ahasuerus 23:06, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Oh, Benevolent Guru of most things ISFDB-related...

... it seems that I've forgotten our email addresses - you know, the generic ones that go to all Mods that opted in, or all Developers. When you find time can you remind us what they all are? Preferably by putting it on a wiki-page that's actually going to be read a lot, and yet not be archived into obscurity within a few months. It seems Michael Hutchins didn't even know we had such things. (But he probably doesn't even know where to go when the ISFDB is unavailable - hang on, that's another thing I've forgotten! :-/ What's the web-page? I think I had it bookmarked, but that was on the last computer....) BLongley 02:27, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

That email address is "" and the other web-page is But this is not what I was talking about. We need a way to communicate with users, not each other. Mhhutchins 02:35, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Sorry Michael, for implying you didn't have that much technical know-how. I can't really assess you as a worker here at times - you are obviously our top contributor, and our top moderator, but you claim to be a total non-developer even though you come out with some brilliant suggestions for such at times. And you confess to not knowing much about award-editing for instance. Does that explain why I sometimes underestimate you? BLongley 03:19, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
It's a little known fact that "Michael H. Hutchins" is a joint pseudonym used by Linus Torvalds and Guido van Rossum. Ahasuerus 03:45, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
That explains a lot, if he's actually two people! No wonder he reaches top position so easily in so many "TOP" lists. Which reminds me that I'm actually two people as well - there's still some verifications and edits made when I was "BillLongley" rather than "Blongley". BLongley 08:54, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
There's a Sourceforge generic email address too, for developers, that I can't recall. (I should do, that accounts for most of my emails, when I get round to checking my old email account - Ahasuerus has been very active recently.) And there's problems with web-pages - Google still seems to throw up some of our old hosts as possible alternatives, and I don't know how to get them to stop pointing at a dead site. BLongley 03:12, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
I think I now get your point about "communicate with users" - obviously it needs to start with them contacting US, but how we contact them BACK is still very open to question. We could give them loads of options, but do we have people to cover responses? E.g. if we made it easier for a non-logged-in user to contact us by email, but they requested a response via Twitter, I certainly wouldn't attempt to be THAT helpful! BLongley 03:12, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, folks, I am having Internet connectivity problems today. I will response on the other pages when things are stable again. Ahasuerus 03:16, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Is Sourceforge the right place to request WIKI Page changes?

I ask because I've just noticed that while the DB links to the Wiki fairly easily, the Wiki doesn't link to the DB half as well. It's an undocumented hyperlink. BLongley 09:08, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Good point, I have changed the link to the unqualified domain name. Ahasuerus 16:53, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! BLongley 17:49, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

And IIRC, our Sourceforge set-up doesn't have categories for Wiki improvements, even if we documented how to use it a bit better (another example of one of our weaknesses on the Dark Wiki side of our force. BLongley 09:08, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

There are a few SourceForge FRs/Bugs that request improvements in the way the main database and the Wiki are integrated. I see them as low priority because much of the data currently stored in the Wiki will be migrated to the database proper in the foreseeable future (as previously discussed), at which point the FRs will become moot. Ahasuerus 16:53, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, I can't foresee us forsaking the Wiki for the database alone. Unless you have some really impressive thoughts, like making all our Help pages accessible according to User Preferences for language(s)? But there's definitely a lot of small improvements to be made - e.g. one constant niggling problem is the fact that you have to have a Wiki Login to be able to use the DB, and often have to Login twice. (Are those current FRs, or Bug Reports, or just something I recently thought of since I changed my medications?) BLongley 17:49, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
The Wiki originated as a tool for communicating between editors. However, it has been often used as a crutch whenever the main application didn't support various types of functionality (e.g. Series notes or Author/Bio data) that we wanted to add. Now that we have more development resources available, we need to add these features to the main application and move the Wiki-resident data there. Of course, the Wiki will still be used as a communications tool. This topic was discussed a while ago; I thought it was before your forced hiatus, but perhaps it got lost in the shuffle. Ahasuerus 06:25, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
I can't recall such a discussion. If I did indeed see it, I hope I mentioned that I've never been really happy with the Wiki method of communication. BLongley 07:55, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, we could conceivably start communicating using a forum-based system, but we would still want to move the database-related stuff to the main ISFDB database. Ahasuerus 22:14, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. BLongley 23:29, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
As far as multilingual Help goes, I don't think it's a priority. All of our metadata (Notes, Synopses etc) is in English, so contributor (and even advanced users who want to be able to understand Notes) need to know English. Ahasuerus 06:25, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Good point. I guess I was thinking of the far future, where help can appear one-click away in the DB, in your preferred language. Automatic translation of notes looks even more daunting! BLongley 07:37, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Leonaur Ltd

I notice you've got round to processing some of these. They're a bit of a pain aren't they? :-) (I did loads of the earlier ones.) Remembering to put them in series, finding all the contents, all those merges, etc. I've no suggestions on how to help, apart from giving such back to Fixer and hoping someone else will deal with them for you? BLongley 13:29, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that's my devious plan in a nutshell! Ahasuerus 18:34, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Chad Oliver's The Edge of Forever

Hello, Ahasuerus! I am still holding a submission to change this pub's title to The Edge of Forever: Classic Anthropological Science Fiction. Just asking if that change would make sense to you. Thanks, Christian Stonecreek 14:54, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Apologies, I didn't realize that you were holding this submission because of my primary verification. Checking the pub, I see that it says "Designed by Shirley Shipley" on the copyright page and "Jacket design by Maxine Smith Lind" on the back flap of the dust jacket. I don't think either person qualifies as the cover artist in this case, so my inclination would be to list their names and roles in Notes. What do you think? Ahasuerus 00:51, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, normally I'd say: Doesn't qualify. However there are some cases where the jacket design is credited to an otherwise ISFDB-known artist and then I would add the credit. But I don't think that is the case here. Stonecreek 11:10, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
OK, I have updated the record to the best of my ability. I will leave a note on the submitter's page to see if we are on the same page now. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! Ahasuerus 20:49, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
After a brief discussion and further massaging, the pub is in as good a shape as we can make it. Feel free to reject the original submission at your earliest convenience! Ahasuerus 23:23, 27 January 2013 (UTC)


Does there remain a need for this image, and if so, is there a possibility of reducing its resolution to a more manageable size? Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:49, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

I don't think this signature has been discussed in over 4 years, so I'd say we can safely blow it away. Ahasuerus 02:35, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll reduce it, and then add the artist signature license tag so that it's stored in the category with other author signatures, just for its value for any future discussions. Mhhutchins 03:30, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like a great plan! Ahasuerus 03:36, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

"Moderating Automated Submissions" update

As you know, I have been working on improving Fixer lately. I am almost done with the code changes and I have updated the relevant Help text to beef it up and make it reflect the new behavior, especially as it affects Notes. Could you please review the new version of Help and let me know if it makes sense and/or can be further improved? TIA! Ahasuerus 00:43, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

It's rather thorough in explaining the issues that may arise in moderating Fixer submissions. I'm unable to find any immediate need for improvement, as it is pretty clearly written. It's been a while since Fixer submissions have been "moderatable" so there may be issues that I've forgotten about. Once they're open again, I'll keep an eye out for an unforeseen circumstances that may not be explained here. So for the time being, this is a pretty good guide for moderators to use. Bravo! Mhhutchins 01:12, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Great, thanks! :-) Ahasuerus 01:38, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
"Data Thief" submissions are actually free for anyone else to moderate - but as they don't it's run only occasionally, when I not only have time to write the script but to do the approvals. They're normally well-tested fixes so shouldn't have as many Data Issues - e.g. I thought of writing a general purpose script to convert specified title series entries to publication series based on Title Series name and publisher. Obviously that's going to take some time as just things like Doctor Who Target Novelizations will lead to hundreds of edits that must be done in order. I probably need to practice on something smaller, it's so long since I wrote even a clean-up script that most of my tools are out of date. BLongley 01:44, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
On the other hand, this section is a very good guide to Fixer and Dissembler submissions - if Dissembler ever runs again? BLongley 01:44, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
A while back (1.5 years ago?) Amazon changed its authentication mechanism and it took me a couple of weeks of working part-time to get Fixer going again. Unfortunately, Fixer doesn't use Python while Dissembler does, so I couldn't share my changes with Al. And since Al's ISFDB time is very limited, I don't think he ever added the logic that was needed to make Dissembler comply with the new authentication requirements...
P.S. I should probably rewrite Fixer using Python so that other developers could keep it going if and when I am eaten by a shark, but that's easier said than done. Ahasuerus 01:52, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
You could stay out of the ocean. I've heard land sharks are pretty rare these days. :) Mhhutchins 02:11, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Not according to this pub! :) Ahasuerus 02:26, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
You can't believe anything in those sci-fi books. Mhhutchins 03:12, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

I've handled about 50 Fixer submissions and a few things have come up that might warrant a notice or two in the instructions. You should emphasize the warnings, those about the pub date being before the title date, and unknown publisher, especially the latter. The mods who handle them should make sure that a more common publisher name isn't already in the database. In the set I've just worked, there were several that gave the publisher as "Berkley" (which no longer exists in the db), and "Berkley Trade" and "Ace Hardcover", both of which have to be changed to "Berkley Books" and just "Ace". There were some "Greenwillow Books" that I had to change to "Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins". At least the warning is there so that the mod will follow up. Some situations don't give a warning, like when books are published by a company that has both US and UK divisions. For example, I had to change several that were given as "Orbit" to "Orbit (US)". By the same token, if there were any British releases by "Harper Voyager" I would have had to change them to "Harper Voyager (UK)". Mods won't know to do this unless they're very familiar with how each publisher is set up in the database, and I know no way of making them aware of such quirks unless they work occasionally on submissions not of their own. One more observation: "Del Rey" now has a UK division, (with their own logo and everything). I wouldn't have known this if I hadn't noticed that one of the submissions had UK pricing. So a little research revealed that it was truly a UK publication. Mhhutchins 05:20, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Great feedback, thanks! I have changed Fixer's logic to auto-adjust Berkley/Ace/Greewillow and also deleted Del Rey from the list of "US only" publishers, so Fixer won't automatically assign US as the country of origin. I will tweak the Help text later. Ahasuerus 03:24, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Laumer/Retief and the Pangalactic Pageant of Pulchritude

Hi -- you verified this publication as an OMNIBUS; see this conversation for why I think it should be a COLLECTION. If you agree, would you change it to COLLECTION? If all verifiers agree I can then change the title record to COLLECTION also. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 18:23, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Good point. I have updated the pub -- thanks! Ahasuerus 19:39, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Superstar Fairies

Thanks for keeping those and suchlike to yourself - those sort of books have been the bane of Moderators for ages. What we really need is a good 6-7 year old Mod... :-) BLongley 11:30, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

There is a brief discussion of the preliminary results of the latest "Fixer resurrection experiment" here. It looks like I may have to continue handling (at least some of) Fixer's stuff for a while. Ahasuerus 03:11, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Would it be an easy change for Mods to VIEW the submissions by other mods, rather than have them in the visible queue but with no chance to help? It could be quite educational for newer Mods that have never tackled such before. I think it's called "Learning by example". BLongley 11:38, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
It's certainly possible, but I am not sure I see the value. If you think it's worth doing, you may want to start a discussion on the Moderator Noticeboard to see if new moderators would be interested in this functionality. Ahasuerus 03:11, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Well, an alternative would be to hide them entirely. At the moment we're halfway between moderating and forcibly-ignoring - the only current benefit is to see that a Mod is swamped with work. If we can't help out, but have to see them in the queue, it's a bit frustrating. BLongley 08:59, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Well, the idea was that should a moderator become unavailable, we would know about his submissions and eventually reject/massage them. If we can't see them, then it's like casting a high level invisibility spell on them :-) Ahasuerus 09:07, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Presumably we'd de-mod the supplier anyway, and then they would become visible/approvable? BLongley 09:18, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
The current policy is to de-mod people who haven't been seen in 12+ months and I'd think we wouldn't want to wait that long to reject their submissions. Ahasuerus 09:27, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. I just don't understand why, for example if you died right now, all mods have to see 19 submissions in the queue that they can't do anything about except Hard-Reject. BLongley 10:55, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
If I were to die right now, we would have bigger problems than 19 submissions in the queue :) Ahasuerus 17:58, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Duplicate series name

This just came up as a conflict on clean-up script that finds duplicate series numbers. There was already a series titled Fringe with three novels by Anitra Lynn McLeod. I'm going to change that one to "The Fringe" (that's the name given on the covers) and because the Christa Faust novel is a tie-in to the TV series which will probably make it much more popular. (I'm assuming that this was yours based on the Recent Integrations listing. If it wasn't yours, pardon.) Thanks. Mhhutchins 00:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it was one of mine (I processed it a couple of hours ago right before I had to run) and I didn't realize that there was a pre-existing "Fringe" series. Good catch! At one point I considered adding a warning to the Edit Title approval page to the effect that there were no titles with the same author(s) in the series that the editor wanted to add the title to. Then I thought about all the various multi-author series permutations (Niven/Pournelle, shared universes, etc) and tentatively decided that it would be too much work. However, a basic author check would be easy to implement and would likely catch well over 80% of all conflicts, so it may be worth doing. Ahasuerus 02:20, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
OK, FR 3603370 has been created. Ahasuerus 03:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I also added a US printing of the Faust novel based on an Amazon listing which will be published two weeks before the UK edition. But now that I've done it, I'm not sure if the same printing is distributed in both countries, and whether I should have just listed a US price in the record for the UK edition. Mhhutchins 00:34, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Since the two pubs share the same ISBN, I guess we'll have to wait until Look-Inside shows us the back cover (assuming it won't be a Kindle-ized version.) Oh, and I just noticed that it says "Not Final Cover" on the cover! Ahasuerus 02:20, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I have deleted the URLs from both pubs. Ahasuerus 03:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Interiorart Indenting

Whatever became of this idea? I kinda like it. Mhhutchins 04:23, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Well, it's certainly doable, but the FR (FR 2909643) says "Indent Interior Art and Letter Titles in Publication display. The result should look similar to the way Reviews are indented." There is no way to tell a letter from a regular essay at this time, so I guess we can change the way INTERIORART is handled and see what the results look like. Ahasuerus 05:48, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
If moderators have been making sure that the editors are entering them correctly, all letters should be in the form "Letter (Title of Periodical)". So any ESSAY-type record that starts with "Letter (" should be letters. Even if that's not doable, just having the interiorart records offset should improve the display. Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:56, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Ah, yes, that's a good point. Let me give it a whirl... Ahasuerus 07:10, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Done -- see the patch notes on the Community Portal and my comments about further improvements. Ahasuerus 07:22, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Uploading Cover Scans

I clearly don't know what I'm doing when dealing with uploading cover scans. I've been trying to upload a scan for Great Cities of the Ancient World from Doubleday. The problem is that someone loaded the cover scan for the Dorset Press version of this book into the location for the Doubleday version. At my request, Michael Hutchins (as moderator for the DD pub edit) removed that scan. When I tried to upload my scan of the Doubleday pub, the Dorset scan was apparently reloaded instead. The Dorset pub still shows the DD scan location. I'm baffled. What do I have to do to get the correct scan uploaded without screwing up the Dorset scan? Bob 15:29, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

I am afraid I am not much of an upload guru and I am also under the weather today, so let me copy your question to the Help Desk... Ahasuerus 16:51, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Introducing Garrett P.I.

This variant title record shows up on the cleanup script as being placed into a series. Also, it's a different series than the one in which its parent record has been entered. I'm posting the message here because I could see from the Recent Integrations list that you were working on this series. Mhhutchins 07:55, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks! I moved the Garrett omnibuses around to create a new sub-series and forgot to change one of the VTs. Ahasuerus 15:08, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Internal Server Error

I just had a brief problem accessing the website: the message says

"The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, root@localhost and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log. Apache/2.2.8 (Fedora) Server at Port 80"

I'm not too worried about the error, but shouldn't we have a more genuine email address than root@localhost to report more persistent problems to? BLongley 08:13, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

OK, I have changed ServerAdmin to my e-mail address. Since 90+% of these errors appear overnight when the server is down for backups (or the virtual server is misbehaving), I am not sure how useful this addition will be, but there is no harm in trying. If it results in e-mail overload, I can always flip the switch that controls this behavior. Ahasuerus 22:08, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Using the ISFDB (Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase)

As you may have noticed, I've published a fairly pictorial guide to searching and understanding ISFDB for absolute beginners. I'd appreciate a review/critique if you have time: if not, I'd still appreciate a heads-up if you implement anything that changes what non-logged in users can see or do. (I suspect I've taken on another job-for-life here, updating the booklet every time something changes.) I'm going to leave it be for a while until I get some more feedback, and start on book 2 - what you can do when you have an account. (Actually, that's probably going to run to several volumes - as I include a lot of pictures I approach the 5MB limit for processing that Smashwords allows after only 20 pages or so.) BLongley 08:34, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, the first thing that came to mind as I was reading it was "Pictures are good, but keeping them in sync with the software may be time consuming".
The second thing that came to mind was that a great deal of what is in the text could be easily misconstrued by a new user. For example, you write:
  • Page 1: "This is now a rather incomplete definition. “Horror” was intended to only include Supernatural horror but we do now have a lot of psychological horror, often because an author has reached a certain level of notoriety in which case we include their Non-genre works too." This explanation makes it sound like we privilege psychological horror over other types of NONGENRE books.
  • Page 2: "“Magazines” has been extended to include “Fanzines”", which makes it sound like we enter fanzines as magazines whereas they have their own publication type.
  • Page 3: "Films that get a book edition, or that came from a book or a short story, may be represented", which makes it sounds like we have records for films (as opposed to their novelizations)
  • Page 4: "Fiction Titles. We recently had to separate these from other titles as we record so many reviews and covers and interviews", which makes it sounds like fiction titles and "other titles" are now separated in the database even though you are just talking about two different ways of searching titles
and so on and so forth.
In general, the text reads like a collection of thoughts on what ISFDB once was, currently is and what it could be in the future, but I doubt that a new user who wants to know more about "Using the ISFDB" cares about or would understand these discussions. One of the basic rules of documentation writing is that it should make explicit and clear statements about the way things currently work; statements about future and superseded functionality should be rare and clearly demarcated. For example, let's take the following section: "Publication Series. We invented this quite recently for things like “Gollancz Masterworks”. We do need to improve this to explain that it is for books that a publisher put in their own series; it’s not intended for “Title Series” which would apply whoever published them." The text starts with a sentence which, taken on its own, is likely completely opaque to a new user and then the second sentence tries to clarify the first sentence.
To go back to the discussion that we had when you first came up with the idea, I am still not sure that there is value in having a document that is separate from our regular Wiki-resident Help. Any kind of duplication -- code duplication, documentation duplication, etc -- is generally suboptimal because it vastly increases the likelihood of things getting out of sync and generates confusion. If the added value is the presence of images, then keep in mind that the Wiki lets you link external images, so you could easily host them at a third party location. Ahasuerus 03:17, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback! It's good to get some negative views, everybody else has been far too kind. I'm thick-enough skinned to take bad news. (I hope.) BLongley 07:18, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
I know it could be time-consuming to maintain pictures. But it would also be so if I imbedded them in help pages. I started this booklet in June last year, before my move, and returned to it only last week as the unavailability of my books (mostly still packed, and likely to remain so till my next move) made me turn to this other activity to feel useful. I think it's also good for an experienced editor to go put themselves in the shoes of a brand-new user occasionally, some of the help-desk replies seem to assume a lot of prior knowledge on the part of the questioner, who may be wiki-experienced but ISFDB-novice. Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of updating of images needed: I changed the Author Directory bit to show the new apostrophe solution as that had been implemented in the meantime: but my practice of partial screen-shots on just the bit I'm talking about made it comparatively future-proof. So "Other views: Awards Alphabetical Chronological" may be new, and I should mention them, but it doesn't invalidate my other sub-sections of that page. BLongley 07:18, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
"easily misconstrued by a new user" is a bigger worry for me. I don't want to mislead new users, I want this guide to encourage them. We point out all the help pages when we welcome a new editor, but that may be several edits too late, and frankly the help pages are dry-as-dust reading. I call this a "guide" rather than "documentation" as I want it to be more easily accessible. "reads like a collection of thoughts" is accurate - I've tried to point out what IS, but also what WAS when we haven't yet finished updating past mistakes. For instance, can we tell if we've moved all foreign editions to their own title and varianted them? If so, we can omit details of the past practice and I won't submit my "Unmerge Foreign Title" code. If not, then I think it's fair to warn users about the past workarounds. I just don't know and can't figurte out how to tell. What WILL BE is to encourage people to persevere with us even if we're failing in certain areas at the moment. For instance "translator support": I'm pretty sure we're heading that way, but I only got half-way there before you started coding yourself again, so much more work to be done on my part. In the meantime, encouraging people to note translators anyway will help. (I think that's a point I should make clearer.) BLongley 07:18, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Anyway, thanks again for the feedback. I shall reread the booklet again with your views in mind. And figure out how to get some NON-expert users to review it! BLongley 07:18, 24 February 2013 (UTC)


While putting myself in the "new user" mindset required to complete my second blockbuster publication, I discovered that the only protection we have against weak passwords is that they mustn't be the same as the userid. Can we beef that up a bit? Most sites require at least six characters, often eight. BLongley 13:48, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

I just tried changing it, but it would lock out all users whose passwords do not meet the new requirements. There is a recent MediaWiki discussion of this issue, but I don't see a (currently available) solution. Ahasuerus 21:36, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

"Little Better Than a Beast"

I've moved the series data from the variant record to the parent record. Mhhutchins 19:34, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks! Ahasuerus 19:41, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Fixer duplicates

I was adding forthcoming SFBC selections and had to create a few missing trade editions which are reprinted by the SFBC. One of these was Fyre by Angie Sage. I just now noticed that there's a submission in the queue for the same edition. Sorry for jumping on this one after the 'bot got hold of it, but before it was moderated. Mhhutchins 21:32, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

No worries! I am trying to split my time between development, bot submissions, maintenance, ISFDB e-mail, etc, so, unfortunately, bot submissions take longer to approve. Ahasuerus 21:37, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Image upload policing idea

I was thinking about Michael's concerns about image uploads and how best to police them, and I had a small idea. How hard would it be to duplicate the link that gets made for ISFDB-hosted images on the pub details screen and have it show up on the submission approval screen when there's an image supplied? Seeing the image is great, and having its link is useful, but to check up on how the image conforms to ISFDB requirements is tricky and requires some effort. Making all the info be just one click away might help. At worst, it will help out the people who do bother checking already.... --MartyD 12:24, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

That's a good point. Checking the code, it looks like the change should be almost trivial. Let me give it a shot... Ahasuerus 01:08, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
That would only work if the file was uploaded by a non-moderating editor. And most of them have been pretty good at following the standards once it's pointed out to them. The larger problem I was trying to address is moderators who are disregarding the standards. They of course will accept their own submissions regardless of any warnings that may pop up. Since they've been unable to "police" themselves, I've been going through and resizing all that I've found that are over 800 pixels, making exceptions for wraparound cover art. (I know the standard is 600, but they're just too many to resize between 600 and 800.) I'm waiting for one (or all) of them to start raising hell about my messing with their uploaded files. Mhhutchins 08:15, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
I can go to 800 without anyone complaining!! (Just kidding. I always resize to 600, except for wraparounds.) Chavey 23:47, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
That's the problem. You could upload one that's 1800 pixels and no one would complain. Why do we have standards that I try to enforce for new editors when moderators feel they can upload whatever size they wish with complete immunity? Mhhutchins 00:22, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
They pretty much DO have immunity. Ahasuerus hasn't demodded anyone except for reasons of inactivity, as far as I can recall. All the rest of us can do is provide gentle reminders. BLongley 11:38, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Destinies, Fall 1980

I found Vincent Di Fate's signature on the cover of Destinies, Fall 1980. --Willem H. 20:02, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the update! Ahasuerus 22:22, 26 February 2013 (UTC)


I tried a complete refresh and couldn't get it to compile: the problem seems to be biblio\, which is now dead but is still included in biblio\TARGETS. Can you double-check my thinking please? BLongley 11:30, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Yup, was the culprit. The reason why everything had compiled successfully on my development server was that I had an old copy of in the "local" subdirectory, so "make -B install" still worked. I will commit a new version shortly, thanks!
I keep forgetting "-B", it's so infrequently needed that I've forgotten when to use it and when not. BLongley 20:24, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Hey, good to see this! I've been trying to get my development environment working on my "new" (not anymore) computer, w/Windows 7 x64, and have been having various CVS and build problems. Once I edited the offending TARGETS, I'm just down to not being able to check anything out.... Almost there. --MartyD 11:12, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
I still have to try a Windows 7 install - got the PC, not the willpower to do battle with it yet. I've excused myself by saying that these low-hanging fruit are good practice for me... BLongley 15:47, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, biblio/TARGETS has been fixed. Ahasuerus 05:12, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
BTW, could you please update the SourceForge description of the change that you committed earlier today to reflect the intended improvement in user-experienced behavior? Ahasuerus 18:00, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, another comment added on Sourceforge. It looks inferior to the three rounds of Proposed Design we went through: 1, 2 and 3. I know the FR deteriorates into areas of doubt and uncertainty, but I think the first 3 changes should be fairly solid and further changes will be subsets of the first biggish change. Although now I come to think of it, maybe an automatic OCLC verification is desired on the first three? BLongley 20:24, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Russian Three Californias

Thanks for making variants of these submissions from yesterday... went back in to take care of it once I had seen the submissions had been approved and there was nothing left to do. Albinoflea 16:44, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Sure thing! It looks like KSR didn't do particularly well in Russia since none of his novels have appeared in Russian since the 1990s. Ahasuerus 18:09, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I know that the Mars trilogy was optioned for Russian translation, but nothing ever came of it. Albinoflea 18:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

"Only Living Girls"

This variant record was incorrectly entered into a series. I'm not sure if you did it in a recent update to the record (as shown on the Recent Integrations list), but it didn't appear on the clean-up script that finds such records until some time after Saturday (the last time I ran the script.) Thanks. Mhhutchins 15:03, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I was adding series data to a bunch of Doctor-Who-and-friends stories the other day and apparently missed the fact that one of them was a VT. We have a FR to disallow entering series information for VTs and I guess we need to bump up its priority... Ahasuerus 17:52, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

Gutter code change

I accidentally approved a submission that changed the gutter code of 39N to 38N on page 177 of this pub.. Can you confirm this, or shall I rechange? Stonecreek 20:07, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

It's definitely 39N in my copy, so if another copy says 38N, then there must be two different versions. Ahasuerus 03:38, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, thanks for taking a look. I reversed the change. Stonecreek 09:49, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Allan Jones (artist)

When a new author name is created, the system automatically enters the last word of the name into the Last Name field of the author data. When you updated the title records by disambiguating the name of this author his last name became "(artist)". Whenever I do this, I have to go back and correct the field. When I see other editors have also done it, I let them know that they have to follow up the disambiguation by updating the author data. Thanks. Mhhutchins 01:31, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks! Which brings up the next question: should the value of the Last Name field be automatically updated when the canonical name is changed? I guess it depends on the nature of the change, but I can't think of a way to determine it programmatically... Ahasuerus 01:40, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it should be automatic, unless it can be programmed to ignore any parenthetical last word. Mhhutchins 01:51, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Hm, it's a thought. I can definitely change the logic to ignore parenthetical words for the purpose of determining the value of the Last Name field. Ahasuerus 01:57, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Binding/Publication Formats in use

Could you generate another list like the one you provided in this discussion to see if any more non-standard formats have cropped up in the intervening months? Much appreciated when you get a chance. Mhhutchins 19:03, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

Sure thing. Here is the list generated from the data in the last backup:
| pub_ptype              | count(*) |
| NULL                   |     9745 |
|                        |     2568 |
| A4                     |     1257 |
| A5                     |     1234 |
| audio                  |        2 |
| audio cassette         |      691 |
| audio CD               |     1429 |
| audio DVD              |        4 |
| audio LP               |       12 |
| audio MP3 CD           |      261 |
| bedsheet               |      796 |
| broadside              |        6 |
| CD-ROM                 |       19 |
| digest                 |     8529 |
| digital audio download |     2017 |
| digital audio player   |       71 |
| dos                    |      292 |
| ebook                  |     5407 |
| email                  |       30 |
| Half Foolscap          |        7 |
| hc                     |    67309 |
| octavo                 |      328 |
| p                      |        1 |
| Paper Print Magazine   |        1 |
| Paperback              |        1 |
| pb                     |    90309 |
| ph                     |     1847 |
| Point / Scholastic     |        1 |
| portfolio              |       12 |
| Pulp                   |     2025 |
| quarto                 |     2603 |
| tabloid                |       64 |
| tp                     |    58078 |
| Trade Paperback        |        1 |
| US Letter              |        3 |
| webzine                |     1277 |
The IDs of the two "audio" pubs are 405860 and 411498. The ID of the "p" pub is 391091. Ahasuerus 22:13, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the list. I've gotten rid of all of the single records, except for the one "p" which is unsearchable. Can you find that record number? Mhhutchins 01:04, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
The "p" guy has been fixed with extreme prejudice. Ahasuerus 01:47, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I've asked the moderators who handled the "Half Foolscap" and "US Letter" records for a clearer understanding of what is meant by those bindings. Also, what's the difference between "NULL" and just an empty field? Mhhutchins 01:04, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
No difference, really. It's just that the software associated with various data entry forms updates the database inconsistently. It's not ideal, but it doesn't really harm anything. Ahasuerus 01:47, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
BTW, were you as surprised as me to find that there are almost as many trade paperbacks as there are mass-market paperbacks? Perhaps most of the blank records are also "pb". Thanks again. Mhhutchins 01:04, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
It's a relatively recent phenomenon. Here is what the breakdown looked like in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010-2013:
| 1950 | pb        |       80 |
| 1950 | tp        |        3 |
| 1960 | pb        |      342 |
| 1960 | tp        |       28 |
| 1970 | pb        |     1100 |
| 1970 | tp        |       47 |
| 1980 | pb        |     1973 |
| 1980 | tp        |      248 |
| 1990 | pb        |     2099 |
| 1990 | tp        |      734 |
| 2000 | pb        |     1575 |
| 2000 | tp        |     1621 |
| 2010 | pb        |     1912 |
| 2010 | tp        |     5612 |
| 2011 | pb        |     1592 |
| 2011 | tp        |     5604 |
| 2012 | pb        |     1582 |
| 2012 | tp        |     4128 |
| 2013 | pb        |      629 |
| 2013 | tp        |     1063 |
Note that 2013 looks different because we tend to enter major publishers' handiwork first. It's the second and third tier publishers that do a lot of tps. Ahasuerus 01:47, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I was looking at the wrong line when I commented that the number of tps are close to that of pbs, but with this last comparison list, I can see it won't be long, maybe less than five years, when tps will surpass pbs in the db. Mhhutchins 19:57, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
One annoying (for me) new phenomenon is British publishers going though two sizes of TP and never issuing a PB version. I've given up buying new Robert Rankin books because of this, and have always avoided most of the (soon to be late, alas) Iain M. Banks books because they so rarely had a PB version. BLongley 09:06, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Another minor problem that's arisen recently is TP-sized dos-a-dos books, that we don't cater for. Armchair Fiction are producing a lot of these now. (and occasionally sending me a few.) BLongley 09:06, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Then again, there are a multitude of different formats of hardcover books for which we make no distinction whatsoever. Mhhutchins 19:54, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree. It seems odd to be entering a book that's 3" x 5", and have nothing to say about it except "hc". Chavey 23:14, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Gallery Books on Amazon / in Fixer submissions

I processed Concrete Savior, which Fixer had as from Gallery Books. The Look Inside uses Juno / Pocket. Once I confirmed Gallery is an S&S imprint, I didn't worry about it, superficially thinking the Look Inside was linked to the wrong edition and wasn't warning me. But then I came across this submission, which presented exactly the same way. And, going back to check, I now see on both the ISBN on the back cover in the Look Inside matches the submission's, and there's no sign of Gallery Books anywhere except in the Amazon data. I changed Concrete Savior over to Juno Books / Pocket Books, but I'm not convinced that's what I should be doing, and I don't want to perpetuate whichever is the wrong way. Do you have an opinion? If it's not Gallery, I don't really see what Fixer could do about it (unless everywhere they use Gallery it's really Juno / Pocket). Thanks. --MartyD 11:37, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Hm, let's see... Amazon knows of 12 SF books published by "Gallery Books" in 2013. Two of them, Changeling by Kelly Meding and Blood on the Bayou by Stacey Jay, are Look-Inside-enabled and show that the publisher is actually Pocket Books. However, if you go back to 2012 and check, e.g. 11/22/63 by Stephen King or StarCraft II: Flashpoint by Christie Golden, you'll see that their title pages credit "Gallery Books" as stated by Amazon. In addition, the imprint's Web page shows no signs of it getting shut down and they are apparently still in the business of publishing non-SF books, e.g. Reckless, a contemporary romance by S.C. Stephens, was published just a few weeks ago.
I am not 100% sure what all of this adds up to, but perhaps they are getting out SF and transferring their list to Juno/Pocket? And Amazon, which gets pre-publication data months ahead of time, hasn't updated its records?.. Ahasuerus 00:40, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
Ok, thanks. I will change them to Juno/Pocket when I can tell. --MartyD 23:36, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Earthworms II: The Deluge by Keene

To save you the trouble of deleting a duplicate pub: I just noticed a submission for this title in the queue. Earlier I accepted a submission from MLB for the same publication. Mhhutchins 03:10, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Global super-storms, a supernatural menace, worms and sea monsters? Sheesh! Thanks for catching the dupe! Ahasuerus 03:18, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Development schedule?

I'm becoming rather disillusioned with ISFDB work recently - I've done my books (some several times over), got tired of educating new users, and the only thing I really want to do here at the moment is to get back to some coding. Do you have some idea on when you'll start clearing the backlog? BLongley 23:59, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

We are getting close. Here is what Fixer's queues look like at the moment:
Mon         2013                   2012                   2011
      new    0   1   2   3|  new    0   1   2   3|  new    0   1   2   3|
NONE   41    1   0   0   0|  298    0   0   1   0|  288    0   0   0   0|
Jan     0   43  55 122 422|  920    0   0   0   0|  927    0   1   0   0|
Feb     0   30  56 188 401|  748    1   7   3   3|  687    0   0   0   0|
Mar     0   51  10 183 347| 1038    0   4   2   0| 1045    0   0   0   1|
Apr     0  118  29  99 157|  945    0   2   1   0| 1428    0   1   0   0|
May     0  139  14  47   5| 1034    1   0   1   0| 1200    0   0   0   0|
Jun     0  120  30  16   2|  795    0   0   2   0| 1216    0   0   0   1|
Jul   828    9  19   0   0|  765    3   1   1   1|  806    0   1   0   0|
Aug   704   13   6   0   0|  889    0   2   0   0| 1193    0   1   0   0|
Sep   681    5   6   0   0| 1149    1   4   0   1|  280    0   3   0   0|
Oct   652    1   6   0   0| 1102    0   2   0   1|  340    0   1   0   0|
Nov   310    3   1   0   0|  970    0   4   2   1|  386    0   1   0   0|
Dec   221    2   0   0   0|  874    0   3   4   2|  586    0   1   0   0|
There are only 30 unprocessed "priority 1" ISBNs left for the month of June. Once they are done, I can go back to software testing/development until the next cycle starts on May 15. I may have to take a break for a couple of days, though, since my wrists are hurting after all this data entry work. Where are the on demand spare body parts that we were promised in the 1950s?! Ahasuerus 06:31, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Fixer bug?

The book Fire on the Island was built (presumably by Fixer) from the Amazon data. The Amazon listed publication size is "6 x 0.8 x 9 inches", and it read it in as "pb" format. (I have since fixed it.) I wonder if it expects the dimensions to be in a certain order, and those first two numbers in the size made it think it was "pb" when it should have been "tp". Or maybe there's some other explanation. But I thought I should mention it to you. Chavey 03:31, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, I'll take a look! Ahasuerus 03:57, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
It turns out that this ISBN was never touched by Fixer, so the verdict is "not guilty" :) Ahasuerus 06:12, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
Ok, probably some editor who didn't know the difference betwee pb and tp, and who didn't verify it after entering it. Chavey 21:40, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
Robots 1, Humans 0! :-) Ahasuerus 22:07, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Request for intervention

Please take a few moments to scan through the series of posts that have been made lately on this new editor's talk page. It's gone past the point of courteous discourse about a misconception on the editor's part into one that is rather uncivil and outright rude. If he can't be brought back on track (which would be highly unlikely if you consider how unreasonable he's been in previous posts), I would request that the account be permanently disabled. Mhhutchins 17:00, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up! True, his posts have been uncivil lately, but I had to follow our Blocking Policy, which gives this class of offenders (non-obscene personal attacks) multiple chances to mend their ways. I guess we'll know soon enough whether he chooses to use them... Ahasuerus 17:35, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Page/Record oddity

On the page for [this] record, there is no line for Notes. If you open an 'Edit' window, the notes section is there but even after accepting a submission there's nowhere for the notes to display. Thought I was losing my mind [more so than usual] until I noticed the page discrepancy. I can't fix this. --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:47, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

How very interesting! This is actually Bug 11 -- Title Notes-id Set to 0, which was first noticed as a database discrepancy in 2007, but which we have been unable to recreate as an application problem. Now that you have found an afflicted record, I can look into it and (hopefully) fix the problem. Thanks!! Ahasuerus 02:00, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
You're welcome .... I think ... ??¿¿?? ;-) --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:26, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

Author credit for Beyond the Gate of Worlds

I am currently reading this anthology and stumbled over a review in Foundation #53 (soon to be entered): both the title page of the anthology and the review do credit Silverberg, Brunner and Yarbro. Shouldn't we change our credit in this light? I also asked Hauck on the matter. Stonecreek 17:38, 22 May 2013 (UTC)


Do you know/have any other way to contact Worldcat other than the 'Feedback' link? For about two days now their internal links bring up nothing but pages with HTML coding. Unless you search very specifically you can't get to a second/third level. Thanks! --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:06, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

I just tried a few searches and everything seems to be working fine for me. It looks like they have added AJAX capabilities (i.e. you see a changing list of matches displayed under the search box as you type), so I wonder if their software update may not be compatible with your browser for some reason. Can you try another browser and/or another computer? Barring that, could you describe the exact sequence of searches that is causing this problem? Ahasuerus 00:23, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
No options re browser or computer. Normally I put in an ISBN. That will bring up some title record. If I select "Editions and Formats" I get one page of the newest editions. If there is more than one page selecting the next number 2/3/4 or Next gets me a page of nothing but HTML. If I select an individual record and from there try to use 'Editions and Formats" I get a page of nothing but HTML. Same with their Feedback link. --~ Bill, Bluesman 01:33, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Let's see <click, click, click...> Everything seems to work fine in Firefox, Chrome and IE 9, including "2/3/4/Next" and "Feedback". I suspect that the problem is either with your browser or your computer. Have you tried clearing your browser's cache? Ahasuerus 02:07, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Yep. Restarted it as well. You've said before Safari is 'picky'. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:18, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I am afraid the only thing that I can recommend at this point is doubling the frequency of sacrifices to the computer gods... Ahasuerus 02:43, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Looked through Updates and installed the latest Java, security and a Safari update and OCLC is behaving again. Thanks for all the 'help'! What/whom do you sacrifice when needed??¿¿?? ;-)) --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:41, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Admittedly, finding good sacrifice material was a problem in the past, but, as you may recall, I retired last year, so now I have my pick of door-to-door salesmen! Ahasuerus 04:49, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Don't forget a Jehovah's Witness or two, computer gods have senses of humor, too!! --~ Bill, Bluesman 14:35, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I live in a town with a pretty large Muslim population, and have never seen an "Allah's Witness". Perhaps he had a better alibi. BLongley 20:25, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Help with a Russian title

When you get a chance please correct the error I made in the title of this record. I did a cut-and-paste to create the original Russian title, but I'm pretty sure the alphabet is wrong. I appreciate your help. Thanks. Mhhutchins 05:44, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

The spelling was fine, but the date was off a bit due to serializations and other bibliographic complications. I went ahead and cleaned up this author's biblio -- he was one of the first Russian authors to be added and some of the data was wobbly. Thanks for bringing it up! Ahasuerus 06:35, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I noticed that the alphabet didn't match the other titles on his bibliography, so I assumed it was wrong. Turned out, it was the one that was right! Thanks for fixing the title's date and added note. Mhhutchins 07:23, 12 June 2013 (UTC)


Thanks for taking over this title. I knew there had to be an original Russian title, but before I had a chance to look, it was already there. There's no way I could have entered that title anyway! When I accepted the submission, I saw that the author name wasn't in the db, so I knew I was going to have to make a pseudonym. But when I went to make it, the pseudonym was there! I didn't realize until now that you made, 9 seconds after I made the variant. Now that's fast! Mhhutchins 19:53, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Sure thing! Although my Lithuanian is virtually non-existent (I can usually muddle my way through Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages, but Lithuanian is sui generis), a little googling took care of the problem :-) Now to add the first volume in the duology... Ahasuerus 22:24, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Merging issue

I don't know if this is a result of any of the recent changes or if it just hasn't crossed my plate before but when cloning several Harlan Ellison editions I can't seem to find a way to merge the artists' records for the covers. All are by Leo and Diane Dillon. A normal search for Duplicate titles won't even bring up the newly created records from the cloning. Checking the bibliographic page for either of the Dillons shows the new records, but the original record only displays as by both of them. Any ideas? --~ Bill, Bluesman 00:05, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

It sounds like you may have run into Bug 156, "Pubs with multiple artists get multiple, separate COVERARTs". The easiest way to fix these problems is probably by pulling up a list of all Titles for the affected author(s) via "Show All Titles" under "Editing Tools". For example, here is a list of all Titles for Diane Dillon. Some of them do not have Leo listed as the co-author, presumably in error. Ahasuerus 01:34, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Excuse me from jumping in here, but I was the editor who repaired all of the Leo and Diane Dillon records. When a publication record is created, and two artists are credited with the cover art, the system creates two cover art records, one for each artist. Ideally, it should create one cover art record which is credited to both artists. Because these works are a true collaboration, I went through and changed all of the publications that had Dillon covers. This meant removing one of the artist's credit from the pub record, then updating the cover art record to credit both artists. If you'll look at this record you'll see the cover is credited to "Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon", the proper credit. If you look at this record you'll see the cover is credited to "Leo Dillon , Diane Dillon". The only way to merge the later cover art record with the former record is to remove one of the artist's from the second pub record. You can now go to the summary page for the remaining artist, click on "Show All Titles", and merge the two cover art records. One record will credit only one of artists, so you'll have to retain the one that credits both. I know of no other way to work around this problem. If you try to merge the cover art records in any other way, the pub record will credit one of the artists twice. Mhhutchins 01:41, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying the process, Michael!
We really have two different scenarios here: (a) there is one painting used on the cover and two+ artists collaborated to create it and (b) there are two paintings involved (e.g. it's an Ace Double) which were created by two separate artists (or potentially two separate groups of artists.) At the moment, some data entry forms assume the first scenario and some assume the second, which results in inconsistent behavior.
I suspect that the ideal solution would be to separate "cover art" from "back cover art" as Al originally intended but never had a chance to fully implement. Something to discuss on the Community Portal, perhaps. Ahasuerus 05:42, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
That's going to take a lot of effort. BACKCOVERART is an option for a title in the database, but I don't think I've seen it available anywhere in the front-end. Oh well, at least we don't get arguments about which is front and which is back. BLongley 20:22, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
There are some parts of the code that mention it, but they are all commented out at the moment. And good to see that you are alive and kicking, Bill! :-) Ahasuerus 23:29, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Anubis Gates 'image'

Should [this] be hosted by us??? --~ Bill, Bluesman 16:53, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, according to the artist, "[t]he cover images are going to be stacked on top of each other and framed by design elements (resembling an ornate 19th century frame) and printed as a linticular image which changes as you tilt the book" (see the last image on the linked page), so this is probably as close as we are going to get to an accurate representation of the cover art. Or were you worried about copyright issues? Ahasuerus 17:13, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Copyright, as the file is nearly a MB. Neat effect! --~ Bill, Bluesman 17:25, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) Oh, you mean that our version is so close to the original that we can no longer claim fair use? I am afraid I don't know enough about copyright laws to have an opinion (or, if I had one, it wouldn't be worth much), but I see that Michael has already asked Marc a question about this image -- we'll see where the conversation goes from there. Ahasuerus 17:34, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I left a message on Marc's page about this upload. It far exceeds the ISFDB standard for file size limits, taking up the space that more than 100 covers could easily fill. Why should we host it when a link to the image from the ISFDB record's note field should suffice? Mhhutchins 17:33, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
My thought as well. Too big a door to leave open as a precedent. Though I think the math is wrong, the space is maybe equivalent to 10 images. --~ Bill, Bluesman 17:49, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Yep, you're right. I used to do well in math! Another sign of senility, i suppose. Mhhutchins 18:14, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Pesky little decimal points, wriggly, never stay where you put them ..... ;-) --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:44, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Hey, what's an order of magnitude between friends? On the other hand, that one time when one of my clients (the person in charge of database support for 30,000 users) updated documentation to the effect that 1Mb was the same as 30Kb, it gave me a pause... Ahasuerus 21:03, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Pre-Decimal sizes? I well remember the old days when a page of text was 1 kilobyte, 256 bytes and half a nybble. BLongley 07:47, 28 June 2013 (UTC)


Has their address changed? Clicking on the link gets ['suspended']. --~ Bill, Bluesman 15:58, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

They seem to have stopped paying their ISP for the service -- see this discussion. Ahasuerus 17:03, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

On a completely different topic, is it possible to have the two active windows for 'Notes" and "Note to Moderator" in an record editing page to have the same default size? Seems odd to have the "Notes" one smaller. Just a visual thing. Cheers! --~ Bill, Bluesman 15:58, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

It so happens that I made them the same size in New Pub just two days ago :-) I hope to change the rest in the next patch, which will be modifying many other Edit pages. Ahasuerus 17:03, 4 July 2013 (UTC)


See this reaction to auto-verification. Just FYI. --MartyD 10:31, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. I guess we should change the wording to warn editors that the pub will be auto-verified. Ahasuerus 17:32, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Комментарии к пройденному

Fantastic! I congratulate you for finding this lovely item. Based on the essay by Erik Simon I'd like to modify the synopsis for the title and also put it into this series. Would that be okay? Stonecreek 20:39, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Sounds like a plan! :-) Ahasuerus 20:44, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Assistance requested

Can you look over this discussion and see if you can add any light on the situation? Thanks. Mhhutchins 16:14, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

"Psychic" image??

A most unusual occurrence. I just created [this] record, cloning from [this] one. Since the price on mine is different I deleted the image during the editing. Accepted the submission and then added the correct image. The system flashes up the warning that there is an image already existing! Even though the record had just been created! I thought that the original image from the cloned record had somehow been carried over, so uploaded the correct image anyway and deleted the 'existing' one. Just to make sure this hadn't affected the original record I went back and checked and the image was still there but it wasn't uploaded by the same editor!?!? How could any image be linked to a record that hasn't been created yet? Are we running out of numbers and the software is slyly reusing ones that have been deleted? ;-)) I'm sure there is a completely logical [at least for a computer/software point of view] reason. And the image in question was only uploaded last week. Have fun! --~ Bill, Bluesman 17:34, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

I am afraid I am not entirely sure that I understand the sequence of events, but before we get into the details, let me bring up one point. When a Wiki-hosted image (or any Wiki page) is deleted via the Wiki software, it's not physically removed from the server's hard drive. Instead it is moved to a special "deleted" subdirectory and can be later "undeleted" if needed. It is possible that the Wiki software checks the list of files in the "deleted" subdirectory when you upload a new file and displays a warning id it finds a file with the same name, but I don't know the details of how it works. Does this help? If not, could you please provide the exact steps that resulted in the issue described above? Something along the lines of:
  1. Accessed Publication Listing for record #123456
  2. Clicked Clone This Pub
  3. Blanked out the value of the "Image URL" field, changed the price and clicked "Clone Pub" at the bottom.
  4. Approved submission
and so on. TIA! Ahasuerus 06:51, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
First four steps exactly as you note, other than a slightly different set of notes.
  1. clicked View this Pub after accepting submission - NO image was present
  2. clicked Add Image, chose the correct file from my computer and then clicked Upload Image
  3. received Warning message that there was already an image attached to the record that had just been created [the image did not display in the thumbnail]; it had been uploaded by editor RR [? - don't know that one]
  4. clicked on Upload File anyway and then deleted the existing image.

The rest was just checking to make sure that last didn't delete the image in the original record I cloned from. It occurs to me that it may have been a stray image created manually and the file was mis-typed and just happened to match the new record. I never actually saw the image so can't say if it matched the book cover-wise. I did see the date it was uploaded and it was July 22-27?? --~ Bill, Bluesman 22:28, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Max Plaisted not Pseudonym for Jack Binder?

We've had a couple of discussions, here and here about the serial comic Zarnak in Thrilling Wonder Stories. I know you have more than a casual interest so I want to check with you before making changes. I've found a web page on Max Plaisted that indicates that Bleiler was in error identifying the artist as Jack Binder and if you don't disagree I intend to make the corrections.--Rkihara 18:38, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Good catch, please do! Ahasuerus 23:08, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

T. R. Chowdhury

Hi! This author "T. R. Chowdhury"[1]has published about six books recently. Can you check fixer for any in the POD's and vanity list. If any push them through and I'll sort everything else out. Thanks!Kraang 03:00, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Done! Please note that some of the records came from Amazon UK rather than from even though the books were apparently published in the US. It's an Amazon API quirk -- sometimes it doesn't recognize ISBNs that has on file, in which case you can usually tell that something is wrong because the UK price looks weird. When it happens, the approving moderator has to check the corresponding US record manually and adjust the price (and possibly other values) accordingly. Thanks! Ahasuerus 16:49, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
OK, I think I got them all now, but there is one thing that I am not certain about. Based on reviews, it looks like Blood of Dragons is about the children of the characters who were introduced in the Shadow Over Shandahar books. If so, then the "Dark Mists of Ansalar" series is a part of the "Shadow Over Shandahar Universe", but it would be nice to have this confirmed before we link the two series. Ahasuerus 19:08, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
It's a bit mixed up, but I'll sort it out. Some of her short stories are under Tracy Chowdhury and are in the "Shadow Over Shandahar Universe". Thanks!Kraang 22:00, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Got it, thanks! Ahasuerus 23:00, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
BTW, is she "Tracy" or "Tracey"? The "Legal Name" field currently lists her as "Tracey". Ahasuerus 23:02, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Typo fixed. Thanks!Kraang 00:49, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

Duplicate submission

I've left the latest set of duplicate submissions in the queue (three of them). I'm hoping they will give you evidence to zero in on the problem. Let me know when to delete them. Thanks. Mhhutchins 02:32, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, I will take a closer look tomorrow after I handle the weekly backups. Ahasuerus 05:52, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
A fourth one just happened. I'll delete it after you've had a chance to look at it. Thanks. Mhhutchins 05:57, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
I have downloaded the database and installed it on the development server, so you can delete them now. Thanks! Ahasuerus 18:11, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, I was thinking if you have access to the web server logs corresponding to time of submission, and if they're logging all requests and not just errors, there may be a clue. If it's an upstream proxy doing the resubmission, you should see two submissions in the log file -- they might be spaced apart, as logging is done on request completion not on reception. Part of the log record should be the time the request took. In theory, you'd see one with a long time, the other with a short time. That would then give some sense of just how long the operations are taking. If there's no upstream proxy, I suppose it could be happening in the CGI delegation for Python, and you might be able to find something similar in the CGI logs (or you might see errors in the CGI logs). --MartyD 10:55, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Good points, I'll take a look. Thanks! Ahasuerus 03:01, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
When you get a chance, can you look at the three submissions by Robert Reginald being held in the queue? They're identical, and he doesn't remember making three different submissions, this close together. I've had duplicates, but never triplicates! Mhhutchins 17:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Talk about things going from bad to worse... Ahasuerus 19:36, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I just had a triplicate submission myself. Can I go ahead and delete the ones by Reginald? Mhhutchins 23:56, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Please do -- I have the latest backup installed on the development server (which is acting up tonight, but that's a different story) now. Ahasuerus 02:16, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

(unindent) FYI, I just had a title deletion acceptance nearly instantaneously respond "Submission not in a new state". I did not 2-click on it, and there was no wait of any kind. 7:07 in the Recent Integrations list. --MartyD 12:11, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

A first: I have three submissions in the queue to create a variant title record for Aimee Bender's "Skinless" (all within 13 seconds), and it's in the database, but (a BIG BUT) there is no record of it being accepted on the Recent Integrations list. How could this have happened? There was a long delay after I made this (single) submission, after maybe a minute it came back as an error. I made no attempt to redo it, because I checked and saw that it had been accepted into the database. Then I saw that there were three identical submissions in the queue with no corresponding acceptance in the Recent Integrations list. Mhhutchins 19:39, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Even more problems: eight submissions, all within one minute of "submitting" (2013-09-23 14:41:02 until 2013-09-23 14:42:03), and all of which had been accepted at least ten minutes before. For example:
Acceptance into the db as shown on the Recent Integrations list:
2013-09-23 14:21:18 2230608 - NewPub Mhhutchins Mhhutchins An Invisible Sign of My Own
A new submission in the queue:
2230616 N NewPub 2013-09-23 14:41:10 Mhhutchins (Talk) An Invisible Sign of My Own
That's a full twenty minutes later!!!! That can't have happened with a double mouse click. Something is dreadfully wrong. Mhhutchins 19:56, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Aha! I think we may have found something here. If you check submission 2230588 (submitted on 2013-09-23 13:59:48), you will see that it set up "Skinless" as a VT of "Erasing". However, the submission is not showing up in the "Integrated" list. That is because even though the submission is marked as "Integrated", there is no "approval" time recorded. The user ID of the moderator who approved the submission is not recorded either. So it looks like something, possibly the fact that the server is sporadically slow, is causing the integration process to stop half way through marking the submission as "approved". It's not much, but it's the first real clue that we have had in a while. Thanks! Let me see where this takes me... Ahasuerus 21:34, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
I hope it helps. What about the fact that 8 submissions were made and accepted and then the same exact submissions show up almost simultaneously ten to twenty minutes later than the original submissions? That's a headscratcher! Mhhutchins 21:43, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that's very strange. Now that I have addressed the first identified problem -- see the last message posted on the Community Portal -- I will take a closer look at the "mystery 8". I have also turned on additional logging options within the database to see if we can capture any anomalies that way. Unfortunately, the fall is upon us and with it the allergy season, which makes my brain work rather slooowly... Ahasuerus 01:02, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
The additional logging options mentioned above were helpful in two ways:
  1. I was able to identify and fix the slowest page in the application -- see the latest patch notes posted on the Community Portal
  2. I was able to confirm that the bulk of our performance problems have nothing to do with the efficiency of our application/database design and everything to do with the performance of the hosting server. When a database query that affects 1 record can take anywhere from 0.00 to 6 seconds, you know that it's not the application that is responsible.
I have also identified an additional issue which may be affecting performance, but it will require more digging. Ahasuerus 03:36, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Binding/Pub Format

When you get a chance, can you run a list of all formats (with counts) currently being used in the Binding field? It's been a while since I last asked you this (December 2012), so the time seems ripe. Thanks in advance. Mhhutchins 02:56, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Sure. Here is what we have as of 20 hours ago:
| count | type                   |
|     1 | 141                    |
|   942 | A4                     |
|  1260 | A5                     |
|     1 | audio                  |
|   692 | audio cassette         |
|  1539 | audio CD               |
|     4 | audio DVD              |
|    12 | audio LP               |
|   262 | audio MP3 CD           |
|   799 | bedsheet               |
|     2 | boxed set              |
|     6 | broadside              |
|    21 | CD-ROM                 |
|  8833 | digest                 |
|  2476 | digital audio download |
|    71 | digital audio player   |
|   295 | dos                    |
|  6145 | ebook                  |
|    36 | email                  |
|     1 | ePub                   |
|     7 | Half Foolscap          |
| 70472 | hc                     |
|    20 | manuscript             |
|   498 | octavo                 |
|     2 | Paperback              |
| 93703 | pb                     |
|  1894 | ph                     |
|    12 | portfolio              |
|  2052 | Pulp                   |
|  3238 | quarto                 |
|    65 | tabloid                |
| 63413 | tp                     |
|  1358 | webzine                |
|     1 | yp                     |
And yes, I remember that we have an outstanding FR to convert this field to a drop-down list... Ahasuerus 04:42, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
I've fixed the 1-2 item formats, but see there's one making its first appearance on the list: "manuscript", to which I can only say "huh?" Can you point out the single "audio" record? Thanks. Mhhutchins 06:14, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
The culprit is Vortex by S. J. Kincaid. And I am equally puzzled by the appearance of "manuscript". The Acquisition Rules page says "Debatable: unpublished works by established authors, e.g. John Taine's manuscripts?", but I'd think we'd want to have a debate about this topic before we start entering manuscripts. (And at this point I really don't think it would be a good idea.) Ahasuerus 02:41, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Here is the culprit for "manuscript". It contains 19 of the pub records with this binding. I would suggest that the field be blanked and the publication described in the Note field. This follows the documented standard: "If a publication can not fit comfortably into any of the above categories, leave the field blank, and describe the publication's format in the note field." Using this rule, we could easily get a drop-down menu of about twenty choices. Exactly 20 in the above list have 50 or more records. Mhhutchins 04:58, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
The "culprit" for those manuscript bindings is me. By "manuscript" I did not intend to imply the original version of someone's eventual book, but rather the publication format used prior to the existence of books, when "books" in libraries were all hand-written. The term "manuscript" seems pretty standard for those documents, although "codex" is also used (although that is a somewhat more constricted class, and excludes the very early "scroll" documents). My preference is to continue using that binding description, but if you insist, I can blank them all and move this to the notes. It seems to me that these pre-book publications need to bend certain rules. For example, the "publisher" field doesn't exactly apply -- but when it's known, I've used that to name the person who hand-wrote the manuscript; and in a few cases we know a manuscript was written at a particular monastery, but not the actual transcriber, so I have used the name of that "organization" as the publisher. (Looking back at my notes here, I see I could have been clearer in the notes as to the status of the "publilsher".) Similarly, abiding strictly by the normal rules, almost everything published before the Gutenberg press would have to be listed with an "unknown" publication date. It seems to me that this would eliminate most of the interesting information available for such listings. As such, I have tried to list each manuscript under the most recent date accepted by scholars working in these fields, so that at the least we get a reasonable ordering of the manuscripts, and they are listed consistently, i.e. "known to have existed by this date". Chavey 01:39, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
It's not exactly about which term is used to describe the "publication" (even though the current definition of "manuscript" would conflict with its use here and cause confusion). It's more about the effort that is being made to get the number of possible bindings into a manageable one in order to create a drop-down menu. It is my contention that any binding or publication format of less than a minimum number (that number to be decided by the group when we get down to a hard discussion) should not be part of the menu, requiring that the publication be described in the Note field, i.e. leaving the Pub Format/Binding field blank. There is no hurry to make any changes of the records you've added, since it may be awhile before this function is discussed, designed, and implemented. I ask Ahasuerus to occasionally run a script to find the odd ones which are obviously errors, like "141" and "yp". Mhhutchins 02:17, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

(unindent) I've changed all occurrences of "manuscript" to "codex" ("a book made up of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar, with hand-written content"). This avoids the confusion with the other more modern use of the word "manuscript". I'll try to get back to my work on these ancient stories that were hand-written, and I suggest that we wait until then to know whether there are enough of them to justify it as a separate binding type. It won't be hard for me to do a bulk change at that point if that's a decision made later. Chavey 04:38, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Well, I seriously doubt even "codex" will qualify as one of the drop-down menu choices, unless it runs into the hundreds. Mhhutchins 04:41, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Script for "Pre-2005 pubs with ISBN-13s"

I've come across a semi-problem with this script. It doesn't display every result. If 2 or more ISBNs have the same publication date, only one is displayed. Once that one has been fixed, the next one shows up. I discovered this because it seemed like I was running in place. Every time I'd fix one, another one would pop up that wasn't there at first. Thanks for checking into this. Mhhutchins 17:15, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Good point, should be fixed now. Ahasuerus 17:49, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! That was fast. (Although it's daunting to see such a long list when I thought I was making some progress!) Mhhutchins 18:23, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Editor's concern about his "bug" report being "ignored"

Please read this discussion when you get a chance, and explain to the editor how bug reports and feature requests work. Thanks. Mhhutchins 20:13, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Done. Ahasuerus 20:49, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Mhhutchins 21:09, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
As I read it now - Please understand, that nobody needs to explain me how bug reports and OSS development work. I have a lot of experience in this field, see e.g. my Ohloh stats. We probably still have a different understanding about what "ignored" means. --Stoecker 12:13, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Test 2013-09-25

Test 2013-09-25 Fixer 23:26, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Test2 Fixer 23:29, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Test3. TestAccount 23:32, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Test4. Fixer 23:34, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Test5. Ahasuerus 23:35, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Test6. Fixer 23:35, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Cover Title Records for Multi-Artist Covers

I'm trying to variant a reprint of this publication's cover art to the publication's cover record. However, when I search on the publication, I get two cover art records: one for each artist: 833793 and 833792. Is this the way multi-artist covers are supposed to work? Multiple records instead of one with multiple artists? -- JLaTondre (talk) 22:09, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

The current behavior has been reported as a bug. To quote Bug 156:
  • Creating a new publication with multiple artists, or editing an existing publication to add another artist, creates separate COVERART title records for each artist. This is in contrast to adding multiple authors on the pub or on a content entry, where authors are then all assigned to the same title record. It is also in contrast to the Edit Title interface, where adding authors to a COVERART title assigns those authors to that title instead of creating new records.
That said, we really have two use cases:
  1. a single piece of cover art co-created by two artists, and
  2. two separate works created by two separate artists,which frequently happened with Ace Doubles.
Ideally the software should handle both types of scenarios correctly, but for now we should probably fix the reported bug and standardize the behavior. Ahasuerus 03:31, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Until the bug is fixed, here's how to correct these records (but first make sure that it is a single work in which both artists collaborated, and not two different works which were individually created).
  1. Edit the pub record, removing the credit entirely for one of the artists.
  2. Once the submission to edit the pub record is accepted, the Coverart record for the one you removed will be deleted from the database.
  3. Do a search for the remaining Coverart Record, and once found, click "Edit Title Data".
  4. On the edit screen, click the "Add Author" button, and enter the name of the person who you removed in the first step.
  5. Once the submission is accepted, there will be one record which will be displayed on both artists' summary page as "Cover: TITLE (DATE) with X" and "...Y" on the other artists' page. Mhhutchins 03:56, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Thank you both. -- JLaTondre (talk) 12:51, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Submission queue bug

I hope it'll still be there then you see this. This submission shows up in the New Submissions list as N, but when I view it, the diff shows only a language "change" (English to English), and the bottom says "This submission has been approved.", with no buttons. --MartyD 10:39, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I am afraid the submission no longer shows up in the New Submissions list and its body looks rather innocuous:
| sub_id  | sub_state | sub_type | sub_data | sub_time           | sub_reviewed        | sub_submitter |
sub_reviewer | sub_reason | sub_holdid |
| 2241482 | I         |        8 | <?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?>
   <Subject>Down Rover Down</Subject>
| 2013-10-13 05:35:58 | 2013-10-13 05:36:10 |        181985 |         1291 | NULL       |          0 |
In other words, it was created by Stoecker at 05:35:58 and was approved by Rudam at 05:36:10. (I should probably change the code to display this information next to "This submission has been approved".)
I can't think of any reason why it would appear in the New Submissions list after it was approved... Ahasuerus 14:59, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, it's gone now. I had never seen anything like it before. And I went back to the entry a couple of times to make sure I was seeing straight.... Oh well, thanks for checking. --MartyD 16:13, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I blame Deros! :-) Ahasuerus 16:22, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Armchair fiction

Greg Luce has told me there's another set of new releases out, are they in our Fixer queue? If so, let me know when they're added to submissions. Disclaimer reminder - he sends me free books occasionally rather than learn our user interface. BLongley 10:37, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Hm, it turns out that some of them were not in any of Fixer's queues. Apparently, Amazon had tagged them "Military" and such instead of "Science Fiction", presumably because of titles like "Weapon from the Stars" (!) Have I mentioned Amazon's dope-smoking penguins recently? In any event, I have entered all (17) of them now. Ahasuerus 05:04, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! I've mentioned the miscategorisation to Greg, I don't know if he has the capability to change that though. BLongley 11:25, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Apologies for my lack of recent input and activity - the health problems have turned out to be quite severe. I'm just out of hospital for the 7th time this year, with dire warnings about my unhealthy activities. Worst case so far seems to be "12 months to live" but I'd like to prove them wrong, of course. BLongley 10:37, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Ouch -- not a very nice "worst case". Glad to see you back, and I certainly hope those problems are correctable. My "75% chance of death in 3-years", back in 2001, was correctable by surgery, and I have gone well past my predicted expiration date. I hope something similar is in store for you. Chavey 02:51, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
No need to apologize. If anything, ISFDB may be considered a moderately "unhealthy activity" since it prevents one from exercising for prolonged periods of time. There is a reason why Campanella wrote in The City of the Sun that his utopia would "allow no game which is played while sitting" :=\
I am not sure what I could say to cheer you up except to relate another anecdote. There is a well-known story of Lord Acton meeting with the preeminent German historian Leopold von Ranke, who was then in his early eighties, almost blind and in declining health. Naturally, Acton expected the worst in the nearest future. Instead von Ranke started writing a history of the world when he was 84 and published one volume per year until his death at the age of 90... Ahasuerus 05:04, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I've got a long list of things I CAN improve to extend my life. The only problem is that it's actually more fun planning my death than my life: how to dispose of several thousand items of SF interest, for instance. I'm starting small: let have some more convention badges etc. BLongley 11:25, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Software development - fixing unicode issues

Based on your note on my wiki page I had a short look at the ISFDB code and it is much much easier to understand than the ISFDB data entry rules. While the "import *" in python makes it hard to find resources, the code is otherwise relatively clear.

So maybe I can help. What is required to get unicode support for author names and translator field included?

Below a small fix I found during tests: The first change prevents the double encoding of subject which makes such ugly edit entries when I change a Russian book. The second make the output somewhat nicer by reverting the XML encoding partially for the display.

After a bit deeper investigation it seems that the escaping is broken a bit more. While the first fix will fix this issue it will have others problems.

Is there any reason why the DB does not store UTF-8, but XML encoded iso8859-1? You can expect lots of troubles from this in the future, when foreign language increases. Would you accept changes to fix this situation transparent (i.e. that simply setting utf-8 or iso8859-1 in the config will both work)?

Any other reason why still using CVS? Haven't used this for years now.

If I do some modifications, what is the best way to submit them? Actually sourceforge is really ugly nowadays.

diff -u -r1.19
--- edit/        3 Jul 2013 02:04:37 -0000       1.19
+++ edit/        23 Oct 2013 11:30:24 -0000
@@ -69,7 +69,7 @@
        update_string += "  <NewPub>\n"
        submitter = getSubmitter()
        update_string += "    <Submitter>%s</Submitter>\n" % (submitter)
-       update_string += "    <Subject>%s</Subject>\n" % (db.escape_string(XMLescape(new.pub_title)))
+       update_string += "    <Subject>%s</Subject>\n" % (db.escape_string(new.pub_title))
        if new.title_id:
                update_string += "    <Parent>%s</Parent>\n" % (new.title_id)
@@ -146,6 +146,7 @@
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '>', '>')
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '\n', '<br>')
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '\\n', '<br>')
+       outstr = string.replace(outstr, '&#', '&#')
        print "<h1>Submitting the following record:</h1>"

--Stoecker 12:05, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Following has the correct structure (i.e. doing database conversion only directly before the DB access), but I still struggle with my UTF-8 environment. I can't convince python to assume it is in a iso-8859-1 system. It always outputs stuff as UTF-8. Probably easier to fix the UTF-8 storage into the DB.

--- edit/        3 Jul 2013 02:04:37 -0000       1.19
+++ edit/        23 Oct 2013 14:07:18 -0000
@@ -69,14 +69,14 @@
        update_string += "  <NewPub>\n"
        submitter = getSubmitter()
        update_string += "    <Submitter>%s</Submitter>\n" % (submitter)
-       update_string += "    <Subject>%s</Subject>\n" % (db.escape_string(XMLescape(new.pub_title)))
+       update_string += "    <Subject>%s</Subject>\n" % (XMLescape(new.pub_title))
        if new.title_id:
                update_string += "    <Parent>%s</Parent>\n" % (new.title_id)
        ErrorCheck('Title', new.used_title, new.pub_title)
        if new.used_title:
-               update_string += "    <Title>%s</Title>\n" % (db.escape_string(new.pub_title))
+               update_string += "    <Title>%s</Title>\n" % (XMLescape(new.pub_title))
        new.pub_year = ErrorCheck('Year', new.used_year, new.pub_year)
        if new.used_year:
@@ -137,7 +137,7 @@
                update_string += "    </Artists>\n"
-       update_string += db.escape_string(new.xmlContent())
+       update_string += XMLescape(new.xmlContent())
        update_string += "  </NewPub>\n"
        update_string += "</IsfdbSubmission>\n"
@@ -146,6 +146,7 @@
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '>', '>')
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '\n', '<br>')
        outstr = string.replace(outstr, '\\n', '<br>')
+       outstr = string.replace(outstr, '&#', '&#')
        print "<h1>Submitting the following record:</h1>"
@@ -155,7 +156,7 @@
        print outstr
        submitter_id = SQLgetSubmitterID(submitter)
-       update = "insert into submissions(sub_state, sub_type, sub_data, sub_time, sub_submitter) values('N', %d, '%s', NOW(), %d)" % (MOD_PUB_NEW, update_string, submitter_id)
+       update = "insert into submissions(sub_state, sub_type, sub_data, sub_time, sub_submitter) values('N', %d, '%s', NOW(), %d)" % (MOD_PUB_NEW, db.escape_string(update_string), submitter_id)
         # If the user is a moderator, let him jump straight to the approval screen

Does anyone use the system with UNICODE set to "utf-8"? I now changed some more stuff and it seems to work now as expected (thought I tested not every place). There are still many latin1-hardcoded places --Stoecker 16:58, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Excellent questions! :)
First of all, you have to keep in mind that the ISFDB effort began a little over 18 years ago -- see this Wikipedia article for all the gory details. The software was originally written in C and you can still find traces of the "C mindset" in the current code. When Al rewrote the software using Python and MySQL in 2004-2006, Unicode was an afterthought, which is why the database and the software assume Latin-1. And yes, we need to convert the DB to UTF-8, but it's not a trivial conversion as you have discovered and we need to upgrade MySQL from 5.1 to (at least) 5.5 first.
Similarly, Al started using CVS and SourceForge when they were still in their prime. It would be nice to upgrade to something more modern, but hey, it works, which is more than can be said about many other things. Given our limited development resources, we have to prioritize things, so if something is "good enough", it's likely to stay that way for a while. There are quite a few nasty bugs in the software that need to be addressed first.
Which brings us to the next point. Al's "ISFDB time" shrank to almost nothingness ca. 2007-2008, which left the development effort high and dry. It wasn't until mid-2009 that MartyD got the software working at home and wrote the installation instructions which you see on the Development page. A number of developers helped fix the most glaring problems in mid-2009 and early 2010, but then things slowed down, although we managed to improve language support ca. 2011. Finally, I retired in late 2012, which enabled me to spend more time on the software (see this list of 2013 patches.) Unfortunately, I still have to process robotic submissions, which keep ISFDB up to date, and that's a ton of work -- note the size of Fixer's internal queues at the moment (Fixer is the main ISFDB robot.)
So... to go back to your original questions. Adding full-blown translator support would be non-trivial because we would have to handle collaborative and pseudonymous translators the way we currently handle collaborative and pseudonymous authors. And, of course, translators can also be authors and vice versa -- see, e.g., the Notes field of this record. There is quite a bit of complexity there and we need to streamline the current Summary Bibliography code, which has a lot of inefficiencies and outright "dead wood", before we can do that. I am currently considering adding a new "title disambiguator" field (to handle abridgments, different versions of titles and so on), which could also be used to enter translator information for now.
In addition, we really need to add a "transliterated title" and a "transliterated author" field to the title and author tables. At the moment there is no easy way to search for them -- unless they are entered in parentheses like we did with the Nagaru Tanigawa page -- and in many cases all a "naive" user knows is the transliterated form of the title/author's name.
Based on the above, I think that all we need to do before we can allow non-Latin author names is add "transliterated title" and "transliterated author" to the respective tables and improve the search logic to use these fields during searches. We don't have to convert the database to UTF-8 right away, although it will help down the road.
As far as translator support goes, we could:
  • Add a "disambiguator" field for things like "[tr: Andrea Marinetto]"
  • Enhance the Summary Bibliography, Series display and Title display logic to display the disambiguator field
and that should give us some breathing space until we can add full-blown translator support. But first we need to discuss the addition of this field and determine what we want to use it for. Ahasuerus 18:17, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Clean-up script not working as expected

When trying to clean-up the script which finds CHAPTERBOOK records in a series (emphasis on trying, because moderators are still adding series data to the CHAPTERBOOK records and not to the SHORTFICTION records), I discovered that the script that finds CHAPTERBOOK records without content records isn't working as I would expected it. If you look at this series, you'll find two records of CHAPTERBOOK type (which brought the series to my attention) and was going to fix them when I saw that neither have content records in order to transfer the series data to. And neither of them appear on the script which finds CHAPTERBOOKS without contents.

In addition, whenever a CHAPTERBOOK record has either an INTERIORART record or an ESSAY record, but not a SHORTFICTION record, (like this one), it is also not found by the clean-up script. I assumed that the script would find these SHORTFICTION-less records, because that was the purpose of the script. Mhhutchins 17:41, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, I will take a look. Ahasuerus 17:47, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, I see what's going on. The problem is that the cleanup script looks for CHAPTERBOOK pubs with only one title associated with them. And that works fine in most cases, but if a CHAPTERBOOK pub has a cover art record on file, then the script thinks that there are two titles and skips the pub. So what we really need to do is change the script to look for CHAPTERBOOK pubs with 0 SHORTFICTION titles. It's easy to do, but I'll have to test the new logic to make sure that the performance is still acceptable. Thanks for finding the bug! Ahasuerus 17:59, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Done. The new version of the script is a tad slower, but it shouldn't be a problem. Also, I have changed the logic to skip CHAPTERBOOKs with POEM and SERIAL content items to accommodate what we currently have on file, although I am not 100% sure about SERIAL/CHAPTERBOOK combinations like this one. Do you know if this has been discussed and documented? Ahasuerus 18:50, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
I know of nothing in the help pages about how to handle separate publications of parts of a work. In the case of King's The Green Mile, the contained records of the CHAPTERBOOK publications were given as SHORTFICTION, even though technically they are parts of a serial, and probably should have been entered as SERIAL type. (The parts can't be considered self-contained works which were "fixed-up" as a NOVEL.) The Scalzi novel was published almost identically as the King novel, and seems to be the better way to handle the situation. Thanks for fixing the script, even though it added several dozen records that will need to be cleaned. Just enough to keep me busy! Mhhutchins 04:23, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Possible pub editing / content title editing bug

See this submission and this follow-up. It seems very unlikely he edited it, and it's also unlikely to be a paste-o, since there was no original title to copy from.... --MartyD 17:00, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

I have tried it a few different ways on my development server, but haven't been able to recreate it so far. Similarly, on the live server I get the expected result, which is currently in the queue. I wonder if the editor was momentarily confused and thought that he was on the Title Editor page, so he changed the value in the first field of the metadata section?.. Ahasuerus 17:47, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
It's certainly possible. No way to tell (although you'll see the content record is also changed). Anyway, I just wanted you to be able to see it. If you're done, I'll accept it and fix it. Thanks. --MartyD 18:48, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Sounds good, thanks. Ahasuerus 18:51, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

The Tombs of Atuan

With respect to your verified The Tombs of Atuan:

Thanks. -- JLaTondre (talk) 14:07, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Looking Backward, from the Year 2000

Have identified the artist for [this] cover as J.H. Breslow from the familiar initials JHB on the cover. 1" up and 1 1/4" in from the bottom right corner. Cheers! --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:30, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Nice, thanks! Ahasuerus 03:32, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

And All the Stars a Stage

User Horzel found the artist for this pub here. I added Enric to the record and adapted the notes. Thanks, --Willem H. 14:34, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks! Ahasuerus 15:17, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Gateway Omnibus series

I see you're adding the forthcoming books in this series, and noted that the publisher is given as "Gateway / Orion". The Amazon Look-Inside of previous books in the series give the publisher as Gollancz (see the title page of this one). Also, I'm not sure that the author's name should be part of the publication's title. That appears to be just how the books are credited on the title page: author / series / titles in the omnibus. Thanks for checking. Mhhutchins 03:02, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Sorry. I see you noted that the series' publisher has changed. I'll change those back, but I guess we won't know for real until the books are published or if we get a Look-Inside for them. Thanks. Mhhutchins 03:06, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Up until now, Gateway has been the exclusive imprint for Orion's ebook releases. I suppose it's possible they're expanding its use for this series. I see that even the ones published as early as July are given as Gateway in the Amazon listings, but show Gollancz on the actual title page. That may be something to consider if/when the January titles are published. Mhhutchins 03:10, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes, this is a rather tricky series. In many cases Amazon's records were bare bones for the longest time and there is still some inconsistent data out there, even on the publisher's site. For example, their page for the C. L. Moore omnibus says:
  • This omnibus shows her mastery of both Sword and Sorcery and planetary romance, reprinting JIREL OF JOIRY, NORTHWEST OF EARTH, and story collection JUDGEMENT NIGHT
but the cover scan shows "Shambleau" instead of "Jirel of Joiry" and "Judgment Night" is a novel rather than a collection. I guess, as you said, we won't know what's really there until we get to expect the actual books. Ahasuerus 03:44, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

SFE3 Links

Dave Langford says "John Clute would like me to add that we'd be very grateful if ISFDB links to could be labelled "SF Encyclopedia Entry" analogous to "Wikipedia Entry", rather than just "Webpage" as though it were the author's own site."

This looks fairly easy unless we try to solve the multiple links problem. Can you find time for this? BLongley 08:10, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Well, the long-term solution is to implement FR 361, "Merge Web pages, Wikipedia links and IMDB links; enhance their display", but it will require database changes, so it may take some time. Let me see if I can implement a quick fix just for Author pages.
P.S. The good news is that I am almost done entering the new books for January. I have also finished reconciling what we have with Amazon's "Authority" files. The bad news is that I have been sick for the last week+ and my brain can't handle much more than data entry at the moment. Ahasuerus 19:43, 3 December 2013 (UTC)