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July 20, 2008

Tor.com
Posted by Patrick at 12:00 PM * 84 comments

As discussed four months ago on Making Light—Tor.com is public. Join us.

Comments on Tor.com:
#1 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 12:58 PM:

I've really enjoyed receiving the newsletter emails and e-books all these many weeks. I'm going to miss them in some ways, but I'm subscribed to the new site and look forward to reading the blog there. Congratulations on your launch!

#2 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:03 PM:

Thanks for the pointer/reminder. Looking good so far.

#3 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:43 PM:

In public, but, I fear, still in beta: Comments, registration, story links don't work yet.

#4 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:43 PM:

I'm seeing:
"/www/sites/www.tor.com/files/html/templates/tor/layouts/foot.php on line 3"

#5 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:46 PM:

For me, at least. I keep getting "fatal error" messages.

#6 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Theophylact@3 - I've run into a glitch or two, but no big challenges, got right back to where I wanted to go with a click or two. I've been able to register, comment, add someone to my 'follow' list.

#7 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 02:23 PM:

It looks nice, and thanks for making Farthing available--I've been wanting to read that! That's what drew me in, and now that I'm there I'll stick around and see how it grows.

#8 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Working now. Good going!

#9 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Looks great, so far! Happy Lunar Landing Day!

#10 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 03:46 PM:

I have registered (was really looking forward to the launch of the site) but so far I'm out of luck commenting on blogs and threads. I only get the Preview option but when I hit that, nothing happens. :(

I've made sure I'm logged in. I use Exploder 6.0 under XP Professional.

#11 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:04 PM:

Whee!

#12 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Patrick,

I'd be interested, if it's allowed, to hear about your first day stats.

Steve @9 - I'd completely forgotten the significance of today's date. Is that a coincidence or intentional on Tor's part, Patrick?

#13 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:30 PM:

Working now for me under Firefox 3.0.1.

#14 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Does one have to re-register to login and/or comment? The log-in doesn't seem to be recognizing my user name or password.

#15 ::: insect_hooves ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 04:56 PM:

gurgle ... sputter ... (/me dissolves into paroxysms of fannish catharsis)

#16 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Something appears perhaps off with the apostrophes:

Call me impetuous (not to mention a little bored) but I’m not stupid. And while I’m far enough down the management ladder that I have to squint to see daylight, I’m an SSO 3, which means I can

(From the "Down on the Farm" sample.)

This is with Konqueror 4.0.98, so perhaps not of immediate concern, though that is an interesting decay sequence -- U+1074, U+1026, U+2122 -- for an apostrophe. Not what one usually sees.

#17 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:11 PM:

Totally neato-keen. Both the stories on the front page were first rate. It looks like it'll be just a little bit before the conversations pick up, but it's only been functional for half a day. I don't know what I'm going to drop from my blog-reading, but it looks like tor.com will become lively, and that and Making Light doesn't leave a lot of time for much else. Floundering in a wealth of words. Poor me.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:18 PM:

MSIE 6 is problematic, yes.

#19 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:20 PM:

Is this a custom CMS Tor has paid someone to write, or a heavily tailored version of something else (Slashcode, Livejournal, MT Enterprise ...)?

#20 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:36 PM:

#17
The conversations will pick up once everyone can comment, I'd say. I'm not the only one to have problems, there are others who can't comment on the blogs but can so on the Report Bugs thread. I can't do either, that's why I post here.

But I can upload photos. :)

#21 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Farthing was what made me subscribe as well. I had bought the book in Canada, but hadn't taken it with me to the UK; then I had a desperate need to re-read it. I was full willing to buy it twice, but couldn't find it anywhere. The e-book was a godsend!

I am beyond thrilled to see ML regulars like Bruce Baugh and Beth Meacham as bloggers as well as commenters!

The URLs are very "messy". For example,

http://tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=706

rather than

http://tor.com/blog/2008/07/20/july-20-1969/

or even

http://tor.com/blog/706/

as you might see with, say, Wordpress. Perfectly functional, but looks ungainly.

#22 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:02 PM:

#16: “’” is kind of pretty. Especially displayed in Hoefler Text.

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:15 PM:

PNH @18:
MSIE 6 is problematic, yes.

That's the job description of our front end programmer at work.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:18 PM:

What do you know? I managed to register and upload a photo of me in one fell swoop.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:19 PM:

More importantly, yay Tor.com!

I wasn't able to turn the full force of het Abiveld onto the site, since the "Come here and break this" email came the very day we got the keys to our new house, and I've been flat out moving ever since.

But well done to everyone who has worked so hard on getting it up and running.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:34 PM:

Hmmm... I log in, I write something in one thread's comment box, hit 'preview' then... One big nothing.

#27 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Charlie Stross @19: The headers say it's Joomla

#28 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Serge @ 26: The site is acting like any newborn would. It is saying "Serge wishes to post? Ha! I shall not let him post. So there!" but it just comes out as "PTHBTHTBTHTBTH!".

Or else the het Abiveld is in full flower.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:44 PM:

Lance... That cursed abiveld!

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:47 PM:

I mean 'Ginger', not 'Lance'. But I still curse the abiveld.

#31 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Serge, the evidence above suggests the problem may lie within. Perhaps a sergeveld of PEBKAC? :)

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Lance... And if the abiveld and the sergeveld come into contact?

"Annihilation Jim. Total, complete, absolute annihilation."

#33 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:23 PM:

I can do just about everything I've attempted there, but I wasn't able to get a download to work in Mobi or PDF of either Charlie's or John's stories, and the audio file download doesn't seem to work for me either, after trying Quick Time, MS and iTunes.

I'm thinking this will get worked out over time, so it's not a real issue for me. Meanwhile, I did get to listen to them being read by selecting "play" instead of download, no problem.

Don't know if my browser is important, but I'm using Firefox 3.0.1.

#34 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:50 PM:

Ginger #28

If the site acts like a spoiled brat, it can go to bed without supper. So there. :)

Ok, I know those are beta bugs and will hopefully be dealt with soon. I've been through that with blogger as well when they changed their software and I jumped on the train early.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 07:58 PM:

Ginger #28 'Or else the het Abiveld is in full flower'.

You do realise, Ginger, that you've written 'Or else the the Abi field is in full flower'?

(My Dutch is so bad I can't remember the rule for when to use 'het' and when to use 'de' for 'the'.)

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Works for me (IE6, XP pro SP2). Whee!

#37 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 08:53 PM:

It is Joomla, and the tech folk are getting there with it. I'm personally amazed that we survived the first six hours with only two crashes.

#38 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:07 PM:

Hey, I just managed to post a comment on the TOR site.

#39 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Fragano @35: I did know "veld" (or "veldt") meant "field", and the conjunction of that with the fields of Holland* (all those tulips!) was too much to pass up. I suppose I could be called a "blooming idiot" for saying so.


*A province, if I am not mistaken, of the Netherlands.

#40 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:00 PM:

Wow

This is so very very cool.

Congrats PNH and Tor folk; yes, I know, there are some glitches still, but this is really a pretty impressive undertaking.

I'm really excited.

#41 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:17 PM:

I registered and left a blog comment with no difficulty.

#42 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:21 PM:

It's coming along nicely. There are the inevitable teething problems but bug fixes are being implemented at a rapid rate, and a number of conversations are firing up. All in all, an excellent (but by no means perfect) launch.

FYI, the free e-books & wallpapers that Tor have been giving away recently are available, all in one location, for a limited time (until the end of the week).

And yay for a new "Laundry" story by Charlie Stross in multiple formats.

#43 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Beth @ 37 If it's Joomla then they've done a swift job of laying it out. I've used Joomla in the past as CMS for various website --- it's a steep learning curve and while not really intended for a social networking site the component and module add-ons by the community work fairly well.

I say good job just for learning Joomla alone. It's a booger.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:08 AM:

Fragano @35:
My Dutch is so bad I can't remember the rule for when to use 'het' and when to use 'de' for 'the'.

Dutch nouns are gendered; common gender (m+f) nouns use "de" and neuter nouns use "het". In compound nouns, the gender of the last word is used to determine the overall gender; this makes sense because many compound words are adjectives glued onto the fronts of nouns.

[De] Abi + het veld = het Abiveld

#45 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:24 AM:

Oh god! Soon Lee "made a connection" with me! What's this "connection"? How do I make one back? What's going on? *hyperventilates*

#46 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:30 AM:

*waves*

The 'connections' make it easier to stalk keep track of comments made by people you know via your profile page.

#47 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:44 AM:

If you click on another user's profile, you should get on their profile page and to the right of their name, a button labelled "Follow?". Click on that to connect.

A number of familiar names from the fluorosphere are already there.

#48 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 04:03 AM:

Waaah! Tor.com wouldn't let me comment yesterday. Apart from that minor flaw, nice looking site.


Dutch nouns are gendered; common gender (m+f) nouns use "de" and neuter nouns use "het".

Though good luck knowing which words are gendered and which are neutral. Is zout (salt) "de" or "het"? Whole wars have been fought out in my family over that little conundrum. For the most part, using de or het is one of these things you learn by instinct, not science...

#49 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 04:14 AM:

One more niggle I just noticed: quite a lot of posts on the frontpage end with "more below the fold", but this text isn't linked like I would expect it to be.

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:17 AM:

Martin Wisse @48:

Though good luck knowing which words are gendered and which are neutral.

This is one of the plagues of learning the language*, yes. But if in doubt, one can always make a word diminutive (and thus neuter), or talk about it in the plural (and thus common gender).

-----
* Word order is harder, though.

#51 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 05:55 AM:

The site looks nice. I suppose only a curmudgeonly web standards die-hard such as myself might care about the impressive number of xhtml and css validation errors the site generates....

#52 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:06 AM:

Ahhh, it's like Twitter. For those who felt Twitter wasn't quite nerdy enough. I can live with that.

#53 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:18 AM:

Dutch isn't the only language with that sort of fun. Try German, we have three genders: der, die das.

And of course, it's der Mond (masc) in German and la lune (fem) in French, and die Sonne but le soleil; same with a lot of words. I'm sure the French do that on purpose. ;)

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 06:53 AM:

No way of making comments at Tor.Com from this machine. I see the labels for the boxes, and the scroll bar, but no data-entry boxes.

Opera 9 on Windows 2000 (an old portable). I probably ought to upgrade to the absolute latest version, but this is the only time I've seen the problem, anywhere.

It's odd, perhaps, but Opera 9 and OpenOffice don't behave like bloatware on this machine. Though some websites feel over-decorated.

#55 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:48 AM:

53: The sun is feminine and the moon masculine in Tolkien, too - no doubt as a deliberate Germanicism.

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:37 AM:

I shouldn't be surprised that the Making Light commentariat is chock-full of people who run nosebleedingly standards-compliant browsers used by twelve other people. And we like you that way! But at the moment we've got our hands full just trying to make Tor.com work with (for instance) Firefox and IE6.

Which is not to say I don't want to hear about problems with Opera, Konqueror, etc., of course.

#57 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Putting on my XSL developer hat for a moment -- if it works for Opera and Konqueror, it'll work for Firefox. (Which has the wretched bug-for-bug code, but doesn't insist on using it.)

At which point the only thing left is IE, and that's best handled by detecting the browser and serving different pages.

One-size-fits-all web pages beyond flat text don't work when you've got ACID2 compliance and IE6 to deal with at the same time.

#58 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 08:46 AM:

Martin, #49: "quite a lot of posts on the frontpage end with "more below the fold", but this text isn't linked like I would expect it to be."

Those lines are a workaround for the fact that people keep not noticing our somewhat muted "READ MORE" post footers. As soon as we fix that, those lines will go away.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 09:01 AM:

Ginger #39: Holland is two provinces -- Noord and Zuid Holland.

abi #44: Dank je wel.

Martin Wisse #48: Een zoutoorlog? (The word for 'war' is one place where Dutch goes truly weird.)

#60 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:09 AM:

There was an interesting talk on the radio here a few months ago, which went into some of the systems different languages use to determine the gender of words. In some languages, the system is based on a property of the word, not of the thing the word describes. (For example: in Russian, words that end in a consonant are masculine, and words that end in a vowel are feminine.) I feel that this explains a great deal.

There's a transcript of the talk here.

#61 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Earl Cooley III #51: I'm not quite a web standards diehard, but curmudgeon enough, to be very much annoyed about those ones that are quite pointless, nonsensical and just plain Wrong - like the doubled TITLE, still not fixed after my Thursday report. I didn't even think of validating CSS; now that I think of it, Tor used to have problems with that, though the worst were fixed and then all was updated to CSS3. (Damit, I still have to write that mail to Subterranean Press; as said on tor.com, I don't see the point of that obsession with XHTML when you're not able to guarantee that, and validity boast footers, although those at least contain the seeds of their own undoing).

To get more ontopic (obviously, anything related to Tor.com "I can't post coments on the site" is offtopic here :-): Gabriele #53, I had no problem with German (except for reading the usual pokes how foolish it is to have girls be "it" etc., and problems learning the genders by heart - I prefer languages where more of the gender is preserved in the ending and not just separated to the article). Actually, the problem was caused by how normal it was for me: Having been exposed only to that, and Slavic languages, and English on the other end of the spectrum, I thought that where there are genders at all, triad is a universal state (being after all so natural, right?), and I was surprised on learning, rather late, that Romance languages miss the neuter. I accepted that - okay, another example of that vulgar simplification going on since the Golden Age and Proto-Indo-European. But when I learned that Dutch merges masculine and feminine together, leaving neuter separately, I boggled a lot.

#62 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 10:26 AM:

Damit: In all that rewriting, I left out 'Obviously, anything related to Tor.com except "I can't post coments on the site" is offtopic here'

#63 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Patrick at 58: That's understandable, but it's standard practice everywhere else on the internet - including ML, of course - both to have a cut-line in the body of the post and to link it. The "Read More" link looks exactly like the standard "permalink to this post", and you're probably going to get more people clicking through happily if you stick to the standard grammar.

Oh, and since I haven't yet said it elsewhere, congratulations to everyone involved - it's a great site.

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:03 PM:

I wonder is there is an equivalent of Writer's Beware!, listing web designers who should be demoted to wiping down the intertubes with dishclouts.

#65 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:14 PM:

Gabriele Campbell @ #53:

Swedish has four grammatical genders, but in general you can fold male, female and the other neutral into one, as far as grammar goes (though the masculine pokes out as you apply adjectives, as an adjective as applied to a m. noun takes an -e suffix instead of the more normal -a suffix).

PNH @ #56:
Now that the site is out of beta, I'll open a ticket with Opera about the pasting problems and general comment editing weirdness I've had.

#66 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Ooh, looks like a ton more comment dumped in this morning. Way to keep everyone hooked!

#67 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:17 PM:

PNH # 56 we've got our hands full just trying to make Tor.com work with (for instance) Firefox and IE6.

Well, it works fine for me under Exploder 6.0 now: comments, starting a conversation, photo upload ... I'm feeling right at home there. :)

#68 ::: Gabriele Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Jan #61
Languages are fascinating, aren't they? One fun little detail is that Russians even if they speak/write a very good English still leave the 'the' out occasionally because it's so alien to them.

Ingvar #65
I lived in Sweden for two years back in 1989-91, studying, and foisting the intricacies of German grammar on some poor, unsuspecting Swedes. It was a fun time.

#69 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:24 PM:

If the whole thing were to fold tomorrow, I'd consider it worthwhile for giving me a brand-new writing-related thrill at this late date, well into my 40s: I got schmoozed, for the very first time. A PR person for a well-known large company in the field I'm covering wrote to me soliciting friendly coverage and offering goodies. This may cross over a bit with the thread about discrimination and prejudice insofar as it involves self-conception - for me, the status downgrade from being a disabled person not able to rake in the bucks often offsets the advantages of being from a white middle-class family, and "the sort of person whose work leads to them getting offered promotional goodies" has always been rungs up the ladder from "the sort of person who is me".

This is intensely amusing, therefore, and I really thank Patrick for the opportunity.

#70 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Bruce Baugh @69: Hey, that's really cool to hear, I know I'm glad to see you posting over there. I really need to jump into the commentary - I'll make sure and do that today/tomorrow.

#71 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Dave #54:

Are you logged in? The posting box doesn't appear unless you are.

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:38 PM:

me @ 66, pre-coffee: That should have read "ton more content", KTHXBAI

#73 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Might be worth revising the link to tor.com on the Making Light front page, to remove the bit about being "not yet public"?

#74 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 04:27 PM:

Soon Lee - I tried to leave a "thank you" in your shout box at Tor.com about answering my question whether it was Charlie reading his story. I tried twice with no luck and then hit "post" again and all that I could see show up was my avatar pic and no text.

#75 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Dawno #74:
My pleasure.

A blank message arrived in my shoutbox ~3 hours ago. The shoutbox appears to one of the 'work-in-progress' functionalities.

#76 ::: TinaB ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2008, 07:38 PM:

I've been enjoying it a lot.

:)

#77 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:15 AM:

Thanks for the pointer about being logged-in.

Arguably bad design to not have a warning, if one really needs to be logged in, rather than something which looks like a non-working equivalent of Making Light's comment entry interface.

So now I can type in a comment, press Preview Comment, and get shunted straight to the Current Conversations page.

#78 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2008, 03:14 PM:

Dave Bell #77:
That appears to be a browser incompatibility thing.

#79 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Gabriele #68: I don't think this is peculiar to Russians; it will probably be so with each language that lacks articles - even I still have problems with them.

IME Russians - at least on elementary level - are distinguished be leaving out copulas.

#80 ::: Tim Hall sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2009, 05:50 AM:

"Halloween San Fransisco" looks pink, square and tinned to me.

#81 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 12:23 AM:

This NYE, spam on rye

#82 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 12:36 AM:

And it's a repeat from Hallowe'en. Maybe a request to remove from their spambot might help? Or banning their ip address....

#83 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 01:44 AM:

All that remove requests do is confirm that a spam target is viable, making it more valuable.

#84 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2009, 05:02 AM:

We ban the IP addresses as a matter of course. That doesn't help when it's a botnet.

We also have a complex file of regex matches to distinctive words and phrases (the Words of Power).

Considering the swamp that is the internet, we actually spend very little time cutting off tentacles and banishing shambling creatures.

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