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Day 2, plus musing about programming

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Today we received 22 more submissions.

Also, I wrote some new code to make it easier for me to enter submissions into our database. Now I can just copy the block of info at the top of the submission (author name, email address, story title, wordcount) and paste it into a text box and the system will do everything it's supposed to do--before, I had to enter author first name, author last name, email address, story title, and wordcount into five separate boxes, which involved a fair bit of either typing or switching back and forth between applications.

So before, it was just handy if the author put that info at the top of the submission; saved me a little time so I didn't have to look for each piece of info. Now, it saves me significant time. Fortunately, most authors are including that info block these days; if you submit to us, please do that.

It was kind of fun writing this code. I'm trying to get used to a new-to-me programming paradigm: make the system adapt to whatever input it's given, rather than making the user adapt to the strictures of the system. My new system will fail horribly if someone gives it data in a form it doesn't expect, but since I'm the only person entering the data, that's okay; it doesn't need to be completely robust. But I made it smart enough to (for example) discard the annoying "mailto" HTML tag that a lot of mail systems attach to email addresses in the body of a message, and to transform a phrase like "About 1,093 words, approx." into the number 1100. There're still lots of ways I can (and hope to) improve the system, but today's additions will be a big help; they'll probably save me about half an hour a week of data entry. (Of course, it took a few hours to write and test this code. But it'll still save me time in the long run.)

One downside, though, is that the new approach makes me less likely to make sure that the email address typed in by the author doesn't have any typos in it. Which will doubtless lead to some bounced rejections down the line, 'cause authors do make mistakes in typing their email addresses surprisingly often. If my system were really good, I could copy and paste the Date/From/Subject lines and it would figure out everything it needed (except wordcount) from those. Some day. But if I do that, I'll need to account for the fairly common case where the author specifies a return address different from the one they're sending from.

In other news, I did some long-delayed cleanup of the magazine's email system (including deleting a 900MB spam file, and setting things up so the file won't get so big in the future). Oh, and I did five loads of laundry. And spent the evening chatting with Kam and Rob S. And bought The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl from my local bookstore.

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One downside, though, is that the new approach makes me less likely to make sure that the email address typed in by the author doesn’t have any typos in it.

How were you doing that by hand? Comparing them to the email address from the message?


28 today for Interzone.


I’m trying to get used to a new-to-me programming paradigm: make the system adapt to whatever input it’s given, rather than making the user adapt to the strictures of the system.

Cool and important paradigm. Seems like it could apply in other types of communication too.


I’m trying to get used to a new-to-me programming paradigm: make the system adapt to whatever input it’s given, rather than making the user adapt to the strictures of the system.

Amen, brother. It's astounding to me how often I see websites, often run by companies with plenty of money to spend on programming, that say stuff like: Credit Card Number (do not enter any spaces or hyphens). C'mon, people! How hard is it to remove spaces and hyphens?