Dice.com Latest Upgrade Broke The Site

At least as of 6AM to 9AM, the job search website for tech, www.dice.com is not useable in my experience.

They went ahead and rolled out a major revision of their website today.  There actually were a few things in it that were kind of slick.

When you go in to do a search for a position, and it makes sense to do so, you have a slider for a criterion.

For example, when you are requesting a page for a search, you can tailor the number of results you want back by using a slider to change the number from 10 to 100 in increments.   The 100 is a big help.

Distance works the same way.

There are a few others, but the problem is that there should be a little box at the end for you to enter in a specific number.

Why? 

Simple – I live in Wilton Manors, Florida.  I used to have a search that would look for a 27 mile radius.  That would include West Palm Beach but specifically exclude downtown Miami.  I don’t want that commute, nor would I want that for anyone else. 

If there is a slider, you need to be able to enter in a specific number.

They also deleted the ability to search for an Area Code or a group of Area Codes.  Broward County is 954 and 754.  Palm Beach County is 561.  Having the ability in a large urbanized area like this to simply search for something within a county is very helpful.  Otherwise, the distance must be used, and will slow one down with extra searches.

They deleted the ability to exclude recruiters.  Recruiters in my experience are unreliable.  I tend to look for direct hire only.

They clearly did not test their site when they went “Live” today – by the time I got to it.  It may be fixed later, even later today.  Much of this could simply be because they are rolling out changes at this moment.

When I get the results of a search, they come back with either “Relevant” or “Date” available, but the default is usually Relevant unless you caught the tick box and set it.  But the link is dead to change it back – normally, but not always.  This sort of inconsistency is very common within the site.

That’s the problem.  Things work sometimes but not always.

So basically their site is not useable as of this writing, 9:15 AM EST, 12/15/2014.

As for the way it looks? 

I personally am not a fan of the Web 2.0 Look And Feel for things where there are a lot of items to search. 

Dice.com is one of those sites.  They are presenting a database of links and a tight list format is the most useable. 

I understand that they want to look different than the other two big sites, www.Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com however, their search results in LARGE FONTS and lots of Whitespace means that you’re constantly paging when you do get the 100 results per page, if you can actually get things to work.

Thank you again for the 100, it helps.

But when you page through the site on a large monitor (1920×1080) getting only seven results per view until you page down is limiting.  Put as much on a line as possible.  I guess that means it’s first page with 4 links, then 13 pages of 7 links (or so) plus the remaining 5 links (or so) – that’s how the math works out.

Your User Interface guy must have missed that particular meeting.  The Testing folk are confused too – I got a page coming up using the old interface and immediately thought “THANK YOU!”. 

Then I refreshed the page and it was back to the new design.  There were no links though, kind of a surprise since I saw links on the Old Format Page.

I’ll be waiting.  The new design needs A LOT OF WORK.  The site has so many bugs in it that I simply closed every window that I had.   All my old links are no longer functional.  If I try to recreate them, the site is so buggy that I can not get anything even remotely like the results I expect.  I can’t page to the second 100 results.  Not even the old text search works properly.  If you want to search for Business Analyst, and put them in quotes, the new software thinks you are looking for “Business OR Analyst”.  It’s not the same thing.

For example, if I search for anything within 20 miles of zip code 33301 I am showing results in California.  California is a great place but a bit more than 20 miles away from South Florida.

Oh and one missing thing that is extremely important.  Dice removed the number of hits that a particular resume has.  It’s a metric that needs to return.  How else would you know if your resume is effective unless you know now many people look at it in a given month?

At this point, there’s nothing else that I could suggest other than telling someone who wants to use a job search engine to wait this one out and hit the other sites.  Dice.com is unusable due to UI, UX, and QA issues today.  

They tried, but … well, maybe tomorrow.  They went with a Big Bang Release and broke what they had before.  Would be best to roll it all back and try an Agile Project Management approach of gradual improvements instead of what they got here.

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New Firefox and Other Browser Update Weirdness

I’m settling in to get some things done and notice a blurb.

There’s going to be a rollout of the next Firefox over the next few weeks.  I pay close attention to that because I use Firefox extensively.  I’d be lost without it. 

I’m so tightly trained to use Firefox that I have to step back and actually “think” how to use any other browser.  Since I use Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Mac OSX Mavericks, and Debian Linux on a daily basis as well as Android and an occasional toe dipped into Apple’s iOS, I have to remain as flexible as possible and Firefox is on all of those computers. 

Except the iPhone but I hardly ever use them.

I will eventually install Firefox on the Windows machines when it tells me that it is available.  I’m not in a rush.  The last time they changed the way it looks, the User Interface or UI, it borked it for me.  I ended up installing things to make it look the way it did before I updated the browser while growling at Firefox in general.  Keystrokes and mouse clicks and all that moved.  They removed the status bar. The bookmark strip got lost, or rather hid, and that stores some of your bookmarks.  They removed the title bar.

Why?  Never heard a reason, but I installed Classic Theme Restorer and it brought it all back.  Immediately after that I installed Adblock Edge to get rid of the blasted adverts and other nasties that hitch a ride onto your computer as a result.  More Privacy means for a faster experience as well as fewer viruses and spyware pushed onto your local computer.  Nobody actually “Likes” ads anyway, we accept their presence and usually are annoyed or distracted by them, but “Like”?  I doubt it.

Rule Number One of Software User Experience (UX) is if you change the way something looks, you will break the way people work.  I learned that back in the days of the Mainframe and College. 

Rule Number Two of Software User Experience is that if you do change it there will be unintended consequences.

In My Case:

I have a computer that has what they call a “Clickpad“.  It’s also running Debian Linux.  I know Linux in general fairly well, but Debian Linux doesn’t manage Clickpads well.  Clickpads are those weird trackpads that are flush with the case.  You click on the pad instead of having normal buttons like every other Synaptic trackpad. 

I do know that is fixed in the next version of Debian, and I do know how to fix it now, but it is an annoyance that I have to deal with.  It basically forgets that it has a physical button in Debian Stable/Wheezy, and you’re stuck with whatever you touch on the trackpad.  I only get a Right Click when I tap.  I have since configured a two fingered tap to be a Left Click.

What that all did change did is to break the way Firefox works.  You see, on that particular computer, I can’t Right Click.  I can’t get the pop up context menu.  They changed the UI right away from it. 

Since that machine is Debian Linux, I have to wait for the next version anyway.  It isn’t even using Firefox, but something rebranded as “IceWeasel“.  To put it short, and sarcastic, Debian had a spat with Firefox over the branding.  Since Firefox/Mozilla doesn’t want anything proprietary at all on their default install, someone in the Debian Project grabbed the source code, recompiled it, created the graphics, and renamed everything to IceWeasel.  It works like Firefox but is Older.  About a version back. 

If you’re running Stable, or Wheezy, you could be quite a few versions back.  Jessie has a more current Firefox, but it also has a lot more annoying bugs in it because it is “Testing”.

But Windows?  Yeah, you’ll get it soon.  Just remember Classic Theme Restorer and Adblock Edge, and you’ll be fine.

As for the Mac?  When it is available, you’ll get a blip on the bottom of the screen telling you you’re ready for an upgrade.  You can also go back to the old theme if you want, but I do recommend Adblock Edge as well.

Why the harping on the ads?  It’s a much faster browsing experience when you surf a page without the ads.  No blinky pictures, crawling things, or text ads.  If you don’t download them, you use less data.  Things pop faster.

Trust me on that one.  You can always turn it off later.

Monster.com, Are You Kidding? Fancybox? Really?

In business, there is a phrase.

“Eat Your Own Dog Food.”

Monster.com doesn’t seem to realize this in their roll out of new “features”.

You see, Eat Your Own Dog Food really means that you’re going to use your own product to make sure that it suits what you intend it to do, and that you aren’t giving the competitors an unfair advantage.

In web development and Project Management, this means finding someone who becomes the “Subject Matter Expert” and “Product Owner” and takes on a very special role.   When I worked at the university, and in every position I have held back into the beginning days of my career, I’ve assumed this role.  It means that you are going to step back, listen to what the “Main User” of the system says about it, and champion that role within “Development” so that the Main User’s need are best served.

It means that you have to anticipate how any person will use the system and make sure that problems do not occur, and that when they do, problems are dealt with gently and “Gracefully”.

It also means that unintended consequences sometimes occur like in this picture above.

It is one of my least favorite features, the “Fancybox” or the “Lightbox”.

It is also very very rarely used correctly.

This is an example of how badly monster.com used the fancybox.

I did this under “my signon” and on another browser with no signon and it repeats itself.

Simply put, go onto Monster.com and do a search for any position you like in what ever zipcode you prefer.  Monster will return a list of positions.  It may even give you more than one page.  When you go from page 1 to page 2, it will put a “fancybox” up on your browser asking you “Let These Jobs Come To You”.

No, you blistering idiot, that is not what I wanted.

You see it will do that for this page, and any future page I want to look at. 

Every Blistering Page.

Ok, so I’m quoting the TV Sliders and Dr. Arturo with his wonderful rants and insults, but the point is still valid – Fancyboxes rarely serve a useful purpose For The User.

I went in immediately to my browser, clicked “Adblock Plus” and found a script.  I blocked it, and refreshed the page, and now I’m back to the old Fancybox Free behavior.

If I wanted an RSS Feed of the search parameters, it would not work because since I live in a major metropolitan area, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, there are thousands of jobs.  I have given up on RSS Feeds for this because they “max out” at 50.  I typically would need around 500 to be able to see the last two days worth of positions on this given search.

I have many searches, and have saved each individual page to save me a LOT of time that would be otherwise wasted clicking on “Next Page” buttons.   If I were not able to do the search the way I do, then I probably would have stopped using Monster.com a long time ago.

So all you need to do is go into your adblock plus and block the script called:

http://media.newjobs.com/nmy/usen/iperceptions506.js

It is badly written code, your QA, Development Department, and Project Managers have made a mistake.

It simply does not belong in a professional product like we have come to expect in Monster.com.  It only can have come from someone who has sat in too many Marketing Meetings and thought they could get more “buy-in” from their users.

Web Annoyances – Websites Where Keyboards Don’t Work

This one gets me a lot.  
It’s so basic that I have to wonder who on earth is making these web pages? 
Worse, who on earth is approving and testing them?

Oh, that’s right, you can’t do Proper QA any more since everything is written overseas on the cheap.

You get what you pay for.

Rant aside…

For the most part, even now, the place most people are doing their “heavy duty” web surfing is on a browser.  I’m basing that on this blog’s statistics, and I feel confident that that feeling is backed up by most web services.

The proportion is roughly evenly split between Internet Explorer, Firefox (and its variants), and Chrome.

I personally have noticed this on Firefox and on Internet Explorer, on Windows, Linux, and on Mac OSX.

It just doesn’t happen on a tablet or a phone since the way you use a webpage is different there.  You only have a mouse (touchscreen), you rarely have a keyboard.

I notice this on a daily basis on Monster.com, but it also shows up with many other oddball sites.

Here’s how to find the problem on Monster:

  • Surf Monster and do a search.  Doesn’t really matter what kind of job you search for, your own zip code will be fine.
  • You will be presented with a list.  Pick one from the list.   It doesn’t really matter which.
  • Now that you are looking at a page, a job really, use your Page Up or Page Down keys.

They don’t work.

You actually have to click inside the body of the page to get the page to move.   You can tab around, cursor around, whatever you choose, but it just doesn’t work until you click inside the page.

If you are a web developer and call this done, you are bad and you should feel bad.

Zoidberg doesn’t like you and neither do I.

This also works with the Windows or Linux alternate page down, the space bar.  

Navigation is simply locked down until you click inside the page.

My best guess is that it’s a function of working with the software behind the scenes (Ajax) and having reworked your browser so that all the keys are forced to do a certain special task.  Don’t know but it’s still wrong.

Now go back and fix your web page.  That’s a rookie mistake.  If you’re good, Robot Santa may leave you a gift.

New Firefox and Turn Off The Smoothscrolling

I love Firefox.

Well no, Pee Wee I don’t want to marry it.

On the other hand, I’m so very used to the way it works and its quirks that I can’t conceive of using anything else.

It works on all the computers I use – Linux, Windows, and Mac.   It does things well.  It can be extended so that I block advertisements and “nasty” websites.  It does not spy on me (Hear that Chrome?).  It’s not Bloated (I’m talking to you Internet Explorer).  It isn’t forced on me (I don’t want to go on a Safari to check into a website).

So yesterday I updated my Firefox.  If you click on the link, it will tell you if you are up to date.

After loading up my normal 150 web pages and muddling through most of the routine, I see only one problem.

Smoothscroll was turned on “accidentally” by the upgrade to Firefox 13.

I’m not the kind of person who likes Smoothscroll.   It reminds me of when I was a kid sitting on a swivel chair and spinning around faster and faster so that when I stopped the world kept moving.

On this particular laptop (2 year old Core2Duo with Windows 7 and 8 Gigs of Memory), Smoothscroll doesn’t smoothly scroll it fidgets to the next page.   In a spastic wretching and lurching forward, you get the next page of data instead of a quick “Snap!” to the next page.

I know Smoothscrolling is supposed to look like you are skimming down a written page but to me it is annoying.   Not nausea inducing, just annoys me while I sit there thinking why isn’t it there yet?

I don’t want to be that kid in the back seat saying “Are We There Yet” when I’m looking at pictures of cats or puppies, nor do I want to be wondering why it’s taking so long to scan to the bottom of a page of 100 jobs in a job search website.

Do the job.  Do it quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of that eye candy nonsense.  You’re just slowing me down.

Ok, enough of the rant.  If you want to turn on or turn off Firefox’s “feature” of smooth scrolling down your pages – which doesn’t work, here are the basic instructions.

  1. Launch Firefox.
  2. Click on Tools.
  3. Click on Options.
  4. Click on the Advanced icon that looks like a gear.
  5. Click on the General Tab (No, not the one that looks like a light switch, the tab below that.  I’ll wait.  Good.)
  6. Look down to the middle of the panel in the browsing section and click the box to the left of “Use Smooth Scrolling”.
  7. Enjoy.

Now that you have finished, here’s your treat.  A short video about an adorable little girl being taught by a friendly Boxer dog how to drink from the hose.

Repeat after me… Awwwww.

UI and UX – Get Out Of My Facebook!

User Experience and User Interface is a term in web development these days.  Basically the idea is that you should take a look at your website and think of it from the stand point of someone from outside.  How is that person sitting in a random apartment somewhere removed from you going to look at your page and use it?  Will that person say “Nope, you’re ugly and your web developer dresses you funny and I’m leaving”?

And that’s about as technical as this article gets today, you can relax.

You are looking at what really gets me these days.  If I see a banner here asking me to like them on Facebook, I’m thinking of the socially awkward kid in elementary school who tagged along whining at you to take them with you when you do some cool stuff.  How about the “Extra Needy Girlfriend or Boyfriend” who is begging for you to come over and spend some time when you’re out fighting fires or some such?

This is the modern web equivalent of me saying “Stuff it” I don’t need you. 

Yes, I meant “STFU” and since I keep my blog G Rated, I will allow you to define that acronym however you like.

You see, if I like this page and every page that I stumble across in the course of doing my daily research/entertainment/job hunting/shopping/ and so on, my Facebook page becomes a mire of inconsequential crap.  I depend on my Facebook News Feed to be pertinent.  It saves me from having to go to some of those websites and surf every single article to stay informed.  I know I’m not alone here, many folks have started to use Facebook the same way.  So why add all this junk?

My first impression of the page is now “Oh for crying out loud, not again”.   Or something stronger if it is the 43rd time I’ve been greeted by this kind of needy uselessness.

A Web Page, just like a blog, is what the owner wants it to be, and not the reader.  You are the product, you are not the customer.  You are typically being sold for your information.  So being slapped in the face by a Facebook “Like me” whine is their way of roping you in for a little extra advertising face time on Facebook.

That’s how it works. 

My Second impression is to click on Adblock Plus and see if I can find the script to defeat it.  Sometimes I can, other times I can’t.

Usually I hit about 50 of these useless needy girlfriends (I’m A Guy, Ladies, Don’t Get TOO Bent Out Of Shape, Just Mentally Remap it to Boyfriends or Lost Puppies, MmmKay?) in the course of a morning.  I do a LOT of research on technology and software/web development in the course of a day.   Getting slapped by http://www.pleaselikemeorIwillwhine.crap doesn’t make me like you any more than finding another flaming bag of web garbage sitting on my virtual doorstep would.

A Facebook Like button is fine, completely repainting your page with a “lightbox” like you see above is a great way to get people to move on like I did.  It’s the modern equivalent of a web pop-under window now that everyone has that little box clicked in their setting of their favorite browser to stop pop-up and pop-under windows as a default.   This one will be the next default, give it time.

So if you want to experience this stupidity for yourself, it was at this link on www.upworthy.com.  I closed the page, I don’t even know what viral information was there.  Maybe after I switch to decaf… Nah, I just closed the window and I won’t bother watching this supposedly important video as a result. 

I Know I Am Not The Only One Out There Annoyed By This Garbage.   

So folks, its a terrible idea to annoy your customers.  It doesn’t work in the real world.  If that grocery store changed their piped in music to, say, Death Metal, a small percentage would love it and their sales would generally drop from all the sweet grannies who can’t understand why they’re playing growling in the frozen food aisle.

Careerbuilder.com Update Broke My Job Search

Yep, it’s another tech post.

See here’s the deal.  Everyone who ‘owns’ a website is always looking for ways to refresh it so people find more reasons to come back.  More visits mean you’re more likely to click on an ad and send a few pennies to a few dollars their way.

Sometimes the refresh works, other times they need to go back and rethink it.   This is one of those times.

This is also a good illustration of why I put “User Experience” and “User Interface” on my resume.  I’ve written about how Dice.com made a change, why it was wrong and what they needed to do to fix it.  They hit that blog posting and decided I was right on some points, and used my ideas.   I’m sure they read it because they’re out in Iowa and nobody from that city had ever read my blog before that posting.  It was easy to find.

A little background and high order discussion. I’ll try not to get too “techie”.  In fact, I pride myself and have been told I’m successful in writing about weird tech issues and getting things across to people who don’t understand them.

I look for permanent work around 35 hours a week on average.  I use the major job boards and some of the minor ones to ask the question “What Jobs Are Available within 30 Miles of Zipcode 33305 in Computing Within The Last Three Days”.  You know, IT and Project Management.   Since I live in a major city, that search returns a lot of positions.  I further finesse that by saying search for specific job titles, certain exclusions of companies that are inappropriate for various reasons, and even some arbitrary things.

Once a week I have a similar search that is targeted at specific companies and all of the cities and towns in my county and a few neighboring cities that I know about.

Pretty straightforward, there are millions who are unemployed, underemployed, looking for permanent positions, and just curious that go through similar processes every day.

This process can be called “Data Analysis” or “Data Mining”.  You do the same thing every time you use a spreadsheet.   

One reason why I prefer www.dice.com to all the other sites is that it further categorizes things as to whether it is a “Direct Hire” which is a company vs a “recruiter” which typically is just reposting a position that a Direct Hire had posted the day before.  Needless to say, I know which recruiters to skip.  If they have a “hot deal” they’ll call me with the position and most likely I’ve already made my judgement as to whether to pass or not.  We’ll talk but usually they realize I’ve been there, done that, and moved on.

You can see from this picture that everything that I need to see is presented on one line.  Dice.com has successfully reduced things down to just the information you need to decide whether a position is worth looking at further.

Basically I’ve managed to use Dice in a fashion that is slightly inconsistent with their website.  I save each individual page as a link so that I don’t have to click onto the next page.  Each page is it’s own link in a folder in Firefox and I can look at each page in it’s own tab. 

When you are opening 150 pages a day, you want to save every last second you can.

The list is presented in Job Alphabetical Order, all jobs are within the last three days, and I can tell at a glance whether I need to pursue looking at a link.

By the way, a helpful hint.  If you are looking at a webpage, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the link and it will open in another tab.  You can do that many times, and look at all those links later.  It saves a lot of time!

That’s the biggest criteria about this.  Saving time.  Can you imagine doing this by hand in a newspaper? 

Now here’s what happened with www.Careerbuilder.com

Careerbuilder is a little different.  They’re big and they partner with many newspapers around the world.  You’re going to hit one of their sites if you are looking at a branded website for many organizations.  It also has a few quirks.

One is that no matter how hard I tried, I can’t get it to give me more than 25 positions at a time.  That forces me to open up as many as 20 links for a given criteria.

Their sort is semi-broken.  If I have more than one job type on a given link, it’s going to put a few jobs from “today” at the tail end of the search.  When you are looking at 400 jobs for that criteria, that means you have to load up 20 pages just to get to the tail end. 

Now that you’re committed to opening all those pages in tabs, you have to consider what you want to look at.  If you’re looking at this thing every day, you don’t need to look at three days worth, you can skip to the end.  Check for “Today” and “Yesterday”.  Today, in a list of 20 opened tabs, Today and Yesterday were pages 1 and 2 and part of 3 then again in page 20.  That’s a lot of extra page hits for no good reason.

This screen grab from Careerbuilder.com illustrates how just a few little problems break the page and make it more difficult to get to the information you are looking for.

They used to have a handy page number at the top of each listing.  Minor perhaps, but knowing you are on page 4 of 20 and looking at positions 76 through 100 is surprisingly helpful.  After all, you expect to have to skip ahead to the Next To The Last Page, so you need to know where you are at.  

The date is not shown, but it is implied by saying “posted today” and “posted yesterday” all in grey lower case text.  I can handle the grey, but the date would be more useful since it is more compact.  I would prefer to see the date as “Mar. 18”.  The year can be implied, we all make the same mistakes on our checks but by March or even the second week of January, the mental block against the year has been past.

Most importantly they slid all of the position specific information into a single column.

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

Position Name
Company Name
City Name

… is not as helpful as stringing it out in one line.

Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date
Position Name     Company Name     City Name   Date

The reasoning is that if you’re skimming through 400 positions for a given search, you need to be able to skim the column and check on position name first.   Ctrl+Click to open that position into a new tab and continue onwards.

That brings up another point.  The order it is presented is incorrect and there is no way to specify which column you’re sorting on – and you need more than one column.   The job name should be the most important order.  Ideally this should be Sorted first by Date, then Job Name.   What the result would be is now that you have all the “Business Analyst” positions sorted together for “today” and not mixed in with the “Data Analyst” positions.  They are similar but distinct disciplines and while many of the skills are similar, they don’t completely overlap.

After all they have different position names don’t they?

Luckily they have the position names all in blue and the rest of the text in other colors so with a mind trick I can try to turn off the rest of the info until I need it…

When you redesign a website as complex as Careerbuilder, you are trying to balance a lot of needs.  You don’t want to do a radical redesign because it will get so alien to people that their minds will switch off.   It needs to be evolutionary.   Things as minor as the list of pages you are on will be noticed especially if you’re skipping to the end of 20 pages and can’t get to page 19 unless you go to page 20 first like I did the other day.

Basically the information is all there – Content gets an A Grade.
Presentation?  You can do better.  C Minus perhaps.