Saturday, April 28, 2012

And on a personal note...

We have really enjoyed creating this website for the last three years and interacting with all of you.

Over that period of time we have developed a workflow to create each of our entires which rely heavily on a few trusted resources. Beyond the places we look for information we also rely on Blogger for creating the actual entries and Webshots for hosting images of our personal jersey collection and Photobucket.com for hosting all of our other images.

Frankly, this has been the single most trying and frustrating week of our blogging lives.

First, Blogger has forced an entirely new interface upon the world of blogging. Yes, many people are not comfortable with change and will always prefer things the way they were, but a great many others in this world hate changes to not only what they find comfortable, but rightly detest change promoted as an upgrade which actually makes things worse.

For example, scheduling the time of a post used to require a click, selecting a digit and two keystrokes. One to change the date and one to select the time.

Simple.

It now requires a click, a second click, a third, a fourth, a scroll and another click followed by another click. Now please explain to me how that one example is an improvement?

We could go on and on and on and on about all the new "features" of the new interface make things more difficult, but we'll spare you the entirely of our rant about how the whole thing seemed to be solely designed to make it look like the rest of Google's properties visually, but how the actual way it works took a back seat in so many ways to how it looks.

We really pride ourselves on the "look" of Third String Goalie and work quite diligently at maintaining consistent formatting, such as fonts, spacing between lines of text, image size and centering of images, etc., and this new interface either makes all of that a longer process to maintain or behaves in quirky and unwanted ways, such as unexpected changing fonts or adding additional returns between paragraphs, all of which creates more work.

Another website which has drawn our ire this week is Photobucket. We've always preferred the organization of albums, ease of upload and quick access to the code for our photos needed to paste them into our articles, especially when compared to the popular Flickr. Later they added a slick editing tool which we relied on to shrink the size of any images we neglected to resize properly in Photoshop before uploading.

Life was good.

But then... Photobucket, without warning, changed to a new photo editing system which is simply, truly awful. We have more than 15 years experience with Photoshop and now cannot crop a photo while maintaining the proportions of the original, nor can we resize a photo by simply typing in the desired maximum dimensions as with the old system. We don't claim to be geniuses, but surely if someone with our extensive background in photo editing cannot simply look at it and understand how it works, it's not good, and if we cannot work at understanding it and still figure it out, it's bad. Really, really bad.

And if that were't enough, the ability to upload photos to Photobucket is now broken on their end and in their "help" forums, like Blogger's and Webshots, which are simply places for unsatisfied users to rant and commiserate with each other, seeing only the occasional appearance by an employee with minimal, if any actual help. In this particular case, a Photobucket staffer "helpfully" offers all the different methods to upload a photo if the system were actually working, without having apparently tried it from home as an actual user from the other side of the fence since none of the methods are currently functional due to the issues they are having!

While it may seem like the internet has been around for a long time, it really still is in it's infancy and many things do not work as intended all the time, and it seems like way, way too many web developers put things online which do not have the bugs worked out, the functionality tested or the way it works given precedence over the way it looks. And the temperature rises when these websites offer zero customer service and support. Walled off from the world behind their firewalls, if they choose not to provide an email address or phone number, and your only option is go visit their "community help" section which contains nothing more than other users at their wits end. Worse, their own twitter feeds, blogs and Facebook pages refuse to acknowledge their issues or address anyone's concerns, even going so far to remove negative postings from the Facebook pages.

When will these sites learn that people do not like change, particularly for the worse, and test these radical changes in advance, ensure that they work and offer even the most basic customer support, particularly in cases when they are charging for their services?

Sorry for the rant, but when you have bloogers the world over stepping out from behind the curtain to take time way from their political discussions, baseball card blogs and advice for mommies, there's a big issue we're all facing and it feels good to get it out of our systems because yet again, an "upgrade" is shown to be anything but an "improvement". Sigh.

And all this coming on the heels of the unwanted and unloved change to "timeline" on our Facebook page. When is it all going to end?


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