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War and Nookd — eBook Regex Gone Haywire 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the thinking-things-through dept.
PerlJedi tips a story that highlights one of the downsides to ebooks. A blogger who recently read Tolstoy's War and Peace on his Nook stumbled upon some odd phases, such as: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern..." After seeing the word 'Nookd' a few more times, he found a dead-tree version of the book and discovered that the word was supposed to be 'kindled.' Every instance of the word 'kindle' in the ebook had been replaced with 'Nook.' "The Superior Formatting Publishing version isn’t a Barnes and Noble book, so this isn’t the work of a rogue Nook marketer from B&N. Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook. The unwitting hilarity of a publisher doing a 'find and replace' and accidentally changing the text of a canonical work of Western thought is alarming. Many versions of e-books are from similar outfits, that distribute public domain works formatted for Kindle or Nook at the lowest possible prices. The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended."
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War and Nookd — eBook Regex Gone Haywire

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:25PM (#40182935) Journal
    But I went back and searched every kindle and cranny to set every instance of the word back to kindle to fix it.

    I'm only human.
    • by jakimfett (2629943) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:45PM (#40183217) Homepage Journal
      Aha, my good fellow! Thy response doth Nook the warmth of delight in mine heart!
    • by AKabral (1056068) on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:23PM (#40183851)
      Accidentally replacing nookd with kindled (or verse visa) is hilarious.

      But...

      When you intentionally mar a national treasure due to current political correctness:
      http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/01/06/1555251/the-continued-censorship-of-huckleberry-finn/ [slashdot.org] - where they searched and replaced "ni99a" with "slave" from Huckleberry Finn...

      Well that's just arrogant (demonstrates a belief in the superiority of current social mores over historical realities) spineless (so our genteel sexting children don't have to face the fact that some Americans enslaved and legislated the inferiority of a whole race) and impoverishing (robs people of the opportunity for a real authentic discussion of the troubled history of race in this country).

      • by DavidTC (10147) <{slas45dxsvadiv. ... } {neverbox.com}> on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:52PM (#40184453) Homepage

        Setting aside the idea of whether or not the word should be replaced at all, replacing it with 'slave' is deeply stupid.

        I understand how that word can make the book hard to read, and if people want to release altered versions, whatever...but the word to substitute in is 'Negro' or 'colored', not 'slave'. 'Nigger' isn't about Jim's state of enslavement, it's about his skin-color. He will still be called that slur whether or not he is free, he will always be seen as 'other' and 'not part of society', not because of his enslavement status, but because of his pigmentation

        Glossing over that is revisionist history of the worse kind, leading to a total screwed up lesson that, hey, Jim is now free, thus not a slave, and hence all those people who were so concerned about him being a nigger^Wslave will be entirely happy now, and Jim's entire life will be fluffy bunnies from now on and he'll be invited to their dinner parties.

        I don't know how Mark Twain would feel about his text being altered, I suspect that he'd be happy that racial slurs are no longer accepted, and could conceivable be okay with changing the text so that people continued to read it...but I suspect he'd be rather annoyed at the new text conflating racial prejudice with slavery. (And, thus, sans slavery, everything is fine.)

        • I swear there's a quotation of Twain where he has choice words for anyone who dares to change his text, but I can't find it...
          • I swear there's a quotation of Twain where he has choice words for anyone who dares to change his text, but I can't find it...

            I remember that reading that when his books were first published the editor removed anything then considered offensive. I don't remember what all that was though I do remember that it included references to perspiration. Twaine told the woman who did the editing at the children's book publisher that she could use scissors to remove anything she thought improper, but she was not to alter one word of what was left.

            Twaine knew that he tended to be crude. He relied on friends and editors to tell him when it sho

            • Well, I found "censorship is telling a man he can't have steak, just because a baby can't chew it," but I still remember one about how editors who interfere with his writing ought to be put against a wall and shot. That probably has more to do with style and deadlines than removing vulgarities, though.

          • by DavidTC (10147)

            I really have no idea how he would feel. It's entirely possible he'd say 'That is the way it was, so it will remain that way.'. Alternately, he might say 'The word has become much more vile than it was back then, which I applaud, but that now lends the wrong connotation to the text, so I will change it'.

            I'm not even sure how this hypothetical works...Huck Finn was a specific book written for a specific audience for a specific reason, and Twain probably wouldn't even _care_ what modern audiences saw in it,

            • The word is no more vile today than it was when this book was written. Now we just have a bunch of people that want to pretend like racism never happened. Also, I suppose, a lot of people that do not understand literature. Censoring a book because some people find a word offensive (which is the entire point of the word and the reason it was chosen) is a travesty.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              It's an important aspect of the book that people use the terrible slur nigger as easily as they use any other word. Changing it to anything else is revisionist bullshit and the people responsible should be carted off to someplace they can no longer harm our societal development.

              • by DavidTC (10147) <{slas45dxsvadiv. ... } {neverbox.com}> on Friday June 01, 2012 @10:24PM (#40190399) Homepage

                Uh, not really. Word meanings and connotations changes over time.

                'Nigger' was a slur, but it wasn't, as you call it, 'a terrible slur'. I point to Scout using it (And being corrected by her father.) in To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the 1930s, written in the early 60s.

                It's only fairly recent that it became an obscene word that people won't say, ever. Not even in the context of reporting what other people say.

                Or to look at it another way: Huck and Tom talk about 'Injun Joe' all the time, just like 'Nigger Jim'. That is also a racial slur, used in exactly the same context. And if you went around calling people 'Injun' in the modern day, well, people would rightly assume you were racist. But when they recounted the story, they would say that you said 'Injun', not 'the I-word'. And you'll notice that no one has proposed changing 'Injun' to anything in Huck Finn.

                This is because at some point the taboo against 'nigger' became so strong that it managed to cross the boundary into the obscene, thus fundamentally changing how we see the word, which imparts a rather unintended impact to Huck Finn.

                You can argue for that impact, but it's certainly not something Mark Twain knew was going to be there.

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  'Nigger' was a slur, but it wasn't, as you call it, 'a terrible slur'.

                  Unless someone happened to be calling you nigger.

                  It's only fairly recent that it became an obscene word that people won't say, ever.

                  That's not because the meaning of the word has changed. It's because now black people have some power. Also, I note you don't think that black people are people; they will say nigger at the drop of a hat. And don't give me any of that jazz about it being "nigga" because we all know that's just nigger in disguise.

                  This is because at some point the taboo against 'nigger' became so strong that it managed to cross the boundary into the obscene,

                  It's called black rights. It didn't just happen. When blacks became legally recognized as people they could react against being called nigger without

          • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday June 01, 2012 @05:50PM (#40186985) Homepage Journal
            Take your pick:

            There's nobody for me to attack in this matter even with soft and gentle ridicule--and I shouldn't ever think of using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above all, I couldn't venture to attack the clergymen whom you mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass house which they are occupying. I am always reading immoral books on the sly, and then selfishly trying to prevent other people from having the same wicked good time. - Letter to Denver Post dated Aug. 14, 1902; also published in NY Tribune Aug. 22, 1902 (regarding banning of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the Denver Library.)

            But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me. - Letter to Mrs. F. G. Whitmore, 7 February 1907

            Censorship is telling a man he can't have steak, because a baby can't chew it.

        • .but the word to substitute in is 'Negro' or 'colored', not 'slave'. 'Nigger' isn't about Jim's state of enslavement, it's about his skin-color.

          Actually, in the context of the literary masterpiece we are currently discussing, the adjective is technically part of the character's name.

          It's not that he's 'a nigger named Jim,' but rather that the character's name is "Nigger Jim." Don't take my word for it, read or re-read the book (worth it anyway, Clemens was a brilliant author), it's fairly obvious that this is the case.

          I don't know how Mark Twain would feel about his text being altered

          I studied Twain a bit in my youth, as he was a gifted author and pundit whom I happen to share a geographic origin with; from my un

          • by DavidTC (10147)

            Actually, in the context of the literary masterpiece we are currently discussing, the adjective is technically part of the character's name.

            Well, yes, but it's an adjective that describes skin color, is my point. If it is to be replaced, it must be replaced with another that describes the same skin color, not some unrelated word.

            The whole 'should it be replaced' is another matter entirely, about which I completely agree with you.

            But there's a whole secondary issue with the choice of 'slave' as the repl

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BattleApple (956701)

        A while back, I reverted an edit to the Black & Decker article. Apparently, someone was offended by the name of the company.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Black_%26_Decker&diff=prev&oldid=353835547 [wikipedia.org]

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          They did the same think with Black Sabbath, changing it to:
          African American Sabbath

          Sometimes I wonder if Users have their brains turned-off. Everybody knows you can't just "search kindle" and "replace all" with nook, because then you replace words that never should have been replaced (as shown). You're supposed to verify each change one at a time.

          • by Fishead (658061)

            A few (dozen?) years back a chemistry prof was writing the lab manuals and wanted to change "protective gloves" to "protective clothing". He did a find and replace gloves with clothing.

            Various lab instructions included the phrase "It is not necessary to wear clothing in this lab".

            Hilarity ensued.

      • The radio show RadioLab had an episode that talked a little bit about this. It's not a new problem but the results are just as hilarious. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/jun/28/ [radiolab.org]

        AP Headline: "Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic Trials.

        Tyson Homosexual easily won his semi-final for the 100 meters...

        1990 Fresno Bee Article: New taxes that will help put Massachusetts "back into the African-American"

        Chicago Tribune Obituary for Walter Cronkite refers to "Walter Leland Mr. Cronkite Jr." and his show "Walter Mr. Cronkite's Twentieth Century..."

        Search and replace gone awry.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Yes deeply stupid... but it does remind me of the incredibly stupid argument back in the 90's (I think) where it was discussed that we needed to change the naming conventions on IDE hard drives.

        Master/Slave was just too controversial and needed to be replaced. I remember several times over hearing somebody ask another tech if they had set the drive to slave mode only to be responded with, "Oh yes Masa. Set it to slave mode right quick Masa.". Yes, we did have a sarcasm problem where I worked.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        - where they searched and replaced "ni99a" with "slave" from Huckleberry Finn...

        Mark Twain was a good writer, and definitely ahead of his time... But I am pretty sure he didn't spell words with 9s.

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:31PM (#40183003)

    Such an amazing set of tools such as diff and grep would probably amaze them.

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:32PM (#40183017) Homepage Journal
    "I accidentally Western Literature, is that bad?"

    It's not just intentional malice you need to look out for but also just pure distilled stupidity.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:32PM (#40183031) Homepage

    'eBook Regex Gone Haywire'

    This is a straight-forward substring replace, not a regular expression. A not-completely-stupid regex would at least have only converted \bKindle\b, although obviously even then human oversight would be necessary.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      Not to mention keeping capitalization as part of the regex. there is no need to transform kindle or KINDLE, if you just want to transform Kindle
    • Depends entirely on how they did it, it's perfectly possible to write a regex which is identical to a substring replace, and I'm sure there's plenty of software that does exactly that despite the technical extra overhead of calling a regex engine.

      Generally though, yes I agree, regex is being used synonymously with replace just because this is Slashdot and we need to wave our special words around.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      A rather less stupid solution would be to separate the original text from the boilerplate "Look out for our other books on Kindle!" and only apply the replacement to the boilerplate.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:33PM (#40183047) Homepage
    You could say it's downright medireview.
  • Amusing, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, this story is definitely an amusing anecdote, but I feel like TFA has the wrong takeaway. The fact is, while this specific issue is obviously e-book related, the overall problem of poor quality, low cost public domain publications is in no way specific to e-books. There have always been low budget publishing houses that print poorly edited, poorly translated versions of public domain works. Spend some time digging around used book sales, you'll find an endless supply of these, most notably from the 6

    • Re:Amusing, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:40PM (#40183147) Homepage

      So, this story is definitely an amusing anecdote, but I feel like TFA has the wrong takeaway. The fact is, while this specific issue is obviously e-book related, the overall problem of poor quality, low cost public domain publications is in no way specific to e-books. There have always been low budget publishing houses that print poorly edited, poorly translated versions of public domain works. Spend some time digging around used book sales, you'll find an endless supply of these, most notably from the 60's and 70's.

      No, the sad part is full price books from Amazon with incoherent pagination, horribly over recompressed jpegs and a verdant sea of spelling errors. I'd give Project Gutenberg a pass for those sorts of things except that the majority of PG books I've read are actually pretty well done.

      When I'm paying top dollar for a product, I'd like some attempt at quality control....

      • Re:Amusing, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:53PM (#40183341)

        I find when paying top dollar is when you are least likely to get quality control. Look at really expensive software as a great example, I have never seen any costing 6 figures or more that was not a huge pain and did not fail to do its job on a regular basis.

        • Amen brother.

          And the more your company paid for a product, the more likely you aren't allowed to use anything else. "Why would we use a *free* product, when we have this overblown expensive product that doesn't work?"
        • by jimicus (737525)

          I find when paying top dollar is when you are least likely to get quality control. Look at really expensive software as a great example, I have never seen any costing 6 figures or more that was not a huge pain and did not fail to do its job on a regular basis.

          Having seen what happens with Sharepoint, I'll put money on it the exact same thing happens with other really big expensive packages: some manager used a well-implemented Sharepoint/SAP/(insert product here) system in the past and - thinking it was something you could just install and run with like Office, rather than a toolkit that you're supposed to use to build a system around your business processes - ordered a system based on it to be installed.

          $Thousands, maybe $tens of thousands in licensing later, t

        • by Geeky (90998)
          Ah, another user of BMC products perhaps? Like the monitoring agent that core dumps if a process (as seen by ps) has more than 1023 characters... I mean, OK, an error I could accept, but a core dump? In what is supposedly a mature product? Or the sort by date on a column that sorts alphabetically. And displays dates in the format "MMM DD YYYY". So in their date sort, April comes first, followed August...
      • Re:Amusing, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by b0bby (201198) on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:11PM (#40183611) Homepage

        This is the problem exactly. I can deal with odd formatting from a PG book (though as you say, most are fine); what pisses me off is recent, full price ebooks where there has obviously not been the slightest attempt at editing or typesetting. One I got recently had a consistent problem where quoted text changed font & size after the first paragraph, which is pretty jarring. A full price book on my Nook should be a better experience than PG or scanned & OCR'd pdb were on my old Palm Pilot but sometimes these types of glitches just take you out of the experience & actually seem worse.

        The Oatmeal's book "5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth" I luckily got out of the library (through Overdrive) - the images are so small as to be unreadable, both on the PC & ipad. If you look at the Play store, there are lots of good reviews, but they're all from Goodreads & such for the paper version. I'm sure it's funny, if you can read it; if I'd paid money for this pile of bits I'd be pissed. Does the publisher not own an ipad or a Kindle Fire? Did they not load it on one single device & say to themselves, "hmm, this really sucks, let's fix it"?

  • sed -i ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by i.r.id10t (595143) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:37PM (#40183105)

    sed -i s/wand/wang/g Harry\ Potter*

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      I love this version!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:15PM (#40183683)

      for those who haven't read the referenced bash.org quote [bash.org] :

      <JonJonB> Purely in the interests of science, I have replaced the word "wand" with "wang" in the first Harry Potter Book
      <JonJonB> Let's see the results...

      <JonJonB> "Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Harry.
      <JonJonB> "Oh, well -- I was at Hogwarts meself but I -- er -- got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wang in half an' everything

      <JonJonB> A magic wang... this was what Harry had been really looking forward to.

      <JonJonB> "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Harry Potter." It wasn't a question. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wang. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wang for charm work."
      <JonJonB> "Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wang. Eleven inches. "

      <JonJonB> Harry took the wang. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wang above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls

      <JonJonB> "Oh, move over," Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry's wang, tapped the lock, and whispered, 'Alohomora!"

      <JonJonB> The troll couldn't feel Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry's wang had still been in his hand when he'd jumped - it had gone straight up one of the troll's nostrils.

      <JonJonB> He bent down and pulled his wang out of the troll's nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy gray glue.

      <JonJonB> He ran onto the field as you fell, waved his wang, and you sort of slowed down before you hit the ground. Then he whirled his wang at the dementors. Shot silver stuff at them.

      <JonJonB> Ok
      <JonJonB> I have found, definitive proof
      <JonJonB> that J.K Rowling is a dirty DIRTY woman, making a fool of us all
      <JonJonB> "Yes," Harry said, gripping his wang very tightly, and moving into the middle of the deserted classroom. He tried to keep his mind on flying, but something else kept intruding.... Any second now, he might hear his mother again... but he shouldn't think that, or he would hear her again, and he didn't want to... or did he?
      <melusine > O_______O
      <JonJonB> Something silver-white, something enormous, erupted from the end of his wang

      <JonJonJonB> Then, with a sigh, he raised his wang and prodded the silvery substance with its tip.

      <JonJonJonB> 'Get - off - me!' Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncles sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wang.

    • sed -i s/wand/wang/g Harry\ Potter*

      I vote for sed 's/Sorcerer/Philosopher/g' Harry\ Potter*

      It still irritates me to this day that the US version of HP and the Philosopher's Stone is marketed as HP and the *Sorcerer's Stone*. WHY??? The Philosopher's Stone is a well know fictional device (i.e. used in fiction for 1700 YEARS! [wikipedia.org]) for attaining eternal life - it has meaning and history! The US publishers apparently decided that kids would not want to read a book with the word 'philosopher' in the title, and changed it to the vacuous 'HP and the S

  • by careysub (976506) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:40PM (#40183143)

    Unless it is in Russian. Any translation runs the risk of not being "as the author intended".

    • by Pope (17780)

      If the translation is done with care, it will follow the author's intentions very closely. That is the hallmark of good translations.

      • How do we know what the author's intentions are, especially for works whose author has been dead for at least 70 years?
        • by osu-neko (2604)

          How do we know what the author's intentions are, especially for works whose author has been dead for at least 70 years?

          If the author's intentions are not obvious from the text, then you're no better off reading it in the original Russian.

      • by Sique (173459)

        No. Definitely no. There are works which only shine in translation. A notable example would be the TV series The Persuaders! [imdb.com], which was o.k. in the original English, but hilariously great in the dubbed German version.

      • It's not possible to translate Russian into English and maintain the original depression. Nothing can possibly be more depressing than it can be in Russian.
      • by gorzek (647352)

        Indeed, some authors actually do their own translations, or have substantial input into them.

  • Just wrong. (Score:5, Funny)

    by CubicleZombie (2590497) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:40PM (#40183155)
    They really shouldn't mess with the clbuttics.
  • by Genda (560240) <{mariet} {at} {got.net}> on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:41PM (#40183165) Journal

    Part of the problem is the grotesque need to put advertisement inside everything we do, because sweet Jebus help me if we can't find some way to squeeze another penny of profit off a dead author's moldering corpse. Sadly, this problem isn't going away any time soon. How about this, separate the "Work of Art" from the annoying bits. Literally have them be distinct and separate objects. Leave the art alone. Do not touch it. Keep your grubby mitts off my masterpiece you heathen. Dork with your part as much as you like... it is after all your part. This is about sloppy data management and publishers need to begin to understand the nature of data. That is, if they intend to sell books in an electronic format. All you publishers, please have a brief but productive conversation with a few software and IT folk about how you manage data integrity, and ensure your product doesn't A) Get stepped on by stupid stuff B) Get corrupted by lack of proper data safeguards.

    The rest as they say, is business as usual... please proceed, nothing to see here.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:42PM (#40183177)

    Just more of the same clbuttic errors.

    (Hint: "ass" was one of the 13 words.)

  • You can be sure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    " can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended."

    As an owner of a publishing company I can assure you the authors intentions are almost never the highest priority. Having read thousands of unedited manuscripts, many by very well known modern authors, I can say with confidence that you don't want to know what the authors originally pooped out.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Yes, I would.

      If I cared what the publisher wanted to write, then I would read something written by the publisher.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        I think he meant that books are a collaborative effort between author & editor. Oftentimes authors will put whatever comes to mind, and end-up with a 1000-page tome. It is the job of the editor to shorten that word-barf into something manageable. AND most authors appeciate the effort of the editor, as oftentimes the work is improved via the shortening/editing.

  • I once saw the same issue when a db dump was edited. A user 'bend' was replaced with 'ainsleyj' globally - hilarity ensued.
    • What that means is that your database wasn't normalized properly. In a normalized relational database, the username is stored in only one place, and all other references are through the primary key, which is typically a 32-bit integer userid.
      • What that means is that your database wasn't normalized properly. In a normalized relational database, the username is stored in only one place, and all other references are through the primary key, which is typically a 32-bit integer userid.

        Unless, of course, the username was the primary key, in which case the wtf is that you allow something that should be changeable to be a primary key.

        Which reminds me... hi Valve!

        • Even if you don't ever plan to change a username, a username makes a poor primary key just for performance reasons. In MySQL, for example, primary keys should be kept short because every index will have a copy of every primary key. If your primary key is userid, only the table itself and the index on username will have usernames in it. But if your primary key is username, every index will have usernames in it, as will other tables. Given the long usernames that are possible in popular web applications like
          • Even if you don't ever plan to change a username, a username makes a poor primary key just for performance reasons. In MySQL, for example, primary keys should be kept short because every index will have a copy of every primary key.

            I've had the misfortune to access the schema of an accounting system we had to use, and *every* FK was a string. Even if it was an integer. In a DB with 600+ tables, all connected. This ran on Oracle, and when I looked at the query analysis it was quite plain why it ran dog-slow even with a modest userbase. It used most of the IO and CPU on figuring out joins (I don't know the proper term, but I suspect this would not have been a problem if the FKs were ints). The table scans that ran (lots of them as well)

        • Unless, of course, the username was the primary key, in which case the wtf is that you allow something that should be changeable to be a primary key.

          Which reminds me... hi Valve!

          Which is why I still sign in to Steam with a long-dead username @ a no-longer-existing domain. I was dumbfounded when it struck me why they couldn't change it. Of course it's possible and highly desirable for everyone involved to change that, and I still wonder why Valve, which employs some arguably extremely brilliant people, isn't able to do the change with a minimum of downtime. It probably plays hell on their db to use strings as keys as well? Can anyone enlighten me on this one?

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:48PM (#40183263)
    But soft, what light through yonder Linux breaks?
    It is the east, and Juliet is the Oracle(TM).
    Arise, fair Oracle(TM), and kill the envious moon,
    Who is already sick and pale with grief
    That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she
  • Yes, and you can Search & Replace "dead tree" with "paper" to make sure that readers view text as originally intended.
  • Umm, yeah? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:50PM (#40183285) Journal
    Has anybody ever been introduced to the wonderful world of the truly dreadful unauthorized variants of canonical texts that were being hacked out while the ink on those texts was barely dry?

    Actors and/or audience members cobbling their (often surprisingly good; but not good enough) memory of a new work of Shakespear into a cut-price unauthorized edition, some really trippy stuff in those version... Hack printers buying first editions and setting blunt type as fast and furious as they could, to get their knockoff on the street before the other guy did... Never mind the various editorial mistakes in subsequent prints, bowdlerizations, etc.

    Of course, works that started as oral traditions or assembled-by-committee mashes of existing texts are far worse than even the worst horrors of post-gutenburg hackery. Oh, and let's not even talk about the dark history of situations where translation has been needed...

    There's a whole industry, in academia, of 'critical editions' that are distinguished in no small part by the editor actually giving a damn about the sources drawn from, attempting to provide the most accurate reproduction of the original, essays and footnotes illuminating the process of choosing between manuscript A and manuscript B, and how to transliterate manuscript C's character names, and whatnot.

    Sure, .99 public domain cash-ins are largely shlock(Project Gutenburg isn't world-class critical editions; but they do at least tend to be produced by people who give a damn and aren't just grubbing for cash by releasing quick and dirty repackages); but the quality of the low end of the market for printed works has always been pretty dire. At least, these days, we don't generally see physical problems like crap ink, blunt, used type, or horrid paper stock also being inflicted on the readers in the cheap seats.
    • I've actually had fairly good success with PG and eBooks. They are just as good, if not better in some cases, than the eBooks I've purchased so far as quality control goes.

      • I have as well. My point was merely that serious freaking out about textual integrity and historical accuracy and translation and whatnot is fairly serious business. It's a pretty big deal within academic publishing.

        PG largely fails the zOMG MUST BE AUTHENTICEST!! test; but produces fairly high quality results because only people who care are involved.

        The cut-price shlock slingers can be widely variable. If you are lucky, they are a more or less straight PG rip, and fairly decent; but you can't expect
    • by jonwil (467024)

      I have a big thick 1-volume edition of the Lord Of The Rings and it has a section at the front describing all the different editions and how different printings of the book contained different mistakes and things and how they ended up with the text as printed in that particular version.

  • Buttbuttinate [google.com]. That is all.

  • We have reentered the realm of scribes. Time to apply textual criticism [wikipedia.org].
  • The ridiculous fees you pay to get an ISBN for each type of distribution (one # for each hardcover, paperback, epub, .pdf, .html, etc), or new addition of the work should also include registry of a verifier code generated by Secure Hash Algorithm. A SHA verifier would be simple to validate when the work is in an electronic form. $150 and up per ISBN? DAMN, they should do SOMETHING for you other than enter a row in a DB! Unique descriptive domain names don't even cost that much. So what's the point? A:

  • checksum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSync (5291) on Friday June 01, 2012 @02:54PM (#40183363) Journal

    Every novel should have an MD5 hash....

  • someone did a replace all because they were lazy, on a FREE PUBLIC DOMAIN BOOK

    its a conspiracy, B&N is not allowing any use of the word kindle in any book they sell. in fact if you go to the store you will find EVERY PHYSICAL BOOK they sell will have the word kindle crossed out and Nook written in

  • Cheap, crummy ebook conversions with no editorial checking. This has been going on for years, and it will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

    A physical book is costly to produce. It's costly to stock and ship them as well. Given those costs, the additional cost of doing a little editing is insignificant. Ebooks, on the other hand, open up new depths of low cost publishing. It's one of those perverse, ironic results. You'd think that cutting down the reproduction and stocking costs of a book would free up money for other tasks, but in fact what happens is that editing, design and promotion become an opportunity for cutting what is now a more significant proportion of expenses.

    As ebooks become the dominant form of book reading, the opportunity arises for marginal publishers to publish books with expenses cut to the bone. Eventually the role of publishers as mediators between the author and public to disappear, and authors will hire editors, story development consultants and designers themselves. Or perhaps literary agents will take the place of traditional publishers, becoming full service business management services for authors. In any case, expect that a greater proportion of "published" books to be poorly designed and edited.

  • Scunthorpe Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by constpointertoconst (1979236) on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:12PM (#40183627)

    There is a Wikipedia article about this issue:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scunthorpe_problem [wikipedia.org]

    "The problem was named after an incident in 1996 in which AOL's dirty-word filter prevented residents of the town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England from creating accounts with AOL, because the town's name contains the substring cunt.[1] Years later, Google's filters apparently made the same mistake, preventing residents from searching for local businesses that included Scunthorpe in their names.[2]"

    There is also a stub article about a specific instance of the replacement effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medireview [wikipedia.org]

  • "Dead tree version"? Really? Is that kind of asshole-ish snark really justified? If you want to read an Amazon-brand Shakespeare-flavored Licensed Advertisement-Delivery System (tm), go right ahead, but there's no reason to poke fun at actual books, which are significantly less likely to have these kinds of glaring mistakes in them.
  • From (my contribution on) the talk page of the article on Romance Languages:

    Can anything be done about the automated censorship of the Dante quotation in footnote 12, which now ends: "nam domus nova et dominus meus lo**censored**ur"? The censored part is a "c" followed by a "u" followed by an "n" followed by a "t"; the original can be found, for example, here: http://www.greatdante.net/texts/vulgari/vulgari.html [greatdante.net] (chapter XI, paragraph 7).

    Apparantly, their Automated Puritan can pull lady parts out of the m

    • by Dahan (130247)

      What makes you think the censorship was automated? The article had "locuntur" from when it was first added [wikipedia.org] on 2 August 2011 until a change [wikipedia.org] made by an unregistered user on 26 January 2012. While I don't know why that user made that change, it wasn't automatically done by Wikipedia. So what can be done is for you (or someone) to change it back (actually, someone has already fixed it).

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 01, 2012 @03:31PM (#40184015) Homepage

    "Superior Formatting Publishing" [superiorformatting.com]'s web site is broken. It consists mostly of "Whoops, looks like there was a problem get the book data from Amazon. Please try again in a moment" and "Amazon API error". Plus a Kindle ad. And "All of our e-books are formatted specifically for the Kindle by an expert in formatting online content using only raw code."

  • Publishing houses are unfathomably bad at editorial workflow. Consider all the official, licensed ebooks with OCR problems. The publishers didn't have a soft copy of their own books. Staggering.

    Now consider that managing the editorial workflow is their only value add, and ask yourself if there's a way to short stock on the publishing industry. Direct to consumer can't come soon enough.

  • You are cordially invited to dine at my estate to discuss this matter. Please dress appropriately, it will be an African-American tie dinner.

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." -- Sledge Hammer

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