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View Full Version : New puzzle format - looking for feedback


admin
09-14-2008, 04:53 AM
Hi folks -

Some of the most common feedback I've gotten over the past year has been related to the functionality of the playing board. Common complaints have been:

1. Letters don't auto-fill immediately - they only do so once you've moved to another box.

2. Its annoying having to tab or mouse-click to the next open box on the board.

Both are valid criticisms, and I've started work on a new playing board that will address these concerns, and incorporate some other ideas I've come across either from user feedback or from my experience working with Jason on the iPhone Cryptograms (http://www.icryptograms.com) application.

My first pass at this new playing board is now ready for testing, and I welcome all Cryptograms.org users to give it a try and send in their feedback. There are four basic areas of new or improved functionality:

All boxes of the same letter are automatically highlighted based on the box you're currently focused on, to help show letter distribution throughout the puzzle.
All letters update immediately once a letter is entered in the box, instead of after you've moved off the box.
The cursor will automatically move to the next open box on the game board without the need to tab or mouse-click, and will highlight the appropriate companion boxes.
Letter frequencies are displayed directly underneath each letter for easier pattern recognition.You can try out the new board at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php

Note that these puzzles can not be submitted, and they will not count against your personal scorecards as attempted/missed puzzles. Feel free to load and reload a number of puzzles, and try to solve them as you would any other cryptogram. I'd love to hear your feedback on the new functionality, whether you think its helpful or confusing, or if you have any other ideas that can be implemented. Feel free to post your comments to this thread.

Thanks!

- Stephen

PS: If you experience any bugs or problems please be sure to include both your operating system (Windows, Mac, etc.) and your browser (Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox, Safari, etc.) with your feedback/comment. That part is crucial - thanks!

admin
09-14-2008, 07:27 PM
Made a few changes this morning to the new format:

1. There is now a running tally, below the playing board, that tells you which letters have yet to be played in the puzzle. This tally will automatically update every time a letter is added or removed from the puzzle.

2. You no longer have to backspace or delete a letter that's already on the board if you feel you've made a mistake. Simply click in the box and type your new letter - it will automatically replace what's already in there.

Again, the new board is at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php (http://www.cryptograms.org/forum/../newformat.php)

Cheers -

- Stephen

Laura
09-14-2008, 11:48 PM
Woohoo!! Looking good.

flutefish
09-15-2008, 10:06 AM
I agree with the comments in the chat room that it will take some getting used to - mostly looking at numbers at the same time as letters. It took me a little longer to focus on the pattern. But after I got used to it - unbelievable! I can't wait until it's ready for prime time!!!!

The only change I would make is that if I hit shift-tab to go backwards, that it let me land on the letters already filled in. Sometimes it's faster to go backwards than forwards. :o)

flutefish
09-15-2008, 11:11 PM
There was a comment in the chat room that I noticed that I agree with after playing more with the new format. I'd rather not have the letter frequencies under the letters, just to the side. It's too much of a distraction, and makes it harder to see the patterns. And it doesn't add any value, at least not for me. I always look at the side box anyways to see the letter frequencies.

admin
09-16-2008, 05:25 AM
Hi folks -

Thanks for the feedback!

I've made a number of changes to the new playing board tonight based on your comments:

1. The box where your cursor is currently focused will now be a slightly different color than all its companion boxes, and will have a solid border instead of a dotted one. (In response to complaints that it was difficult to tell where the cursor was sometimes).

2. Letter frequencies can now be turned off by clicking the option below the puzzle. (This will eventually be an option field in everyone's user profile, which you can set to either "on" or "off" and the site will remember your preference each time a puzzle is loaded).

3. Automatic cursor advancement can be toggled on and off via the second option. It seems that automatic cursor advancement to the next open box is most useful only after a certain percentage of the puzzle is filled in - and until that point it can be rather cumbersome when you're trying to shift-tab to go backwards, etc. So users can now opt to turn it on or off as they desire, and again, this will be a user profile field that can be set and remembered by the system. (I imagine most folks would want to set it to "off" so that it is initially not enabled, and then manually set it to "on" once they've gotten enough of the puzzle filled in that they just want to quickly type in the rest of the answers).

Feel free to test out the latest version at:
http://www.cryptograms.org/newformat.php (http://www.cryptograms.org/forum/../newformat.php)

As always I appreciate your feedback and comments!

- Stephen

greenjelly
09-18-2008, 06:23 PM
Automatic cursor advancement is cool, but it also advances the cursor when I press delete, backspace or space. I would like to have the option to clear a cell and remain in that cell. Can it be changed to advance only if input is 'a' to 'z'?

Also: If I tab or shift-tab into a cell that is already filled, it automatically advances out of it. It stays there only when I click with the mouse. The auto advancement logic needs to be tweaked a bit.

bansaisequoia
09-19-2008, 02:26 AM
:p Stephen if you're looking for feedback, check out Hendrix doing the National Anthem at Woodstock. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4428889134594532334&ei=nOHSSNDRBo7IqALikMDOAg&q=hendrix+national+anthem&vt=lf&hl=enhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cb/JimiHendrix2.jpg



But, seriously, I think everyone else has covered the ups and downs of the new format, especially greenjelly.

admin
09-27-2008, 08:12 PM
Hi everyone -

Thanks again for all your feedback! I've made the new playing board live just a few moments ago. I did my best to incorporate everyone's comments and suggestions, but please don't hesitate to add more if you notice any bugs or potential problems.

Note that you can set your permanent playing preferences (as a registered used) by clicking this link:

http://www.cryptograms.org/forum/profile.php?do=editprofile#preferences

There you can set your preferences on:

1. Allowing or disallowing potentially offensive quotes from displaying.

2. Having letter frequencies displayed below each letter on the playing board.

3. Having the cursor automatically move to the next open square. (Note - users with older/slower computers may want to disable this option if it moves too slowly for you. Unfortunately there isn't much I can do to avoid that at the moment. It does perform better in Firefox than in Internet Explorer, though if you're on a modern, relatively fast computer you should have no problems.)

Please let me know if you have any questions -

- Stephen

admin
09-27-2008, 08:21 PM
I should add, as this is an important new change -

Do NOT use your browser's BACK button.

Especially when you've checked a puzzle and its incorrect. If you have an error in your puzzle, the program will give you a link to click to go back and fix it. BE SURE TO USE THIS LINK AND NOT YOUR BACK BUTTON! Doing so may make it impossible for you to resubmit the puzzle, as the new playing board automatically disables the submit button on the first click. Simply click the link provided instead and you will be returned to your puzzle, with all your previous letters properly saved just as you had entered them.

kat
09-27-2008, 09:40 PM
If I disengage the automatic cursor, the autofill does not work. And if I keep the automatic cursor, it doesn't keep up with my typing (which really isn't that fast). I'm at a loss, and my time is getting slower. It may be my computer, which is not a newer model. Either way, I'm getting a bit frustrated.:( I know this is all new, and problems were expected I'm sure.

admin
09-27-2008, 09:54 PM
Hi kat -

What operating system and browser are you using?

kat
09-27-2008, 10:10 PM
While pretty decent with word puzzles, I am very computer illiterate. Good question. Windows HP? (I know you're probably sniggering behind your hand right now, and I don't blame you...:o )

It's gotten a little better, and I'm getting more used to the automatic cursor. I may have started whining too soon... I think it'll be fine. Thanks.:)

Laura
09-27-2008, 10:40 PM
Kat:

Sorry you're having problems. I had a hard time with the first few puzzles and wound up disabling the "move" feature. But when I forced myself to use it, it got better. I actually broke three of Bansai's records! (However, he'll be setting even better solve times now ;-).

So my time went down initially but then improved. I'm sure you'll adjust soon and get your fast solve times back. Just hang in there.

kat
09-27-2008, 11:13 PM
I appreciate the encouragement. Hope you are right! My times are fluctuating all over the place right now, and I miss being speedy.:p

You are right about Bansai...those times are going to be scary fast!

Thanks again and HAPPY SOLVING!

admin
09-27-2008, 11:33 PM
Hi kat -

If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, you may want to try installing Firefox - its a free download at www.getfirefox.com. In my own testing here the scripts work much better on slower computers using the Firefox browser. (They work great too on Google's new Chrome browser if you want to try that instead).

I'm sure it'll be a bit of a learning process to get the feel for the new system but hopefully it will end up being faster and more fun for everyone.

Cheers!

- Stephen

kat
09-27-2008, 11:50 PM
Thanks Stephen. I've downloaded it and will give it a try. The explorer one was definitely giving me problems. I appreciate your help!

maradnu
09-28-2008, 12:57 AM
It will take some getting used to. In some ways it is harder to spot patterns, with the numbers below the letters, but the numbers can be helpful as well.

It does not always keep up with me very well, and I am not a fast typist. Once I am rolling on a puzzle, it speeds things up considerably. Very nice to have it go back to the start if I've been working in the middle and reach the last, but have some unsolved early letters.

Kind of a nuisance when I get several letters wrong, as I have to click on each, since it wants to skip them.

Good to get it now. Not too much will change in the standings at this point in the month, and we can get the hang of it before next month's competition starts.

Laura
09-28-2008, 06:40 AM
Stephen:

It's interesting that you mention Firefox. I've been using it for almost a year and love it. Other sites work better with IE (like my school) but for cryptograms on this site I really prefer Firefox. The only problem I've noticed is that it sometimes shuts down unexpectedly. It did that on four occasions this week while I was doing cryptograms and the result was a decrease of .3 seconds on my average time.

But I also noticed that Mozilla has been upgrading this week. Maybe that's why.

flutefish
09-28-2008, 11:21 AM
I agree the new format will take some getting used to. I have the impression that my overall time is faster (the highs becoming faster), but I do not seem to have anywhere near the usual amount of really fast times. I agree that the board doesn't keep up with my typing, but it's not acting particularly slow. I just type pretty fast. But it would be nice if it moved to the next letter faster.

I use Safari (I have a Mac, and LOVE it!) and have never once had a problem with the site. Occasionally (and I mean VERY occasionally), there is a site that doesn't work well with Safari, in which case I use Firefox instead. But I've never used Firefox on this site.

Overall, I really like the new board. The cursor jumping to the next open letter is REALLY helpful. I just need to not hit the wrong key so I don't have to go back and correct something... :o

Laura
09-28-2008, 08:57 PM
I'm finally getting to where I'm not distracted by the letter frequencies, and am blown away by how helpful that feature is. Also, having the current letter highlighted in yellow throughout the puzzle is great!

This is awesome.

maradnu
09-28-2008, 10:34 PM
Having the current letter highlighted is great.

Since it always goes to the next unfilled letter, when you have completed a puzzle - nothing is highlighted - that is also good. There have been a few long puzzles, under the old format, where I could not always tell when I had filled everything.

kat
09-28-2008, 11:01 PM
Definitely liking the highlighted letters! And since downloading firefox, I'm actually setting a couple records here and there. :D Even topped Bansai once, and we all know that Bansai's the one to beat while we still can....;)

Thanks to Stephen for the suggestion! And the new format!

bansaisequoia
09-29-2008, 06:42 PM
I dunno, kat. I'm having a hard time adapting to this just like everyone else. When I sit at the keyboard, I feel like my hands have those spongy #1! gloves you see at football games. Soon I may be supplanted by you or Laura or flutey or ferrymegan or digirl. Right now I feel awkward. We'll see in a little over a month how the results turn out.

kat
09-29-2008, 08:03 PM
While I agree that we are ALL adjusting to this new format, I'm sure those who were the quickest ones before will more than likely continue to prevail.;)

I am fluctuating wildly in my times. I just hit 15 seconds for the first time ever. (something YOU'VE seen quite a bit!:rolleyes: ) and I've also been steadily slowing down for the most part. Definitely a big adjustment for me. I agree with Maradnu's previous post that the end of the month was a good time to launch the new format. The scores aren't changing that much and it left time to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

greenjelly
09-29-2008, 09:05 PM
1. Would be nice if the cursor went to the first box of the new puzzle automatically when it loads.

2. sometimes, the "remaining letters" list doesn't work correctly.

maradnu
09-30-2008, 02:08 AM
I found I've gotten a little more consistent since I changed how I did some things.

Obviously each of us is different, but I tended on the old format to keep my left hand on the 'tab' key, while keying letters with my right hand. With the new format, tab is relatively unimportant, but the mouse more so, so I now key letters with my left hand, while using the right hand for the mouse.

If I get letters wrong, it slows me down considerably, even with switching hands. It has not improved my top times or average times yet, but I am getting more 30 second or less times. I used to be 30 or under about 10% of the time, now it is more like 20% of the time.

That seems to be offset by more 60 second or more times, which I am hoping to reduce as I get more used to the format.

maradnu
09-30-2008, 02:29 AM
Twice now, I've been working puzzles, stopped to check my scores, gone back and loaded and worked another puzzle, then when I hit 'enter' it tells me I'm not authorized to complete the puzzle in competition format.

When I look, I find I'm logged out. When I log back in the completed but unchecked puzzle is in my 'recent' puzzles. I have to reopen it, then click 'check' and I am credited with the completion.

Kinda screws up the time on the puzzle it happens to though.

bansaisequoia
09-30-2008, 03:15 PM
My biggest problem is that the letters take too long to load after you've typed them. I'll have the whole solution in my mind, but by the time I've typed all the letters and they have loaded, more time has elapsed than if I had used the old format and had to tab or point and click to get to the next boxes. If I uncheck the "Diplay letter frequencies?" and "Automatically move cursor?" boxes, it doesn't return to the old format. Something must be done to get rid of this lag time.:mad:

admin
09-30-2008, 03:38 PM
Hi bansai -

Are you using Internet Explorer? I've been trying like made to reduce lag time on IE, which is notorious for not running web applications as smoothly as other browsers. Anyone who wants to seriously compete for time should probably try using Firefox for now (www.getfirefox.com) while I am working out the kinks, though I've tried Google's new Chrome browser as well and found it to work quite fast there as well.

Let me know if a new browser works better for you. I suspect that of everyone here, you're likely to be the most sensitive to these kinds of lag times since you're so lightning fast in solving these suckers. Which is actually good - if I can make you happy eventually then I'll know things are working properly. :-)

admin
09-30-2008, 03:50 PM
PS: I've also downloaded Internet Explorer 8 (beta) and testing has shown a huge improvement over IE6/IE7. If you absolutely love Internet Explorer you may want to try upgrading to IE8 and see if that improves things for you:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/default.aspx

bansaisequoia
09-30-2008, 04:48 PM
Thanks for the info--I'll give it a shot.

admin
09-30-2008, 04:56 PM
Great - please do let me know either way whether or not it helps alleviate the lag time for you.

mysticwarrior72
09-30-2008, 10:13 PM
Twice now, I've been working puzzles, stopped to check my scores, gone back and loaded and worked another puzzle, then when I hit 'enter' it tells me I'm not authorized to complete the puzzle in competition format.

When I look, I find I'm logged out. When I log back in the completed but unchecked puzzle is in my 'recent' puzzles. I have to reopen it, then click 'check' and I am credited with the completion.

Kinda screws up the time on the puzzle it happens to though.
I'm having the same problem and I don't understand it. Except I will be just working the puzzle and when I'm finished I click "check it" and it says I'm not logged in. I admit that some of them have been a few minutes long (I'm a little slow), I don't see how it could do this.

Admin - any suggestions?

Thank you,

MW72

admin
09-30-2008, 10:15 PM
Admin - any suggestions?

Two things that fix this problem 99% of the time:

1. Make sure you check the "Remember me?" option when you login - this will cause your cookie to persist.

2. Make sure you have cookies enabled on your browser. High security settings and some anti-virus software with particularly sensitive settings may disable your cookies, but our site requires them in order to be able to remember that you're logged in.

If that doesn't help, let me know.

mysticwarrior72
09-30-2008, 11:00 PM
Two things that fix this problem 99% of the time:

1. Make sure you check the "Remember me?" option when you login - this will cause your cookie to persist.

2. Make sure you have cookies enabled on your browser. High security settings and some anti-virus software with particularly sensitive settings may disable your cookies, but our site requires them in order to be able to remember that you're logged in.

If that doesn't help, let me know.
Thanks! I'll see if that helps. Great site by the way. It keeps me out of trouble :D

MW72

Laura
09-30-2008, 11:28 PM
I had a problem until some weeks ago with lag time, but not any more. However, Mozilla has automatically updated Firefox and I'm now using release 3.0.3. I haven't had any slowdowns since and my solve time is astonishing. However, I know that once Bansai gets used to the changes, I'll be eating dust again ;-)

bansaisequoia
10-11-2008, 11:41 PM
Stephen, can you change "Insert Image" so that it can also browse images in my own computer, rather than just take the url of an internet image? You may have noticed I have a habit of adding goofy pictures to posts.

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c377/the813cutie/Clip%20Art/HelloNurse.jpg

flutefish
10-12-2008, 10:24 AM
Speaking of your pics, Bansai, keep them up! They often make my day. :)

Hurricane
04-19-2009, 09:32 PM
The letter frequncies are wrong. Some uzzles say that there are 15 of the letter Y and not one Y in the whole puzzle. It throws me off.

smoochie222
04-20-2009, 12:17 AM
It means that there are 15 of whatever the y stands for not 15 ys. Probably e.