Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Bookmarking glitch fixed

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I’d like to apologize to many of my recent (and recently returned) customers: bookmarks broke, a nasty little glitch, now fixed. If you bought a book and found it hard to get back to where you left off — which is supposed to be easy — this is the explanation, and it’s all better now (as of midday Dec 11).

“Bookmarking” is one of the gnarliest challenges of publishing book-length content on the web. PainSci books are basically “just” big webpages, with a few technological embellishments to facilitate reading, to make them more like “conventional” e-books (e.g. Kindle books).

A last-position bookmark saves the last location you were looking at. It constantly updates, automatically, as you move around the book.

This is beyond what modern web browsers support on their own. As feature-rich as they have gotten, they have no capacity to remember what part of a big page you were looking at. So the bookmarking system is basically an “extension” to web browser functionality, and... it’s very complicated.

And complicated things can break. And this one did. It was one those hard-to-diagnose but easy-to-solve problems: about 3 hours to figure it out, and about 3 mins to fix it!

The hierarchy of code debugging challenges

😜 Easy to understand, trivial to fix.

🥴 Hard to grok (“truly understand”), but easy to fix once you do.

😬 Easy to grok—“Well, there’s your problem!”—but hard to fix.

😱 Hard to grok…and you’re hosed even when you do.

And then there’s the dreaded silent failures. Can’t troubleshoot a bug you don’t even know exists!

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