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Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:26 am
by sharadmv
Hello everyone,

I just wanted to announce a new version of the Torrey Pines Quizbowl Database called Quizbowl Central.

New features include a more efficient server, faster search, upgraded reader, and MULTIPLAYER!
Please read through all the changes before you use it!!!!

Here are the specific changes:
Overall
  • Faster server (node.js + JSONP instead of PHP + XML)
  • Better designed user interface (still GWT, but newer elements)
  • Ported server and database to more reliable site over which I'll have more control (Berkeley instead of hostmonster.com)
Database
  • Better searching interface (Simple Search is now more Simple, with the same old options. Everything is translated into a "searching" language like Google has)
  • More reliable searches (due to the use of JSONP instead of my old, bad, XML parsing)
  • Exporting questions is more reliable (due to better server)
  • Post-query sorting and filtering of the results (before, you could only filter pre-query)
  • And...just for fun, upgrading and downgrading questions just like Reddit (I made this because I was bored, and I don't expect this to be used that often, but knock yourselves out)
Reader
  • Press "Space" (or click Buzz) to buzz now! (by popular request. Sorry if you're used to typing in "buzz", but hitting the spacebar seems intuitive)
  • Press Ctrl+Space to skip a question (instead of clicking that tiny button)
  • (Slightly) better answer checking. (It won't accept things like "" or " " or "a" anymore. Also, uses Google API to spellcheck. Still under development)
  • More informative statistics keeping. (Before, I kept only your the question you got right and the score. Now I keep the question, the score, if you got it right or wrong, the answer you put, and the time of the buzz)
Multiplayer
  • Just like the reader, except, more than one person at a time!
  • Chatroom with scobowl-like language ("!stop","set category literature")
  • Keeping track of individual scores during the game (no teams, yet. Will be added in the future depending on servers)
  • Designed to play like a normal quizbowl match. (Scoring is still slightly weird, but will be fixed in future updates)
  • Uses the same (slightly) upgraded answer checking system
Those are the new feature changes that I can remember. If you guys find anymore that I've forgotten about, feel free to post them.

Cut Features:
  • Random questions (you can still get as many random questions as you like with the "random:true" and "limit:#" options in the search box)
Still working on:
  • Viewing your stats. It will be better than the old version. (Stats are still being recorded however, so don't lose hope)
  • Cooler multiplayer, i.e. teams
Also, if you find any errors in the actual database, please email me about them. Or, if the site goes down, which it might, please spam me with emails.

IMPORTANT: LOGISTICAL ISSUES
  • YOU HAVE TO MAKE NEW ACCOUNTS! Due to a better username/password system, you'll have to make new accounts that do NOT HAVE THE SAME USERNAME as your last ones! Please make new ones immediately. The other option is to do a complete reset of all accounts and stats. This can be done whenever, so please tell me if you guys are attached to your statistics. If not, I'll do a complete reset.
  • I will not redirect the tpclubs site to the new one for a bit. I want to see how this goes and I might get a domain name too, so this domain will probably be temporary. However, I will post a link on the tpclubs site, so tell all your friends to use the new site, not the old one.
  • Expect some downtime while I add features in a couple of weeks
All right, here's some techy stuff.
Source code for the GWT client side can be found at: https://github.com/sharadmv/Quizbowl-User-Interface. If you can, I'd prefer you make feature requests through github if you have accounts. Otherwise, just post any concerns or feedback on this thread.
If any of you want access to the API, contact me at sharad.vikram@gmail.com, or if you would like to develop on this, please email me.

The backend is currently running on a free tier Amazon EC2 instance. The server cannot handle too many people doing multiplayer at the same time (I still don't know how many the max is). Since multiplayer uses websockets, and xhr polling (NowJS) as a fallback, I'd prefer you use Chrome and Firefox 6 when doing multiplayer over browsers like Firefox 5 or less and Internet Explorer. The site still works well on those browsers, but will cause more server load.
I will work on getting a server with more RAM and processing power.

The site can be found at http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~sharadmv.

Sorry for the super long post, but thanks for being so supportive of the old site and thanks for the feedback on it too!

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:35 am
by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode
Looks very awesome.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:35 am
by Wilberbeast
This is simply awesome, haha. Is there a feature that asks bonus parts, as well/will there be in the future?

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:54 am
by sharadmv
Sorry about the current unreliability of the site. I will fix this.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:09 am
by DoWon.Kim
Again I must say, this is pretty awesome, Sharad.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:37 pm
by Papa's in the House
I received the following error when trying to get on the new site. I'll look into seeing if it goes away when I do my periodic software updates.

"Timeout while calling http://ec2-50-17-57-153.compute-1.amazo ... -in-script"

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:07 pm
by jonathanmarx
Papa's in the House wrote:I received the following error when trying to get on the new site. I'll look into seeing if it goes away when I do my periodic software updates.

"Timeout while calling http://ec2-50-17-57-153.compute-1.amazo ... -in-script"
I'm getting the same error.. tried it on both Chrome and Firefox, got a blank page with that error popping up eventually.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:37 pm
by sharadmv
If you get the timeout error, that means that most probably, the server has crashed from overload. I just restarted the server so you can try out the site again. As you all have probably noticed, the server can't handle too many people. I plan to get a new one.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:39 pm
by cornfused
Right now, it's requiring plurals - could you make trailing esses unnecessary or something?

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:18 am
by sharadmv
I've fixed the word forms and punctuation answer checking errors. Please tell me if there are still problems.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:21 am
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
Logins don't seem to work in Firefox. I have no trouble with Chrome though.

EDIT: Nope, nevermind, i can't log in under Chrome either. I click the login box and it's somewhat like it's not even letting me click it to do that. I only got in yesterday because i created an account and logged in immediately. I haven't been able to re-log in after that.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:34 pm
by cornfused
Yeah, I think there's something up with the login feature right now.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:16 pm
by vinteuil
I like it, but the server dies a lot. Also, it hasn't worked properly for me in IE, but, luckily, I use safari :grin:

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:48 pm
by sharadmv
Doing some maintenance. I'll let you know when it gets back up.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:56 am
by sharadmv
All right. Quizbowl Central is back up!

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:33 am
by hydrocephalitic listlessness
I'm getting a 403 Error (You don't have permission to access /~sharadmv on this server)

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:17 am
by No Electricity Required
Right now I "don't have permission to access /~sharadmv/ on this server."

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:42 am
by Urech hydantoin synthesis
Now i'm getting a 503 error.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:14 pm
by sharadmv
Interestingly, this would actually be Berkeley doing some maintenance on their own servers. This one is out of my hands. Hopefully it will be done today. I'll keep you guys posted. Another option is that I can put it on a temporary site. I'll try that a bit later today if OCF is not back up.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:29 pm
by sharadmv

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:13 pm
by Golran
When using the reader, I keep getting the same question over and over again. Is there something I should do so this doesn't happen? My only restrictions are selecting certain tournaments.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:39 pm
by Scaled Flowerpiercer
Golran wrote:When using the reader, I keep getting the same question over and over again. Is there something I should do so this doesn't happen? My only restrictions are selecting certain tournaments.
The "continue" button doesn't work, either click "generate" after each question, or hit enter.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:36 pm
by DhruvSehgal
Hey, I was using the site earlier today, and it worked great !
But now it is not working, perhaps because the site has too many people on it?

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:25 pm
by Cubfan125
Any way you could keep the old Torrey Pines database up while Quizbowl Central's kinks are being worked out? Thanks so much for doing this, by the way -- it's an incredible resource.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:24 pm
by sharadmv
The continue button should work now and I'll work on getting TP back up today. Thanks for all the feedback!

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:06 am
by vinteuil
Worked wonderfully last night—lots of people only created a little lag for me.

What do you think about putting bonuses in for the multiplayer room? Also, perhaps multiple multiplayer rooms?

[EDIT: Judging from the 27 people on tonight, I say that it is an absolute necessary to be able to have several rooms on at once]

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:01 pm
by cornfused
Think we're down again.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:52 pm
by blizzard
Would it be possible to be able to "reserve" a time period on multiplayer so that you play on a specific subject, such as college level science or high school level history. I feel like many people would like to be able to play on a specific level or subject, and this would also stop potential disagreements over what to play on. There could be a thread on here devoted to listing the reserved times. I am not sure how often this could take place, but I think it depends on the popularity of the idea and whether or not Sharad (or somebody else?) would be willing to set this up.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:55 pm
by Urech hydantoin synthesis
blizzard wrote:Would it be possible to be able to "reserve" a time period on multiplayer so that you play on a specific subject, such as college level science or high school level history. I feel like many people would like to be able to play on a specific level or subject, and this would also stop potential disagreements over what to play on. There could be a thread on here devoted to listing the reserved times. I am not sure how often this could take place, but I think it depends on the popularity of the idea and whether or not Sharad (or somebody else?) would be willing to set this up.
This could be solved by having multiple rooms, although that does dilute opponent strength somewhat if you care. I do support the option of having multiple rooms, since there needs to be more than just one public multiplayer room.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:08 am
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
I think a good idea would simply be to make QBCentral open-source or allow others to work on it. Sharad might have a hard time dealing with the issues posed by QBCentral and our constant requests, so defraying the work to others with significant programming experience might make the whole thing easier on all of us who use it and the one who has so graciously provided us with this invaluable resource.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:23 pm
by nadph
EDIT: Never mind, I was wrong.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:30 pm
by MiltonWaddams
Not sure if it's been addressed, but the reader doesn't accept answers right now. Great site, though.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:27 pm
by Ianissimo
So this may be a dumb question from a computer dummy, but often the site will load and function properly except that I can't log in and the tossups will not appear in multiplayer. Is this a site glitch or is there something I'm doing wrong or that I can do more right to get logged in? Thanks, fellas.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:12 pm
by Urech hydantoin synthesis
MiltonWaddams wrote:Not sure if it's been addressed, but the reader doesn't accept answers right now. Great site, though.
I'm pretty sure that you have to make an account in order for the reader to accept answers (at least that's what I interpreted from what Sharad said on multiplayer)

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:01 pm
by MiltonWaddams
Tommy Tutone 2 wrote:
MiltonWaddams wrote:Not sure if it's been addressed, but the reader doesn't accept answers right now. Great site, though.
I'm pretty sure that you have to make an account in order for the reader to accept answers (at least that's what I interpreted from what Sharad said on multiplayer)
Thanks, that must have been the problem.



User was reminded to enable a signature. - Mgmt.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:58 am
by cornfused
There's been a decent amount of downtime (including right now, by the way) on the new site - did you decide not to put the old TP site back up?

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:03 am
by jonpin
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I click "Log in", "Create an account", and try to type in a user name and password and then... nothing happens. I hit "Create" and it just sits there. Is anyone else having this problem?

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:14 am
by Grace
I have an existing account, but I can't log in right now either.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:37 am
by The ChatSack Triple-Play
I'll third the complaint, as I can neither log in nor create another account on either Opera or Firefox.

EDIT [to avoid double posting]: I'd like to complement Sharad on the answer parsing system implemented here; it's pretty amazing.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:28 pm
by antiamoeba
This may be a really stupid question but how do you enter a answer? Like, I hit buzz and I type in my answer, but how do I submit it?

User was reminded to add a signature. -Mgmt

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:18 pm
by Urech hydantoin synthesis
antiamoeba wrote:This may be a really stupid question but how do you enter a answer? Like, I hit buzz and I type in my answer, but how do I submit it?

User was reminded to add a signature. -Mgmt
You press the enter key.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:08 pm
by cornfused
Tommy Tutone 2 wrote:
antiamoeba wrote:This may be a really stupid question but how do you enter a answer? Like, I hit buzz and I type in my answer, but how do I submit it?

User was reminded to add a signature. -Mgmt
You press the enter key.
Only works if you're logged in, and no one can log in right now.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:50 pm
by The ChatSack Triple-Play
cornfused wrote:
Tommy Tutone 2 wrote:
antiamoeba wrote:This may be a really stupid question but how do you enter a answer? Like, I hit buzz and I type in my answer, but how do I submit it?

User was reminded to add a signature. -Mgmt
You press the enter key.
Only works if you're logged in, and no one can log in right now.
Well, I just type my UN/PW in the boxes, hit enter, and it still works despite not letting on I'm logged in. Go figure.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:41 pm
by cornfused
HopefullyUnknown wrote:
cornfused wrote:
Tommy Tutone 2 wrote:
antiamoeba wrote:This may be a really stupid question but how do you enter a answer? Like, I hit buzz and I type in my answer, but how do I submit it?
You press the enter key.
Only works if you're logged in, and no one can log in right now.
Well, I just type my UN/PW in the boxes, hit enter, and it still works despite not letting on I'm logged in. Go figure.
Circle gets the square. It does mean that the multiplayer's down, though.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:42 pm
by sharadmv
Hello all,
Just wanted to explain what was going on with the site.

Disclaimer: this will be very techy.

I've been using a node.js server backend to send JSONP back and forth for the single player reader and the database. This is extremely stable and really, no matter what you do there, the server won't crash due to some client side action.

The multiplayer is using a much more new, less stable technology called NowJS which essentially is a wrapper on socket.io and allows me to leverage all sorts of real time web technologies such as Websockets and XHR. Socket.io is rather flaky, so due to different specs on different browsers, it throws some errors when trying to mix those different technologies. For example, older versions of FF have Websockets disabled, due to security issues. So, it falls back to using XHR. XHR doesn't work very well, and generally, due to a handshake error, it causes a server overload of improper handshake errors.

I've realized that I can't continue with NowJS as it can't scale well with all the different browsers going around. What I just tried to do was set up two identical web servers on different ports, which will work for the Reader/Search and the multiplayer respectively. That way, theoretically, if the multiplayer went down, the reader and all would still work. However, this switch has caused some cache issues. Essentially, the browser still thinks it is the old port, so it uses that old web server, still causing crash issues. I think the problem could be solved if everyone clears their browser cache, as I have no problems with the new double server.

I am looking into more stable and scalable technologies and am very close to finding a new one.
For all who asked, I don't think I'll have time to put TP back up. I will however try to make the TP-esque features on QBC as stable as possible.

I'll create a better webserver within a month, hopefully. As for open sourcing it, I plan to open it up after I create a stable framework and API.
OH! And I'll add room support once I set up that stable framework!

Thanks for all the patience.

EDIT: made my long post slightly longer

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:51 pm
by ryanrosenberg
Thanks! I only pretend I know techy stuff, but what I do understand sounds good. Thanks again for all your work and responsiveness through this.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:02 pm
by nadph
The server's still timing out when I try to access http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~sharadmv/, even after clearing my cache. Any word as to why this might be? Sorry about the confusion.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:39 pm
by zelsc2014
This may be a dumb question and if so i am sorry. I was wondering if anyone knows how to make an acount. I wanted to try the multiplayer, but when I clicked create, in order to submit a username/password it did nothing. But other than that minor issue the website is really useful and i using enjoy it.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:16 pm
by No Electricity Required
zelsc2014 wrote:This may be a dumb question and if so i am sorry. I was wondering if anyone knows how to make an acount. I wanted to try the multiplayer, but when I clicked create, in order to submit a username/password it did nothing. But other than that minor issue the website is really useful and i using enjoy it.
This might not still be true but I heard something about that being disabled right now.

Re: Quizbowl Central

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:23 pm
by cornfused
nadph wrote:The server's still timing out when I try to access http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~sharadmv/, even after clearing my cache. Any word as to why this might be? Sorry about the confusion.
Still down here, too.