Students Aren't Allowed To Touch Real Rocks

How the Consumer Product Safety Commission drives parents--and everyone else--crazy.

American Educational Products had their shipment all ready: A school's worth of small bags, each one filled with an igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Then the school canceled its order. Says Warring, "They apparently decided rocks could be harmful to children."

The children will study a poster of rocks instead.

And so it goes in the unbrave new world, where nothing is safe enough. It's a world brought to us by the once sane, now danger-hallucinating Consumer Product Safety Commission.


DNA Lounge: Wherein our store gets fancier.

I made some changes to the DNA Lounge store today.

We often get email from people who don't understand how will-call tickets work. Questions like, "I bought this ticket with my mom's credit card, how do I get in?", or "My friend paid for our tickets but now he's not going, what do I do?", or "Dear Beloved in Christ, I am the widow of the Minister of Finance of Malaysia." We get these questions despite the fact that no less than three separate times during the checkout process it tells you that to pick up will-call tickets, you just need to know two things: the name on the credit card used; and the confirmation code.

People don't read. We know this.

So I figured, well, if there was something on the screen that looked like a ticket, maybe these non-reading people would make the intuitive leap from there to, "I should print this out and take it with me."

So that's what it does now. It looks like this:

Technically that thing on the screen isn't really a ticket, it's just a pretty piece of paper that has the correct purchaser name and confirmation code on it, and when you hand that to the folks at the front door, they will give you your actual tickets, which are the little raffle-spool-looking ones.

I had to upgrade the store server to a faster machine to do this, because apparently using ImageMagick to do such simple font scaling and placement takes a ridiculous amount of CPU.

Also, the confirmation email you get when you place an order is HTML now, because it is the Twenty-First Century.

Please let me know if anything appears to be broken.

By the way, in anticipation of those of you who are about to ask, "Why don't you mail tickets?", the answer is that it's a really expensive hassle at every step of the way: the printer, the thermal media, and the person to stuff envelopes in a timely fashion. It's just not worth the effort. It wouldn't speed up entry, anyway: ID-check is always the bottleneck, not will-call.