F***You Magento

DISCLAIMER: This is only the humble opinion of a single Magento user, and is intended as an opinion piece and not meant to be taken as an authoritative review of the platform. Maybe someone out there has had a better experience with the platform than I have. Instead, adult profanities follow. Lots of them.

Hey everyone! How are ya’ll doing on this lovely afternoon?

Fine and dandy? That’s good.

Guess what I spent most of a month working on?

A Magento site!

How was it you ask? Well…

FUCK YOU Magento!

You’re the least user-friendly, arrogant piece-of-shit web platform I have ever had the displeasure of using. You’ve caused me countless hours of migraine inducing, head-scratching, what the fuck moments that I had no intention, or expectation, of having to contend with. Because of your single-handed inept, horseshit way of magically generating errors out of thin air, I’ve not only seriously considered, but already taken steps to get out of the web design business altogether. Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit platform! Why, oh why, didn’t I sign up for some other e-com platform instead?

WHYYYYYY?!

That wasn’t me just now. That was some other angry person.

Phew, now that that’s out of the way, where the gosh-darned heck do I actually begin to describe the nightmare using this platform has become for myself and everyone else who has ever touched it?

For those of you out of the know, Magento is the world’s largest, most popular e-commerce web platform.

Right out of the box, this system pretends that it’s the bees-knees of e-commerce. It’s big, it’s got features, it’s got a community and it’s got a price-tag.

Everything about it reeks of confidence to the point of big corporation arrogance; but if a platform has been around for a decade with some of the biggest names in commerce using it, you would expect a smaller site might be able to reap the benefits that only a robust platform like Magento could offer?

Wrong motherfucker! AMBUSH!

I’m sure there are good things about Magento, somewhere, hidden in that deep, dark pit of despair, but in reality whatever good this platform can offer is in every way overshadowed by its error-ready inherently broken core architecture.

It’s honestly as if every single piece of this behemoth was built from the ground up using psycho-logic and with the sole intention of causing psychological trauma to the poor saps who end up using it for development.

Exhibit A – The Magento import and export functions are dogshit.

In a normal world, when you export and then import something from the same damn site (like taking socks out of a drawer and then putting them back in) you expect them to work / be accepted / import (you expect the mutherfucking socks to fit in the mutherfucking drawer!).

With Magento, I exported the entire catalogue from our site, and then attempted to re-import it back to the same site.

The only difference was that we moved the domain; every single other facet, from attributes, to categories, to currencies, was the exact same.

Then, when I imported them, lo and behold, over 15 000 errors! WTF?!

After checking the spreadsheet, it turns out that it was indeed filled with errors – errors that Magento arbitrarily decided to fill it with!

Why would a system’s own built-in import and export function fuck itself like that? It’s like after unloading a bag of fresh groceries in the fridge, closing the fridge, and then opening it to find a gaggle of geese fly out at high speeds type of insanity.

The best part? After I fixed all 15,000 errors BY HAND, uploaded them and got the perfect green checkmark of “everything works”… nothing actually worked!

In the back end, everything was there, fine and looking good. Products were active, on the right site, in the right categories EXCEPT they weren’t appearing on the front end.

Not. One. Of. Them.

After a good 10 hours of troubleshooting, it turns out that 99% of the products magically didn’t work, and would never work. The other 1% could, but they got imported with the “enabled” switch turned to “disabled” for some mysterious reason.

I tried switching the others to disabled in the hope that they would work, but no dice.

The only way they worked was to copy paste each individual bit of info from that spreadsheet into the product creator… oh, a good couple thousand times.

Exhibit B – In Magento, Errors Appear and then Magically Disappear.

I went into the theme template and disabled every sidebar widget save for a recently viewed products list. I tested it, and it worked… but that was yesterday.

Today, after having added a few more pages to the CMS, updated the store logo and added some images to the home page, etc. (standard stuff) I went to look over with the products and happened to notice the recent product list wasn’t appearing.

I go to the back end, check, and it’s enabled? WTF?

I enable other widgets and they all work, but not the one goddamn widget I want!? FUUUUUU!

Guess I won’t be using that goddamn widget this time around!

Exhibit C – Can I change the Store Logo in Magento Anymore? Anyone?

From the back-end, the only way to upload a media file is through loading up an individual page editor in the CMS section and pretending to insert a file but only going so far as browsing.

Once there, I dumped the logo file into the EXACT SAME directory as the default placeholder and saved. I went to the theme settings, changed the name of the file on the path and then bingo it… wait? WTF!? It’s still the old logo?!

To cut that piece of shit story short, it turns out changing the filepath does nothing – the only way to change the logo was to manually overwrite the placeholder file with the new logo and then go.

Pro-tip: changing the file name in the core database doesn’t even work – other magical nonsense happens… I don’t recommend you try it, ever.

Hmm why not just have an image uploader built into the settings where I can simply upload my logo file and the system takes care of it?

You know… like the GODDAMN FAVICON has?!

But no, that would make sense, and Magento isn’t a fan of having to explain itself.

Final Remarks about using Magento?

As far as I can tell, the only way to make Magento inherently work, to avoid countless migraines that seriously make you question the possible existence of the devil, is to never, EVER, make any changes to any sort of the architecture, template or system, no matter how modest.

Buy a template, and don’t even so much as change the name of one of the pages. If you so much as do, then be prepared, well prepared, to enter into a realm of Lovecraftian madness beyond your deepest, darkest, watery dreams of chaos.

Fuck you Magento, I hate you.

FUN FACT: Two and a half years later and Magento still sucks! I’ve written a follow-up piece to commemorate the occasion. Be sure to read about Another Trip Through the Inferno: Magento.

This post was slightly updated in 2014, 2016, and 2019. 

The Political Right, Racism and “Knowledge-a-phobia”

It’s always frightening when the political right undertakes another tirade against education and scholarship. The most recent embargo of sanity seems to be Fox “news'” interview and coverage of Dr. Reza Aslan’s most recent monograph about the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

In their interview, the Fox newscaster (whose name I neither remember, nor feel the need to dignify with remembering) begins her segment by immediately challenging Dr. Aslan’s very right to write a book about Jesus considering that he is a Muslim.

“Why would a Muslim be interested in Jesus?” she asks, to which he replies with “Because it’s my job as a scholar”.

From there, the interview descends into the realm of the comically cringeworthy and absurd as Dr. Aslan, with a look of being totally flabbergasted, has to not so much defend his position but to clarify it. What the “good” people at Fox news fail to understand is that a scholar is someone who studies a subject academically and the very nature of academics is to present a conclusion based off a set of data which supports their original hypothesis.

The Fox newscaster counters that there are a lot of Christian scholars who came to different conclusions that he did, which must somehow mean that he is misintepreting the data or giving shading his conclusions by some deep rooted hatred of Jesus (no thanks to his Muslim background). Dr. Aslan which he replies that he is well aware and rightly declares that this is simply part of the academic debate. There will always be scholars who agree with one conclusions and scholars who disagree. Academia, as he puts it, is an ongoing debate.

After realizing that Dr. Aslan isn’t interested in arguing or being combative, she decides to cut deepr and challenges his academic credentials, suggesting that a person cannot be both a Muslim and a scholar at the same time. The inherent racism in such a statement, suggesting that a person’s background can somehow void their ability to be objective or education, is practically palpable.

I feel that I should be surprised, shocked and even horrified that one of the largest “news” agencies in the United States be both blatantly racist and unprofessional and then go about its ways as if everything is business as usual. But for some reason, I’m not surprised, or shocked because part of me has become so used to both seeing and reading this kind of thing that it really is business as usual for the political right.

Racism, prejudice adn empassionately misinformed speeches are what they stand for. I’ve become no more surprised at the xenophobia or convservative politicos as I am to know that Neo-Nazis are horrible people; it comes with the territory. I suppose it would be fair to say that I am mildly horrified nonetheless to know that these people not only walk among us but in many parts of North America (the world even) they hold majority power over lawmaking, morality and public consent.

Even here in Canada, our Prime Minister and his cronies make regular passing jabs at “those university types” as if having a higher education is something to be ashamed of. They hate universities because universities are hot-beds of left-thinking.
But don’t forget, universities are also hot-beds of education.

 

Learning to Think in University

Undergraduate degrees teach you how to learn, graduate degrees teach you how to think.

It occurred to me earlier this week while I was sitting out on my porch that virtually everything I learned during my undergraduate career was really just numbers and bullshit designed to fill my head, pass the time and convince me that I was part of some kind of higher-learning process.

Undergraduate degrees teach you everything you need to know about “knowing”. A lot of it is very useful, such as how to use a library, avoid plagiarism, find sources, compare data, write for 5 hours straight about something obscure and even the faintest glimmers of how to argue.

But none of it involves thinking, not really. It’s mostly just doing; going from one place to the next, reading one book then the other, writing one word then the next, following the pattern as it shapes itself around your studies.

The main problem with undergraduate degrees is that they are necessary. You can’t go on to bigger and better things or, hell, even discover how to think until you run through the mill. You have tons of data, tons of facts, not virtually no idea what you should do with all of it.

Thankfully, graduate studies shows you that there is something you can do with it.

Right off the bat, you are presented with a new way of approaching your studies. Passivity, the pride of the undergraduate, to just sit there and learn, take it all in, is now the enemy. Aggression, the active voice of criticism, you learn is the academic’s best friend. Without it, we’re nothing but a bunch of children lolly-gagging our way from one room to the next marveling at how brilliant we all must be since we go to university and know all kinds of stuff.

So, while undergraduate studies show you how to learn and acquire knowledge, graduate degrees teach you how to think and show you what you can do with all that random stuff floating around in your head. A master’s degree isn’t just about going further with any specific type of study, but going in a completely new direction with it. Now, it’s time to look at the data, analyze and criticize it. And then criticize it again.

It’s one of those obsessive disorders, where you find yourself asking ¬†yourself every day, every moment and every time you find your ass planted firmly in the couch and your eyes crawling the ceiling as you wrack your brain over and over wondering “what does it mean? What does it actually mean”…

I suppose “unknowing” would be an appropriate way of looking at what we get out of a master’s degree, as we spend a considerable amount of time going over everything we learned during our undergrad and thoroughly criticizing the hell out of it. It often turns out that most of what we think we knew happened to be bullshit all along, the veritable Wikipedia of knowledge, stuffed with half-truths, expectations and the bold-faced lies the victors have propagated about the losers throughout history.