Sunday, November 25

Thoughts on Instructables -- Administration

Instructables is an interesting community, and although I've only been a member for 15 months or so, I've seen some very intersesting things that really stick out. So, I'm going to deticate a few posts on thier society.

For one, thier admins actually care about the site and its members. Its probably because Instructables is a company, but either way they care. When I, and a few other members approached them on updating their FAQ, we were very nervous. However, they responded whole-hartedly, saying that they would actually develop anything that we needed. This contrasts other places I've been, where they've not only ignored offerings to help their problems, but then punish me for trying to fix them (usually by greasemonkey)

Greasemonkey scripts are actually handled very intrestingly at Instructables, not only do they not try to fix their webpages to "break" the scripts, they embrace Greasemonkey scripts by 3rd parties... its a beautiful thing.

What's really great is seeing the admins actually participate on the site casually, like normal members. For instance, the CEO posted about how he broke his glasses, and wanted opinions on what pair he should get. Not to mention the 100's of projects they've all posted over the years.

I have a lot more rambling to do on them... thier problems will come next.

Saturday, November 24

Am I back for real now?

I've stuck this blog icon on my toolbar, so hopefully I will remember to blog now! :D

...but... will I?

Friday, June 22

Ahh! 1.5 hours left to post!!!

Well, I said I'm gonna post everyday, so I am. And I'm not going to use that post-ahead feature for at least 2 weeks.

Its 10:30, so I better write.

I was just reading someones blog where they're criticizing a forum I go to thats in an odd spot. Basically, their "product" has died, but there are some people still coming in, I'd say 20 a day. These people are wanting to use a similar product, and trying to take over the site.

Its quite annoying, personally. Since its high up in Google, theres tons of spam. This means that moderation is a hot-button issue. The product is also mostly child-oriented, causing 1/2 the site to be immature, and needing more moderation to keep it safe for young'ins. Theres also very few people fit for the moderator job.

I think its going to collapse. I really do. Its bloated out too much feature-wise, and it was hand-coded, so I feel bad.

Most vet's are only around for friends, which would make it easy to just switch to a standard site. I'm trying to help by moving people along to my site, but its really slow.

They're a sinking ship. They should stop.

Thursday, June 21

Spam Perverntion on Forums

Most forums have problems with spammers. I assume once bbCommunity starts rolling, it will have its fair share. However, I wanted to share thoughts on how to stop spammers. These aren't proven, but they would have stopped 90% of spam I've seen.

1. Captchas : These are those annoying little things where you have to type in the random letters on the disco background. Although these will stop bots, they will annoy your users like crazy. To prevent it, I'd do it one every 5 posts for new users, once every 10 posts for older users, and always for a new thread. If you do, use , you type in 2 words that were scanned in and could not be read by the computer. 1 of them has a known answer from previous checks. As people use this, they help digitize books.

2. Flood Control. I hate this entirely, but it works. If your site is bad enough to need it, please, for the love of freedom, ONLY LIMIT THREADS! If you limit posts per hour, I will hunt you down.

3. Better Filter: Try removing spaces and such before filtering. You'll probably have to program something, but it will get a lot of the "da mn"'s on your forum.

Personally, I'm going to let people swear on my site, but only use words on a "list". Each person sets a "vulgarity level" to filter out which words they don't want to see.

I'm back!

Okay, sorry for leaving you guys for over a month, but I'm back! I should continue to post semi-daily from now on, considering I'm out of school and I have nothing better to do :P

Saturday, May 19

Sorry for not posting today or yesterday...

Sorry for not posting recently, I don't feel all that great. On top of it I'm trying to suck up to my little bro who will be getting the Wii...


Thursday, May 17

How to make a Forum-based Community

I've been thinking about it, and theres no real way to quickly make a community, like I've been trying to do.

1.You actually have to do a lot more.
First, you have to come up with some idea, say a new piece of software, or a video-game forum. Just something that will cause people to come.

2.Then, as you do this, people will start to FLOOD! You may think "Wow! This is awesome!", but it isn't. You're forum needs to trim the fat. Theres spammers and n00bish d00ds. 

3.Luckily, about now, your product is dying. This may seem bad, but its the best thing that happened! Those n00bish d00ds are leaving, as they really don't care about people. Everyone's forced through a "sieve", only the people who have friends are left.

4.Now your product is dead. And voila! You have a community.

A clever analogy is this: To make caremel, you need to add water to the sugar so it can melt, but you need boil it away after or the caremel will be bad. 

I guess I'm trying to cheat, and I've seen places on step 3 that are trying as best they can to achieve 4 without destroying thing.

Just my thoughs (and Nin10dudes :D)

Bye-bye FireFox!

Thats right, bye-bye Firefox. Not IE, Firefox.

Firefox takes up way to many resources of my computer, and even though I have 2 GB of memory, and I'm in GNOME, not Windows, it still got locked up!

So I've switched, and here are my thoughts:

Ug-lee? Its trying to be Mac-like, but its really bad. Its worse than IE7 .

HELP! Annoying Keyboard Shortcuts!!!  I was typing this out, and 5 times I  hit some shortcut to make me loose this post (Thank god for "Recover Post" feature!) And they weren't helpful, they brought me to some startup page. I'm sure I can get rid of these, but I'd like it off by default.

"Speed Dial". Actually, I like this, no Love! Basically, it makes the "new tab" page actually, *gasp* helpful! It splits the page up into 9 sections, each containing a preview of 9 bookmarks. Also, if you type "1" into the browser, it will go to whatever website you have for 1 on speed-dial.

Meebo is fugly. The textbox isn't anti-aliased, and it keeps scrolling up! Along with a variatey of other problems. I bet these will show up on other sites too, sadly :-(

Thats my take on this other browser, I hope its decent.

I also wonder what I does with multiple spaces. I know firefox elinated them, and I HATED THAT!

Lets         See?

Wednesday, May 16

Is 30 Hours Too Much?

Today was standardized testing in school today, specifically math and science. We had to also fill out a student questionnaire. The first half were computer related, the second was courses (Do you take algebra, or algebra II?)

Two questions bothered me: "How many days a week do you use the computer?" as well as "How many hours a week do you use the computer?". Both of them I went over the highest answer.

The first's answer was "Nearly every day", which is wayy off for me, I'd say be 360 days a year (I might miss a day here-or-there). Is that too much? I can justify it because I do use it for schoolwork every day too...

However, I'd guess 30 hours per week is put in. FireFox's TimeTracker extension shows I was using the web for about 1/2 the time from the time I got home to now. But today, I've also read all my RSS feeds (In Liferea, so that isn't in the count). I've also worked on my book in Abiword, and ate dinner. So I'd guess for the 3 hours I've been home, I used 1:30 on FireFox, and another 40 minutes elsewhere. And its only 5:00! Thats a little more than 4 hours a day, and about 30 hours a week! (Weekends have much more computer time).

So, what have we learned? Well that Zach was unimaginative today, and was forced to blog about his computer usage. I was going to blog about an annoying speech I had to listen to today, but it would come out like the whole thing, even though some parts aren't that bad.

By the way, with all interruptions, this post took over 1 hour to write!

Tuesday, May 15

What's up with your green, italic text?

Who those who IM me, you know I have a green, italic, Times New Roman font. Some might go as far to say its ugly.

I wanted to address this concern here. Its quite simple really. They did some study to see what color, and style of font is most readable. You guessed it, green TNR italics (on a yellow background) was the easiest.

Since I can't get yellow background, I get as close as I can.

I would do it here, but I agree it does look ghastly!

Update on Cancer Treament

Today, Dr. Evangelos Michelakis posted a letter on the University's site:

Dear Friends:

Let me first express my heart felt thanks for all of your support. Our entire team has been overwhelmed with your messages of encouragement and hope. We have also heard many stories of heartbreak and loss which serve to accentuate the sense of urgency to find a viable and more humane treatment for cancer. Your support is helping us to move this important work forward.

The research plan for clinical trials, testing DCA as a cancer treatment in human beings, is complex and requires careful planning. We are aware that each day the research is delayed greatly impacts those of you who are living with cancer and those of you caring for someone with cancer. It’s been a mere six weeks since our initial results have been published and we now await approval of our research plan from Health Canada. The approval process will take a number of weeks and possibly months. We will continue to update the website when there are significant developments.

We are optimistic that we will be able to launch the trials within a matter of months, a process that normally takes several years. We are enjoying the support of the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and the Alberta Cancer Board, and help from people like you, makes us confident that we will at least succeed in completing this first trial. By itself, taking a drug from the laboratory all the way to completing a clinical trial, is a tremendously difficult process that is almost never completed without the direct support of pharmaceutical industry.

I want to thank all of you who have made contributions to the research fund. We’ve received generous donations, both small and large, from all over the world - from Canada, the USA, China, Holland, Australia, Greece, India, the Philippines and the UK. These funds, almost $100,000, have already helped us secure some of the supplies that we require. However, for the initial research in humans to start, we need to achieve our fundraising goal of $1.5 million. We need this groundswell of support from our global community to grow to insure our success.

On behalf of myself and the Steering Committee for the DCA study, I want to thank you for your caring support and generosity.

Yours truly,

Dr. Evangelos Michelakis

This is great news! I'll keep you guys in the know, considering this site doesn't have an much needed RSS feed!

Newspapers Cost Too Much!

I was thinking of ways to justify the cost of $40/month internet, and one idea hit me: The News.

Lets say you get a daily paper, and a local, weekend paper. Thats average around here.

The daily paper is $0.50 a day, and $0.75 on the weekends. The local paper is $0.75 cents/week.

Thats $3 + $1.50 a week, or $4.50/week, lets say theres only 28 days in a month, and you're left with $18/month for your news.

Internet = free news. Now just to justify the other $22/month, but I'd say eBay takes care of that.

This was random...

Who likes books?

A little while ago, I found a service called lulu, and I figured I should probably try to write a book. I've been thinking about it, and I have a level of "expertise" in a couple of areas. I was thinking about one of the following:
  • Ubuntu for Windows Users
  • Solving The Riddle of GEB:EGB
  • Introduction to PHP
  • Introduction to JavaScript
They're in the order of likelihood.
I like the idea of Ubuntu for Windows Users, because I know too many people who will not switch to Ubuntu simply because they're too good at Windows. Its like QWERTY/Dvorak, No one will switch because it will take time, even though its way better. Switching to Ubuntu, or any distro of Linux isn't that hard, you just have to take a leap of faith.

Then, I also love Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, I hope it wouldn't be illegal to mention/quote his book, however. But the 777 page book is filled with hidden "riddles" and a some self-reference humor.

The others, I probably won't do. I barely have any "expertise", but I could do the real PHP/JS for complete morons.

Please tell me what you want me to write, either one of the above or something completely different, in the comments section.

Clearing up Cancer Confusion

Some of you may doubt me, or hear me say "Cancer's been cured! Go here!". Either way, here is a clear little article I wrote up that explains everything in a relatively condensed manner:


A university in Canada has found a chemical, dichloroacetate, or DCA, that is able to return cancer cell's growth to normal, thus curing cancer. DCA is already cheap and readily availibe, so it won't be expensive. To keep the cost down, they have not, and will not, patent it. It has been tested with lung, breast, and brain cancers already, and is awaiting clinical trials before being widely used.

Why haven't you heard of it yet? It did happen a while ago. Well, this university didn't do a great job with their media relations. So the media hasn't caught on yet. The larger reason is that manufactures won't be able to make much money from DCA, so few will choose to actually make it. Therefore, no company has done a press release to alert the media.

If you think this can't be true, you should reconsider. You can see the university's site. Another factor is that this news wasn't released right to the media for fame, the only reason they would have to lie.

This compound will be a tremendous help. Since it does not effect healthy cells, DCA is virtually risk-free. It is already readily availible, (albeit in an acidic form that is not to be used for medicine), and is a small molecule, colorless, odorless, and is non-toxic. After clinical trials, this breakthrough medicine will be beneficiary to mankind.


Feel free to re-post this, as long as you credit me and link back to my blog.
Also, please, please, please join my forum!

Monday, May 14


Excuse the rather annoying title, but caps' is the only way to express how I'm feeling!

About 1 week ago, this university published that dichloroacetate [DCA] can cure cancer. It basically makes the mitochondria work like normal, so it won't harm healthy cells. Its "a odourless, colourless, inexpensive, relatively non-toxic, small molecule" , so it will hopefully be used commonly in a few years.

I bet it will become over-the-counter, although I doubt people would diagnose themselves, so it might just stay prescription. Either way, this is a HUGE step. I imagined the cancer drug would be overly expensive, but its great to know its cheap, and already readily available. (NOTE: The current readily available form contains other very bad materials that will harm you, so don't try buying it from a chem. supply shop!)

This is a great achievement, and who'd guess it'd be the Canadians who solve it?

On a sad note, there's about 50,000 hopeful young'ns who want to cure cancer when they grow up, Sorry!

What's Up With This Forum?

If you haven't joined yet, seriously, go here
You may be wondering, "So? Whats the deal-ea-oh?", if you are normal, you are probably wondering, "So? Whats with this?". Either way, its a new type of forum!


I've thought about it, and most, heck ALL forums have barely any democratic.... anything! So, I wanted to try to create something that had a "forum government" that was.

There were 2 options, 100% direct democracy, or a republic. The former would probably lead to mob rule (just look at ancient Greece), so that wouldn't work.

So I started work on a forum that would eventually become this republic. I couldn't use something like phpBB because it isn't flexible enough for me to add in a whole new moderation system, so I had to start from scratch. Right now, a decent forum is in place. It has some markup, some emotes, privates, boards, profiles, the basics.

I'm still touching up on things (let me know!), but I'm mainly trying to get people to freaking use it! WHY WON'T YOU JOIN!?! I have 3 users that I'd call active, one of them being me. Theres less than 10 total, few have more than 5 posts! Its a Catch-22 situation -- you need people to post to get more people to join, and you need people to join for people to post.

So right now, if I haven't lost you, PLEASE JOIN AND POST A LOT! You may notice the CAPS, they were meant to catch your eye, and hopefully force you to do so!

If you are actually reading this sentence, I congratulate you, because most people would have stopped reading. And now for something not completely different!

So anyways, it will be a cool experiment. Please comment on what you think about it, I really need some input!

Web projects galore!

Over the last 4 months or so, I've done many web projects. Because I started web programming, I've been trying to get my spot in Web 2.0! Actually, although Web 2.0 is centered around how person A can talk/help/inspire B,C,D,E,F,G..., I like the AJAX part better.

I started with my popup game, which along with the next item, was sadly erased with a server upgrade. It was basically a spoof of that 150-popup page thing, except you picked how many there were, and there were high scores and stuff. (The record? 21000-ish)

Then there was the wonderful "Islanders" game, which got fairly far into, but alas erased and never fixed. I had so much done, too!

After that, I wanted to try to create a good, useful startup. So I tried to create a series of interconnected tools, based around a WebOS. I got to the point where it had Word Processing, a Calendar app, and a collection of online textbooks. Then I realized that Google's stuff is wayyyyy better than mine, heck, I used Google's Apps instead of mine! (Still running!)

Soon after, I was thinking how forums are "Governed", and realized they're all "monarchy"'s. (Or Oligarchies, but thats still bad). So I figured a democratic forum would be interesting. I decided on a republic (See next post on why). Its still in the works, but its a hand-coded forum that is fairly good for someone like me. (Please join!)
I've done various scattered 2-day projects, and some stuff for my Chumby, but these are the "open to the public" things :-)

So, what did we learn? That I have so much time on my hands, and I will make something good in the future! :P Really, we just learned that while everyone is running around outside having fun, I'm indoors programming!

(Wow, I really did ramble!)

(Note to self: Ramble on about programming and the Forum)

Hello, World!

Whoo! Its officially the 6th blog for Zach!


Well, not really. I have a deadly disease called FBS, or Forgetful Blogger Syndrome. This means I forget to blog after a day or two!

So hopefully, this time I will stick to my regiment, and not die on you guys! :P