Forum BB Email-List Etiquette

I have long had a pet peeve with forums and discussion boards. People simply do not pay attention!!

There are a few simple rules that should be adhered to with every forum/BB posting (if you want your questions looked at/answered)

Numero Uno: Please search the forum first to see if your question has already been answered. Many people that want to answer your question will simply ignore it if your question has been answered succintly and the problem solved in the recent past. Almost every (caveat) forum has a stupid search button for just that purpose! The same questions appear over and over again, albeit with ridculous disclaimers like “Sorry if this is a repeat post, I was too lazy to look it up so I am posting again and again and again. Sorry again, please forgive me. I am new to all of this.” Who cares? It is common sense to look for a search and see if you can find what you need. About 7 calories…TOPS!

Numero Dos: Provide ALL, I repeat, ALL information about your problem. This has been said over and over again but does not seem to sink in. If you are getting a “Run Time Error”, simply mentioning that there is a run time error gives people no clue. (of course, if you are using Windows as a Desktop OS, try changing that first!) Give supporting information, people. If this is a web app, say you are using Internet Explorer, this is the URL of your app, the version number, what created the problem, what you think the problem might be. A single line post like “freaky error, very interesting, HELP HELP HELP” reminds me of my physics advisor in college. If you expect someone to spend time reading your post and find some more time to help you out, your one liner will get ignored. You dont care enough to type some words, people dont care enough to answer your questions! Please post code, links to stuff, information, browser, OS, server and anything else you deem pertinent. There can never be too much information in a BB question.

Numero Tres: If you are seeking help, or “participating in the community” in any way (such as submitting bugs, providing feedback, announcing your engagement to Elmo) QUIT BEING A FREAKING TROLL! Any community that you feel that strongly against, you should not be visiting anyways! In real life, that kind of action would land you in jail and worse, land you a job as someone’s princess! Come on. If you dislike something or someone that much, move on, go somewhere else. If you kick someone in the nuts, how do you expect them to turn around and help you get off your lazy ass? Trolls are unappreciated. Period.
PS: And if you think posting as anonymous is protecting you, think again. If you are connected to the Internet and are not posting “telepathically”, you are traceable and quite vulnerable (unless of course, you use an Amiga, then I give up!)

Numero Quatro: If you dont like an answer, instead of being a jackass, be respectful. Ignore it if the answer was a troll. That is hard to do, I concede. But that behaviour is necessary. Trolling is an occupation for many people (spammers). Your retort, however, can poison the discussion and the end result is that you dont get the answer you obviously wanted.

Numero Canc: Unless you are going to add ANYTHING to the dicussion, dont add to it! Sounds obvious doesn’t it? One liners that say “me too! I wish this would work!” are useless. Leave them out! They add traffic and confusion and people that want to help, are turned off by them. So if you want an answer to your question (and no-one has answered yet), leave it alone and check back in a few. Give it a few days. Rest your hiney. If there is no answer in a few days, then try your 2 bits. In extreme cases when you just cannot wait (not because you are itching to get your porn dialer working before you roommate, but more pressing reasons such as your pet rock dieing!!) find an IRC channel or email one of the people from the forum asking for quick help.

Numero Six: “Thank you” or “worked great, thanks for the response” are, on the other hand, welcome and greatly appreciated. Even people that help out on forums, BBs and email lists need feedback and a good pat on the back is always welcomed! Give some thanks for heaven’s sake. If you got your little doodad to work, go back to the forum that helped you and tell them that it worked well. Threads and emails that are left hanging add to the traffic of the forum but never authenticate the solution, leading to redundant posts (see Numero Uno). Spend another 7 calories, hit your back arrow a couple of time, and tell people that the solution suggested worked (or failed as the case may be, failed ones come back though) Dont be selfish. People are spending their time helping you, give some back.

Oh Yes. And PLEASE READ THROUGH THE POSTS THOROUGHLY. The answer is, many times, ignored and the question posted again and again.

Forums are like P2P (Kazaa, Bearshare etc. Free for all file sharing). If you dont give, dont expect a lot in return!

WuhWuh 0.1

I have put together a “hacked version” of WordPress 1.1 alpha and would like to get some feedback on it before I package it for release. Here is the link to “WuhWuh” version 0.1 (pronounced woo’aah woo’aah) 😉
Some of the prominent features include simple 3 step installation and a built in theme manager.

Username for login: admin
Password: password

I have a long functional document (explaining all the hacks, functions and ways to use them) along with a wish list and future enhancements. If this does catch on, expect a seperate set of forums (to prevent confusion the original WP forums) and a release cycle of once per major release of WordPress.

And ummm…people…dont change the password! That is just stupid to do. It is my database, my server, my control. It just makes life a little more difficult for other people trying to log on. So…ummm….grow up!

Does technical documentation need to be bland and structureless to be more technical?

This is the first in a series of posts about technical papers and technical writing

Here is a technical article written by Joel Spolsky called Painless Functional Specifications It is a multi-part article that I had to read for my Software Specification and Design class. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have continued to follow Joel’s writings ever since.

Here is an IEEE paper called “The Physiology of the Grid: An Open Grid Services Architecture for Distributed Systems Integration”

To be completely fair (and well, for this argument to be really valid) the second piece is designed to be a technical “paper” that is submitted for publication to a technical journal or publication (IEEE in this case). Thus the extremely technical jargon and the familiar “paper” structure. In case you want to participate but are worried about the papers, you really do not have to read through those articles to understand my point of view. Just read a couple of paragraphs on each.

I really like Joel’s flippant style, his inclusion of concrete examples and his method of delivery. The second paper is cumbersome, difficult to read and even more difficult to absorb. I find any peice of writing to be useless, if reading it would mean pages and pages of incomprehension and would require a huge effort to stay awake.

I have been having a debate (inside my head of course) on how to fashion my own papers’ authorship. I am caught between professors suggesting that the use of adjectives (that are not supported by thoroughly documented, concrete proof) are unacceptable in technical papers and my own style of writing which involves thought provoking dialogue and allusions. I have been told that colorful language based explanations and descriptions do not belong in a technical paper.

I have had to read many papers in school. Let me rephrase that. I have had to labor through many papers in school. Even though the subject matter was exciting, reading most of those papers took considerable effort and led to patchy comprehension. Consequently, absorbing and later using that information was simply painful.

Having been through this pain, I shudder to think that my own work is going to turn out to be this way. I have had some support from professors encouraging me to write the way I want to (as long as I maintain some boundaries) and I am hoping that my work will be different, however slightly.

“Jobs: Where did they go? Offshoring’s a problem, but there’s a bigger culprit.”

Very, very, very interesting article in Newsweek Magazine describing the loss of jobs, the culture of blame and misguided election propaganda. If you have not read through this article on MSN already, and you are in any position of finding (or losing) a job in manufacturing or the tech industry, here is the link to the article.

Some of the most salient points made by this article include:

But economists are beginning to identify the forces shaping this “jobless recovery.” Many of them have nothing to do with cheap Asian labor; instead, the phenomenon is largely the result of companies’ finding new ways to coax more work from existing employees.

While those arguments may have some merit, experts lay most of the blame on soaring productivity. It’s a problem most workers understand on a personal level, since many feel like they’re clocking longer hours and worker harder than ever. As long as workers keep becoming more efficient, hiring will remain muted.

The doomsday scenarios will likely prove overblown. Some firms have tried offshoring and been unhappy with the results; they’ve reversed course by “in-shoring” work back to the United States. And, over time, workers are remarkably flexible.

Elections and politicians will play their part in getting re-elected, whether by hook or by crook. Are our problems being exacerbated by our own paranoias, our own blame game and finger pointing? I know I have talked about off-shoring before, especially because it involves India. The truth is, we need jobs here. Our students need to be aware that they will have a fruitful source of income once they graduate.
Does that mean we are over-cautious to promote the global economy (much like Senator Edwards suggests)?
Is the global economical structure of today hurting the United States?
Should we be hurting our present to satisfy a long term gain?
Should we enforce our trade regulations on other countries as well? That is for example, in order for an American job to be exported or off-shored to India, India would HAVE to allow American citizens free employment.
How is trade free if there are so many restrictions?
The final question that comes to my mind is, how can we make it better instead of worrying about it and without breaking off all international ties to other nations?
We do realize that we need the rest of the world, just as much as the rest of the world needs us…right?

Of colon cancer, Delhi Belly and Netsky.C@mm

First things first.

Did you know that colon cancer in human beings can be averted by taking regular trips to a “third world country” such as India and or anywhere in the Midlle or Far East? I find it very interesting for very personal reasons, but the diarrhea bug might prevent colon cancer! The toxins produced by this bug (Jennifer will know the inside scoop, I’m sure!) prevent the DNA of cells in the stomach and colon lining from being damaged. Not surprisingly, this study was funded by a major “stomach drug manufacturer”. Interesting stuff! Now to take more trips back home to India so I can grab a healthy handful of E-Coli on my way back!

On second note, there is another BIG virus (really a worm) out. It was discovered the day before. The various virus scanner manufacturers came out with fixes and scanner updates for this virus yesterday. This one is not as nasty in terms of destructiveness, but it sure spreads like wildfire. Why do people still click on attachments when they are not expecting one? (The university, Im sure, is flooded today) Please, please, please do not click on an attachment when you are not expecting to get one. As a matter of fact, if you get one, send an email reply to the person asking them if they really sent you something to look at. Otherwise, if remotely suspicious of the attachment, please hold down the shift key, and delete it.
This virus is dangerously close to the “Super Virus” that I have been talking about. There has been a lot of chatter on IRC of a “script” that does everything that every “successful” virus has done so far. The delay in the release in due to the size of the darn file. So this virus war is only going to get worse. Click here for more information on W32.Netsky.C@mm worm and removal tools (free) for the same.

Top 20 ways to screw with Spammers

I had a hardcore spammer visit my site today. He/She registered on my site, wrote a LONG entry and even included a link to a valid email (along with the link to his site) He even posted the entry twice! Now thats dedication! Consequently, registered users are not allowed to blog anymore. 🙁 If you register, and would like to write something on my blog, send me an email and I will elevate your priviledges. No-one has done that yet, so it safe to say I am not offending anyone.

That leads me to the topic of this post. I have been needled by spammers enough (through my blogs and through email) that I am pissed. Though my anger is directed at spammers, I am not vicious. I just want them to *reduce* their propensity. Thus, this post comes with a disclaimer. This is a parody, not to be taken seriously or considered to be an attack of any sort on anyone. Please take it with a grain of salt.

So here are the top 20 ways to screw with a Spammer

1) Dont have an online identity. Delete all your email accounts, remove your blog/personal website and request that all your communication be sent to you sans-Internet. I know, not possible, but an Utopian thought.

2) This is where the screwing starts. To play with the spam in your email, install a program called MailWasher. This program sends back an “email address not valid” email (fashioned after a sendmail reject message) back to the spammer’s email address. It also looks through published blacklists for the spam domain and if not present, adds the domains to those blacklists. Good program.

3) Respond to the really interesting ones (not really suggested, but fun nonetheless). Tell the Nigerian dude how interested you are in their scheme and give them all kinds of information about you. I told one guy that I was a Maharaja’s son and needed to get rid of my camel herd (pronto, before my father realized I was not living in the palace anymore) so that I could purchase the Trump Tower here in the US. I asked him for his business advice.

4) Signing up for stuff with your email address is a norm. However, you can fashion your email address to figure out which sites sell their lists. Here is how to do it. If my email address was email@domain.com, I would add email+egghead@domain.com when I signup with my email at egghead.com. That way, if you get spam with email+egghead@domain.com, you know which site “lost” your address. Dont worry, most email servers parse this information correctly, as long as the first part of your address is maintained aong with the domain name. Once you know who is selling their lists (in spite of their disclaimers), they are fair game.

5) Ask spammers if they have an opt-in list and if you could signup in all their lists for $1000 a year. Give them ALL your one hundred email addresses. Then you can retire to Maui like you always wanted to.

6) Disable HTML parsing of your emails on your email client. Spammers sometimes keep track of succesful reads (of an email) through embedded code.

7) Be creative. Create HoneyPot email addresses. Spammers need to eat too. Create lots of free email addresses and click on all links that appear in Spam sent to those addresses. Then set all email in those accounts to be deleted automatically. (If you signup for free email addresses, Spam reception is automatic)

8) This one always amuses me. Been used before, but still funny. Let your 3 year old write a letter to Santa and send it to all your spammers. They will appreciate the knowledge of what is popular with kids these days.

9) Moving onto blog spam. Use a blog tool that allows some form of comment moderation or at least has a hack or plugin for comment moderation (WordPress comes to mind :))

10) Write a small script (or ask someone to write it for you, should be relatively simple) to read through comment spam, parse the links and backtrack those links to find email addresses. Then the script should be configured to email the spammers and ask for remuneration (to be paid before display of the comments) for each link displayed on your blog. This script could also be used for email spam.

11) Openly display your desire to sell “link space” on your blog. If you got it, flaunt it.

12) Once in a while, discuss extremely “spammy” subjects. I love talking about Xenical and Viagra. Of course, cheap Xanax is a must. Trackback and pingback back and forth between your blogger friends about these posts. Gotta love Cheap Prescription Drugs from Canada!

13) Write a little script that takes each spam comment and mangles the links in those comments. Then make them show up as HTML comments in your blog instead of real ones. Even better, make them show up as real comments with the links off by a few characters. Once the links are rewritten, draw attention of spammers to those comments. “This site is a real gem, look at what they have to sell. Good job!!”

14) Write a little cookie on every computer that posts a spam comment. Put the spam comment in the cookie. Check for the cookie everytime you load comments and add the spam comment to your comments list. Spammers now see their own comment even though it really does not display.

15) Heck, write a script which adds a couple of spam comments for every post. It will become second nature to see all blogs with comments like “abracadabra google fuss –X-Eni*cal V*iGr_a treats girl undo quang foo document”. The links in those comments are, of course, fashioned from your list of blogger friends. Spammers see an overflow of existing spam, move on to the next blog (or not).

16) Get a plugin for your blog that, upon finding a spam comment, asks for a paypal donation. MicroPayment baby!!

17) Setup lots and lots of free blogs and DONT install any spam protection on any but your main blog. Use a cross posting tool to post to all your blogs. Give spammers something to sink their teeth into!

18) Spammers can make for good content too. If your blog is new, encourage spammers. They use keywords which are VERY attractive to search engines. Imagine setting up a blog and within a couple of weeks, receiving hundreds of hits from people looking for intravenous Viagra.

19) Their is always “recreational spam browsing”. Gotta love that sport. I spied my father doing that. Spam comments make for excellent web browsing (when insanely bored)

20) And finally (drum roll please….) add spammers to your address book, routinely. That way, if and when (tomorrow) the next email virus hits, your spammers will be thankful to know that your email address is valid.

Proof of Concept

I have the proof of concept for my thesis relatively completed. I realize that it need not be perfect, but I wanted to get it functional. It features a shopping cart for a Coffee Store and lets the user pay with a “virtual” card which emulates the algorithm for my thesis. I had to rewrite a full shopping cart script and decided to include paypal support for anyone interested in using the code. At this point in time, the user has to click on a link called “click here to see smart card” to get the smart card simulation running. The rest explains itself. Here is the link to the page if anyone is interested.

I still have to finish writing the second draft for my introduction, get some passport photographs taken at Walgreens, start doing my laundry (thankfully, I have my own machines) and finish the ER diagrams and the writeup for the Concept shopping cart. (I might make some ER diagrams for WP while I am at it :)) Thats the plan for today. Jennifer is working at Rite Aid today and will come over late in the evening when I talk to my parents, which should be followed by dinner and another couple of hours worth of work.

Surprisingly, this weekend has been amazingly productive. Our thesis deadline has been extended (does not really matter, I am going to finish according to my deadlines anyway). I am working with WordPress whenever I have some free time. Look for some really interesting changes in the new version, along with increased stability, increased character encoding compatibility, better install and (from more sources) import algorithms.

Luckey feels neglected with me being this busy, but she will be in heaven in a month (my parents are going to be here then)

Firefox Tweaks

– Enter about:config in the address bar and press Enter
– Scroll down to nglayout.initialpaint.delay
– Double-click nglayout.initialpaint.delay
– Change the default value of 250 to 0
– network.http.max-connections = 64
– network.http.max-connections-per-server=21
– network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server=8

Install Browser Gestures for Firefox

Install Web Development Toolbar

Here is a list of all KeyBoard Shortcuts for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera. A table if you like. Very useful!

More to come as I think of them or get comments with them.

This makes Firefox pretty darn fast and extremely fun to use!!

As from NuclearMoose…an avid Firefox/Mozilla user:

I suggest also EditCSS which will load a site’s stylesheet(s) into the sidebar. You can then fool with the CSS all you like, and you will see the changes. Once you have discovered a fix or something that you really like, you can simply hightlight the CSS, copy/paste it into your stylesheet, and upload it to your server. It’s available through the same extension page as all the other FB/FF extensions. I’m using FireFox, and it works just fine.

Others I recommend are:
CuteMenus
Copy Image
Bookmark Links checker
Bookmark Backup
Dictionary Search
Tabbrowser Extensions
ChromeEdit is nice for hacking profile files.
Chatzilla is a nice IRC client.
and let’s not forget the Spell Checker Front End 0.3.5.

Have fun!

WordPress Convetion ’04 ??

Michel gave me a tremendous idea (not his fault, he was talking about something completely off topic)! I would really like to see a WordPress Convetion organized. It would mean lots of WordPress users from all over the world converging on a populous and fun city, having a “convention” of sorts (booths, vendors, talks, shows, trinkets and the like). I would love to meet some of the people that make up this community. I think it would encourage the community to grow and would draw some positive (and negative for sure) attention to the tool. I know some of you think that WP is not ready for the limelight, but would a convention hurt its chances?

How many of you would think of attending? Who would like to suggest some cities? Do you think WordPress is ready for that kind of attention yet?

Cant Cook? You think so….

Tony Cervo, a friend of mine from the Wp Forums, has come up with a site that has caught my imagination! A site of recipes he obviously likes. Appropriately, it is called “Cant Boil Water” I definitely think it is worth looking at. If you are single and have McNasty’s for dinner tonight, click on the link, look at a recipe that entices you, make a grocery list, get the items and cook yourself something nice tonight. Yes, even you can cook! It is really not that hard if you know how to follow simple instructions. I am thinking os suggesting some ethnic recipes that I hav struck gold with (not just Indian, polish recipes for example). Cooking relaxes you, pleases your senses and gives you an opportunity to be artistic without actually being artistic. Expression for the the soul, I call it! And if you have a significant other, what better way to get in touch with your other half, than through their stomach. Our fast and hectic lives have made us slaves to the frozen food Gods (I am a disciple, trust me). But all that sodium and all that fat can only fatten the pockets of Pfizer.

What are you waiting for?? Click on that link and thank me later!

On Fooling your Own Self

Have you ever had the need to trick yourself into doing something or believing in something? I have. I am so utterly sick and tired of working on thesis-work for many hours every night that I have to trick myself. Jennifer suggested something that works really well for me. She said that when she gets to be really bored with homework, she “power works”. Basically, she works really hard and really concentrates for 20 minutes and then takes 40 minutes off and does something that pleases or interests her. She says that she has gotten through a lot of boring homework with this technique.

The reason it works so well for me is a real revelation (to me). I love the idea of slacking off for 40 minutes. In my mind, the amount of time I spend working on code or playing a game is so much more than the amount of time I spend on real work, that the real work suddenly does not seem like a burden or a chore anymore. I get more done in those 20 minutes than I did in 4 hours when I was staring sullenly at my monitor. I cannot compare my productivity with others, but I completely stop making progress when I lose interest (obvious huh?)

Luckily for me, progress also comes with its own reward. When I make a little progress, I get a little more excited and things just keep tumbling along. I just hope I can keep tumbling till the end of next month. 🙂

Today is our anniversary

Two years ago, on this day, Jennifer and I met on Yahoo! Chat. I know that is weird and there are much better ways of meeting people, but I would like to clarify. She was working for Buckeye-Express and I was really surprised to see someone on Yahoo from Toledo. So we chatted for a little while and she mentioned her place of work. At that time, I had quite a few professional connections with Buckeye-Express and we hit it off instantly. We had decided to meet the next day for dinner but one of her internet friends had warned her about meeting people from Yahoo, especcially Indian guys (he had a crush on her, I later found out) I was a little put off by her indecision and decided to just let it rest till she made up her mind.

By the end of the week, she was IMing me again and we had dinner at Tandoor, the Indian restaurant down the street. I was really surprised with her appearance when I met her the first time (In a good way, mind you) I was reminded of how unpredictable the internet and chatting can be. She looked very unlike her internet persona and was pleasant, friendly and was very sweet to my dog. We started hanging out a lot more as time went on.

Those first few weeks were a little harrowing for me as I met her family and they realized that I was Indian. Her mother had thought that I was 35 when she saw me the first time and I had to show Jennifer my drivers’ liscence to make sure she believed me. There is some history associated with her previous boyfriend and that baggage ensured that it took me a little while to get accustomed to her family and vice versa.

My parents saw some pictures of us and were really excited for me. They have liked Jennifer right from the time we met. They have visited twice since Jennifer and I have been together and have gotten along wonderfully every time. My mom loves to cook and fawn over Jennifer and Jennifer eats it all up. Jennifer and Luckey get along wonderfully as well.

Let me not tell you that Jennifer is perfect in every way. However, her faults and shortcomings are much much less than mine and she is willing to see things my way from time to time. I try very hard to do the same. We have a wonderful and very civil relationship and are both learning ways to deal with each other everyday. I love her for everything I am worth and am quite sure she does the same. On this day, two years ago, my happiness level in life was raised beyond my own bar. I have had relationships in the past and much more torrid ones at that, but none as fulfilling and as conforting as the one I am in right now.

The only regret I have for today is that this is a really bad time for me. I have very little money, even lesser time and am very very stressed with school and my thesis. I had really wanted to do something nice for us but that is not going to be possible right now. I am going to save my good graces and once all of this mess is done with, Jennifer and I will go on a long vacation or a cruise to make up for it (maybe this summer)

In the meantime, Jennifer, I love you with all my heart and Jesus, thank you for bringing her to me. If someone reading this believes that they will never meet someone nice for themselves, have some Faith and remember that there is always someone out there for you!!
Peace

Finished some preliminary work on WordPress Caching

Here are some examples:
Here is a WordPress 1.1 beta blog showing 300 posts.
Here is the same blog, cached with my method

Take a quick look at the bottom of the page for the generation times. The number in small letters in the center is for the main entries to be generated and displayed and the larger number to the left is the time for the whole blog to be generated.

A little more work is required to make this a functional hack. The categories and comments sections (along with archives and others) do not use the cache at this point to display the pages. Only the index page uses the cached entries and produces all the right links. Consequently, some more work is required to update the cache when some information is edited or added. This could include adding or editing a post or addition of comments and/or trackbacks. However, with a larger numbers of posts and links, this cache speeds things up quite a bit from what I can tell. I had to mess around with quite a few of the functions to get them to work correctly with storing a variable instead of echoing them. If someone is interested in the code, leave a comment or email me.

What do you think? Is this something worth investigating further?