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User Journal

Journal: Site Layout Determined, Hosting Sought 4

Journal by Xaltlee

Site Layout. This is the potential layout for my shiny new system. Kinda Slashdottish, I know, but hey, s'what it's supposed to be like. Now I just need somewhere that'll let me host PHP files and a nice big mySQL database... ahh yes. The search for hosting commences. *mutter* Hosting is always a pain in the ass. Here's my wishlist.

1. Competent admin. Someone who knows which end is up on Apache, so I don't have to worry about it. I'm not a server admin.

2. The ability to run PHP scripts and a mySQL database.

3. The ability to modify those files from the web, so I can work on it while at work, where I have the most free time. I don't have access to FTP upload.

4. Reasonably priced. I'm not a business user.

5. This thing is actually still in development. A lot of places won't take that sort of thing on - development on live machines is bad. If they will take it on, they'll likely charge an arm and a leg for it and stick it on a separate server. So... yeah. I'm not too rich right now. I suppose I can always wait until I'm actually /done/ with it, but then I can't show others the stuff as I go. Damn.

Anyone out there have any ideas?

User Journal

Journal: Web-Based Alternative to the RIAA 5

Journal by Xaltlee

Goal: Music review site - allow reviewers to rate good non-RIAA music. Prevent musicians from artificially altering their ratings by making reviewers the stars of the site, not musicians.

1. Each reviewer must apply to become one.
        a) Administrator approves reviewers.
        b) Reviewer is required to submit a sample review of an established and popular work.

2. Each reviewer will have the following bits of data:
        a) Personal data. (Name, blurb about self, blurb about music tastes, etc. Optional.) 1k at most.
        b) Reviews, past, present, and future. 1-64k each.
                - This makes crosslinking reviews and music possible.

3. Each reviewer can review any music they want, within reason. (I want to make the exception for use of this software: NO RIAA music reviewing. None. That's not why I'm building this program. I realize I probably won't be able to enforce this, but... well, I can hope. Or I can just run a site myself.)
        a) The reviewer gets, say, 5 five-star ratings they can hand out per month. Prevents overzealous adoration of everything in sight.
        b) The reviewer gets, say, 1 one-star rating (or no-star rating) per month. Limits the REALLY bad reviews - if a piece of music gets that, it's probably accurately bad. The point is to get people to look at GOOD music, not bad.

4. If a reviewer is caught cheating, or giving biased reviews, he will most likely be booted - or worse yet, have his reviews nuked. That should be scary enough to keep the honest man honest.

5. If we do a 'what people are listening to' we do it the Neilson Group way - that is, find a few hundred real users every once in a while, and follow 'em around anonymously on the site. This will be automated.

6. Listeners can rate reviews.
        a) We could do like Slashdot moderation.
                - Give moderation abilities only to those reviewers who have been around for a certain amount of time.
                - Make sure they aren't rabid 'refresh the page and see if I got mods' types.
                - Make sure they're real people, not bots.
                - Make sure if they have bad karma they get no power.
        b) We could allow ANYONE to rate a review.
                - Bots could get involved.
                - Dissed musicians could get trigger-happy.
        c) We could pick random people to rate reviews.
                - Just once in a while, a user might get the chance to rate a review.
                - We could weed out the bots.
                - Cheaters would be less likely to get a chance to review.
                - The same person could be asked to review more than once.
                - This will take more thought.
        d) We could do like Slashdot metamoderation.
                - Pick 1 star reviewer review and 5-10 listener reviews which can be rated per day by a particular metamodder. Make the picks random.
                - Everyone capable of moderating gets to metamod, but not to choose what to metamod.

7. Listeners can make comments on reviews - community reviews.
        a) They don't get used for anything.
        b) They're small - 255 chars.

8. We have ancillary sections.
        a) Contract review.
        b) Hosting review.

Input?

Slashdot.org

Journal: Another Moderation Rant

Journal by Xaltlee

What is UP with the constant urge to moderate EVERYTHING? Does every comment need to be rated, really? Is there a secret table somewhere that has the following data on it:

-1: Vulgar, off-topic, and ridiculous postings.
0: Dumb posts, meta-posts.
1: Semi-coherent posts, meta-posts.
2: Coherent posts, meta-posts.
3: Reasonably intelligent and interesting posts.
4: Decent posts.
5: Funny posts.

If there is no such table, why is it that "me too" posts get modded at all? How about meta-posts? Were they too high, perhaps? Maybe too low, though they have little to do with the subject? This seems to be a function of moderators applying negative points copiously.

For shits 'n giggles, I'd like to see a mod system where normal moderators only get positive points. Then high-up moderators get negative points - but they're worth 0 points, really. They just flag a post as something some people might not want to read. For example, "Vulgar", "Rant", etc. Heck, for ease of use you could let people rate their own posts when they make them, but of course there wouldn't be any agreement on that. Vulgarity would be easy to catch automatically, though. Allow more than one to be applied to each post, and let people filter the results based on their preferences. This way people mod up posts they found interesting and helpful, and yet can still filter based on level of interest and other preferences.

Something else I'd like to see - when a user gets mod, give them an easy way to change the settings to some pre-defined moderator setting. With a click of a button I can switch to -1 nested from 3 threaded, for example.

One final thing - I'm sick of wasting my modpoints to correct idiocy in the system. Stop gratuitously modding people down, ESPECIALLY for opinion posts! I metamoderate and I moderate, and one of these days I'll get you. Not that it looks like it's doing much good.

Rar! Rant over.

User Journal

Journal: Thoughts on software theft? 2

Journal by Xaltlee

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
- Buddha

Foreword: I posted some of this as a comment in the account of foobar104's journal. I never got a reply, but maybe I directed it to the wrong person - I seem to remember him being vehemently anti-piracy, and I could have confused him with someone else. (Or her, or it, whichever. "Him" is a non-insulting pronoun in the English language, unless one happens to be a feminist.) In any case, I wanted to preserve these points for debate with interested parties - I'm curious to see the answer that might come from it, and, as always, am quite willing to be enlightened. Note: I have added to this since I posted in foobar104's journal.

Regarding software piracy:

First - do people really own the software a vendor sells them? Can they do anything they like with it? Resell it, chop it up and use its bits in their system for other things? Port it to another OS and use it there? With normal vendors, the answer is usually "no", yet they behave as if software is a normal, concrete product and sell it under false pretenses. If software is to be treated as a normal product in the sale, the right to copy it is implicit with all the other rights involved in owning a normal product - but any copy of a normal product would likely end up imperfect. Thus the software industry ends up shooting itself in the foot - people /expect/ to be able to do what they want with their software, and ignorantly go along and do so.

Second - have they taken anything beyond the bits (and even that is debatable, given that the burden of providing bandwidth for stolen software usually rests on the thief) from the vendor? If they weren't going to buy it in the first place, how can it be counted as a lost sale? This bothers me as well, in a rather fundamental way. How can this be theft if no one loses anything?

Third, I want to share a story I read as a child which reminds me a lot of the current situation. I dunno, maybe it's worth something, maybe not.

A poor boy was wandering through his village, and purchased a loaf of bread with a few coins he'd earned begging. He came upon a meat vendor, and saw the tasty roast turning on its spit. The boy held his bread out over the roast to absorb the scent of the meat, and began to eat the bread. The meat vendor caught him, grabbed him by the arm, and called for the local fuzz. When they arrived, the man accused the boy of stealing the scent of his meat. The fuzz were flustered - had the boy actually done something wrong? He hadn't really taken anything, since the meat was still just as good-smelling, but even so, his bread was better for having done what he did. They turned to the village fool and asked him what to do, mostly to see if he'd come up with something they hadn't thought of. "Do you have any coins left, boy?" said the fool. The boy replied that he did, but only a few. The fool nodded, took the coins, and shook them in the meat vendor's face. "He has stolen the scent of your meat for his bread, and now he has repaid you with the sound of his coins." So the cops let the kid go, the meat vendor gave up, and the boy ran off to die young of disease or exposure. They all lived happily ever after, or whatever.

This last part tells me that perhaps we need to look at the software piracy subject from new angles, find other ways to pay for things like that. Open Source software geeks do this already by making it themselves. It is new ground, I believe - never before have we had the means to spread so much information so quickly to enable so many people. What /would/ the ideal solution be? Not what's /going/ to happen, but what /should/ happen. Thoughts, anyone?

Note, please, that this is a question about idealism and morality. It's not for practical issues like law; I want to figure out the /moral/ and /correct/ thing to do here, without relying upon "because Uncle Sam says so".

Apple

Journal: Mac Programming and Java

Journal by Xaltlee

I've been thinking about biting the bullet and learning to develop actual applications - for the Mac. I've gotten my feet wet recently with Jscript.NET. The last time (before this .NET thing) that I touched compiled code, I was eighteen and it made no sense to me. Now I've been in the workplace for a few years, and have the syntax of one (albeit permissive) language down pat. I know enough that I've created a working application - with .NET, anyway. I'm told that Java and Jscript have similar syntax, but previously, I had no clue what a class was; some things don't carry over very well syntactically between the two. Now that I know, theoretically I could do something.

1. Are there any other language options? Need to research this one. I'm sure C will be available, but it seems rather intimidating. Maybe the Cocoa framework will be so well-documented and intelligent that the language won't be too much of a pain to deal with?

2. Why the Mac? Because I'm going to buy one soon. It turns out Apple DOES have loans. I'll be grabbing a TiBook - it's more suited to my needs than the beautiful new iMac. *sigh* So if I learn a new system, why not learn to code it? And better yet, it'll theoretically be easy for anyone to port any apps I make over to other systems. Always a plus, especially to a web developer, used to compatibility as I am. I like Macs and want to see Apple succeed.

3. What's stopping me? No knowledge, pretty much. I'm a rank newbie. Newsgroups are wonderful things, though, and having seen how easy .NET was, I can't imagine it'll get much harder. (And if it is, maybe I can find a way to simplify it somewhere down the road.)

Hmm. Have to think about this one.

User Journal

Journal: OMG. 10

Journal by Xaltlee

There's a totally floored look on my face. Logged in today and lo, I have a fan. Wonder when I'm going to get my first freak? By all rights I ought to have one or two already. But, hey foobar104, you're going to get a lot of pestering from me - you've said some things I wanted to debate, but not in a forum full of the usual Slashdotters. (Damn, hey, lookie here, we've got a regular little subcommunity. Thanks, Taco 'n Co!) I'm really looking forward to it. Interesting opinions are what made me add you as a friend in the first place.

User Journal

Journal: Free Software.

Journal by Xaltlee

The free software movement reminds me of something I knew as a kid.

I lived in a children's home - place where kids were sent to massive dorms to be raised by two frazzled foster parents - where my mother worked as a nurse. People would donate clothing, furniture, toys, food, etc, to help defray the costs of taking care of 80+ children and 30+ adults. We had this thing called the Receiving Room, or the Warehouse. You just walked in and took whatever you needed. Clothes, furniture, toys, knicknacks, whatever. I grew up with this thing and learned to use it well - you only took what you needed, you never took something you didn't need unless you knew someone else would use it and were going to give it to them, you returned reusable stuff to it when you were done with it (books, clothes, whatever) and you tried to get there early on the day of delivery to get the coolest stuff.

When I was about ten or twelve, I brought my best friend from school to the Receiving Room. She was floored. She'd never seen such a thing. "You just... take it? Wait, where do you pay? How much can you take? No, no, I couldn't possibly take that, it's so pretty, it's got to cost something."

Back to the point. The free software movement makes me think that perhaps other people are looking at the wealth of free software, and because of the sheer awe of such an 'unnatural' function, are putting extra, almost fanatical effort into assisting and propagating this great and wonderful thing. Not that it isn't great and wonderful, but it makes a lot more sense when you realize that most of them have never seen such non-commercial freeness before. Maybe this explains the fervor with which new converts support it.

The fine thing about software, though, is that software can survive on a lot less effort from the majority. With the Receiving Room, donations came from sympathetic people, the Red Cross, etc, and the community could do nothing to provide more to the Room except return things when they were done with them. Software, on the other hand, can be contributed by the very people it's designed to support, and reused by everyone. I expect somewhere down the line, we'll have a huge software library of decent stuff, simply because of this.

No, I don't know the terms for all this stuff, but I am indeed interested in learning. If anyone feels like enlightening me to the economics, go for it.

User Journal

Journal: Having an opinion.

Journal by Xaltlee

...is dangerous.

Okay, perhaps dangerous isn't the right word. Even so, in many cases, it can indeed be just that.

So now that I'm starting to develop my own opinion on stuff, I'm realizing quickly that people don't like hearing contrary opinions. So I say Opera probably spams and explain why, and someone throws a fit. Their browser couldn't possibly be run by a company which would participate in something as terrible as spamming. Many, many people, people I would normally call "childish" and "stupid" associate their opinions with themselves. That means they see any attack on their opinions as a fundamental strike against their own nature. The very ground they walk on is threatened. Is it any wonder they react violently? But adults, adults behave differently. They meet on even ground and know the limits of their opinions.

So why do I keep running into the childish ones?

User Journal

Journal: Bug testing: The End.

Journal by Xaltlee

I gave up on it. It's probably Explorer's fault - I haven't been able to duplicate it and I'm no longer stuck with that ugly browser. Yaaaaaaaaay!

User Journal

Journal: Blissing.

Journal by Xaltlee

One major thing - I finally got to use Mozilla on this machine. So far, I'm incredibly happy. I love this thing. Tabbed browsing is awesome. Themes are damned fine (I use Pinball) and best of all, it doesn't randomly crash! I have yet to really get used to tab browsing, but so far I really enjoy it. My happy little "broken" G3 is now my machine of choice while at work for browsing.

User Journal

Journal: Meh.

Journal by Xaltlee

Why is it that we (or maybe it's just me, but I'll go with we, because I'm pretty sure it isn't) find it so very interesting to go back and read the things we've done before? Proof we exist? Or are we looking for the tiny differences which herald change in motion? Is it because so few people in the world have the ability to see in such detail where they've been and what they were thinking, and we've just happened upon a new distortion of the human mind whereby we find these things enjoyable? Or is it the pride of a creator? Probably all of that. Maybe more.

User Journal

Journal: Bugtesting.

Journal by Xaltlee

Dammit. I hate this keyboard. Okay. I'm bugtesting. Here's how I first saw the bug.

  1. I created a new post. The ones it affected were my first and third posts.
  2. I went back to add something to those posts.
  3. I submitted, blithely ignorant of anything wrong, for one post.
  4. I realized that I'd submitted bad data and corrected it.
  5. In editing the second post, I caught it barely in time, because I went to copy everything in the submit box in case Explorer crashed again. (I want to use Mozilla desperately, but can't - the authentication method of my workplace's firewall is apparently not supported.) This post was a little more vividly obvious - it was missing everything up till the point where I started talking about my brother's old monitor.

So, it looks like all I need to do is try and keep trying new posts till I see something. I tried yesterday, but the 15 posts per 4 hours thing caught me, and then I got sick and had to go home and sleep.

Now I'm adding stuff to this post. Hmm. What to say, what to say... rarrr. I am a scary veggie eater. I like veggies and don't like meat. But I'm well aware that everything in the standard diet save for water and salt was once alive, so I've got no ethical problems with eating meat except possibly the way they treat the animals before killing them and that's really pretty nasty when you think about it and I wonder how long I can make this sentence be before the grammar police come along and hurt me? Uh oh, I hear sirens, better go.

A note: Explorer crashes a lot for me, yes. It has rarely crashed in the middle of a post submission. From what I recall, it didn't - couldn't - on the second one, because I actually caught that second post and fixed it. Perhaps it sent malformed data which caused all edited posts after the first to fuck up? I hope not, because I can't force this thing to crash - it's all very random. It'd be a pain in the ass to test.

Just saw a lovely sig I happen to like: Why post stupid /. comments? Because no one replies when you're right, but everyone replies when you're wrong. That little gem belongs to lynx_user_abroad. He's rather right, too. I've made my share of stupid comments - and the only way I knew they were (unless I later came to a revelation) was when people replied. This says good things for what they haven't replied to - maybe I'm "right" frequently? Heh, doubt it, but it'd be cool.

*pokepokepokepokepoke* Die already, dammit. It happened twice the other day, when I first reported the damned bug. Why ain't it happening now? Maybe I'm doing something different?

Test test test. Bah.

Slashdot.org

Journal: Slashdot Bug.

Journal by Xaltlee

Okay, I found a bug in Slash. So I go to submit it. I type it up, good explanations 'n shit, all that crap. I make sure it's thorough, I go over it one more time. Hit submit. "You must log in." What? I don't have a Sourceforge account. Why would I want one just to submit a bug? I want nothing to do with Sourceforge! I don't even use it for downloading programs! God damn. It's... pretty friggin' ridiculous. So I saved the damned thing and emailed it to my home account. Signed up for a Sourceforge account. And now I'm over here to bitch about it.

People use such things to keep the levels of idiocy and noise in bug submissions down, but I say there has to be a better way. Not only is it inconvenient, it's completely tangental to what I'm trying to do. Validate my email address, maybe. Ask me to input a bunch of user info, and validate that. Require me to log into Slashdot so you know my user login, maybe, and can ban me from the site or whatever it is you editors do to punish people when they submit bad bug reports. But... get an account on Sourceforge? That's so out there it's breathtaking in its bureaucratic lack of sense to the average mundane, meaning me. And if there IS a good reason for a Sourceforge account to be required for a bug submission, then EXPLAIN THAT on the page before I see the bug submission, and include handy links from which I can sign up for an account, then send the bug in.

Rarrrgh. Rant done.

User Journal

Journal: Game lust.

Journal by Xaltlee

Okay, dammit. I want Neverwinter Nights. I haven't actually played D&D in so very long... bet they don't even have my favorite character type. But first I need to salvage the remains of that HP Brio my last boss gave me and rebuild the damned thing. Get a better monitor than the 15" Packard Bell hand-me-down from my brother. Somehow get all my data onto one drive. Consolidate the good stuff. Maybe get a ... new computer? I want an iMac, too, dammit. No way can I afford it, though, unless they've got payment plans down at the local Apple Store. Funny how a new goddamn game (yes, I can swear, I have a license, see?) makes me go from floor to ceiling with computer bits and pieces dangling from my shoulders and mad cackling filling the amphitheatre of my mind...

User Journal

Journal: Tolerance.

Journal by Xaltlee

Let's talk about tolerance. I'm a pretty laid-back individual. I do very little to really make an impact on the world; right now I'm busy getting my shit together and taking care of myself. My tolerance is... ...Low for idiocy. People who spell their children's names in funky new ways and do it to sound cute. It doesn't. People who climb in polar bear cages and poke the sleeping bear with a stick. People who do not listen when given explicit directions. "Keep this window open, I'll be right back - just have to change a setting on the server." "Okay." ... "Hey, where's the window? Dammit..." ...High for genuine, honest desire to learn backed by ignorance. "How does that work? What's that? Wow, that's so cool." ...Very high for honesty. If you're honest with me you get automatic points. I generally have a pretty good radar for the honest truth - lie and I'll catch you sooner or later. Thus I have little respect for those who can't tell said truth, or face said truth. ...Very, very high for the person who knows him/her self. ...Low for disrespect and lack of civility or manners. I do my best to show respect and manners within the bounds of honesty. This is a sort of tricky situation, as you sometimes can't be honest with someone and still fall within the "polite" spectrum. The very least one can do, however, is be civil. People I respect get honesty first, politeness second. People I disrespect get civility first, honesty second. Strange priorities - I'll have to think about those.

A list is only as strong as its weakest link. -- Don Knuth

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