SitePoint Sponsor

User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 38
  1. #1
    Programming Team silver trophybronze trophy
    Mittineague's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    West Springfield, Massachusetts
    Posts
    17,192
    Mentioned
    191 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)

    Member of the Month - June 2009

    SitePoint's Member of the Month Award is given in recognition to those members who are outstanding, helpful, kind, or just good members that ask good questions and give good answers. This month's recipient is Brandon Olivares, a piano major at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He is known on the forums as devbanana.

    Your SitePoint public profile mentions college, programming and piano. It sounds like you keep very busy, so I want to start by thanking you for your time with this interview. It also says that you've been programming for eight years, and a member of SitePoint for three years. To get the obligatory question out of the way. How did you find SitePoint? Any tips for newer members on how to best use the forum?

    You know, 2006 seems so long ago, that I don't even remember how I found it. I imagine I had some question that I couldn't find the answer to, but I can't be certain.

    I do know that SitePoint has been the programming forum I have been the most active in ever since I joined it three years ago. I've been more or less active depending on how involved I am in programming, but it beats any other similar forum out there hands-down.

    As for how to best use it, I can only go by what I have done and what has worked for me. When I have a question, I first search on Google, sometimes limiting it to SitePoint specifically. I find that using Google to search SitePoint yields better results than using the search feature on the forum itself.

    If that fails to yield any useful results, then I formulate a question and find the proper board to post it in.

    I'm very long-winded when writing, so I have no lack of detail in my questions. I guess that can be bad since people usually don't want to read a book of a post when trying to answer a question. However I definitely include any applicable error messages, as well as software versions, and what I have tried so far if anything.

    I think the important thing is to remain respectful. Don't flip out when the thread isn't answered in a few minutes, or even a few hours, and always thank those who have taken the time to research and answer the question. I remember I used to spend all afternoon sometimes researching a question or creating a demo program to test out my answer, but of course I was much less likely to do so if that person showed a lack of initiative in trying to figure it out themselves, or were ungrateful for the time other members have taken to answer.

    I also think that we're all here to learn. I usually try to avoid giving a bunch of code without trying to explain what it does and why it does it that way. While it's easier sometimes to be spoon-fed answers, it's much more valuable to learn how it works. I think of the proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

    Continuing with your profile, your skillset mentions Ruby, PHP, C#, JavaScript, and MySQL, and that you currently prefer Ruby, with the Rails framework. Are any of your sites currently Ruby on Rails? If not, are you planning to launch one?

    I had been studying RoR for a while, and was planning to launch a site using it. However I've been preoccupied with college, practicing the piano, and a current project (www.creatorspiritus.com if I'm allowed to link it), which uses VBulletin and VBadvanced.

    I still have an idea for a web site I'd like to do sometime, and will certainly develop it in Ruby if and when I start it, but I'm not sure when that will be.

    The site I really want to develop is one for musicians. I enjoy keeping a practice journal, and was doing so on my blog, but it is not a fit medium for the purpose. When I see how something is currently done, my mind just immediately jumps to how much better it could be.

    Ruby is certainly my preferred language though, and Rails my preferred framework. I've spent a lot of time learning many languages and frameworks. None of the PHP frameworks (CakePHP, Symphony, Prado) were really good enough, especially when compared to Rails. That's somewhat the fault of PHP, as some things are just much more elegant and simple in Ruby.

    I also used ASP.NET for a while, which I really enjoyed. But I'm a Linux guy through and through, when it comes to servers. I spent so long learning to manage Linux servers that it feels much more natural to me, not to mention my screen reader doesn't support remote desktop unless you pay some extra fee. I even have Cygwin installed on my computer, lol.

    So, Rails has its flaws, but it's the best framework I've found out there for my purposes.

    IMHO, if there's ever a time to sneak a little self promotion into the SitePoint forums, The Member of the Month interview is the place to do so. I understand you just recently launched the forum. As the forum's niche is a subject that can be deeply emotional and personal, I'll give a word of caution to readers to take care and not start a flame war here. That said, what kind of problems did you have getting the site live and how could others that are thinking of starting a web site avoid them? As the forum's area of focus is "hot", other than the ubiquitous SPAM, have you had any trouble moderating it yet?

    My major problem was planning ahead. I had to try to think about what I wanted in the site, and what existing software would best allow me to accomplish that, as well as add features without too much trouble if it was needed.

    I knew I wanted forums, but also wanted a blog, and a few other sections. I chose VBulletin for the forums, since it seemed to be the most customizable.

    Beyond that, it was a little more difficult. I wanted the blog to be well-integrated into the forums. VBulletin has blog software called VB Blogs, but it wasn't really what I was looking for. I wanted to be able to put latest blog posts on the front page.

    I heard of VBadvanced CMPS from someone on Twitter, as well as some searching on Google. I chose that for my front page, and VBadvanced dynamics for my blogs, as well as other sections that haven't been launched yet. It is very well-integrated, and had all the features I was looking for.

    Beyond that, the next problem was the moderation itself, and how hands-on we (I and my friend who is helping me run it) wanted to be with that. We wanted to allow free discussion, but also wanted to ensure it remained civilized and did not erupt into flame wars. The rule we came up with was essentially that members are free to discuss or debate about almost anything, as long as no one starts insulting another member or his/her beliefs. Obviously since it's a religious forum, I expect to have to be a little more active with moderation.

    Spam was definitely a problem at first. After about a week, we had at least one spammer sign up every day and post a thread or two. However, I soon discovered that VBulletin supports Akismet. I use that on my personal blog www.perpetualseeker.com, and it had kept out at least 99% of spam comments. So I enabled that.

    Spammers still came, but all but 1 or 2 of them were caught by Akismet and put in the moderation queue.

    Next I wanted to try to stop the spammers from registering at all. Obviously they had cracked VBulletin's captcha system, so I had to change the verification type. I switched it to question/answer, where it selects a random question from a list of questions you give it, and the user has to supply the correct answer.

    I came up with a huge list of simple questions, and wrote a PHP script to insert them into the database, since I hated the interface in VBulletin to add questions and answers.

    The stream of spammers stopped immediately.

    But now I'm trying recaptcha. It seems like a really good services, and I really like that it goes towards digitizing old books. Being blind, I really appreciate that effort. So far we haven't gotten any spammers after enabling that verification method, either.

    Besides that, I've been learning how to create mods for VBulletin, and am practicing by creating a bible BB code tag for linking or quoting the Bible. I plan on attempting several other plugins after that. It's really nice knowing how to program, so that I can add any feature I can imagine, given enough time.

    So, for those working on starting up a forum, I would say to put a lot of time into planning on the community feel you want, and how much you will need to moderate. My friend and I both came from another forum where just about anything was acceptable, so we had an example that we both disagreed with, so we could steer our forums away from that.

    I would also say to put in the time to think of the software you'll need to take you the closest to your desired features. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with VBulletin. It's so easy to modify the templates, and to add plugins. Just about everything imaginable is customizable.

    Finally, I would learn how to add features to the chosen forum software. Most people starting a forum won't be happy with the software out of the box. There are plugins out there for many things, but everyone's needs are unique. I think it's really important to be able to add unique features to the forum.

    Being visually impaired gives you firsthand experience with accessibilty issues. In your opinion, what is the number one problem you have with sites that aren't accessible? What is the best thing someone can do to make their site accessible?

    I would say the #1 Thing that is very frustrating for me is when a web site has image links, but does not include an alt attribute for each of them. When that happens, I only hear the path to the image file, which often times tells me nothing about the target of the link. I'll often hear something like:

    Link graphic images/button01.gif

    Besides that, I think the next most important thing is to put an h1 tag before the content. It is semantically correct, and it enables those with screen readers to much more easily navigate to the main content.

    If there's an h# tag before the content, then I just have to press "h" to jump to the next heading, or "1" to jump specifically to the next h1. I can still navigate without that, but it is a lot easier when there's a heading before the content.

    On many sites which don't use this, I can still learn the sequence of key combinations that lead to the content. For instance, on SitePoint, specifically on thread pages, there are at least 2-3 headings above the thread. The first is an h1 that says SitePoint.com, followed by a few headings in the advertisement, which seems to change based on the forum the thread is under. So once I become familiar with the site, I can navigate pretty easily to where I need to go.

    Besides college, piano, your blog and forum, you also twitter twitter.com/devbanana. You seem to be keeping up with new technology. What kind of tech "toys" or "gadgets" do you have? Any you want and hope to get soon?

    Well, being blind, I come across many neat devices and software.

    The first and most important would have to be my screen reader, called JAWS for Windows, by Freedom Scientific. Without that, I could do nothing on the computer. I first received it about 11 years ago, back when I had AOL. I had to listen through six instructional cassettes, and still it did not cover everything. However, through trial and error, I gradually learned how to navigate around the computer and the internet. At first, I didn't even know how to close windows, so I would have many many windows open by the end of the day, lol.

    Next is software called Open Book. It is OCR software, which allows me to scan in print documents and translate it into text that I can listen to. Unfortunately it can only do one page at a time, so it's not so great for books, but it's great for reading worksheets I get in class, or reading my mail. It is decently accurate, too.

    I couldn't live without my Olympus DS-30 digital recorder for recording piano lessons, lectures, and myself playing on the piano. It may not be very high-tech, but it's surprisingly good quality. I use it to upload recordings to my web sites occasionally.

    I also have a GPS device called Trekker that I received about two years ago. You are suppose to strap it around your neck and it tells you what street you are on, and what intersections you are approaching. I am sure it will be very useful one day, but as of now I just don't wander off campus very often without a friend.

    In conclusion is there anything you would like to say or add?

    Just that I really appreciate receiving this award. These days programming has been relegated to secondary importance in my life as I mostly focus on the piano since I'm a music major, but I still really enjoy these forums.
    Last edited by Mittineague; Jul 1, 2009 at 12:37. Reason: minor newline formatting fix

  2. #2
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
    molona's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    from Madrid to Heaven
    Posts
    8,250
    Mentioned
    240 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Great intereview Mittineague

    Congratulations Brandon! It soon have come sooner but better late than never

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    10,280
    Mentioned
    51 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    Aha! I wondered why there was an avatar all of a sudden! Is it celebrating the launch of the forum??

    Congratulations. I actually thought you must have already been MemberOfTheMonth already.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,736
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Aha! I wondered why there was an avatar all of a sudden! Is it celebrating the launch of the forum??
    Indeed. And, someone made me an avatar to use over there, and it seems good.
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
    Christ's Little Flock
    Jesus is the Good Shepherd

  5. #5
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    5,284
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congrats! Awesome interview
    Saul

  6. #6
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Hamburg, Germany
    Posts
    4,248
    Mentioned
    30 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Fantastic interview!

    Congrats, devbanana!
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble



  7. #7
    billycundiff{float:left;} silver trophybronze trophy RyanReese's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Whiteford, Maryland, United States
    Posts
    13,632
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congrats!!
    Always looking for web design/development work.
    http://www.CodeFundamentals.com

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard ShayneTilley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,044
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    and let there be a shiny new badge Congrats.
    Shayne Tilley

    My slightly left of center thoughts on
    marketing, business and life in general.

  9. #9
    I Love Licorice silver trophybronze trophy Datura's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Florida USA
    Posts
    5,774
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congratulations Brandon. Wow, and what an interview
    Ulrike
    TUTs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,736
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Datura View Post
    Congratulations Brandon. Wow, and what an interview
    Thanks.

    Lol. I warned Mittineague at the beginning of this that I am quite wordy.
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
    Christ's Little Flock
    Jesus is the Good Shepherd

  11. #11
    I Love Licorice silver trophybronze trophy Datura's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Florida USA
    Posts
    5,774
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by devbanana View Post
    Thanks.

    Lol. I warned Mittineague at the beginning of this that I am quite wordy.
    And I am glad that you are. All seems to go fine with you Brandon, that is good to hear. I am happy that you stuck with the piano studies, hard times and still-stand and frustration happen to all of us in our quest to get there.
    Ulrike
    TUTs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  12. #12
    Programming Team silver trophybronze trophy
    Mittineague's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    West Springfield, Massachusetts
    Posts
    17,192
    Mentioned
    191 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    Wordy? A co-worker used to call me a "chatty cathy" so you don't seem too wordy to me. It's just that the spoken word takes up so much space in print.

    I just listened to your playing of Beethoven's sonata #14, very nice. Judging by the looks of your twitter picture, you better be careful or you'll have all kinds of classy groupies after you.

    I like the way the blog posts show on the front page, good job. BTW, are you sure you want "sandbox" to be available to non-admins?

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,736
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Datura View Post
    And I am glad that you are. All seems to go fine with you Brandon, that is good to hear. I am happy that you stuck with the piano studies, hard times and still-stand and frustration happen to all of us in our quest to get there.
    Thank you. That is very encouraging. It does take a lot of work but is worth it.
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
    Christ's Little Flock
    Jesus is the Good Shepherd

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,736
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    Wordy? A co-worker used to call me a "chatty cathy" so you don't seem too wordy to me. It's just that the spoken word takes up so much space in print.
    Lol that's true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    I just listened to your playing of Beethoven's sonata #14, very nice. Judging by the looks of your twitter picture, you better be careful or you'll have all kinds of classy groupies after you.
    Haha thank you.

    That piece is obviously one of my simpler ones, that I learned about 11 years ago I think. I'm working on a whole bunch of stuff now but none of it is quite performance ready yet. I decided to upload weekly recordings though in a subforum of that, marking my progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    I like the way the blog posts show on the front page, good job. BTW, are you sure you want "sandbox" to be available to non-admins?
    It's for members to test out forum features, BB codes and such. I test in there too but it's harmless I think. Got the idea from another forum I'm on.

    Brandon
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
    Christ's Little Flock
    Jesus is the Good Shepherd

  15. #15
    Is Still Alive silver trophybronze trophy RetroNetro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    6,883
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congratulations, Brandon!

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,432
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Very good interview..... Congrats, Brandon

  17. #17
    Keep Moving Forward gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
    Shaun(OfTheDead)'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Trinidad
    Posts
    3,746
    Mentioned
    45 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congrats, dude




    Trying to fill the unforgiving minute
    with sixty seconds' worth of distance run.

    Update on Sitepoint's Migration to Discourse

  18. #18
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Ankh-Morpork
    Posts
    12,158
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Many congratulations to a well-deserved award!

    And thank you for sharing your invaluable first-hand expertise about accessibility.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru deepM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    India
    Posts
    705
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Many congratulations devbanana!!

  20. #20
    Night Elf silver trophybronze trophy Varelse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    eu
    Posts
    5,967
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Congratulations!
    FreelanceDaddy - freelancer's personal advisor
    █ Guide and advice for freelancers starting their career
    █ Over 1000 projects posted on freelance markets every day
    █ One-stop resource for online freelancing

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard Darren884's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Southern California, United States
    Posts
    1,616
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Congratulations... it always seems there are the best and brightest here on SitePoint.
    Have a good day.

  22. #22
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    16,839
    Mentioned
    25 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    congratulations - well deserved
    Stephen J Chapman

    javascriptexample.net, Book Reviews, follow me on Twitter
    HTML Help, CSS Help, JavaScript Help, PHP/mySQL Help, blog
    <input name="html5" type="text" required pattern="^$">

  23. #23
    I hate Spammers mobyme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Sunny Snowdonia
    Posts
    662
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Now that is what I call an interview. A thoroughly enjoyable read; glad to hear things are going well Brandon and congratulations on your well deserved member of the month.
    There are three kinds of men:
    The ones that learn by reading.
    The few who learn by observation.
    The rest of us have to pee on the electric fence.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,736
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo View Post
    Many congratulations to a well-deserved award!

    And thank you for sharing your invaluable first-hand expertise about accessibility.
    Thank you. I was glad that that question was asked. I enjoy being able to shed light on accessibility issues.

    Unfortunately I think something else that has to be kept in mind is that even though most screen readers are quite advanced, people don't always know how to use all of the features. It took me a few years before I learned some of the features of JAWS. The help file is quite extensive though, and covers using many popular applications.

    If anyone ever has a question about accessibility in regards to screen readers, or at least JAWS as that is the only screen reader I've used, I'm happy to try to help.

    Also, thanks again to everyone who has replied and congratulated me.
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
    Christ's Little Flock
    Jesus is the Good Shepherd

  25. #25
    dooby dooby doo silver trophybronze trophy
    spikeZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Manchester UK
    Posts
    13,806
    Mentioned
    158 Post(s)
    Tagged
    3 Thread(s)
    hey Brandon, many congratulations on a well deserved award.

    I think you may well be called upon to shed light on a often forgotten or ignored area of web development!

    Great interview both of you!
    Mike Swiffin - Community Team Advisor
    Only a woman can read between the lines of a one word answer.....


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •