annual tech presentation

I have spent 30 years in IT now. I didn’t start in IT. I started a school teacher. I miss the kids, but I don’t miss the reality of teaching. One of the things I do is spend a lot of time wondering about why we ignore teachers, first responders and others. I remember, as a teacher, I paid for the computer in my classroom. I paid for the ink of the printer. Things are better now and had gotten better, but initially, I paid. Now there are computer labs, but we still don’t do a great job of helping schools. The reason for this is I am working on the annual presentation that I give to high school kids. I have a couple of former presenters that help me figure out what is important to the audience.

We were talking yesterday about this year’s presentation, and one of them said something that bothered me. “How is it every year you find things that aren’t in schools?” I don’t go out of my way to find technologies and possibilities that aren’t in schools. There isn’t a google search (what isn’t taught in schools today) that I do. I live on the cutting edge of tech. Schools often do not, in fact, do that. It isn’t an optimal situation. You see, one of the skills that schools need to teach is how to apply your skills to new problems. Schools have to focus on teaching the core or basics to the learner. Otherwise, the gap between what the students know and what they need to know is far too great.

I am not bashing teachers. I am concerned that we don’t empower education with technology. At the very least every school should have an advanced technology lab. The reality of the world we are in, is and many have shared this very thought here on Virily, technology is moving too fast for me. That isn’t, by the way, knocking people, it is saying that technology is moving fast. Because technology is moving so fast, it is important that we empower first responders with tech that will help them. We also need to empower educators with more and faster technology upgrades.

Anyway, it is that time of year again. I am thinking through what five things I need to show High school Juniors and Seniors as to the technology they will be using in the next three years.

.doc

Back to tech posts!

Hi! I am back and ready to get rolling! I feel refreshed and ready to tackle issues.

1. The Virily application (long explanation here: Most web-based systems operate as applications. They have scripts, and code that executes when the user logs on, to use the site) was built on the WordPress Platform. WordPress is a form of OSS (Open Source Software). OSS is software that exists, is maintained and developed by a community but it is not sold.

2. The screen many people have seen is a WordPress template and would be expected if there are issues.

3. The problems appear to be isolated to the members of Virily that joined after the original crew was on the site, and before that newest members.

a. The oldest and newest are still able to post.

b.It is very frustrating, and hopefully, we get a resolution!

One of the things we have to consider is that Virily is both A somewhat costly per month (they have to store, posts, pictures, and comments. The posts and comments are little to no space at all. The pictures even at less than eight megs adds up. An application like Virily has three parts, and the issues we’ve been experiencing for the past 12 days could be in any of the three.

Front end (sometimes called web servers)

Middle, process or sometimes called business layer

Backend

Virily is most like what is called an n-tier application. You have that front end that connects first to the login process. I am a valid user. Then you have the storage (your user profile) and what is your Virily screen. Your dashboard, profile, and the listing of the badges you received. Etc. The next tier is either the reading or posting tier. The tier separate from that is the commenting and the up and downvoting/emojis for each post. Then you have the storage area for your old posts. This has to have both reference to you as a user, and reference to the posts you’ve made in the past. Normally this done by assigning each post a UID or GUID; a UID is a Unique Modification. A GUID is simply a global one, in the sense that it covers a larger system.

The site “Virily” interacts with users in the following ways (before posting).

There is an A record. (Virily.com) so in your browser, the Domain Name Service DNS, entry for Virily goes to the server farm that hosts virily.

Then there is the login. The site (virily) doesn’t seem to support cookies, so you have to log in each time.

One of the errors I’ve seen is getting logged out of the site, and not knowing it! When you have an issue, make sure (user icon right side of your screen) that you are logged in.

Then you either choose to read the posts of others, deal with your notifications or create a new post.

It is a very complex application. I wish it was working correctly.

.doc

First Responders!

I want to start this technical piece the same way I started my wander project. My wife and I are taking a 3-day break from Technology starting the end of the day today. I will not be on Virily from Thursday – Saturday. This is the first long break I’ve taken in more than five years from my blog. Time away is often something that helps us refocus!

The interesting reality of first responders globally is one that interests me in both my personal and my professional life. The first thing that interests me is the reality of subways. If you ride a subway, you will notice that at times you will lose cellular signal. The same is true for radios. Or what is in the first responder world called an LMR (Land Mobile Radio). You can connect, and LMR to a Cellular device (using a gateway solution like Multi-link) that lets the cell phone and the LMR interoperate. Most cities that have underground tunnels for subways have dead spots. The dead spots are bad if there is a fire in that tunnel. First, the people responding are underground and unable to communicate without either LMR or cellular signal.

It is an interesting problem that most of the telecommunications companies are working on. I often ride the Washington DC Metro from my house to downtown DC. 8 years ago when I first did that, there was at least ½ if not more than 1/2 the route that was a dead spot. Now it is only the area between the larger stations that has dead spots. The cellular providers have continued to improve the signal below the ground. That is important to help first responders effectively respond to fires in subway tunnels and subway cars. It is also important in the event of collisions or accidents where the first responders have to enter the tunnel and find and rescue people. Being able to communicate can save a life.

There are other things that the new reality is bringing to the reality of the first responder job. The reality of body cams for police officers globally is increasing. More and more departments have officers wear body cams. There has also been recently a push to have firefighters wear body cams. While drones can fly over a fire, and see where the hot spots are, the actual inside of the building is critical. All of these things are part of the reality of the modern world. We have to make sure we protect people, animals and other creatures on our planet. Next time you walk by an officer of the law, or a firefighter, thank them for running towards danger. Most of us are taught to run away from danger. First responders run towards danger.

.doc

The office of tomorrow

https://virily.com/virily_poll/the-office-of-the-future-its-in-the-bag/

In the bag is where your office of tomorrow is now. Well, some of that office. I traveled for 11 years at the very beginning of the mobility age. That was when you had to have lots of batteries for your phone, batteries for your computer and cables. You see, in the early days of digital telephones, or what would become the smartphone, there wasn’t the concept of a personal hotspot. You connected your phone to your PC (laptop) so that you could use the phone as a data connection. If you a call you were no longer on the internet. The concept was called tethering. Today you can set up your smartphone as a personal hotspot and connect multiple devices to the internet quickly.

But the reality for the new age is what are you carrying in your bag. We have moved past the early (and very rough) stage of mobility. Now we are in the growing world of personal productivity. Eventually, we will as a society move into the information age, but that remains on the horizon. Right now we are in the age of personal productivity. How can I do more with what I have? One of the things that we have to consider is what do you have with you and where are you. I adopted a car phone long before it became the law in the state I was living. That is more because holding a phone to my ear and driving meant the likelihood was that I would drop my phone. I am not that coordinated.

As we move into the personal productivity era it becomes interesting not only what we carry, but we use. Where once my bag had 4 to 5 pounds of extra batteries that time is over.  I do still carry an external battery, and it has a solar cell so I can while sitting outdoors charge my phone. But that battery doesn’t weigh anywhere near as much as the ones I used to carry did as we move forward, there become the questions. What does a mobile worker require? Noise-canceling headsets are critical for me, as I am on the phone a lot. Having a portable projector isn’t as critical for me now, but that could change over the next couple of years. Being able to take my headset off and use my computer for calls means I need an external speaker. I found a light one (Jabra) that plugs into my computer via USB.

Moving into and past the age of personal productivity will empower more users with more capabilities. 5g does allow you to be talking, moving and using data on your phone. Online meeting software has evolved and supports mobile devices much better now. Translation devices not only support live in-person translation but there is now an online meeting system that supports translation (live).

The office of tomorrow may be in your bag!

,doc

Communication from the Virily admin team

I have two distinct and separate communications from the Admin team that I wanted to share and make sure everyone knew. The first is that they (the admin and development teams) for Virily are having a technical issue that has caused this problem. They are working on it as I type. They are also checking with the development team to see if they can give us an update either directly on the site (banner) or to one of the authors that have reached out.) At this point some news is better than no news. I did forward to the Admin team all the posts I made this weekend (the response above was their answer to my first email sent on Saturday with a link to the Friday post).

Over the weekend there was a fix offered that didn’t work (going directly to the URL) that confirmed that this is a technical issue, in specific that it is a directory issue. Now, the reality is what happened to cause that. In the IT world where I live there is the concept of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) that is performed on outages, issues, and problems. I have also heard that one user that had the issue is now able to create. Another user that didn’t have the create button was able to use the link that Norman shared directly to the publication page. That is really good news that we are slowly but surely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I know a lot of people are frustrated.

I hope that as people are again able to create that they will leave a comment here so I can go tomorrow and read their posts (or Wednesday) pending moderation time. I did want to clarify one thing one last time. I am very concerned that there are some authors here on Virily that don’t necessarily understand what is meant by the term moderation. I talked about this yesterday but want to clarify this. Moderation comes from the old BITNET system of years ago. It means that the owner or moderator of a list is responsible for the content in other posts. In particular, moderators used to remove highly inflammatory and rude comments. They would also check for validity and source. If they found a user was plagiarizing data they would ban that user. The moderators on Virily check for plagiarism, validate proper images, check for the inappropriate league (curse words, posts not in English). That is the extent of moderation for the site. They do not do a spell check or other things, that is what an editor does, not a moderator.

.doc

the outage is hurting everyone

The first thing for today is to note that many people are very frustrated. I truly understand your frustration. I have sent the links to the posts and notified the Admin team of Virily that we are at serious risk of losing authors. Losing authors has a direct impact on the rest of the authors, but it has a bigger impact on the site. Virily is an ad drive site. They make money from Google AdSense. Based on that, anything that reduces the number of views or views impacts their ability to ear anything. I have not heard back from the admin team, but I will keep trying. As I have the last few days I open the comments to anyone that has concerns, frustrations, or for that matter, suggestions on possible ways around the issue.

One thing (and I do not know that this will work) I heard from another user is that they cleared the cache of their browsers when they didn’t see a create button, and now they see it again. I don’t know that this applies, as I don’t think this is a browser issue.

Secondly a bigger concern, this is not an issue of specific groups of people posting and others excluded. I wanted to clarify that, in fact, today, I noted who has bullied. Many of those are people that have been here on Virily since the end of Niume and have been posting that entire time. The other groups I’ve noticed started posting recently within the last 120 to 150 days. That does lead to some interesting speculation. But the reality is, I suspect there is no conspiracy here, just that if you all recall, the site changed their login methods 180 days ago. They also changed the login process two and a ½ or so years ago. My gut is the majority of the posters that cannot post now fit in that window. But, that is WHOLLY speculation, and I do not know that for a fact.

The other thing to remember is that Virily is the same for all of us. The unique thing about each of us on the Site is our user name (and our passwords). Based on that there are limited things that are causing this problem.

There is not a divide nor is there the haves and have nots. There are people who are just starting and exploring Virily and ones who are and have been here for a long time.

You have my commitment that I am reaching out to the support team every single day. This problem doesn’t just impact those that cannot post. It impacts all of us directly.

If Virily doesn’t have the views of the ads, they lose money. If Virily loses money, then all of us lose money.

I am sorry for everyone that hasn’t been able to post for now five days. It also costs me as a reader. There are many authors that cannot post right now whose posts I truly enjoy reading. We are a community! We will overcome this!

.doc

Virily will survive!

I sent a link with yesterday’s post to the Admin team because I want them to know the impact the change has had on the author Community as a whole. I cannot express to you the community the sorrow I feel for this situation. We are a community, and as a community, it is sad when some of us are unable to do the things we love. I know that there are many reasons why many people want to leave the site, I truly do understand that anger, it was expressed well yesterday in the comments to my post. As I said I forwarded the link to the admin team, Hopefully before they get to that article they will have fixed the issue with the create button. I did want to address a couple of things that came up in the comments.

First – I strongly doubt this is in any way intentional. The application of this issue is far too random. Although Alib in their comment made an excellent point and I wanted to expand on their comment a little bit. I will, as my second competent talk about that. But the first thing is the reality of personal attacks. This horrible event that has befallen our site is not a personal attack on anyone. I promise that is not the case. Again, I would tell you that the problem is far too random and is all over the board as far as the users it has impacted.

https://virily.com/virily_poll/virily-create-button-issue-wrestling-crocodiles/ (link to yesterdays post)

Second – Alib pointed out that this might be an “If” state meet the issue. I suspect it is not. However, that did get me thinking about who is having issues with the site. I am noodling a theory, but I am not going to share it. First, I don’t have enough information, and second, it isn’t necessarily going to do anyone any good if I start throwing out theories.

This is not the first bad issue Virily has had. But I want to remind everyone of the following:

Virily continues to pay writers and has paid for more than three years now.

Virily continues not to communicate with the community, but that is also something that has happened for a long time.

I am going to ask a bunch of poll questions and will send it to the Virily Admin team. I am very sorry to everyone that has experienced this or any other problem on this site. Many of you are people I trust, respect and value.

,doc

Virily Site issues…

First off, to everyone that is suffering from the create button issue, but that is still reading and commenting on their friend’s posts, you are a hero! You deserve a huge pat on the back! You are a part of a community, and all of us feel bad about the situation that has occurred.  I have gotten several PMs on the topic, and I know that Carol and Ghostwriter also have. As a wise man once said, we are all rowing together!

My grandfather used to say there are two ways to truly tell what kind of person someone is.

1. When things are going against them, they still help others.

2. What they do when they think no one else can see.

I applaud those of you still commenting without being able to post!

I thought today’s cover picture would help people a little understand the reality of the situation. It is hard building a site like Virily. The concept of the site is what ultimately makes Virily money. I am sure they are working to fix the issue, fewer submissions and blogs to review makes the moderator’s jobs a little better, but over time can jeopardize the income for the site.

It also tends to drive authors away.

I was going to take a couple of weeks off from the Movers project, but I am going to watch some posts until the create button issue if fully resolved. It isn’t just when the create button is back. It is when the backlog of posts that were not moderated gets out live on the site. That will take between 3-5 production days to get moving. (A production day for Virily is any day that the moderators review content and pass it onto the site). So for the next few days, I will keep a watch and see if the site dynamics change.

Thanks again to those reading and commenting, you are the heart of the community!

.doc

A little Virily History

Around 2.5 years ago, give or take a little time, there was a cheating problem here on Virily.  People that had 2, 3 posts were suddenly rocketing up the leaderboard (Alex L reminded me to check the rankings from time to time yesterday). That was using a problem on the platform.  That is why when someone shoots up the rankings quickly, most of us that have been around Virily for a while wonder. Yesterday @Ghostwriter posted that she had encountered a problem. She reached out to the Admin team, and they informed her that it was a glitch. It sadly isn’t a glitch. One of the bugs that the cheaters exposed in the platform and one that sadly still exists was saving drafts

Initially, it appears only to be saving drafts of polls. Here is what happened (back in the dark ages of Virily). Someone would create a poll. Then they would save a draft. They would open the draft and then save it again. Some people did this 100, 200, or although I cannot verify this even more. By the time they published the quiz (or some never even published it) they were receiving 2000, 3000, and more Virils per day.  Some of the “cheaters” were earning 10,000 Virils in a day, never commenting, posting, or doing anything other than creating polls, saving them, opening them, saving them again. The result was a change to the platform, and the now hated message “creating huh?” when you do that (save a quiz multiple times).

The other issue, it wasn’t really a scandal but it was a little on the edge of cheating, was the comment issue. There were a lot of people that did one of two things.

1.Posted extremely short comments (nice, beautiful)

2.Copied and pasted their comments from post to post

Those two created two other changes to the platform. The first one caused the creation of the minimum comment length rule (20 characters). The section forced the creation of the report button. In theory, comments that you find offensive or that is spam can be reported. The reality is the only ones the moderators will delete forever are the Spam comments.

Sometimes the sins of the past bite you in the future. If you see someone go from 0-60 on Virily, you have to wonder.

.doc

Cats are killing birds, not windows!

The number of birds in the world is decreasing at an alarming rate. The many conservation groups around the world are concerned. Scientists continue to study the issue, and they as well are alarmed.  The interesting reality of this issue is the disinformation that has been thrown doubt over the past two years. The first one is that Wind Turbines kill more birds than anything (they don’t). Wind Turbines are way down the list. Now, if some of the power company goals are achieved, there will be 10 to 20 times as many wind farms in the world as there are today. The problem with that is, they would still crack the top five in terms of overall birds killed.

The other often throws out the killer of birds is Windows. While yes, windows do kill birds. You would have to combine windows, wind turbines, solar farms, and human hunters even to be close to the number of birds killed by Domestic Cats. That, by the way, is not even close to the number of birds killed by feral cats. But the disinformation campaign continues to spread around the world like a giant oozing oil spill.

Oh yeah, oil spills are bad for wildlife, but it doesn’t represent a huge killer of birds.

There are 2.9 billion birds missing, no longer flying, no longer appearing in pictures shared on Virily now than there were 30 years ago. One of the things that are impacting the birds is Climate Change. In fact, on the links below there are a couple of articles that look at the death of birds (and frogs) and project that out as an indicator of just how bad climate change is.

I do worry about the misinformation – I have heard wind turbines, solar arrays and windows all used in a variety of unverified presentations. Because of that, I include links to validated scientific articles below. These include US government agencies (USGS) showing the population shifts by region in the US. Plus, references to the study showing 2.9 billion fewer birds in the US.

Finally, there is a link to a table that is roughly nine years old. I will continue to look for the updated version. Contrary to the Window claim, the Wind Turbine Claim, Feral, and Domestic cats are the only human-created problem on the list of bird killers that kill birds at a single-digit rate compared to the other things that kill birds.

Links (that support and provide facts)

http://theconversation.com/wind-farms-are-hardly-the-bird-slayers-theyre-made-out-to-be-heres-why-79567

https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/guild/group.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/19/opinion/crisis-birds-north-america.html

https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/nab/v043n02/p00260-p00270.pdf

.doc