MBT Question and Answer website

Tom is participating with oversight if not actively. You might find a role in which you can contribute yourself. (Help Wanted)
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Ted Vollers
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

William,

Tom has already approved this Mod addition and it is in the works. You might possibly be contacted if they want some more technical information from you to assist in the change. Your help would be appreciated. This probably won't be completed before the week end however.

There is an inherent ordering of Tom's videos as being a complete presentation for some particular audience at some particular venue. That should be preserved. Then there is a development with time, year by year. I wish to preserve all of this.

The problem with letting things just reorder as people add to the posts is that one must search to find the pieces to listen to them in order to get the benefit of the logic of development that was built into the original presentation. Each presentation was planned for a particular venue and audience as well. Then there is the use, after one watches the videos, of the forum threads for commenting and discussion on those videos. This is a different and separate use with different purposes and priorities.

One can readily see on the board where there has been activity. Forcing the ordering of threads will not interfere with this that I can see. If you are particularly interested, you can follow a thread and set the board system to e-mail you with a notice of a new post. But if you have cookies allowed, the threads will be color highlighted to flag recent posts to a thread as well. And the symbols at the beginning are also set to flag very active threads automatically by the system by changing those symbols.

I am looking ahead to something to come out of the other suggestion for some kind of Q/A software addition to the board to permit themes and ideas to be readily flagged and found. I am also looking ahead to the transcripts and audio to be available for each video. This will permit these transcripts to be used for the purpose through this Q/A or whatever other type software is selected to search within the video transcripts and flag the location of things of particular interest. I am used to doing this kind of ordering and creating 'meta data' to understand information of complexity in depth. It is something that I have done all of my life as an engineer and that I have been doing here on the boards and the Wiki. I have been working towards making Tom's model and Big TOE more ordered in its presentation and more understandable in depth, adding to that depth.

This is the 'picture' that I have been working towards.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Ted
"The problem with letting things just reorder as people add to the posts is that one must search to find the pieces to listen to them in order to get the benefit of the logic of development that was built into the original presentation. Each presentation was planned for a particular venue and audience as well. Then there is the use, after one watches the videos, of the forum threads for commenting and discussion on those videos. This is a different and separate use with different purposes and priorities."
I think I am unclear on your intended design. In my mind, I thought it would work like this.
1) A Topic starts the root discussion on a single video (even if multi-part). One Topic == One Video (w/ parts).
2) Reply's are just made as normal under the first Post (which is the Topic/thread).
3) Reply's are ordered by Date (the default), so there should be no ordering issues. So a Topic will be self contained and reply's ordered under it as I think you are wanting.

Multi-part. For a multi-part video, there are a couple ways to handle this.
Option 1) Embed each part one after the other in the single root Topic post. So the post would could be a bit long, but still scrollable.
Option 2) Embed the first video and write your description. Create a URL list of the youtube links to the other parts under it.
[Video]
[Description]
www.youtube.com/part 2 link
www.youtube.com/part 3 link ...

Option 3) Embed the first video in the root Topic post. Then you reply to that Topic with 9 Posts, one after the other for a total of 10 posts (the root topic and 9 replies). Each of your replies will be another Part of the video. Because the display order is by Date, that should work fine with no mix-up. Public replies will just fall out under your last Part Post. People can reply to a specific part of the video or the whole thing in general.

Based on your text above, I am guessing you are thinking of doing a separate Topic for each video part. I am thinking that is not optimal currently and not sure that kind of nesting is needed or desirable. Then again, I may be way off on your intent.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

William,

No, I'm not wanting to have to use a separate topic for each segment of a whole video. Nor do I want to have each part one after the other in one thread. Neither would be very optimal. I want each thread to be orderable so that they can be readily found in order. Then I want the first post below the video to be held in reserve for the transcription text. Then I want another post below that to be held in reserve for a link to perhaps extracted audio. This way all of the basic information is right at the top, not needing to be searched for somewhere along in a thread. These second and third posts in the thread can be dummies that are edited later when and if the additional information becomes available. After that, people can comment as they wish in the thread, but I don't want this to disturb the ordering of the threads.

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Ted. I am looking at a simpler mod that may do the trick. Not too sure about the stability of that other mod.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

Ted Vollers wrote:William,

No, I'm not wanting to have to use a separate topic for each segment of a whole video. Nor do I want to have each part one after the other in one thread. Neither would be very optimal. I want each thread to be orderable so that they can be readily found in order. Then I want the first post below the video to be held in reserve for the transcription text. Then I want another post below that to be held in reserve for a link to perhaps extracted audio. This way all of the basic information is right at the top, not needing to be searched for somewhere along in a thread. These second and third posts in the thread can be dummies that are edited later when and if the additional information becomes available. After that, people can comment as they wish in the thread, but I don't want this to disturb the ordering of the threads.

Ted
But the default of post order inside a thread is Post Time. That does what you talking about already. I am still missing something. We seem to be jumping between Topic order and Post order within a topic. I think I have a solution to the former. The later not sure needs anything as that should work today.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Ted. For Topic order, you can force the default of any Forum simply. Open viewforum.php and find and change a few lines. It is easier then it looks. Make a backup of viewforum.php first as normal. This will make the Topic order post time ascending. You can make the change global, or just by specific Forums using forum ID as below. To find forum IDs, you have to open the phpbb_forums table in the database. It is pretty easy to find after that. Use your sql manager app to connect to db and list table.

Code: Select all

// ... Skip the first 10 lines of code and notice next line.
$default_sort_days	= (!empty($user->data['user_topic_show_days'])) ? $user->data['user_topic_show_days'] : 0;
// Comment out following two like so:
//$default_sort_key	= (!empty($user->data['user_topic_sortby_type'])) ? $user->data['user_topic_sortby_type'] : 't'; 
//$default_sort_dir	= (!empty($user->data['user_topic_sortby_dir'])) ? $user->data['user_topic_sortby_dir'] : 'd';
// s==subject
// d==direction == asending/desending
// t==post time
// a==author
// r==replies
// v==views

// Then add this code block.
if ($forum_id == 9) // Look in sql table phpbb_forums for forum_id for the Name in interest.
{
$default_sort_key = 't'; // Order by post time.
$default_sort_dir = 'a'; // Ascending order (Oldest first).
}
else // Use the user's last config.
{
$default_sort_key   = (!empty($user->data['user_topic_sortby_type'])) ? $user->data['user_topic_sortby_type'] : 't';
$default_sort_dir   = (!empty($user->data['user_topic_sortby_dir'])) ? $user->data['user_topic_sortby_dir'] : 'd';
}
Last edited by William12 on Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

It is not at all clear to me what this change you mention last is supposed to do.

The problem is that threads will not stay in the order placed in at present. They can be made sticky and will collect at the top of a thread in a block. But their order in that block of sticky threads will change dependent upon the time/date of the last post made in one of the threads. That thread will move to the top or beginning of the block of sticky threads. So what I created in order of the video segments will move out of order. This behavior is what I want to stop.

Within a thread, I only want to lock up the first 3 posts. You cannot change the ordering of posts and that is no problem. You just put the video first, followed by two dummy posts that can be edited later to put the text file into one and any other files like extracted audio into the next. This in preference to adding it later down in the thread where it cannot be readily found as lost among the posts. I want them always in the same place in a thread, just after the video, where they can be readily found.

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

It is not clear, because my last post was wrong. ugg.
Only way I can figure currently to keep a Topic order is naming convention of Topics. Then you can use code above to default sort by Subject, then your Topic order will always be preserved regardless of last post time. Again, if you use a naming convention, it can work fairly painlessly and nothing wrong with a naming convention anyway. These don't need to be sticky topics as no one can add other topics anyway. Only post replies to existing topics. I would try to exhaust any/all workarounds we can before going the mod route. The mod may work fine, but you have to drag it around on future updates which can break things and then your at the mercy of the mod author to fix. I can probably change the sql query also in the php if you don't want to sort by subject.

Topic Names:
TCV1 - Some video description
TCV2 - Some other cool video
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Ted. Ok I got it now I believe. You can go right to the sql and get any order needed and don't have to rely on the few they expose. This, for example, sorts on Topic Time, which is the time the topic was created. This is not the same as last post time, this time is for the topic itself. Another side benefit is the user can not change the topic order by mistake and get mixed up. We can still do a condition test to apply to only specific forms so your other forums will not be effected. Another plus, is you don't have to change the database schema to make it happen (like the mod would require). Just a few lines of code change. Let me know if this sounds like what you need or need help. I could just email you the viewforum.php file and you can replace existing one (after saving original naturally) as needed.

Code: Select all

$sql = 'SELECT t.topic_id
	FROM ' . TOPICS_TABLE . " t
	WHERE $sql_where
		AND t.topic_type IN (" . POST_NORMAL . ', ' . POST_STICKY . ")
		$sql_approved
		$sql_limit_time
	ORDER BY t.topic_type " . ((!$store_reverse) ? 'DESC' : 'ASC') . ', t.topic_time';
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

William,

I don't have access to those tables as such, only as they are backed up in a compressed form through the Admin functions and moved into a specific directory for download storage as a block with all the other backup files. I do that through WinSCP as we have had some download problems with the forum itself. That automates a lot of the process for me. I need to get you talking with someone else who can make this kind of change on the server as well as talking to me. We want to do this only within that particular scope of the outer forum and all sub/child forums within it. We could stay with stickies then rather than a Mod, if we can get the stickies in that outer forum and down within it to sort stickies on the thread's order of creation. Then I could just create the threads in the right order, first to last in the given venue/event in blocks of stickies which would then sort into that same order when accessed. Some minor problem in that I have to do everything just right to get the proper result, but I can do that. Actually, if I make a mistake, I only need to copy the initial post contents, save it, and insert things back into the threads created in the right order with the right titles. I've already done that. Some at the end whose order is not important could just be allowed to sort on the regular way as long as there aren't so many that a user can't quickly scan and find the one they want. It is the complete talks that need to be kept in order, not the threads that have a single concept being covered by Tom and listed in the title. Until I see otherwise, I don't see why they can't just be allowed to order on last post and then the most popular would just move to the top naturally.

I will PM to you the right e-mail address to get this worked out with the person who will have to make the changes. If we are communicating correctly, this will work and be safer than a Mod and easier to implement.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

I'm failing so see the validity of some of Williams arguments, so thought I'd chip in...
William12 wrote:Not too sure about the stability of that other mod.
The 'other mod' is 100% stable (at least as much as the core code is stable).
William12 wrote:I would try to exhaust any/all workarounds we can before going the mod route.
Is it worth mentioning that any change to core code files is the definition of a mod. The other alternatives you have suggested are also very much a mod (being short for 'modification').
William12 wrote:The mod may work fine, but you have to drag it around on future updates which can break things and then your at the mercy of the mod author to fix.
Using a mod that is already supported is surely better than a mod that is custom written - both need to be 'dragged around' into future updates; however, having an existing mod be used by increasing numbers of installs is more likely to induce the features of that mod to be built into a future core version therefore removing the need to 'drag it around'. This is the benefit of open-source at its best.
Ted Vollers wrote:if we can get the stickies in that outer forum and down within it to sort stickies on the thread's order of creation. Then I could just create the threads in the right order
Note that one benefit of 'Topic Cement' is that it allows you to set the priority of a topic/post, therefore you don't need to create them in the correct order, just give them the correct priority regardless of when they are created. This also removes the need for you to create 'blank' holding posts below the initial video one - they can also be inserted into the correct position later just by setting the priority (eg. 100 for the video post, 90 for the transcription text, 80 for the link to extracted audio, etc.).

Apologies for butting in; it seemed the understanding of 'mod' was being muddied somewhat.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Dave,

Good, you're back. The difference to me is that what we did to put the video 'button' up is something that I can do at the Admin level. I can also reinstall it into a new BB version, presuming they didn't change the functionality so that such code can't be added this easily. To me, knowing little from the inside of IT, when you have to go into the server files and make changes, call it a mod or not, it's a much bigger deal than what has been done so far.

I can see that the Mod would make my life easier, as I understand it. But then the Mod has to be reinstalled when we change to the new BB version and I can't do that either. We are making someone elses life harder and we will be more dependent upon someone, the author, keeping the Mod updated with the version, if that matters. I'm not ultimately the one that you have to convince as to which works best, most easily and reliably. What I care about is that I can get the results that I think would be best.

Can you refer me to anywhere, either Dave or William or someone else where I can see what you can really do with that Q/A software and what is required to integrate it with what we presently have? And are there other options to possibly be considered? You've gotten me to think that there might be something of value to it, but I don't really know what and at what cost. Tom will be leaving this to me until it comes time to say yea or nay. Then I will take it to him for approval. I need to be sure that I understand things and know what is best before I bother to Tom about it.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted Vollers wrote:Good, you're back.
Sorry, my college day today, so no PC access until this evening (they don't have their wifi set up yet!).
Ted Vollers wrote:I can see that the Mod would make my life easier, as I understand it. But then the Mod has to be reinstalled when we change to the new BB version and I can't do that either. We are making someone elses life harder and we will be more dependent upon someone, the author, keeping the Mod updated with the version, if that matters.
My point was that the changes that William is suggesting is a mod, although less of one, but also with less functionality too. The changes would still have 'to be reinstalled when we change to a new BB version'. All you'd have done is replace one mod with another.

Neither is bad, you just have to decide which one gives you the feature(s) you require.

Either way, there should be (somewhere) a document that details every change that you make to your website, when it was made, what was changed, and why it was introduced. (Every project I develop for a client has one of these 'evolution' documents - a bit like the 'history' page in a wiki; it allows new engineers to review what has happened over time and to re-implement or fix things if they go wrong.)

Unfortunately (and I'm quite surprised at this, having just looked into phpBB), there is no in-built mechanism for adding what other software would call a 'plugin', so there is no easy way to add new features to phpBB - you have to edit the source files. Whereas, there is already a built-in mechanism for adding new BB codes (like the Youtube one) so it is easy to achieve from the admin pages. From what I've seen so far, phpBB is a long way behind-the-times in comparison to current open-source packages.
Ted Vollers wrote:Can you refer me to anywhere, either Dave or William or someone else where I can see what you can really do with that Q/A software
Only the link I originally provided (and of course have a look through http://stackoverflow.com for a similar type of system) - I held off installing a demo one to play with pending this discussion. To be honest, I'm thinking more of designing a bespoke application now. I'm going to play with this over the weekend, so I'll keep you updated as I progress.

Dave
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Dave
"The 'other mod' is 100% stable (at least as much as the core code is stable)."
What evidence do you have of that? It is simply a contribution by a community member and it is explicitly Not supported by phpBB. Not that I have issues in general with plugins or Mods, just that as a developer by training I have had a belly full of mods and patches and know the dangers and side effects (i.e. many 3 and 4am phone calls). Mods can bring things down, make upgrades problematic, etc. The author dropping the project is a another thing where is just fades off and does not work with future phpBB versions and author moved on to some other project of the week. Not saying that will happen here, just that it happens a lot in open source community. Having done a ton of production system DB work, the biggest red flag to me is any changes in DB Schema. That takes a very high bar to me. Schema changes are a big deal, now and in the future, and should never be done lightly. Especially if you can find a solution that does not require it, I would look there first. For example, if you have to rewind a schema change back to default schema because of some issue six months down the road, then good luck rewinding it and migrating data back to old schema. Ton of import/export work and testing - no fun. A lot of these guys have no process. If it runs once on there system they publish it. Not regression testing or much of any testing. On a personal NG, go for it. Not so much for production concerns that need to stay running over time.
"Is it worth mentioning that any change to core code files is the definition of a mod. The other alternatives you have suggested are also very much a mod (being short for 'modification')."
Sure it is a modification, I never said otherwise. Lets not get hung up on acronyms. The main thing is risk and ease of recovery (i.e. the rewind button). They change a lot of php code and in many more places. My mod will be localized to a single file and a few lines. It can be easily reversed if needed with a simple file copy operation. I think that can also be done Hot, but would need to check the web server. The other mod is much more dangerous from a systems perspective. As a Systems Programmer and Admin, I am naturally conservative on this. I could say take my word for it, but don't have time to explain all the reasons and learning's over the years right now.
"Using a mod that is already supported is surely better than a mod that is custom written - both need to be 'dragged around' into future updates; however, having an existing mod be used by increasing numbers of installs is more likely to induce the features of that mod to be built into a future core version therefore removing the need to 'drag it around'. This is the benefit of open-source at its best."
As I said above, that is not supported by anyone. If they do build it into phpBB, that would be wonderful and would not need any mods. This file will just be replaced by the upgrade with not issues. However, if the schema change is not compatible, that can a real horror story.

This is not all or nothing. Trying the change and testing it is the lowest risk option at this point with what we know. If it does not deliver what is needed, he always has the option to go with another Mod. There is another Mod I was looking at that may be even more appropriate then topic cement. But before that, let me finish what I started and let Ted test it to see. We can't compare it to something else until I get it done on a Test instance and let Ted review it for behavior. It will be set and forget for the most part and will not make changes to admin consoles, etc.
"Note that one benefit of 'Topic Cement' is that it allows you to set the priority of a topic/post, therefore you don't need to create them in the correct order, just give them the correct priority regardless of when they are created. This also removes the need for you to create 'blank' holding posts below the initial video one - they can also be inserted into the correct position later just by setting the priority (eg. 100 for the video post, 90 for the transcription text, 80 for the link to extracted audio, etc.)."
It is possible to change a post time at the db level if he gets in a pinch and needs to insert a post or change order, etc. It is not hard, but not as easy and point and click either. At least there it may be comforting to know you have the option and are not stuck if you don't get everything perfect right off the bat.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

@Dave
Only the link I originally provided (and of course have a look through http://stackoverflow.com for a similar type of system) - I held off installing a demo one to play with pending this discussion. To be honest, I'm thinking more of designing a bespoke application now. I'm going to play with this over the weekend, so I'll keep you updated as I progress.
I am still trying to understand the essence of what feature this QA thing needs. Why is it different then a BB like this board is? Stackoverflow is a just a BB with tags. Are we strictly talking about Tags here? What features are required? Can someone enumerate specifics? This whole board is QA. Are we talking about capturing just a special subset of good QA like in a FAQ? Please help. tia
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