How can The Asterisk be improved?

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RJN
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How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by RJN » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:04 pm

Dear Asterisks,

How can The Asterisk be improved? Quite possible, things should remain as they are. Nevertheless, other APOD mirror sites such as the Spanish language translation http://observatorio.info/ have been using a different format that might better encourage fruitful discussion. Please note that I am not suggesting that the main NASA APOD page change in any way -- only what happens when someone presses the "Discuss" link may change. Or not.

One idea is to keep the same format but have a new Topic opened automatically every day with the APOD image and text from that day appearing as the first post in that Topic. The problem with that is that I have no idea how to do that. Does anyone?

I would also like to keep the "Discuss Anything Astronomy Related" Forum going as well as part of any changes that may occur.

Last, after a brief discussion, I have asked geckzilla, who has been an administrator on other boards, to help out with administrative duties here as well.

- RJN

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by apodman » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:34 pm

RJN wrote:One idea is to keep the same format but have a new Topic opened automatically every day with the APOD image and text from that day appearing as the first post in that Topic. The problem with that is that I have no idea how to do that. Does anyone?
This answer comes from a phpBB outsider so take it for what it's worth, but if I had the privileges and the ability to run cron jobs or their equivalent, I would try to modify posting.php (or a renamed copy) and run it as a cron. The processing of posting.php is currently POST, and you might want to stick with that or switch to GET for your script - whichever is more convenient. The actual composition of your daily post, I think, is the easy part - just have your .php script open the APOD (read the html of astropix.html), extract the text it wants, and plug it into the data to be processed. Semi-automatic options include running your special version of posting.php manually every day (if you can't do cron) or setting up a special web page from which it is easy to post the new topic; it should be easy to write a new .php script that generates such a web page (all filled in and ready for you to push Submit) if privileges don't allow you to go any further automatically with the post.

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by geckzilla » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:22 pm

Robert, there is also a support forum for phpBB who might be able to help you even further if you decide to go with what apodman suggested:
http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewforu ... bmenu&f=46

Mentioning it's for APOD might also get a little extra attention if they are fans. 8)
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bystander
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by bystander » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:57 pm

RJN wrote:One idea is to keep the same format but have a new Topic opened automatically every day with the APOD image and text from that day appearing as the first post in that Topic. The problem with that is that I have no idea how to do that. Does anyone?
Great idea! An entry like what shows up on the apod index and search pages would be excellent. It includes a thumb nail, date, title, permanent link and explanation. Maybe such an entry for the current APOD could be placed somewhere for the asterisk to use in apodman's suggestion.

If a new topic is automatically generated for each new apod, then maybe the discuss link could take the reader directly to that topic. Of course, they would still need to sign in or register before they could post.
RJN wrote:I would also like to keep the "Discuss Anything Astronomy Related" Forum going as well as part of any changes that may occur.
That goes without saying.
RJN wrote:Last, after a brief discussion, I have asked geckzilla, who has been an administrator on other boards, to help out with administrative duties here as well.
Good, we need a more active admin. If geckzilla has the experience and wants the job, I certainly support the idea.

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orin stepanek
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by orin stepanek » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:55 pm

I kind of like it as it is. Why mess with a good thing?
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RJN
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by RJN » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:41 pm

Thanks everyone. Sadly, I just don't have ability or knowledge of php, phpBB, are even Linux to implement what apodman suggested. Past that, I don't even have the permissions! The Center for Experimental Computation (CEC) here at Michigan Tech (MTU) has most of the power and permissions. Although they tend to be a clever bunch, I don't think they run any other bulletin boards and so have limited knowledge of phpBB. And they are PLENTY busy supporting hundreds of computers and so look at the Asterisk, perhaps, as an uninvited burden. They also consider security paramount and are reluctant to give out permissions lightly.

Nevertheless, I have emailed the CEC asking for ftp permissions for geckzilla to upgrade the phpBB to the latest version. So far no response, although since it was Thanksgiving weekend here in the US, none was really expected. More as it happens.

- RJN

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by apodman » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:39 pm

Something like this html from the form is used to submit the post:

<form ... method="post" ...
action="./posting.php?mode=post&f=9&
sid=ec5e80e27560269b9b353d0dd77121ae"
... >

and

<input ... value="Submit" ... >


Normally posting.php would include boilerplate code to reject requests not coming from the proper page (an authorized form). We could test this by gathering all the required form data and field names (currently submitted via "method=post") and seeing if it worked from the command line of our browser via "method=get" - http:// ... /posting.php?field1=text1&fieldn=textn. But in this case you can plainly see that data is already passed on the command line (following "action=" above) including the id (in red above) that was assigned to your blank form and/or session when you clicked the New Topic button. Certainly your submission will go nowhere without an id that the system already knows about. So there's little value (IMHO at this moment) in tinkering around the edges with semi-automatic solutions or looking for side doors - as far as I can see it, anything has to be done internally to posting.php (or through phpBB utilities if there are such) inside phpBB by a phpBB and system insider.

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by neufer » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:21 pm

ImageImage

* Two bubble domes; one in the front, while the one in the back is for quarreling kids,
(e.g., sputnick, kovil,...) with optional restraints & muzzles.

* Engine sound causes people to think "the world's coming to an end."

* Three horns, "you can never find a horn when you're mad."
The three horns play the song "La Cucaracha."

* Little red ball on top so you can locate in parking lot

* Gigantic cupholders.

* Shag carpeting & tailfins.

* Telescope as a hood ornament.
Art Neuendorffer

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RJN
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by RJN » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:57 pm

Here is a link I stumbled upon titled "Five rules for building a successful online community":
http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/060831miller/

The link brings up the idea that threaded discussions are better for some online communities than others. Would the Asterisk be better off with threaded discussions?

- RJN

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by bystander » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:27 pm

RJN wrote:The link brings up the idea that threaded discussions are better for some online communities than others. Would the Asterisk be better off with threaded discussions?
Yes, threads would be beneficial, especially with the one topic per apod rule (which I think is necessary), but I think the ability to merge threads would also be necessary. Also, does phpBB even support threads? I'm not sure we want to be switching forum software.
RJN wrote:One idea is to keep the same format but have a new Topic opened automatically every day with the APOD image and text from that day appearing as the first post in that Topic. The problem with that is that I have no idea how to do that. Does anyone?
I still like the apod auto-post. Any more on that idea?

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by RJN » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:13 pm

Yes, I too still like the autopost idea. Perhaps geckzilla can implement this, or someone somewhere running a unix-type batch script with posting privileges to the Asterisk can do it. Currently, I don't know how to proceed on this myself.

Next, the current description line under the board name "The Asterisk*" reads "The Night Sky Live Project Bulletin Board." Also the URL of The Asterisk is nightskylive related. Still, the Night Sky Live project, once a passion of mine, has pretty much winded down. Therefore, although we are stuck, just now, with the URL, perhaps the description line can be updated. Since The Asterisk includes other boards than just this APOD discussion board, I think the name should be broader than just "APOD's Discussion Board." Any ideas?

- RJN

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by apodman » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:27 pm

RJN wrote:Next, the current description line under the board name "The Asterisk*" reads "The Night Sky Live Project Bulletin Board." Also the URL of The Asterisk is nightskylive related. Still, the Night Sky Live project, once a passion of mine, has pretty much winded down. Therefore, although we are stuck, just now, with the URL, perhaps the description line can be updated. Since The Asterisk includes other boards than just this APOD discussion board, I think the name should be broader than just "APOD's Discussion Board." Any ideas?
A while ago I started this thread that went nowhere, but here's the link anyway just in case it contains or triggers one good phrase.

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rstevenson
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by rstevenson » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:52 pm

RJN wrote:... although we are stuck, just now, with the URL, ...
The following domain names are all currently available. You might want to obtain one or more of them for future consideration.
the-asterisk.com, the-asterisk.net, theasterisk.org, the-asterisk.org

theasterisk.net and theasterisk.com are not available. But .org names are intended for non-profit use, so that's a reasonable TLD to use anyway -- I assume.

Rob

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by apodman » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:58 pm

starrybyte.com
cosmicpost.com
Last edited by apodman on Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by bystander » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:23 pm

You might consider opening a new forum supporting HEASARC Picture of the Week (HEAPOW), Discuss a High Energy Astrophysics Picture of the Week. And once we figure out how to autopost APOD, we could autopost HEAPOW, too. Meanwhile, with their own forum, maybe you could get Dr. Michael Corcoran to include a Discuss link on HEAPOW.

Wow, this was suggested in 2005! heapow discussion???

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:53 pm

I have nothing against discussing HEAPOWs here somewhere on The Asterisk. Coincidentally, Mike Corcoran and I went to grad school together! He is a really good guy and HEAPOW is indeed well done. Possibly this is best done in the general astronomy discussion section just now. If they become popular enough, The Asterisk could host a forum for them. - RJN

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by apodman » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:04 am

Why can't we PM the new APOD Robot? I want to know what he thinks. He does have a cool website.
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by geckzilla » Sat Dec 05, 2009 1:45 am

Because he might get spammed by clever people who want to have a conversation with a robot. It wouldn't be fair to the poor guy. He doesn't know how to respond.
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by bystander » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:14 pm

nextup's (aka sputnick) diatribe and responses have been split out and merged with Sputnik Beeps Again.

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by Czerno » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:36 am

The robot,in the process of creating a new thread per picture/day, could add a pair of navigational links at the bottom of the page (to previous/next day's picture related thread). Link to to-morrow's thread would have to be to a permanent page warning the pic isn't online yet. At the same time it would update yesterday's link into today's discussion.

If the management of the link pointing to the future is too complicated for the software, at least a link to the discussion thread for the previous picture would be a useful browsing aid, IMVHO.
Czerno

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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by geckzilla » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:12 pm

Good idea, Czerno. :)
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by craterchains » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:01 pm

How about numbering the posts in threads, as most forums do, so they can be referenced?
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by geckzilla » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:53 pm

Because they'd end up resetting to 1 every time a new page started, heh. Though I could do some major edit to the template to fix that, I'd rather not.
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by craterchains » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:58 pm

Oh, I see, thank you.
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Re: How can The Asterisk be improved?

Post by geckzilla » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:04 pm

Besides, when I most often see those types of threads, they seem highly impersonal, such as a gathering of random people making small quips in response to a news article. For better or worse, we mostly know each other better than that, here. You could always simply start with the person's display name if you'd like to refer to them. Other than that, I like the quote tag because it allows people to specifically respond to a particular statement in a post. So many ways to go about things.

If you have any more suggestions, please post them. :)
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