Archive for October, 2007

MasonWolf, Zone Advisor

I’m now a “Zone Advisor” at Altogether, there are 55 of us, each responsible for 1 or more topic areas. In my case, I’m responsible for two: PHP and blogging. The blogging is because of my experience with WordPress, though it also includes Movable Type, which I have some limited experience with as well. As for PHP, it’s just a really active zone where I have a lot of experience. There’s actually 4 zone advisors who cover PHP (including me), but blogs I’m doing pretty much on my own. Fortunately, the blogging zone isn’t too busy, so I should still be able to do a decent job.

Basically, my responsibility is to try and help anytime there’s a really tricky question, arbitrate if a cleanup volunteer is trying to close a question and it’s not clear whether it’s been answered, and generally just make sure that everyone in my topic areas is following the member agreement (no profanity, cracking tips, abusive language, copyright violation, students trying to get homework help, etc.).

In order to become a Zone Advisor, I first had to prove myself as an expert in my topic areas. Now that I am one, I have the ability to leave admin comments on any question, close any open question, edit any question or comment, and though I’d normally be expected to get one of the site admins to do it if necessary, technically I have the ability to edit or suspend any member’s account. Honestly, I’m not sure why I have that last capability, but whatever.

October 26 2007 | worth mentioning | 1 Comment »

A more general approach to the ISR interview widget

Recently, I developed a WordPress plugin for the company I work for, Inside Success Productions. It gave WordPress users the ability to easily add a feed from our website to their blogs, and for our affiliates this meant the chance to earn a small passive income for every new subscriber they sent our way.

Now the problem is, this only works with WordPress, and there are many other ways of distributing content on the net. So today I created a generalized method to add the same content as the plugin, but which works with any type of webpage. If it can show adsense, it can show our feed. Admittedly, we can’t get SEO benefit from it, since the links are generated with javascript. But just getting out there and being syndicated by our affiliates is still sufficient motivation for doing it. And also, it gave me a chance to apply a little more of my recently acquired AJAX skill (that’s the bit that lets the form tell people how many potential interviews their preferences match).

Play around with it below. Just remember, if you want to earn affiliate commissions, first you’ll have to become a gold member and then fill out our application to become an affiliate.

The preview to the left was created with the following code embedded in my post:

<script src=” widget_feed.php?output=js&afid=405203&size=1&shows= &cats=&keywords=” type=”text/javascript”></script>

Try it out for yourself by using our script generator:

Enter your ISR affiliate ID:
Select your preferred categories:…or check this box to accept interviews from all categories
Select your preferred shows in the ISR network:…or check this box to accept interviews from all shows
Select your preferred keywords
(or select no keywords to match more interviews)

Keywords or Key Phrases
Select Your preferred display size

(Copy and Paste the following code into any webpage)

October 18 2007 | ajax | No Comments »

My First AJAX project

One of the things which I feel has held back some of my web applications from their true potential has been my lack of javascript knowledge, and AJAX methods especially. I finally decided to do something about this, so I bought a book “AJAX and PHP” from Amazon last week. It arrived this past Friday and I’ve been having a blast learning this technology.

Happily, AJAX isn’t anything technically “new” it’s just a way of using 2 languages that I already have a grasp of. After playing with the examples in the book, I decided to get my feet wet by converting one of my old scripts into AJAX in order to improve its speed.

Basically, this was a component of EdocWizard (mentioned here) which allowed people to select the appropriate subjects for their eDocs. The subjects are all based on what are called BISAC codes, which simply stands for Book Industry Standards And Communications. The official list of codes can be found at the Book Industry Study Group’s website. I have them backed up to my database, and there’s currently just over 3000 different codes recognized. Amazon allows publishers to pick up to 4 subject codes for each eDoc.

These subject codes are broken up into categories, and originally, I simply made the user wait while the entire 3000+ codes were copied from the database into javascript arrays, and then I had functions that could switch out the display to show the appropriate subjects based on the category the user had selected. My intent was to make it fast to switch between categories without forcing a page reload. It worked, but depending on connection speed it could take a long time for the complete page to finish loading. In retrospect, I should’ve simply forced a page refresh.

Anyway, none of that matters now that the tool has been converted to use AJAX. Check it out by using the form below.

October 08 2007 | ajax and php projects | No Comments »