Is there interest in a late night audio meetup?

We are spread over many different time zones. Finding a good time for everyone is not easy. I was thinking we could start another called LAMU, Late Audio Meetup, for those in later time zones.  An Audio Meetup is a conference call.

My preference would be a Wednesday or Thursday night call.


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Knowledge Base: Scheduling Posts

When you write a post for Ratburger and press the “Publish” button in the post composition window, the post is immediately published to the home page.  But sometimes you’d like a post to be published at some specific time in the future.  For example, if you’re writing a post for the Thought of the Day or one of our weekly series of posts, you may want the post to be published on the appointed day at a time when you might not be at the computer.

You can set a post to be published at any time and date in the future by using the “scheduled post” feature.  When you’re composing a post, in the “Publish” box to the right of the composition area (or below it on a narrow screen device such as a mobile phone or tablet), there’s an item which by default reads: “Publish immediately”.  If you press “Edit”, this expands into a set of fields which allows you to enter a date and time:

Scheduled post specification

Enter the date and time at which you’d like the post to be published and click “OK”.  The “Publish” button will change into a “Schedule” button which, when pressed, will queue the post for publication at the specified date and time.

The date and time must be specified in Universal Time (UTC), the standard used by the Internet, the Unix operating system, NATO, and Ratburger.org.  Universal time avoids social constructs such as time zones, the international date line, and silliness such as summer and winter time.  You can convert between UTC and your local time zone with this calculator.

Because the WordPress developers are utter nincompoops, you cannot schedule a Private post for publication in the future, because Private and Scheduled are different post status values, not orthogonal to one another as they would be in any sane design.

Pursuant to the Interdimensional Convention on Chronology Protection, it is not possible to schedule posts to be published in the past.


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Growing a Site

First there is no such thing as “a site” it is people. People are the secret sauce. Getting the write people is what is important. (Pun intended.) Things grow because there is something to read and discuss. People don’t want to come to see empty air but something productive and interesting.

Here is my list.

  1. An interface that doesn’t frustrate and get in the way. (Merci infiniment, M. Marcheur)
  2. A mood that encourages a friendly back and forth.
  3. Variety of posts. That there is something for everyone.
  4. Change. When you come back an hour later something has happened.
  5. “Wow! I didn’t know that.”
  6.  Emotions such as joy, anger, fear, sadness.
  7.  Being complementary. (This is not “complimentary”)
  8. Fabric softener.

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Knowledge Base: Uploading Video and Audio Files

Since inception, Ratburger.org has allowed you to embed video and audio hosted on a list of public sites such as YouTube and Vimeo simply by including the URL for the item on a line by itself.  See the Knowledge Base article “Embedding Media in Posts and Comments” for details.  But this isn’t much help when you wish to include a video or audio clip of your own, for example the latest screwball antics of your pet iguana or the latest track by your kazoo and sitar band.  Sure, you could create an account on one of the public video or audio hosting sites, upload your content, and then include the URL, but that’s a lot of fussy work and you may not want to make the item available to the general public.

In addition to images, Ratburger’s Media Library allows you to upload video and audio in a variety of formats and include them in posts and comments (but not in groups, which are basically text-only discussion boards).  You include these items much as you do images.  Use the “Add Media” button, select the video or audio file you wish to upload, wait for it to upload, and then click “Insert into post” to include a player for the clip in the post or comment you’re composing.

The type of the media file is determined by the extension or “file type” of the file you upload.  Video files may have the following extensions which identify their formats (most people can ignore the technical details in parentheses).

  • .webm (WebM, vp8.0/Vorbis)
  • .ogv (Ogg, Theora/Vorbis)
  • .mp4 (MPEG-4, H.264/AAC)

Audio files are identified by the following extensions.

  • .mp3 (MP3)
  • .ogg (Ogg, Vorbis)
  • .wav (WAV, PCM)

Unfortunately, due to patents, proprietary squabbles among manufacturers, and other speed bumps and potholes on the Information Rutted Road, there is no single format which is guaranteed to work everywhere.  “Power users” can upload multiple formats and make them available in a custom video or audio shortcode entered in the Text composition tab or by editing the media player item in the composition window, but this is beyond the scope of this document.

Uploads are limited to 32 megabytes.  This is usually not a problem for audio, but video clips should be short and small.  This is a not a video hosting site: we have neither the file storage space nor Internet bandwidth for lengthy, high-resolution videos.  To post them, you’re going to have to use one of the public hosting sites.

For example, the following is a two minute video I recorded in July 2009 at a concert of our village brass band.  This was compressed into 360 pixel Ogg video format yielding a file of 6.9 Mb.

This is a an audio clip of the finale from the 1999 movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which figured in my 2006 project CSI: South Park.  This is a 545 Kb MP3 file.

___________________________


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Knowledge Base: Excerpts

When you write a post and publish it, by default only the first two paragraphs will appear on the Ratburger home page.  To read the balance of the post, a reader needs to click “[Read More]”, which will display the complete post and its comments.

This is done to allow visitors to the site to skim through the titles and start of posts and decide which they want to read in their entirety.

The definition of “paragraph” is, as with most things in WordPress, a brutal hack based on looking at the text and guessing what constitutes a paragraph.  The way the code is implemented, a heading at the start of the post or a photo is considered a paragraph.  This means, for example, that if you start your post with a heading and a photo, visitors to the home page won’t see any of the text of the body of your post without clicking “[Read More]”.

You can avoid this infelicity by placing an explicit excerpt mark in your post.  This indicates the portion of the post which should be shown on the home page and which subsequent material should only appear if the user clicks on “[Read More]” or the post’s title to read the whole thing.

Post composition toolbar with excerpt marker highlighted

To place an excerpt mark, click on the line which marks the break and click the “Insert Read More” icon (which looks like a two lane road).  It will put a break in your post where the material above will be shown on the home page and that below only to those who “read the whole thing”.

For example, in my Monday Meals post for 2018-08-13, I have a heading, image, and first paragraph which I want to appear on the home page, so I inserted a “Read More” break after the first text paragraph.  If I hadn’t done this, the automatic excerpt generator would have shown only the heading and photo, which would have been less than ideal.

WordPress “shortcode” features which are used for such things as spoiler warnings and including mathematics in posts do not work in home page excerpts.  If your post contains such things, you can use explicit “Read More” breaks to ensure those who visit the home page will not see them.  When a user clicks through to the full post, they will be displayed correctly.


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Programming Question

How easy would it be to exclude one category from the regular view?

I am trying to be proactive. There is usually a topic that gets a million posts. People get tired of seeing those. Of course, people could just skip over them but they don’t. If there was a button to filter these out, I think people would like that. It seems at most there is only one or two of these issues. The power is given to the user to filter so it is a bottom up decision.

I am asking this publicly to find out if people are for it and in keeping with our openness policy.

Texty Logo Contest (Thanks to Haakon)

Haakon put up a post that had a good idea, what is the best texty logo for Ratburger.org. Unfortunately, the post went a different direction so this is a second try.

His logo was this, (>R<).  I will put this in comment #1. Click like to vote for it. I will put others in other comments to “vote” on.  Please add your one if you have one.


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What is Ratburger?

“What is Ratburger?” is a good question but it was not high on the priority list when we started. The big thing was just to see if something would work. John got the site up on his test domain. And it just so happened his test domain name was Ratburger.org. My first thought was “RATBURGER.ORG?!!!!” (I often think in capital letters with four exclamation points.) Then I realized the name was in line or is it online with my thinking. I wanted something memorable and down to earth. Something with a smirk and fun in it. Well, it does that, doesn’t it?

I have talked to John on a conference call weekly for a few years. (It is rumored he used to have a full head of hair before he started talking to me.) I got to know him so I knew a site done with him would be technically good and be interesting. He has always been open to the ideas of others and even has some ideas of his own.

I think of John like this.

The old joke:

Boss: Jump!

Employee: How high?

The John Variant:

Me suggesting: We need to go higher.

John: I have built an elevator. What floor? BTW, I think making an express elevator is not needed at this time but if we do need one the perpetual motion model is economical.

What is Ratburger.org? It is just a site trying to get off the ground. It is a site that doesn’t want to take itself too seriously but does want to allow serious discussions without all the crap. Hopefully, it is a site you will want to come to not to get angry but to smile.

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TOTD 2018-08-03: Who is Welcome Here?

I know that we have many flavors of conservative here.   Do we have any rules on who we exclude?  This is not for the sock and the scientist, this is for all of us, the people who form the Ratburger community.  It is we who decide whom to include and whom to exclude.

Now, Ratburger is a right-wing, conservative site.  I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that remains the case, to avoid invoking Conquest’s Second Law.

Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

(I note with some irony that I linked to National Review, which seems like it is following the 2nd and 3rd laws – that post is from Derbyshire)  However, what does that mean for Ratburger?

I know several people who are not Republican or even conservative, but might enjoy this site.  Moreover, they have knowledge that might benefit Ratburghers, such as preparedness and urban architecture.  Should I invite them?   The most liberal of the group is around David Rubin level.  Should they expect a torch & pitchfork mob if they come by here?

More broadly, how do you maintain a conservative organization without being obsessed with purity tests?


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Changing the Paradigm: Ref

Most of us came from a place with Moderators. I don’t like the term. I don’t like it for three reasons.

  1. It sounds pretentious.
  2. It gives the wrong impression.
  3. Most people have never dealt with a Moerator before.

I propose Ref as in referee as the correct term. For at least these three reasons.

  1. It sounds more down to earth.
  2. It explains the job better.
  3. Most of us have had experiences with refs.

I know this might sound like semantics but it is important. A Moderator will call a game it seems at a drop of a hat. A Ref would never do that. A Moderator will give a speech where a Ref makes the call and leaves the field. A Moderator tries to influence the debate. If a Ref does they need to be fired.

Fouls and penalties are part of the game. There is no need to be particularly ashamed of them. A Ref doesn’t humiliate players. They don’t add snark to the call. They respect the players for they love the game.

Booing the Ref is also part of the game. Whether it is fair or not close calls are seen differently. No one penalizes a captain of the team for voicing objections to the call.  Refs do the best they can and make mistakes. It is an art more than a science and the Ref is appreciated for upholding rules impartially. Everyone expects lousy calls but want to see them on both sides.

A Ref does things in the open. They don’t have a private conference with the player. The judgment is made from public knowledge. The spectators, the players, and offender see the reason for the call. Players don’t get penalized for things said in locker rooms. No hidden disappearances.

A Ref is not a star. No one remembers even the names of most refs, right?They do their jobs without chips on their shoulders. They keep the ball in play and don’t pick fights with players. They can throw a player out of a game but they don’t have the power to suspend or ban. That is made higher up.

What I like about a Ref is everyone can agree “I was robbed.” and not lose sleep over it. And a Ref doesn’t call you on your cell phone after the game to reprimand you.

What do you think?

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Hey, it’s free.

“Hey, it’s free.” has been at the top of Ratburger.org from the beginning. This site’s desire is to have free and open discussions with as little as possible restrictions. It is family friendly not to restrict speech but to have the discussion be able to reach the most people possible. It also sets us apart to the “excrement excrement copulate copulate genitalia” sites.

Oh, by the way we don’t charge. We don’t track. We don’t clutter your screen with advertisements.

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