The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

HP fandom - ouch

I visited Narcissa Malfoy's (2nd BNF of HP fandom) page on SQ's Professors' Bookshelf. There she has a story listed, something about American wizarding society. In the author's notes of said story, she thanks people who have helped her write it. She mentions a few authors, one of whom is your friend Alec. She also mentions, in the same sentence, someone called Pogrebin, who has, on his/her page @ TDA a story with the following summary: "Written for the wizarding porn challenge. Dying is an art. Snuff films & dangerous games in front of cameras. Fleur/Gabrielle." :O x-| I think I need the revise my conceptual view of possible entries in the FFDB quite a bit. Well, I'll try to have y'all do at least some of the footindex-finger work for me.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

FFDB - a few clarifications

The FFDB won't have a fic archive, community forums or review mechanisms (unless I, The Benevolent Dictator, decide otherwise). I do not wish to compete with existing fandom sites. The FFDB is an index, a navigation aid for people exploring the vast reaches of Harry Potter fan fiction. It is not an attempt to take over FAP.

I have never said it would have a fic quality rating system, but I see there is no choice - it is its killer feature. That would mean a strong authentication mechanism is a basic requirement (not necessarily employing strong crypto - it's not an ecommerce application after all).

The triple user group voting should be treated like this:

  • All votes are recorded. This allows a person to have a change of heart, makes results more trustworthy and allows identifying scams of most kinds. Also, when a user's type changes, it allows recalculating the vote results.
  • All users have "author" and "staff" flags. If author flag is set - user's vote counts towards the "collegiate" result. Same for staff.

If someone registered and voted for some fics and then successfully claimed ownership of a fic (meaning proved to the staff's satisfaction that he is the author of a listed fic) and became known as an author, his votes will be counted for the collegiate score of the fics he'd previously voted for (and all his successive votes, up to the point when user's authorship claim is discovered as fraudulent and user is de-authored or even dismembered). If he then pays for my visit of a North American fandom event and becomes mod or other staff member, staff scores become affected and are recalculated to show the staff's bias towards H/G and R/H fics.

Technical note: If calculation is too intensive a task, it could be done nightly rather then immediately (means you'll only see your vote change the results overnight).

Note: I write in the male form because I'm male and because I think it's the customary generic form in the English language. The fandom's demographics being what they are, you can safely replace it with the female form, and be correct.

Note: “staff” does not imply “author”. For example: my votes would not affect collegiate scores.

As for the case where results differ too much: well, let's hope the more exclusive the voting public gets, the better their taste becomes, so no popular trash fics get high staff scores. That would mean being very thorough with recruiting, following the "A's hire A's, but B's hire C's" rule. In any case, all three scores would be displayed, color-coded I guess.

No fics shall be excluded. Even the really nasty and bad ones. Since they’re not hosted but rather only linked to, if enough clear warnings are provided – I don’t see why I should exclude them. Teri is correct in spotting the IMDB resemblance.

Every data page will have a “report abuse” link, and the TOS will be clear about my rights to edit and remove all content, ban users or contact the appropriate ISP/authorities.

All but the basic content will have a “reference/proof” comment, not usually displayed, but stored. It would detail where the data comes from (preferably in the form of a URL), so mistakes and con jobs can be traced and angry people seeing their online anonymity bubble burst calmed down.

Technical note: For items containing a list of known pre-determined values (like a list of characters or genres, not a list of authors of fics that grow), I’ll implement it with bitmaps. It can be fast and storage-friendly.

Please comment more. I’ll edit what I have and add details (or, more likely, specific questions about the details) when I have the time.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Trips - minisrael

We (my family) have been to minisrael and a couple of monasteries (on the way back). Since I don't know whether any photos will come out alright (don't have a digicam)I've looked for pics online (again). The official site for the park sucks hairy donkey balls (please excuse me my language, ladies, I've been raised in the Russian emigrants' quarter ;) ), I'm linking to some site I've found with decent pictures. What you see are miniatures of interesting (regular tourist attractions and architectural) sites in Israel, lego-sized and life-like. The similarity and attention to detail are uncanny. Hotels, churches, masques, historical sites and even a few military-related things (Officer training academy, armored coprs museum, general staff HQ best known building...). If I find any better pics I'll add links later. As for the monasteries - one was a Russian Orthodox women's monastery, and we visited the church in "working" hours. I have to notice Judaism not allowing women to sing was a very bad PR decision. Also, I've learned lots about St. George (patron saint of Britain, the city of Moscow and many other places).

Online - f***ing s***

Israel Defense Forces insignia, gear, surplus online store I can't judge its legitimacy or legality, but I know for a fact from serving in the equivalent of the Pentagon where almost everyone has high clearance and people are in general very relaxed about protocol and security/gossip, that some of the stuff they have published there like unit names, functions and insignia are supposed to be secret. I think I'll check through the proper channels about this site. Anyway, they don't have either my unit's or my profession's insignia, though they are both pretty, unique and hard to get the proper way. Though admittedly not as cool as killing people. *shrug*

Friday, March 26, 2004

HP fandom - Teh Pretties

link Not only she draws beautifully, she has her shipping preferences right (though that is not so surprising. As the series evolves, Jo's intentions become more apparent, and life in AU becomes harder). It's a shame she's not illustraiting for the official publisher.

FFDB - more on fics

I'm pretending I got lots of helpful comments on my last post in this category (let's pretend BlogSpot has categories). Fics should have:
  • time frame — one of: (too AU/irrelevant, Founders era, Older character's youth (say, young Albus or Tom), Grindelwalds war, MWPP/First Voldemort War, a few years before Book1, Book 1...7 (starting with the summer), immediately post-Hogwarts, a few years after VWII, distant future).
  • Belongs to fanon — other fic. This can be used to say some author wrote a fic that fits a certain universe, but is not necessarily a part of the series that built said universe. Authors often play in others' sandboxes, a kind of fan fiction on fan fiction.
  • crossover with — should probably have a list of popular cross-over targets such as: LoTR, BtVS, Bond, LMB's Vorkosigan saga, SW, Trek, teen flicks, manga, etc.
  • IC/OOC meter — numeric scale (?). Very difficult to implement well, as is subjective and decided by readership rather than author. Should probably be votable.
All data should be cast in one of these categories:
  • Objective:
    • Immediate — easy things to determine, given by author. e.g. author, title, rating (more problematic. Can be FFDB disagrees with author's definition of "PG-13")
    • Latent — Stuff that requires reading or at least seeing the fic. Level of English in such a thing. Word count can be, unless properly automated. This can be filled later, not required to enter fic in FFDB.
  • Subjective:
    • by Staff — voted by staff members/mods. Meaningful only if mods fairly represent entire fandom (like TLC editors).
    • by Collegiate — voted by users who claimed ownership of at least one fic i.e. known authors.
    • by Readership — general (registered?) public.
All of those can lead to bloody holy wars. The FFDB shall not be a scene for HP BNF Deathmatch.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

HP fandom - The PoA trailer

link Not quite the way I imagined it. A bit too modern, for modern kids. But yeah, I'll go see it in the theater and we'll see.

Monday, March 22, 2004

TV - Firefly

link I've been watching me some Firefly. Pretty decent show (Not in the same league as Alias or Babylon 5), too bad it got canceled.

FFDB - Participation

- I don't see any. Does it mean no one is interested? I wanted to talk about mapping users to personas and taking ownerships of personas and whole archives, user-votable data, user hierarchy and roles, Autocracy vs. Democracy vs. Ochlocracy and such, but if I'm just talking to myself I'll save me the RSI.

Friday, March 19, 2004

FFDB - An experiment

If I am to design the FFDB, I will need your input. Lots of it.

Ideally, the design should be done openly on a wiki, where everyone can say whatever they like about the goals, methods and parentage of the team members.

But, I can't afford decent hosting for a wiki at present and the development team consists of only one member, so we'll do without one.

I will post thoughts, ideas and samples here and you will reply with criticism.

The thing is basically about fics. What should it know about a fic?

  1. author(s) – are cooperations separate authors or should a story have a list of authors?
  2. title – utf-8 string
  3. is it complete? – boolean
  4. number of published chapters – numeric. if = 1 and fic is complete, special case of cookie/ficlet, no table of content required.
  5. expected/required reader maturity rating – one of: G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, X
  6. explicit warnings – for objectionable and or unsafe (work/school-wise) stuff like: slash (separate for femme-slash?), underage sex (what's the age of consent in Potterland? Leaving Hogwarts?), mild fetishism, violence (BDSM? Rape?), bestiality, incest.
    These can be anything from verygraphic to barely mentioned or even implied. Should there be a rating/scale?
  7. genre – <list of genres>
  8. spoilers for books <list of books>
  9. main characters <list of character> – should original characters exists separately or be grouped together under the label OFC (OMC)?
  10. ships <list of ships, i.e. character groups> – should there be a list of ships?
  11. word count – numeric. SUM(word count of each chapter)
  12. first publish date – date. MIN(publish date of each chapter)
  13. last update date – date. MAX(publish date of each chapter)
  14. canon-compliant up to which book? – book or numeric?. this can differ between chapters, how to treat it for the entire fic? (max, min, average)
  15. language quality – this can differ between chapters, how to treat it for the entire fic? (max, min, average?)
  16. edited by <list of authors, personas or real people or combination thereof?> – this can differ between chapters, how to treat it for the entire fic? (union on lists?)
  17. is it part of series? – a series and item number
  18. was it written for a contest/challenge of some kind? If so, which place did it take? – challenge/contest id, possibly numeric place
  19. archived at:
    here, should it just be a list of URLs or do I handle major archive sites in special ways? Like:
    1. SQ fic id
    2. FA-member URL
    3. Y!G name
    4. FFN id
    5. Checkmated id
    6. Lots of other sites ids or URLs
    This can be a list of dual thingiescontaining archive site id and specific fic id, handled by some business logicwith a reg-exp specific for each archive-site.
  20. Other stuff I forgot

About people:

I think there should be a separation between fandom personas and IRL persons. We are all slightly different people when online, even those of us who do not actively re-invent themselves. Fandom personas have fame, LJs,f-lists, fangirls, mod duties, published works, reviews. IRL persons have names, ages, genders, home addresses (a not necessarily complete collection of: continent, country, province, town, street, home), private emails, ICQ UINs, AIM, MSN and Y!M screen names, social software ids (Orkut anyone?), marital statuses, children, birthdays, and social security numbers (kidding!).

What data should there be stored, and what should be available to mods and the general public, about each? Should the connections between persons and personas (any better terms, please?) be straightforward 1:1 or is it possible that multiple persons make up a persona (collectively working?), or that some person has virtual split-personality disorder? Can/Should the FFDB be aware of such cases?

How to see if it's right:

Think about search. Imagine what you would want to search for, any whether this data model has a chance to find it for you, if such a thing exists and the entire fandom was indeed included in the repository.

For example, a query:

Find emails of persons (for flaming purposes, probably) who have personas who are authors of fics that are: Rated NC-17, include bestiality AND incest AND underage sex, of Plot What Plot genre, contain no spoilers, whose main characters include Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley and Giant Squid, ships include Ron/Ginny, word count is over 50K, have apparently not been proofread ever (probably because the content is too arousing to read over-and-over again), are completely AU, and archived exclusively at the Quill.

We all hope this always returns “none found”, but I wouldn't include it in the test cases. ;)

I know there is no way you have understood everything, because I have not tryed to explain. But I want you to get involved, so you are hereby asked to ask questions. By your comments I'll see if there is any interest. If so, we may have some progress with this thing. Just watching/reading will not get you anything, because there'll be nothing to watch - I won't do any thing. I'm really good at it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Cool - Hackers and Painters

link I've been thinking of some of his points, but boy, I couldn't have said it so well in a million years. And I crawl back to the bane of high performance C programs: memory management. *sigh*

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Personal - Work

I couldn't concentrate on work while I was at the office, and now that's all I'm thinking about. I bet I'll dream about my algorithms. Why can't it be like this when I'm at my desk, where it's useful? Oh, it useful now too, sure - I'll get more done tomorrow after thinking about it today, but it's not the same: can't keep it all in my head. And I can't take my work home, even if I could afford a laptop. Wah.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Personal - A trip

I've gone to the Negev desert today with my parents (on an organized tour) - thought it might be better than stay at home all day and they haven't seen most of the sights before. But, we forgot the camera at home. :-( We've been to Avdat (ancient Nabatean city), Ein Avdat (where Nahal Zin starts), Mitzpe Ramon (overlooking Makhtesh Ramon - a unique geological phenomena), Sde Boker (David and Paula Ben Gurion's eternal resting place, overlooking Nahal Zin) including the first prime minister's house. It was nice. I've been there with school trips, but in a quieter atmosphere it's different. I've found a few decent pics on the net, though sadly not of everything. You can Google all the relevant info from the many "holy-land visit" sites. P.S. More comments on the previous post are welcomed.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Personal - The "What should I waste my time on" poll

Since blogspot does not provide an integrated poll mechanism and I'm unwilling to use a third party thingy, you'll have to reply using comments, provided they work. In the (likely) event they don't please do not hesitate to use email.

  1. Full, cross-browser, actually working (saving), widget-based CSS editor front-end with validation and context sensitive help.

    Cons: This, AFAIK, has never been done before, and should take many months to design, implement, test, re-design and re-implement till some semblance of satisfactorily demand-meeting web application evolves.

    Pros: Is mega-cool, and allows the artistically endowed design a site for the artistically challenged with green color deficiency (that's me).

  2. The many years-ago dreamed-up but never properly designed metadata-rich fan fiction database (sans archive/hosting). It's a thing that allows the addict user to search for a fix fic using criteria such as: length in words, English/beta/proofing-quality, main characters and/or ships, movie rating, publication date, up to n-th book canon-compliance, beta'd/edited-by, written/co-authored-by, archived-at, etc. Ideally it would be literary-pseudonym/pen name aware (i.e. it would know when a FFN author, a SQ Prof., a FA celebrity, a Y!G listmom and a private site's webmistress are the same individual) and expose a really advanced interface with lots of neat client-side processing and web-services based backend which would allow syndication, automatic updating, authentication and auditing allowing in turn to make the properties dynamic and user-updateable (by privileged users/admins or public vote) so the data won't become stale without requiring a huge staff of fic archive prowlers/mungers.

    Cons:

    1. Is insane. To elaborate: I barely know enough to know how much over my head this is.
    2. In all likelihood, I am its sole potential user.

    Pros:

    1. THE learning experience.
    2. If by some chance it gets done, hosted, and people like it and use it – I'll be famous.
  3. Something not quite as nerdy. Something people who actually have a life (whatever that is) do. Like read a good book (not about Harry Potter) or go out (*shock, horror*). Something which may, eventually, lead to “getting a theoretical date”.

    Cons: Is, like, hard.

    Pros: Is, like, something I should do before I turn 20.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Links - web publishing

If my re-posting other people's links is not journalism and this peek into my disturbed life does not constitute voyeurism (being volantery and all that), what is this? Anyway, a few links courtesy JWZ: Really cool effects and Sci-Fi come RL updates (why the "+" notation? ;) ).

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Links - Mildly funny

Link courtesy of Cassandra Claire's latest weeping over not getting an iPod for X-mas, Valentine's or whatever. She's been mentioning not possessing an iPod the same way her heroes in The Diaries mention their primary concerns with life for a few months I think. Does she expect her fangirls to start a fund and raise money to restore their idol's hipness or what?

Links - Thinking is hard

... but gratifying. Read this article. Following his links (like this one) is a good idea. Maybe I should move on from 12y/o oriented fic to some more serious (adult-oriented, and not in the meaning of adult-only entertainment) literature.

Monday, March 01, 2004

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