Re-Thinking Vanilla

What is it that makes Vanilla an attractive option?

There are a lot of things, but the ones that stand out for me are:
(a) No additional modules required to install – it doesn’t use any external modules that require any special configuration on the server – not even for internationalization.
(b) It’s small – while it may not fulfill the needs of some massive categoried/subcategoried/subsubcategoried boards, it fills the gap for smaller communities that just want one forum to post all discussions.
(c) Feature-rich – It comes with almost nothing, and can be made to do almost anything.

What changes should be made for version 2
(a) It needs to perform faster – this means that some of the features that slow it down need to come out. It needs to allow caching in some way. It needs to not rely on object oriented programming (unless it is PHP5 specific).
(b) It needs to be able to fulfill the purposes of both a small and large forum.
(c) It needs some newer web features to be available to addons & users right out of the box (eg. built in ajax functionality).

What sort of new ground can be broken in regard to forums at this point?
Forums aren’t as necessary as they once were. They are a dinosaur of the internet and are fast being replaced by messaging clients and the like. More and more you see live interaction on websites – so where do forums fit in? We all need forum discussions to show up in our google searches so we can get answers to our questions – so I don’t see it going away completely any time soon. And for me personally, I’ve always preferred the slow nature of a forum over the urgency of a beeping instant message that requires my attention now.

I think that forums need to go the way of social networking sites. We need to have a reason to click on someone’s name in a discussion and visit their profile. I’m not going to say anything more than that, because I’ve got some neat ideas and I don’t want anyone to steal them.

When will Vanilla 2 begin?
I have no idea. I’m not as driven as I used to be, but I am craving a new start with a completely new codebase. The Vanilla 1 codebase became so big so fast that it now feels like I’ve lost touch with it. I can’t remember half the things I programmed, and I don’t like a lot of them either. At the same time, I remember how long it took to program it, and I’m not prepared to dive back into something that large all by myself. If I had a coding partner, it would make a huge difference – but like it or not, having someone you can sit next to and work is completely different than having someone you chat with over im and program with. It’s just not the same, and I have no-one here where I live that understands what I do, let alone wants to help out.

If forums are dinosaurs, why start on a new one?
I’m not entirely convinced that I should, to tell you the truth. I have a few other ideas that I’m interested in pursuing – but they’re just pipe dreams that I’m not sure anyone else would find useful. The one thing that’s true about forums is that people need and use them still. And if I make Vanilla 2, I am sure I can provide a hosted solution like and make a living from it. My other ideas – while interesting and fun – don’t necessarily have a market value that I can clearly see. At this point in my life, that is a very important thing to consider.

All I Want for Christmas… pt2

Shirts! Here are a few that I want…

From Local Celebrity
After Hours Event Co-ordinator
Respect Your Mother
Wanna go make out in my porsche?
Stylin’ & Profilin’
I’m Money

From Vintage Vantage
Be nice to me, I have shin splints!

I’m a size large in all of them on both sites. I already have the shin splints one, but I’ve lost almost 30 lbs and it’s way too big on me – but still one of my favourite shirts.

PS – this is intended for my close friends/family – no-one else should even briefly consider getting me anything for xmas.

TV: It’s been a slice!

I remember when my family got our first television set. We sat around it on the floor eating KFC and watched in Awe as Hogan’s Heroes buzzed into life in front of our eyes.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the way technology is changing how we consume our media. Today in particular there was the interview with the pirate-bay-guys and the news that NBC is splitting from the iTunes store.

When the bittorrent client first came around, aside from being utterly confused by the name, I remember thinking to myself that I would only use it as a method of testing to see if I liked the music I was downloading (in the beginning, I only downloaded music) and that I would go purchase the CD if I actually found it to be a decent album. To my credit, I successfully followed through with this plan … for a while.

Today I read the article from the pirate bay guys and I realize that I was so badly misled in my beliefs when it all began. And Peter Sunde pretty much kicked me square in the groin with his last word on the matter: “Technology has changed. You can’t go back, there’s no way to go back. And I don’t think there’s a will to go back.”

He’s right. It’s sad but true.

This got me thinking along the ways that the entertainment industry can successfully make money. Movies still have the box office and merchandise, Music still has live shows and merchandise, but what has TV got? TV’s main source of revenue has always been advertising during commercial breaks (at least in North America where we don’t have TV Tax). So what is going to happen now that everyone is bit-torrenting HD quality television shows with commercials conveniently removed less than an hour after the show airs? As more and more people disconnect their cable boxes (I haven’t had one for over two years), what is going to happen to television?

Regardless of what happens to TV, Movies, or Music – change is here right now – it was inevitable with the creation of Internet Protocol. I realize that many people will have their livelihoods destroyed, but other people will find great success. New media sources and companies will rise from the ashes and amaze us in entirely new ways.

I’m going to miss TV when it does eventually go away – but I can’t wait for the next revolution to occur. Maybe sit in front of the next big thing with *my* kids eating KFC in awe.

Signs: Believe the lie

Last week I was turning left onto a cross-street in my car. I was already half-way across the oncoming traffic lane when I noticed that the street I was turning onto was blocked off with pylons placed by city workers. I could see that far down the other end of that block the city workers were cutting down trees, blocking me from being able to go out that end of the street. Luckily, I only needed to pull into a parking lot just to my right and *Before* where the city workers were killing nature. I quickly got out of my car and moved a couple of pylons out of the way.

One of the city workers shouted out, “Hey! You can’t move those!”

I responded, “Yes I can!”

Another of them shouted, “What the hell are you doing?”

I responded, “Whatever I want!”

I hopped back into my car and pulled through the parking lot off on my merry way.

The whole escapade got me thinking about signs. When I used to live in Toronto from time to time I’d notice these pylons placed down numerous city blocks where regular folks like you and me are supposed to be able to park. The pylons had one word on them: FILM. Inevitably the next day the pylons would be replaced with semi-trucks, trailers, and other movie-filming related gear. At first I thought that the film studios must have some sort of deal with the city, but upon further investigation (I’m not giving up my sources!) I discovered that there is no law that says I can’t kick their FILM pylons onto the street and park my car there.

I don’t have a garage, and every winter I spend a lot of time shoveling out a parking spot directly in-front of my house. Inevitably I will return home and find that one of my neighbors has parked in my spot. The winters here are heavy, so finding another parking spot can mean driving up to three blocks away and walking back to my house. I’ve been pondering a number of ideas to rectify the situation:

1. Pylons: Put a pylon in my parking spot with one word on it: MARK

2. Fire Hydrant: I want to get a fake fire hydrant and place it on my lawn right beside of my parking spot.

3. Parking Tickets: I want to make legitimate looking parking tickets and place them on cars that park in my spot. I’ll charge them $20 if they pay right away, and $75 if they don’t pay within the first 7 days.

How often do we follow the rules laid out by signs? How often are those rules not really rules at all and we’re just suckers?

Threadless: Paid No More

I am a huge t-shirt geek. I have a *lot* of shirts lining my drawers, closets, and boxes in my basement. I spend quite a bit of money on t-shirts every month. I have bought t-shirts from at least 50 different t-shirt stores online and I buy from new ones all the time.

I used to buy a lot of t-shirts at In the past they’ve had an amazing selection of t-shirts, and I love the philosophy of a never-ending t-shirt competition. However, recently I decided never to shop there again – here’s why:

1. Fabric: After purchasing shirts from shops like Vintage Vantage and Local Celebrity, I feel that my flesh cannot go back to the heavy-cotton, ill-fitting shirts that they use at threadless. Say what you will about me, but I don’t like a heavy t-shirt, and threadless shirts feel like they could be worn like a sweater in winter-time. Furthermore, I have a long torso (I am 6’4″, after all) and every time I bend over, the shirts aren’t long enough and they ride up, revealing a gap between my beltline and my shirt. I don’t want to show off my asscrack or my gut whenever I do anything other than stand up straight. The fabrics used at Vintage Vantage and Local Celebrity are light, soft, and completely cover me at all times.

2. Design: I don’t know what happened, but somewhere over the last year Threadless has started printing shirts that I just don’t care about. I can’t remember the last time I got their new shirt notification and thought, “I want that”. All of their designs have gotten too artsy or just not-funny.

I don’t mean to knock them at threadless. I like those guys, I really do. I guess it’s just not for me anymore.

All I Want for Christmas…

Here it is. You duke it out:

1. Workout Gear: I have a bunch of things I need, like an incline/decline bench, a bosu ball, some more weights. Call me and ask!

2. Games: I have an XBOX360 and there are a bunch of games that are coming out this Christmas that I want. Time Shift, Mass Effect, Conan, and more…

3. PS3: I know. I know. But there are some awesome games coming out that will only be on the PS3. So if any of you feel like spending a ridiculous amount of money on me, get me a PS3.

Ummm. I’ll be back with more…

PS – this is intended for my close friends/family – no-one else should even briefly consider getting me anything for xmas.

Majorly Geeky Code Pun

class Affection {
public object Owner;

Affection You = new Affection();

// You are the object of my affection.
You.Owner = Me;

What’s the point of this blog?

Every once in a while I think of something that I want to put out there into the universe. In the past I would post it on one of the related forums that I was a part of. However, over the course of the last few years I have drifted out of the online forum community. It’s ironic, I realize, that the creator of an open-source web discussion forum would continue to work on his product, but not use it in any real-world way. But that’s just the way the cookie crumbled.

Anyone who knows me or knows of the work that I do online is probably aware of an application I called “Swell” a few years back. It was going to be to blogs what Vanilla was to discussion forums. I worked on version 1 for a couple of months and eventually realized that there wasn’t really any room for growth with blogs. People already knew what they wanted, and they were getting it very well from the likes of wordpress, moveabletype, et al. Eventually I just stopped working on Swell and let it stagnate in it’s “The Death Star is 37% operational” state for years.

With Swell becoming a waste of my time, and the rest of my time being taken up by “the real world”, I have lost all avenues of getting my ideas out there. The lussumo blog ( is used nowadays for purely Lussumo related news (and I shudder every time I have to use the clunky interface of Swell behind the scenes there).

I have a new idea for what Swell will be, and it is not a blog. But it will *use* blogs (among other things) to do something really cool. So, I’ve decided to start *this* blog. Something a little more personal, that will someday be used by Swell to bring everything Mark together into a melting pot of online-ness. I could have been more vague, believe me.

So, here it is: Freshly Pleased. A place for me to throw out the stupid thoughts that come into my head and probably shouldn’t be read by anyone.