Also, just a note, over the lifetime of the forums we have had three admins who were "coders". Myself, Scott, and Hugh. Hugh has not been around for many years did mostly back end stuff on the linux side and did a bit here and there on the PHP/HTML side. Scott has created some truly great PHP plugins for the forums (and the HTML to go with it), the ones we use every day. I currently code mostly in PHP and more recently in C#/Unity. I really like app programming in a game engine (but not games, building apps). It's very powerful and very creative. So, personally, I spend most of my "coding time" in C# these days and write PHP code as needed to support my Unity app development.
Note: some of my recently app prototyping in Unity was featured on ResearchGate this year:
.... so naturally, I am keen on this type of visual "virtualized application" programming these days. Also, note that I had no experience in C# or Unity before I started this project in the 4th quarter of 2016, so even old dogs like me can learn new fun tricks!
Edit: If you need some inspiration on the future of multi player gaming in an infinite multiverse, check out Star Citizen:
Also, it is kinda ironic that my collaborator (R. Zuech) who introduced me to the idea of using Unity for the project above has yet to write a single line of production code (due to his work schedule at his full time job) so I have written every line of code for the project features above on RG myself - and I am the "old guy" ... LOL It's funny. I thought Rich would do all the C# coding (because he had prior experience coding in C#), but it turned out to be just the opposite!
Here is a very good demo "cyberpunk" virtual world built with under $300 of Unity assets, Neon.
I am kinda considering building an optional front end for the forums which is similar to Neon, which would have some kind of dystopian scifi rooms where there is some kind of (TBD) database interaction with the forums.
Here is an intermediate work in progress Neon video:
Attached is a complete list of Unity assets used (from the Neon blog post above, just in case the blog post is every removed).
This is really fun programming, combining real application data (like our database information, which is rich in information) with a dystopian world.
Unity 3D is free (the personal edition) and there is a bit of a learning curve with the IDE and C#, but it is well worth the effort, in my view. There is also distributed collaboration tools for teams with version control, etc.
Also, here is a different Unity tutorial for the HD Scifi Level Kit - Simple room prefab tutorial;
So, there are quite a lot of scifi prefabs that can be used for a cool user frontend for the forums; but the trick of course is to figure out what kind of user interaction works well for the forums!
One of my thoughts that came to me in a dream last night was to create some lowel level scifi prison which would house all the banned users in some kind of scifi glass enclosure (similar to in the Matrix movie were humans are kept as batteries for the matrix)..... each banned user would be "coded" according to severity of the ban, LOL...
Scott posted about have a blaster to shoot and delete spam posts; which is also a cool idea.... that kind of "spam preview and destroy room" might be very fun as well for mods.
So, in this line of thinking, no idea is too crazy, because the more ideas we have, the better.
So, have been thinking about this more and how to make this idea feasible (easy to begin, scaleable)... current thought:
(1) Create a nice SciFi Environment like one in the example Unity assets.
(2) Interface the forum database to pull the avatars for each active user into the environment and have those avatars "hanging out" near a common object in the scene that represents the location of their last activity.
(3) Interface the forum database to pull the avatars for each active guest user that might be a bot into the environment and have those avatars "hanging out" in a room where we can easily see the amount of "hits" (activity).
(4) Added an embedded web browser object into the scene where users could browser the forums using the browser, or even simulate what others are browsing (posts, threads) using an embedded browser in the SciFi environment.
(5) Add a mod room that shows basic stats on newly registered users with a spam risk score and the ability to shoot them with some cool space cannon that automatically updated the backend db and bands these users.
Any more ideas?
If not, this might be the initial base line for a future front end app for the forums.
Note: I think I may move this thread out of the UG so we can get input from more members or members who are more interested in virtual worlds, etc.
I am more of the old school, where in the early 90 you would explain UNIX by comparison with a mainframe e.g. IBM being a a huge black box, UNIX would be AliBaba's cavern or a big (very) room filled in with loads of tools that you can use to even make your own... and where sharing his discoveries and building together new things was a big part of the magic...
It would be nice to see in your environment some of these aspects pointing out from time to time
OK that's something hard to elaborate, but still we could imagine a thread depending in which forum giving the type of category ( tools /workshop... Design/office ) and activity of the thread ( one searching /brainstorming / teamwork...)
But then what would be bots and spiders???
Definitely getting old...
Don, what's your secret??
It's a great book; and it can be summarized quite easily:
"The secret to life is to always keep the mind of the beginner. The "beginner's mind" is always open to learning and to the wonder of new, unlimited possibilities. In contrast, the "expert's mind" tends to be closed to learning and has little passion for a world of new possibilities."
Never stop learning and keep the mind of the beginner. This is the secret!
In the past year (for example) I learned game programming in Unity 3D from scratch, including learning object oriented C# from scratch. It was truly a remarkable and fun year! It is also hard to believe that in less than a year after I started that project, the project was featured in a press release on ResearchGate.
I read and listen to science, math, physics, and other books daily; and watch MIT classes on the same topics on YouTube, and also watch physics, science, math, computer game programming, and similar videos on YT every day.
Most people think exercise is for the body, but in reality, according to modern science, it's the brain which benefits the most from exercise. Dr. Ratey's famous book above is a great read on this topic!