Month: January 2017

My philosophy behind social interactions

Society

Social interactions form a major backbone of our lives. Without them, we (humans) would go crazy, my introverted self included. While they are necessary, they can bruise or hurt others, like myself, easily. Ever since I was young, I have always shrunken into a little ball, like a turtle without a shell, thanks to others’ way of treating me. I was a serious, innocent young child put into a daycare full of careless, rowdy children whose actions amounted to horseplay between them, but bullying for me. “Telling the teacher” seemed to be an effective countermeasure… until the teachers were unable to handle the bullies. Did my parents care? I’m sure they tried to do many things to help me, but to them (and everybody else), I seemed to be too sensitive. I would have liked to see my bullies disciplined, but that would cause trouble among the bullies and the daycare administration, and that was apparently worse than me being bullied. It is the dilemma between “sucking it up” and being scarred for life or going through immense trouble to rectify sore points.

I don’t know if there was an intentional ploy orchestrated by my parents to give me an early exposure to bullying, because it sure seemed like I needed this dagger in my heart. (I would get it sooner or later; it is a part of life.) Either way, the effect stands before you today. My brain, while recently starting to move towards rationality (as my frontal cortex (?) matures), finds it paramount to always empathize with others’ feelings regardless of logic or reasoning. We are humans, and sometimes, sole logic and reasoning is too much to handle. Oatmeal is great for you, but its bland, unappetizing taste can be sweetened with honey. In this case, a mixture or combination gives the best of both.

Today, I see others place heavy emphasis on rational thoughts among their intellectual discourse, but this comes at the expense of our emotional appeal. Coarse, blunt rhetoric can be seen everywhere. Some remarks, blabbered by uneducated adults, simply use ad hominem attacks as a child would. Others utilize cogent logic that critically fails to respect others’ emotions. My eyes and my heart shrivel whenever I identify such depressing, hurtful rhetoric. I cannot help but cringe at these comments. I remember memorable charged rhetoric and especially its effect on me. I am hurt by what painful rhetoric I unwillingly remember; I am branded by it. And I wonder: if others had considered the resulting feeling of others, wouldn’t that make a world of difference?

Today, I emphasize keeping comments respectful and free of offensive, provocative language. While I have bad days, just as anybody does, I will eventually get around to correcting myself. I believe it is imperative to avoid offending others. I also cannot accept any hate speech or harassing comments, as one who cannot capture the hearts of others, instead injuring them, has no need to share their ill-fated words to anybody. Some lament the need to be politically correct because they are tired of suppressing their thoughts in exchange for others’ comfort. Their solution for sensitive people is to be “less offended,” and my response is that such an ideology proves to be ineffective. Everybody is different, but sensitive people should be respected and thought of, not tossed aside as inferiors, for we all have our diverse possibilities of “weak points” to our hearts, and as a general rule of thumb, should be careful to accidentally tread on them. We should make every effort to respect others the way we would want to be respected. Treat others the way you want to be treated. That is the “Golden Rule,” which has been proven time after time. If one is tired of being politically correct, they are tired of being selfless. And while that is understandable, at least keep selfish interactions to oneself, so that others will not be accidentally injured by charged words.

Today, I try to reflect my philosophy in my comments. Every time I write charged rhetoric, I feel a small voice of empathy warn me: others may not be so happy with my words. And I will tone down this charged rhetoric into more palpable, soothing rhetoric. My “voice of empathy” filter is far from perfect, but its installation in my soul is absolutely important for me to keep, or make, others happy with some positively or neutrally-inclined words. I hope you will understand what I feel, and try to focus your rhetoric not solely on the rational, but also on the emotional. Please, consider others’ feelings before saying things. It can mean the difference between a joyous day and a depressed day. And if you cannot consider others’ feelings when you speak, at least apologize after you’ve realized it. Thank you for making the world a better place.

Why I’m less lonelier of a programmer than I used to be

Programming

I am still not a loner. I still have friends, trust me.

So what do I mean by less lonelier of a programmer than I used to be then?

Since I started programming in 2008, I have explored many types of programming, but what has always resonated with me is web programming. In fact, that’s why my business tends to concentrate on the web. My business MyWikis uses MediaWiki to host wikis, so naturally, since MediaWiki is written in PHP, I have become quite fluent in the language. Although it’s been derided for its confusing array of language constructs and inconsistent functions, it’s still vitally important to web programming.

Why am I so interested in web programming, then, if its main languages are beginnerish and inconsistent? Because I know that desktop applications are lame, inaccessible, and unless it’s really good, there’s not much of a point in using them. I started web programming before HTML5, before Chromebooks, before the present era of the easy, modern web. Most people are interested not about downloading a web application and then using it, but simply typing in an address and getting all the information on a website. And if this website can do really cool things, all without leaving the comfort of one’s web browser, then that’s awesome!

This school year was the first time that I left for TAMS and would no longer see my dear friends every day at school. To be honest, it tears me up every time I think of it too much. It pains me, because I miss them. Yet this ironically brought us closer.

My rhetorical skills are usually pretty crappy. I always tried to convince them of the benefits of web programming, but for some reason, they never caught on until recently. When I left. Hmm. Kind of makes me feel like I was an antidote to the crusade of web programming conversion.

This awesome group of friends that I’ve had for many years now share the same passion for web programming that I do. While I slaved away at building MyWikis using PHP, JavaScript, HTML, shell, etc., my friends developed their interests in JavaScript, Node.js, Python, Yesod, PostgreSQL, and other web development platforms/languages.

Unfortunately, I’m an old dog, new tricks kind of web programmer, because the industry moves so quickly it’s unimaginable and hard for me to keep up with. The issue with old dog, new tricks kind of people is that they tend to stick with their old-style roots, which doesn’t help in an environment where new is (almost) always better. Now, the new thing is Node.js and since MediaWiki requires this in Parsoid, I am forced to bend down and get familiar with Node.js. And don’t forget Python and Ruby, which have somehow become backbones of the web. (I’m clearly in denial! :P)

Those who used to be my exceptions now champion the causes of their web programmer crusades of conversion. Both friends are interested in web development and that excites me! One friend knows Node.js (he’s truly a genius) and helped create Elephant (https://github.com/jeffw16/elephant), which won the Fall 2016 TAMS Hackathon. When I worked with him, my mind was quite dead but his was alive at 4am. It was an honor to create a project and I still remember it fondly. (Side note: PHP is still more accessible to others with a tight budget and resources (cough cough that’s me cough cough) and that is why I continue to use it.) Another friend develops in Python and interned at Mozilla the summer before his freshman year of college. He now develops for OU Web Communications and omg he’s just out of this world amazing ok moving on

But I still feel lonely, even after a whole year. As you may have noticed, this post is structured very similarly to a post made in December 2015. Since then, things have changed quite a bit.

I might just have a really closed mind, or I might actually be a loner, but it’s mainly because web programming is so diverse and nobody comes near the web development associated with MediaWiki, WordPress, and other software like that. Node.js isn’t used for stuff like that, and Python is probably better suited for newer, larger, and more complex applications. The nearest cousins of MediaWiki in Python would be MoinMoin and I’m not getting into that! (I don’t think there is a MediaWiki in Node.js yet.)

Why am I so concerned with people knowing PHP or even remotely having some kind of passion for MediaWiki?

It’s hard to run a company alone, but I manage to do so because there isn’t anybody interested in what I do, even though it makes money! A company is supposed to be a team effort, and honestly would be much more fun and efficient if that was done. However, nobody has that passion, and being a teenager who has done this for half his life (yikes!) doesn’t help with finding people actually interested in developing with or maintaining a company about MediaWiki. Furthermore, the market is quite divided, with most people not even needing the services of MyWikis or they use a completely different wiki engine that isn’t remotely compatible, like TWiki or MoinMoin.

And that’s why I’m still a lonely programmer, just less lonely than before, and I grin. I’d love to be even less lonelier.

Five years of MyWikis: how I successfully founded and managed a business

InternetProgrammingSociety

On February 22, 2017, my company MyWikis will celebrate its fifth anniversary. While it is a small business, it has been a one-in-a-million experience that has positively changed my life immensely and forever. Part of its success lies behind passion, uniqueness, and quality that we give our customers. But the last element of success? Luck. This blog post reminisces what I did to get my company where it is today.

Ok, let’s go back to 2009. I can thank a good chunk of my passionately-accrued knowledge to Wikipedia. I read articles like they were movies, storing their information as either trivia or useful knowledge. It helped me find some of my passions.

But if you go on Wikipedia and scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll see a small image that says “Powered by MediaWiki.” Try clicking on it. One fateful day 6-7 years ago, I too clicked on that link. What I saw excited me: the ability to run my own wiki using the same software that powers Wikipedia. I love the concept of wikis.

At the same time, I liked to use the wikis on a website called Wikia. In 2010-2011, I contributed to quite a few of them, but their management made decisions that caused its entire community to go into an uproar. A few other wiki hosts popped up, and I started visiting them, but none satisfied me. I loathed all of them, especially Wikia. (Actually, I did help with one wiki host, but things went sour within months of their advent, so I was quite disappointed.)

I had been messing around with MediaWiki for a year now, and I was excited to implement real ones online. So I decided to create a wiki host based on these premises. Don’t be like Wikia (don’t screw over the community and make them hate you), host a safe haven for wikis, and don’t shut down like the others.

One night, I went on a walk with my dad and pitched this to him. He agreed to pay for the hosting costs and that was the day that MyWikis was born. (February 22, 2012. I was 11.)

I originally planned to have a wiki farm-style community. The wiki farm would have to be supported somehow, so I decided to go with donations. Then, I decided that donations didn’t make enough money, so we’d go with advertising. Turns out that didn’t work either. Those plans slowly faded from reality.

A year went by. The company was approached by another wiki farm and offered to merge with us. On principle, that sounded great. They were going to start a wiki farm-style community and had the wiki set up to accommodate it. I originally accepted, but I found they were in fact jerks and I couldn’t bear to work with them any further. (I sound like a child, but remember, I was 12 when this happened.) The experience left me scarred and distrustful of the wiki hosting industry. I did later approach another wiki host to collaborate business-wise, but they also had unbearable staff members that I refuse to collaborate with. It turns out that most people who manage things related to wikis are antisocial, heartless jerks. I might be included, in which case I apologize profusely 🙁 really sowwy, but I certainly can’t work with others like that.

(Digression: the one thing I did envy was that they had a team that worked on the wiki farm. I have been solo since day one.)

I was at rock bottom. I owed about $150 to my dad and we had to pay $130 for next year’s hosting again. The situation was dire. There were several corrections that I made so my business would turn around from our money-bleeding:

  • start charging for plans. While I never intended for MyWikis to be this way, it wouldn’t have worked any other way. It turns out this is the secret behind our business.
  • bought MyWikis.com. We started out with MyWikis.org but MyWikis.com was someone else’s. On August 19, 2013, I had finally been able to buy the .com domain. Since it boosted SEO, I immediately moved operations there.
  • distinguish ourselves from other wiki hosts. There are many free wiki hosts out there, so why would anybody pay for wiki hosting? I had to convince others why, and today, it’s pretty much a given that my company’s target audience will shell out money for their wiki hosting.
  • advertise and increase marketing. We had no money for buying ads, but there is a place to spread the word on MediaWiki.org. (it has a specific page dedicated to listing wiki hosting services) I also made efforts to increase the website’s SEO.

Adding explanations of our service and what it included has since attracted many clients. MyWikis now provides premium support to all of our clients. I use my MediaWiki experience to cater wikis to the client’s needs. Furthermore, there are two things free wiki farms do not offer:

  • privacy – companies need this. Many of our clients are companies needing a wiki for internal purposes. Other wiki hosts simply don’t offer the level of privacy we have. Furthermore, other wiki hosts don’t tailor wikis for our clients like we do.
  • VisualEditor – this is a big boon for our business. Our clients want it and so do we. MediaWiki is edited by wiki markup, by default. However, VisualEditor is a WYSIWYG editor that helps our clients edit their wikis effortlessly.

We adapted to what was needed. I still think it all worked out in the end because everything fit together perfectly, thanks to luck. The company’s focus wasn’t what I expected, but the unique combination of all of these traits makes MyWikis what it is today: successful.

Note that my age wasn’t really a big barrier. Just because it was unheard of for an 11 year old to create a wiki host didn’t stop me. I had the skills and that’s really all that matters. I’m 16, so I’m still a minor, and I’m celebrating my business’s 5th anniversary. That doesn’t sound normal, but it’s life and it is how it is.

I would like to thank everybody who helped my business and me these past five years. It has been a lovely experience that I wish to continue. I look forward to more years of success and serving customers, helping them with their every need and wish.

The next chapter involves getting involved with the law: incorporation. Oh boy. And I would love to hire some staff members to help me out. I’m still lonely and I appreciate the company. (Pun not intended.)


I don’t have any multi-person business experience yet, so I’ll get back to you when I have learned that stuff.


Someone once heard me introduce MyWikis and remarked “sometimes you wonder what you’re doing with your life when you see people like this.”

I just wanted to say that their job pays more than this company does, in any given time frame. This is a side job for me. Thank goodness I am financially supported.


I do wish to stress that this blog post is not a stereotypical generalized guide intended for you to follow along so you can create your business. While I want to help you, this isn’t the guide. I have helped one person with their business to, objectively speaking, little success.

Here’s some tips you might want to follow, but don’t blame me if this doesn’t work. And please don’t treat the below as a panacea. Unless it works really well, in which case I take back what I said and I want a cut of your profits.

Only start a business if you:

  1. are motivated by passion (not to pay tuition but passionate about what your business does)
  2. are very capable of managing money
  3. know your job well
  4. have principal capital to start it off with (covering initial expenditures)
  5. can devote lots of time to it
  6. know how you stack up against competitors
  7. have an idea on how to attract and keep customers
  8. know how to market your business’s products/services well (advertise and upsell)
  9. have problem solving skills and can adapt to new developments that your business may encounter
  10. are lucky and are ready to put everything you’ve got into it

A business is a major investment of your time. I only support entrepreneurs who have true passion, a vision, and a dream/goal. I’ve met many entrepreneurs, but I’ve only met one person who fulfills those three criteria. The rest are not doing it correctly or honestly, to be frank. Some are forcing it and that’s just awkward, deceptive, and won’t get them anywhere.

Also, I wish to point out that I didn’t read any wikiHow articles about creating a business or take an MIT Launch course on edX. I let my natural intuition and skills do all of the work. Forcing the skills won’t get you anywhere; they have to become second nature to you. Every single item on the list above must be second nature to you in order to have a successful business, and even then, success is not guaranteed. On the contrary, you don’t have to be perfect. There are many people more qualified than me to create a business, but they fail or don’t try because they either don’t want to or they don’t have that innate motivation needed to run a business. I learn as I go and that’s perfectly fine.

Oh, and one more thing. If you want to make your business to get rich or to earn money mundanely, then don’t try, because it’s fake effort, and that won’t cut it. Do what you love and do it well. That’s the mantra of successful business founders everywhere.

Realistic thoughts and practical insight on our incoming president and his policies

Society

As we approach Inauguration Day, the impending Trump administration dawns on us. I, for one, am not looking forward to the increased racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other hatred this man promotes. Just about everybody I have talked to, including Trump supporters, acknowledge that he is a terrible person.

But he is going to be our president. There is no more denying this fact. As much as we hope this isn’t coming true, it is coming true. We must therefore prepare for this regime switchover that happens every eight years in the United States of America. I will forewarn my readers: I have my opinions and I have my emotions associated with Trump. I’ll try my best to justify them, but you might not agree with them. Oh well, pure rationality is impossible, so I’ll try the best I can right now to give you my insight on him.

First off, the social aspect of Trump. This is where Obama shines (shined after he leaves office) but Trump completely fails at. The media, SNL, etc. poke fun at his Twitter account and associated tweets of horror, his fiery speeches leading to nowhere, his absurd claims, and his rampant encouragement of hatred. For the next four (or eight) years, expect nothing less than regression in general social etiquette. I hope gullible children do not seriously believe that Obama and Hillary Clinton were the actual founders of ISIS. I don’t wish to cover the obvious points any further, but I wonder if Trump intentionally manipulated and created the alt-right solely to get him elected. I have heard that he saw the resentment of many Americans. I’d like to add to that: he played the anger and won that way. It’s not like Hillary Clinton was any better: she is a liar but at least she gets things done and lies cleanly. I’m deeply saddened and heartbroken that Trump would do this, but considering neither candidate were exactly epitomes of morality, I have become desensitized at this point by the craziness of the election. I do believe Trump did one of two things:

  1. Played the alt-right so well that it got him elected. After he is elected, he will simply ignore their needs and do his liberal-conservative mashup agenda, à la Trump+GOP.
  2. Truly is hateful and believes in the alt-right cause so much that he will wreak havoc on the United States for years to come.

This election cycle, the Democrats played on the hatefulness and social instability that Trump brings. They weren’t wrong. I am personally concerned about my well-being. Perhaps I will be deported, even though I am a rightful citizen of the United States. Hope not.

But I have seen a lot of Democratic Party propaganda this election cycle. Now that news is getting less partisan than before, the focus returns on the other main aspect: the economy.

The economic aspect of Trump looks promising but also somewhat concerning. Most people who support him are excited that a successful businessman will be “fixing the economy.” Okay, first off, Obama did an okay job with the economy. He happened to ride on a wave that boosted the American economy from terrible to great. He cleaned up the mess that George W. Bush left us in. Saying that the economy is a wreck is mostly wrong. However, there are legitimate concerns that Trump supporters pose economically. The problem is, while these issues are legitimate, Trump’s ideas are radical, far-fetched, and if not implemented correctly, will ruin the United States economically for decades to come.

On the international level, Trump wants to repeal NAFTA (mainly because of how it links us with Mexico economically) and to impose tariffs solely on China. Both are made in response to the increased outsourcing of labor and primary/secondary economic activities to these countries, as well as the increased leverage this gives China on the global scale. While these concepts directly help the United States, they ultimately harm the US if not done correctly.

The new international division of labor now intricately binds the world economy together, caused by events such as the advent of the World Trade Organization (and China’s admission into it). The result? Outsourcing. (However, it is also important to note that automation is now increasingly replacing outsourcing anyway; regardless of where automation occurs, it always replaces human jobs.) This division is complex and hard to unwind. The intricacy of these arrangements has led to countries around the world becoming increasingly dependent on other countries, just as drug addicts become increasingly dependent on their drugs the more they use them.

Trump’s economic policies seem pro-American, but by returning the United States to isolationism, he could dig us into a very deep hole that we won’t be able to climb out of for several decades if he doesn’t pull this off correctly. If companies decide to continue their outsourcing and automation, there is only so much Trump can do. Commodity prices will rise, food may becoming increasingly expensive or even run out if we end NAFTA/let the drought in California continue. Trump needs to be careful with his every step if he really wants the US to become self-dependent.

I am doubtful that this will work. India previously was self-reliant and isolationist. In the late 80s, they gave up because their isolationist policies failed, so they opened up and now they do the same drug that all countries do, with China growing its opium and the US begging for more heroin. Someone once pointed to Germany as a good example of what was a well-structured economy; it has a healthy amount of workers in the primary and secondary economic sectors, while the US has too few in these two sectors. The result is that the US will collapse if we do not rectify the previous neglect of primary and secondary economic activities. While the United States is a developed country and can subsequently allow for a lower proportion of its population to be in the primary and secondary sectors, it does need to place more focus on keeping these sectors alive. 75% of the labor force in the tertiary sector is a bit concerning. We have outsourced too much of our primary sector to Mexico and too much of our secondary sector to China, resulting in our addiction to marijuana and opium. Trump needs to fix this more so than just gutting NAFTA and imposing tariffs on Chinese imports; those are supposed to be the beginning. If this is fixed, the out-of-work secondary sector will find jobs again (unless they are ousted by automation, in which case Trump faces the dilemma of technological progression vs. maintaining archaic divisions of labor). We need to see more rectifying actions by Trump in order to feel safe about his attempt to quit these addictions to marijuana and opium. As for the German example, I must hesitate to applaud it. Although they seemingly have a healthier ratio of the labor force in their primary and secondary sector compared to their tertiary and quaternary sector, their heavy integration into the European Union economy effectively stymies any argument that more primary and secondary economic activities are needed for isolationism, as Germany is the opposite of isolationist. I would like to further investigate Germany’s economy, however.

On the domestic level, Trump, if successful, will “bring jobs back to America” by reinstating archaic economic activities (manufacturing). While we should probably keep a solid foundation to prevent the house from crumbling onto the floor, there is no way to build another floor upward (of the quaternary/high-tech sector) if we devote too much of resources to continually building a foundation. There needs to be a balance. Some manufacturing jobs need to be brought back to the United States, but we cannot continue to let the coal-mining jobs of West Virginia keep us back in the nineteenth century. It is time to move on. Trump needs to find these coal miners a new job. I hate to say it, but coal mining is past its time and we need to move to clean energy. We just need to find these people a new job.

The remaining parts of this post, in an effort to hasten my completion of this long, confusing post, will be short and disjointed.

As a businessperson, it seems that Trump’s new tax plan will save taxpayers lots of money. Our family will see savings. Yours will too. However, it also potentially makes incorporating my business unnecessary. I am looking forward/hoping that Trump will introduce pro-business plans, but inside, at the same time, I think of the money that we save from his tax cuts. If we didn’t cut taxes and instead diverted the money to a free college education, the monetary loss would be significant but the monetary burdens would be significantly decreased. I will continue to monitor the difference between government interference and personal monetary management as my life progresses. We might want to follow Germany’s college for the smarts, technical school for the capable ideology. Perhaps college for all is not such a great idea. But government interference ensures no rich people (Trump included) manipulate poor people through all of this “monetary freedom.” As you know, too much power on one side leads to abuse and tyranny. Too much power in the government’s hand and we have an autocracy. Too much power in the rich’s hands and we have a plutocracy. Hmm.

The Trump administration has also proposed to upgrade the US’s infrastructure. I applaud that, but I bet it’s going to be done the austerity way, just like the Republicans like it: private financing and whatever. Ugh. I remember the stimulus plans that Obama had given in ’09 quite fondly. I have still yet to see which will work better.

I’ll probably cover foreign policy later. Yes, he’s “cozy” with Putin, but we have yet to see what foreign policy under the Trump administration will look like.