DIT Application

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Hey Ilana!

Just wanted to pass on my application..

1) Please explain any relevant experience you have had with programming and web design.

I wrote my first C++ program in 1995, and since then have written other programs in C/C++, PHP/MySQL, Perl, Java/Javascript, and made numerous shell scripts to simplify my life. Of these languages, I am capable with most and very proficient with PHP/MySQL.

I have been a Linux user for ~ 10 years, other *nix flavours for longer, and have extensive experience using and maintaining Windows, *nix and Mac systems (though not very much OSX experience).

Starting around 1995 or 96, I worked for several dotcom companies doing graphics and web design, where I gained extensive experience in 3dsmax, photoshop and various HTML editors. During this time, I also worked on system security, and provided consulting to midsized startups about securing their networks and systems.

As a natural evolution of my knowledge and involvement with linux systems as they became the de facto standard in servers, I began to administer and secure a few servers, though my studies have now relegated me to administering only a few.

During my undergraduate studies, I did more security work for Dalhousie University clubs, and wrote tutorials on the usage of various programs and equipment (see http://is2.dal.ca/~uns/tutorials.html ).

Since graduating from my undergraduate studies, I have spent most of my e-time working on or around issues of social justice, and am currently working on collaboration tools that facilitate various interactions between social justice activists.

2) Provide examples of previous work and addresses for websites you may have designed (if applicable).

From newest to oldest:

http://tarek.2y.net/wiki - Wikipedia-style wiki

http://revolution.2y.net/justin/PHPnuke/html/ - En Camino project; still in beta; expected launch in fall of 2004

http://knowledge.2y.net/ - Schulich petition and information site; constructed in PHP/MySQL; now essentially deprecated.

http://revolution.2y.net/ - Online Activist Framework; heavily PHP and uses a Content Management System (PHPNuke); in beta stage development.

https://freedom.2y.net/m2007/ - Electronic chatbook made in MySQL/PHP; deprecated but open sourced.

http://tarek.2y.net/palestine/ - Legacy site of journal entries; has PHP/MySQL coding and dynamic updating capabilities.

http://freedom.2y.net/ - Peace movement in London site; also uses PHP/MySQL

http://freedom.2y.net/oldprotest/ - Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine site; timed purpose and now deprecated

http://is2.dal.ca/~uns/ - Undergraduate neuroscience society; Original design and content, but modified in the previous few years.

http://tarek.2y.net/msa/ - Dalhousie Muslim Student Association

http://tarek.2y.net/pot/ - Project on the Psychology of taste

http://tarek.2y.net/2000/ - organized notes and tutorials

http://www.napster.com (unavailable; designed the first site and early advertising campaign: http://tarek.2y.net/napster/ )

http://www.backgammon.net - Logo design (1998)

http://www.eplay.net - made logo; no longer active (1997); see http://web.archive.org/web/19990421033603/http://www.eplay.net/

http://www.kenny.nb.ca - real estate agent; has been since remade several times by others.

http://www.chess.net - Chess.net; modified version now online; designed logo and most of the architecture in 1996-1999

3) Outline any relevant employment experiences you may have had.

Is this really necessary? In essence, worked for several companies designing webpages; for other companies doing graphics; for a few others doing security; worked this whole time doing computer repairs for a non-profit; made tutorials for school; now a full-time web-designer for social justice activists (when not a full-time student).

4) What ideas and vision do you have for the D.I.T. position and possible projects you want to undertake?

I'm not very familiar with the current D.I.T. position's changeover regimen, but I am relatively sure that it suffers from the same problems that most such positions would suffer from. Namely, changeover is very difficult, and the position becomes contingent on people, not the structure. So, one goal would be to thoroughly document everything done, and create an infrastructure that is conducive to progress despite potential lack of specialized skill in the future.

So, the main project would be a thorough documentation.

Also, I believe that the chosen model that UWOMeds.com has taken - a slash-style Content Management System - is not necessarily the best choice for distributing information in the several contexts in which UWO Meds should operate, so a goal would be to optimize the way in which the information is delivered. Needless to say, such an effort would be contingent on student adoption, so it would not be hasty, and would involve lots of student input, maybe even before the year is out.

So, another project would be to rehaul the current uwomeds.com infrastructure under the guidance of students.

5) What strategies can you think of to motivate student use of the uwomeds.com Website and Forums?

Forums are for a certain breed of students, email for other breeds, and websites for yet others. I do not think it necessary to "motivate student use of Forums" as such a thing is tantamount to trying to "motivate public use of Buses". Don't get me wrong. I love buses, but there are many reasons why people may feel more comfortable in one medium or the other.

So, I think this directive is somewhat misguided. The really serious problem is the seeming insistence or inability to move to a managed mailing list system. I have administered many mailing lists in the past through a program named mailman (open source), and have found great success in this. The trouble is when students are essentially forced to witness communications that they can't bear to witness. So, a few ideas to make peoples' lives simpler:

1. Kill the current .forward system being used on all the meds lists (i.e., forwarding all emails as is unfiltered)

2. Implement a moderated email list to which everybody is subscribed and nobody can unsubscribe (official announcement purposes).

3. Implement several email lists such as meds2007-bullshit or meds2007-academic, where people can discuss whatever bullshit they want, and students *can* opt out. Each of these lists could have a nice little statement saying what it's for, and I am relatively confident based on previous experience that people would adhere to the statements of purpose, especially when they have alternative forums..

4. Optimize the forums. OK, obviously the forums have issues (password mismatches are one example). Some people use them; others who want to don't. This can be attributed to a whole host of things, but the fact is that we don't *know* what these things are because it doesn't seem like there's a system for students to express their technical frustrations or feedback.

As for the UWOmeds.com website, as discussed in the previous question, I think the core issue here is one of mismatch -- the site is mismatched to the needs of students. Nothing is really centralized, so students feel no compulsion to go on any regular basis, which decreases announcement postings and the like, which cycles back to a decrease in usage, and so on. So, making everything as simple as possible, and giving UWOMeds a cleaner look might aid this situation.

6) Damn, you talk a lot. Is there something else you want to say?

Actually, yes. I just wanted to overtly state my ideological support for open source software and the open source process. This means that all source-code written would be released into the public domain under the GNU Public License (GPL), in contrast to the usual way of doing these things, which is to lock up the source code. I believe that participating in the open source community protects programs and designs against even sophisticated security attacks, and allows the program to continue to develop even if there is no person within the small med-school community who has the willingness or know-how to develop it.. An example of how the open source process can advance programs is that if an electronic chatbook (a la https://freedom.2y.net/m2007 ) were to be released, then another school or class or project could use it, spending time streamlining it or making it more effective. This would in turn benefit us in that, without our own effort, the program has grown or improved in ways that we potentially did not imagine.

Also, I wanted to mention my time constraints. I will be largely unable to participate in the creation of this site from 15 June - 15ish August, since I will be away for the summer and probably unable to easily use the internet. I don't consider this to be an overly large problem, since the average time for assembly and deployment is not usually large, and so long as information transfer and a todo list is timely, then most headaches can be avoided. This may, however, be a problem for the O-Week thing, but again I anticipate not.