Interview: Logician [vBulletin.org]

By The Sandman · Jul 20, 2004 ·
  1. The Sandman
    The Admin Zone is very proud to have Sinan (AKA Logician) as our Technical Administrator, and we were very excited when he agreed to take the time to answer our interview questions. Among other things, Logician is an Administrator at vBulletin.org and the highly respected creator of many excellent code modifications. And did I mention his law practice and the hundreds (!) of websites he installs/maintains/modifies as a consultant? Let's find out some more about him!

    > Please share with us some details about your personal life, family and home.

    I'm 33 years old, male, married, no kids, no pets, with a lot of computers which replace kids & pets.

    > What is your educational background?

    I graduated from law school in 1993, and received a Master in Law degree (LL.M) in 2002. I earned a Computer Programmer's license in 1991 and became MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) and MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator) in 2001.

    > Tell us about your involvement in the legal profession.

    I have (had?) been working as an "Attorney at Law" since 1994.

    > What about computers and technology?

    My involvement with Information Technologies predates my background in law. Everything started with a Commodore 64 when I was 14 and at 15 I was coding in C64 Basic and Assembly, trying to translate games, trying to code my own games (without success), and develop my own "computer coding language" (again without success but was a good try! lol). Next I have upgraded to an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 1200 and I've used all kind of PCs since 8088 times. When I was in law school I was also developing professional programs in Pascal and C and I became a computer programmer before I became a lawyer. When I graduated from law school, my computer craving (and career) stayed dormant for a couple of years and I was fully involved in the legal business.

    But in 1998 I decided that what I really wanted and should do was coding, not spending my life in courthouses. A career change (and such a radical one at that) was not easy but I was determined. And it didn't occur in one day. I kept working as an attorney and in my free time I began to develop small IT projects to refresh my old IT background. I worked hard to learn new technologies and became MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) and MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator). I established a web design company and got into the web developing business. This led me to PHP and internet related development business. The coding projects I shouldered became larger and more serious and I began to spend less time in my law office. Everyone in my family is a lawyer so they are doing just fine even if I don't go to the office and this is the little secret of my long away time from the practice! ;-)

    For a couple of years I did legal work and coding work together. Then I started pushing the law business away and I concentrated more on coding. This is what I'm doing at the moment. When someone asks my profession, it is still hard for me to answer. Law is my primary education and I pursued a law career for 10 years and it is still taking up some time of my life, but frankly speaking I don't consider myself as a lawyer anymore. My love for computers overtook me and I'm now proud to call myself as "Coder" even if I still go to my law office for a few days in a week.

    > Describe a typical workday/week.

    Good question to understand my complex career better! ^^

    Well it depends on my schedule in my computer work and legal work. But considering the fact that most of my work is programming nowadays, I spend most of my time in front of the computer screen. If it is not a law office day for me (which is usually 2 days a week), I get up late. I check my emails, check what's going on in vB.org and in my own site for 1-2 hours, then get into my coding projects of my clients. After a 2-3 hour coding session, I give a break in the afternoon and usually go to swimming for a few hours to relax. After I'm back, I have another 2-3 hour coding session, then another break for dinner and some rest. The most active and busy time of my day usually starts at 8-9 PM local time. This is because most of my clients are in the USA and 9 PM my time is the US's work time so most of my clients go online at this time, and they want me online for project installations, chat discussions etc. Therefore I'm usually up and working until 1-2 AM (my time) most of days which is not very easy. If it is a day which I attend to my law office, it is usually even worse - I need to get up earlier (which is hard since I slept late one night ago) and after I'm back home in the evening, I have more piled up coding work/emails to deal with so I have to work harder on those days.

    So take my advice and don't ever have 2 careers! :)) Hopefully I'll dump my law career altogether within the current year so that I'll be a bit more relaxed in my daily program with my coding work.

    > How did you become involved in code modifications for vBulletin?
    For my own site's needs. I had purchased vBulletin for my small law site. But unlike other admins, I had to put more effort into my Forum. First I needed to translate vBulletin as my users can not speak English and second I wanted to make its features simpler in many aspects since most lawmen are computer illiterates (at least they were so once when I established my vBulletin Forum). So this led me to world of vBulletin hacking and inevitably to vBulletin.org. I was already familiar with PHP and internet technologies but vBulletin was a very large and sophisticated piece of software even for a professional coder. In this phase vBulletin.org helped me a lot and became my second home. I've learned a lot about vBulletin's algorithms & structure from released hacks and prominent hackers of these days. I wanted to share what I learned with this great Community so began to release hacks which I had developed for my own Forum. People liked them and this encouraged me to release more of these hacks although it is usually tiresome for me to release hacks (because I need to translate them into English, check in test boards to make sure they are bugless, write installation instructions for them, help people who are having problems etc.). I have developed literally hundreds of vBulletin hacks/projects. Obviously it was not possible to release all of them, but still I believe I have released a lot of hacks in vB.org. At one time I was very active in the "Hack Requests" Forum of vB.org helping to provide people with the code hacks they needed.

    > How has the internet changed in the last 10 years?

    Who knew about the internet 10 years ago, and who does not know it now? I think this answers the question quite well. :)

    > What changes do you predict over the next 10 years?
    I think the answer above also answers this question: It will diffuse more to our lives. I also believe that the internet will be separated from the current concept of a "computer". Or, in other words, computers will develop into other forms, moving the internet (or the communication network of the future) into these forms too. For instance mobile communication will develop quite a bit, and broadband will increase dramatically so access to every kind of data and world wide networks would be much easier, faster - a part of daily life even without the need to use the bulky machines we call computers nowadays.

    > How have online Communities evolved? Are they important?
    May I repeat my answer in TAZ's "About Us" page:

    Online communities are one of the most important assets of the internet due to their very rich content. They gather experts in one place for a dedicated subject and in time members' contributions compile and build the richest library on this subject. Online Communities are richer in content than regular web pages because the information flows from hundreds, even thousands of members who focus on the very subject and their structure is very dynamic due to rapid update rate. No other information technologies can assure such a dynamic and large content for a specific subject.

    I have followed the concept of online communities since they appeared with BBS networks. They were the first online communities which paved the way for today's very large Forums. The most important characteristics of change are their becoming larger and more popular everyday.

    > How did you become Administrator of vBulletin.org?
    I've always enjoyed hacking vBulletin which led me to release many hacks in vBulletin.org. I was so active in vB.org (especially in hack requests Forum) that I was asked to be the Moderator of that Forum first. Then Erwin had to leave his administrator position in vB.org because of starting to a law career so I filled in his gap as someone who is trying to end the very same career. :))

    Stefan (Xenon) and Chen (Firefly) asked me to become an administrator in vB.org and this invitation honored me. Frankly speaking being a vB.org admin is a burden for me. I already have a very busy schedule and a lot of time commitment to the internet (let alone my law work) so trying to spend more time for vB.org as a hobby is not easy. But my dedication to vB.org and the vB world is so great that I consider this position as an honor and I do my best to cover it as best I can. As a matter of fact it is really an important position - VBulletin is by far the best and largest Forum software on the internet and vBulletin.org is by far the largest hacking community among any Forum software ever written. To know that you contribute to this world and be a part of the team that makes it Number 1 is really something!

    > How has vBulletin.org changed in recent months, and what's next?
    Has it changed? VB.org is always same to me but I may be prejudiced due to my addiction to this community. I think it is an incredible community considering the fact that it is shouldered by volunteers. Not only are it’s staffers volunteers who dedicate most of its time to this site with loyalty but more importantly the hackers who release their valuable codes which creates this very community do so without commercial intentions. We have literally thousands of hacks in our database. Some of them are so advanced that they can easily be a match for professional scripts (some are even better than professional applications) but they are 100% free for all our members. We owe this to our members who are kind enough to share their work with the rest of the community. So what's next? To keep vB.org Number 1, as always!

    > How would you describe your Moderation style? I always try to be courteous, moderate and diplomatic in my moderation messages. I have zero tolerance for rule breaks (I guess because of my legal background) but even if I interfere with such posts, I try to relax people with my style while doing so. I worked as a Microsoft Zone Sysop in zone.com for 2 years and attended on a lot of intense training sessions about chat moderation and customer relationships so I think I own my moderation style to my sysoping experience with Microsoft.

    I'm much more patient in my vB.org moderation. This is because all vB.org members are fellow admins like us so I always believed that vB.org and vB.com staff are the luckiest staff ever, since they deal with people who are aware of everything about communicating in a Forum. What can you ask as a Moderator more than members all of which are also admins and moderators of other communities? It is like every Forum of vB.org is a "Private Moderator Forum". So IMO moderation in vB.org is piece of cake for anyone provided that you be careful with what you say and be courteous in your posts.

    > What are the common mistakes you see Forum Administrators making?
    1. They want everything second day they installed their Forums. Installing Forum software does not instantly give you a "community". A lot of patience, hard work and time does.
    2. They tend to be trigger-happy in using administrative tools as they like to play God in their Forum. This approach deserts a community real fast. A good admin/mod should be understanding, friendly, caring, fair, warm, easy going. One should always think twice while using administrative tools. This will increase the speed of a community building real fast.
    3. They can not easily see and evaluate which members are the key to their community. In many communities there are people who always ask and go away when they got their answer and people who constantly answer them and provide the real content. Latter is the key to the success of your community so a good administration should indulge them appropriately to keep them in the Forum.
    4. They tend to restrict the whole content of their site to members/paying users, giving guests nothing but a register link. This drives potential new members away because no one joins to a new site before making sure it has something to offer.
    5. They are in rush to turn the community into cash. A community will not make any money before you make it really big and rich in content.
    An online community is like a flower: If you don't take care of it with care and constant patience, it will wither away in no time.

    > What are your suggestions for Admins who wants to get started doing code modifications themselves?

    My first suggestion would be installing a test board (preferably on their local computer). This is easier than they would have thought and it will give them freedom to play with code modifications without bothering the real board. A basic PHP/HTML knowledge may not be needed to install basic hacks but it will be most helpful if you are heavily involved in hacking. And finally I'd suggest that they feel at ease hacking their boards. I know that many members are afraid to play with their Forum and I may be biased about this issue due to my addiction to hacking - I always feel that hacking renders a site different and unique than tens of thousands other sites which uses the same software so IMO customization is an important part of website development.

    > Which Forums do you visit for fun and relaxation?
    Frankly speaking none! My business demands me to spend most of my time in Forums and internet sites. I am an admin in literally hundreds of sites and I visit a lot of of them everyday as a part of my business. So I really have no taste to visit more Forums for fun and relaxation anymore after a long work day (which usually ends at midnight my local time). Relaxation usually means being away from the internet and any kind of Forums to me. But I guess my visits to vB.org and my own humble site can be counted as "fun visits" as my positions in both are not part of my business but just a hobby.

    > What do you do offline in your spare time?
    I used to spend my spare time with my computer (when I was more of a lawyer, than a coder). I love to play strategy, RPG, puzzle/logic computer games and I consider(ed) myself an expert on these games too ;-). (This fascination is the root of my nickname "Logician"). But as I mentioned before, I don't want to see computers in my spare time anymore after I began to spend more time as a coder. Computer programming is passive work which you spent hours looking at a computer screen without moving anything but your fingers. So I don't like to get involved in more passive activities in my spare time anymore (like watching TV, reading books, listening to music etc.). Therefore I try to spend my spare time trying to relax - I like swimming, going outside, make social visits etc.

    > Tell us something about you that we don't already know.
    I have a great admiration for Singapore and Singaporeans. I'm not a Singaporean, nor do I live there but that tiny country's achievements fascinated me after I made a short visit there, and so I became a big fan of Singapore. If I had a chance, I would migrate there. I bet this is something you didn't know and maybe even didn't care to know but you asked for it. :)

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