Interview with Daniel Murdoch - Creator of MyTopix

Discussion in 'Interviews' started by The Sandman, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. The Sandman

    The Sandman Administrator

    Daniel Wilhelm II Murdoch, AKA cyberxtreme org, is the creator of MyTopix Personal Message Board software. MyTopix is a free forum software solution based on keeping the code clean and simple. Let's see what else we can find out about Daniel and MyTopix.


    Can you give us a brief bio?

    Well, my full name is Daniel Wilhelm II Murdoch. I’m 24 years old and currently reside in Illinois (USA). I was born in the small (at the time) village of Minden, Germany.

    When I was 4, my mom met my step dad who was in the USAF. They got married a year later and we got stationed in the US. I’ve bounced back and forth to Germany a few times, but hope to someday return for good. I still hold a German citizenship, but I don’t see myself letting go of that for quite some time, if ever.

    Besides, since 9/11 the paperwork involved in the naturalization process has increased 1000 fold. I HATE paperwork, so it kinda works out for me.

    What is your educational background?

    Not much to say here except that I graduated from the class of 2000 at HS. I’ve never wanted to go to college because, to be honest, I feel that it’s only purpose is to show any future employer that you can put up with bullsh_t; a lot of it. Most of you people would disagree, especially those of you who are attending college, but ask just about anyone who has a BA or MA on my team and they’ll agree.

    I do currently hold an A+ certification and have enrolled myself in an accelerated program that will get me my Network+, Security+, Linux+ and MCSE certifications within the year. After this I will pursue my MCDBA.

    What do you consider as your accomplishments up to this point?

    Aside from my job I’m very proud of and thankful for, programming accomplishments and client work, I’d have to say my marriage of 6 years.

    Any failures you'd like to tell us about?

    Sure! My marriage.

    What are your favorite books? Movies? TV shows? Music? Games? Foods? Beverages?

    Books: Bible (King James Version), my Strong’s Analytical Concordance, my book on Asian orientalisms and anything by Tom Clancy, Tolkien and Terry Brooks. Can’t think of much else although I like almost every book I’ve ever read.

    Moves: Last Man Standing, The Fifth Element, Fight Club, The Professional, Sin City, Shaun of the Dead and a few others.

    TV Shows: Stargate SG-1 (I own all the DVDs), Stargate Atlantis, Deep Space Nine, the Robotech series, Jackass, Viva La Bam.

    Music: Electronica… that is all.

    Food: I’m pretty open about this one. I’ll try anything at least once; anything within reason that is. Can’t really tell ya, I like lots of different foods. American food the least, though.

    Beverages: I have a rekindled love for Coffee. I love juice and water. I’ll drink whole cartons of egg nog.

    Oh yeah, I’m into most types of liquors, but my drink of choice is some good’ole homemade Kentucky applemash moonshine. When I lived in Ohio, I made a few trips to Kentucky just to get a gallon or two for $50 a pop. We’d drive up to this trailer park, go into this one ‘store’ and ask the guy if he sold any alcohol. He’d say ‘no’ at which point I’d throw down my money and hear him say ‘I’mmuh gon git ma good stuff’. Very deliverance-esque at times, but well worth it.

    What do you do for fun and relaxation?

    As of late, I haven’t had much time for either, but when I do you’ll usually find me lifting, programming, watching a movie while drinking some cold ones or listening to my favorite DJ’s.

    What is your fulltime job?

    I am currently working in the web content management division at State Farm’s world headquarters as a technical analyst. My job is to help manage and administer the corporation’s primary web server farm and Stellent content management system. I also assist in the management and execution of our disaster recovery plans as well as local and geographical failovers. It’s fun stuff, but also big responsibility.

    What exactly is Jaia Interactive?

    Well, at the moment it’s just a website with a static main page. Within the next few months, though, I’ll be putting into place our new in-house content management system. I’ll also be registering Jaia as a business and will begin the process of putting a licensing scheme into place for our future products.

    Once all this is done I hope for Jaia to become a successful online business venture that provides quality content delivery solutions for anyone. We’ll see what happens in the coming year.

    Free time is harder and harder to come by right now due to some personal issues I have to deal with right now, but I don’t see this being a problem for long.

    Please tell us about MyTopix in some detail:

    --What is your design philosophy for bulletin board software?

    Well, my design philosophy has somewhat evolved over the years, but I pretty much feel the most important aspect of software design is what’s under the hood. Keeping code reusable, documented and CLEAN is extremely important. You saw a bit of that in the current build of MyTopix, but even more so in the next. I’m sure most people will be impressed.

    --Can you give us a brief history of MyTopix?

    It started out as a simple topic display, but eventually moved on to include multi-forum support with a pretty solid permissions system. The MyTopix of now, looks a lot different than the MyTopix of then. A lot of people have been disappointed by this move, but most welcomed the change.

    I’m fixing to release a long overdue maintenance build that will include fixes for all reported bugs, a completely redesigned codebase that I’m sure will make modders wet themselves and a brand spankin new skin from James Mathias of Onelotus Creative fame. For those of you who don’t know, he’s the guy who designed IPB’s skin.

    MyTopix is also, and always will be, a completely free forum solution. Do not confuse the word free with ‘open source’ or ‘creative commons’. You can use it as much as you like as long as you follow it’s usage guidelines. The only time MyTopix will cost you money is when you want professional support.

    --What is the basic archetecture?

    It primarily is built using the MVC pattern and is 100% OOP-based. The framework is easy to work with and was well-designed at the time it was written.

    --How long has it been around?

    Over a year at least, I think. I’unno.

    --What are the main features?

    Well, it has this cool feature that let’s people ‘post’ stuff in things called ‘topics’. These ‘topics’ are organized within something I like to call a ‘forum’. Very neat, bleeding-edge stuff.

    --Tell us about the user interface.

    Not much to say here except I designed it in an awful hurry. I’d say you either love it or you hate it. I think I hate it even if it’s easy for me to navigate around.

    --How does it compare to the other forum software currently available?

    I think it is at least somewhat on par with PhpBB at the time it was originally released.

    --What's next in the development of MyTopix?

    A better designed UI thanks to Onelotus. A new, rock-solid framework that will make the package much more accessible and easier to use for modders. A completely XML and XSL-based method of display, which should provide an unprecedented amount of design flexibility. Just wait and see, I’m sure you’ll like.

    Who else is on the Jaia / MyTopix Team?

    There’s this one guy, I think his name is Gene or something.

    What other projects and/or ventures are you involved in?

    I’m involved in a few client projects at the moment, but there is also another jaia-based application in the middle of development. I’m guessing it will be entering it’s beta stages soon after the next release of MyTopix.

    What is your ultimate professional goal, your dream job?

    My ultimate goal is financial independence. I’d love for Jaia to one day be a successfully money-making endeavor so I could finally just sit back and take a breather for once.

    Until this happens, I’m perfectly happy where I am in life right now; professionally speaking, of course.

    How did you get involved in coding?

    I remember seeing this one webpage that did some really neat stuff. I can’t remember what the website was or what was so cool about it, I think I was pretty drunk when I found it, but it was obviously cool enough, at the time, to get me interested in PHP programming. Yeah, so you guys can blame whomever the web dev was.

    Describe your typical workday schedule.

    Well, I get up at 4:30 in the morning, get ready for work and leave by 5:30. I drive an hour to work and clock in at 6:30. I leave work at 3pm and drive an hour back home, get changed and arrive in class by 6. I get out of class at 10pm and get to bed by 11. Repeat pattern 5 days a week.


    What advice can you give people just getting into programming?

    RTFM and don’t be afraid to ask questions, so long as the questions can’t be answered by RTFM.

    When you develop forum software are you designing it for yourself or for the endusers?


    How do you feel when you publicly release your software?

    I get the overwhelming feeling that someone, somehow, will try to screw me.

    If you were going to start a new forum community using existing software (which you didn't write yourself) which product would you choose, and why?

    Definitely Punbb. I don’t think it’s coded that well and it’s a bit disappointing that it lacks an embedded skinning system. But these shortcomings almost disappear when using the software; it’s very simple, well-designed and thought out and to the point. Good job Rickard!

    What future changes do you expect in forum software development?

    It’ll become increasingly bloated.

    I’m sure people will someday realize that they don’t need all this crazy functionality out of the box and software development will begin to revolve around the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) method.

    Really, though, it’s starting to get sad. It seems a lot of developers are concentrating more on pleasing EVERYONE rather than a single major group of users. Keep the package as a whole simple and give your code base the extensibility for users and modders to create their own features that are tailor-made to their needs.

    What is your opinion on the open source vs proprietary software debate in general? What about forum software specifically?

    They both have their pros and cons. Open source is free, but lacks, in most cases, professional support an enterprise can depend on. Paid for solutions cost money, but you usually get quality support along with it. The latter is what companies use to make their decisions when it comes to choosing a solution that’s right for them.

    How do you see the internet in general changing over the next 5 to 10 years? What about online communities in particular?

    Well, I’m no fortune teller, but I’d have to say the internet and online communities will be NOTHING like they are today.

    Which online communities do you enjoy as a member?

    Somethingleet, although I haven’t posted there in a long time, and Tribalwar. Tribalwar was actually the first community I ever registered with. I’d also mention TFI, but you only asked for communities I enjoy.

    How many forums do you administrate?

    Just one at the moment.

    Tell us about the Jaia Community.

    It’s filled with a pretty good group of people. Some are annoying, some are elitists, some are hilarious in their own special ways, but all of them very helpful and friendly. Overall, I’d say I love my community and it’s pretty typical in a lot of ways.

    It may be somewhat small, but it’s very tightly knit.

    How would you describe your moderation style?

    Well, at first I was pretty hard headed about the whole ‘keeping it professional’ thing. After all, it is the site’s support forums, so I have to draw the line somewhere. I’ve become pretty lax lately on a lot of the rules that’ve been set in place.

    Once Jaia is up on it’s own feet, I plan on moving the community aspect of the support forums to their own location. From there anything goes.

    What are the most common technical mistakes you see new admins making?

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘technical’, but I’d have to say that if they think they’ve found an issue with the software they’re using, they NEED to review the documentation first. Make sure you’re using a feature correctly.

    Also, if you’re reporting a potential bug, please don’t be so vague about it. “ZZZZZOMG teh feeture ____ si borkened. Halp me intarnets!11” just doesn’t cut it with me and you WILL be ignored. Lastly, ffs use the SEARCH feature to see if the issue has already been posted about; it’s been programmed for a reason.

    What are the most common administrative mistakes you see new admins making?

    Expecting a sudden surge of new members and content as soon as you add a forum to your website. These things take time. Don’t set up 100 forums when people only post in one or two. And, if that’s the case, perhaps you should consider something OTHER THAN a discussion board.

    What are your thoughts on blogs in general? Will blogging become more popular or will it fade away? Do you have a blog?

    Well, blogs are nothing new, but they’re a great way to share information and get a dynamic, content-driven website up quickly. I frequent a good amount of technical blogs, but I’d have to say most blogs are pure emo crap.

    Blogs, like just about anything else on the internet, are used to distribute information, so they’ll always be around in one form or another. I’m pretty sure that 5 or 10 years from now, what we consider a blog today will be much different then.

    No, I currently do not run a blog, but you can expect one cumming from me quite soon. Keep an eye out for The Drunken Epic.

    What do you know now that you wish you'd known 10 years ago?

    Not to marry the girl I just then started dating.

    Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.

    I am known to bring the funny. Especially when I cast +10 drunkeness on yo ass, son.

    What does the future hold for Daniel Murdoch?

    Lots of money and lots of poon. HAH HAA EL OH EL!!111
  2. rex_b

    rex_b Fanatic

    Now this is an average Joe!

    Bwhahaa Kept me laughing the whole interview!

    The last 2 questions were setups!
  3. KeithMcL

    KeithMcL Freelance Web Designer

  4. Jorrit787

    Jorrit787 Fan

    Is that a joke? :rolleyes:
  5. RogueFoxx

    RogueFoxx Neophyte


    Nice interview Daniel, I enjoy your consistancy of keeping it real, fo realz doh!
  6. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

    Yeah, cool interview. This guy is down to Earth.. Very cool..
  7. Jorrit787

    Jorrit787 Fan

    Too bad. I was hoping for a certain degree of professionalism.
  8. RogueFoxx

    RogueFoxx Neophyte

    Daniel is very professional when he needs to be. There is another man behind MyTopix by the name of Gene Shepherd. Just because he may make a joke or two doesn't make him any less professional sir.
  9. HellRaiseR

    HellRaiseR Adherent

    I must say, I just installed MyTopix just now and it's a great forum so far. Too bad there are only.... 2 skins on the net for it :(
  10. RogueFoxx

    RogueFoxx Neophyte

    There will be many more skins released after the release of the next version I'm sure. MyTopix is undergoing alot of changes including a new skinning engine, so skinning has been discouraged until the next release. If you like this version, I'm sure you'll love the next one!
  11. jappyx

    jappyx Forumsta

    Very nice interview. Well done. :)
  12. 010081

    010081 Enthusiast

    nice interview, i love visiting mytopix, great work Daniel Murdoch..
  13. Joshie

    Joshie Adherent

    That just made me laugh. Haha.
  14. jackob2916

    jackob2916 Aspirant

    Yeah Roguefoxx you are right m impressed with consistancy..
  15. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Fanatic

  16. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Fanatic

    Probably not, the official sites seem to be long gone.

    However, I did find this (a possible github thing for the source code):

    And some sort of free hosting like site might have been running it here:

    Presumably that never exactly caught on, given how inactive its sites are.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Skyline_GTR

    Skyline_GTR Aspirant