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Volume 20, No.2

Internet Updates

Bob Hoekstra

Most regular Vector readers have probably seen, or are at least aware of, the Vector website. However, there are other interesting developments that are not so well known but might be of interest to the readers.

New Webmaster and Vector Website Move

The previous issue of Vector announced that I had become the new webmaster, Ray Cannon taking a well-earned rest. We thank him for years of hard work in this area. This change coincides with the website move to a new hosting arrangement. While this should, in itself, cause little change to the average browser (that’s you sitting at your PC) it has provided the BAA with (i) cost savings, (ii) total control of the vector.org domain and (iii) the opportunity to have multiple websites under this domain.

The Vector Wiki

The last two points mentioned above paved the way for a (semi) permanent wiki at http://wiki.vector.org.uk/. A wiki has been running on a trial basis, hosted on the servers at Causeway. Now the wiki is quite likely to become a permanent part of our arsenal in promoting APL and related languages to the world at large.

What is a Wiki?

In recent times the WikiWikiWeb has become almost a phenomenon. There is little clarity about what it really is. To quote from http://c2.com/cgi/wiki (a web page that deserves reading):

The concepts behind “Wiki” may seem strange at first. Wiki is a composition system, it’s a discussion medium, it’s a repository, it’s a mail system, it’s a chat room, it’s a tool for collaboration. Really, we don’t know quite what it is, but try it and explore its links - it’s a fun way to communicate.

On a more practical level, a wiki is a basic website that everyone can edit and add to very easily. Anybody can insert their views and insights, or alter and/or remove those of others. It sounds chaotic, yet it seems to work rather well. The most amazing thing is that it is so easy. You are encouraged to take part by pointing your browser at http://wiki.vector.org.uk/, then select the WelcomeVisitors link. Some way down the page you will find links to StyleGuide, WikiWord and WikiEdit - glance through these before selecting the WikiSandbox to hone your new skills. Within ten minutes, you should know everything you need to.

So, what can this wiki thing do for you? The answer depends on how you participate. You can share information, comment on the ideas of others, learn from others and let them learn from you, or get nothing whatsoever, depending on your response to it. I urge you to become involved. If enough people join in, the wiki can become a great meeting place on the web for gathering and sharing information or thoughts. Too often APLers have been criticised as using yesterday’s language. Let’s show all the young whippersnappers with their Java and C# that we dinosaurs can also be at the cutting edge!


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