Let's Make Robots!

The Pulse - 2009w33

LMR on the Brain
Sensing the living LMR community since 2008w43.

Ten thousand

This week LMR is hitting the 10000th node. A node is a page as our content management system calls them. Look in the URL bar if you have never noticed these numbers before. Ten Thousand must be some sort of anniversary.

Among those are mostly user profiles, forum posts and components. I further counted about 630 robots, 140 walk throughs and no less than 13 pulses. Not counting this one.



Unfortunately, many of those nodes are no longer publicly available. They had to be taken down. Mostly because of spam or other direct abuse of our free website.

So, if you were to try and read every single node/1 through node/10000, you would probably find many gaps in the series. You should understand that (almost) every node on LMR was once created by a person. And every gap was created by an admin person. This cleaning up is hard work. It takes vigilance from all community members to spot the dirty pages. And quite a bit of effort from the admins to clean them up.

We want this site to stay clean because we want everyone to feel welcome and because we would like to attract and retain commercial sponsors.

Sponsors could guarantee smooth running of our webserver, even if the number of visitors would continue to grow. Say beyond node one hundred thousand? Sponsors are already busy supporting the robot building on LMR. Consider the special offers we get from DAGU. Perhaps some day we can convince Polulu and Solarbotics to do the same. Maybe they are willing to give LMR members discount coupons? Maybe they will not if we leave the dirt untreated.




Sometimes it is not that easy to decide on how to treat a dirty page or its creator. Deleting a node is not something you do on a whim. Some pages obviously polute our community unintentionally. The writer may think his (or her) node is appropriate, but the tone of the words may not be. Or it might be "funny" to some but "rude" to others. Usually these issues resolve themselves in the comment sections of those nodes. Or interest in the page wanes quickly. By the way: thirty thousand comments and counting!

However, sometimes the comments turn nasty themselves. Someone might lose his cool (or her lady like manners) and write before thinking about the consequences. When two or more people behave like that on the same node (or in the shoutbox), the pollution quickly gets out of hand. It is at moments like this when an admin hesitates to clean everything radically. But when the shit hits the fan, we tend to choose in favor of the fan. We choose in favor of LetsMakeRobots. Even if that means losing a member or two.


Please lend "us" a hand

All LMR are belong to us. That is not a hollow phrase. This is not just a website. This is a community. Ours. The site just happens to be the place where we hang out. LMR is us and we are LMR. That is why most people take offense when some outsider takes advantage of us. It makes us feel dirty.

And that is why many of us keep a keen eye out for "spam". Most of the spam we get nowadays is so called "Search Engine Optimization" or SEO. Let me explain how that works and you will understand how to recognize it.

Anyone who is trying to sell something online, needs a good Google "page ranking". The higher up the list of finds, the more buyers you will attract. Google (and other search engines) calculate that ranking by the number of websites linking to the online store. The more popular the site linking to the store, the better for its ranking. That's why SEO drones write comments on our site. Because with thousands of visitors a day, LMR generates a high ranking. The comment containing the SEO link need not be relevant. Not to LMR and not to the product being sold. They are not trying to sell to us. They are simply trying to fool Google.

But some drones are smart. They evade our cleaning and hide their intentions by impersonating a smart remark. Often simply by copy/pasting someone else's text and then hiding the link under the smallest piece of interpunction. They hide their intentions by impersonating a smart remark. And then hiding the link under the smallest piece of interpunction. Often just a single period.

You can alert the admins of all kinds of abuse by reporting it in the shoutbox. This makes it visible to all visitors and, hopefully, deter them from even making an attempt. This is not really a watertight system. If something is really too offensive for your taste, send a personal message to one of the admins.





Power to the people

Speaking of robots...

One hundred and fourty walk throughs and our own search engine not working properly?! How are you to find out the really useful nodes then? Here is my selection of instructions dealing with power.

This one was Pulsed before. It deals with batteries. Good read gsandaya! Will learn you real good.

Once you've decided on batteries, how do you regulate the voltage? By Oddbot. Nuf said.

For the advanced hobbyists: DC-DC converter. Excellent work, also by Oddbot. Check this one for another beginners intro to linear power regulators.

Benchtop power supply. Don't ever call The CowGod a lazy community member. One of these a year will get anyone off the hook! (Ahem. It's been 13 months now Dan.)

Now who will write a good walk through about solar cells? Or do we already have one? Did I miss it? Feel free to comment.

We all know Gareth's work is great. This node was his introduction to LMR and I must admit, at first I did not know what to make of this guy! But the page "Look No Batteries" now deserves a mention as a walk through about "powering" robots without any electricity. Even if it is written on a robot node. Someone really should flame him for that....


Final thoughts

If my writing this week is too inflammatory, let me know and I will delete my blog forthwith!


The previous "Pulse" was 2009w31. All Pulses are tagged as "thepulse". Feed your RSS muncher with this.

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I still find your avatar much scarier!



Cheers for the PULSE rik, but am I mistaken in that only users can see the shout box? it's good for alerting admin but I thought visitors were blissfully unaware of of LMR banter and any subsequent Spam denounciations?
Only members can write. And only members can see the shoutbox. Spammers are members. They will see the shoutbox, unless they loiter here after logging off.

ha, sorry that was a short sighted observation of mine :), i'm not really familiar with the nefarious world of spamming .


maybe we need one of those programs that they have on those forum sites which inserts an advertisement every 'x? ammount' of posts, but in the Shout Box saying "



 Nah i'm just joking, that would'nt be the LMR way, but i'd like to see their faces when they see that!

 Maybe if we all just stay as a close knit community then they won't gain a foot hold. 


Heres to hoping.


                           Mik. :D