Wrongcards Works a Bit Better Now, Which is Nice

In short, I did something with a computer.

15 December 2023

This is just a sort-of update about Wrongcards, and the website itself.

So you know, there are two parts to Wrongcards — a website which lets you browse through the cards, and another separate application that allows one to send and receive cards. A couple of months ago, I took that web application offline because it was annoying me.

Over the past few days, I replaced it with a new application that I wrote from scratch. It wasn’t ideal timing to work on it, of course, but it needed to get done.

There was this one guy in Pakistan who kept using the older web-application to express his anger at various public politicians working in his local and regional government. It was an unfortunate situation, and I should tread carefully here, with all due tact and sensitivity, because I believe this gentleman’s issues relate to mental health. In fact, it is my impression that mental health experts would describe his condition as that of a ‘stark raving lunatic’. And the problem was, the older codebase I was using to send ecards wasn’t easy for me to improve or fix. Partly this was because it was written in PHP, a language that has always troubled me due to it being stupid and ugly and unpleasant, and also because I hadn’t coded it myself. Someone else had written it, and they’d done an awful job of it, too.

But I’d been using that app out of pure necessity, and only as a temporary measure. Earlier still, I’d been using an application written in Ruby on Rails, and I’d coded most of that, but it was what software developers call a ‘dependency nightmare’. I remember two years ago trying to upgrade it, and the process was taking several days. I was in Michigan at the time and half-way done through the process, my retina detached itself — for no reason at all. So, with one occluded eye, I installed a terrible interim solution in the mad hope that one day I would have time to write a better web application from scratch — one not written in PHP or Ruby, but something happy and sensible and modern, like Rust or Golang or something.

(I should mention that most programming languages are sort of old. Python originates in 1989. PHP’s origins can be traced back to Satan. But incidentally, the editor I’m using to write these words is called Emacs, which began as a project in 1976, so you can imagine how old its language must be. But Golang – which I used for this app – is recent. It arrived in November 2009, which is strange for me, because I founded about eighteen months before that, in April 2008. Yes, that’s how long this silly website has existed. You’re welcome, by the way.)

I actually started programming when I was a child, back in the 1980s, which means my interest in programming predates Python. It started with MS-BASIC. Before long, I was more interested in good novels and, in particular, writing good novels. But owing to a scarcity of money, I was forced to be a software engineer for a while. I didn’t overly enjoy the work, however. The concise explanation is that I prefer to make things over fixing or maintaining other people’s stuff.

But I see that I’ve strayed from the topic; let me go back. There’s this Pakistani man, you see, and he wants to overthrow his local government, and furthermore seems hell-bent on involving Wrongcards in his plot. So, fearing a visit from foreign agents, I took the site down and gave the matter some thought. Then — in my meagre free time — I got to work on a much better web-application, and now you’re all caught up.

The new application is mostly finished. It’s not feature-complete, but it’s running on a server and you can use it. Just visit you’ll see you can send cards again. But it’s major advantage — from my standpoint, at least — is that it’s much better at detecting bad words and phrases.

If anyone attempts to send an ecard about using explosives against the police stations in far-flung rural provinces, then I’ll probably know about it. If anything, the app is overzealous and catches a lot of false positives. But it’s enough to frustrate that wily dissident in Pakistan, so it’ll suffice for the Christmas period. I’ll add more features to it in the new year.

(Incidentally, one of my better decisions was to write the app in such a way that it can easily plug into a Large Language Model (LLM) - or AI for detecting the various isotopes of unsavory marketing emails.)

So, that’s my update. If anyone’s interested in knowing more about the programming stuff, drop me a line and I’ll write it all up with code samples, and send you a link.

Otherwise, if you haven’t been to lately, you should stop by. It doesn’t just have a new web-application; the rest of the site is new and shiny and improved.

Oh, one other thing — what are you all using for social media these days? I had about 13,000+ Facebook fans when I last checked, but whenever I post there, I’m lucky if a hundred people see it.

Also, the guy who owns the Website-Formerly-Known-As-Twitter puts me off a bit. But what I have noticed in recent weeks is that a vast number of programmers are active at Mastodon. Some of them have thousands of followers, so it seems to work for some people.

I have a Mastodon account but only about six followers. If any of you follow me, hit me up there and I promise I’ll follow you back. I at least like the idea of Mastodon being unfederated and what not, and I’ll post there enthusiastically in the future if there’s more of us there.

Oh, one last thing. I recently updated my personal website, and finally did a half-way decent About Me page. I think you all should check it out. I like the part about the werewolves especially.

Alright, I’ll send you all a silly story next week. Let me know how you’re all getting along.

Yours with Chaste Affection,

Kris St.Gabriel

You can buy me a coffee here.

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