Forum for the site, plus some events during the semester that I missed in the last post

Hey guys;

As the title says, this post will cover pretty much two topics, the forum for this site and…some other events during the past semester that I forgot to cover in my last post.

Let’s get started…I’ll cover the forum first.

As you know, at the moment this site doesn’t have a forum. There were times that I experimented with some forum hosting services and even put a link up here on this site, but turns out I was not totally satisfied with the service. The main requirements is that the interface for the forum should be accessible to users of screen readers, and that the the forum interface must also be friendly for users on mobile. While a number of services that I tried performed quite good in accessibility (recently Icyboards performed quite well in terms of screen reader accessibility), in many cases I found that the forum interface is not quite mobile friendly. Basically, the same style was used, regardless whether the user is on desktop or mobile. The truth is, I feel that finding mobile-friendly styles is kind of hard. Why, you may ask. Well this is all thanks to Facebook. From a number of brief researches I did, it seems that ever since Facebook became mainstream, traditional internet forums have pretty much declined in popularity and I can see why. On large forums, updating the software can be a pain. Also, forum software developers don’t release updates often in a single year (this is pretty much linked to the first reason regarding the update process), unless if there’s some urgent security issues that needed to be immediately patched. Although newer versions may support mobile-friendly styles, older versions may not, and since forum owners can’t just update whenever he/she wants, the demand for mobile-friend styles would not be so large and so style creators don’t see much incentive to develop mobile-friendly styles. Take MyBB, for example. Out of the dozen or so themes, only a handful were actually responsive/mobile-friendly. Facebook, from my experience, is mostly accessible and is of course mobile-friendly since there’s even an app for Android and iOS.

Taking these into considerations, I have come up with three options as where to put my forum: Groups.io, Facebook groups, or continue to search for a traditional forum hosting service to put my forum/use one of the services that I already tried E.G Icyboards. Below I’ll break the advantages and disadvantages of all three of them in a table…

  Groups.io Facebook groups Traditional forum
Advantages ·         Easy access to message archives.

·         Very accessible for screen reader users (used by NVDA’s support community).

·         Interface is mobile-friendly.

·         Mostly accessible for screen reader users.

·         Mobile app available for iOS and Android.

·         Realtime discussions.

·         Advance functionalities such as custom profile fields, custom design and permissions.

·         Easy access to message archives via the search functionality.

·         Ability to categorize topics into forums and subforums.

Disadvantages ·         Cannot categorize messages into forums and subforums.

·         Limited profile customizations.

·         Lack of advance functionalities such as custom designs and permission control.

·         Can’t easily search for old messages (lack of adequate message archiving systems).

·         Cannot categorize messages into forums and subforums.

·         Lack of advance functionalities such as custom design and permission control.

·         Accessibility for screen reader depends heavily on the design of the forum software.

·         Not easy to update.

·         Lack of mobile-friendly styles.

As you can see, I listed three advantages and disadvantages for the three options. I haven’t decided yet which option to take, so…if you can suggest which option I should go for that would be really helpful; just comment down below on the option you think I should choose along with why I should go for that option.

Alright, that’s it for the forum stuff…now let’s move on to the second topic…

So, last post I did covered briefly what happened throughout this past semester. Well turns out there were a few more events that I actually missed in the last post, so I thought I’ll cover them here.

The first is…dinner with some friends. Yep, this actually happened, on 13 November. This event basically fulfills my wish of gonig out with friends (to be honest, this is the second time I went out for dinner with friends this past semester, the first being on 10 October).

Basically what happened is, I met up with one of my friends from pre college pretty much by accident while I was walking around in the exchange program exhibition. It was I think close to 4PM so she offered to take me back to my dorm, and on the way back to her car, I heard her discussing with some of her friends about a dinner somewhere so I decided to try and ask if I can join, and turns out I can!

I met up with my pre college friend and some of her friends around 5:30PM. We went to eat at a restaurant somewhere not too far from the campus. I ordered some noodles, a plate of fried chickens and some fried pork. Suddenly a waitress appeared and asked someone who is proficient in English, apparently to help take orders for a group of foreigners. Given that everyone at my table were pre college students and that their English proficiency was not good, I decided to help out. Guess who one of the foreign customers turn out to be? One of my Management and Organizational Behavior team members! I knew that one of the foreigners sitting at the table was a member in my team since that person called me out by my nickname and that the voice sounded very familiar. I sat down and helped basically to translate what the group wants the order back into Thai for the waitress. It’s pretty easy, I must say.

The rest of the time I spent with my friend was actually quite good, and the food was really good too.

After that event, there were the usual MUIC food fairs the following week. Nothing special, just stalls selling food…pretty much the same as previous terms, just that the food are not totally identical. However this time I managed to find a stall selling cookies so I decided to buy a few of them, to be my breakfast the following week.

And…last but not least, visiting STA (the old campus on Sukhumvit 71) with my friend from my STA class of 2015 who is studying in Abac along with his friend who is a Japanese exchange student.

We met up in Starbucks not far from Phra Khanong BTS station, and we took a taxi to the campus. My first impression once we arrived there is, the old high school building hasn’t really changed that much since when I last visited it in December 2016.

But walking around, there were indeed some very visible changes. Firstly, the open court area that sat right in front of my old tutor base has been turned into some sort of a dome, and…at the very far end, there was now an elevator, with braille labels! Walking past that area brought back memories of my time studying at STA…

Also, slopes now exist in pretty much all locations. I wonder, along with the braille labels on the new elevator, whether the school have been secretly taking inspirations from my speech about universal design at the school last November…even at the new high school campus, slopes do exist in many places and every building has an elevator, just that only elevators in one of the three buildings have braille labels and audio indicators. In addition, the room that use to be the senior common room had been turned into some sort of a classroom…

We spent around half an hour to an hour walking around the campus, even visiting the buildings where my IB French AB Initio and my IGCSE Thai classes were once located. During that time I took a good number of photos and videos, as usual…so to document my day. One of the discoveries we made is that there was another canteen, right next to the old Thai building. I’m still not sure what it’s used for, but probably it’s used as a canteen for early year students.

Overall, the visit was a wonderful experience, and really brought back memories of my STA days. I’m glad that I graduated before the high school campus got moved, as I don’t have to dealing with getting lost on my way to classes, but that means I also don’t get to use all the new facilities that the new high school campus have.

So…other than that, I guess I’ll end here…

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