|Interviews One On One Dialogues With Forum Administrators, Forum Software Developers & Other Interesting People.|
Interview with Jake Bunce
Anyone who has spent time on vBulletin.com is familiar with Jake Bunce. Jake has been on the Support Staff there for about 3 years now answering countless questions covering all aspects of vBulletin - only Steve Machol has more posts than him. I thought it would be interesting to find out more about Jake and he kindly agreed to answer some interview questions for the Admin Zone.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 24 years old. I have lived in California all of my life. I have a younger brother who is currently working on his Computer Science degree just like me (we are both into computers). I am currently living at home while I finish my schooling. The plan is to move out once I get my degree - hopefully to a place with cleaner air than the Central Valley.
What are your favorite books?
I have never been one for recreational reading, so I don't have any favorite books.
I am a sucker for old action movies. Some movies that come to mind are Raw Deal, Running Man, Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, the Rocky series, the Rambo series, Kickboxer, Lionheart, Bloodsport, The Professional, Universal Soldier, Split Second, Sniper, and assorted other Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies - they suck so good.
I watched Star Trek religiously back in the days of TNG and DS9. I could never get into Voyager and Enterprise (see below). I also used to watch Simpsons, X Files, and Seinfeld. I don't watch TV much anymore.
I don't listen to music.
I have always been a big gamer. NES was my console back in the day. Zelda 2 was my favorite game - I have it down to a science. I was also big into the Super Mario Brothers and Megaman series. I picked up on computer games after the NES so I never got into any of the later consoles. My early computer games were old Mac games like Blobbo, Power Pete, Lemmings, Escape Velocity, Ultimate Doom, Command & Conquer, Diablo, Warcraft, etc. I was big on Diablo 2 for a while, my gaming clan's first game. I went without a favorite game for a couple of years until World of Warcraft was released. Now my clan plays World of Warcraft.
Water, Arizona green tea, smoothies, milk shakes.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
When I am not playing computer games, I am usually exercising - weights, biking, walking. I also attend LAN parties on occasion.
What are you doing for your Star Trek fix now that there aren't any current Star Trek series?
I have all of the TOS, TNG, and DS9 episodes, as well as all of the movies. I play those in the background while I work or play on my computer. I was never a big fan of Voyager and Enterprise.
It seems like Star Trek has gradually lost its creative flare since Gene died. You can only rip off past ideas so much until you have to start coming up with new content. The DS9 series did a good job of playing off of the existing Star Trek universe, and it also had some good contributions of its own. Gene's universe was getting a little worn out by the time Voyager came around, so they started the series in the Delta Quadrant to give it a fresh perspective. It didn't take long for Voyager to run out of good ideas at which point they started using elements from Gene's universe. I hate what Voyager did to the Borg. I also didn't like the introduction of Seven into the series - it was like they were trying to compensate for lack of good content by showing viewers a pretty woman in tight clothes.
Enterprise did the same thing as voyager, but their ideas were crappy to begin with. Granted, they had a handful of good episodes, but the underlying plot about the temporal cold war always seemed somewhat haphazard to me, like they didn't give it enough thought. I also think that T'pol was just another Seven in many ways.
Which would you prefer - twin turbos or a dual core processor?
What is your current educational status? What is the "master plan" schoolwise?
I am currently a senior at CSU Stanislaus with just over 100 units. I should be getting my bachelor's in Computer Science next Fall. As of right now, I have no plans to continue in school after I get my bachelor's. I also have a handful of tech certs like A+, N+, and various vendor warranty certs. Unfortunately tech certs don't mean much anymore.
I have always wanted to be a game programmer, but now I am not so sure. My whole life is computers (work, play, hobbies), so I think I might enjoy a job that isn't computer-related. We'll see...
What do you consider as your accomplishments up to this point?
I consider my schooling to be a major accomplishment. I consistently pull in high grades, and I make the Dean's list every semester.
I am also proud of my web site and gaming clan. Web sites and gaming are my main hobbies, and my clan site represents both interests. More about this below...
Any failures you'd like to tell us about?
I always fail with women.
How did you become involved with vBulletin and how did you come to be on the Jelsoft staff?
I started my forum with UBB. Then I saw that vBulletin 2 (then in development) was going to have avatar support, so I switched.
I posted on the vBulletin forums a lot, helped with some support threads, etc. In the Spring of 2002 I emailed John and offered to help moderate the Chit Chat forum. He said no. Then a month later he emailed me back saying that I had been suggested as a possible addition to the support staff.
You have over 21,500 posts now - do you think you'll ever catch Steve?
Catch Steve? Impossible.
Are the vBuletin Support Forums difficult to moderate?
Only the political and religious threads, as you might expect.
How would you describe your moderation style?
I like to think my moderation style is "normal." I move threads that are out of place, remove spam, split off topic posts, and lock threads that combust.
My moderation style with political and religious threads is apparently different from most other moderators in that I like to take preemptive action. I fear that my own bias will interfere with any selective moderation I try to do in those types of threads. And since those threads are always a foregone conclusion, I like to save myself the headache and just lock or remove them at the first sign.
What are the most common technical mistakes you see admins making?
Jumping into template and file mods without thinking ahead (as it applies to vBulletin). For example, modifying references to a CSS class instead of the class itself, or applying file mods without documenting the changes, thereby making it difficult to upgrade.
What are the most common administrative mistakes you see admins making?
Not giving users a reason to visit and participate. In order the run a successful site, you must consider your content and your competition. If you can't offer something unique to your audience, then it might be a good idea to narrow your focus. Take my gaming clan for example... there are tons of WoW guilds out there, so why should users join my guild? I have narrowed my scope by selling my guild as a small and friendly guild. Back in our Diablo 2 days I sold my guild as being a Mac Diablo 2 guild.
Also, don't expect your users to generate content for you. That is the expectation of many forums, and those forums usually suffer from inactivity. User-generated content comes later. In the beginning, it is important to offer your own content.
What are your thoughts on vBulletin 3.5?
I actually haven't had a chance to look at it very closely. I am currently taking 12 units in a condensed summer semester, so it is all I can do to keep up with vB 3.0.x stuff.
I love the database read marking feature on the vBulletin forums. With the old system I would always miss a few posts here and there that got caught between sessions. I look forward to spending more time with vBulletin 3.5 when I have time.
Tell us about your own Forum, MSC Clan.
A brief history of my site is on the portal - http://www.mscclan.com/
My site started out as a personal Mac gaming site back in 1995. Some of the old revisions of the site can be seen here. The site grew slowly over the first few years. I didn't get a message board, "real" hosting, or a domain name until ~1999. My first domain was mac-gamer.com.
I started a clan for Diablo 2 in early 2000, before the game came out. About a month before Diablo 2 came out, I submitted news of our Diablo 2 clan to IMG and Macgamer. From those news posts I got about 200 signups, a handful of which stayed and became our active member base.
Since the creation of our gaming clan, the site has changed focus a couple of times, from a personal Mac gaming site (mac-gamer.com), to a general Mac site (macsubculture.com), to what it is now which is just the gaming clan (mscclan.com).
As Diablo 2 gradually got old, we tried splitting off into multiple games including Warcraft 3, Starcraft, Planetarion, Lineage, and Shadowbane, but none of those "divisions" were very successful. World of Warcraft has been very successful with our guild since it was released last November.
The Board is very clean with an awesome style. Is it custom coded? How much time do you have into it?
The pages outside of the forum are custom coded and use vBulletin as a backend. They total 100+ pages of PHP code. I worked on it a little bit every day for like 5 months. That includes the style.
Like many WoW clan sites, I borrowed some graphical elements from Blizzard's WoW site. I am not a graphics artist by any means, but I am handy with HTML and PHP.
What is your coding experience?
HTML was my first programming language. I started with visual editors like Adobe Pagemill, and I gradually ventured into the source code to make tweaks here and there. I really took off with HTML when I switched to vBulletin and started working with the templates. Now I can hand code HTML pages with ease.
PHP was my second programming language, but I had lots of trouble at first. It wasn't until I started taking programming classes for my degree that I took off with PHP. My first programming classes in Java and C++ exposed me to basic programming concepts which really helped me in PHP.
I have done lots of work in Java and C++ for my degree. I consider myself to be proficient in both languages.
You're listed as a vBulletin Contributor - what kind of stuff have you contributed?
My name is on there because of my contributions to the inline help topics in the vB3 Admin CP. I spent a lot of time filling those in.
Do you want to be a coder/developer at some point?
I think I have the coding ability that is required to become a developer, but I am not sure that is what I want to do. I don't have any firm career goals at this point, but I don't see myself leaving Jelsoft any time soon - it's a good company to work for and I enjoy what I do. If I pursue other interests then I would like to at least continue to work part time for Jelsoft doing support, development, whatever.
Please describe your typical weekday schedule? Weekend?
I wake up, eat, work, go to school, work, play WoW, work, eat, exercise, sleep. It's the same routine on weekends, minus the school part. I am pretty boring.
What is your ultimate career goal / dream job?
My dream job is to work for Blizzard as a game developer or web page designer. <3 Blizzard
How do you see the internet in general changing over the next 5 to 10 years? What about online communities in particular?
I see increasingly better infrastructure and connectivity enabling better media and communications. I expect that online communities will get "closer" as communication improves.
One thing that concerns me is the current drama between the US and other countries over "who gets to control the root servers." I fear that this may one day lead to multiple internets which would suck.
What are your thoughts on blogging? Do you have a blog?
I have always been a forum person. Blogs are just stripped down forums IMO, so I just use my forum as a blog of sorts.
What do you know now that you wish you'd known 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was a freshman in high school. Nothing especially bad has happened to me since then that I might want to take back, with the exception of the usual stuff like failed relationships and bad jobs. If you go back 12 years then I wish I would have known not to stick my hand in a running lawnmower in an attempt to dislodge a grass clog. dumb++
What does the future hold for Jake Bunce?
I am currently living with Mommy (), so I plan to move out after I graduate. I want to move somewhere with better air and cooler weather. I am currently living in the Central Valley which sees 100+ degree (F) temperatures in the summer and has the worst air quality in the nation. I am considering Oregon, Washington, or even Canada.
I haven't really planned for anything beyond moving out and getting established. First things first, right?
Great interview Sandman! I'm a big fan of Jakes as he's helped me lots and lots and answered loads of questions about vB but has never shouted at me or told me to bugger off! He's a huge credit to the Jelsoft Team, always courteous and helpful and can appreciate that not everyone is as clued up as he is when it comes to the technical stuff.
I wish him all the best in his exams and hope to see more from him regarding his vB input.
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