Remco Wilting, better known as W1lz0r or "That SQL Guy" to the Invision Community, is the subject of our next TAZ interview. W1lz0r is, among other things, the developer of ICB, the Invision Community Blog. The next version of ICB, currently in development, will make full use of the IPB 2.1 feature set with all the bells and whistles. Let's find out more about W1lz0r and the work he does.

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Can you give us a (not so brief) bio?

I was born (24th March 1973) in Spierdijk (a small village in the Netherlands). When I was 11 I moved with my parents to Almere, the place where I still live. Almere is a new town, build on the grounds taken from the sea. I have a girlfriend (soon to be wife :) ) and two kids (a son of 4.5 and a daughter of almost 2 years old). Apart from the work I do for IPS, I also have a 'normal' job. I am a Marketing Consultant for a French company that specializes in Campaign Management. Together with my two colleagues we run the Dutch office.


What's the significance of your username, W1lz0r?

Ever since I was very young, my friends always called me Willy. That comes from my last name, Wilting. A couple of years ago me and a couple of college friends, started a Quake III Arena clan called MIA. I was known as [MIA]Willy. However, Willy in English is not the exactly a nickname you want to be associated with. Therefore I changed it to [MIA]W1lz0r. My online nickname has been W1lz0r ever since. However people at IPS apparently like to call me Wizzy. Which has a nice ring to it too :)


What are your favorite books? Movies? Music? Games? Food? Drink?

I am not much of a reader. I rarely have time to read. When I am on holiday, I usually read a book or two. However if I have to pick one, it would be 1984 by George Orwell.

As for movies, I prefer SciFi movies. I like to analyze the vision the moviemakers have on the future. I cannot give you a specific favorite though.

My favourite music is rock (but not the hard rock stuff). I like to listen to bands like Live, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Keane, Kane (a Dutch artist). My current favorite song is one you probably don't know: 'Cruel Man' by Intwine.


What is your educational background?

I have a Master of Science degree in Business Mathematics and Informatics.


How did you get into programming and developing software?

I think I started programming way back when I was 12 or so. There used to be Computer Magazines, which had source code in it. I would sit for hours behind my PC, keying it all in. When I had finished, I analyzed the code, and usually changed some things. I wrote a couple of programs back then, like a program to manage the indoor soccer results. During my studies I (obviously) wrote many programs. Even then I liked making programs 'cool'. I remember a Simulation class where you could choose your own language, so I chose Delphi at the time. I was the only one who had a Windows program (this is over 10 years ago), and I probably spend a lot more time doing a cool interface, then the engine itself.

When I started working, I still developed some stuff here and there, but nothing major. Then PHP crossed my path. So I started experimenting with it. In the end I made the first version of the Vuboys site (this is a site me and my friends from college run to keep in touch with each other), which was not based around IPB at the time. Then one of the guy's mentioned IPB to use at our site. I was reluctant, but after I had seen the code I quickly agreed. I did, however, need to modify IPB, which was version 1.1 at the time, to make the site fit our specific needs.

In general, I like a challenge. I had seen people over at the IPS forums discussing running IPB on MSSQL. I took the challenge, and started writing the MSSQL driver for IPB. I later wrote an Oracle version and now Invision Community Blog.


What would you want to do for a living if you weren't a software developer?

I would probably be doing what I do now, that is work in the field of Database Marketing.


Tell us about IPB 2.1 in general, and the Community Blogging software in particular.

I think IPB 2.1 is a very exciting release. Not only because it has so many cool new features, but also because of the new kernel and class style. IPB 2.1 also contains a lot of module integration stuff, which I can use for Invision Community Blog. Matt really did a wonderful job.

One thing I can't resist to mention is the new read marker system of IPB. In essence it is based on the implementation I did for the Blog. The big problem with read marker systems is that you don't want to run a heavy query to see if there is anything left unread. Especially not on every topic view. So we have seen implementations based on storing data in cookies and doing some 'tricks' to avoid the heavy queries. This meant that the read marking systems weren't perfect (you had to go to the forum view before the forum was marked as read). The system now in IPB2.1 is a true persistent read marker system, without the heavy queries being run.

As for Invision Community Blog (ICB). I am currently in the middle of the development of version 1.2. This version makes full use of all the new IPB2.1 stuff, and introduces some cool new features. I am especially proud of the new inline settings and drag/drop content blocks. Apart from it being 'cool', it really is user friendly and intuitive to use. I still have a lot of ideas left. As usual I will post all about them on my Blog on the IPS forums.


How did you become interested in blogging?

Blogging started to become a hype last year. You started hearing more about it and more and more people started Blogs. Basically Blogging is not a new concept. People have had websites for years that would qualify as a Blog now-a-days. I like to write my opinion on something down (even tho I do not do this much). So the concept of Blogs fits nicely in this.


Which blogs do you read on a regular basis?

Matt Mecham's Blog (mattmecham.com)
Zef Hemel's Blog (zefhemel.com)
geenstijl.nl
The Blogs on IPS' board (which includes mine)


Will blogging become more popular or will it fade away?

It will definitely become more popular. I see it being used as a Marketing tool more and more too. Look how we all learned about IE7.0. You will see more of this in the future.


Is IPS a fulltime job for you?

No, as I mentioned earlier I have a 'normal' fulltime job. The work for IPS I do in my spare time.


What other projects are you working on?

Apart from ICB, I do the MSSQL/Oracle database drivers for IPB. These need to be updated for IPB2.1. Bring that together and it is practically all I am able to do in my spare time. What the future will bring, who knows.


Describe your typical workday schedule.

For my 'normal' job that depends on my schedule for the week. I visit our customers on a regular base and each one is different. So I cannot speak of a typical schedule. The work I do for IPS, I have basically two nights (Sunday/Monday evenings) per week I work coding. I always have a plan of what I want to do that evening. The rest of the week I work whenever I have some time left.


What advice can you give people just getting into programming?

I am not sure I am the right person to give advice on programming. I would not qualify myself as your typical programmer. But if I was to give advice, it would be to think in bits and pieces. Program a bit and finish it completely. Don't fall into the 'I will fix it later' trap. You tend to forget about it.


What do you consider as your accomplishments up to this point?

ICB certainly qualifies. So would the MSSQL/Oracle drivers. Other accomplishments are all work I did in the past.


Any failures you want to tell us about?

Not really. I've made some mistakes, but nothing major enough to qualify as a failure.


What do you do for fun and relaxation?

I play Indoor Soccer. Other then that I like to watch a movie, go to a fun place with the kids, got to a bar with friends or have dinner with my girlfriend and/or friends.


Are communities such as forums, blogs, etc. an important part of the internet? Why?

I think they are important. The real difference with these communities and 'other' websites, is that the communities show the opinions of individuals. As other websites are either commercially driven (run by some company), or news agencies.


Which online communities do you enjoy as a member?

Obviously my own personal site (Vuboys.nl), which is a small private community.
Other then that I sometimes visit TFI, even though I am not very active there.


How many forums do you administrate?

Just one.


How would you describe your moderation style?

The one I moderate is not a good example of a specific style. As mentioned before it is a private community, where moderation is not required.

At IPS' board I do have moderation powers, but I hardly ever use them. We have others handling that :)

In general I try to communicate with the customers. It helps me to verify the things I want to do. I also think customers like to be kept informed. And if I can help, I will.


What is your opinion on the open source vs. proprietary software debate in general? What about forum software specifically?

I guess there is a place for both worlds. I don't see open source take over the software world. Proprietary software will remain. In the forum world I guess the same goes. Proprietary has some advantages, like support, ongoing development, etc.


What changes do you expect in forum software development?

This is a tough one. I don't think the basics will change. You will still have forums/topics/posts etc. I do think the interface will change to become more dynamic. I also think that there will be more integration between sites / services.


How do you see the internet in general changing over the next 5 to 10 years? What about online communities in particular?

Basically I don't see the internet changing much over the 5-10 years. It will be more of the same. When you look at the past 5-10 years, internet has not changed much. Sure, it has become bigger and quicker, but not many new technologies have been introduced. We still use a very old mail protocol, etc. When you look at it the only things which would qualify as new in the past 10 years are probably Online Messengers and Peer-to-Peer networks. I do think that there will be an ever increasing demand for identification over the internet. Also the war against spam will increase ;)

As for online communities. I don't see big changes. What we have now is a great tool to discuss things online with people with common interests. Maybe this will become more interactive in the future, or combined with other events. The software we use to build these communities will keep getting better. There will probably come a new interface specifically targeted at the ever increasing number of mobile devices.


Matt told me you were an interesting character. Any idea what he means by that?

Heheh... me interesting? Matt and I have some chat sessions every now and then to discuss things. Maybe he enjoys them as I do… It's up to you to decide if Matt's right.


What do you know now that you wish you'd known 10 years ago?

I can't think of anything specific, other then what the stock price of Microsoft would be ;)


Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.

That I won a local Christmas run when I was 9 (http://www.spierdijkatletiek.nl/St George Kerstloop.htm). Even I did not know that before I found that page ;)