MATHalino's philosophy, I may say, is that our contents must be accessible to all. Whether you are logged in or not, you can still access all our contents without any constraint. We already done this last year to our Courses and Exams, and this year we extend it to downloads.
Why Would You Care?
No, you don't need to, but because you're a good person and you appreciate the effort put up by your fellow human being, you will .
You don't need to register and log in to our site to access the downloadable files, take our exams, attend our courses, and participate in our discussions. Before, files for download are for verified users only. Not anymore! The files that are already in the system will remain as is but this is only for a short while. I will re-upload it all so that anyone can download it without the need for registration. All future uploads then will be open to everyone.
As of the writing of this post, all files for Basic Algebra Review Course are already available for download. You can find it at the bottom of the course outline.
If you are only interested in downloads, you can stop reading up to this line. Those who wish to gain some insights on how this site is working and how we manage it may continue reading.
To Being More Open
No, not personally. I am talking about this site, again.
Opening site features to as much as possible is great, but it is without difficulties. In fact, the technical challenges are enormous compared to locked websites. I manage another website that only site administrators can register users. On that site, I have not much difficulty in implementing security features to make it go the way it needed to.
When it comes to registration, MATHalino is a self-service site, which means that you are to voluntarily register and verify yourself for you to join us. Sounds great from the admin perspective right? It's now on auto-pilot! Actually no. Until now, registration forms are the favorite of bots as the entry points of attack. I remember back in 2008 when MATHalino was hosted by Geocities of Yahoo, I opened MATHalino to accept a registration. After a month, I ended up with thousands of thousands of users (not-real users of course) with thousands of thousands of spam posts.
That was my first lesson.
In 2014, I opened the Forum and comment section to non-registered users hoping to make the community more active, and it did... but only for a while. The spam technology we use back then was actually sophisticated at that time, it fought spambots so hard, very few to none were able to penetrate the system. Unfortunately, the company that offered that service was overwhelmed with the needed resources to continue the service. For them to stay in business, they shift their service to enterprise-level only, yet, they still lost the battle and close their service. I think you have now a glimpse of how expensive to mitigate malicious bots online.
And for this site, we are hit faster than I can cope with, it suffered colossal strain and ended up truncating the database to remove all unwanted contents. Maybe some of you will remember how we lost more than 3 months of posts and updates both from the admin and from the users. In fact, we were confronted by the active contributor in Engineering Economy. The Forum section of the site was severely affected, from the bloated MySQL records, it is near to impossible to identify which posts are legit and which are from spambots. That is how sophisticated spambots are, much more today.
Hardening Is A Must
Gaining experience along the way, we are now in partnership with a technology provider that won't easily bow even to an intentional backend attack. I understand the limitation of my knowledge, and the only way for me to make this site thrive is to dish out some cash for solid protection. This is what I did at the shell, our Linux kernel is hardened by the latest technology we can afford. An automated offshore backup is also in place to protect us from the worst-case scenario. Both are expensive, but it's all worth it.
Here comes the front end where you interact with the site. Spambots and malicious spiders are also constantly crawling, looking for vulnerable forms as their entry point. Some of these bots are carrying advanced instructions that have the ability to penetrate the backend. Fortunately, Google is very serious in fighting spam, their reCAPTCHA is so advanced that it is very easy to users but unforgiving to crawlers carrying malicious codes. With Google's I'm not a robot at the front end, we are able to open more and make it easy for you.
Coexisting With Giants
Although this site is being accessed more than a million times in a month at its peak, the community section, aka, the Forum, was never able to take off the way I wanted it to. I understand that it is more because of my reserved personality and has nothing to do with the technology in place or any other factor. I found it out when I try to establish a social presence for the MATHalino brand on FB, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
I am not out of hope of course. Occasional posts from real users are actually for me, a good indicator that there is no need to shut down the Forum section. With so many active groups at FB right now, I am happy that from time to time someone will initiate a conversation here. If you read this post up to this point, I invite you to come in by logging in and sharing your thoughts and expertise in the Forum section or at the comments section anywhere on the site.