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The Prime Pages--answer off list?

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  • Chris Caldwell
    As some of you old-timers know, this discussion list was started by The Prime Pages and once every year (or three) I ask for advice. My University has been
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2012
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      As some of you old-timers know, this discussion list was started by "The Prime Pages" and once every year (or three) I ask for advice. My University has been excellent about providing for these pages, but cannot usually give me the time to work on them (unless I get outside support). The current server is getting older, and it was also bought with overhead from a previous external grant. My department chair asked me (today) to write a local (on campus) proposal (due tomorrow) to ask for summer support to write an external grant proposal for The Prime Pages. Now with this background, here are my questions to you.

      * I do not want to spam the list, so strongly consider responding to just me, rather than to the whole list? *

      1) What changes to the Prime Pages would be most helpful to you?
      2) If you are an educator (or someone else who uses the pages in a way that might impress a funding agency) could you let me know (off list) who you are and how you use them?
      3) Are you sitting on a pile of money or work for a granting agency and want to support the Prime Pages? OI'd be glad to discuss it :)

      Chris.

      PS: Below are some ideas I had in mind (in no real order)

      * Make a submission shortcut for the very major projects (so, for example, PrimeGrid could automate submission). Perhaps this would involve allowing users to specify who might submit primes, make codes, ... in their name.
      * Improve the security of the web pages and database.
      * Make it easier for others to use the records (e.g., use this code to incorporate a list of the top 5 Mersenne (or ...) primes on your web page (so it would grab the content In real time from the prime pages). There are too many dead copies of old versions of my pages around!
      * Incorporate social media (e.g., status page could tweet records, records could show up on a Facebook page...). In theory this is easy, just takes programing time.
      * Complete the internationalization of the primary pages (not of content, but of the surrounding words). The pages for a user to submit biographical info are already in Mandarin, Persian, French, English....
      * Buy a new server (probably a virtual server on the Universities hardware so hardware failure are their problem, not mine)
      * Expose the comment system (some users can add comments to their own primes, but the process is purposefully obscure because I was not sure I could keep vandalism... properly blocked; so exposing would probably require others willing to help edit and the system required to make that possible.)
      * Delete the prime glossary pages (http://primes.utm.edu/glossary/) or convert them to a wiki
      * Delete the PrimeLinks pages (http://primes.utm.edu/links/) or find external editors for it (even with a Captcha is was so heavily bombarded by junk submission, mostly from Russia, that I blocked submission a couple years ago).
      * Make it possible to recreate the list as it was on any given day in history--this would make record over time pages easy. The info is stored in the database to do this, but the primes of special forms are difficult as they must be in the top 5 or 20, so there is some tricky database work here...
      * Expand the reach of the http://primes.utm.edu/nthprime/ page by an order of magnitude or two (and adding protection so it cannot be used as the bases for an accidental (?) denial of service attack)
      * (Not something you can usually write a grant for, but: fix all those small things folks have pointed out through the years, and I have not had time to do!)
      * Improve the "reward" system for those that find primes (they get their name somewhere on a list, but could also auto generate certificates for those that might want one, flag those that are responsible for more than x% of the primes at any point in time, add badges or bling like StackExchange does? )
      * Explore ways of making the pages not dependent of me (e.g., so the pages can continue should I drop dead--which I do not think is likely for at least 15 years but...)
      * Add warning so I know when there is a problem (server moving very slowly or stopped...)
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