Michael Kubler

An innovative geek who wants to change the world of education

Mailchimp Email Obfuscator

Posted by Michael Kubler on April 8, 2014

I was working on a project that tried to re-skin the Mailchimp email preferences center.

Unlike the Mailchimp signup form this page is a lot harder because you need to know the users information. Thankfully this is fairly easily done with some merge tags to make the correct links in the eDM (email) and the Mailchimp PHP SDK.

The time consuming bit turned out to be outputting the users email address in the same obfuscated way that Mailchimp does. It hides enough of the email address to prevent spammers and nefarious people from stealing the address, whilst ensuring that you (and it) know that you are talking about the correct email address.

The technique I used to create this function is not the most efficient. In fact it’s probably the least efficient, but was highly agile and easy for me to understand whilst writing.

It takes an email address like tech@sveltestudios.com and turns it into t***@s**********.com

The PHP function should be visible in the gist below, otherwise check it out on Github.

Posted in geeky, Michael Kublers, tech | No Comments »

The bankers were wrong

Posted by Michael Kubler on February 2, 2014

The tin foil hat people were right, although tin foil hats won’t stop Government snooping. Also, the government probably doesn’t care about those wearing aluminium on their head. They seem to be more scared of people with towels on their head.

The hippies were right Western Civilisation is destroying the planet. The story that we have told ourselves is wrong, but the Hippies didn’t give us a viable alternative. Hopefully the geisters can.

The bankers were wrong. They aren’t too big to fail and whilst they’ve proved it already, until Bitcoin we didn’t have a decent alternative.


Posted in Economics, Michael Kublers, Zeitgeist Movement | No Comments »

Wireframing, Design and Dev – The cards explanation

Posted by Michael Kubler on January 24, 2014

When it comes to web development I find that this is useful for people to have a visceral feel for when they should be making changes and what is involved.

Wireframes are like working with post it notes, quick to move around and get a feel for the general idea.

Photoshop designs are like working with thick card a bit more rigid and a little annoying to cut but and the quality is a bit better and you can get a better feel for the final site, whilst still being relatively light.

Development is like carving stone tablets. Once there is code behind it those aren’t cards, they are heavy and hard to move. They are also interlinked and connected to the other tablets around them. If you want to move the tablets you need to rewire the plumbing and electrical cables. If you want to change the design you need a chisel and if you make too many changes then you destroy the tablet and need to get a new one.
At each step the amount of time and work involved probably triples. That is, 1 hour worth of changes to the wireframes will take about 3 hours in design but over 9 hours of development work.
The take away is ; if you want to make a change, do your best to work that out before the developers have had to carve out the stone tablets.


Posted in web design | No Comments »

Apache vhosts broken after Ubuntu 13.10 upgrade

Posted by Michael Kubler on November 13, 2013

Note to the web server sys admins.

Did you upgrade to Ubuntu 13.10? It’s the latest as of Nov 2013 when writing and if you were on an older Ubuntu version then when you logged in it probably suggested you ran do-release-upgrade.

Did you press Y or I and accept the package maintainers version of the apache.conf file? I think this is where the problem comes in. But as the error only just occurred haven’t had time to research.

Are your websites showing the default page? Something like :

It works!

This is the default web page for this server.

The web server software is running but no content has been added, yet.

When you run a2ensite or a2dissite does it show an error like the one below (except with a different site name of course)?

 ERROR: Site kublermdk does not exist! 

The Fix

You need to rename your /etc/apache2/sites-available/ files to include a .conf extension. 

That is, instead of having the file just called kublermdk you need to call it kublermdk.conf, then you can run  sudo a2enssite kublermdk.conf , restart apache with   sudo service apache2 reload  and it’ll work!


Story form

Ubuntu 13.10 Upgrade: When upgrading to the latest 13.10 version of Ubuntu and pressed Y to used the Package maintainers apache.conf file then the Apache sites-available config files need to have a .conf extension.
This requirement wasn’t needed before, so my files were just called the base domain, like kublermdk or greyphoenix, now it needs to be kublermdk.conf and without it Apache doesn’t seem to see your site.
Even if you still have the original symlink into the sites-enabled directory the config still won’t work, most likely the 000-default.conf file will work and instead of showing something awesome your site will show a default site page.

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Starting with Why

Posted by Michael Kubler on October 11, 2013

Teach with Reach

The core value of Teach with Reach is “To foster a life long passion for learning“.


This is something I came up with a while ago but only recently updated the website to reflect. The previous driver that I had was of “fostering paradigm changes in Education” which  is really just part of the How, not the What or the Why.

For those of you who don’t know, Teach with Reach is the education startup I technically started last year but won’t be working on it full time until next year.

Start with Why

I’ve seen Simon Sinek TED talk and a few other videos on Starting with Why , but it wasn’t until I started listening to the audiobook of “Start with Why : How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” that I realised I haven’t explained why we need to foster students (of all ages) to have a life long passion for learning.

Firstly what do I mean by a life long passion for learning? By that I mean a passion, a hunger, a thirst for knowledge. But it is more than that. It is wisdom that we want, for wisdom is both knowing something and acting upon that knowledge. Just because I know I shouldn’t eat bad foods, does not mean I act upon that knowledge. So both knowing and action are important.


There are a number of important trends of interest.

The Internet

If you go back to the start of the universal school system there was very few books. It was highly likely that each school might only have a single text book on a subject (e.g Maths). So the teachers would write up parts of the book onto the blackboard and get the students to copy them down. New theories and concepts developed so slowly that the knowledge gained through school would still be relevant by the time the worker had died. These days we have had an information access explosion. We are producing information at an astounding rate and have access to such an incredible wealth of it. But the majority of people have not been given the tools needed to deal with filtering this information. Whilst text books are usually carefully fact checked and the truth is considered paramount, blog posts and adverts are often the exact opposite and a large amount of the ‘information’ we have access to is designed to distort the truth or be false. To filter out the crap we need to grow up with a strong grounding in critical thinking. To be able to apply the baloney detection kit. To understand that we want to believe, but that it is better to have understandings than a belief.

Knowledge Worker

Go back 10,000+ years and humans were hunter gathers, which was actually pretty easy going with only a few hours of work a day needed to survive, as long as you didn’t mind travelling to where the animals were. Obviously some people didn’t like the travelling especially having been forced out of Africa with only a few thousand humans who had survived the arduous trek towards the equator during the ice age at the time so as the weather warmed humans started agriculture.  The toiling of soil, controlling of water and animals and storage of grain required a LOT of work. 80% of the population needed to be working exhausting sunrise to sunset days just to produce enough food for everyone. Think about that when you see an old movie about knights and castles with peasants working. The people in the castle or city was barely 20% of the population.

The discovery of coal and later oil helped start the industrial era with the Watt steam engine taking shape in the late 1770s. What started as an engine to help pump water out of coal mines also started a revolution that saw the number of people agriculture go from about 60% at the time to barely 2% by the 1920′s, with people instead working in factories.  It should be noted that this transition also saw the rise of the nearly universal school system which is still in use today and which was designed for and has become incredibly good at creating factory workers. The Industrial era faded away with the advent of robotics and was replaced with the service sector, however the Internet and computers are starting to see that fade away with the new wave being the knowledge worker. Think about it, when did you have to go into a bank to ask a teller for cash? I’m guessing that you’ve used an ATM many many times more. We thankfully did away with people who manually operate elevators and now have elevators without buttons inside them. Ohh and taxi’s and bus drivers? Make way for self-driving cars.

The type of jobs we need in the future aren’t ones where humans perform repetitive tasks, those that can have a workflow and people can be motivated to do better just by paying them more. No, the types of work we will do in the future won’t be considered a job for it will be primarily powered by intrinsic motivation, will require lots of creativity and you will measured it by how much you are in the Flow/in the zone. The freshman Uni students of today are learning content that will likely be out of date before they have finished their degree and will be getting a job that probably doesn’t even exist yet. How can our society cope if people grow up with the idea of 20/40/20. 20 years learning, 40 years working, 20 years retired. No, we need people who are love to and are always learning new skills, new knowledge, and creating new connections.


Something that Aubrey de Grey explains well is that medical technology is advancing at such a rate that (plus or minus a generation) we will be increasing life expectancy more than a year per year. So some who is 20 and has a life expectancy of 80 might see a life expectancy of 300 by the time they are 60 and they could live for over 1,000 years.

If you talk with enough people you find that like their bones and ligaments start to get stiff and lose their adaptability, their brains seem to calcify over time. Their ability to adapt to new information and change their understanding seems to end up more like a belief about how the world works which becomes very hard to change. Notice how in general it seems the older people get the less computer literate they seem to be, the harder it is to learn new languages and the more conservative  their views seem to be. What is interesting is that this doesn’t always happen. I know 70 year olds who are better at web development than many of my friends who are under 30, yet I also have friends that are barely 20 years old who seem to already be very set in their ways.  If humans are going to be able to live for 1,000 years then they are going to have to overturn many MANY current assumptions about how the world works. We will need to be able to change the core of what we consider is our identity.

Just like we are going to have to prevent our joints from seizing up as we get older, we are going to have to prevent our minds from seizing up.

I can’t tell you what the future will be like, but if the past and current trends are anything to go by it will be a very different type of world and I want to ensure we all have the ability to cope and adapt.


Some of the links in the content above are to videos. I find that I learn very well through videos and thought I might embed some of the really good ones in case you also love them.


My story

I myself got my thirst for knowledge after reading the book Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder when I was in Year 7. I still remember going up to the teacher and explaining how I knew about the concept of Atoms. However I didn’t learn it from reading a high school text book as they probably thought, but from the philosophical concept of indivisible particles which Democritus had put forth during the classical Greek era.

Posted in Education, Paradigms, Startups, Teach with Reach | No Comments »

Australia, the prissy boy

Posted by Michael Kubler on September 30, 2013

Australia is a prissy boy. It’s both sensitive to climate change and vulnerable to it.

Ohh and it just decided to get rid of it’s own bodyguards (despite the pleading of friends), walk into the lair of the mafia gang and call the boss a dickhead.
This prissy boy is in a fantasy land and is about to get the lights punched out of him and it is GOING TO HURT.

At least, that’s my interpretation of this article plus some of the recent events.

Posted in Activism | No Comments »

Political Comments Facebook snapshot

Posted by Michael Kubler on September 9, 2013

It’s not an infographic, but this is a compilation of various Facebook threads around the recent Australian Election.

What was interesting to me is the range of conversations. From pro Liberal to anti-Abbott, from not voting properly to spending a lot of time working out their exact preferences or helping others understand theirs better. I particularly liked the threads about not abusing people.  Actually I hate the entire act of character assassination. Politics should be a lot more about the policies and a lot less about the people.

I admit that my feed is biased. I gravitate towards people of similar interests and values so don’t have a balanced Facebook timeline, but I doubt many people do.

Political Facebook Comments Timeline

Political Comments Timelines


Whilst I’m posting about politics I might as well put up some resources I found interesting :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yx-Yp2gMTA - How to use the Power of your Vote. For those that don’t know much about politics (especially those a bit annoyed at it) this is a good start.

http://preferences.theglobalmail.org/ - A great website that visualises the various preferences of the political parties

http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2013/senate-calculator/ - A calculator that took the expected primary votes and worked out the outcome.

https://www.efa.org.au/election2013/ - How well do the political parties stack up on digital rights?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5q7ZwV2kZE : Rupert Tweets, The Tele Repeats (Media Watch 26/08/2013) - A great section of Media Watch that explains the bias of the Murdoch press.

http://belowtheline.org.au/ballot/TB2 - This is how I voted (below the line).




Posted in Politics | No Comments »

Representative Democracy can it work?

Posted by Michael Kubler on August 28, 2013

In Australia and the majority of the Western world we have a form of democracy called representative democracy.  We vote for people who represent us.

Our economic system both expects and requires that people work in their own rational self-interest.

The question is, how can a representative democracy work in our capitalist driven economy?

We are voting for people to represent us, but they are expected to (and most do) work in their own self interest. Think of all the times politicians and political parties have promised one thing to get into power but done another to gain them more money, wealth or power.
It sounds to me like a fundamental system disorder. The two systems clash.


This post is in part a response to https://medium.com/lessons-learned/eea037d61e89 in which Stuart Austin tries to apply the Lean Startup principles of validation to politics. I’m instead applying the systems design thinking which I have learnt through the Zeitgeist Movement. It’s also something I’ve been wanting to write for a few years.

That said I helped create the video below to give Australian’s a basic understanding of politics in Australia and how to vote according to what you value.

Posted in Michael Kublers, Paradigms | No Comments »

DPI… I don’t care

Posted by Michael Kubler on July 11, 2013

I don’t care that you are in Print, I’m in Web and 300dpi vs 72dpi doesn’t matter what matters is the number of pixels. A 200 x 200px image could be listed as 300dpi but horribly small whilst a 3000 x 3000px image could be 72dpi but giant.

</end rant>

Posted in web design | 1 Comment »

Optimising Human potential as we head towards the singularity

Posted by Michael Kubler on May 24, 2013

The many of people, myself included have fallen into a trap.

We have a set of behaviours when using a computer which are mostly there to optimise the power of the computer, not of humans. We might have to start copying a load of files and leave the computer for a while as things are slower, or when trying to organise our files and folders might multitask, trying to keep track of multiple file copies, whilst downloading the latest episode of a TV series, chatting to friends on social media all whilst we are meant to be working on an assignment. Such multi-tasking of attention is not what the brain is designed for or can really do. We can usually only concentrate on one thing at a time and have to keep switching attention, but each time you switch it takes up to half a second.

We have become so used to computer restrictions like only being able to send 160 character sms’s that we have duplicated the restriction with services like Twitter which don’t need such restrictions.

Basically, we have been optimising computer potential, which was a scarcity, at the cost of human potential. But we are near if not have reached the point where that needs to change. We need to be using computers to optimise human potential or else computers will leave us in the dust before we even reach the singularity.

As computers are getting faster we can predict that they will be as computationally powerful as humans in only a couple of decades. Only 18 months after that they will be twice as fast and barely 6 years later will be 32x as powerful, assuming Moores law is the main limiting factor.

Posted in geeky, Internet, Thought_of_the_week | No Comments »