For Want of an API . . .

We wanted to be able to know whether people signing up for Ram Pages were faculty or not but didn’t want to add fields for them to fill out. VCU has an online phonebook with faculty emails in it but there didn’t appear to be a way to hook into an API. But you can provision the site with search items via the URL like so https://phonebook.vcu.edu/?Qname=woodwardtw%40vcu.edu. Since I knew that PHP can grab a website (file_get_contents) and parse out the text in various ways (preg_match) it seemed like we could automate this. When the phonebook site fails to find a matching email it returns some text that says ‘No matches.’ That’s what I decided to look for. If you look at the comments below, each line of the code is broken down and pretty much (over) explains what it does. Update Here’s a better version using curl and displaying the data in the user profile so you can see if you’re crazy or not. It also checks for the metadata field and updates or creates it as needed.


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-10-21

It only took Oz govt transformation bods 6 months and $700k to report that blockchain ain’t worth the effort • The RegisterHe also reiterated the relentless nature of the vendor push. “A lot of the big vendors are pushing blockchain very hard, and internationally most of the hype around blockchain is coming from vendors and companies, not from governments and users and deliverers of services.” Power Causes Brain Damage – The AtlanticLess able to make out people’s individuating traits, they rely more heavily on stereotype. And the less they’re able to see, other research suggests, the more they rely on a personal “vision” for navigation. John Stumpf saw a Wells Fargo where every customer had eight separate accounts. (As he’d often noted to employees, eight rhymes with great.) “Cross-selling,” he told Congress, “is shorthand for deepening relationships.” Jay Eaton ? on Twitter: “90% of graffiti added to video game environments bothers the hell out of me and this is WHY… “


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-10-14

Notes of Cabinet Meeting on Edmond Charles Genet, 2 August 1793. The Presidt. was much inflamed, got into one of those passions when he cannot command himself. Run on much on the personal abuse which had been bestowed on him. Defied any man on earth to produce one single act of his since he had been in the government which was not done on the purest motives. That he had never repented but once the having slipped the moment of resigning his office, and that was every moment since. That by god he had rather be in his grave than in his present situation. The Story Behind the Mysterious Guillotine on a Brooklyn Roof – VICE “So, yeah, this is kind of the idea behind that—just like, here’s your free healthcare. It’ll solve your problems.” Georgetown Law Students Object to Exam SoftwareMore than 500 law students at Georgetown University have signed a petition asking the law school to scrap its new exam software. In a letter to administrators, students raised privacy and security concerns about the Exam4 platform and objected to the requirement to install it on their personal laptops in order to take their finals. Changes to Twitter’s rules may kill off its most entertaining bots — Quartz. “But I am beginning to suspect that once we all leave […]


Weekly Work Log

As I’ve done in the past, I’m going to try to document what went down this week. Unlike the past, I’m actually doing this for an internal purpose so I think we’ll keep after it better. The challenge will be walking the line between giving enough context to make it useful to the 4 people who might be interested and making it too much of a hassle for me for 4 people. We’ll see how that plays out but history doesn’t look good.   This Week Workshops The HTML workshop occurred on 10/17 and was focused on IEDT members prior to offering it to a broader audience. We had 5 in-person attendees and 2 virtual attendees. ALT Lab site Faculty comment submissions are rolling in – we currently have 14 which you can see here. We’ll be exposing those quotes on the front page once we chop them up and remove some of the specificity of names. Workshops The catalog of workshops has expanded by a couple of offerings Introduction to HTML and CSS Building Automated Workflows with Google Apps Script Some visual improvements have been made to the front page Footprints on the James Site We met with [VCU FACULTY NAME] and are about 60% done with this site. There is some solid options to expand it as OER […]


Clean Google Doc Cut/Paste into WordPress Editor

If you cut/paste from a Google Doc into the WordPress WYSIWYG editor you get more than I want. Mainly a bunch of inline CSS that sets the font weight (see below). This is a pain because it’s going to take priority in CSS land and undoing it by hand is a hassle. Some internet wandering led me to Jonathan Nicol’s fix for some span elements and bit of adjustment allowed me to also deal with the inline CSS elements. The extra nice aspect of this as a fix is that it only applies on paste actions so you can still write the stuff in the HTML editor if you want.

Editable content example where the div display is changed from block to none to make a div disappear.

Live Action CSS Editting

Jeff did a nice intro to HTML/CSS course today and made a chunk of solid CodePen resources. I did one small example but I got to the scoped contenteditable something that I’ve been waiting to use since I saw it come up a few weeks1 Anyway, new to me. What it lets you do is edit the css in your page live without using the inspector or anything else. It’s harder to explain than it is to see in the gif2 below. The reason this gets my interest is that it is in the realm of an explorable explanation where you get the chance to play alongside the direct instruction. Here’s a quick demo in CodePen. See the Pen ID HTML: Display by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. 1 Months? Who knows? Time . . . and turns out it’s ancient history (2011! at least). 2 You thought I’d be guiding your pronunciation of this word here didn’t you? Wrong. I do not care.


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-10-07

An Airbnb guesthouse of horrors – The Boston Globe “Sorry about the confusion. Life’s too short for me to give you an explanation. Have a nice time in LA.” “I just know” replaces systematic reviews at top of evidence pyramid“After much research and deliberation, we feel we cannot ignore what a parent or conspiracy theorist feels “in their gut”. There are just too many anecdotes and too many people buying untested alternative health products to ignore this any longer,” explained SHEA spokesman Dr. Harold Rami. New U.S. Weapons Systems Are a Hackers’ Bonanza, Investigators Find – The New York TimesSometimes the testing teams toyed with their Pentagon targets. One team “reported that they caused a pop-up message to appear on users’ terminals instructing them to insert two quarters to continue operating.” Enigma PublicWe’ve curated the world’s broadest collection of public data into a single searchable, explorable web portal and API. awesomedata/awesome-public-datasets: A topic-centric list of high-quality open datasets in public domains. New PR ???This list of a topic-centric public data sources in high quality. They are collected and tidied from blogs, answers, and user responses. Most of the data sets listed below are free, however, some are not. Other amazingly awesome lists can be found in sindresorhus’s awesome list. A philosopher explains how our addiction to stories keeps us from […]


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-09-30

DeVos’ security detail projected to cost up to $7.7M during the next year – POLITICOThe Marshals Service said the final cost of protection for DeVos in fiscal 2018 was $6.79 million. Dork Money Defeats Dark Money on Twitter: “This 6.5 MB Bloomberg article injects targeted code into your browser and pings back to a suite of mystery servers every few seconds while the page is open. Most of its components serve no obvious purpose. https: Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t – The New York Times Ms. Hill watched as smiling politicians kept making promises and, in her view, growing richer. —-data viz average net worth of politicians over time adjusted for inflation . . . Software disenchantment @ tonsky.meAs a general trend, we’re not getting faster software with more features. We’re getting faster hardware that runs slower software with the same features. Everything works way below the possible speed. Ever wonder why your phone needs 30 to 60 seconds to boot? Why can’t it boot, say, in one second? There are no physical limitations to that. I would love to see that. I would love to see limits reached and explored, utilizing every last bit of performance we can get for something meaningful in a meaningful way. Build Your Own Learning Tools (BYOT) […]


Top Hat Content Rescue Bookmarklet

We have more and more people building things in Top Hat. Top Hat has some useful features (and a very aggressive sales team) but it’s not a place that makes it easy to get your content out. I am working with some of our biology faculty who have gotten an Open Stax textbook in there but want to put their now edited version someplace that is not Top Hat. The following bookmarklet will select the Top Hat content into a format that lets you cut/paste it into an HTML editor. You can see some of the issues with typical awkward paths for trying to get content out in the video. It’ll also show you how to add a bookmarklet if you’re looking for that.


Real Life Math or Window Ad?

Windows come in many shapes and sizes. Some commonly used shapes for windows are circles, rectangles, squares, triangles, pentagons, and octagons. Source: www.pella.com One of those amazingly horrible attempts at making something “real world” in a textbook. This is a high school math textbook. The source for this staggering information is a website that sells windows. And they double down on their insistence that windows make this content relevant and useful to today’d hip teens by using windows in two examples. Remember aspiring teen window makers, you can use the reflective property of congruence in your future job interview!