Outboard Memory – Query Thumbnails & Crop Images CSS Trick

Two little tricks that came up this week . . . Random Posts Must Have Featured Image Set Sometimes you want to query a random set of posts but only return those with featured images . . . you can using ‘meta_key’ => ‘_thumbnail_id’ like so . . . Handy. At least for me. object-fit: cover; Now that I’ve got featured images, I usually have a variety of aspect ratios making uniform layouts a pain. Often I’d have set those images as background images to deal with different aspect ratios and do a cover. Something like this. I was never a big fan of this method as I don’t like creating inline css and that’s the only way I could think to do it with dynamically created content in php or javascript. If just felt awkward. Enter object-fit and if you already knew of it I don’t know why you didn’t tell me. You can see the difference it makes in the two examples embedded below. Not earth shattering but really handy for stuff I do all the time. See the Pen GvNdjv by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen.


Weekly Web Harvest for 2017-07-23

MS Paint has had a bit of an upgrade • Eurogamer.net “Your elevators are very confusing,” I suggested when I finally got to Microsoft. But it turns out that the man I was meeting did not agree. They’re amazing, he explained. You get used to them and then all other elevators are rubbish. I am paraphrasing, because this article is not really about elevators, but he laid out a glorious scenario where you check in at the front desk in the lobby and by the time you get to the elevator bay, your private elevator is already waiting for you. Valet service! This was the world this man from Microsoft already lived in. This was the sparkling water he drank every day. Make Concrete Roman Again! But he reminded Titus of his basic challenge—that it was, “indeed, no easy task to give novelty to what is old, and authority to what is new.”  Steve Schoger some nice simple web typography tips The Evolution of Trust Ze Frank – Wikipedia Discussing his work in the digital medium, and the potential of new platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, Frank said, “For me, experimentation is not about the technology. In an ever-changing technological landscape, where today’s platforms are not tomorrow’s platforms, the key seems to be that any one of these spaces […]

Giant machine with small man

IdeaX Proposal – Tiny Targeted Tools

Image from page 98 of “Illustrated catalogue and general description of improved machine tools for working metal” (1899) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I submitted to one of our regional instructional developer organization (Instructional Development ?Educational Alliance Exchange)1 this AM. We’ll see if it gets accepted but given my recent reflection on things that seem to have worked in Rampages, the chunk I left out that’s built in Google, Jim’s recent post from Australia, and Alan and Brian‘s continued SPLOT work . . . it seemed like a nice chance to spread this particular word to a VA audience. I also find that articulating concepts like this for other audiences helps me better articulate why I think this work is important. I can’t just say “SPLOT” and have my six friends understand what I’m going to talk about. There’s a place for that.2 The Proposal There is a tendency to make or buy tools that try do everything. As a result we end up with a massive tool that does most things poorly and few things well. Learning goals get obscured by the increasing complexity involved in navigating the compromises inherent in the omni-tool. It’s not focused on a particular discipline or kind of thinking. While generic tools have their place, […]


What is Rampages? Part Two

Image from page 776 of “The Ladies’ home journal” (1889) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Continuing on from Part One . . . I have way too many examples. If you read this blog often, you’ve probably seen most of these being born1 but this is my first attempt at organizing and a more cohesive structure around key categories/processes and all in one place. This isn’t my normal pattern as I’m more of a folksonomic structure guy rather than taxonomic. What this has done is remind me of just how much work has been done in a relatively short time. I’ve only been here three years. Rampages is roughly three years old but wasn’t publicized initially and then had some rough growing pains. The last year or so I’ve been trying to convince people my department still exists . . . and still people find ways to do tons of amazing work. I’m not even including the stuff we do outside of WordPress. I’m only scratching the surface but this post keeps getting longer and longer. I threw a bunch of the links here. Some will be duplicates but there’s plenty of additional sites as well. Courses Rampages supports faculty teaching the full continuum of courses at VCU- from augmenting traditional […]

What is Rampages.us? Part One

I’m going to be attempting to explain what rampages.us is to a group on Tuesday. I’ve been struggling with a more digestible version of this for some time. While true, saying “Whatever you want it to be,” isn’t what people want to hear. Giving people something more concrete to think through what the site can do makes sense. These categories, however blurry and overlapping, provide some entries to additional thoughts and will likely help me organize my brain around this a bit better. Outside eyes are helpful so if you see stuff I’m missing or explaining poorly please throw me a comment here or on Twitter. While some of the details are specific to our version, I think the general arguments might be of use to others. If you end up doing that (or have already done it), throw me a link as I’d love to see how other people do this. Technically Speaking Rampages.us is a large WordPress multisite installation started roughly three years ago. Our community currently has over 24,000 sites and 22,000 members. WordPress is an open source platform which runs a huge portion (~30%) of today’s Internet and is the most popular CMS in the world. That matters for a variety of reasons. WordPress is free. This dramatically lowers barriers to access for our students while […]

handwriting in the 21st century an educational summit

Can’t Trust It: Typing vs Handwriting

I read a portion of this article on keyboarding being overrated. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m not really aggressive either way. I do think it makes little sense to make two different ways to make the same letters. Montessori leads with cursive and I tend to think she’s done a better job thinking this through. Anyway, I took at look at the first paragraph with apparent proof. Brain scans during the two activities also show that forming words by hand as opposed to on a keyboard leads to increased brain activity(pdf). Scientific studies of children and adults show that wielding a pen when taking notes, rather than typing, is associated with improved long-term information retention, better thought organization, and increased ability to generate ideas. Link one leads you the Zane Blosner sponsored Handwriting in the 21st Century? Educational Summit. Zane Blosner also sponsors the national handwriting contest where I’m very sad to say you cannot see the winners’ handwriting. Let’s pretend this summit1 isn’t run by a company that sells handwriting solutions. The majority of brain related references here are cited as James, K.H. “How Printing Practice Affects Letter Perception: An Educational Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective.” Presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century?: An Educational Summit, Washington, D.C., January 23, 2012. I believe that’s Dr. James. Seems legit but I […]


Rampages Numbers

In responding to some data requests, I delved into the WP tables to pull some rampages data. All users ever . . . I need to set up something more automated but for this I dumped the MySQL tables as CSVs and then just imported them to Google Sheets. With very minimal functions, I got this data. My favorite function combos are to pull the unique values from a range =unique and then do a =countif off those values. It’s a really quick way to get graphs like these.


Weekly Web Harvest for 2017-07-16

Celebrating 30 years in VR: Professor Robert J. Stone on Human Factors and the Future of VR and AR In healthcare generally, we have, in the past, developed VR and AR for surgical training and education; today, we’re investigating the delivery of virtual scenes of nature into hospital intensive care wards to help improve patient sleep quality and post-operative rehabilitation. share-this: Medium-like text sharing Medium style tool tip sharing Return to Sender – Futility Closet Competitive boomerang throwers participate in a number of events: distance, accuracy, trick catches, and so on. One of the most popular of these is maximum time aloft, in which the goal is to keep the boomerang in the air as long as possible with a single throw. Unbelievably, the record here is 17 minutes and 6 seconds, set by John Gorski of Avon, Ohio, in 1993. At the time a respectable flight might last 30 to 40 seconds, but Gorski’s boomerang hit a thermal that carried it upward an estimated 200 meters, where it hovered for several minutes over the Olentangy River. It drifted south for 225 meters, then headed north again, descending to find Gorski, who managed to catch it 40 meters from where he’d thrown it. FCJ 28: Creative Robotics To make robots apparently social. The most common strategies for “socialising” robots follow […]

JSON display from spreadsheet

Google Form to Video Display

This is another SPLOT-ish tool that takes videos uploaded through a Google Form and then displays them.1 This particular proof of concept was built in about ten minutes as a result of a conversation with our World Language faculty who are going to be doing student-to-student video work with people from other countries. We’re likely to use Zoom as the platform. It makes recording the video easy and the compression of the video is pretty impressive. Initially I was concerned about file size but between that and seeing that Google allows up to 10GB file uploads via their vanilla forms. The caveat there is that the “file upload option is only available for G Suite customers with a Google Form shared within their organization.” Good enough for our purposes but a bit limited if you wanted to use it more broadly. Form Stuff I opted to auto-log the VCU email address since the file upload required that anyway and only used two other elements- a file upload piece and a single categorical element. You could get much more complex if you had the desire. Just make sure you’ve created a results spreadsheet and published it to the web. The Pieces My form is here. The spreadsheet is here.NOTE: Google now creates two IDs when you publish this. There’s an ID […]