Category Archives: Blogs

Simple, Possibly Effective

In honor of Halloween and returning from the blogging dead, I offer up this post (and so I have an excuse to use the picture above).

I don’t blog much. Never have been consistent. The new job is making it easier to be worse. Lots of ready excuses. I recently found myself only looking through my FFFFound RSS feed and neglecting a lot of other things. It was easy to do. The education stuff made me nauseous and I’d never get to do the pop culture stuff that I liked, so why bother.

In an attempt to remind myself of the things I like about the internet and education (and to remind myself to blog and share content intelligently) I made this aggregation site with the FeedWordPress plugin. It links in all my Delicious additions with a certain tag, my blog posts, and anything I star in Google Reader. So I’m not doing extra work (a tag here or there) but I am providing a single place/feed for a certain audience- in this case ITRTs who work in HCPS1.

This kind of aggregation has some real potential for schools and sharing resources that I’ve rarely seen harnessed. But, more than anything, this will help make me focus on what I am reading and how I am sharing content. I want to remind myself to be doing this with intent. I don’t want to forget why I find this intersection of teaching and the internet interesting. I also want to prove to myself that there is always time for things if you think they are important.

1 I don’t know that any will actually read it but stranger things have happened and having an audience in mind has always helped me.

Intro to Theme Tweaking: Firebug has Magic Eyes

A couple of people at work were discussing how to make a good website for a school newspaper. I couldn’t help but point out the beauty that is The Collegian and mentioned it was based on WordPress with some theme tweaking.

So one thing led to another and now a number of people are interested in learning how to do this type of thing. I’m the one-eyed guy1 who’s attempting to guide them. I’m no master of CSS, PHP or even WordPress but I have managed to do a few things over time- usually through trial and error.

The movie below kind of talks about why CSS exists and then delves into using Firebug2 to explore website and learn how/what to change in the CSS to tweak themes.

Firebug Introduction from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

1 Too obscure a reference?

2 I find this plugin to be nearly magical and highly encourage you to use it for this and a variety of other purposes.

New Blackboard Executive Starts Blog, Opts Not to Use BB’s “Blogging” Option

—Another mock Chronicle article – it’s probably getting tiresome but it’s entertaining me right now.

original article here by JEFFREY R. YOUNG
footnotes, italics, scare quotes on blog and a few minor deletions by me . . .

The new head of Blackboard Inc.‘s course-management-software division, Ray Henderson, started a “blog” this week, and he’s already facing tough questions from critics. Blackboard’s top management wanted to know just what the hell this “blog” thing was and if there was a way to charge people extra for it.

Eager to prove that he plans to bring change to Blackboard, Mr. Henderson declared that his “blog” is a sign of more transparent times. “Me joining the company means we’re going to communicate more often and more openly,” he wrote in his opening post on Tuesday. “We are even considering responding to phone calls from clients who pay less than $500,000 a year in fees.”

“I’m excited about having a spot where I can muse out loud about my take on various things in eLearning, and have other folks weigh in with theirs,” he added. “In particular, I’ve got lots to say on the whole openness, standards, interoperability question. It’ll be particularly nice because if I talk about this stuff on company grounds I’ll be fired.

He allows comments on the blog, though he says he is moderating them before they go live. “I’m dipping my toe in the previously uncharted waters for Blackboard of having comments turned on in this blog,” he explained in a note on the blog. “Not revolutionary I know and really required for an interesting exchange. But a new step for Blackboard nonetheless and one we’re taking gradually. Afterall, it’s not like we’re some new fangled company focused on web-based technology or something!

Still, Mr. Henderson has allowed plenty of critical voices on the site so far. “Tell your new Blackboard colleagues to drop the lawsuit with D2L,” wrote one commenter, referring to the company’s patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn, another company making course-management software. “Start putting education (not litigation) first.” Another commenter said that Blackboard promised more open communication with customers last time it bought a rival, when it bought WebCT in 2007, but did not deliver. The blog commenter asked: “Why should we believe what you are saying this time?”

Mr. Henderson wrote a reply today to some of the questions. He punted on the patent issue: “Step one is for BlackBoard to win the suit or buy D2L. Until we do so it’s not something I’ll talk about here.” And he closed with a cliffhanger: “To the question about what’s new this time around as Bb and ANGEL come together, there are some really important differences that I’ll be addressing directly in the next week or two.”

Mr. Henderson then cackled wildly, drank deeply from a cup that looked disturbingly like a human skull and flew off on bat-like wings.

Publishing Google Docs to WPMU

I was looking to have some people in my class publish lesson plans to their WPMU blogs via Google Docs. So I consulting the dean of WPMU, The Right Reverend Jim Groom, and he made it look so easy. Yet, I failed. Feeling stupid I started drinking looked at the differences in our set up. I began to worry it was because I wasn’t using dynamic subdomains. I reached such a depth of despondency that I actually read one of the error messages from Google itself.

It said “Hey Dummy, you haven’t turned on XML-RPC publishing for that blog. Why don’t you go turn it on?” I did and everything now works. There’s a video on how to do that below in case it helps.


WPMU Easter Egg

So I’ve installed WPMU on one of our externally hosted servers and with Jim’s patient assistance have been trying to get it in shape. One of the things I needed was the theme editor. So I was going through the steps to get it installed and things are looking good when . . . I hit the theme editor tab and the video below happened1.

In all honesty, the first time it happened it scared the hell out of me. I frantically thought of all the vague warnings I’d received, reconsidered what I’ve done with file permissions, wished I’d backed things up 2.

I’ve since been wrestling with the .htaccess file and other fairly dreadful nerd stuff. Unfortunately, this server is running both PHP 4 and 5 and has some custom .htaccess stuff set up to password directories down the line. This has led to all kinds of hassle for me (and as a result hassle for Jim :) who has insisted I blog about the easter egg so he can reblog it3).

1 and happened every single time I hit the theme editor tab

2 and then realized I already had

3 Isn’t the Internet a weird place