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Email Templates in GMail

Another quick and easy option if you end up sending similar patterns of responses via email. We also use a more aggressive option that uses form submissions etc. but this one doesn’t require anything more than GMail account.

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Auto-Built (and Linking) Table of Contents in Google Docs

I did a workshop on productivity and now know that I took a bunch of knowledge for granted that could be helping people. So my new goal is to do a better job documenting stuff just in case it’s of use to people. To be clear, I don’t really care what people do with the time they reclaim from trivial and/or unpleasant tasks. I just hope to alleviate some degree of suffering. Maybe they’ll use their extra time to go for a walk or pet a puppy or something. You might also note the sub 60 seconds video tutorial time.1 1 I just want to tell you something as quickly as possible. Video tutorials seem to tend towards lengthy meditation sessions although now that I can control the playback speed very exactly they may become tolerable.

Spreadsheet Karma

=QUERY({C:C,C:C},”select Col1, count(Col2) where Col1 ” group by Col1″,1) This is just so handy for getting all the unique values from a column and spitting them out with the counts of their occurrences.1 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this a much harder way. I saw the function above as an answer after I’d responded to a Stack Overflow question about getting unique word counts. Just another little example of how doing things in the open and being involved in communities ends up benefitting you in unexpected ways. flickr photo shared by New York Public Library with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) 1 If you data isn’t in column C, just change it to the right letter.

Embed Collector Tool

Some people don’t have websites handy or their blogs won’t allow iframe embeds. They should still be able to have their students do stuff and get it all in one place. This is the Internet! And this tool is meant to deal with that. You can see a working example with three submissions (via a Google Form) here. It’ll take any iframe or HTML as a submission. The search box will also filter based on all the additional material associated with the element in the form. For instance in our example you can type “Sarah” and you’ll end up with one item. So the way this should work is you click here and accept the copy. You now have the spreadsheet and form. The directions are on the sheet labeled directions. I have a dramatic green arrow pointing at it in the image below. You can edit the form associated with the sheet under Form>Edit form. The only thing you have to leave/have in the form is the one called “The embed code.” Everything else can be deleted and/or changed. Stuff I Learned This pretty much a mashup of two recent projects – the personalized fridge poetry and the Angular/Google Sheets JSON stuff. This one runs entirely in javascript so to use the $_GET option, which javascript doesn’t have, I […]

From “On the Internet” towards “Of the Internet”

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sean MacEntee We’ve talking a lot in our group about how people move towards more complex uses of the Internet. We started with a discussion around Internet1 search skills and dispositions. It’s simple stuff2 in a lot of ways but putting it in writing might help someone else and it tends to help me get it straight in my head. It’s not sexy but I think there’s value in thinking it through. Reactive/Algorithmic > Proactive/Human > Participatory/Reciprocal The initial orientation for search tends to be reactive. You have a need for something. You go look for it. It’s a one time act. The finding of the item often has no real longterm benefit. Google3 is your sole opaque lens on the web. The search is driven entirely by your interaction with algorithms. Limited curation/bookmarking occurs in browser providing no benefit beyond the individual. I want to call this inefficient but that’s not quite the right word. Maybe it’s an Internet mind monoculture. I think that getting people from this point to something else starts with getting better at searching. If you help people improve their search strategies they can find better things faster. The Internet becomes more interesting. That’s an initial pragmatic step that helps people justify spending further time/energy […]

In the beginning there was search

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by Bramus! We’re playing around with some online content for instructors to access on their own or to use as part of some guided online learning we’ll be doing. We started the building some elements around search because it is a place where most people are comfortable but where there’s often decent room for growth. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before in terms of the goals but I hope we’ll be able to make it more approachable and really target the things that will be attractive to instructors in higher ed. I also want to see it as continuum that will lead people more deeply into the wild world of the web. We opted to focus mainly, although not exclusively, on the Google search realm because that’s what most people use and they have a pretty extensive variety of options that are attractive to higher ed instructors.1 The content isn’t finalized nor is the presentation but I figured writing it up would force me into articulating my choices and maybe one of you would give me better ideas or point out flaws. General Ideas The content is meant to be as succinct as possible and glaringly pragmatic for the average college instructor. There will be a number of real-life scenarios/rationales […]

Scraping Wikipedia User Data w Google Spreadsheets

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by nojhan Alice Campbell in the VCU library hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon today. It was interesting and we had a variety of faculty and even some students show up. Gardner joked at one point whether we had a leader board for edits. It got me thinking. I remembered that Wikipedia keeps track of the edits of logged in users and I figured I’d take a shot at scraping some of that data so we’d have a rough idea of how many edits were made by our group. I started off by looking at the contributions page. This URL will get you the page for my user name. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Woodwardtw I used the IMPORTHTML formula in Google Spreadsheets.1 It was easy because this was the first list on the page. You can see in the image above that you have the choice between trying to grab a list or a table. The other variable is what number that element is from the top of the page. You can see the working document embedded below. I considered parsing out2 the ..(+30)..3 but after talking to Alice that wasn’t the kind of data that would travel well. She was more interested in number of edits which, as it turns out, is available on the Edit […]

Improved Google Folder Shortcode Plugin

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Steve Snodgrass In December I wrote a tiny shortcode plugin that would let you embed Google Folders in WordPress. It was mainly to get around the iframe embed issues in WordPress Multisite. This interaction seems to make a number of faculty members pretty happy. So tonight when I got a comment asking how you’d get the plugin to display a grid view instead of the list view I decided to take another look at things. The short answer is that you could not do that with the old plugin. Now that I’m pretending to write code and stuff I thought I might be able to fix that and it turned out to be fairly simple. While I was in there I also added the ability to manually set height and width parameters. The new plugin is here. It doesn’t like it when I run both on the same blog (I assume because of the shared shortcode name) so this demo required that I turn off the older plugin. To make the changes I followed the Codex advice on handling attributes. This stuff still feels like magic to me. I realize how little actual skill and knowledge I posses in the scheme of things but it is amazing fun to be […]

Private Comments via XMLIMPORT

Making shareable (Sharing with a single person or specific group but not with the world.) comments on public writing is a fairly awkward spaaaaaace right now. There are things like AnnotateIt and Awesome Screenshot and the annotations in Diigo. So I’m looking around for other free options and brain storming odd ideas and not find a whole lot and I came up with the following . . . Note: I’m not saying this is a good idea, it may even be a bad idea but it might inspire someone to do something more interesting down the line.1 I at least found it mildly amusing. Here’s how you might pull an author feed from WordPress into Google Spreadsheets with separate cells each paragraph (for paragraph level commenting). The idea being that you can share the Google document with just that student and do the commenting via the GSS commenting feature. Google spreadsheets will import lots of things (xml, atom, rss). WordPress provides lots of specific feeds (author, tag, categories, combinations thereof). So step one is to get the author feed – for example http://rampages.us/fren330/author/sheehantm/feed/. You can then use the IMPORTXML formula in GSS to import that XML and do some XPATH parsing of the pieces. In this case I used =IMPORTXML(“http://rampages.us/fren330/author/sheehantm/”,”//p”) to pull out the paragraphs. I can then share the […]

Life Photos on Google

I’m sure this one will get blogged to death but . . . it does fit in with my earlier post so I’ll add to the noise. Google is hosting 10 million or so photos from Life magazine in a very nice searchable way. They are really nice photos that’d work well in any number of subject areas. Oddly, I don’t see any stated copyright information (although the largest images are watermarked with LIFE in the lower left hand corner). via Lifehacker