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Showing posts from December, 2006

5 things you may not know about me etc

Hope you all had a great xmas.  I did!

So....John tagged me, and I'm supposed to tell you 5 things....

I'm very tempted to follow Tom Hoffman's lead and make up 5 bits of nonsense.  You decide if these are true or not :)

I have passed exams in French, German, Latin and Spanish
I used to play in a band called The Catburgers
I have travelled in a car with Nico (she sang with The Velvet Underground).
I have led an E1 rock climb (Captain Birdseye at Cummingston)
I am a Buddhist, and have attended a number of week-long silent meditation retreats.

I tag Tess, Paul, David, Brian and Don.

Blogging for Beginners - Posting and Commenting Tips

In this instalment of "Blogging for Beginners" I'd like to answer a few questions, and explain the simple things you can do to make it easier for potential readers to find your posts. Subscribers (people who have put the RSS feed from your blog into something like Bloglines) won't need these, but how is anyone going to become a subscriber unless they read one of your posts?

Write something worth reading!

I don't claim to have any clear idea of what constitutes a good post, but there's clearly no point drawing huge crowds to your blog if they find mince when the get there! ProBlogger (a blog that covers every aspect of blogging in much more detail than I have in this series) has a category full of great advice on writing worthwhile content.

Liz asked me how long a blog post should be. ProBlogger has an answer of sorts here.

Actually, ProBlogger has the answer to just about everything! You should definitely stick it in your RSS reader because it's full of u…

Blogging for Beginners - Understanding the Glue

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I'm a relative newcomer to the blogging game. It's not rocket science, but there are a few things that I wish I had been told when I started. I'm aware that there are a lot of new bloggers in East Lothian - this post is for you guys! I'll explain how you can help your blog to get connected to the bigger world of blogs.

The blogosphere (a hideous term used to describe all the blogs out there) is held together by the connections between blogs. These connections do not form by themselves - you have to get out there and make them yourself. It's like going to a party - if you stand in a corner and don't speak to anyone then you are unlikely to have a good time!

Technorati is your friend

Technorati sits at the centre of the blogging universe. Register with Technorati (it's free) and claim you blog. You will then get to something like this:



Not particularly impressive stats, but the number of links is an important measure of how widely your blog has been noti…

No brownie points for Micro$oft today.

Aaaargh... I finished typing a beautifully crafted email to all maths teachers in East Lothian this afternoon, and clicked on "send." I was working in Microsoft Outlook Web Access. Can you guess? Timed out! No auto-saving, whole email lost, I had to start from scratch. How silly of me to spend more than 10 minutes writing an email! Jeeeez

So anyway, I've just about finished rewriting it, but I decided to save and take a break before sending it. I checked my gmail and got a link to this:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/929433.mspx

I love this bit:
As a best practice, users should always exercise extreme caution when opening unsolicited attachments from both known and unknown sources.
In other words, opening any Word document that you didn't create yourself is a very risky business. Wow! I think I'll be sending back any Word attachments with a link to this announcement until a patch is issued and school applies the patch to the machines I us…

How do you see Glow?

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Do you see Glow as the ground in this picture:



or as the walls in this one?



I guess I'm not alone in hoping that the first metaphor is better suited to what Glow will become.

If so, then we need not worry too much about what Glow itself can and can't do internally.  What Glow does well will happen within Glow, and what it doesn't do so well will be done elsewhere. Glow will provide a ground of functionality out of which the interesting stuff can develop. In order for Glow to be successful, based on the first metaphor, we need it to allow the seamless flow of information to and fro between it and the wider Web:  RSS feeds in other words!

Provided we get these facilities, I don't share the concerns of others about Sharepoint as a platform.  Sharepoint can do the boring stuff, which I hope it is fit to do, and the rest can happen wherever works best.

Pete and Viv's Fun Page

Looking for good old fashioned Web fun?  Look no further than Pete and Viv's Fun Page.  I love this site.  It reminds me of how homepages used to look in the days when making a Web site used to mean getting your hands dirty with HTML in a plain old text editor.  Only 8691 visits?  It's a disgrace!  Spread the word :)

Ho ho ho

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I'm afraid it's happened already - the tree is up in our living room!  My wife gets a free tree as a perk of being employed by the Foresty Commission, and this weekend was the only time we were free to go collect it before the holidays.

So here it is - a picture of minimalist subtlety as ever :)

Pushing at an open door

Don's post about a virtual advisory service has set me to pondering how far we have come in the last few years in our use of the Internet to support effective teaching and learning, and the extent to which central educational bodies can support further development.

We have reached critical mass for the live web to become an integral part of education. Over the last few weeks, I've been encouraging maths teachers to blog and to set up class blogs, and discovered that I'm pushing at an open door. Craig, Tim, Mags, Jenny, and Paul have all made a start already. I know that we still have a majority of staff for whom the whole thing is a bit of a mystery, but more and more teachers are realising that blogging is a simple, easy thing to do with classes that enriches the learning and teaching experience. My guess is that within a year or two class blogging will have become a routine activity - just another part of good practice that most people do. In the words of Darren Kuro…

Tagedu looks nice

Tagedu is a very web2.0 take on resource sharing for education.  It's even got a logo generated by the infamous web2.0 logo generator (which seems to be off-line now).

Whilst the Ajaxy tagcloudy web2.0yness of it all is a bit over the top, the idea seems very good to me.  If they would just relax and let users generate content in an easy manner they might really be onto something.  As it stands, it's empty and it will probably stay empty. It's got tagging and user ratings though - all good.

I would make a comment about Glow at this point, but I'm following the advice not to say anything that might be construed as negative ;)

Dapper just blew my mind

Wow!!!!

I just stumbled upon Dapper.

Incredible. Just incredible. I'm too gobsmacked to explain it properly - let me just show you what I did in 10 minutes:

this link is an RSS feed of all the blogs listed on the front page of exc-el on the right hand side. Whenever David Gilmour adds another blog to the list, the RSS feed will dynamically pick it up. Let me be clear here. Exc-el does not automatically produce an RSS feed of all its blogs. Dapper is looking at the page and doing some smart analysis to grab all the links in the section containing the blogs. It then automatically packages up that information as an RSS feed.

Want more?

this link is the URL for a netvibes module of the same information.

If I wanted to I could have also grabbed the blogs on the top left too - just didn't have time.

Sweet...very sweet. I feel a bit dizzy with the potential of it. I remember feeling like this before, quite recently, but I can't quite remember what it was about. Ruby on Rails may…